« ForrigeFortsæt »
some persons proposed to raise a subscription, and a pious prelate offered to have the boy educated in a religious seminary. But the king, Louis-Philippe, having heard of the case, resolved that, for the sake of his great ancestor Sully, and for that of the faithful Martin, the son of the Count de l'Aubespine should be brought up at the public expense in the college of Henry IV. in Paris.
In the month of August of the year 1838, the worthy carpenter, who still lived in obscure poverty, but happy to think that his master's grandchildren had now partly regained their proper station in society, was surprised by the announcement that the Academy had awarded to him a prize of 3000 francs (£120), not as the reward of his noble conduct, but as a testimonial of esteem and admiration.
PIERRE GUILLOT AND LOUIS BRUNE.
PIERRE GUILLOT was one of the men employed on board of the river steamboat, the Vulcain, when she was going down the river Loire, towards Nantes, on the 15th of September 1837. Amongst the passengers on board was a lady with her five children, and their maid. Whilst he was on deck, Guillot heard some of the children crying below; and although he has none of his own, Pierre feels a natural fondness for the children of others, and he no sooner heard their cries, than he immediately went down to the cabin to see what was the matter. A childish dispute had occasioned their tears. Guillot endeavoured to comfort them, and began playing with them. Whilst he was thus engaged, a terrible shock was felt throughout the vessel, and he instantly rushed up to learn the cause. On reaching Ingrande, the Vulcain had stopped to receive some passengers, but the necessary manoeuvre having been unskilfully executed, the wheels of the machinery became entangled, the boiler burst, and the burning stream spread all around. Although he was severely burnt, Guillot's first thought was not of escape: he recollected the children, and would have rushed down to save them; but on endeavouring to retrace his steps through the scalding mist which surrounded him, he found that the stairs which led to their cabin had already disappeared. It was in vain that, by covering his face with his hands, he hoped to advance; on attempting to do so, he found that it was impossible. And yet, to quote his own words when relating this event, “The idea that five children and their mother were there being burned to death was killing me.”
Through the lower range of windows Guillot succeeded in observing the mother of the children. Immediately suspending himself from the iron railing which goes round the deck, he succeeded in snatching her up; but the hapless woman was already dead. He next endeavoured to save the servant; but, though almost burned to death, she cried out, with the most touching devotedness, "No, no--not me; save the children." But Guillot looked for them in vain ; they were nowhere to be seen. Not deterred by the burning atmosphere of the cabin, and the severe injuries he had already received, he entered it, hastily snatched up three of the children, bore them away, and returned for the servant and the other two; but although he succeeded in carrying them to a place of safety, he had the grief to find that, of the five children, two alone survived; the rest, with their mother and the maid, had perished. A prize of 4000 francs (£160) was the reward of this brave action.
The same year, 1838, his relation and friend, Louis Brune, received from the Academy the sum of 3000 francs (£120) for a series of actions no less brave and remarkable.
Louis Brune was by profession a porter on the quays of Rouen; but it might almost be said that his trade consisted in saving lives at the risk of his own. It has been legally attested that he saved the lives of forty-two persons previously to the year 1838. Being constantly near the river-side, he had necessarily numerous occasions of exercising his benevolent propensities; but how many, having the same opportunities, would, like Brune, have risked their own life to save that of others ? Who would, like him, have eagerly watched on the shore in the hour of danger for some noble deed to accomplish? One of the most striking instances of this ardour for doing good is to be seen in the following anecdote.
On the 28th of January 1838, the river Seine, which had been frozen for several days, was covered with skaters. It was in vain that they were told of the expected tide, which must certainly break the ice; neither the danger which they ran, nor the warnings and efforts of the local authorities, succeeded in producing any effect upon them. Brune, whose wife and aged mother were then ill, remained all day on the quay,
in expectation of the disaster, which he knew to be inevitable. In vain pressing messages to return home came from his family; he firmly refused to leave the spot; and not even for his meals could he be induced to desert the post he had assigned to himself. Nor was it long before a rushing noise was heard; the ice was breaking in every direction; and the precipitate flight of the imprudent crowd increased the disaster. A gentleman and his lady, who were enjoying the pleasures of skating, suddenly disappeared in a large opening which the breaking ice had formed beneath them. Brune, who was eagerly looking out, rushed over the ice that bent beneath his tread, plunged into the river, seized the gentleman, and brought him safely to the shore. No sooner had he accomplished this, than he once more precipitated himself into the river, and was fortunate enough in seizing the lady, who had already disappeared under the ice; but, benumbed by the cold, and his strength failing him through this unwonted exertion, he in vain endeavoured to rise to the surface; he laid hold of the masses of ice, but merely cut his hands in the attempt. Notwithstanding the
most desperate efforts, he was on the point of perishing with her whom he endeavoured to save, when a rope was thrown to him; he seized it, and, though not without difficulty, reached the shore with his burden amidst the applause of the assembled crowd.
That the heroic Brune was appreciated by his countrymen, may be seen from the fact, that the town of Rouen erected him a house at the public expense, with an inscription simply stating that this house had been offered to Louis Brune by the town of Rouen. Amongst other marks of distinction conferred
upon him, may be mentioned the decoration of the cross of the Legion of Honour, which he publicly received.
Four years ago this noble-minded man closed his brief though useful life, which was shortened by his zeal for humanity. The most distinguished personages of Rouen assisted at his funeral, and his memory is still held by his fellow-citizens in the deepest veneration,
THE THREE BROTHERS CONTÉ. THESE three heroic brothers, who have resided in the town of Cahors, in Normandy, since the year 1826, have so often signalised themselves by acts of the most daring courage, that their name has become in that town a proverbial expression for heroism and intrepidity.
It has been computed that, up to the year 1838, they saved separately twenty-six persons from a watery grave; of those persons, only two were dead when brought to the shore. But the three brothers mostly act together; and indeed there is little likelihood that they could find others sufficiently daring or humane to venture into the danger which they are ever ready to face. On the 28th of January 1827, a bark, manned by six men, none of whom knew how to swim, was dashed against one of the piers of the bridge, then thrown by the stream on a precipitous part of the shore, where it hung suspended over the water. The six men were in the most imminent peril; and the more so, as help seemed utterly impossible; this was at least what all the boatmen who witnessed the occurrence declared; but two of the brothers Conté, who were on the spot, resolved to make the attempt.
In an instant they were in their boat, and rowing vigorously towards the fatal place, over which the unfortunate men were still suspended, and which, from its depth and the strength of the current, offered hardly less danger to them than to those they came to rescue. When they reached the spot, two of the men had already fallen, and were carried off by the stream ; the brothers seized upon them, brought them safely to the shore, and instantly returned to the others, who were struggling with the torrent. There seemed something miraculous in their good fortune, as well as in their courage, for, to the astonishment of all, the whole six were saved.
In the month of August 1836, the eldest of the three brothers, who is a dyer, was occupied with the details of his trade, and in a great heat, when loud cries from without informed him that a youth named Lartignes, the son of his father's bitterest enemy, was drowning in the river close by. Without a moment's hesitation he rushed out to his aid : in his precipitation he severely hurt his foot on the river side, but, unmindful of the injury he had sustained, he hastened on, leaped into the river, seized the drowning youth, and was bringing him to shore, when, his strength suddenly failing him, he was himself, with his burden, carried off by the stream. But luckily one of his brothers was there: he saw the imminence of the danger which both ran, and immediately threw himself into the river to their aid. But to whom did he go first? To Lartignes, the son of his enemy! After depositing him in safety on the bank, he returned to his brother. Both were saved.
On another occasion, the river Lot having overflowed its banks during the night, invaded one of the most populous neighbourhoods of the town, causing incalculable loss of life and property. The next morning the victims of this terrible disaster might everywhere be discerned on the roofs of their houses, where they had taken refuge from the encroaching flood. The eldest of the brothers Conté was then serving in the French army, but his two brothers, the youngest of whom was only thirteen years of age, were still in "Cahors, ready to risk their lives for the safety of their fellow-creatures. Notwithstanding the furious lashing of the waves, they entered their boat, and, one by one, rescued sixty persons from their precarious position. They did not leave the spot until, what with their own efforts, and those of some intrepid friends, the whole of the unfortunate creatures were in safety. But such unwonted exertions could not fail of producing their results : for two months they were laid up with a burning fever, which threatened to end their days. Even then, one of the two brothers hearing that a poor old woman, of seventy-two years of age, had fallen into the river, instantly rushed out to her aid, and, without even bestowing a thought on the great risk he thus incurred by the state in which he was, he plunged into the river, and was fortunate enough in saving her. In 1838 the three brothers received from the French Academy a prize- of 3000 francs (£120), accompanied with many expressions of esteem and admiration.
The three noble brothers still live, happy and honoured by their fellow-citizens, who feel a legitimate pride in numbering them among the inhabitants of Cahors. And long may they live, were it but to offer the touching example of such fraternal concord, which, if on ordinary occasions it be worthy of praise, may well be termed admirable when, as with the brothers Conté, it tends to unity of purpose in such a noble aim as the relief of our fellowcreatures!
HE erection of structures, either for shelter, for worship, for commemoration, or for other useful and ornamental purposes, is one of those branches of art
in which mankind very early excelled. Hence it is that in eastern countries, whence we trace the progress of civilisation, some of the noblest and most stupendous of human erections are still to be found. Egypt, Syria, Persia,
India, and China had their pyramids, catacombs, walls, towers, and temples long before Greece and Rome had' being; and though these may be deficient in that taste and ornamental gracefulness which make the Athenian structures models even at the present day, still many of them possessed a vastness and grandeur of conception which has stamped them as wonders to all following ages. When science and art arose in Greece, and flowed onward along the southern and western shores of Europe, even to our own remote island, the genius of architecture displayed itself in another form; the semi-barbaric vastitude of the Oriental pile gave way to chastened elegance and symmetrical compactness - beauty of form, and skilful arrangement, were substituted for mere magnitude and expense of labour. Notwithstanding the wide difference which thus exists between past and present, every age has had its architectural curiosity, remarkable for the skill
, genius, labour, or boldness displayed in its accomplishment.