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to come, I am willing, instead of adding more at this time, to conclude the evening in a way which
afford your minds some little amusement, and at the same time shew you, by example, the fatal effects of a departure from the holy rest of the Lord's-day.
“ The story I am about to read is not an English one: the scene of it is laid in France. The person who collected the materials is a Protestant, as will appear in many parts of the narrative, though one who seems better acquainted with French manners than with those of our country; and as the manuscript was originally written in French, it is possible that many Gallicisms may be found in this little piece which have escaped the eye of the translator. But, be this as it may, I shall present it to you in the very
form in which it was delivered into my hands: and you may not, perhaps, like it the less for its not being so entirely homespun as the history of Anna and Miss Parker."
The lady of the manor then read as follows.
La Guinguette. There formerly resided, in the ancient city of Rouen, in Normandy, a certain merchant of the name of Gaspard de Foix. This man, though possessing small store of worldly goods, counted himself rich above all his neighbours in possessing a large Bible, which he had inherited from his ancestors.
This Bible had been printed in Holland, about the middle of the seventeenth century, and was a present from a merchant of that country, who traded in the mouth of the Seine, to Reginald de Foix, the greatgrandfather of Gaspard. The sacred volume in question was bound in red morocco, and embossed with gold. But time had rendered the bright colour of the leather nearly black, and the gilding had lost all its splendour. The inner leaves of the book were also much worn, and, in one or two places, some pages were actually wanting. Notwithstanding these various imperfections, this sacred volume was, as I before said, deservedly esteemed above every other article in possession of the honest citizen of Rouen; and it is believed, that, for many years of his life, few days passed in
which he failed to retire to an apartment in the back of his house for the purpose of reading a portion of this holy book, or causing it to be read in his presence.
În consequence of the daily study of this sacred volume, the mind of Gaspard de Foix, through the divine blessing, became gradually enlightened on many subjects. But there was one point in particular that frequently occupied his thoughts, and occasionally excited in him a painful degree of solicitude--this was the manner in which the Lord's-day is kept in that country.
When we have been used to any mode of conduct, or to any peculiar habit or custom, from the days of childhood, and have never chanced to hear the propriety of such habit called in question, it is surprising how tardy we are, in after life, even with the most pure intentions, in detecting any impropriety in such mode of conduct or such custom.
It is said of the lower ranks in Normandy, by a celebrated modern writer, “ The paisans (and we may add, the lower ranks of citizens) in Lower Normandy are today what they were in the time of William the Conqueror. Their manner of speaking, of lodging, and of clothing themselves, is nearly the same. Civilization has not made
progress, and the simplicity of their manners is not less remarkable than their rusticity."
Such being the case, it is not to be wondered at if the mind of Gaspard de Foix opened slowly upon this subject, namely, the duties of the Sabbath, even after they had begun to form a part of his daily meditation; and indeed a considerable time had elapsed from his first suspicion that things were mismanaged in this country respecting the Sabbath, before he was brought to a right understanding on the subject.
The life of Gaspard de Foix had passed with as little change of place and circumstance as we can conceive possible in the case of an inhabitant of this earth, where every thing is liable to continual variation, and where the creature has no sooner arrived at perfection, than it hastens to decay.
Gaspard de Foix held the same magazine for stockings and hats which his father and his grandfather, and,
for åught I know, others of his ancestors, had held before him. The house which he occupied still stands in that street of the city which has a part of the cathedral and the palace of the Archeveque at one end, and the Vieux Marché at the other. It is built of beams of timber, the intervals of which are filled with a composition made of mud. The timber was formerly painted black, and the plaster once could have boasted a coat of white: but the white has long since been worn away by rain and other accidents, reducing the plaster to its original colour, which forms no agreeable contrast with the dingy aspect of the weatherbeaten timbers.
This house, with many others in its neighbourhood, is many stories high, each story projecting, like inverted steps, one above another.
It has also a high roof covered with dark tiles, in which are two rows of windows without glass or shutter, and exposing through each gloomy aperture the blackened beams which uphold the venerable roof. Thus the whole fabric exhibits a picture of as extreme antiquity, though of infinitely less beauty, as the towers of the cathedral itself, or the Gothic gateway of the halle.
The furniture of Gaspard's house was the same as his forefathers had used for some generations. Behind the shop was a large but dark chamber, which at once served as sitting-room, kitchen, and sleeping-apartment. This room was paved with coarse red tiles of an octagonal form; the walls were adorned with bright brass vessels, plates and dishes of ordinary delf, and other articles for culinary purposes; while in a recess, at the further end of the room, stood two beds, inclosed with curtains of Gobelin tapestry of very ancient fabric.
The shop itself boasted of as few attractions to the eye as the inner apartments: it was dark and gloomy, the paint having been worn away, through the lapse of time, from the counter and shutters, and the fair light of heaven being intercepted by the lofty houses on the opposite side of the narrow street. Nevertheless, the figure of Jean d'Arc, encompassed in a burning-stake, fixed over the door in glowing colours upon canvas, attracted the eye of every passenger, and not unfrequently succeeded in drawing those to the shop who might otherwise have passed it without notice.
In this place, being such as I have described it, Gaspard de Foix first saw the day; in a small school in the neighbouring street he received his education; and here his youth passed in preparations for carrying on the same occupation which had employed his forefathers, perhaps, for many generations. The only means therefore which he had of acquiring new ideas was the study of that sacred volume, which lay concealed in his house, and which he considered as a treasure at once more precious and inexhaustible than the far-famed magazine of riches possessed by the young man of Balsora.
I have mentioned above, that, through the medium of this inestimable volume transmitted to him by his ancestors, Gaspard de Foix began gradually to acquire new ideas, and I have also intimated, that the subject of the Lord's-day, and the manner in which it was kept by his country people, had especially exercised his thoughts for a long time, before he could satisfactorily make up
upon the nature and duties of that holy day. Gaspard de Foix remembered that his father and grandfather used to keep their shop open upon the holy day appointed for rest, and he had often heard them declare, that this was the day, of all the seven, which brought most customers to their shop; inasmuch as the country people crowded into town on that day, and they who passed from the cathedral to the quay and the boulevards, generally stopped to make their bargains for the week. Since he had become master of the shop, he had, however, thought it right to close his shutters in part on this day; taking care nevertheless to leave his doors and windows so far open as to allow free access to such of his customers as found it most convenient to make their purchases on a Sunday. Thus, even after Gaspard de Foix became somewhat troubled about the duties of Sunday, he contrived to quiet his conscience with this partial respect to the day, without running the risk of injuring his worldly concerns.
We shall have occasion to shew whether he found this partial respect for the Lord's-day sufficient, when, through the divine blessing upon the study of the Scriptures, his views became more clear and consistent upon this point.
This good citizen remembered the days of his infancy, when he had been carried by his nurse and his parents into those scenes of gaiety which recur every Sunday in that country, when, after having heard mass in the cathedral, and received the sprinkling of the holy water, he had been thence conveyed through the crowded streets to the quay, to the boulevards, or on the Champs de Mars, to partake of the cakes and bon-bon which are there displayed for sale, and to mix with the groups of little children who amused themselves in those places, while those who had the care of them pursued their own pleasures in a way more consistent with the feelings of unconverted nature at a maturer age. He also recol-lected the days of youth, when the Guinguette on the Sabbath evening afforded him pleasures of a more poignant and dangerous nature than the Sunday sports of his childhood; and the periods in which he joined the quadrille on the evening of every Sabbath during the fine days of spring, summer, and autumn, under the shade of the linden and the elm, were still fresh in his memory. Neither had the danger and impropriety of this national mode of spending the Lord's-day occurred to his mind, till, by frequent reading of the Holy Scriptures, he was brought to form a just idea of the nature of this holy day, and the reason why it was given to man; whence he was led to this conclusion--that the adopted mode of devoting this day to worldly pleasure was a means too successfully chosen by Satan to deprive mankind of the blessings of the day appointed for a holy
This honest citizen had passed the fiftieth year of his age, when, through the divine blessing, he was enabled to collect and set in order his opinions on this important subject, as well as on others connected with it, on a sheet of paper, which was found, after his death, among the leaves of his Bible, and which I shall transcribe at full length in this place, as an evidence of the happy effects which are sometimes produced by the simple teaching of the Holy Spirit.
“ The word Sabbath I understand to signify, in the original language, rest. The first mention which is made of the Sabbath in Scripture is in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis And on the seventh day God ended