Obrázky na stránke


et moi aucun sur les siennes." S! well knew, in truth, that the intiuence which the Lady of Beauté exercised over his mind was cxercised in her favour, and was beneficial to her, as well as to the interests of the kingdom.

In the winter of 1449-50, Charles, who had recently subjugated Normandy, took up his abode in the Abbey of Jumièges. The cold was intense: this inclement season in France had never brought more severe and dreary weather. He was surprised to receive an unannounced visit from his fair Agnès. She had left Loches, and braved the winter's snow, to warn him of a con. spiracy which might endanger his life, and in which the rebellious Dauphin was prime mover. Having conveyed her precautionary warning, she retired to the neighbouring hamlet of Mesnil, where she was seized by sudden and alarming illness. Her health, which hal long been delicate, had been im. paired by the trying journey she had just accomplisheid. She felt-with that intuitive perception which is given to many on the brink of eternity--that the grave would soon open its portals to receive her; and that she must prepare for her pilgrimage to that “bourne whence no traveller returns." Her agonies of mind and body were intense. She reviewed, with self-upbraiding, her past life: lamented the fatal gift of beauty, but for which she might have accomplished her youth's early promise; lived in innocent happiness, and died in peace. To the Count de

Tancarville, who stood by her death. bed, she spoke of her fears for the future : nor could she gain a moment's tranquillity, but by retlecting on the mercy shewn by the Saviour to Mary Magdalen, the woman, who, like her, was " a great sinner.” She repeated, incessantly, passages from the confessions of St. Bernard, which she hai! copied with her own hand, feeling that they were applicable to her case. At length, exhausted by mental and bodily suffering, she breathed her last sigh in the arms of the King. Her heart was bequeathed to the monks of Juniegès ; her body was interred in the middle of the choir of the cathedral church at Loches, where a beautiful monument was erected to her memory by her royal lover. She is represented in a recumbent posture; graceful crapery veils her figure, and a circlet round her brow confines her flowing tresses ;

angels, with extended wings, hover, a3 if waiting to convey to heaven the prayer which her clasped hands and half-parted lips seem to express; while two lambs, emblems of meek

and gentleness, lie passively crouched at her feet. The inscription is simple :

“ Cy git noble Demoiselle Agnès Seurelle en son vivant Dame de Beauté de Roqueserein, d'Essoudun, et de Vernon-sur-Seine, pitcuse envers toutes gens, et qui largement donnoit de ses biens aux églises et aux pauvres; laquelle trépassa legiem jour de Fevrier, l'an de grace 1449. Pricz Dieu pour l'âme d'elle. Amen.”

It may seem a paradox to speak of the virtuous mistress of Charles the Seventh; and posterity—even allowing for the frailties and errors of fallible human nature-might still pronounce an unfavourable verdict on the character and conduct of Agnès Sorel, were it not for the negative evidence given in her favour by the contrast which is apparent in the actions of Charles during the twenty years in which her influence was paramount; and his conduct after her death. Then, as in his early youth, he abandoned himself to scnsual indulgences. No longer conceding to his amiable Queen that respect and consideration she so well merited, he treated her with harsh and crnel neglect. He became unmindful of his friends, and ungratefully dismissed them at the suit of newer and unworthy favorites.

Jacques Caur, to whom he owed so much, was the first who fell under his displeasure, or rather, we should say, his indifference, and he basely left him to fall a prey to his personal enemies. The great money-changer of Bourges had amassed, for that day, enormous riches. He had been a suc. cessful trader in the Levant; his

argo. sies rode, richly laden with the treasures of the East, in all the southern harbours of France. In his commercial establishment he had three hundred factors receiving their orders from him, and devoted to his interests.

His seig. neurie of St. Fargeau enclosed twentytwo parishes. His house at Bourges still remains a monument of his rich and clegant taste in architecture. The King was his debtor to an enormous amount. When Charles undertook the conquest of Normandy in 1448, Jacques Cæur advanced him 200,000

crowns of gold, and entertained four were snatched from her ere they had armies at his own expense.

« Il est

attained the age of manlood. Her aussi riche que Jacques Cæur," was a daughters, Yolande and Margaret, common proverb. The people believed were celebrated for their charms, as that he had discovered the philosopher's the latter afterwards became for her stone, and could thus transmute the sorrows and misfortunes. Yolande baser metals into pure gold. But the was betrothed to Ferry, son of Ansecret of his success was less magical ;- toine de Vandemont, who had so long may we not trace it in the punning de- contested with René the succession to vice which yet stands, carved in bold Lorraine: and part of the disputed relief, on his house at Bourges—" A territory was settled on the young VAILLANS (cæurs) RIEN IMPOSSIBLE.” couple. Margaret, when scarcely fit'. Truly the omnipotence of Will is great. tcen, was solicited in marriage by Ile who steadily resolves, and bends Henry the Sixth of England ; and one every energy to obtain the prize, what. of the last occasions on whichi Agnès ever it may be, which he proposes to Sorel appeared in public, was the cehimself, runs but little chance of failure. remony of the espousals at Nanci. Still, when success has been attained, - La Belle des Belles” was, as usual, how often does it fail to give the happi- sumptuously attired, and her presence ness and satisfaction which its possessor was considered to give great éclat to looked for ? So was it with Jacques

the scene. When the youthful bride Caur. The sunshine of his prosperity bade adieu to her native land, the King brought forth the adder.

tenderly embraced her: “I seem to Soon after the death of Agnès Sorel, have done little for you, my niece," he Chabannes, one of the enemies whom said, addressing her, “in placing you his riches had excitel, being high in on one of the mightiest thrones in the favour of the King, obiained his Europe, for it is not worthy of posconsent to a “procès" against the sessing you.” Poor Margaret could goldsmith of Bourges. One of the then but little anticipate the destiny absurd charges brought against him that awaited her; doomed as she was was, that he had poisoned his constant to return to France, a heart-broken and true friend, the fair and gentle widow, a childless mother, a fallen Lady of Beauté! With base injustice, and dis-crowned Queen-a suppliant Charles made his accuser lis judge. for the penurious charity of other's ; After an indecent proceeding, in which her beauty gone', her hopes blighted; every form of justice was violated, waiting and longing until her weary Jacques Caur was condemned to per- pilgrimage on earth should be accompetual banishment, with confiscation of plished and ended. his goods, in addition to a fine of 400,000 The last hours of King Charles were crowns to the royal coflers. The per- scarcely less wretched. He survived secuted man fled to Rome, stripped of his once-loved Agnès eleven years - a the wealth which he had acquired by suflicient time to prove to himself and the unremitting industry of years. ile to oihers, how utterly he was unworthy found the pontiff

, Nicholas' the Fiftli, ot' her devoted and faithful love. No about to dispatch a fleet against the constant frienil stood by his death-bed, Tuks, and solicited the command, or received his last sigh. Ile died which was readily granted him. But from starvation !—fcaring to partake before his voyage was completed he of food, sustenance, or medicine, lest fell sick, and died at Chio, where his poison should be conveyed in them. mortal remains repose in a church of Ilis own son was the virtual parricide the Cordeliers. Popular rumour in who thus lastened his end, and whose France long refused credence to the emissaries he cheadeil in all those that tidings of his death, In the belief of surrounded him. many he lived to amass, anew, riches On the accession of Louis the no less considerable than the fortune Eleventh, the monks of Loches, anxlie had been stripped of in France with ious to propitiate the new sovereign, such cruel injustice.

who had shown such rancorous hostiWe must not close our notice of lily to Agnès Sorel, requested his perAgnès Sorel without reverting to the mission to remove her monument, fate of her early playmate, Isalelie of which, as we have stated, stood in the Lorraine. She diet loing before ber choir of their cathedral; alleging the friend-having survived lie: sors, who scandal which it caused them in their devotions. " I respect your scruples," being acrostics on her name. When replied the sneering Louis, “and grant Francis the First, many years afteryou the permission you desire. Of wards, gazed at the portrait of the course, you will not hesitate to re- Lady of Beauté, he expressed in the instate in my coffers the large sums of following lines, which he wrote under. money with which Agnès Sorel en. neath it, his sense of the services she dowed you, and which it would be a had rendered her country, and her sin against your tender consciences consequent claims to the gratitude of any longer to retain."

patriotic Frenchmen :The character of Agnès Sorel has since met with a justerappreciation. In

“Gentille Agnès, plus d'honneur tu merites the chapter-house of this very Cathe

(La cause étant de France recouvrer),

Que-ce que peut, dedans un cloitre ouvrer dral of Loches is preserved a manu. Clause nonain ou bien dévot hermite." script, containing one thousand sonnets or poems in her praise; most of them

M. N.

THE OLD MAN'S BEQUEST; A STORY OF GOLD. Through the ornamental grounds of a and heaven knows the gold turns their handsome country residence, at a lit- feelin's to iron.” tle distance from a large town in Ire. “ It all belongs to my son, Henry land, a man of about fifty years of age Lawson, and Mrs. Lawson, and their was walking, with a bent head, and children_it is all theirs;" he sighed the impress of sorrow on his face. heavily, and deep emotion was visible

“Och, yer honour, give me one six- in every lineament of his thin and pence, or one penny, for God's sake," wrinkled face. cried a voice from the other side of The poor woman raised her blooda fancy paling which separated the shot eyes to his face, as if she was grounds in that quarter from a tho. puzzled by his words. She saw that roughfare. “ For heaven's sake, Mr. he was suffering, and with intuitive Lawson, help me as ye helped me before. delicacy she desisted from pressing her I know you've the heart and hand to wants, though her need was great. do it."

“Well, well, yer honor, many's the The person addressed as Mr. Law- good penny ye have given me and the son looked up and saw a woman whom childer, and maybe the next time I see he knew to be in most destitute cir- you you'll have more change.” cumstances, burdened with a large and She was turning sadly away, when sickly family, whom she had struggled John Lawson requested her to remain, to support until her own health was and he made inquiries into the state of ruined.

her family; the report he heard seemed “I have no money_not one far- to touch him even to the forgetfulness thing," answered John Lawson. of his own sorrows; he bade her stop

No money!" reiterated the wo- for a few moments and he would give man, in surprise; “isn't it all yours, her some relief. then?_isn't this garden yours, and that He walked rapidly towards the house, and all the grand things that house and proceeded to the drawingare in it yours?-ay, and grand things It was a large and airy apartthey are-them pictures, and them ment, and furnished with evident probright shinin' things in that drawing- fusion ; the sunlight of the bright sumroom of yours; and sure you deserve mer-day, admitted partially through them well, and may God preserve them the amply-draperied windows, lit up a long to you, for riches hasn't hardened variety of sparkling gilding in pictureyour heart, though there's many a onc, frames, and vases, and mirrors, and


cornices; but John Lawson looked begging has been relieved twenty times round on the gay scene with a kind of by us. I have no money just now.” shudder; he had neither gold, silver, She threw herself back on the sofa nor even copper in his pocket, or in and resumed her novel ; but anger, his possession.

darting from her eyes, contrasted with Hic advanced to a lady who reclined the trained smile which still remained on a rose-coloured sofa, with a fashion- on her lips. able novel in her hand, and after some A dark shade of passion and scorn slight hesitation he addressed her, and came over John Lawson's face, but he stating the name and wants of the poor strove to suppress it, and his voice woman who had begged for aid, he re- was calm when he spoke. quested some money.

“Some time before my son married As he said the words “ some money," you, I gave up all my business to him his lips quivered, and a tremor ran -I came to live here amongst trees through his whole frame, for his and flowers--I gave up all the lucrative thoughts were vividly picturing a re- business I had carried on to my son, cently departed period, when he was partly because my health was failing, under no necessity of asking money and I longed to live with nature, away from any individual.

from the scenes of traffic; but more “Bless me, my dear Mr. Lawson !" specially, because I loved my son with cried the lady, starting up from her no common love, and I trusted to him recumbent position, • did I not give as to a second self. I was not disapyou a whole handful of shillings only pointed—we had one purse and one the day before yesterday; and if you

heart before he married you; he never wasted it all on poor people since, what questioned me concerning what I spent am I to do? Why, indeed, we con- in charity-he never asked to limit in tribute so much to charitable subscrip- any way my expenditure_he loved tions, both Mr. Lawson and I, you you, and I made no conditions con. might be content to give a little less cerning what amount of income I was to common beggars."

to receive, but still I left him in entire Mrs. Lawson spoke with a smile on possession of my business when he her lips, and with a soft caressing married you. I trusted to your fair, voice, but a hard and selfish nature young face, that you would not controshone palpably from her blue eyes. vert my wishes--that you would join She was a young woman, and had the me in my schemes of charity.” repute of beauty, which a clear pink. " And have I not ?" interrupted and-white complexion, and tolerable Mrs. Lawson, in a sharp voice, though features, with luxuriant light hair, ge- the habitual smile still graced her lips; nerally gains from a portion of the do I not subscribe to, I don't know world. She was dressed for the re- how many, charitable institutions ? ception of morning visitors whom she Charity, indeed—there's enough spent expected, and she was enveloped in in charity by myself and my husband. expensive satin and blond, and jewel. But I wish to stop extravagance—it is lery in large proportions.

only extravagance to spend so much John Lawson seemed to feel every on charity as you would do if you word she had uttered in the depths of could; therefore, you shall not have his soul, but he made a strong effort any money just now." to restrain the passion which was rising

Árs. Lawson was

one of those to his lips.

women who can cheerfully expend a Augusta, my daughter, you are most lavish sum on a ball, a dress, or the wife of my only and most beloved any other method by which rank and child-I wish to love you-I wish to luxury dissipate their abundance, but live in peace with you, and all-give who are very economical, and talk me some money to relieve the wants of much of extravagance when


is the unfortunate woman to whom I have demanded for purposes not connected promised relief, and who is waiting with display and style. without. I ask not for myself, but for “ Augusta Lawson, listen to me"the poor and suffering-give me a tri- his voice was quivering with passionfle of money, I say.”

“my own wants are very few ; in “Indeed, Mr. Lawson, a bank would food, in clothes, in all points my exnot support your demands for the poor penditure is trifling. I am not extrapeople; that woman for whom you are vagant in my demands for the poor, either. All I bave expended in chia. cal management-dole out shillings to rity during the few years since you me when the humour seizes you, or came here, is but an insignificant refuse me, as now, when it pleases amount as contrasted with the income you. But, woman, listen to me. I which I freely gave up to my son and shall never request you for one faryou; therefore, some money for the thing of money again. No necessity poor woman who is waiting, I shall now of others shall make me do it. You bave; give me some shillings, for God's shall never again refuse me, for I shall sake, and let me go.” He advanced never give you the opportunity.” closer to her, and held out his hand. He turned hastily from the room,

- Nonsense!” cried Mrs. Lawson ; with a face on which the deep emotion “I am mistress, here_I am deter- of an aroused spirit was depicted mined to stop extravagance. You give strongly. too much to common beggars ; I am In the lobby he met his son, Henry determined to stop it-do not ask me


The young man paused, any further.”

something struck by the excited apA kind of convulsion passed over

pearance of his father. John Lawson's thin face; but he Henry,” said the father, abruptly, pressed his hand closely on his breast, “I want some money; there is a poor and was silent for some moments. woman whom I wish to relieve--- will “I was once rich, I believe. Yes_it

you give me some money for her?” is not a dream,” he said, in a slow, self- Willingly, my dear father; but communing voice. “ Gold and silver, have you asked Augusta. You know once ye were plenty with me; my I have given her the management of hands—my pockets were filled the money-matters of the establish. guineas, crowns, shillings—now I have ment, she is so very clever and econonot one penny to give to that starving, mical.” dying woman, whose face of misery “She has neither charity, nor pity, might soften the very stones she looks nor kindness; she saves from me-

-she on-not one penny.

saves from the starving poor-she " Augusta," he said, turning sud- saves, that she may waste large sums denly towards her, after a second on parties and dresses. I shall never pause of silence, “give me only one more ask her for money-give me a shilling, and I shall not think of the few shillings. My God! the father bitter words you have just said ?" begs of the son for what was his own

“No; not one shilling," answered _for what he toiled all his youthMrs. Lawson, turning over a leaf of for what he gave up out of trusting her novel.

love to that son. Henry, my son, I am “One sixpence, then-one small, sick of asking and begging-ay, sick poor sixpence. You do not know how -sick; but give me some shillings, even a sixpence can gladden the black heart of poverty, when starvation is “You askerl Augusta, then,” said

One sixpence, I say-let me Henry, drawing out his purse, and have it quickly."

glancing with some apprehension to “Not one farthing I shall give you. the drawing-room door. I do beg you will trouble me no fur. “ Henry,” cried Mrs. Lawson, apther.”

pearing at that instant with a face Mrs. Lawson turned her back par

inflamed with anger “Henry, 1 tially to him, and fixed all her atten- would not give your father any money tion on the novel.

to-day, because he is so very extrava“Woman! I have cringed and gant in giving it all away." begged ; I would not so beg for my- Henry was in the act of opening self, from you-no; I would lie down his purse ; he glanced apprehensively and die of want before I would, on to Mrs. Lawson ; his face had a mild my own account, request of you—of and passive expression, which was a your hard heart—one bit of bread. true index of his yielding and easilyAll the finery that surrounds you is governed nature. His features were mine-it was purchased with my small

, delicate, and almost effemimoney, though now you call it yours; nately handsome; and in every lineaand, usurping the authority of both ment a want of decision and force of master and mistress here, you-in character was visible. what you please to call your economic Henry, give me some shillings, I



« PredošláPokračovať »