Miscellaneous verses--Béranger--'Mes Souvenirs'--Paul de Musset

The 'Third of May'-- Statue of Henry IV at Nerac-- Jasmin's Ode in Gascon approved-- A Corporal in the National Guard-- Letter to Beranger-- His Reply-- 'Mes Souvenirs'-- Recollections of his past Life-- Nodier's Eulogy-- Lines on the Banished Poles-- Saint-Beuve on Jasmin's Poems-- Second Volume of the 'Papillotos' published-- Interview with Paul de Musset

During the next four years Jasmin composed no work of special importance. He occasionally wrote poetry, but chiefly on local subjects. In 1828 he wrote an impromptu to M. Pradel, who had improvised a Gascon song in honour of the poet. The Gascon painter, Champmas, had compared Jasmin to a ray of sunshine, and in 1829 the poet sent him a charming piece of verse in return for his compliment.

In 1830 Jasmin composed The Third of May, which was translated into French by M. Duvigneau. It appears that the Count of Dijon had presented to the town of Nerac, near Agen, a bronze statue of Henry IV., executed by the sculptor Raggi--of the same character as the statue erected to the same monarch at Pau. But though Henry IV. was born at Pau, Nerac was perhaps more identified with him, for there he had his strong castle, though only its ruins now remain.

Nerac was at one time almost the centre of the Reformation in France. Clement Marot, the poet of the Reformed faith, lived there; and the house of Theodore de Beze, who emigrated to Geneva, still exists. The Protestant faith extended to Agen and the neighbouring towns. When the Roman Catholics obtained the upper hand, persecutions began. Vindocin, the pastor, was burned alive at Agen. J. J. Scaliger was an eye-witness of the burning, and he records the fact that not less than 300 victims perished for their faith.

At a later time Nerac, which had been a prosperous town, was ruined by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; for the Protestant population, who had been the most diligent and industrious in the town and neighbourhood, were all either "converted," hanged, sent to the galleys, or forced to emigrate to England, Holland, or Prussia. Nevertheless, the people of Nerac continued to be proud of their old monarch.

The bronze statue of Henry IV. was unveiled in 1829. On one side of the marble pedestal supporting the statue were the words " Alumno, mox patri nostro, Henrico quarto," and on the reverse side was a verse in the Gascon dialect:

"Bråbes Gascons!
A moun amou per bous aou dibès creyre;
Benès! Benès! ey plaze de bous beyre!
The words were assumed to be those of; Henry IV., and may be thus translated into English :

"Brave Gascons!
You may well trust my love for you;
Come! come! I leave to you my glory!
Come near! Approach!"1
It is necessary to explain how the verse in Gascon came to be engraved on the pedestal of the statue. The Society of Agriculture, Sciences, and Arts, of Agen, offered a prize of 300 francs for the best Ode to the memory of Henry the Great. Many poems were accordingly sent in to the Society; and, after some consideration, it was thought that the prize should be awarded to M. Jude Patissié. But amongst the thirty-nine poems which had been presented for examination, it was found that two had been written in the Gascon dialect. The committee were at first of opinion that they could not award the prize to the author of any poem written in the vulgar tongue. At the same time they reported that one of the poems written in Gascon possessed such real merit, that the committee decided by a unanimous vote that a prize should be awarded to the author of the best poem written in the Gascon dialect. Many poems were accordingly sent in and examined. Lou Tres de May was selected as the best; and on the letter attached to the poem being opened, the president proclaimed the author to be "Jasmin, Coiffeur." After the decision of the Society at Agen, the people of Nerac desired to set their seal upon their judgment, and they accordingly caused the above words to be engraved on the reverse side of the pedestal supporting the statue of Henry IV. Jasmin's poem was crowned by the Academy of Agen; and though it contained many fine verses, it had the same merits and the same defects as the Charivari, published a few years before.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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