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in Burgundy, and mingles itself with the sea below the city of Rouen.
It is a region rich in orchards and vineyards, in fragrant meadow lands and thymy downsto the north thereof lies a forest, extending itself for several leagues over a space most beautifully diversified with hill and dale, and affording within its deep recesses such a great variety of cool grottos, waterfalls, and natural bowers as I have seldom seen in any other part of the world. There is the sweet village, each little dwelling of which has its thatched roof, its rural porch, and its gay flower garden. We had our chateau also, which being built of grey stone, and having a commanding site, afforded a pleasing object to the road which runs from Paris to Rouen on the other side of the Seine ; its fanes and turrets at that time being exalted above the neighbouring woods, though, as I now understand, they are leveled to the dust; and near the chateau was the Tour de Tourterelle, which gave the title to the family—a huge old tower coeval with the first dukes of Normandy.
When first admitted to my cure, the family
at the chateau consisted of
individuals, but one and another of these being removed by death or marriage, Madame la Baronne only was left to us after a few years, and such was the kindness and amiable deportment of this lady, that it was commonly said of her, that all the virtues of the long and illustrious line of ancestry, of which she was the last in that part of the country, had centred in her. In fact, her conduct merited our sincere affection and gratitude; but when we are made acquainted, through the divine teaching, with the fallen and corrupt state of human nature, we dare not to use or admit that high strain of panegyric which more presumptuous individuals employ without apprehension.
Between the village and the chateau stood our church, built also of grey stone, in the Norman Gothic style, and near to the church was a large black timbered house, with two gable ends pointed with wooden crosses, where lived a decayed gentlewoman, a widow, whom I shall call Madame Bulé.
This lady being an accomplished woman
for that day, and much reduced in her fortune, received
ladies into her house for their education, and was, I believe, as far as the dark state of her mind would admit, a faithful and laborious guide to her young people.
Near to Madame Bulé's seminary was my own little mansion, nay, so near, that the window of my study, which was an upper room, projected over the garden wall of the seminary, and I used often to amuse myself by showering bon-bons from thence upon the little ones who were assembled on the lawn beneath.
From the period of my entering my cure until I was more than forty years of
I enjoyed a long interval of comparative peace. I was fond of a retired life. I had a particular delight in the study of nature, and in that part of it especially which refers to the habits and formation of the vegetable world. I made a collection of all the plants in the neighbourhood, and would walk leagues for the chance of obtaining a new specimen. I had other pursuits of the same kind, which filled up the intervals of my professional duties, and, through the divine goodness, kept me from worse things during those years of my life in which I certainly had not that sense of religion which would have upheld me in situations of stronger excitement. Thus I was carried on in a comparatively blameless course through a long period of my life, for which I humbly thank my God, and take no manner of credit to myself; though I feel that it is a mercy for which an individual cannot be too grateful, when he is brought to a sense of sin and to a knowledge of his own weakness, to find that in the days of his spiritual darkness he has been guarded on the right hand and on the left, from shoals and rocks and whirlpools, in which wiser persons than himself have made terrible shipwrecks. But, as I said above, I was led on from year to year in a sort of harmless course; and whereas I enjoyed much peace, so was the same bestowed upon my neighbours in general, in a larger proportion than could have been expected, when the agitated state of our country as it regarded religion and politics is brought under consideration. In the mean time, the little establishment of Madame Bulé was carried on in a manner so peaceful and tranquil that it can hardly be questioned but that the protecting hand of Providence was extended over this academy, although undoubtedly the instructions there received, partook of the spiritual darkness at that period spread over the whole country.
At length, however, as Madame became less able to exert herself, and as new modes of instruction and more fashionable accomplishments became requisite, in order to satisfy the parents of the pensioners (or boarders), she thought it right to procure an assistant, and Mademoiselle Victoire, a young lady who had been educated in Paris, was appointed to the situation. Thus the wolf was admitted into the fold; for this young person, being exceedingly vain and worldly minded, no sooner found herself established in the family of Madame Bulé than she began to disturb the peace
of its inmates. All those accomplishments which delight the senses were what were chiefly held in esteem by Mademoiselle; she had no value