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When Bliomberis's turn arrived, he unfastened his sword, and presented it to the monarch :-"This," said he, "mighty prince, is the only title that renders me worthy of disputing the hand of the Princess. This sword was given me by the most valiant knight of the universe, as a pledge of his esteem. My other deeds are nothing, and have been forgotten since the one that made me worthy of this sword." "I understand you," replied Pharamond, smiling, "fight, conquer, and my daughter shall be yours." These words filled the breast of Bliomberis with the liveliest sensations of joy! He embraced the King's knees, kissed the hem of Rosamunda's robe, pressed Clodion and Percival to his breast; and, animated by a glance from the Princess's bright eyes, sprung on Ebene, with a look that seemed already to announce his victory.
Of thirty pretenders to the hand of the princess, eleven had been judged worthy of combating: Bliomberis was the twelfth. The conque ror must have unhorsed his eleven rivals, and contend with every knight who during the day would offer to fight with him. Nothing intimidated these intrepid warriors; they had already mounte! their coursers, already their nervous arms brandished their polished lances: and they only awaited the signal for attack.
At length the trumpet was heard, Bliomberis darted like an arrow, and in the centre of the area overthrew the rival who was approaching him. Another presented himself, and was also A third shared the same thrown from his saddle. fate. Bliomberis was like the god of war. The handsome Ebene, more proud, more spirited than ever, seemed to flash fire from his eyes and The nostrils, and neighed at each victory. trembling Felicia followed her lover with her eyes, and dared not breathe until the moment when Bliomberis had unhorsed his adversary: she then gasped, and the deepest rosate hue overspread her lovely cheeks. Pharamond saw with pleasure that victory seemed inclined to crown our hero : Clodion applauded with all his might; Percival swore if his friend was conquered he would avenge him; and Blanchefleur, not heeding the remarks of those who surrounded her, each time exclaimed aloud, "Courage Bliomberis!"
This valiant warrior surpassed himself, and had already vanquished his eleven rivals, without having split his lance. The general acclamations proclaimed him victor. Pharamond took his hand, and led him to Felicia, who vainly endeavoured to suppress her joy. Bliomberis was at her feet, and was just going to receive the reward of his valour, when an unknown knight arrived and challenged him to fight. Bliomberis, irritated at having his happiness interrupted by an unexpected competitor, let fall the Princess's
hand; and, grasping his lance anew, furiously
The cypress knight bowed gracefully to the King, the Queen, and the Princess, and cantered his steed, while the trembling Felicia's blood froze with horror and dismay.
Percival, who had recognized him, rushed into the lists, and offered to fight in the place of his friend; and pleaded that he had a secret injury which he longed to avenge: but the judges interfered, and the proud Cambrian, after menacing the unknown knight with his eyes, was obliged to resume his seat. The terrified princess dared not raise her looks on the combatants: a deathlike silence reigned throughout the assembly, and the spectators shuddered at the dismal sound of the shrill trumpet. Bliomberis again glanced at Felicia, invoked her, pressed Ebene, and flew to his enemy.
The meeting of two clouds charged with thunder, and impelled by adverse winds, could not be more violent than that of the two warriors: they both were thrown back on their horses, that fell to the earth; but hastily extricating themselves from their stirrups, they joined each other with their drawn scymetars, and commenced a combat which made the most hardened spectators tremble. Poor Felicia felt every blow that was aimed at her lover; and her heart was not covered with mail, it was torn by each stroke Bliomberis received on his armour. The furious Percival could no longer contain himself, and wished to take the place of his friend. Pharamond and Blanchefleur with difficulty restrained him, and made him remark that, Bliomberis had not received the smallest disadvantage, but defended himself with the same vigour with which he was attacked. Already the fatal wreath of cypress was effaced; each of our hero's blows made a piece of his adversary's armour fly; each stroke from his enemy shivered that of Bliomberis. Blood had not yet begun to flow, but it was every moment expected. Bliomberis, the valiant Bliomberis began to totter; a blow shattered his helmet, and his head remained disarmed: he cover ed it with his shield; but soon was compelled to bend one knee to the earth, still he defended himself with intrepidity. Felicia had fainted, Blanchefleur threw piercing shrieks, and Percival, sword in hand, rushed between the combay Bb 2
tants. "Barbarian," said he to the unknown, "it is on me you must direct your blows; I am thy enemy, I defy, I abhor thee, I regard thee as the most cowardly of men, if you pursue the advantage which chance has given you over Bliomberis."-" Bliomberis!" cried the unknown: "" O, Heavens! is it then my son I was going to slay?" With these words he threw away his sword and helmet, and extending his arm to our hero, "My son, my dear son! come and embrace thy father!" Bliomberis flew to meet him; and Palamede, while pressing him to his heart, bathed him with tears. "Ab! my son," said he, "my child, my beloved child; is it thee my sword was going to pierce? thee, for
whose sake alone I support existence !"-"Warriors!" exclaimed he, addressing the spectators, "here is my conqueror, I yield to him; my son surpasses me, my son is a hero." These words were heard, and the area re-echoed with ap plause.
Palamede came and presented his son to Pharamond, whose pleasure it was to conclude this eventful day with the marriage of Felicia and Bliomberis.
THE REPRESENTATIONS OF LIFE,
Palamede, Percival, and Blanchefleur would no more quit these tender lovers; and their union, in rendering them happy, spread joy throughout all Pharamond's court.
CONTAINED IN WORKS OF FICTION:
"I wonder," replied the woman," how people, who know nothing of the world, can imbibe such romantic notions. What is situation to us? It is a livelihood we want, we have something else to think of than pleasant situation."
But," said the young lady," it must be agreeable to contemplate the beauties of nature, to view the distant prospects, or the waving corn in the fields opposite your doors."
"Of what use," said the woman," is the prospect of corn fields at our doors, if we want bread in the house? You fine folks, who come hither for a pleasant ramble, little know how hardly poor people live, who must gain a liveJihood in the country by their own endeavours."
The woman's husband then took upon himself to decide the matter, by an appeal to Mademoiselle de Clairville's understanding and sentiments.
NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING ANY EXISTENCE IN NATURE.
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"You seem," said he, "through want of experience or reflection, to have adopted very wrong notions. We work hard, we sweat and toil from morning till night, and seldom have an hour that we can call our own; and with all this we are hard enough put to it to earn a poor living in time of health; and if sickness come upon us, I we must be miserable indeed. In that case, there would be nothing for us but parish allowance for our support, which would be but smail, and
"You must," said Mademoiselle de Clairville to a young married woman, "live very comfortably, and be very happy in so charming a situation."
granted with many murmurs. I appeal to your own feelings, whether you would think it an agreeable business to apply to a magistrate, in order to induce him to oblige your neighbours to grant you an alms, and afford you that support which they seldom grant willingly, and often not without compulsion; and yet such, in all probability, must be our lot in old age, if our lives be prolonged to that period. If we be called from this world at an earlier time of life, our children will be put out as parish apprentices; and even now, if sickness or accident should render us unable to support them, that will be the case; and instead of seeing their tender years employed in acquiring such education as might hereafter be useful, we must have the mortification of seeing them spent in ignorance and drudgery. Put all those circumstances together, and then judge whether the happiness of us rural swains, as you are pleased to call us, be enviable, or our prospects such as can afford pleasure."
The gently swelling hills, which arose at the distance of a few miles from the hamlet, afforded pasture for numerous flocks of sheep, which were constantly attended by their respective shepherds. One day the young M. de Clairville proposed to his sister a ramble among the sheepwalks. "We shall see there," said he, "a spe cimen of the pastoral life, which we have yet only imperfectly observed." The young lady was charmed at the proposal; "I will," she returned, gladly accompany you thither, and shall contemplate with rapture that delightful
state of life which has so often been held up as a pattern of human felicity."
One pleasant morning they set out at an early hour, being resolved to spend the whole day among the shepherds; and M. and Mad. de Clairville, together with M. de Palaise, joined in the party. At every step they were charmed with the melodious singing of the lark, the delightful serenity of the air, and the beautiful landscapes which the intermixture of hills and dales, corn fields and meadows, diversified and embellished with the most enchanting variety. On ascend ing the hills, they were surprised and enraptured || at a view of the extensive prospects displayed all around, which were bounded only by the horizon, || and terminated in the confusion of the distant azure. "Surely," said Mademoiselle de Clairville, as they approached the shepherds, these men enjoy all that can render life desirable, and || all that nature, in the profusion of her bounties,|| can bestow. Here, undoubtedly, we shall find the originals from which pastoral poets have copied their paintings. Here, at last, we shall contemplate a state of leisure, tranquillity, contentment, and uninterrupted happiness."
Arrived among the shepherds, they accosted them, and were stared at with an air of stupid vacancy. "We have taken the liberty," said the elder Clairville, "to come hither to witness your happy state of life."
"Happy" cried one of them with a vulgar "I wonder how such a fancy ever came into your head!"
"I wish," said one surly fellow, "you had as much of this kind of happiness as I have had, I think you would have had enough of it."Another said, "you fine gentlemen and ladies wish should not come on such a day as this, if you to know how we shepherds get our living; you should come on a cold stormy day, and then you would see that we earn our bread in rain as well as in sunshine, and are as often wet and cold as dry and warm."
They held, for some time, a desultory conversation with those pastoral rustics, and perceived them to be extremely stupid and ignorant, and very little satisfied with their condition. At last, one of them, who had not yet joined in the con versation, came up and accosted the strangers in a mauner that evinced a better education, and more knowledge of the world than the others possessed.
"You have, gentlemen, I perceive," said he, "drawn your ideas of a pastoral life from books; but you must allow that they who have derived theirs from experience, are more worthy of credit."
"You then," said M. de Clairville, " do not think your condition completely happy."
"I am," returned the shepherd, (6 perfectly resigned to the will of Providence, and therefore contented with my situation; but I cannot think it an agreeable one, nor can it, upon a fair estimate, be considered as a state of comfort and pleasure. Can you suppose that comfort cons sists in living sequestered from all human society, where we seldom enjoy any other company than that of our flocks, or hear any other language than the bleating of sheep? We remain from the rising to the setting sun, exposed to the summer's heat, and the winter's cold: our wages are small, and our living is poor. Do you call these things the constituents of happiness?"
They soon perceived they were conversing with a man very superior in knowledge to the rest of the shepherds, and who seemed by the style of his conversation to possess a more enlightened mind than most of the country people they had hitherto met with. To him, therefore, they directed their chief attention. He appeared to be not less communicative than intelligent, which induced them to consider him as a person well qualified to give them a just and impartial view of the pleasures and inconveniences of that state of life in which he was placed.
The shepherd conducted them to his hut, and kindly invited them to partake of his homely fare, which, indeed, was not much calculated to impress on their minds a very high opinion of their condition. They tasted, however, through complaisance, and then invited him to dine with them on the provisions which they had brought to regale themselves during their excursion.➡ Mutual civilities were productive of greater familiarity; and at length, at the request of his guests, he favoured them with some particulars of his past life.
"My father," said he, was a wealthy farmer, at a village a few miles hence. He had two sons, of whom I was the youngest, and four daughters. One of the latter died young, and thus escaped the inconveniences and hardships of a troublesome world. Another married my father's servant. He was a well-looking man, and a good hand at country business; but his circumstances were low, and my father being adverse to the match, would not give him any portion.— He wrought hard, however, as a labourer, and they lived tolerably well till he happened to be killed by an accident. He left my sister with six small children, who must have been put out parish apprentices, as soon as they were of a fit age, had not my father contributed liberally towards their support. My two other sisters married farmers; and although their farms are highrented, yet, with great care and hard labour, they contrive to get a decent livelihood. My father's
intention was, that my brother should succeed him in the farm, and as I gave some indications of genius, and manifested a strong propensity to learning, I was kept at school till I had made some progress in classical literature. My brother dying, my father took me from school, as he designed to leave me in the occupation of the farm, which he thought would be more beneficial than any thing else I could apply myself to. Some years afterwards I married, took my wife into the house, and we all made one family. My mother was old and my wife was young: the former thought the latter dressed too gay, and wrought too little; and this produced continual altercations between them. My mother made frequent complaints to my father, as my wife did to me; and I must confess, that among them I had not a very agreeable time.
"Both my parents happening to die within a short time of each other, I was left in the entire occupation of the farm. But being obliged to pay two hundred and fifty pounds to each of my three sisters, which was left to them by my father's will, and being distitute of ready money to answer those demands, my wife and I adopted a plan of the most rigid economy, hoping that as the farm was well stocked, and in an excellent state of cultivation, that we should by this means be soon enabled to clear off this incumbrance We rose early, and went to rest late; and endeavoured, by labouring hard ourselves, to lessen the number of our servants, and consequently di minish our expences. During some time our exertions were attended with success; but in this world nothing is certain. Our landlord having made an advantageous purchase in another part of the country, sold the estate which he possessed in our village. It was purchased by a person who took the whole into his own hands, by which, both I and my next neighbour were in consequence discharged from our farms. We could not fall in for others that were likely to allow us to live; for you must know that farms are very difficult to procure, unless a person possess a property sufficiently great to enable him to take a large concern."
"But," interupted Mademoiselle de Clairville, "did you not think it extremely hard to be turned out of your farm, when you had always been punctual in the payment of your rent?"
"I did not see," returned the shepherd, "that I had any right to complain I do not estimate things in an interested, but in an impartial manThe person who purchased the land had an indisputable right to occupy if he pleased; and I could not conscientiously think myself injured. I considered the matter, therefore, as one of these common disappointments which are incident to every condition of life."
"I perfectly comprehend your reasoning," said the young lady, "and approve your liberality of
"When I had sold off my stock of cattle, of corn, and my farming utensils," continued the shepherd, "and paid the legacies to my sisters, my remaining property amounted to no very great sum, and I could not easily resolve upon a plan for the future support of my family. This is frequently the case, when a person in business, either commercial or agricultural, is thrown out of his accustomed track. His connections with the active world are then dissolved, and new ones must be formed. His channels of acquisition are stopped, and new ones must be explored and opened; and this, to a person whose means are limited, and whose efforts are checked by the narrowness of his circumstances, is generally a difficult, and often a hazardous enterprise. Had I remained in the situation in which I was fixed, my pecuniary circumstances were fully adequate to the management of iny business; but I found them but small when I was launched into the world of speculation. After many searches and inquiries, however, I met with a small farm. It was highly rented, but, I believe, that with a great deal of labour and care, I could have made a living, had I not been so friendly, or rather so foolish, as to enter into a bond for my wife's bro||ther, in order to save him from becoming a bankrupt. This event, however, took place in spite of my efforts to prevent it; he was more involved than I had imagined, and I was implicated in his fortune, and reduced to beggary.
"I had now no resource left but daily labour. Both I and my wife, however, were still in the vigorous age of life, and by our united endeavours we made a shift to provide for our family. In this situation we remained twenty years, and had six children, whom we supported and brought up with sweat and toil, till old age began to make its appearance, and I began to feel my strength inadequate to the labour and hardships I had cheerfully undergone while in the bloom of life."
"I am," said M. de Clairville the next morning to his children, "inclined to imagine that your chimerical ideas of life are considerably al
from starving. You may, perhaps, think this somewhat hard, but you must consider the expences of managing a farm are great, and the success hazardous; and how could a farmer paytered, and reduced much nearer to the standard of reason and reality. Your own observations have now dissipated the ideal scenes which danced before your eyes, and experience has taught you that imagination may form pictures which have no originals in nature."
rent and wages if he did not take care that his work is got well forwarded? Thus you may see that one thing presses upon another, and keeps the whole system of working a farm continually upon the stretch. Besides this, in the business of husbandry, many kinds of work must be carried on by a number of hands acting in concert, and if any one be unable to perform his part, his deficiency is a hindrance to the rest, and retards the whole operation. I have many times, in such cases, been obliged to work among men much younger, and consequently stronger and more active than myself, and after straining every nerve, found myself totally inadequate to the task. The experience of this induced me to undertake the employment of a shepherd, which, although it be a languid scene of dull uniformity, requires a less degree of bodily exertion than many other branches of rural employment; is only a poor occupation, but it furnishes the means of supporting life, and I am too far advanced in years to undertake any other."
"And yet," said Madame de Clairville, "this is the life of which the poets have delineated such enchanting pictures, and which moral writers have so often described as a scene of tranquillity and happiness."
"I believe, indeed," said the younger Clairville," that my sister and I shall return to town much less prejudiced in favour of a country life than we were at leaving it; and that our excursion will have taught us to ground our notions on reason and experience, and not on the vagaries of the imagination.”
"For my own part," answered Mademoiselle de Clairville, "I am now convinced that the peasantry enjoy none of that superlative happiness which I had imagined.”
"You have now," said M. de Palaise, "gratified your curiosity, satisfied your enquiries, and rectified your notions; you have tried your prepossessions by the touchstone of experience, you have discovered the difference between speculative prejudices and experimental knowledge."
"These poets and moralists," replied the shepherd, "if they had consulted experience, and not romantic speculation, would have exhibited very different representations; and I take the liberty to assure you, that I have now toiled too long to attach any importance to the vagaries of fancy; and they describe the innocence, the virtue, and the happiness of rural nymphs and swains, in the same spirit of agreeable fiction as they invoke Apollo and the muses, or occasionally introduce the other gods and goddesses of the Pagan mythology."
The Clairvilles were highly gratified and entertained with the well-related story and sagacious rellections of this philosophical and eloquent shepherd, they listened with attention and interest to the plain and simple history of rustic lite. They made the shepherd a handsome present, and returned to their lodgings enjoying the pleasure of a charming evening, indulging themselves in making remarks and reflections on the occurrences of the day, and highly satisfied with their agreeable excursion.
"But permit me, Sir, to ask this question," Said Mademoiselle de Clairville, " do the writers who delineate such fascinating pictures, suppose themselves that the originals exist? does the enthusiasm of imagination overpower the operation of reason so far as to make them believe the existence of the scenes and manners they describe?"
"Nothing of the kind," replied M. de Palaise, they are no more than mere embellishments of composition, calculated to entertain and delight the imagination, not to inform the understanding or direct the judgment. Pastoral poets well know that the greatest part of their brilliant scenery has, like the divinities of Paganism, no other existence than in their own fancy."
The youthful observers returned to the capital wholly cured of the romantic notions which had led them to quit it; and in perambulating its crowded streets, found a pleasure which seemed altogether new. They visited the different places of amusement; the active and animated appearance of the scene around them had an exhilirating effect on their spirit; they seemed to have emerged from the obscurity of solitude into the broad sunshine of life, and were experimen tally convinced that variety gives a relish to pleasures, and charms to existence.