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viz. : " That a wife should always be taken
down in her wedding slippers.*'

His letter of resignation, the original of
which is before the writer, shows that in his
clerical robes he had not forgotten the stiff
forms of his first profession, which was the
law, and which he gave up at the instance

" Witfiess my Hand and Seal this 2Sth
day of June ^ A, D. 1778.

''Lee Masseyr

The next incumbent, the Rev. Charles
Kemp, distinguished himself more as a
classical scholar and as a jolly companion
than as a preacher.

In his later years he became a famous
school-master,— commonly called a "Sin-
gin," — and left a heritage of Latin and
Greek to several legislators, who, like all
those taught in the old school, retained to
their dying day the classics which had


of Col. Washington, who had been his inti-
mate from childhood :

" In the name of God, Amen : /, Lee
Jifassey, Rector and Incumbent of the Parish
Church of TVuro, in the County of Fairfax
and Commonwealth of Virginia, for certain
causes and considerations me hereunto espe-
cially moving to be exonerated from the Care
and Burden of the Rectory and Parsonage of
the said Parish, do by these presents expressly
and absolutely renounce *and resigfi into the
hands of the present Vestry of the said Parish
my Rectory and Parsonage aforesaid, together
•with all and singular its Rights, Members
and Appurtenances, and all my Right and
Title thereto and Possession thereof, and do
leave the same vacant to all intents and pur-
poses whatsoever.
Vol. XT.— 41.

been engrafted "a posteriori'^ by means of
the birch — that enchanter's wand which
could evoke with a dozen mystic strokes
more Latin and Greek than the average boy
of this degenerate age ever dreams of

Parson Kemp's popularity, his jovial tem-
per and his bright wit, became constant
sources of temptation, and finally led to his
disgrace. Mr. Richard C, a wealthy gen-
tleman of the county, had acquired the
reputation of an accomplished hypocrite,
owing to his extra airs of piety in a com-
munity where such deportment was not by
any means necessary to maintain the char-
acter of a respectable member of the Eng-
lish Church.

In private he was known to be fond of
good cheer, and to devote himself \?articu-

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lariy to that matchless wine, then called
" Com Madeira," because it was gotten in
exchange for corn, but more properly de-
nominated " Tinto." He was even accused
of that species of gallantry technically called
"flirting with a wench." He had long been
known among his equals as St. Richard,
and among the vulgar by the less eupho-
nious, but not less expressive, sobriquet
of Pious Dick. Now Parson Kemp took
occasion on a certain Sunday to preach at
St. Richard in such a scathing denunciation
df all hypocrites and Pharisees, that there
was no mistaking his aim, and he was uni-
versally extolled for "bringing him to the
condign." St. Richard's own nephew, the
most rollicking blade in the county, made
a rhyme of thirty stanzas, celebrating cer-
tain surrq>titious adventures of his pious
uncle, ana it was sung ever)rwhere to the
" Cruiskin Lawn." St Richard stood all
this with the air of a martyr ; he was always
seen in his pew on Sundays, and his re-,
sponses could be heard above the whole
congregation ; but under this sanctimonious
aspect he hid the fell purpose of a direful

It was in midsummer, when one Saturday
evening Parson Kemp came riding by the
high gate-way of Newington, the mansion
of St Richard, and whom should he see
walking leisurdy along the avenue but the
proprietor himself. The good-hearted par-
son had long repented his severity, and only
longed for an opportunity to repair the
injury he had done ; so he dismounted, and,
offering his hand to his parishioner, made
the most contrite apology. Never was
recantation more dearly bought. A half
hour later the two sat on the long portico
overlooking the beautiful valley of the Acco-
tink, on which the full moon shed all her
splendor, while the breeze, which at the
confluence of the creek with the Potomac
always blows with the turn of the tide,
wafted the odor of the hawthorn, and of
that fragrant herb with which the Virginian
from immemorial time has delighted to
flavor his cup of welcome. The host made
a julep for his guest with brandy said to
have been smuggled by the famous Black-
beard, who, whatever may have been his
terrible repute in other waters, in the Poto-
mac has left in legendary story only the
name of a beneficent trader in contraband
goods and a secreter of treasure.* But the

* Captain Kidd, the pirate, was known by this
name in those waters.

heart of the piratical piuireyor of that
liquor never harbored deeper treachery than
did St Richard's at the moment he pledged
the parson to a renewal of their friendly
relations. How late into the night their
sitting continued is not told, but the parsoa
related how the tempter entered his chamber
the next morning, bearing in his hand a
gigantic julep in a silver tankard. The parsoa
knew the danger of these multitudinal pota-
tions, and stoudy protested; but the wily
St Richard, holding the tempting goblet
under his nose with one hand, put Sie other
round the parson's neck, and embraced him
with as much tenderness as the fashion of
the time allowed ; and, what with that
caressing voice for which he was noted, and
the insidious odor of the mint, the parson's
virtue gave way, even with his refusal on
his lips, just as virtue of another kind is
said to do at times. The cup which
Mephisto drinks to the sound of diabolical
music is not more potent for evil than that
which the parson had imbibed. He nodded
in a strange way that day while the service
was read \ but when he attempted to climb
the spiral stair of the pulpit, in the quaint
language of that time, " he tripped up his
heel*" and fell floundering to the floor,
where the seeming generous and forgiving
St. Richard was the foremost to pick him
up. Though Parson Kemp suffered dis-
grace, it may be told to the honor of his
former flock, that they accorded him ever
afterward a warmer welcome than to his
betrayer. He became a school-master, and,
by a more lenient administration of the
birch than had ever been known, won the
hearts of the rising generation. Whenever
he told the catastrophe of his life he
dwelt sorrowfully on that treacherous em-
brace, " whereby," quoth the poor parson,
"he did, Judas-like, betray me with a

Bishop Meade, in his book on the old
churches of Virginia, tells the story of one
of the Colonial rectors, who, however, be-
longed properly in Maryland, that, being
accused of Toryism, he deemed it incimibent
on him to vindicate his reputation on the
so-called field of honor. The fact is referred
to also in a letter fit)m one of the vestrymen
of Truro to Bryan Fairfax, afterward Rector
of Christ Church in Alexandria. The spot
where the " fighting parson " distingui^ed
himself is still pointed out on the Dipple
Farm, about eighteen miles below Pohick

This individual's descendants have main-

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tained such a high character, that if any dis-
grace was attached to the extraordinary'
action at the time of its performance, it has
long since been wiped out and forgotten.

The last rector of Truro was the Rev.
Mason L. Weems, long known to the public
as the author of a Life of Washington which
went through a hundred editions. He also
wrote a Life of Marion, and a little temper-
ance book called " The Drunkard's Lookm^-
Glass." As he lived until 1825, it was his
misfortune to carry into the present century
a character which belonged essentially to
the last

As the other religious sects gained promi-
nence and influence after the close of the
Revolutionary struggle, the Episcopal Church
assimilated itself to those stricter ideas and
tenets which, in the Colonial period, would
have been called simply Puritanical ; and so
Parson Weems, as a relic of the old time,
found himself, so to speak, left out in the
cold. He was actually called by some
straight-laced people "The Fiddling Parson,"
in derision of that beautiful accomplishment
which he - professed, along with Thomas
Jefferson and other distinguished personages,
and on which he prided himself, second only
to his intimacy with General Washington.
Of a Saturday evening he would repair to
the mansion nearest to the church, and as
soon as the evening meal was over, and he
had officiated with due clerical solemnity at
prayers, which came directly after supper,
he would produce his violin, and, according
as the season permitted, in the parlor, the
hall, or on the portico, would entrance the
assembled auditory with a performance
which long remained the delight of the
story-teller, and a traditional model to all
ambitious " fiddlers."

He was particularly pleased with the
scores of sable listeners who crowded under
the windows or in the hall, for he knew that
the more they were delighted with his music
the more certain they were to be at church
the next day. There was nothing, fix)m the
choicest morceau of Cimarosa to the tninttet
de la cour^ which was not familiar in his
repertory. And we may imagine what a
relief his fiddle must have afforded after
some powdered beauty had sung at the
harpsichord the doleftil ballad of " Faithless
Edward," or twenty stanzas of "Chevy
Chase," for both of these were among the
vocal inflictions that our great-grandmothers
were proud of. As for that class of music
known as the " Quick and Devilish," it is
doubtful if there has ever been before

or since a person who could be called his

At the lime of the French Revolution
many gentlemen of this neighborhood cut
off their queues ; and Parson Weems, follow-
ing the movement, first made the sacrifice
of his locks to sympathy with the Repub-
licans, and then managed to procure the
music of the famous revolutionary refirain,
"Ca ira," which he performed with great
eclat ; but so unforeseen and strange are the
freaks of destiny that this historic song exists
to-day in the rude minstrelsy of the cross-
roads as a negro jig.

Parson Weems*s sermons were generally
replete with what he called "the milk of
human kindness" — a species of charity to
which he referred forgiveness of injuries,
and on which he relied for a charitable con-
struction of his own eccentricities.

The climax of his career was reached
when he appeared in the character of a pro-
fessional fiddler at a performance of Punch
and Judy, at Colchester. The large audi-
ence, composed chiefly of his own parish-
ioners, were being entranced by the music
of a single violin which proceeded from
behind a curtain. Many asserted that the
performer was equal to " our parson," and
some bold critics even declared that the
unknown was the parson's superior; but
what was the astonishment of all when some
wicked wag caused the curtain to fall and
disclosed to view the parson himself plying
his bow with such enthusiasm, that it was
only the uproar of applause which revealed
to him his situation. There were some who
trembled for his reputation ; but such fears
were utterly groundless, for, placing his
instrument gracefully under his arm, he
rose, and, after making a regular stage bow,
stated that " the regular musician had been
suddenly taken ill, and he deemed it his
duty, out of human kindness, to supply his
place, in order that his firiends should not
be disappointed of an innocent amusement."

One of the rectors of Truro delighted to
trace Washington's descent, through Eleanor
Hastings, fix)m Beauchamp, Neville, and
Plantagenet; and if, like a certain great
writer, we were to conjure the stately Muse
of History down off her stilts, we might
find that the Prototype Republican was in
private very much of an aristocrat. But,
whether we look for "simple faith," or
" Norman blood," tradition furnishes noth-
ing in contradiction of his practical demon-
stration of the sentiment emblazoned on his
ancient shield : Exitus Acta Probat.

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There is no other instance in the history of
literature of a man writing such books as Bal-
zac did, who began with such poor ones. He
struggled in mental gloom, not for
one or two, but for more than a *

dozen of volumes, and the dawn did
not break. As they fell before an
indifferent public, their author was
classed in the category of something
lower than mediocrity. The morning
came very slowly, and the horizon
was still dim when the " Dernier
des Chouans" appeared, the first
result of eight years* hard study in
story-writing, which made his pres-
ence known in a crowd of other men
of letters, but did not take him out of
it The novel named was the first
which he recognized and signed with
his own name ; to his experiments,
several pseudonyms and an anagram
of Honor6 were affixed.

In " Louis Lambert " he paints his
own school life at Venddme, where
he had a congestion of ideas and
passed for a dull boy. He did not
conquer the sympathy of his com-
rades, did not know how to play
ball nor walk on stilts, and remained
alone under a tree, ruminating and
melancholy. In this school, which
was under the control of an austere
Order of Monks, the punishment
for misbehavior and ill-learned les-
sons was imprisonment in a detached
building overlooking a canal. It
was here he gorged himself secretly with
the literary food of the library of the insti-
tution, and lived an ideal, mystic life. His
studies not being ,up to the requirements of
his teachers, a great part of his time was
passed in this prison. His vagueness and
want of cheerfulness came from being over-
full of books. In the end, his remarkable
memory classified this varied knowledge in
his mind for future use.

Certain circumstances tended much to
the peculiar formation of Balzac's mind and
forced it to its best production. At fourteen
or fifteen he made predictions in reference
to himself. " You will see," said he to his
two sisters, " I shall one day be celebrated."
This subjected him to no end of raillery
' these young persons, who courtesied be-
un saying, '* Salutation to the grand

Balzac !" He was destined by his family
to be a notary, and at twenty-one, when
urged by his father to follow that profession,


he announced his irrevocable resolution to
become a man of letters. '' It seems that
Monsieur has a taste for misery," said the
mother. "There are people who have a
vocation for dying in the hospital," said the
father. But it was impossible to overcome
his resolution. It was then decided to sub-
ject him to what is called in Paris the disci-
pline of the vcuke enrag^e. Thus left to his
own resources, he perched in the conven-
tional garret, lived on a few sous a day, and
wrote the usual five-act tragedy which it
seems impossible for the French begmner to
escape. It was called " Cromwell " in this
case, and was read in presence of the family,
and a professor of Hterature of a college, a
friend of the Balzacs. The professor avei red
that the play exhibited no germ of talent
The father exhorted him to give up further

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trials in this direction. He allowed himself
to be partially persuaded, and began the
printing business in a small way, in which
he failed, incurring debts that were ever
afterward a source of trouble.

Thus, we find him at the age of twenty-
five living in a scanty lodging, poor and m
debty and, more discouraging than all, with
even the germ of literary talent denied him.
During this period were made those early
volumes, which, as he said in after years, he
put together, in order to learn to write
French. In his thirtieth year, after the
"Dernier des Chouans," he wrote the
" Physiologie du Mariage" and the " Peau
de Chagrin," and this last drew him out of
the crowd ; when the " Medecin de Com-
pagne" and "Pere Goriot" appeared, he
was placed in the front with that distin-
guished group composed of Victor Hugo,
de Vigny, Alfred de Musset, Sainte-Beuve,
Prosper M6rimee, Alexandre Dumas, La-
martine, and B^ranger.

He was the Christopher Columbus of a
new world. Never in the history of litera-
ture was such an immense plan constructed
for fiction as in the " Com^die Humaine."
In the two or three scores of volumes, each is
connected with the other, and forms part of
the general plot. The particularity of each
character and its relations is never lost sight
of. To fix it, he was in the habit of writing
out a synopsis of the history of each one —
the epoch, date of birth, parents and princi-
pal relatives, physical and moral character-
istics — which he put away in its allotted
place. This was consulted, if necessary,
when such an one re-appeared on the scene,
which is often the case, and thus that har-
mony of character seen throughout his work
was conserved. The types created have
become fixed in the public mind, and men
talk of Rastignac, Grapdet, and de Marsay,
as if they were historical. In conversation,
the author himself referred to different peo-
ple in the Human Comedy, as if they really
existed. He said : " If Rastignac continues
as he has begun, he will become minister."
** Jacques Colin is the Cromwell of the
galleys." He wrote : " I am going to Alen-
gon and Grenoble, where Mademoiselle
Corraon and Benassi live." Taine tells that
one day Jules Sandeau, returning from a
voyage, spoke of some family af&ir. Balzac
listened to him some time, then said : "All
that is well, my friend, but let us come back
to the reality and talk of Eugenie Grandet."

The historian of the world which peoples
the Human Comedy, did not allow his sym-

pathies to become engaged to the detriment
of his work. He kept guard over his enthu-
siasm, and took his place before the drama,
which passed before him as an impartial
and critical observer, and made a philo-
sophical and accurate statement of what he
saw. And here is one of the reasons of his
power, in not writing from a stand-point
within the circle of the drama, but outside
of it. If the conduct of the P^re Goriot is
sublime, there is no expression of approval
from the writer ; if that of his two daughters
is to the last degree ungrateful, they are not
taken to task ; if tears escape from the reader
at the touching scenes between the French
Lear and his offepring, the eyes of the
author remain dry. His tears fell on the
proof-sheets, but do not appear in the story.
The signs of his feeling are in the first color-
ing, but, when the picture is finished, no
trace of them exists.

Many of his characters would conquer
affection, were it not for the black spot
which the artist, always mindful of nature,
puts here and there. Lucien de Rubempr6,
m the early part of his career, captures sym«
pathy and interest; then he is mixed in ill-
doing, and the image is destroyed, which
was first exhibited to such advantage.
There is no trifling here — ^no coquetting
with prettiness ; the lines are deep and the
color is strong. The artist pamts after
nature — that is, after nature as he sees it. A
dozen painters may paint the same land-
scape and none be alike. So Balzac gave
to his pictures his particular cachet^ which
others have in vain endeavored to imitate.

There was logic in his creations. Given
certain attributes, his characters were im-
pelled to follow out the road to an inevita-
ble destination. Lucien de Rubempr^,
young, handsome, brilliant, impressible, po-
etic, vain, and pleasure-loving, falling under
the influence of the able and unscrupulous
Jacques Colin, is doomed to an ignominious
ending; and, as the history progresses, the
writer proves, by favorite principles and
maxims, why it is so. Thus the theory of
human action, as well as the plot, is generally
kept in sight.

There was a Shakespearean breadth in the
man that embraced every phase of life, fix)m
the highest to the lowest. At the outset of
his stories he assumes that it is of the high-
est importance that the reader should be
made acquainted with all the facts which he
is about to present, as if he were furnishing
evidence for a court of justice or a contribu-
tion tQ history. The statement of details is

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put with such adroit reference to the drama
that is about to begin, that the reader gener-
ally goes through it without fatigue. Some-
times, however, the minutiae are dwelt upon
to the extent of being almost as tiresome

revealed to him by flashes, and who, accord-
ing to his own account, seized his idea at
the first bound. Balzac groped about for
his with patience, but, when finally pos-
sessed, it was entirely his ; then he saw it as


as the beginning of one of Walter Scott's
novels; and this is perhaps the gravest fault
with which he can be charged as a story-

Literary expression was not a natural gift
with Balzac, and the process was painful.
His head was full of creation, but there was
always the battle between the idea and the
form. With extraordinary perseverance and
literary conscientiousness, he at last found
the suitable term for the act and the thing.
He was not quick, nor at first clear. His
mind was like a turbid and almost stagnant
stream, which, as it flows, gathers strength
and fi-ees itself from impurities. The idea
presented itself vaguely, clogged with irrel-
evant matter, and came into definite shape
gradually. In this respect he was the oppo-
site of a man like Byron, whose wo^c was

in a stream of light, and he made his reader
see it as with his own eyes.

With forces not entirely at his command,
to work was to struggle. He had the power
of concentration, the principal attribute of
genius, but not in the form with which we
are usually familiar. When genius sees its
way clearly, as in the case of Poe, there is
fascination and enjoyment to the author in
the birth and development of a conception.
This was partially denied to Balzac, and the
child of his brain saw the day through men-
tal pain. He could not arouse his forces
into that activity necessary to embrace and
absorb when he first employed them. They
came to him in the beginning like unwilling
recruits, but, in the end, the recalcitrant
became enthusiastic volunteers. Patience
and extraordinary industry v/hipped them

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forward, and behind these came a superb
egotism which supported the- whole. His
opinion of his work was so high, that he
attributed to it excellences which rested
on a slender foundation. For instance, his
style, which has been subjected to no litde
criticism, he thought was perfect He once
said, with a naive, unbltishing self-esteem,
that there were only three men in France
who could write French — Victor Hugo,
Th^ophile Gauti^r, and himself; he admitted,
in what he considered a liberal spirit of con-
cession, that the style of Villemain was also
good ; but there was nothing tmder it.

After meditating his subject for some
time, he wrote a rapid sketch and sent it to
the printer. It was retmned to him in
proof-sheet with wide margins. It thus
appeared to him in a somewhat impersonal
form, and he exercised his critical faculries
in changing, amending, and developing, until
the whole proof was covered with lines and
writing, the correction itself being sometimes
erased and corrected anew. Often the wide
margins did not suffice, and bands of paper
were annexed with wafers and pins. The
proof thus covered was sent to the printer,
whence it was returned, after being set up
and printed the next day, the author going
to work on it as before. The proof was
returned seven or eight, and even ten times,
before the writer was satisfied — ^in one case,
fourteen. The corrections of Balzac became
traditional. The compositors of the print-
ing-house made a stipulation with the pub-
lisher that they were not to work more than
two hours a day on Balzac. We give on
page 641 a fac-simile of part of a proof-sheet
taken from the story of " Un D^but dans
la Vie." Much of the pecuniary profit of
his work was lost in the charge made for
corrections ; for every time the type was set
anew a charge was made therefor. He
was never tired of correcting; after his work
passed through a magazine, it was corrected

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