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vated, and possessing even & tinge of romance about it. He was a talented man, and had it not been for his diffidence in public, which was excessive, I make no doubt but he would have made a distinguished one, for besides being a ripe scholar, he was a fluent and eloquent orator.
He was of commanding and portly form, with intelligent eye, deep mellow voice, a benignant and handsome countenance, and the most beautiful silvery hair I ever saw. The boys all loved him, while they equally feared him, for he did not spare the rod when it was needful, and, we used to think, often when it was not needful.
I say the boys all loved him: as far as I knew they did, with one ex. ception, Charley Scamper, who was a wild, harum-scarum fellow, and who, for his incessant mischief, peccadillos and wayward whimsies, was almost always falling (literally) under the rod of his displeasure ; he consequently swore the good old domine was a petty tyrant, and vowed implacable hatred and eternal vengeance against him.
Charley was a wild, wayward fellow, and a genius; and though I would rarely join in any of his mischief and rattlebrained rascality, except what I deemed to be the right and prescriptive privilege of a school-boy to engage in, yet he took a prodigious fancy to me from the first, probably for that very reason, and he and I became great cronies.
Bolivar Blount was a quiet, steady, phlegmatic fellow, and even at that early period showed the embryo of the cool, calculating man of the world. But with these disadvantages, as I deemed them, Bolivar had some redeeming traits which endeared him to me. He possessed a good mind, an amiable disposition, a fund of quiet humor, and a manifestation of a sort of dry fun (and not always dry either) that I relished vastly. He was honest and honorable to a degree that gave him the soubriquet of "Old Honesty" at school. A friendship sprang up between us, which has lasted to this day.
Charley Scamper was finely formed, graceful, muscular and active; his complexion was a clear rich brun, almost approaching to olive. He was accounted the handsomest boy in school when I came there.
Bolivar was a thick-set, square-built boy, with straight, black hair; his complexion was darker, perhaps, than Scamper's, but was more opaque. Bol. was not handsome, neither was he ugly ; his was one of those faces which do not strike us particularly at first, but which become highly pleasing to us as we grow more familiar.
Wad Aukley, the fellow whom Scamper had a bout with, was a tall, muscular fellow, but clumsy, awkward, and ill-arranged. The most perfect gawk I ever knew.
He had a high, round forehead, running up into two sharp peaks over his temples, and surmounted by a suit of thin, sandy hair ; a long, pointed nose, broad, coarse mouth, a shuflling, slouchy gait, stoop shoulders, and huge, ill-carved hands and feet. He was the laughing-stock of the school, and the whole village decided unanimously that he was a fool.
But Willy Aukley, or Wad, as he was always called at school, was one of those characters who always show to a disadvantage. He possessed a good mind, was apt and quick to learn when he tried, but had so little application, and was of such a nervous, impatient, and yet lazy dis position, that he never could apply himself to one thing for twenty minutes at a time. He had some imagination, but not of a very refined or delicate character. He delighted principally in low burlesque, farce, and broad and salient humor, and his fancy ran in a rough, turbulent stream. His laugh was loud and uproarious, as is always the case with such risibilities as Aukley's.
We were all three in a class together, and while Bol. was invariably head, Wad was as uniformly found foot. Charley and I disputed the second rank between us, not that either of us strove as much for the honor as we should, for we would often have been foot had it rot been that it was impossible to know less than nothing about the lesson, which was the amount of Wad's knowledge generally. I did study some, and was fond of it, but my own nervous and impulsive temperament prevented my perfect assiduity. I generally kept next to Bolivar, for I had more application than Charles. Charley was too erratic to apply himself, and Wad too lazy. His greatest antipathy seemed to be mental exertion. Now either of them could have mastered a lesson in five minutes, which would have taken Bol. half an hour ; but then Bol. always devoted his half hour to it, and the other two rarely five minutes.
Such were my associates : these three boys, as great contrasts as could possibly be imagined, and by whom doubtless my own character was in some degree biased, (for they were all older than 1,) at least by Scamper and Blount, for Wad Aukley was more influenced by me than I by him.
I have often thought that Bol. was my good, and Charley my evil genius; and yet the latter often created lofty, noble and poetic sentiments in my bosom--the former never. But, on the other hand, I never followed Bol.'s advice or example without a clear conscience, which was not the case always on the other side.
As an illustration : one afternoon as Bolivar and I were going to school - I had now ceased going from home, and was boarding at Squire Blount's—we met Charley Scamper, who seemed to be in a great glee about something.
“Halloo, boys !” he exclaimed, as we came up; “ I've found the greatest treat you ever saw. I want you to come and look at it. Oh! it is beautiful."
“What is it ?" we both cried in a breath.
“ The most charming oriole's nest, down in an old tree by the millpond; it is a perfect beauty.
" Is that all ?” laughed Bolivar; “I would not give a straw to see a paltry bird's nest."
“ Not unless you thought there was a dime to be found in the bottom of it,” retorted Charley, who, though on very friendly terms, did not like him as much as I did. Come, Ernie, you have more taste; come and see my little bird's nest; it is worth a walk to see it, so curiously constructed; and there are a pair of little ones in it. Let's go and look at it, and watch the old ones feeding their young."
“I wouldn't go, Ernie,” said Bol.; "you will be too late for school, if you do. Charley will get you a flogging, if you don't take care.”
“Oh! we've plenty of time; come on,” replied Charley, impatiently; “I wouldn't let Bolivar Blount lead me by the nose, if I were you."
I wanted much to see the bird's-nest; for, though not so enthusiastic an ornithologist as Scamper, yet I was naturalist enough, in a general way, to fancy such things. I did not wish to be too late for school, and yet was unwilling to have it thought that even my friend Bolivar could lead me by the nose; so I took Charley's arm, and turned back with him.
“If you will go, Ernie, get back by the time school goes in,” said Bolivar.
"I will; we've plenty of time. Won't you go with us?"
“No, I can't. We've got thirty lines in Horace to read this evening;" and he turned away,
“ Thirty lines in Horace !" cried Charley, contemptuously; “why, you or I could read them in ten minutes; and even if I don't, 1 can bungle through it tolerably, anyhow. I wouldn't mind Bolivar; he's nothing but a stupid plodder, and has not three ideas in his head.
I don't see what pleasure you can bảve in his company."
“ You do him injustice, Charley," said I; "he's not so full of high and refined conceptions; has not the same sense of the beautiful, perhaps, as yourself; but he is an honorable, noble-hearted boy, the best scholar in school, and a very clever fellow."
“Well, I don't think so. I never could see where his smartness is; anybody could acquire knowledge with the labor he does. Ah! yonder comes Wad Aukley ; he'll go with us, I know.”
It took no persuasion to get Aukley away from studying, and he readily joined us.
“I don't care about your bird's nest,” said he ; " but if you are for a ramble, I'm your man. But I have something better to propose. See here," and he showed us a small pistol, which he had in his pocket, “I move we go down to the river bank, and shoot at a mark. plenty of powder and balls."
“We can do both,” said Scamper. And doing both kept us so long that we were too late for school, as Bol. had predicted. Wad Aukley now proposed that we should play truant for the evening; but I would not consent, and we started to return. On our way back we were overtaken by a shower, which caused further delay, and made us all wringing wet.
The domine's brow was black as we entered the school-room. He was hearing Bolivar recite the Horace lesson.
“William,” said he, in an ominous voice, to Aukley, “ what has made you so late, sir ?”
“Why, sir,” said Aukley, scratching his head, “ the fact is, I didn't hear the bell till after it was done ringing.'
This blunder caused the old domine to laugh; and it was proverbial in school, that if you could excite a smile, you would be safe from a flogging.
“And Charles, when did you hear the bell ?”. "I didn't hear it at all," he replied, surlily.
“ You didn't, eh? You dirty scrub of the earth. l'll whale you while I can find you. I'll learn you to hear and feel too.”
For my part I made a simple statement, and got off with a reprimand; but Charles caught a drubbing. He did not know how to get around the old gentleman, like Aukley, or else he disdained to do it. Charles always went through the briers rather than go around them, and invariably got scratched for his pains.
When we regard the course of events in our sister republic, France, we are fondly desirous to see our institutions reflected there ; but if we study the character of those who founded our institutions, and compare them with the men who founded the French Republic, we shall have little room to hope for much. The man on whom the hopes of Europe turned in the hour when Louis Philippe became a fugitive, was but a poet, who had sung the praises of two royal inasters, and as he himself stated—“ By the services and family of my father, I belong to Charles X.; by the family and services of my mother, I belong to the House of Orleans." What a strange material is this of which to compose the organizer of a republic ! As M. Lamartine's course has been mostly literary, it may be traced as it has been variously recounted.
About the year 1818 there arrived at Paris, with a volume of verses for sale, a nameless young man, or, at least, one who had no right to any other appellation than that of his father. He was nearly twenty years of age, of a slender but elegant figure, with a markedly aristocratic air, indieating one of those choice natures for which Despréaux himself would not have dreaded the deafness of Phæbus, or the restiveness of Pegasus. But Phoebus and Pegasus were very distant then! There had just appeared upon the horizon that poetic school of which the destinies already confusedly revealed themselves through the voice of their precursors, and the young man of whom we speak, seemed the living personification of that new poesie, with its elegiac tendencies, its revivals of Christianity, its pious sympathies for the past, and its harmonious mixture of love, chivalry and faith.
He arrived from one of those hills of Bourgoyne which he subsequently immortalized, and where, under a peaceful roof, he had passed the first years of his youth. He confidently entered into that Paris, which is the secret end of all juvenile aspirations--the mysterious pole towards which tends without cessation, all magnetized imaginations. His luggage was light, as is the case with all true poets. He brought only his thin MSS., and a letter from a charming lady, who was temporarily detained in the province. That lady, very intellectual, although a royalist, recommended the young poet to one of her friends in Paris, who was very amiable, al. though a liberal.
“My dear ,” she wrote nearly, “I address you from the place of my provincial exile, and this letter will be handed you by a young man, whom I recommend to you, as we usually recommend those of whom we have ourselves no present want, that is to say, with all my heart. He is handsome, that you will see. He is intellectual, that you will hear, and besides all that, he makes verses. You will ask if the verses are good ? But we ladies never find merit except in those lines which are addressed to us, and I am not his Elvira. But I beseech you to receive him with your Sabbath disposition, which with you is that of the whole week, and also with that smile which is at once an inspiration and a recompense. I beg of you further, but softly, to protect him among those Jacobins, as we
call them here. I am sure that you see much of them, and that you could already have converted them, if, traitor that you are, you had made proper use of your fine eyes to recall the infidels. They pretend up there that they regulate the political atinosphere-alas ! they only await the storm ! Beg of them, however, to vouchsafe a little of their sunshine to the young poet whom I send you, and promise them the acknowledgments of a poor exile, who would wish to be among you if only to scold you and to say that she loves you."
The person to whom that letter was addressed, received the young provincial with perfect benevolence. It happened that many of the intellectual “ Jacobins,” who were at that time, by means of the saloons and the academy, practising the part of politicians, were to dine on that day with the hostess of the poet, and she proposed to introduce the protégé of her friend to the party. Accordingly, in the evening, before he arrived, she gave notice of his appearance ; and as the conversation was of poets, she declared her intention of requesting the new comer to recite some of his verses after coffee. The manifestations of chagrin at this proposal, induced the promise, in guise of compensation, that the coffee should be excellent. The young man entered, and his appearance was prepossessing. He had that air of provincial modesty which men destined to become illustrious know how to observe before they are known to fame. Many of the company remarked in a low voiceWhat a pity that a person of so respectable an appearance should make verses! They seated theinselves at the table, where the stranger heard much, eat little, and talked less—all auguries in his favor. Soon the coffee arrived, which each sipped with wise deliberation, until the mistress of the house whispered some words in the ear of the poet, who bowed in sign of obedience-preserving, however, in that critical moment, the exact shade imposed by his position, between the eagerness which would betray anxiety to be heard, and that resistance which would badly conceal a desire to be solicited. The audience composed theniselves to listen as best they might, with polite resignation, and with the air of men who, having dined well, prepare themselves to put the best face on all that may happen. Then, with a sympathetic, vibrating, affected voice, the unknown cominenced “ The Elegy to the Lake.”
Alphonse de Lamartine had not reached the 18th verse of that enchanting elegy, when he was interrupted by one of those cries of joy and astonishment which mark the advent of a Columbus of thought in a new world of intellect--a Leverrier of intelligence in discovering a new planet. The agreeableness of the surprise was great in proportion as the dread of ennui had been considerable; and it is said, that M. Villemain, who made one of that happy auditory, sprang towards the poet, and seizing his hands with an enthusiastic vigor, that much resembled anger, exclaimed—“Young man, whence come you, that you bring us such verses as these ?"
From that day a new star shone in the poetic heaven. The triumphs subsequently attained by M. de Lamartine were only the logical developments of that first soiree, when a dozen select friends were startled by the sudden revelations of his genius. The success which marks such an epoch, resembles the uncorking of a vial of those precious essences which, before they spread their fragrance on the air, have already, in the narrow flask which encloses them, all their virtues and their perfumes.