« PreviousContinue »
mity we learn from her mother, who, in a letter to the late Rev. Dr. R, says:— When a reverse of fortune drove us from Piercefield, my daughter had just entered her seventeenth year, an age at which she might have been supposed to have lamented deeply many subsequent privatious. Of the firmness of her mind on that occasion no one can judge better than yourself; for you had an opportunity to observe it, when immediately after the blow was struck you offered, from motives of generous friendship, to undertake a charge which no pecuniary consideration could induce you to accept a few months before. I do not recollect a single murmur escaping her, or the least expression of regret at what she had lost; on the contrary, she always appeared contented; and particularly after our fixing at C, it seemed as if the place and mode of life were such as she preferred, and in which she was most happy. I pass over in silence a time in which we had no home, and when, from the deranged state of our affairs, we were indebted for one to the kindness and generosity of a friend; nor do I speak of the time spent in Ireland when following the regiment with my } husband, because the want of a settled abode interrupted those studies in which my daughter most delighted. Books are not light of carringe, and the blow which deprived us of Piercefield, deprived us of a library also. But though this period of life afforded little op portunity for improvement in science, the qualities of her heart never appeared in a more amiable light. Through all the inconveniences which attended our situation while living in barracks, the firmness aud cheerful resiguation of her mind at the age of nineteen made me blash for the tear which too frequently trembled in my eye at the recollection of all the comforts we had lost."
After the distressing scene of which Miss Elizabeth Smith had written the account, Mrs. Bowdler continues her narrative by saying:"I went to Piercefield on the following day, but I cannot attempt to describe the scene to which I was then a witness; afflictions so nobly supported make the sufferers objects of eavy rather than pity; a change of fortune so sudden, and so unexpected, was a great trial, but it was received in a manner to command the respect of all who witnessed it. I had long seen and admired Mrs. Smith in the situation in which she seemed peculiarly formed to shine in one of the finest places in England, surrounded by her lovely children, with all the elegant comforts of affluence, and delighting her happy guests by the fascinating charms of conversation. Through all the misfortunes
which marked the period of which I am now speaking, I can with truth say of Mrs. Smith what she says of her beloved daughter, that I do not recollect a single instance of a murmur having escaped her on account of the loss of fortune; but there were other circumstances attending this sad event which such a heart as she had must deeply feel; and a letter which is now before me speaks the language of her heart:-The business is again delayed. I am averse to this prolongation of our misery, but it is a duty we owe to, to do every thing which can be likely to save him. Oh, my dear friend! if this amiable family were but secure I should be no longer miserable; but as it is, the thought of their situation sometimes sinks me almost to despair.'-This was an affliction (continues Mrs. Bowdler) under which even conscious rectitude was not sufficient to support her; but the loss of fortune, as it was occasioned neither by extravagance nor vice, and dignified with such conduct as secured the respect and esteem of their friends, was supported by every individual of the family with truly Christiau fortitude and resignation. A few days after I went to Piercefield my friends quitted it for ever, and the young ladies spent seven or eight months with us, in and near Bath. The time which was spent with my mother was certainly of great advantage to my young friends; for she was extremely fond of them, and nothing can be more just than what Mrs. Smith says of her peculiarly happy manner of conveying instruction. Many of their favourite pursuits had been interrupted; they had lost the sublime scenes of Piercefield, which furnished an infinite variety of subjects for the pencil. They drew extremely well, and Elizabeth was completely mistress of perspective. Her musical talents were very uncommon; she played remarkably well both on the piano-forte and harp, but she had lost both her instruments; the library, of which she so well knew the value, was also lost. Always averse to large parties, and with no taste for dissipation, she readily agreed to a plan of employment proposed by my mother, and we agreed on a regular course of history, both ancient and modern; at other times we studied Shakspeare, Milton, and some other English poets, as well as some of the Italians. We took long walks and often drew from nature; after my mother retired to rest we usually studied the stars, and read Bonycastle's Astronomy, which reminds me of the following cir cumstance:-Elizabeth told me one evening that she did not perfectly understand what is said in Bonycastle of Kepler's celebrated calculation, by which he discovered that the B2
squares of the periods of the planets are in proportion to the cubes of their distances, but I confessed my inability to assist her; when I came down next morning to breakfast, I founding, when they removed to their present resiher with a folio sheet of paper almost covered dence at C—. “This country," says Mrs. with figures; she rose as soon as it was day. Smith, "had many charms for Elizabeth; she light, and by means of Bonycastle's Arithmetic, drew correctly from nature, and her enthusiashad learned to extract the cube-root, and had tie admiration of the sublime and beautiful afterwards calculated the periods and distances often carried her beyond the bounds of prudent of several planets, so as clearly to shew the precaution with regard to her health. Freaccuracy of Kepler's rule, and the method of quently in the summer she was abroad during employing it. In such pursuits as I have twelve or fourteen hours, and in that time mentioned I could accompany her, but in walked many miles. When she returned at others she had a much better assistant in our night, she was always more cheerful than mutual friend Miss H, who, fortunately usual; never said she was fatigued, and selfor us, spent four months in our neighbour-dom appeared tired. It is astonishing how she hood, and was the companion of our studies and our pleasures. She led Miss Smith to the study of the German language, of which she was afterwards particularly fond. She assisted her in botanical and other pursuits, as well as in different branches of the mathematics.
ants of that country. They passed the winter: in a cottage on the banks of the Lake of Ulswater, aud continued there till the May follow
found time for all she acquired, and all she accomplished. Nothing was neglected; there was a scrupulous attention to all the minutia of her sex; for her well-regulated mind, far from despising them, considered them as a part of that system of perfection at which she aimed; an aim which was not the result of vanity, nor to attract the applause of the world; no human being ever sought it less, or was more entirely free from conceit of every kind. The approbation of God and her own conscience were the only rewards she ever. sought."
In confirmation of the above, we transcribe the following reflections taken from one of Miss Elizabeth Smith's pocket-books, dated the first of January, 1798, when the author was in her twenty-first year, and which we earnestly recommend to the attention of our fair readers :-" Being now arrived at what is called years of discretion, and looking back on my past life with shame and confusion, when I recollect the many advantages I have had, and the bad use I have made of them, the hours I have squandered, and the opportunities of improvement I have neglected;—when I imagine what with those advantages I ought to be, and find myself what I am;—I am resolved to endeavour to be more careful for the future, if the future be granted me; to try to make amends for the past negligence, by employing every moment I can command to some good In October 1800, her mother informs us, purpose; to endeavour to acquire all the little they left Ireland, and determined on seeking knowledge that human nature is capable of on out some retired situation in England; in the earth, but to let the word of God be my chief hope that by strict economy, and with the study, and all others subservient to it; to blessing of cheerful contented minds, they model myself, as far as I am able, according might yet find something like comfort; which to the Gospel of Christ; to be content while the frequent change of quarters, with four my trial lasts, and when it is finished to rechildren, and the then insecure state of Ireland, joice, trusting in the merits of my Redeemer. made it impossible to obtain, notwithstand- I have written these resolutions to stand as a ing the kind and generous attention they in-witness against me, in case I should be inclinvariably received from the hospitable inhabit- ed to forget them and to return to my former
"I do not know when Elizabeth began to learn Spanish, but it was at an earlier period than that of which I am now speaking; when she was with us she read it without difficulty, and some hours every morning before breakfast were devoted to these studies. She acquired some knowledge of the Arabic, and Persian languages during the following winter, when a very fine dictionary and grammar, in the possession of her brother, led her thoughts to Oriental literature. She began to study Latin and Greek in the year 1794, when Mr. C——'s excellent library, and improving conversation, opened to her an inexhaustible fund of information. She studied Hebrew from my mother's Bible, with the assistance of Parkhurst; but she had no regular instruction in any language except French. Her love of Ossian led her to acquire some knowledge of the Erse language, but the want of books made it impossible for her to pursue that study as far as she wished. Some extracts from her letters will shew how she was employed during the following years." But here we reluctantly must refer our readers to the work itself for a perusal of those interesting extracts.
indolence and thoughtlessness, because I have
In the year 1803, Miss Elizabeth Smith finished her translation of the Book of Job; and during the two last years of her life she was engaged in translating from the German some letters and papers written by Mr. and Mrs. Klopstock. In the summer of the year 1805, we are told by Mrs. Smith, in a letter to a friend, that this lovely young woman was seized with a cold which terminated in her death; and on the seventh of August, 1806, we are informed" the angel spirit fied."
We have now given a short sketch of the life of an admirable young lady whose age did not exceed thirty, but whose knowledge and whose acquirements far exceeded her years. We could, with pleasure, have made many extracts from her Fragments, shewing the depth of her understanding, and the goodness of her heart, but we must refer our readers to that source from whence, at the commencement of our history, we professed to have obtained it; and we shall conclude with a poem, sent by a friend to Mrs. Smith after the death of her daughter, as containing a just description of her angelic mind.
"How dark this river, murmuring on its
This wood how solemn, at the close of day!
Till one vast veil of sadness covers all!-
"Can I forget, on many a summer's day,
How cross the moors and up the hills to wind,
Whilst, far beneath, her foil'd campanion
"Yet whilst to her sublimest scenes arise,
Arabia, Persia, adding to her store.
"Yet unobtrusive, serious, and meek,
No cot too mean, where misery might be found:
«Oh, lost Eliza: dear, ingenuous maid,
Thy taste design'd, and ready friendship drew;
"Lamented maiden! pensive and alone, While sorrowing friendship pours her tender moan,
Sad memory sees thee, at our parting hour,
Like his, we saw thy early blossoms wave;
CONRADINE was the natural son of Robert, Count of Provence, who died in 1245, on his return from the council of Lyons. On receiving information of the event, Louis IX. King of France, ordered troops to march to Provence, in order to take possession of that country as the inheritance of his wife, the eldest daughter of the deceased Count. Conradine, who was by this time old enough to bear arms, secing the necessity of defending what his father had bequeathed him, put him self at the head of an army, under the pretext of enforcing the rights of the younger daugh- || afterwards a bell rung to announce the time
ter of the Count, who had declared her his heiress. Louis was ignorant of the private testamentary arrangements of the deceased; be thought it more adviseable to negociate than to hazard any engagement. In Robert's will, the Count of Toulouse was designated as the future husband of the younger Countess Beatrix. For this union nothing was wanting but the dispensation of the Pope, because they were too nearly related. Louis, however, contrived matters so that the grant of this dispensation was deferred, and meanwhile entered into negociations in Provence with Tarascon and Villeneuve, the guardians of the young Countess. These men likewise managed things with such address that the Count of Toulouse was excluded from the succession, in favour of Charles of Anjou, to whom the King gave the Countess Beatrix in marriage. At the same time Villeneuve excited himself in behalf of Conradine with such success, that he was confirmed in the possession of all that had been bequeathed him.
for dinner. When his vassals heard the sound, they were obliged to kneel and pray to hcaven to bless their lord's repast. The neighbouring princes were not invited to his court except on gala days, when he held a great levee, for the purpose of augmenting the splendour of his court and person. No person was admitted into his castle without a special invitation. When he weat to bed a herald again proclaimed that it was time to retire to rest; the bell again rang, and the door of every house was locked. Each family then assembled as in the days of the patriarchs. The evenings were long, but not longer than the stories with which the youths were amused. The travels and adventures of Peter of Provence were never forgotten. This was a popular romance, originally composed in Provençal verses, and long afterwards transposed into common prose. They were entertained also with the miraculous deeds of the Bishop of Arles, and the heroic achievements of the valiant Selva, who fought so bravely for the citizens of Sienna when they were at war with the Florentines; or, by the light of an iron lamp, in the form of a shell, suspended from a nail, they sang the compositions of the Troubadours.-After dinner Conradine was accustomed to take a nap,-a practice still common in Provence. As long, therefore, as the prince was engaged in the important business of digestion, no person who followed a noisy trade, was allowed to work. People of that description accordingly threw down their hammers and. slumbered over their anvils and their lap
Being now relieved from all solicitude, Conradine disbanded his troops,with the exception of his usual body guard. This guard was numerous, and he kept it up, not from apprehension, for he was afraid of nothing, and death was not terrible to him, but out of pride, || which rose in him to the highest pitch of extravagance. Like Vespasian, he thought himself formed of different materials from the rest of mankind. He had extended the wall of his castle, and had secured the interior with gate upon gate, and bulwark upon bulwark, to
|| keep his vassals at a proper distance. Those servants whose attendance on his person he could not dispense with, never spoke to him but with fear aud trembling. He introduced a great number of ceremonies, each more formal than the other. His eating, drinking, and retiring to bed were each accompanied with a peculiar etiquette. When he sat down to table, a herald mounted the rampart of the castle and thrice shouted through the eyelet holgs: "Ye men of Provence! you may now eat; Conradine is at table." Immediately
stones. Conradine permitted no kind of games or sports except on holidays; for he looked upon idleness as a proof of high rank, on this principle, that he who does nothing, is probably superior to others inasmuch as he wants for nothing. Every Sunday, however, all the drummers and fifers in the neighbouring country assembled in the courts of the castle, and he condescended on such occasions to honour the dances of his faithful vassals with his presence. Pins, ribbons, nets, were the prizes which he distributed among the most skilful dancers. To such youths and damsels as excelled the rest in running he allotted silver goblets and other articles of that kind. It was curious to see both sexes mingling in the race, running towards the same goal, aspiring to the same prize, and how the softer sex sometimes vanquished the other. A light short petticoat fluttered from the waist to the knees of the female competitors, a thin veil covered their bosoms, and in this airy attire they seemed as if they flew. Some times the maiden ran beside her lover, who took good care not to distance her but to let her win the prize, that he might afterwards receive it from her hands. Conradine introduced other games besides these; for example, throwing blindfold at a cock, with sticks or stones, and wrestling either ou dry ground or upon the water. The diversion in which he himself took the greatest delight was the chace, and particularly falconry. This tedious sport he commonly pursued for half the day: the rest of his time Couradine spent in splendid lassitude, amidst the incessant repetition of the same ceremonies and the same formalities of etiquette. Alone in his castle, without ambition, without envy, he might have enjoyed tranquillity, had he not been tormented with pride. In war he had no particular passion for conquest, but he was fond of the glory that was acquired by it.
their estates at a low price, and enfranchised their vassals. He aunounced that he would purchase such possessions as were offered him for sale. Abundance of offers were made him and his territories were soon mcreased by Tarascon, Beaucairo, Riez, and Frejus. A Count de Sabean,named Elzear, sold him every thing he had, doubtless under the idea that much more extensive possessions would fall to his lot in the partition of the promised land, or that he should at least indemnify himself a hundred fold by plunder.
Elzear was not the only one who engaged in this holy expedition from motives of interest, aud who, taking up arms for the cause of the Almighty, committed without remorse numberiess acts of plunder, piracy, and murder. Such is the invariable result of superstition and ignorance.—In a word, Count Elzear sold all his estates, reserving, however, the liberty of redeeming them at the expiration of a year. He likewise stipulated that Conradine should support his five daughters during this interval, after which he might either send them to their uncle in Gascony, or shut them up in a convent. These five young ladies were so many Graces. Such an elegant shape, such a delicate complexion, such beauteous and expressive eyes were never seen before. If a man beheld one of them he could not help falling in love with her; but if he saw them all at once it was impossible to decide which of them deserved the preference The youngest was fifteen, and the eldest scarcely twenty. They had a great number of admirers. The most renowned Knights of Guienne, Languedoc, and Dauphiné, publicly wore their colours, and had their cyphers, together with their device, embroidered on their scarfs. This device was a flower with the motto,-"I am yet a flower, and have nothing to give but a flower," in allusion to the slenderness of their fortune.
About this time the crusades were universally preached up. King Louis and his brothers had taken the cross; great numbers of the nobility, and several prelates, followed their example. Conradine was likewise invited to do the same; but as he was not in debt, as his finances were in a good condition, and setting his pride out of the question, his subjects were satisfied with him, he rejected the proposal. On the other hand, the absence of Charles of Anjou, and other powerful lords of Provence, afforded him a favourable opportu nity for aggrandizing himself by force of arms. He took advantage, however, in a different way of the folly of his superstitious neighbours, most of whom, in order to raise money, sold
Before his departure, their father addressed them nearly in the following manner :er :- it is possible, my dear girls, that I may never retava from beyond the sea. In the event of my death, remember that you have a kinsman in Charles of Anjou, and a still nearer relation in Beatrix; implore them to take you under their protection. If it should happen that they can do nothing for you, repair to the court of the King of France; you are sure there to meet with compassion and relief. But," added he, with a deep sigh, "perhaps Conradine may chuse one of you for his conIt is better to be the master of one's own humble home, than to be dependant on the bounty of great and powerful relations.