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I shall never lose my friendship for her."
The Doctor was always a welcome inmate in the house of Mary and James, as a friend revered and dear. Nor did he want in time a hearthstone of his own, where a bright and loving face made him daily welcome; for we find that he married at last a woman of a fair countenance, and that sons and daughters grew up around him.
In time, also, his theological system was published. In that day, it was customary to dedicate new or important works to the patronage of some distinguished or powerful individual. Doctor had no earthly patron. Four or five simple lines are found in the commencement of his work, in which, in a spirit reverential and affectionate, he dedicates it to our Lord Jesus Christ, praying Him to accept the good, and to overrule the errors to His glory.
Quite unexpectedly to himself, the work proved a success, not only in public acceptance and esteem, but even in a temporal view, bringing to him at last a modest competence, which he accepted with surprise and gratitude. To the last of a very long life, he was the same steady, undiscouraged worker, the same calm witness against popular sins and proclaimer of unpopular truths, ever saying and doing what he saw to be eternally right, without the slightest consultation with worldly expediency or earthly gain; nor did his words cease to work in New England till the evils he opposed were finally done away.
Colonel Burr leaves the scene of our story to pursue those brilliant and unscrupulous political intrigues so well known to the historian of those times, and whose results were so disastrous to himself. His duel with the ill-fated Hamilton, the awful retribution of public opinion that followed, and the slow downward course of a doomed life are all on record. Chased from society, pointed at everywhere by the finger of hatred, so accursed in common esteem that even the publican who lodged him for a night refused
to accept his money when he knew his name, heart-stricken in his domestic relations, his only daughter taken by pirates and dying amid untold horrors,— one seems to see in a doom so much above that of other men the power of an avenging Nemesis for sins beyond those of ordinary humanity.
But we who have learned of Christ may humbly hope that these crushing miseries in this life came not because he was a sinner above others,-not in wrath alone, but that the prayers of the sweet saint who gave him to God even before his birth brought to him those friendly adversities, that thus might be slain in his soul the evil demon of pride, which had been the opposing force to all that was noble within him. Nothing is more affecting than the account of the last hours of this man, whom a woman took in and cherished in his poverty and weakness with that same heroic enthusiasm with which it was his lot to inspire so many women. This humble keeper of lodgings was told, that, if she retained Aaron Burr, all her other lodgers would leave. "Let them do it, then," she said; "but he shall remain." In the same uncomplaining and inscrutable silence in which he had borne the reverses and miseries of his life did this singular being pass through the shades of the dark valley. The New Testament was always under his pillow, and when alone he was often found reading it attentively; but of the result of that communion with Higher Powers he said nothing. Patient, gentle, and grateful, he was, as to all his inner history, entirely silent and impenetrable. He died with the request, which has a touching significance, that he might be buried at the feet of those parents whose lives had finished so differently from his own.
"No farther seek his errors to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode."
Shortly after Mary's marriage, Madame de Frontignac sailed with her husband for home, where they lived in a very retired way on a large estate in the
South of France. An intimate correspondence was kept up between her and Mary for many years, from which we shall give our readers a few extracts. Her first letter is dated shortly after her return to France.
"At last, my sweet Marie, you behold us in peace after our wanderings. I wish you could see our lovely nest in the hills which overlook the Mediterranean, whose blue waters remind me of Newport harbor and our old days there. Ah, my sweet saint, blessed was the day I first learned to know you! for it was you, more than anything else, that kept me back from sin and misery. I call you my Sibyl, dearest, because the Sibyl was a prophetess of divine things out of the Church; and so are you. The Abbé says, that all true, devout persons of all persuasions belong to the True Catholie Apostolic Church, and will in the end be enlightened to know it. What do you think of that, ma belle? I fancy I see you look at me with your grave, innocent eyes, just as you used to; but you say nothing.
"I am far happier, ma Marie, than I ever thought I could be. I took your advice, and told my husband all I had felt and suffered. It was a very hard thing to do; but I felt how true it was, as you said, that there could be no real friendship without perfect truth at bottom; so I told him all, and he was very good and noble and helpful to me; and since then he has been so gentle and patient and thoughtful, that no mother could be kinder; and I should be a very bad woman, if I did not love him truly and dearly, — as I do.
"I must confess that there is still a weak, bleeding place in my heart that aches yet, but I try to bear it bravely; and when I am tempted to think myself very miserable, I remember how patiently you used to go about your house-work and spinning, in those sad days when you thought your heart was drowned in the sea; and I try to do like you. I have many duties to my servants and tenants,
and mean to be a good châtelaine; and I find, when I nurse the sick and comfort the poor, that my sorrows are lighter. For, after all, Marie, I have lost nothing that ever was mine,- only my foolish heart has grown to something that it should not, and bleeds at being torn away. Nobody but Christ and His dear Mother can tell what this sorrow is; but they know, and that is enough."
The next letter is dated some three years after.
"You see me now, my Marie, a proud and happy woman. I was truly envious, when you wrote me of the birth of your little son; but now the dear good God has sent a sweet little angel to me, to comfort my sorrows and lie close to my heart; and since he came, all pain is gone. Ah, if you could see him! he has black eyes, and lashes like silk, and such little hands!-even his finger-nails are all perfect, like little gems; and when he puts his little hand on my bosom, I tremble with joy. Since he came, I pray always, and the good God seems very near to me. Now I realize, as I never did before, the sublime thought that God revealed Himself in the infant Jesus; and I bow before the manger of Bethlehem where the Holy Babe was laid. What comfort, what adorable condescension for us mothers in that scene!- My husband is so moved, he can scarce stay an hour from the cradle. He seems to look at me with a sort of awe, because I know how to care for this precious treasure that he adores without daring to touch. We are going to call him Henri, which is my husband's name and that of his ancestors for many generations back. I vow for him an eternal friendship with the son of my little Marie; and I shall try and train him up to be a brave man and a true Christian. Ah, Marie, this gives me something to live for! My heart is full, me!"
a whole new life opens before
Somewhat later, another letter announces the birth of a daughter, — and later still, the birth of another son; but we shall add only one more, written some
years after, on hearing of the great reverses of popular feeling towards Burr, subsequently to his duel with the ill-fated Hamilton.
"Ma chère Marie, - Your letter has filled me with grief. My noble Henri,
who already begins to talk of himself as my protector, (these boys feel their manhood so soon, ma Marie !) saw by my face, when I read your letter, that something pained me, and he would not rest till I told him something about it. Ah, Marie, how thankful I then felt that I had nothing to blush for before my son! how thankful for those dear children whose little hands had healed all the morbid places of my heart, so that I could think of all the past without a pang! I told Henri that the letter brought bad news of an old friend, but that it pained me to speak of it; and you would have thought, by the grave and tender way he talked to his mamma, that the boy was an experienced man of forty, to say the least.
But, Marie, how unjust is the world! how unjust both in praise and blame! Poor Burr was the petted child of Society; yesterday she doted on him, flattered him, smiled on his faults, and let him do what he would without reproof; to-day she flouts and scorns and scoffs him, and refuses to see the least good in him. I know that man, Marie, and I know, that, sinful as he may be before Infinite Purity, he is not so much more sinful than all the other men of his time. Have I not been in America? I know Jefferson; I knew poor Hamilton,-peace be with the dead! Neither of them had a life that could bear the sort of trial to which Burr's is subjected. When every secret fault, failing, and sin is dragged out, and held up without mercy, what man can stand?
"But I know what irritates the world is that proud, disdainful calm which will give neither sigh nor tear. It was not that he killed poor Hamilton, but that he never seemed to care! Ah, there is that
evil demon of his life,—that cold, stoical pride, which haunts him like a fate! But I know he does feel; I know he is not as hard at heart as he tries to be; I have seen too many real acts of pity to the unfortunate, of tenderness to the weak, of real love to his friends, to believe that. Great have been his sins against our sex, and God forbid that the mothers of children should speak lightly of them! but is not so susceptible a temperament, and so singular a power to charm as he possessed, to be taken into account in estimating his temptations? Because he is a sinning man, it does not follow that he is a demon. If any should have cause to think bitterly of him, I should. He trifled inexcusably with my deepest feelings; he caused me years of conflict and anguish, such as he little knows; I was almost shipwrecked; yet I will still say to the last that what I loved in him was a better self, something really noble and good, however concealed and perverted by pride, ambition, and self-will. Though all the world reject him, I still have faith in this better nature, and prayers that he may be led right at last. There is at least one heart that will always intercede with God for him."
It is well known, that, for many years after Burr's death, the odium that covered his name was so great that no monument was erected, lest it should become a mark for popular violence. Subsequently, however, in a mysterious manner, a plain granite slab marked his grave; by whom erected has never been known. It was placed in the night by some friendly, unknown hand. A laborer in the vicinity, who first discovered it, found lying near the spot a small porte-monnaie, which had perhaps been used in paying for the workmanship. It contained no papers that could throw any light on the subject, except the fragment of the address of a letter on which was written "Henri de Frontignac."
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS AND THE STARS.
THE stars are watching at their posts
And raining silence from the sky,
A reign of holy quietness
Replaces the tumultuous light,
When from the Arctic pit up-steams
Hurls horrid splendors on the air.
The embattled meteors scale the arch,
Against the everlasting stars,
The skies may flash and meteors glare,
The stars are watching at their posts,
The truths of God forever shine,
Though Error glare and Falsehood rage;
The cause of Order is divine,
And Wisdom rules from age to age.
Faith, Hope, and Love, your time abide!
The heavenly forces with you side,
THOMAS PAINE IN ENGLAND AND IN FRANCE.
PAINE landed at Havre in May, A. D. 1787, at. suæ 50, with many titles to social success. He brought with him a literary fame which ranks higher in France than elsewhere; and his works were in the fashionable line of the day. He had been an energetic actor in the American Revolution,-a subject of unbounded enthusiasm with Frenchmen, who look upon it, to this day, as an achievement of their own. And he could boast of a scientific spécialité, without which no intelligent gentleman was complete in the last third of the eighteenth century. Philosopher, American, republican, friend of humanity, savant,-he could show every claim to notice. Besides all this, and better than all, he brought letters from Franklin, the charming old man, whose fondness for "that dear nation" which he could not leave without regret was returned a thousand fold by its admiring affection. De Rayneval did not exaggerate when he wrote to him," You will carry with you the affection of all France"; and De Chastellux told the simple truth in the graceful compliment he sent to the old sage after his return home,- "When you were here, we had no need to praise the Americans; we had only to say, 'Look! here is their representative."" Let us devoutly pray that our ambassadors may not be made use of for the same purpose now!
For these reasons, Paine's reception in Paris was cordial; visits and invitations poured in upon him; he dined with Malesherbes; M. Le Roy took him to Buffon's, where he saw some interesting experiments on inflammable air; the Abbé Morellet exerted himself to get the model of his bridge, which had been stopped at the custom-house, safely to Paris. Through their influence it was submitted to a committee of the Académie des Sciences; their report was, in substance, that the iron bridge of M. Paine was ingénieusement imaginé,- that
it merited an attempt to execute it, and furnished a new example of the application of a metal which had not yet been sufficiently used on a large scale.
Two other gentlemen from America, who were interested in science and in mechanics, were in Paris at that time. Rumsey was there with his model of a steamboat; and Thomas Jefferson, whose curiosity extended to all things visible or audible, was busily collecting groundplans and elevations, and preparing to add at least two ugly buildings to a State over which," as he himself wrote, "the Genius of Architecture had showered his malediction."
Unfortunately for inventors, the times were not favorable for the construction of boats or of bridges. A taste had sprung up in France for constitution-making, one of the most difficult and expensive of public works. A translation of the American State Constitutions attracted more attention in Paris than Paine's iron-work; for these also, the French thought, were ingénieusement imaginées, and worthy of an attempt to execute them abroad. The American Revolution, with its brilliant termination of wisdom, liberty, and peace, seemed to promise similar good results to the efforts of reformers elsewhere. Treatises on moral science and on the nature and end of civil government were eagerly read. "Humanité, mot nouveau," as Cousin says, became the watchword of the Parisians. It was the fashion among all classes, high as well as low, to talk of human rights, to exalt the virtue of the people, hitherto supposed to have none, and to execrate "bloody tyrants," "silly despots," the members of the kingly profession, which fell into such sad disfavor towards the end of the last century. Ségur, after his return from America, heard the whole court applaud these lines at the theatre:
"Je suis fils de Brutus, et je porte en mon cœur La liberté gravée et les rois en horreur."