תמונות בעמוד

de Saint Balmont awaited him dressed in inale attire. They fought, she conquered him, and after disarming him said with peculiar grace; You were uuder the impression, Monsieur, that you fought against the Chevalier de Saint Balmont; but it is Madame de Saint Balmont who returns you your sword, and who requests that in future you will have more consideration for a lady's behest.' She departed, after these words, and history records, that he, full of shame and confusion, retired, and was never again heard of. As to lier, this occurrence only served to inflame her valour; she did not content herself with preserving her own property, in repelling force by force; but gave protection to several neighbouring gentlemen who took refuge upon her estate, and ranged themselves under her banners when she went to war, from whence she always returned victorious, accomplishing her undertaking with equal prudence and valour. I met her several times at the house of Madame Feuqueries, at Verdun; and it was amusing to see her embarrassment at being dressed like a woman, and with what ease and spirit she mounted her horse on getting outside the city, and acted as escort to the ladies who accompanied her, and whom she permitted to remain in her coach. Notwithstanding this strange life, at variance with nearly all the feelings of womanhood, and which might in another lead to freedom of manner, or it might be libertinism, yet for her it possessed but the one attraction, namely, the power of doing good by redressing grievances, and repelling injustice. When in her own quiet home, each day was employed in offices of piety, in prayers, in holy reading, in visiting the sick of her parish, whom she assisted with a most praise-worthy charity, which gained for her the esteem and admiration of all who knew her, and caused her to be regarded with the respect and homage paid only to a queen.

Madame de Saint Balmont, after the peace of Westphalia, occupied herself with literature, and published in the year 1650 les Jumeaux Martyrs, a tragedy in-quarto; it was re-publisbed in 1651 in duo-decimo. She died amongst the religions of Saint Clare, at Bar-le-Duc the 22nd of May, 1660. Pere de Vernon has written her life, and entitled it l'Amazone Chretienne, Paris, 1678, in duo-decimo.

*Memoirs de L'Abbe Arnauld, from Michaud Ponjolat's collection, p. 494. See also a chapter of Tallement, t. viii. p. 217.

We do not know the name of the heroine, whose biography James de Joigny, printer at Rheims, has given under the title of Les Merveilles de la vie des combats et victoires d'Ermine, citoyenne de Reims, Rheims, 1648, in octavo. We are also in doubt about another heroine in the earlier part of the seventeenth century.l'Histoire de Louis XIII., by Dupleir, p. 225.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century an Englishwoman named Maria Read concealed her sex, and passed her life on the American seas, in the midst of pirates whose dangers and profits she shared. The vessel on which she was having been taken by the English, she, with her companions, was condemned to death at Jamaica the 16th of November. She declared herself enceinte, and thus obtained a respite, but falling ill, she died in prison, being at the time about forty years of age.

In the latter part of the same century, an amazon of another species, Mademoiselle Maupin, an actress at the opera, filled France with the noise of her sanguinary and scandalous adventures. Skilled in fencing, and wearing usually the dress of a man ( a costume by means of which she could more readily abandon herself to her infamous pursuits) she one day insulted a woman who was accompanied by three men; they, ignorant of her sex, challenged her to a duel, in which she killed successively the three. She obtained pardon by quitting Paris, to which place she however returned, and re-appeared at the opera. She finished her career by renouncing the world, and died in 1707.

The mother of Wyermann, a Dutch painter, who died in 1747, was vulgarly called Lys Saint Mourel. She had served in the armies, and retired with the rank of serjeant, the dress and staff of which she continued to wear during the remainder of her life.

We shall conclude our sketch with the following fact.

The first woman who made a tour of the world was a young Briton, named Barry. She was dressed in man's attire, and accompanied as a servant, the French botanist Commerson in his travels ( 1767 to 1770.) Her sex was discovered at Taïti by the islanders.


1. Le Vicomte de Launay, Lettres Parisiennes, précédées d'une Introduction, par Théophile Gautier. Par Mme. Emile

, de Girardin. Paris : Michel Levy, Freres, 1857. 2. Les Contemporains : Mme. de Girardin ( Delphine Gay),

par Eugène de Mirecourt. Paris : G. Havard, 1856.

The lady with whom we wish to make our readers better acquainted, having devoted twelve years to the chronicling of such small beer as fashions, and the topics of the passing hour in Paris, an introductory word or two on these subjects will not be out of place.

We seem to feel ourselves as on a sand-bank drifting we know not where. Our poor planet has not a moment's rest from New Year's day to St. Sylvester's, nor can its inhabitants stop to realize their condition for the nonce, to reckon up

their joys and sorrows, or adjust the balance. But in time, mother earth finds herself starting from the same point again, and at the renewal of some cycle—if we could live to witness it—it is probable that every phase in the world's economy would find itself repeated. The drop of water that with its countless fellows, rushes westward past the Cape of Good Hope, in obedience to the moon's pleasure, will in the lapse of years glide again by the same headland; but what variety of climate, and what myriads of kindred drops, will it not have encountered in the interim. Mme. de Girardin in one of her pieces, contrasts the diary of a fine lady in 1812, as preserved in the "Chaussée d' Antin," with one of the year 1810, and finds no members of the same families presiding over the popular emporiums of the two eras, except in the instance of a fashionable mercer, and the proprietor of a flower magazine ; hence she jumps too hastily at a conclusion, and says that nothing bere below remains the same, but fashions and flowers.

If being slaves to the same absurd style of dress at this day, to which our great grandmothers of a century since were victims, proved anything, our poetess would be in the right; but let all the varieties of style, more or less at variance with good natural taste, which ruled during their fitful hour in the interin, be also taken in to account. And while we are on the sub


ject of fashions, a subject on which the celebrated Jeames of the Morning Post is much better informed, let us reflect for a moment on the waste of God's time, the abuse of money, and the misapplication of talents, for which those rulers of the fashionable world must account one day, when the result of their labours is the adoption of expensive, immodest and unserviceable clothing by the myriads of foolish women, who have not the moral courage to refuse to bow down and worship the cruel idol, dress themselves according to the impulses of a natural good taste, and the ascertained principles of gracefulness and beauty in form. Would that the August Lady,wbo nominally governs the men and women of these islands, was absolute mistress in the article of female fashions, and then would we for a certainty be relieved of the sight of painfullooking foreheads from which the natural ornament of the hair is so tightly pulled away, from dustmen's fantails on the beautiful heads which they disfigure, and from those garments of which a hay-cock is the ungraceful type.

The women of London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, probably fancy that their “ Great Diana of the Ephesians," resides in Paris; but people who are supposed to be better skilled in the mystic rites of that money-lavishing goddess, assert that she has her slirine on the banks of the dark rolling Danube.” And after all, what a flimsy and fragile rod of power she holds, if her slaves had even a shadow of moral courage or common sense! Were our Queen and a few influential ladies of her court, to return to a natural and graceful style of dress, and steadily persist in wearing it, for a reasonable time, the mode would by degrees shew its colours beyond the Manche, take Paris by assault, occupy the cities that behold their faces in the "winding Rhine," get possession of Munich, and drifting down the Danube, seize the trembling tyrant on her throne, and boldly free the fair mistress of Vienna and her equally fair court ladies from the iron hoops and other harness of licr ponderous though fantastic car.

This may be said to be begging the question ; but let us see what Englishmen have already done ; and if Englishwomen will take a lesson from the books of their natural vassals for once, they will live to bless the happy inspiration.

Did John Bull in the matter of training his horses to execute steeple chases, races, and fox hunts, cross the water to learn how his Gallic neighbours went, or went not about these things?





Not a yard. He moulded his canine and equine amusements and pursuits after a model constructed in his own hard heail, till they acquired a systematic and stable form (no pun intended) till they became in fact a national institution ; and now see the consequence. Your Parisian lion who must do violence to his own tastes and instincts, when he rides a race, risks bis neck in a steeple-chase, pursues a reynard, or practises le bore, cari. catures these exercises as well as he can, and works himself into a factitious enthusiasm about them, merely because he sees our islanders practise them with genuine eagerness and enjoyment.

A Parisian is associated in the minds of most of us with ideas of fickleness, frivolity, love of change in dress and customs, and every thing allied to unsteadiness. Let us exainine with what reason. From the days of Racine and Corneille to the first appearance of Hernani, who were they that uniformly sat out, and seemed to enjoy the long-winded tirades, the no-action, and the unsuitable costume of the Classic drama? The Parisian play-goers. Who for about a century and a half were satisfied to bury themselves, and their cares and their interest in passing events, in the tremendous romances (each 10 volumes folio) of the 17th century ? The French reading public. And in the matter of dancing, a recreation so intimately associated with a Parisian's enjoyment, the same stereotyped forms, are repeated from year to year. The ballet may be called the Ilighland Sylple or the Apples of Atalanta, but the same mode of flying on to the foot lights, the same nonsensical and ungraceful postures, the saine twirls, and the same unintelligible language of arins and hands, will be strictly repeated still. Performers from the Bog of Allen, the coast of Bohemia, the country of the Cossacks, Andalusia, the Carse of Gowrie, or the Sauds of Sahara, may come and obtain some cold applauses by the performance of their national dances; but they vanish in time, and Mons. Silvain, who sometimes happens to be Jeminy Sullivan from Dingle, and who has been waiting round the side-wing, bounds forward, supports Mlle. Frelebras with the tip of one tinger, as she winds her arms like the sails of a mill, twirls her empty head, and holds out one leg parallel to the earth's surfice; the claqueurs bring their horny palms together, and the stereotyped manœuvres and pedeuvres then witnessed for the thousandth time, put to flight all remembrance of Irisi jigs, Scotch reels, Spanish boleros, and all the lively and joyous cmotions connected with them.


« הקודםהמשך »