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venerable shepherds sitting or lying on little banks of the meadows; I experienced a painful sensation on seeing these old men insulated, left to themselves in solitude: I was going to contemplate the more charming picture, these mountains peopled with inhabitants so young, so active, and busy, this happy residence of innocence and gaiety, where the echoes repeat nothing but songs of joy, of innocent smiles and the sweet notes of the pipe. I quitted all that is most amiable upon earth, infancy and earliest youth, and it was with a kind of melancholy that I found myself with this multitude of old men; this meeting of the two extremes of life, offered me a contrast so much the more striking, as these good sires, carelessly stretched upon the grass, scemed plunged in a profound and melancholy reverie; their pensive tranquility seemed dejection of spirits, and their meditation, sadness, caused by a cruel desertion. I saw them alone; far from their children, I pitied them, and advanced slowly towards them, with a mingled sentiment of compassion and respect. Walking thus, I found myself opposite to one of the old men who engaged all my attention; he had the most noble and most engag: ing figure, his hair, of a most dazzling whiteness, fell in silver ringlets on his venerable shoulders; candour and goodness were painted on his features, and the serenity of his brow and of his locks shewed the unal. terable tranquility of his mind; he was seated at the foot of a mountain, cut to a point in this place, and covered with moss and herbage; an enormous mass of rocks placed perpendicularly over him, projected from the top of the mountain, and formed, at an elevation of more than two hundred feet, a sort of rustic canopy which covered his venerable head from the heat of the sun.
After having obtained permission of the old man to seat myself by his side, I repeated to him what the little shepherd of the mountain had just teld me, and I asked him for the explanation of it. "Time out of mind, (replied the old man) the men of this country have devoted to the pastoral life the two ages that seem best fitted for it; these two extremes of life, infancy, which is just come from the hands of nature, and old age, just ready to re-enter her bosom. Children, as you have seen, conduct the flocks on the mountains; it is there they acquire that rigour, that agility, that hardiness which particularly distinguish the inhabitants of the mountain; they are trained to climb the rocks, to cross torrents; they are accustomed to contemplate, without fear, the depth of the precipices, and often run on the edge of the abyss to recover a fugitive goat; but at fifteen they quit the shepherds' life to become cultivators; at this epoch, the young man, proud of being associated to the labours of fuis father, abandons, without regret, his mountain ; he joy fully resigns his crook into weaker hands; henceforth the pick-axe and the spade will more worthily employ his nervous arm, yet, before he descends into the plains, he casts a sorrowful look upon his flock, hitherto the sole object of all his cares, and he does not receive without a tender regret the last caresses of his faithful dog. Admitted into the class of labourers, we remain there till the decline of our strength, but when we can no longer labour at agricultore we humbly resume our scrip and crook, and pass the rest of our days in these ineadows. The old man was silent, a slight cloud for an instant darkened the serenity of his brow: I saw that he recalled with some regret the time when old age had forced him to devote himself for ever to a pastoral life; but he was silent and I dared not to interrogate him more; but soon after breaking
silence :- And for the remainder,' resumed he, "our old age is fectly happy, it slides away in a sweet tranquility. But, interrupt. ed I, so long a habit of labouring must render this eternal repose tedious ?' 'No,' replied he...' because this repose is useful. I should be consumed with weariness if I remained unemployed in our cottages; he who does not render himself useful to others is a burthen to himself; but taking care of these flocks, sitting all day under these rocks, I am as useful to my family as when I was able to till the earth and to follow the plough; this thought alone suffices to make me love my peaceable retreat. Besides, think, that when a man has, during fifty years, exercised without intermission his arms and his strength, that it is a sweet reflection to have no other duty to fulfil than that of passing his days softly reclining on the turf of the meadow.'...' And in this state of inaction do you never experience discontent?' ·llow can I experience discontent surrounded by such dear objects, and which recal to my memory such dear thoughts? I have traversed all those mountains which encompass us in my earliest youth, I can discover from here, by the situation of the groups of fir trees and of the mass of rocks, the places I oftenest frequented; my weakened sight will not permit me to distinguish all that your eyes discover; but my memory supplies the defect, it represents faithfully what my eye cannot perceive; this kind of reverie demands a certain attention which increases the interest. My imagination transports me on the elevated hills which are lost in the clouds: impressions never to be obliterated guide me to traverse those winding routs, those steep and slippery paths, which intersect and unite them, whilst my decaying memory abandons me all at once sometimes on the brink of a torrent, sometimes on the edge of a precipice; I stop, I shudder, and if that instant I can recollect the road I have lost, my heart palpitates with as much joy as in the spring of my days. It is thus without moving from my place, transported on the mountains, I see them, I run over them, and I recal all the quick emotions and all the pleasures of my youth'
As the old man ended these words, we heard at a distance, and at the summit of the mountain behind us, the notes of a flageolet: - Ah ! said the old man, smiling, “There's Tobie come on the rock; he is repeating the air that I love so much, it is the romance that I played so often at his age.' In saying these words the good old man marked time slowly with his head, and gaiety sparkled in his eyes. · Who is Tobie?? asked. He is a shepherd in his fifteenth year, he loves my granddaughter Lina, they are of the same age; may I see them united before I die! This is the time our grand-daughter brings us some refreshment every morning. Then Tobie always brings his goats to the rock where he knows I repose.' The old man was still speaking, when I perceived at a distance, at the other end of the valley, a number of young girls who advanced neatly dressed, and were soon dispersed in the plain: at the same time the shepherds of the hills all ran iogether, and appeared on the steep borders of the mountains that encompassed us; one party pressed forward to the extremity of the precipice, which made one shudder to see the earth that supported, them shake under their feet; the others had climbed up trees in order to discover sooner the lively and amiable party that attended every day at the same hour: at this epoch of the day the flocks of the mountains were abandoned in an instant to wander at liberty; all was in movement on the bills and in the plain ;
curiosity, glowing love, paternal tenderness, produced a general emotion among both the young and old shepherds. The young villagers separated to seek their grandfathers in the meadow, to present their pretty osier baskets with fruits and cheeses: they ran with eagerness towards these good old men who held out their arms to receive them. I admired the grace and light figure of these pretty peasants of the Pyrenees, who were all remarkable for the elegance and beauty of their shapes; but
heart was most interested for Lina; she was still at a hundred paces from us when her grandfather pointed her. out from a group of
young girls, in saying, “There is the prettiest,' and it was not paternal fondness, for indeed Lina was charming.-----She threw herself into the arms of the old man, who pressed her tenderly to his heart, she then quitted him to fetch her basket, which one of her companions held; in this motion Lina raised her timid eyes towards the summit of the mountain, and Tobie, on the point of the rock, received this tender look, for which he had impatiently waited since the rising of Aurora, and which sweetly recompensed him for all his day's labour. Tobie then threw down a bunch of roses, which fell a few paces from the group formed by Lina and her companions. Lina blushed, but dared not pick them up; the old man enjoyed her confusion, and the other girls laughing with a little malice and a great deal of gaiety, cried out all together, It is for Lina, it is for Lina at last Lina was condemned to take the bouquet; with a trembling hand she placed it in her bosom, and to hide her embarrassment took refuge on the rock with her grandfather, and seated herself by him. I left them to enjoy the charms of a conversation full of tenderness and sweetness, and with my head full of the respectable old man, of Lina, and of Tobie, I reached my little habitation, saying, if happiness exists on earth, it is here; such are the sentiments which ought to assure us the possession.
We have seen that the life of a peasant of the Pyrenees is divided into three remarkable epochs; he is first a shepherd of the mountain, from the age of eight to fifteen; he then enters the class of the labourer, and when he arrives at old age he becomes a shepherd of the valley. The most brilliant of these periods is when the young man is promoted to the rank of a labourer, they celebrate this with great solemnity. As soon as the shepherd of the mountain has attained his fifteenth year, his father goes and conducts him into the fields or vineyards, which he is from henceforth to cultivate: this memorable day is a day of rejoicing to the young man's family; I wished to see this rural ceremony; I spoke to my good old friend, Lina's grandfather, who informed me that Tobie in a month would quit for ever the mountain and the rock, to which his love for Lina had so often conducted him. And there is another cir. cumstance which will add still more to the interest of this ceremony: Tobie's father, who is seventy, will on that day renounce the class of a cultivator to enter into that of a shepherd; he will assemble his four sons of a first marriage; 'Tobie is a child of the second, and the youngest of his brothers is at least thirty. The day fixed for the ceremony at last arrived, I was on the plain three hours before sun-set. I found all the old shepherds assembled at the foot of the mountain, where Tobie watched his flock; soon after we perceived a crowd of peasants and villagers advancing, of all ages, fantastically attired; Lina, conducted by her mother, placed herself acar me, and without doubt was not the least
interested in the festival. This party preceded Tobie's father, who gravely advanced, surrounded by his four sons: the old man carried a spade, and was supported by his eldest son.
Being arrived at the foot of the mountain, all the multitude separated to let him have a free passage; but the old man stopped, and, sorrowfully surveying the steep road which led to the summit of the mountain, he sighed, and after a moment's silence :... I ought,' said he, according to the general custom, to go myself and fetch my son, but I am seventy years old, and can only wait for him.'-Ah, my father!' cried his children, we will carry you.' They received universal applause for this proposition; the old man smiled; and his sons formed, with their arms twined together, a kind of litter, took him gently up, and began the march immediately.
An the country women remained in the plain, but I followed the old man, as I wished to be a witness of the meeting with Tobie. We walked slowly, the old man making them stop from time to time, tv take breath, and to contemplate the places we were traversing, and which broaght to his memory the sweet recollection of his youth.
He started at hearing, from all quarters, the clear sounds of the bells hung. at the necks of the sheep and goats, and which are only used for the focks of the mountain : he frequently told us of particular objects that we should see; but time had often destroyed or changed what he had represented.'. He regarded all that was offered to our view, on the road, with a double interest of sentiment and curiosity; as we advanced farther on, the expression of his countenance became more lively and animated; ! joy sparkled in his eyes, and he seemed to renew his life, in breathing, for the last time, the invigorating and pure air of the mountain.
At last we arrived at the end of our journey: they set the old man on a dock; he rose, and, supporting himself on the spade which he had not quitted, he contemplated with delight the immense countries that he commanded. At this instant Tobie came, and threw himself at his father's feet; and the old man, embracing him with tenderness, “Here, my son,' said 'he, 'take this spade, which has served me half a century; may you keep it as long! To resign it niyself into your hands, I have prolonged, beyond the ordinary term, the labour which is painful at my age: I quit to-day our fields, our vineyards; but you are going to replace me.' Saying these words, the old man gave 'Tobie the spade, and asked his crook in exchange. Oh, my father!' said the young man, receive again this faithful dog, who has obeyed me seven years, and for the future will follow and defend you; he will never more usefully serve me. At these words the old man could not retain a few tears, which gevtly rolled down his venerable cheek; he caressed the dog his son presented to him; the animal struggled in Tobie's arms, and seemed to express, by his lamentations, his fear of changing his master. We all took the road to the valley, where we found the villagers, and the festival was ended by a rustic ball; when I had the pleasure of seeing Tobie dance with Lina.
The following day I returned into the meadow; where I found my two good old friends, seated by the side of one another, entertaining themselves with an account of their youth, but mostly of their children. Lina brought them, punctually at the accustomed hour, fruits and milk. Tobie was not there, but Lina threw her eyes on the rock; she saw
with quick delight the mutual friendship of the old men; it was for her a tender presage.
In short, I have since heard, that the old men enjoyed the happiness of celebrating the nuptials of Lina and Tobie; and that Lina is now one of the tenderest and happiest wives and mothers.
From the German of Gellert.
"HEtender-hearted Araminta loved her kusband sincerely; for they
had been but two months married. He constituted her sole felicity. Their desires and aversions were the same. It was Araminta's study, by diligent attention, to anticipate her husband's wishes. • Such a wife,' says my male reader, who entertains thoughts of matrimony, such a wife would I desire.' And such a wife may'st thou enjoy. Araminta's husband fell sick of a very dangerous malady! No hope,' said the Physician, and shook his awful wig. Bitterly wept Araminta. O Death! might I prefer a petition ! Spare, O spare my husband, and let me be the victim in his stead!'. Death, to her astonishment, straight appeared: “And what,' cried the grim Tyrant, is thy' request?' There,' said Araminta, trembling with fear and amazement, 'there he lies, pierced with intolerable agony.; he implores thy speedy relief..... For heaven's sake, put him instantly out of his misery.'
THE HAPPY PEASANT.
ANY are the silent pleasures of the honest peasant; who rises
cheerfully to his labour .......look into his dwelling... where the scene of every happiness chiefly lies :.. ...he has the same domestic endearments...... as much joy and comfort in his children, and as flattering hopes of their doing well......to enliven his hours and glad his heart, as you could conceive in the most affluent station.... And I make no doubt, in general, but if the true account of his joys and sufferings were to be balanced with those of his betters......that the upshot would prove to be little more than this, that the rich man had the more meat......but the poor man the better stoinach; the one had more luxury...... more able physicians to attend and set him to rights; the other more health and soundness in his bones, and less occasion for their help; that after these two articles betwixt them were balanced... in all other things they stood upon a level:...... that the sun shines as warm...the air blows as fresh... and the earth breathes as fragrant upon the one as the other: and that they have an equal share in all the beauties and real benefits of nagure.'