« ZurückWeiter »
MR. DE VIELLECOUR
MORAL AND CHIROGRAPHICAL,
On his paternal acres near the village of NewRochelle, and within twenty miles of the city of New-York, at a short distance from Long Island Sound, lived, and still lives, my excellent old friend, Adam Adrian Viellecour. He is, as his name and residence at once announce to all who have any skill in our local antiquities, a descendant of those brave and pious Huguenots, the Puritans of France, who emigrated to New-York during the reign of Louis XIV.
The New-Rochelle colonists, like most of the other New-York descendants of the Huguenots, have married and intermarried, first with their Dutch, and afterwards with their English neighbours, until their language and most of their national peculiarities have disappeared. Their very names have taken an English sound; some of
them have, indeed, actually transmigrated into regular English and Dutch appellations, by one odd orthographical metempsychosis or other. Thus the minstrel name of Querault has been Anglified into Carrow; and the matter-of-fact Dutch-sounding cognomen of Haasbroock, preserves the only traces of the chivalric aristocracy of the high-born Asbroques of St. Remy. Still the nice observer may detect the blood of the old French Calvinists in their progeny, by a certain mobility of feature, liveliness of expression, restlessness, vehemence and rapidity of gesticulation, -and often, also, by their buoyant and mercurial cheerfulness, and the sharp foreign accent which marks their laugh.
Some few, too, of those of gentle blood, and higher education, still preserve traditions of the fondness with which their grandsires used to speak of notre chère patrie ; and affectionately or proudly cling to the names and armorial bearings of their families; preserving a little of the language of their fathers, half anglicised and half antiquated, as they spoke it; with some of the domestic habits, and much of the ceremonious politeness of the old school of French manners ; the whole ennobled by not a few traces of that high spirit of mixed religious and chivalric feeling which graced the old Huguenot character.
Even such a one is the excellent Mr. De Viellecour;-kind-hearted, liberal, cheerful,—of the most sensitive honour, and the most exact and punctilious courtesy. Alas! that so kind and so noble a heart should have been almost broken, by a basket of quinces, and a flourish of penmanship at the end of a k! He was born somewhere about the
year 1760; and had received his early education, and learned the rudiments of religion and politeness under the good M. Carle, the pastor of the French church in New-York. He had afterwards studied his latin on Long Island, according to the most approved methods of Eton and Westminster, under the learned Dr. Cutting, of Horatian and vapulative memory.
The revolution, in which he was too young to take any active part, broke up all his plans of study, and projects of professional and commercial pursuits. On the death of his father, soon after the peace, he inherited a decent competence, upon which he lived contentedly in single blessedness.
How this happened to a man so polite, so tender-hearted, and so fond of female society, I do not exactly know. My aunt has indeed given me occasional broken and mysterious hints of his devoted attachment in early youth, to a lady,
like himself, of French descent, who was then at the celebrated boarding-school of Mademoiselle Blanche Piot, in the city of New-York; how vows were exchanged, and true faith plighted before heaven. But the lady was a catholicsincere, fervent, and devoted. The lover could not be false to the creed for which his ancestors had bled on the walls of Rochelle, and had been hunted like wild beasts through the mountains of the Cevennes, by the dragoons of Louvois. I never could make out the rest of the story. But the lady is now abbess of a convent of Sisters of Charity, somewhere in Lower Canada; and the loyer is still a bachelor at New-Rochelle. There did he live, when I first knew him, in all the comfort which a bachelor country gentleman can enjoy. Nothing could be more trim, or in better order than his little farm, orchard, and garden; and though French in most of his tastes and habits, the precise neatness of his house gave
sufficient evidence that his maternal Dutch blood had the complete mastery in regard to all household matters.
His habitual temperance, gaiety of disposition, and innocence of life, had been rewarded with a healthy and vigorous old age. His light and slender figure was unbent by years; his step firm and active; and the smooth, boyish ruddiness of