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she took it up to me. I tasted the roast, and finding that it possessed an exquisite flavour, I wished my mother to partake of it with me ; but the Unknown said : “ That is not permitted, and I must oppose such a proceeding ;" then, addressing herself to me, she said: “Now you will not die."
They then left me alone, and I fell into a most delicious slumber.
The Unknown remained six days with us. She scarcely ever left the house, but helped my mother to prepare the repasts.
The morning after my vision, I went out at an early hour. The stranger seeing me, seized my hand, as if to examine it. “It is well,” she said, “that you should know your destiny, since you are about to travel.”
" Leave me,” I said ; “I have no faith in these practices.” And withdrawing my hand, I placed it behind my back.
"Well," said the young girl, “I will examine your forehead." So saying, she tilted up my hat, but I immediately thrust it down again.
“ It is of no use,” said she ; “ I have seen everything. I know all."
And in order to convince me and gain my confidence, she repeated to me, with extraordinary exactitude, all the circumstances of my residence in the Oberland. Imagine my surprise-my astonishment: I had confided those details to no one, not even to my mother!
She, perceiving my surprise, said: “Fear nothing ; let me speak; you have a happy physiognomy, happier than you think. Prepare yourself to undertake a great work, which Heaven has ordained that you should accomplish.”
Having thus spoken, she took an egg, broke it on my forehead, and said, “ You shall see something which will give you pleasure ; it is necessary that you should know it."
She then opened the egg, and pouring the contents thereof into a glass of water, she showed me several little figures upon the surface. The first that I saw had a pen in his hand ; the second was that of a dead person; which prophesied that I should perform in the first place the duties of secretary to one who would die soon. The third figure held a flag, which prophesied that I should be an ensign. The fourth showed me myself on horseback, which promised me a military command. The different ranks I have since passed through have since fully confirmed these prophecies.
The Unknown informed me with the most circumstantial details of all that has since happened to me in my career as a soldier. “These events," she said, “should only be considered by me as a supernatural sign, a preparation for greater things (the attempt against Lausanne). She explained my future proceedings, and told me that I should be sustained by a superior force, which would bid me act and execute.
One day I perceived at the bottom of my hat three drops of oil, a circumstance that annoyed me for the moment. I attributed them to my brother, who denied having had anything to do with them. The Unknown, hearing our recriminations, exclaimed, “Show me these drops !" I accordingly showed them to her, when, placing my hat upon her head, she said: “It is nothing; they will have disappeared now.” I verified the fact, and at the same time passed my hand through my hair, which was moist with oil. The Unknown smiled, and asked me to smell the oil, which emitted a delicious fragrance. The perfume remained for several days, and I felt convinced that the young girl had anointed me without my knowing it.
The fair Unknown recommended me to give my hat to some poor man, and to see what effects would follow upon the gift. I did as she bade me, and
chose a beggar in Vaux, called Abraham Lederrey; the same man is now a · wealthy landowner, and one of the councillors of the parish of Villette.
Everything that happened to me when in the army proved to me, to the minutest point, that the Unknown had seen clearly into my destiny. Marvels accompanied me at every step.
I was at first sent into Piedmont, in the Val d'Aosta, where I became secretary to the company of M. d'Aubrecan, who died shortly afterwards. I then
received a commission as ensign, as had been predicted to me by the Unknown
During my detention in that country, I had occasion to remark, in a thousand circumstances, that I was looked upon as a young man in whom there was something particular. One day that the Catholics of Aosta were going through the usual ceremonies of the dead, the fancy took me, although I was a Protestant, to join in the procession. I cannot say why, but in doing so, I became impressed with the idea that the dead would raise his hand if anything lucky was to be expected, and I communicated the impression to others. Every one in his turn went up to the corpse, without its making the slightest movement, but when my turn came, it raised its hand. All who were present were panicstruck ; but as for myself, I thought that some deceit had been practised, and I distincty said so; but I was wrong, there was no mistake in the matter, and I was obliged to acknowledge that Heaven had effected a miracle to strengthen my faith.
My regiment had been lent by King William, to whom it belonged, to the Duke of Savoy ; but it was soon called back to Holland. As we were travelling in Germany, having to cross a little lake in Swabia, we were assailed by so violent a hurricane, that every one, except myself, thought that they would be destroyed, and lost all confidence. Nevertheless, we reached the shore in safety. Many people had hurried to our aid. Every one threw himself hastily upon the shore, but I remained in a boat, the last to land, firmly convinced that my happy star had much to do with our deliverance.
One night that we were in garrison at Gorcum, in Holland, the inhabitants were thrown into the greatest possible state of alarm by an unusually high tide, which, being accompanied by a high wind, threatened the town with destruction ; but nothing came of it. The Burgomaster and his council, seeing a miracle in this event, attributed it to the presence of a man fearing God, and the names of all the strangers at that time inhabiting the town were collected. The knowledge which my companions had obtained of my antecedents, caused them to attribute the prodigy to the influence that accompanied me.
Another adventure which happened at Gorcum deserves to be related. I was dining with some other officers at a gentleman's house, when the host, having caused two bottles of a very old and high-priced wine to be brought, asked the butler how many there still remained in the cellar. The latter answered that there were eight. Our host appeared to be much surprised at this statement; and somebody said, laughingly, “ What, are you astonished, sir, at the despatch with which we empty your bottles ?" “On the contrary, gentlemen," he replied; “I had only six bottles of this particular wine, I had two brought up, and yet they tell me that eight remain ; that is what confounds my arithmetic." The butler was again sent down to count the bottles, and there were really eight. Our host was perfectly convinced that he had only six when the repast began. “The multiplication of your bottles need not surprise you," said M. Lubar, one of my comrades, to the master of the house ; " there is a guest among us upon whom marvels attend everywhere." And in proof of his assertion, he narrated a fact of which he had been an eyewitness only a short time previously. We were at sea; the sailors, foreseeing a tempest by certain infallible signs, came, according to their custom, to request all present to pray for safety. When I had terminated my prayer, I went on deck to see how matters looked, and seeing no signs of a storm, I said to the sailors, “ Why did you wish to terrify us?” “We never saw anything like it," they answered ; " the heavens changed at once the moment that you appeared." When we landed at Dordrecht, the master-pilot came and took my hand, a crowd of sailors gathered round me, looking at me and loading me with attentions, and they followed me even to my lodgings. I could not understand why so much respect was shown to me, till being alone with M. Lubar, he told me that the sailors were persuaded that they owed their safety to me.
Another time that I was at supper with a few friends, I heard very dis
tinctly a voice that announced to me my last expedition, that of Lausanne. It began in these words : " May heaven aid you !" and finished with : “ Heaven will aid you."
Those who were present heard the voice, and thinking that it was a mystification, they set about exploring all parts of the house. They however found no one, and were filled with wonder at what they had heard.
Whilst in Holland, I successively attained the rank of captain-lieutenant under M. de Saconnay-whom the Unknown had mentioned to me-afterwards that of quartermaster and of adjutant. I was looked upon as one connexion with whom was salutary-as one who brought good luck with him ; and M. Litberd, surgeon-major of our regiment, being strongly impressed with the same conviction, did everything in his power to induce me to go with him whenever he went to see the sick. It was said that I had materially contributed to the cure of a M. Achard, who had been given over by the faculty.
I was not without my afflictions, which besides had been predicted to me by my fair village necromancer. I was ill up to the point of death at l'Ecluse, in Flanders ; those who nursed me thought that I was gone.
Lord Albemarle, the king's favourite, having done me an act of gross injustice in disposing to another of a company to which I was entitled by order of succession, I left the service of Holland and went into that of France. I was appointed a reformed captain in the regiment of Spaar, and no sooner had I entered upon the campaign than there came upon me, as if by inspiration, the idea of a little expedition, which would, undoubtedly, have succeeded, but the French generals to whom I communicated it would not accede to its being put into practice. I only asked for 300 resolute men, and with their aid I promised to put France in possession of l'Ecluse, and to bring Prince Eugène and Marlborough dead or alive. Jealousy, or want of apprehension on the part of my chiefs, put obstacles in the way, which I could not overcome; and as I had taken the thing much to heart, I grieved proportionately about it.
Having after this taken charge of a recruiting business, which did not succeed as I anticipated, I fell into disgrace, became disgusted with the service, and returned to my native country, after twenty-five years' absence. I had not received a single wound in all the engagements I had been concerned in, as had been predicted by the Unknown.
Davel, however, subsequent to his retirement, offered his sword to Berne, in the inter-cantonal war of 1712, which was finished by the battle of Willmerghen and the defeat of the Catholic army.
The major lived after this several years tranquilly at Cully, loved and honoured by everybody, till 1723, when, having got together a small body of men, he marched on the 13th of March upon Lausanne, in order to deliver that town from the tyranny of the Bernese ; but being anxious to avoid any useless shedding of blood, he gave time to the council of the town to prepare a successful opposition, and being taken prisoner, the major died upon the scaffold.
He had composed the following prayer, which he recited morning and evening:
“ Eternal great God, all powerful, creator of heaven and earth, thou who governs all things by thy Divine Providence, who disposes of events according as thou judgest them to be expedient for thy glory and the good of thy children! I prostrate myself with the deepest humility to adore thee with all the force and capacity of my mind, and to obey those decrees of thy divine will, which thou hast manifested by the ministry of thy holy servants (angels).
"Fortify me, O my God! in all the duties of my vocation, so that I may acquit myself with an entire zeal, firmness, courage, and perseverance. May your glory be reflected in my whole conduct, and may my neighbour be edified, consoled, and improved, by the purity of my words, so that together we may magnify thy holy name above all things, with all our hearts, our strength, and our understandings. We place ourselves in the arms of thy Divine Proyi
dence, with a firm faith, and an entire confidence. Preserve us from all illusions and temptations of the devil, and do so that we shall embrace and practise the pure truth of thy sacred orders.”
Davel would appear throughout to have obeyed supernatural powers, as Jeanne d'Arc did before him; and he was as pious as the heroic shepherdess of Domremy. He perished on the plain of Vidy, exhibiting the same courage and resignation that the French maid did on the pile at Rouen.
The Canton of Vaud neglected for a long time the man who had offered himself up as a sacrifice for its independence ; but at last such ungrateful oblivion was repaired by putting up a tablet of marble in the Cathedral of Lausanne, upon which is the following inscription :
To the memory
Of Major Davel,
The vote of the Provisional Assembly of 1798,
The gratitude of the Canton of Vaud,
To God alone be all honour and glory. The village of Cully, situated on the borders of the lake near Vevey, resolved also to pay its debt to Davel, and raised an obelisk of white stone under the trees of the promenade on the shore, upon which are inscribed the following lines, written by M. Juste Olivier, Vaudois poet, and author of a life of Davel :
" A son pays esclave offrant la liberté,
Comme un héros antique il mourut seul pour elle ;
Il attendit son jour dans l'immortalité." The revelations of Davel, enclosed in an iron box, were deposited under the foot of the obelisk.
Our biographers do not make mention of the life of one of the most distinguished men of French-Switzerland.
The Pastor Vinet, of Lausanne, a man of great abilities, who died but a few years ago, alone consecrated a few lines to his memory in the seventh volume of the journal Le Semeur:
“ Davel, who has no peer in the past, and to whom the future promises none that shall be equal; warrior greedy of all other blood except his own; calm and mild alike in his enterprises, his perils, and his catastrophes; foolish, if you so will it, but sublime and affecting in his folly, and whose motives, principles, and means would put to shame many who would be tempted to invoke his example a man whose memory, if it cannot be the guide of our actions, at least teaches us a religious patriotism and a Christian citizenship, the only ones which can save us.”
Gibbon, the great English historian, writes : “ Davel, an enthusiast it is true, but an enthusiast for the public welfare."
Lastly, M. Gleyre, a Parisian artist, but a native of French-Switzerland, to which country we are indebted for Pradier, Töpffer, and so many other great artists, has painted for the town of Lausanne a large picture, wbich represents Davel addressing the people, in whose cause he suffered, from the scaffold at Vidy.
To turn to something more lively, here is a lesson in morality from a quarter from which such would be least expected :
A friend of ours, living in the Faubourg du Temple, went out at a late hour of a winter evening to take a pistol without lock to the gunsmith's.
Turning the corner of the canal, he was stopped by a man of ferocious aspect, who demanded his life or his purse. It is related that Odry escaped when placed in a similar predicament by a pun; our friend adopted the readier plan of taking his pistol from his pocket and placing it on the highwayman's breast.
“Follow me to the next guard-house, or I pull the trigger!” he exclaimed.
As it was dark, the robber did not perceive that he was threatened by an imaginary lock. He had recourse to the supplications usual in such cases.
“ Sir, do not ruin me!" “ It is to save you, on the contrary, that I lead you to the guard-house." “ I am the father of three children." “ I have six." " I have a wife who depends upon me for support." “ And so have I.” “ Indeed, I am not in reality a wicked man."
“ Neither am I. Come, it is late, and rather cold by the water-side. March, or I shall fire."
The robber was obliged to follow our friend to the guard-house. They arrived there just as a patrol came in. Our friend related his history. The robber was examined, and discovered to be an escaped convict, of whom the police had for a long time been in search.
Our friend was next duly congratulated upon his presence of mind, and the energy which he had displayed.
“ But," added the officer in command, “ I regret to say, I shall be under the necessity of bringing an action against you."
“ Why so ?”
“ Because it appears, from your own avowal, that you carry arms upon your person without the authority to do so."
Our friend then exhibited his pistol, and showed to the officer, that without a cock, it was no arm at all.
“ Not so," said the officer ; "a pistol is always a pistol. I must put your name on the charge-sheet."
The robber, turning round to our friend, then said to him : “ Sir, you have deceived me. May what happens to you now teach you that bad faith and lies always receive, sooner or later, their punishment."
And here we must conclude our notice of the French Almanacks. Politics, that fertile subject for caricature and ridicule, being now carefully eschewed, little remains in domestic manners to turn to humorous account year after year. Add to which, the very fact of an inexorable censorship weighs heavily upon the spirits of a once volatile people.