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that with slight modifications it is to this day spoken in thirty-seven departments, and still is the mother tongue, as far as regards the peasantry, throughout a population of fourteen millions; last
Oh! quaoucoumet se passo? Oun és la fillo alerto? ly, and what as regards our present subject is
Soun oustal lambrejo à-trabès
Lous brens feilluts d'abelanès;
Ah! bezi sul faoutul sa menino que dron;
La fillo d'Estanquet; mais se plan! qu'es acò?
We subjoin the literal translation into French which accompanies the original in the edition before us; by its aid any one acquainted with that language will readily follow the Gascon.
Au tour du hameau d'Estanquet, sur les bords de ce ruisseau si frais, dont l'eau limpide, toute l'année à l'ombre, sur le caillou, caquette, une jolie fille, en cueillant des fleurs, l'été dernier, sur la pelouse, au bruit de son humeur joyeuse, de sa voix, et de ses chansons, rendait les oiselets jaloux.
more important, that it is a copious, rich, and melodious tongue, and one which, if inferior to the French in grammatical structure and scientific polish, far surpasses it in its capabilities as a language for a poet.
It is true that Jasmin has done much for his favorite dialect. He has refined, polished and established it; he has purged out of it the expressions and terms which it had borrowed from the French, replacing them by genuine Gascon substitutes, or at least moulding them to the genius of his idiom; he has restored its former freshness and elegance; he has fixed by his writing the uncertainty of a speech long committed only to oral tradition; he has thrown lustre on it by his genius, and he has given it authority by his success. Agen is thus enabled to reclaim her ancient title of the "eye of Guienne," and thanks to her Pourquoi ne chante-t-elle plus? Haies et prairies faithful son, the Agenais is now the Attic of the verdoient, les rossignols qui chansonnent viennent southern dialects. Jasmin, of course, regards it l'agacer jusque dans son jardin; est-ce qu'elle au- with the strongest affection; and in none of his rait quitté sa maison? Non; son chapeau de paille fine est là-bas sur son banc; mais il n'est smaller pieces does he exhibit more power and plus orné d'un ruban; son petit jardin non plus vigor than in the eloquent ode in which he den'a plus si bonne mine; son rateau, son arrosoir, fends it against his friend M. Dumon, and other sont à travers les jonquilles renversées; les "Francimans who have condemned it to death." branches de rosiers tombent pêle-mêle sur de gros A vain effort; for, according to the poet, his pieds de seneçon, et ses allées si vantées sont mother-tongue has a vitality which will triumph toutes pleines de mouron. over all attacks, and through all time. But it is time to leave the garb, and turn to the body of Jasmin's poetry. The "Abuglo de Castèl-Cuillè” of his longer pieces first claims our attention; for the Chalibari, his earliest poem of any length, though containing fine passages, has been far surpassed by his subsequent efforts, and is, after all, only a burlesque composition, or rather, as Nodier says, the converse of one. The Abuglo-the blind girl-is a simple story, founded on a local tradition; it might be told in two words; let us see what it becomes in Jasmin's hands.
Oh! quelque chose se passe? Où est la fille alerte? Sa maison scintille à travers les branches touffues des noisetiers; approchons; la porte est ouverte, ne faisons pas de bruit, on entendrait. Ah! je vois sur la fauteuil sa grand-mère qui dort; je vois aussi, derrière la fenêtre, la fille d'Estanquet; mais elle se plaint! qu'est-ce? Des pleurs tombent sur sa petite main, est-ce qu'il fait
noir dans son cœur?
At the foot of that height on which is perched Castel-Cuillè, at the season when the apple, the plum, and the almond were growing white through the country, this song was heard one eve of St.
This fragment, preserved by Jasmin, is, by the way, of very ancient date:
It will at once be observed how frequently, in the above extract, feminine or double rhymes occur; this is distinctive of all Jasmin's poetry, and arises from the genius of the language in which he writes. For we call it a language, and not a patois. This representative of the langue d'oc is no dialect of the langue d'oui. It is a sister of the now dominant speech, and no bastard child-Joseph's day. it is the elder sister to boot. No doubt the Parisian badaud regards as a patois, a tongue in which the troubadours thought and sung, and the possession of which Tasso is said to have envied the Provençals; no doubt municipal authorities and rectors of schools proscribe it—no doubt it is now confined to the people, and shocks politer ears, even in its native province-no doubt it is unintelligible to foreigners, while French is spoken from Lisbon to Moscow. But there is no doubt, either, that this so-called patois is an ancient and independent idiom; that it springs from the language which was once common to all the south of France; that it was the medium through which that district contributed so largely to the revival of letters;
All the paths should flower and bloom,
And this old Te Deum of our humble marriages seemed to reecho from the clouds, as suddenly a numerous swarm of maidens, fresh and tidy, each. accompanied by her swain, advanced to the edge of the rock, chanting the same words and air, looking there, so near the sky, like so many angels at play. They take their start, and speedily descending by the narrow ways of the steep hill-side, they come on in a long chain towards Saint-Amant. And the
gleesome things, by the small footways, go like their spirits, " and the gleesome things, by the madcaps, still singing
All the paths should flower and bloom,
All the ways should bloom and flower,
All this was because Baptiste and his betrothed
That is to say, that according to the custom of the country, they were about to gather, in the woods, branches, and particularly laurel branches, to strew on the road to the church, and at the doors of those invited to their approaching marriage.
The sky was all blue, not a cloud was to be seen, a fine March sun was beaming, and through the air a light breeze scattered his breaths of per
The party of course are gay as gay can be. Gambolling and singing, they sport about, like happy lads and lasses as they are. The arch bride runs off, crying, "The girls who catch me will be married this year;" all pursue her, all soon come up with her, and then all press round her "to touch her fine new apron or her pretty cotton petticoat." But how does it happen that amidst all their mirth, and laughter, and fun, Baptiste the bridegroom is silent and sad? "What a couple are he and Angela ! To see them so indifferent to each other, one would think them great folks" -people in high life-a sore sarcasm, Jasmin; "what is the matter with Baptiste to-day-what is weighing on his mind?" Why is he so depressed?
small footways go like madcaps, singing louder
Let the paths be flower and bloom,
So ends the first canto. At the opening of the second we find Marguerite, emaciated by her sufferings, but still fair as an angel, sitting alone in her cottage, and soliloquizing on her forlorn
extent of her misfortune, but, though hoping, she As yet she is ignorant of the full has doubts. This passage is of exquisite beauty; nothing can be more true and more touching than its pathos, and we shall be pardoned if we give it almost entire.
He has returned, and he does not come to see me! And he knows that of my night he is the star, the sun! And he knows that for six months, alone, here, I hope for him! Oh, that he would come to keep what he has promised me! For without him, in this world what can I do, what pleasure have I? Sorrow crushes my life, and makes it horrible! Day for the rest, day for others always; and for dark it is far from him! Oh! how sad is my soul! me, unhappy girl, ever night, ever night! How When will Baptiste come? When he is beside me I think no more of the day. What has the day? A blue sky but the blue eyes of Baptiste are a heaven of love that brightens for me, a heaven full of happiness, like the one up there above-no more sorrow, no more weariness. I forget earth, skyall, all that I have lost, when he presses my hand and is beside me. But when I am alone I remember all. What is Baptiste doing? He no more hears me calling him. A shoot of creeping ivy, I have need of a branch to support me, or I die. Ah, in mercy that he would come, to lighten my burden! They say we love better when we are in sorrow; what, then, when one is blind!
Who knows, perhaps he has abandoned me. Unhappy girl that I am, what do I say! It were time, indeed, to bury me! What a dark thought!
It is because in that neat cottage, half way up the hill, dwells the blind girl, the orphan of a veteran, the young and tender Marguerite, the fairest maiden of the hamlet, and because Baptiste had formerly been her lover. The altar had even been prepared for them, but one day Marguerite was stricken with measles, or some similar scourge, and lost her sight. All changes at the voice of an obstinate father; their love but not their happiness continued; perse-It cuted at home Baptiste left the place, and now, only three days after his return, seduced by a little gold, he is about to marry Angela, thinking ever of Marguerite.
terrifies me-let me banish it. Baptiste will come back to me, oh, he will come back. I have nothing to fear. He could not come so soon. He is weary, he is ill, perhaps; perhaps his affection is preparing some surprise for me. But I hear some ceive me-it is he-it is Baptiste ! one-oh, no more sorrow-my heart does not de
The door opens, but Paul, her little brother, enters alone. He has seen the bridal party; he tells about it; he asks, wondering, why they alone had not been invited. Angela about to be married!" exclaims his sister, "what a secret they have kept it! nobody has told me a word about the matter; and who is the bridegroom?” Why, sister, your friend Baptiste," replies the uncon
We have already a glimpse of the course the tragedy will take. Suddenly, under the mulberrytrees, the bridal party espy old lame Jeanne the fortune-teller, whom every one likes "because she always promises good luck—a lover to one, a good marriage to another, a fine infant to a third." This time, however, the sibyl assumes a severe air, turns her look sternly on Angela, and taking her hand makes the sign of the cross on it with a reed, as she pronounces the inauspicious words, "Heaven grant, giddy girl, that in espousing to-scious child. morrow the faithless Baptiste, you do not dig a grave." As she speaks two large tears roll from her old eyes, and the evil augury checks, for a moment at least, the merriment of all who hear it; "but what matter two drops of troubled water falling on a silvery stream?" All speedily regain
The blind girl utters a sharp cry, and falls insensible. It is by the bridal song, "Let the paths be flower and bloom," that she is at length roused. Her little brother recommences his prattle, and she learns from him the hour fixed for the marriage next day. Good," says the poor stricken maid
en, as a terrible resolution takes possession of presently she and her companion have disappeared her. “Be consoled, Paul; we shall be there." in the old church.
Jeanne, the good-hearted fortune-teller, enters, The ceremony is begun. The priest is at the and thinking the blind girl still ignorant of Bap-altar; the ring is blessed; Baptiste holds it in his tiste's faithlessness, tries to weaken her love for hand. But before he places it on the small finger him preparatory to the discovery which must waiting to receive it, he has a word, one word, sooner or later come. Marguerite acts her part to pronounce. It is spoken; at the instant a voice so well that the old woman is deceived. "She knows nothing of it," she says, as she leaves the cottage, "I will save her;" and in this state of dramatic uncertainty the canto ends.
The gray dawn slowly arriving, finds two young girls waiting for it very differently occupied. The one, the queen of a day, surrounds herself with flatterers, puts on her cross and her nuptial crown, decks her bosom with a large bouquet, and ambles and struts and admires herself with pleasure. The other, blind, is in her little room, with neither crown nor bouquet, but she feels her way to a drawer where she knows something lies, and taking it, she hides it in her boddice, sickening in her heart. The one, light and vain, forgets, amid the sound of kisses and songs, to repeat her morning prayer. The other, her forehead bathed in a cold sweat, joins her hands, kneels down, and says in a low voice, as her brother unbars their door, "Oh, my God, pardon me for it!"
exclaims, "It is, indeed, he!" and suddenly, to
But doubtless her guardian angel was watching over her, for so great was her sorrow, that at the moment she was about to strike herself, she fell dead. And that evening, in place of songs, the De profundis was chanted; a bier, with flowers on it, was carried to the cemetery, young girls clothed in white and shedding tears accompanied it; nowhere was there any mirth'; on the contrary, every one now seemed to say,
On the paths be tears and sighs,
On the paths be sighs and gloom,
Such is the Abuglo. If the guardian angel
Marguerite and Paul, the child leading his sister by the hand, take their way to the church. This day the sky is overcast, and there is a drizzling rain; as they go on, the wind bears down the perfume of the laurel strewed on the path, and the blind girl shudders as it reaches her. “Paul, pray be done with your rattle," says Marguerite; "where are we we are surely going up hill." "And do you not see we are quite close now?" replies the boy. With what a bold and successful touch do these few words portray the thoughtless impatience of the child, who asks his blind sister if she does not see how near they are; and the excited sensibility of the poor girl, who can no longer endure the irksomeness of the noisy boy. What skill, or if it be not skill, what poetical instinct is displayed in the contrast the characters in this situation yield! Paul sees an osprey. "Oh, the naughty bird!" he cries," he brings bad luck, does he not? Do you not re-nutest detail, are perfect plan, grouping, colormember, sister, when our brother said, the night we were watching by him, Ah, my little girl, I am very ill; take care of Paul, for I feel I am going.' You wept, and he wept, and I too; we were all weeping. Well, there was an osprey screaming on the roof at the time. And our father died, and we carried him here. the cross at his head is though."
There is his grave; still there-tarnished,
The words of the boy act strongly on poor Marguerite, she is shaken in her resolution. A voice seems to call her from the tomb, "My daughter, what are you about to do?" She recoils -but Paul, who is eager to see the ceremony, draws her on; and when the unhappy girl hears the laurel branches cracking under her feet, she is no longer mistress of herself; nothing now can stop her, she advances eagerly, as if to a fête, and
ing, light and shade, harmony, finish, effect— nothing is wanting to complete this little masterpiece. It falls on the heart like a song of willows by the Lady Ophelia; and it leaves an impression like the music of Carrol, "sweet but mournful to the soul, as the memory of joys that are past." Some of its beauties will be perceived through the medium of our translations; to point them out would be superfluous, those who cannot see them will not. That such there be, we have no doubt; there are always critics to sneer at writers like the barber of Agen, whose muse, as he himself says, is but a peasant girl, and whose poetry is only the poetry of nature. But it is not for such that we write.
We pass to "Françonette," the longest and most elaborate of all Jasmin's works. It is quite of another character from the "Abuglo;" it is
more ambitious, more dramatic, and more vigor- whose praise is in every mouth, seems to regard the graceful simplicity of the other is her coldly-he even avoids her. She naturally replaced by a more artistic style of execution. has a spite at him for this, thinks she hates him, The composition and perfecting of these twelve" and in her terrible vengeance only awaits an hundred lines occupied two years; yet Jasmin is opportunity to dart him a bewitching glance that a ready writer. Perhaps there is too much polish shall enchain him forever :in the work; at all events, we like it less than the carlier one. We believe, however, that the general opinion tends the other way.
What then? We see that every day
She was beginning the coquette to play;
Her old grandmother, as in duty bound, gave her sage counsels: "You know you are promised to the soldier-Marcel loves you, and counts on your marrying him-go, girl, restrain your flighty disposition;" but the excellent dame's words had little effect, and Françonette continued to be the cause of much jealousy, heart-burning, and unhappiness.
Nevertheless, merry-making and love-making were not altogether unknown; and one Sunday, in the month of August, there was as fine a fête as ever was seen. The rustic holiday is described with picturesque and appropriate homeliness; we have before us various local amusements-the However, the swains in that quarter made none cosmopolitan Punch, a man beating a cymbal, of those odes, so learned and so tender, which lemonade, the dance on the green to the music of others, elsewhere, go and carve upon a poplar or fifes, everywhere a crowd. Amongst the dancers a willow, and then die. Oh, no! they could not is Françonette, "the queen of the fields, she write; and what is more, those innocent fellows, whom all the country round-for, as well as the whose heads were turned by their love, much town, the country has its pearl of love-had sur- preferred suffering and-living. But how many named the fairest of the fair."" The fairest tools were handled the wrong way! how many of the fair" but do not suppose, Moussus, that vines were ill-dressed! how many branches badly she was sad, sighing, pale as a lily, with die-pruned! how many furrows unevenly ploughed! away eyes, half closed and blue, and a feeble At the fête, Françonette was of course in full frame bending with languor, like the willow that glory, and had no lack of suitors for her hand in weeps on the bank of a limpid stream"-Jas- the dance, especially as it was the custom then, min has no mercy either on those who think and may be yet, for all we know, that he who can health vulgar and disease attractive, or on the succeed in tiring out his partner has the right to sickly school whose writings are nothing but claim a kiss from her. Françonette, however, "words, words, words"-you would be much is not easily tired; on the contrary, she outlasts mistaken if you did; "Françonette has a pair of all who come, and half a dozen youths have retired eyes bright as two bright stars; one would think out of breath without having gained the prize. roses by handfuls might be culled from her plump Marcel, her lover, at last comes forward; he is a cheeks; her hair- But it is easier to soldier and a favorite of Montluc's; in person satirize the descriptions of others than to achieve powerful and handsome, but awkward; in characa happy one ourselves, and we therefore omit the ter, a braggart, quarrelsome, and unscrupulous. rest of the portrait; for, with all our partiality He advances with a confident smile, but he has for Jasmin, we do not think it a successful one. displeased Françonette by boasting that he is beThe truth is, that no conception of female loveli-loved by her, and she is resolved to punish his ness is ever to be realized from an analysis of features, and a catalogue of charms; it is by simply relating the effect produced by it on others that attempts of this kind are most successful; and Homer taught us this long ago, when he represented to us the perfection of Helen by tell ing the impression her appearance made on even the old men of Troy.
insolence. It is, therefore, in vain that he exerts
To return to Françonette. "Her beauty made many a maiden angry, made many a man sigh, for these latter all contemplated her and adored her as the priest adores the cross." This is better than saying that "her lips were like cherries, and finish" his fallen adversary; but the young man, her teeth whiter than snow." The young girl though bleeding from a wound in the wrist, received rejoiced at it, and her brow was radiant at the no one knew exactly how, acts generously, and at homage paid her. But one thing is wanting to that moment the appearance of Montluc prevents her; Pascal, the handsomest youth in the country, any outrage on the part of the rest. Pascal is
conducted away in triumph, and Marcel rises with | by the cries of "There goes the girl who is sold murmured threats of vengeance. to the demon !"
The second canto opens with a scene between We have already quoted, with the French transPascal and his mother, who, though with some lation, some of the opening lines of the third difficulty, dissuades him from going to a merry-canto, in which are finely described the desolation making at which he had hoped to meet Françonette. We next have a lively picture of this merrymaking. Françonette is there, triumphant and enchanting as usual. A certain Thomas sings a very pretty song, entitled "To the Siren with the heart of ice;" and it turns out that the author of | it is the absent Pascal-a discovery of course highly pleasing to Françonette, who was evidently the siren alluded to. She has conquered the indifferent Pascal, and it is rather a satisfaction than otherwise that he complains of her being cold.
A game of forfeits follows. In the course of it, Laurent, a rich wooer of Françonette's, gains the right to a kiss from her-there is always much kissing in your French forfeits-and, on her running off to avoid him, pursues her with more eagerness than success; for just as he catches the fugitive, he slips, falls, and breaks his arm. This, of course, threw a gloom over the party, but there was worse to come; and if, in these days, we should not be much alarmed at the apparition or the words of " an old man with a beard reaching to his girdle, who enters like a phantom at the bottom of the hall," we must remember in what age and in what locality it was that "the sorcerer of the black wood" paid his unwelcome visit.
"Ye imprudent," said the wizard to the affrighted assembly, "I have come down from my rock to open your eyes, for your fate affects me. Ye love Françonette, ye say. But learn, unhappy people, that her wretched father, whilst she was yet in the cradle, passed over to the Huguenots, and sold her to the devil; and now the demon watches over his purchase, and follows her everywhere, though invisibly. Ye saw how he punished Pascal, ye see how he has punished Laurent, at the moment they were about to salute her: ye are warned. Woe to him who shall wed her! For on the bridal night the evil one will take possession of her-nay, he will appear in person and strangle her husband."
Having so said, the bearded man withdrew as he came, leaving universal consternation behind him. Françonette, however, does not immediately succumb to the blow dealt her. She hopes for a moment that her companions will treat the matter as a joke; she smiles to them, poor thing, in a confident way, and takes two steps forward amongst them. But all recoil at her approach; cries of "Keep back!" are addressed to her from every side the impression made is but too apparent; she can bear up no longer against her situation, and falls senseless on the floor.
The next day the affair was known everywhere, and every one of course offered confirmation of the sorcerer's words, some going so far as to recollect, that always when the rest of the country was smitten with frost or hail, Françonette's fields were spared. All believe the terrible story, and soon she cannot venture forth without being assailed
of poor Françonette, and the bitter change she experiences from the former idolatry, and the present abandonment of all around her. The poem goes on to tell how, nevertheless, there remains to her one ray of consolation; Pascal, she learns, defends her against all the malicious reports of which she is the victim. Marcel, too, secretly informs her grandmother that his love for Françonette has not abated, and that he will make her his wife whenever she will; but she shows no inclination to take him at his word. A hope rises in her breast. At the suggestion of her old relative, she resolves to attend church on Easter Sunday, and to bring home as a charm some of the consecrated bread. She trusts" that so Heaven will restore her the happiness she has lost, and prove on her countenance that she is ever amongst its children."
The festival arrives, and she appears in the sacred edifice, to the great astonishment of all. But her late friends inflict a terrible affront on her by withdrawing from the place where she kneels, and leaving her alone in the midst of the largo circle they so form; while the uncle of Marcel completes the outrage by passing before her with out giving her a share of the consecrated bread, which it was his office to offer to all the faithful.
It was a terrible trial for her; but Pascal, who had seen all, interrupts for an instant the collection of the alms-offering which he had been making, and presents her with the "crown" itself, "adorned with a fine bouquet."
What a sweet moment for Françonette? But why is her forehead covered with red! It is because the angel of love has at last kindled a spark of his flame in her bosom. It is because something strange and new grows in her palpitating heartsomething quick as fire, soft as honey. It is because she now lives with another life. She carries the consecrated bread-the piece of honor--to her grandmother, and then shuts herself up in her litthe chamber, alone with her love. First drop of winter! ye are not so sweet to the breast of the dew in time of drought! first ray of the sun in earth, in sadness, as that first flame was to the spirit of the softened girl! She allows herself to be carried away by the happiness of loving; she does what we all do-she indulges in a delicious daydream, and, without stone or hammer, builds herbright, all is radiant and streaming with joy. self a little castle, where, round Pascal, all is
But a moment after, the recollection of the sorcerer's prediction demolishes all her airy work. "She had dreamed of love; she, unhappy girl, to whom love was forbidden! she, whose bridegroom must, in their nuptial chamber, find his tomb!" With a bursting heart she kneels before an image she had; as she prays, a new hope presents itself, if she could offer a taper to the Virgin on Lady-day, and if her offering should be