The Church of Vergt again--French Academy--Emperor and Empress

Renewed Journeys Journeys for Church of Vergt-- Arcachon-- Biarritz-- A Troupe of poor Comedians Helped-- Towns in the South-- Jasmin's Bell-Tower erected-- The French Academy-- M. Villemain to Jasmin-- M. de Montyon's Prize-- M. Ancelo to Jasmin-- Visit Paris again-- Monseigneur Sibour-- Banquet by Les Deux Mondes Reviewers-- Marquise de Barthelemy, described in 'Chambers' Journal-- Description of Jasmin and the Entertainment-- Jasmin and the French Academy-- Visit to Louis Napoleon-- Intercedes for return of M. Baze-- Again Visits Paris-- Louis Napoleon Emperor, and Empress Eugenie-- The Interview-- M. Baze Restored to his Family at Agen-- The Church of Vergt Finished, with Jasmin Bells

When the political turmoils in France had for a time subsided, Jasmin and the Abbé Masson recommenced their journeys in the South for the collection of funds for the church at Vergt. They had already made two pilgrimages--the first through Périgord, the second to Angoulême, Limoges, Tulle, and Brives. The third was begun early in 1850, and included the department of the Landes, the higher and lower Pyrenees, and other districts in the South of France.

At Bagnères de Bigorre and at Bagnères de Luchon the receipts were divided between the church at Vergt and that at Luchon. The public hospitals and the benevolent societies frequently shared in the receipts. There seemed to be no limits to the poet's zeal in labouring for those who were in want of funds. Independent of his recitations for the benefit of the church at Vergt, he often turned aside to one place or another where the poor were in the greatest need of assistance.

On one occasion he went to Arcachon. He started early in the morning by the steamer from Agen to Bordeaux, intending to proceed by railway (a five hours' journey) from Bordeaux to Arcachon. But the steamers on the Garonne were then very irregular, and Jasmin did not reach Bordeaux until six hours later than the appointed time. In the meanwhile a large assembly had met in the largest room in Arcachon. They waited and waited; but no Jasmin! The Abbé Masson became embarrassed; but at length he gave his address, and the receipts were 800 francs. The meeting dispersed very much disappointed, because no Jasmin had appeared, and they missed his recitations. At midnight the curé returned to Bordeaux and there he found Jasmin, just arrived from Agen by the boat, which had been six hours late. He was in great dismay; but he afterwards made up for the disappointment by reciting to the people of Arcachon.

The same thing happened at Biarritz. A large assembly had met, and everything was ready for Jasmin. But there was no Jasmin! The omnibus from Bayonne did not bring him. It turned out, that at the moment of setting out he was seized with a sudden loss of voice. As in the case of Arcachon, the cure had to do without him. The result of his address was a collection of 700 francs.

The Abbé Masson was a liberal-minded man. When Jasmin urged him to help others more needy than himself, he was always ready to comply with his request. When at Narbonne, in the department of Aude, a poor troupe of comedians found themselves in difficulties. It was winter-time, and the weather was very cold. The public could not bear their canvas-covered shed, and deserted the entertainment. Meanwhile the artistes were famished. Knowing the generosity of Jasmin, they asked him to recite at one of their representations. He complied with their request; the place was crowded; and Jasmin's recitations were received with the usual enthusiasm. It had been arranged that half the proceeds should go to the church at Vergt, and the other half to the comedians. But when the entire troupe presented themselves to the Abbé and offered him the full half, he said: "No! no! keep it all. You want it more than I do. Besides, I can always fall back upon my dear poet!"

A fourth pilgrimage of the priest and poet was afterwards made to the towns of Rodez, Villefranche- d'aveyron, Cahors, Figeac, Gourdon, and Sarlat; and the proceeds of these excursions, added to a subvention of 5,000 francs from the Government, enabled the church of Vergt to be completed. In 1852 the steeple was built, and appropriately named "Jasmin's Bell-tower" (Clocher Jasmin). But it was still without bells, for which a subsequent pilgrimage was made by Jasmin and Masson.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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