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beetles, that these useful appendages were nearly being cut off to the roots. The lake was, as usual, covered with shipping, except where floating islands interfered. The province of Kiang-si is one of the inost populous in even over-populated China, yet, notwithstanding this, they had, after leaving the lake, to travel for two days across a very desert country (owing probably to some peculiarity of geological conformation) before they reached Nan-tchang-fou, the capital of the province.
Here being dubiously received, they lodged themselves in the Palace of Literary Compositions, and ordered supper at the expense of the mandarin of the quarter, eating the same on a terrace in public. It was in vain that the authorities waited upon the redoubtable travellers to tell them that quarters had been prepared for them in the interior of the city ; where they were was clean and cool, they would not budge for all the authorities of Nan-tchang-fou.
So anxious, however, were the said authorities to get rid of their visitors, that they lent themselves to every suggestion, and when it was at length determined to proceed by water, they appointed a sort of frigate of war to attend to their safety. They themselves travelled in one junk, the mandarins and escort in another, and the supplies were upon a scale that totally eclipsed anything that they say was ever accorded to a Russian envoy. The junk allotted to the “humble” missionaries was a little floating palace; there is no doubt, indeed, that for river navigation nothing can be more elegant and convenient than certain of the junks of the Chinese mandarins. For almost the first time since they left the frontiers of Tartary the travellers expressed themselves satisfied with the attentions paid to them.
After fifteen days of the most delightful navigation, against the current, through fields and gardens, villages and towns, the mountain of Mei-ling obliged them to exchange all these comforts for the ruder conveyance by palanquin. At the top of the mountain, which presented the usual innumerable paths instead of one common highway, each covered with files of weary worn-out porters carrying the traffic of Canton into the interior, is a kind of arch which marks the boundaries of the provinces of Kiang-si and of Kuang-tong, or Canton.
At the foot of the mountain lay the city of Nan-hioung, the most northerly port on the Tigris, or river of Canton, and after the experience they had had of the delights of mandarin junks upon the Kan-Kiang, they hastened to apply for similar accommodation to Canton. Nor were they disappointed: junks, decorated after the same style as those which had borne them to the foot of the mountains of Mei-ling, were placed at their disposal, and, as they admit themselves, what there remained of the long journey to accomplish was nothing but a “promenade.” They had nothing to do but to let the current bear them on peaceably to the port of Europeans. The sixth day of their journey, the Tigris issued forth from a hilly region into open, boundless plains, and a short time afterwards “ strong vivifying emanations” announced the proximity of the ocean. The sun had not gone down ere they perceived, as it were, an immense forest without leaves—they were the masts of European vessels and Chinese junks, above which floated the banners of Great Britain, of the United States, and of Holland. The feelings of our intrepid travellers Dec.-VOL. CI. NO. CCCCVIII.
upon arriving at a place where all their fatigues would vanish, all their battlings for supremacy cease, and they would once more become sleek, well-fed, quiet missionaries, can be readily imagined.
Upon the subject of Chinese politics—a point upon which the opinion of so experienced a traveller as M. Huc cannot but be of the highest interest he does not attach so much importance to the present insurrection as is generally done in Europe. He combats the opinion generally received that the East is stationary. He proves by history, that China has undergone many revolutions, and is, indeed, in a constant state of chronic insurrection. The commencement of the present one he traces to the mere gathering together of a troop of bandits. (It is but fair to say that the author manifests throughout his work an ill-disguised hostility to English and American propagandism, to which the first movement has been attributed by others.) The bandits were joined by the secret societies, whose common bond of unity was hatred of the Mantchu Tartars. The movement may also, M. Huc thinks, have received some impulse from the gradual infiltrating of European ideas. There is some progress in religion made by the insurgents, but our author justly remarks, that it is difficult at the present moment to see anything else in the leader of the insurrection than a kind of Chinese Muhammed, seeking to found his power by fire and the sword, exclaiming at the same time to his followers, 66 There is no other God than God, and Tien-te is the younger brother of Jesus Christ.”
M. Huc does not think, further, that the new insurrection will do any. thing towards opening China to Europe. Even the missions, he thinks, have little to hope. As to the Chinese Christians, he avers that they have kept aloof from the movement altogether, and should Tien-te triumph, he believes there will be a great persecution of native Christians, and as great an hostility manifested against Europeans as has ever existed. Indeed, we have seen some statement in the papers already amounting to an open demonstration to that effect from these Mussulman-Christian insurgents, from whom so much was expected in the cause of humanity and civilisation. Should the Mantchu Tartars, on the other hand, triumph against those who have raised the Cross on their standards, a still more fearful persecution will await the unfortunate Christians, and the exclusion of foreign devils will be still more tenaciously insisted upon than ever.
THE SISTER OF THE HOTEL DIEU.
1. ONE of the least noticed and least cared-for churches in Paris, is probably that of St. Séverin. If the stranger happens to enter it, he passes rapidly along its sombre aisles, scarcely pauses at its dim chapels, and he leaves with an impression that his time has been misspent in visiting so little interesting a building.
This church stands in a narrow street, to which it has given its name between the Rue St. Jacques and the Rue de la Harpe, amongst grimlooking houses six stories high: its lofty slate spire, rising from a heavy tower, had attracted me from the exterior gallery of Notre-Dame, and when I descended to the Parvis, I made my way to it, resolved to find what there might be in a place which I had only heard named with indifference.
At first, I was struck, on mounting the steps, with a curious carved portal, with sculpture in relief, and niches with pendant arches: in one was a decapitated bishop, and on the walls on each side I observed two oddly-shaped lions. I afterwards learnt that between these strange-looking animals, in days of yore, certain decrees of ecclesiastical justice were delivered, or, as the phrase was, “ Donné entre deux lions !” The portal was also formerly noticeable for another singularity. One of the sides of the folding-doors used to be entirely covered with horse-shoes, nailed there by those about to undertake a journey in order to propitiate St. Martin, a patron of the church, and the especial guardian of travellers. A door on the other side of the building, leading into the ancient cemetery, has, moreover, a peculiar feature in the following lines inscribed above it, remarkable for their quaint morality and curious play upon words :
Passant, penses-tu pas passer par ce passage,
Où, pensant, j'ai passé ?
Car en n'y pensant pas, tu te verras passé. There were no relics of an old superstition now further to arrest my attention in the portal, and pushing open the customary green-baize door, much faded and torn, my antiquarian enthusiasm was considerably damped by the aspect of the dismal, chilly vault under which I found myself. I walked on, however, along the dreary low side-aisle, and looked up with disappointment at the windows, which were heavily barred like those of a prison, and, instead of lending light, added only a deeper horror to the gloom. The walls were green with damp and mildew—the stone pavement the same--and, except an infirm beggar near the entrance, I saw no one in the church; unless the darkness deceived me, every chapel was deserted, and, altogether, a more desolate place than the interior of St. Séverin I thought I had never beheld.
Nevertheless, I continued my inspection, and paused before several pillars with grotesque capitals, representing crouching men, who wore pointed shoes, and displayed long floating bands, on one of which a sudden gleam of sunlight exhibited the words “ Maria Ave,” carved in
characters shaped like dead men's bones: hands with sharp nails were grasping scymetars which threatened the heads of weird old men, whose fingers pointed to some unseen object at their feet. I had turned the angle of the deeply-shadowed choir, when, where I fancied myself quite alone, I perceived in a chapel before me a small twinkling light, by the faint ray of which I could see a female figure kneeling, and so absorbed in prayer, that she seemed perfectly unconscious of my approach. I stopped involuntarily and watched her for several minutes, but she did not move, and might for her stillness have been taken for one of the stone figures which were traced in relief on the altar before which she remained in adoration. It was that of St. Séverin, the principal patron of the church, who, legends say, fled from the world, after having exhausted its pleasures and its follies, and sought repose in the most dismal spot that could be imagined, for it was no other than the bottom of an exhausted well, where, with “ moist views” of religion, he dedicated himself to severe penance for the sins “ done in his days of life.”
I continued to gaze on the kneeling figure, which, as my eyes got more accustomed to the gloom, I could see wore the habit of a Sister of Mercy. Her hood was drawn entirely over her face, and her thick, black veil wrapped her in its impenetrable folds. Her long, wide sleeves covered her clasped hands; and so much was she bent down towards the pavement, that her attitude seemed almost prone.
For more than a quarter of an hour I waited in curious impatience, to see whether she would finish her orisons; but they did not cease, and I continued my walk, looking back, however, occasionally toward the small Jight whose solitary beam glimmered in the darkness. By this time I found that I was not alone in the church. Several women, in white caps and large, dark cloaks, had prostrated themselves on the damp floor of different chapels, and in more than one candles had been lit. Besides these, an old man and two much younger, were kneeling in the centre aisle, and all seemed entirely absorbed by their devotion. As I passed out of the church, I gave a few sous to an old woman who opened the door for me, and held out her hand as she did so. I asked her if it were a saint's day, and she answered, crossing herself, and in a surprised tone,
“ Certainly; it is the day of Saint Julien le Pauvre, and those who have any sick at the Hôtel Dieu come here to pray for them.”
It was impossible to leave the place without asking the old doorkeeper a few more questions. She answered them with alacrity, as if it was a great relief to hear her own voice in this silent and sombre retreat, in the heart of the ever-moving city of Paris. I inquired if she knew who it was that was praying in the chapel of St. Séverin, to which she replied:
« Oh, yes ! it would be strange if I did not, for la Sæur Firmine comes every day at this hour, and stays longer than any one else. She is a holy person, and deserves to be made a saint of, if ever any did. She is a Sister of Mercy at the Hôtel Dieu ; and all the time that she is not in the hospital, waiting on the sick, she spends in this church, praying for them. 'Oh! Sister Firmine is a true saint; there can be no doubt of it.”
I was inclined to be of the old woman's opinion, and my desire increased to know more of one so devoted and so devout. There was, however, very little chance of my ever doing so, as this was the first, and would probably be the last time of my entering the gloomy old church
of St. Séverin, and I felt no inclination to wander through the wards of an hospital for the purpose of gratifying a feeling of mere curiosity.
Chance, however, singularly enough, removed the veil which shrouded the history of the Sister of the Hôtel Dieu. It happened, as things of this kind often do, simply enough.
Amongst my acquaintance in Paris was a lady whose beauty and accomplishments were the least of her charms, for to those advantages she added a mind of the highest rectitude, and a heart filled with the tenderest feeling. Her religion was the religion of charity, and showed itself in all her thoughts and deeds—not ostentatiously, for “ charity vaunteth not itself,” but by quiet, secret acts of the purest benevolence, by the kindest words, and in the most unobtrusive manner. I was in the habit of seeing Madame de Frémont—that was her name-frequently ; and as her tastes agreed with mine on points of art and archæology, I used to report to her whatever progress in discovery it was my fortune to make during my excursions in Paris. A day or two after my visit to St. Séverin, I called upon my friend, and, in describing the impressions I had received there, did not fail to dwell upon the rapt enthusiasm of the religieuse of the Hôtel Dieu, whose name, as it was given to me by the old doorkeeper, I repeated.
*" Ah !” said Madame de Frémont, with a sigh, “hers is a melancholy story !”
“What!" I exclaimed, “ you know something about her, then ?”
“I think,” replied Madame de Frémont, “I am acquainted with every event of any consequence in her life.”
“ I cannot tell you,” I observed, “how deeply interested I felt in her appearance; and if it were not an indiscrétion ".
* You would like to know her history,” continued my friend. “ There is no reason why I should not tell it you, for my part in it is too slight to make me hesitate. Besides, the general outline of what has befallen poor Marie has already been before the public in the proceedings of the Correctional Police. What I am able to add to it arises from my knowledge of her early condition-her father having been a small farmer close to the estate of M. de Frémont, in Normandy-and certain passages in her after-life, related to me by herself, which caused me to take a further interest in her welfare. If, therefore, you can forego the attractions of the Français this evening, I will keep your attention awake by as painfulI may almost say, as tragical-a story as that of Adrienne herself, though the scene be laid in humble life, and the actors neither heroes nor princesses."
I agreed most willingly to this proposition, and the following is the substance of Madame de Frémont's narrative.
II. The farm on which Marie Caron was born belonged to the commune of Croisset, a village on the skirts of the forest of Roumare, within two short leagues of Rouen. Her parents were very respectable, and Marie, being their only child, was carefully brought up; and the capital of the province being so near, a better education was afforded her than usually falls to the lot of the class to which she belonged. She had beauty and