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only reply," Bush, is that you?" and, when a sleepy boy came in with a light," he was astonished to find a man dressed in heavy frosty furs embracing another who was clad only in a linen shirt and drawers.
There was a joyful time in that loghouse when the Major, Bush, Macrae, Arnold, Robinson, Dodd, and I gathered around a steaming "samovar," or tea-urn, which stood on a pine table in the centre of the room, and discussed the adventures, haps, and mishaps of our first arctic winter. Some of us had come from the extremity of Kamtchatka, some from the frontier of China, and some from Behring's Straits, and we all met that night in Geezhega, and congratulated ourselves and each other upon the successful exploration of the whole route of the proposed Russo-American Telegraph, from Anadyr Bay to the Amoor river. The different members of the party there assembled had, in seven months, travelled in the aggregate almost ten thousand miles.
The results of our winter's work were briefly as follows: Bush and Mahow, after leaving the Major and me at Petropavlovski, had gone on to the Russian settlement of Nikolaevsk, at the mouth of the Amoor river, and had entered promptly upon the exploration of the west coast of the Okhotsk Sea. They had travelled with the wandering Tongoos through the densely-timbered region between Nikolaevsk and Aian, ridden on the backs of reindeer over the rugged mountains of the Stanavoi range south of Okhotsk, and had final
ly met the Major at the latter place on the 22d of February. The Major had explored the whole north coast of the Okhotsk Sea, alone, and had made a visit to the Russian city of Yakootsk, six hundred versts west of Okhotsk, in quest of laborers and horses. He had ascertained the possibility of hiring a thousand Yakoot laborers in the settlements along the Lena river, at the rate of sixty dollars a-year for each man, and of purchasing there as many Siberian horses as we should require at very reasonable prices. He had located a route for the line from Geezhega to Okhotsk, and had superintended generally the whole work of exploration. Macrae and Arnold had explored nearly all the region lying south of the Anadyr and along the lower Myan, and had gained much valuable information concerning the little-known tribe of wandering Chookchees. Dodd, Robinson, and I had explored two routes from Geezhega to Anadyrsk, and had found a chain of wooded rivers connecting the Okhotsk Sea with the Pacific Ocean near Behring's Straits. The natives we had everywhere found to be peaceable and well-disposed, and many of them along the route of the line were already engaged in cutting poles. The country, although by no means favorable to the construction of a telegraph, presented no obstacles which energy and perseverance could not overcome; and, as we reviewed our winter's work, we felt satisfied that the enterprise in which we were engaged, if not altogether an easy one, held out, at least, a fair prospect of success.
MADAME DE LAFAYETTE AND HER MOTHER
A BEAUTIFUL Volume, recently published at Paris, has especial interest for American readers. The grandchildren of General Lafayette have allowed to be printed two brief family memoirs, both highly interesting not only from the individual lives they record, but also from their close connection with events of high historical importance, and from the glimpses they offer of a state of society now passed away for ever. The first of these brief but most interesting sketches, is the life of Madame la duchesse d'Ayen, the mother of Madame de Lafayette, written by the latter lady. Every American knows already that while General Lafayette was suffering all the hardships of a prisoner of state at the fortress of Olmütz, in Austria, his noble wife, with her two daughters, travelled through Europe to implore of the Emperor Francis the permission to become a prisoner with him. It was while shut up in the cells of Olmütz, that Madame de Lafayette beguiled some tedious hours by writing the life of her mother, now published. No pens or ink or paper were allowed to the prisoners, excepting when brought in at long intervals, by the officer on duty, for the purpose of writing brief business notes, or, more rarely still, a short family letter. All that was written at such moments was put on paper under the official eye, and forwarded, open, through many official hands, to its destination. But one of the young ladies was very skilful with her pencil, as may be proved by the painting she made of the jailer at Olmütz, a picture now hanging on the walls at Lagrange; and among her treasures there was a bit of Indian ink. A toothpick was also found. As for paper, among the books allowed to the imprisoned family was a large volume of Buffon's Natural History, with engravings of animals and birds. It was on the
margin of these engravings, with the toothpick dipped in the Indian ink, that Madame de Lafayette scratched down this beautiful life of her mother. This rude but touching MS. is still preserved by the family, in its original condition. And through those faded brown characters, on that yellow paper, bearing a look of antiquity beyond the actual date, there are gleams of a halo of saintly beauty lingering about the names of both mother and daughter. The second sketch, the life of Madame de Lafayette herself, has been also given to us by the hand of her own daughter, Madame de Lasteyrie, a lady borne in affectionate and respectful remembrance by many American families. The touching simplicity, the faultless veracity, the conscientious fidelity of these memoirs of two women so truly noble, render them indeed rarely precious.
To prepare for the American reader translations of some of the many interesting passages of these memoirs has been a labor of love. And we undertake the task with additional pleasure as it assumes, in a certain sense, something of the form of an act of justice. The English-speaking world in general often carelessly hold the most cruelly unjust opinions of domestic life in France. If you believe a large class of Englishmen, moral worth has no existence whatever in France. We Americans, it is true, are not so prejudiced; from early alliance with the nation we are kindly disposed towards them. Still, we have not yet done them full justice in this respect; English prejudices, filtering through their literature, still partially color our opinions. We are not aware how many good qualities, even of the more solid kind, are often found beneath that graceful manner, so charming to all. No doubt that with the French silks, and laces, and wines, and pâtés de foies gras,
that enter our ports, there is also unhappily too much of frivolity, and of vice, crossing the Atlantic from the same quarter. But it is more of a rule with France, than with other nations, that, owing to the external graces thrown around them, their follies and vices are more widely spread abroad, the world over, than those of other nations. It is in this light that the majority of our people see the French. They are as yet little aware how many noble elements there are in French character. They are generally quite ignorant of the fact that in their best families-we use the phrase as including those in which the moral tone is most pure, whether of high or low degree-home-life is in every way admirable. They are a very warm-hearted people; they are, as every one knows, naturally cheerful, pleasant, and graceful ix manner; and when to this you add the influences of a high-toned, sound, and healthful Christian morality, such as are united in many households where foreigners rarely cross the threshold, there you find the reality of a most beautiful family life. There are no better homes on earth than the very best class of homes in France. It is with peculiar pleasure, therefore, that we offer the American reader two brief sketches of French homes, from the authentic memoirs before us. In the first the principal figure is that of Mme. la Duchesse d'Ayen, the mother of Mme. de Lafayette, belonging, of course, entirely to the last century.
Anne Louise Henriette d'Aguesseau was born in 1737, and left a motherless infant a few days after her birth. Her father was the son of the. Chancellor d'Aguesseau, revered for his wisdom and virtues. A foster-mother, a peasant woman, was provided for the child. At the age of three the little girl was sent to a convent at St. Denis, the good nurse accompanying her little charge, while both were placed under the direction of an excellent nun, a lady of rare merit, and endowed with an especial talent for the education of children.
especially happy in their moral training. In this convent the little girl remained
for eleven years, according to the custom of that day. The germs of a fine character appear to have been early developed, although the atmosphere was not entirely favorable. We translate a passage: "From her earliest years natural good sense and honesty of heart proved an excellent foundation for her instruction. All the impressions she received were serious, and real. A volume containing the lives of the monks of the desert having fallen into her hands when she was only five years old, instead of being amused with all their visions, she was terrified by them, and very fearful of becoming too great a saint, lest she should suffer in the same way-a cowardice which troubled her childish conscience, however. Her grandfather, the Chancellor d'Aguesseau, was in the habit of writing to her little letters, which have been printed in his life. Even at that day it was her first object to seek God, and His righteousness. Nothing of the littleness of convent life (aucune petitesse de convent) appears to have tainted her piety. Even when very young, she had the faculty of close application, and became very fond of the game of chess; but perceiving that when she played on Saturday, her thoughts were disturbed in church the next day by the game, she gave up her favorite amusement on Saturday."
At the age of fourteen she was taken from the convent and removed to her father's house, under the care of an affectionate stepmother, to whom she became strongly attached. A most worthy woman, Mdlle. Aufroy, who became a devoted and faithful friend in later years, was chosen as her personal attendant. And the good nurse was still with her. It is a pleasant picture, this family group, all wearing the costumes and tinged with the mental coloring of the past century; the kind father, the affectionate stepmother, the aged grandfather, venerable from his virtues, and, included in the same framework, the waiting gentlewoman and the peasant nurse, both faithful and loving, while moving among them, the young girl appears passing to and fro, in the stately
Parisian hôtel of that period. remained at home during four years, completing her education in different ways. The tone of the house was grave, at a distance from common amusements; still the frank gayety of her lively nature led her to take pleasure in whatever had the charm of novelty. During those years her maternal grandfather, M. Dupré, died, leaving her a vast fortune, and among other property the château of Lagrange-Bleneau, which became at a later day the home of the Lafayette family. The thought of all this wealth terrified the young lady, and she earnest ly entreated that the amount might be diminished by as many legacies as possible. "This feeling," continues the memoir, "was entirely sincere, as were all the feelings of my mother. And it was not confined to her youth; throughout her life she always looked upon riches as an actual burden. With childlike simplicity, she never could be convinced that wealth entered, in the least, into the nature of a true happiness." Of this wealth she always considered herself as only the steward.
During those four years the young lady appears to have passed a very happy, though not a gay or brilliant girlhood. She was the centre of a group by all of whom she was fondly loved. And never was there a more true and loving heart than that which beat in her own bosom. The strongest traits of her character through life, were perfect uprightness united to the most generous and devoted affection. At the age of eighteen she married. This was later than usual, in great French families of that day. Possibly she may have been awaiting until her young husband should assume something of a manly air, for he was a mere lad, more than two years younger than herself. Jean Paul François de Noailles, Duc d'Ayen, was not sixteen at the time of his marriage. He had, however, many fine qualities, and the young couple became strongly attached to each other; they were alike in generosity of natare, and in a frank uprightness of opinion and conduct. After the marriage they
removed to the Hôtel de Noailles, in the rue St. Honoré, near the Tuileries. Here all the married children-and the married grandchildren of the aged Maréchal de Noailles, an important historical character of those times-were gathered about him, according to a pleasant and patriarchal French custom, forming a numerous family-colony in the vast hôtel. None but an amiable people could have adopted such a cusThe young wife, owing to the very retired life of her mother-in-law, went little into the gay world. She was, however, taken to Versailles to be presented at Court, when she doubtless took her seat among the duchesses, on the much-coveted tabouret, or seat without a back, allotted to ladies of that rank, none others being allowed to sit in the presence of royalty. Madame de Pompadour was all powerful in France at that time, making and unmaking ministries, declaring war and proclaiming peace, according to her caprice. Those two women, so widely different in their lives and natures, probably never exchanged a word; and yet the King's mistress was at that moment deep in the intrigues of the Seven Years' War-the forerunner of the Revolutions in America and in France, in both of which the fate of Mme. d'Ayen became so closely involved.
At the end of two years the first child, a son, was born. We quote a passage from the memoir. "God had made her to be a mother. In that opinion all who have ever known her must agree. The force of her first maternal feeling-or rather passion-was greater than one can imagine. She lost this son at the end of a year. He died after only twenty-four hours of illness. The grief of my mother equalled her tenderness. Supported only by Faith, and dwelling on the eternal happiness of her child, she was at times so absorbed by these thoughts that, as she told me, she surprised herself thinking of her little child as of one of the greatest saints in Heaven." A year later a little girl was born, the first of five daughters, all of whom lived to fill honorably their high
social position as thoroughly Christian women. The eldest, Louise, married her cousin, the Vicomte de Noailles. Within a year was born Adrienne, who became Mme. de Lafayette, the writer of the memoir. These two of that admirable band of sisters, so near in age, appear to have loved each other through life with the tenderness and close sympathy of twins. We gather, from little touches in the narrative, that the elder, Mme. de Noailles, was a peculiarly lovely person, endowed with an especial charm of intelligence, grace of manner, and warmth of feeling. Four years passed, and another daughter was born, a gentle, loving nature, with great purity of disposition, who died early, though twice married. Then again, after an interval of three years, appeared two little girls, who, like their elder sisters, were almost in the cradle together, and in twin-like association through life-Pauline, who became Mme. de Montagu, and Rosalie, who married M. de Grammont.
"Like the wives of the patriarchs, instead of murmuring at a fruitfulness which left not a moment's repose to her health, my mother blessed God for this increase of her family, looking upon it as an especial blessing from Heaven, as a means of drawing closer the precious bonds of conjugal union, and received each new child with new thanksgivings."
The seventh child was a son, ardently desired by the father, and born at the moment when the mother was seized with small-pox. Madame d'Ayen was very ill; her life was in great danger; but at length the anxieties of her husband were relieved. She was declared convalescent, and the little band of daughters were allowed to see her from the garden as she sat at the closed window of the sick-room. Great was the grief of those little hearts at beholding the beloved face so fearfully disfigured. The anguish caused by that painful sight was never forgotten, we are told, even amid greater sorrows which followed in later years. There is certainly no object on earth so precious to a loving, childish heart as the
face of a beloved mother; and, to many, the feeling lasts through a long life.
The little boy, born under circum stances so alarming, lived but a few months; and, from a feeling which we must consider as akin to superstition, the mother, strange to say, scarcely de sired its life prolonged, so fearful was she of the temptations to which her son might be exposed in later years. Other mothers, we believe, have partaken of this feeling; but is there not a lack of faith here? It is, unhappily, but too true that sons, yielding early to the many temptations which assail them, too often swerve from the right path in which the daughters of the same household walk safely through life; and, as they swerve from rectitude, they wound, they lacerate, they torture the heart of the mother who bore them, mourning, as she does, over their ruin here and hereafter. But the Christian mother should assuredly not allow herself to become overpowered by fears like these. If the Roman matron could be proud of her sons, how much more may the faithful Christian mother be humbly hopeful for hers! There is, for her, an hourly appeal to the arm of Omnipotent Love.
"One day," writes Madame de Lafayette, "on a Holy Thursday, as she returned from praying in church, she said to Mdlle. Aufroy: 'I have just killed my son, and I have some fears for my daughters also. If one of my children were to be ill now, I should be frightened. I have just offered them all to God, that He may restore them to me in eternity. I hope He will leave me my daughters; but I believe He will take my son, and that I shall not keep him.'
Soon after, the little boy died. The lady had now five daughters, the eldest ten, the youngest three years old. It is a very interesting glimpse that we have in this brief sketch, of the education of those little girls, belonging to a period and a state of society so far apart from our own. They were not sent to a convent. They were educated at