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his cheek, and the quick sparkle of his black eye, contrasted oddly enough with his grey hairs, sharp features, and wrinkled brow: while the brisk vivacity of his manner formed just as whimsical an incongruity with the elaborate formality of his politeness.
Over the mantel-piece of his common diningroom, (his salle-d-manger, as he loved to call it,) hung the arms of the Viellecours, from the herald's office at Toulouse, resplendent in all the pomp of red, blue, black and gold blazonry. Beneath this was habitually suspended an antique sword, of formidable length, and admirable workmanship. It claimed to be a rapier of the age of Francis I. and its curiously worked and embossed basket hilt, and other ornaments of the sheath, were worthy of the hand of Cellini himself. This sword had been borne on the thigh of many a gallant soldier of the Viellecour family; and there was, moreover, a tradition, (for which, however, I cannot vouch,) that it was the identical weapon with which the Protestant amazon, Margot de Lacy, defended the ramparts of Montelimart on the breach, killed Count Ludovic with her own hands, and repulsed the besiegers, leaving her right arm on the spot where she had acquired so much glory.
His little library contained several reliques, brought from his chère patrie, by his great grandfather, le Sieur Santerre de Viellecour. There stood, armed in its massive and embossed boards and brazen clasps, the old family bible; a book of which even those famous bible collectors, Earl Spencer and the Duke of Sussex, might envy him the possession. It was a noble, large-paper copy of Stephens' first edition of Calvin's French bible, containing that beautiful preface, in which the great reformer, throwing off his scholastic dignity with his latin, pours out his whole soul, and speaks the true language of the heart, in touching and racy old French. Then there was a grand worm-eaten folio of Boileau, with the spirited engravings of Picart. There too stood -the source of all his woe-the “ Art d'écrire par M. Villemain, maitre écrevain juré ;” a superb system of penmanship, by the writingmaster of “Monseigneur le Grand Dauphin." Therein were to be seen samples of the hands of Romaine, and Ronde, and Bâtarde, and Coulée : and there too was unfolded the analysis of all letters, into pleins and délés, and liusons: and there were Cadeaux, and Traits de plume, and Paraphes, which might have defied even the late Emperor Alexander, that prince of all chirographical flourishers, to have imitated. This book,
from his boyhood, had been the subject of the study and admiration of our hero; it was his youth's employment, and his age's charm. He used to maintain that all the English and Yankee systems of penmanship, from Dilworth to Jackson and Hewett, were stolen from that of his author. On this theme he could discourse by the hour, most fluently and eloquently; and the fruits of his theory he displayed in a stately, elaborate, flourished old French hand, which would have done honour to the great Villemain himself; although to an English eye, his S's, and his Y's, and his K's, defied all deciphering.
In that old book-case, too, stood the stout quartos of Duhamel, and the Maison Rustique, those great treasures of antiquated georgics. Their precepts carried with them an authority, and their language had a charm for him, which made him look with utter contempt upon Curtis, and Mawe, and Mac Mahon, and Forsyth, and Cobbett, and the whole tribe of modern English didactic gardeners. Nor did this knowledge end in mere speculation. Its fruits, also, were visible, in the mellow hangings of many an acre of peach orchard, pear orchard, and apple orchard ; to say nothing of his well stocked basse-cour, regulated by the precepts of the Maison Rustique, or of divers variegated little parterres of flowers
and box, on the model of those of old Versailles, as pictured in the same volumes.
But his hobby of hobbies was his quince orchard. From some caprice, or, as my aunt used to hint, from some cherished associations of pure youthful vows, whispered by moonlight under the lowly shade of a spreading quince tree, in a garden in Wall Street, out of the sight of M'selle Blanche Piot, he had acquired an affection for this crabbed, astringent, and ungainly fruit, which a German metaphysical novelist would have converted into a natural idiosyncrasy. Mr. Viellecour had studied the history of the quince, and its habits and uses, from its first wild growth on the rocky banks of its native Danube, to its state of golden perfection on the sunny Tagus. He had collected its varieties from all quarters, and had even (a new promotion for this unassuming fruit,) grafted it upon every stock with which its relation to the great family of pears could authorize it to claim an alliance.*
* Botanists well know how long it was undecided among the lights of the science, whether a quince was an apple or a pear, and whether apples are pears, or pears, apples ; but, I believe, according to the latest and most approved classification, they are all comprehended under the great genus of Pyrus or Pears.
His success was equal to his merits. His quinces were the wonder of the whole “ East River side” of the country: and their fame had been spread, far and wide, by many an annual offering to his city friends; sometimes presented to good housekeepers, upon whose skill in confectionary he could rely to do justice to his quinces, in their native beauty; while to humbler friends, and brother bachelors, they were sent in marmalades and confitures of divers names and various confection, and in liqueurs of the most delicate flavour and recondite chemistry.
How frail are the hopes of man! From those beloved quinces from that fair, flourished handwriting, sprung the sorrows which bowed down thine age, and drove thee to wander forth-but I must not anticipate my story.
There was another family of quinces, of a different kind, which had been transplanted into his vicinity, about a year before the perplexities ensued, which I have undertaken to narrate. In or near this same township of New-Rochelle, about a mile from Mr. Viellecour's dwelling, a family of Yankees was found; as many Yankees there be everywhere, both from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Bay-state; with others of low degree, from Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, Sagadahoc, and all along shore. It is