JASMIN'S DEFENCE OF THE GASCON DIALECT.
THE MASON'S SON.
THE POOR MAN'S DOCTOR.
JASMIN'S DEFENCE OF THE GASCON DIALECT.
To M. SYLVAIN
DUMON, Deputy-Minister, who has condemned
to death our native language.
There's not a deeper grief
Than when our mother, faint with years,
Decrepit, old, and weak, and wan,
Beyond the leech's
When by her couch her son may stay,
And press her hand, and watch her eyes,
though she survives to-day,
Perchance his hope to-morrow dies.
It is not thus, believe me, Sir,
this enchantress, we will call
Our second mother. Frenchmen err,
Who cent'ries since proclaimed her
Our mother tongue, all melody,
While music lives, shall never die.
Yes! still she lives, her words
Her children yet her carols sing;
And thousand years may roll away
Before her magic notes
The people love their ancient songs, and will
While yet a people, love and keep them still.
lays are like their mother--they recall
Fond thoughts of brother, sister, friends, and all
The many little
things that please the heart--
Those dreams and hopes, from which we cannot part;
These songs are as
sweet waters, where we find
Health in the sparkling wave that nerves the mind.
In every home, at every
By every fireside, when our toil is o'er,
These songs are round us, near our cradles sigh,
And to the grave attend us when we die.
Oh! think, cold critic! 'twill be late and long
Ere time shall
sweep away this flood of song!
There are who bid this music sound no more,
And you can hear them,
You, who were born where the first daisies grew,
Have 'fed upon its honey, sipp'd
Slept in its arms, and wakened to its kiss,
Danced to its sounds, and warbled to its tone--
can forsake it in an hour like this!
Weary of age, you may renounce, disown,
And blame one minstrel
who is true--alone!
For me, truth to my eyes made all things plain;
At Paris, the great fount, I did not
The waters pure, and to my stream again
I come, with saddened and with sobered mind;
the spell is broken, and I rate
The little country far above the great.
For you, who seem her sorrows to
You, seated high in power, the first among,
Beware! nor make her cause of grief the more;
her mis'ry, nor condemn her tongue.
Methinks you injure where you seek to heal,
If you deprive her
of that only weal.
We love, alas! to sing in our distress;
For so the bitterness of woe seems less;
if we may not in our language mourn,
What will the polish'd give us in return?
Fine sentences, but all
for us unmeet--
Words full of grace, even such as courtiers greet:
A deck'd out miss, too delicate and
To walk in fields; too tender and precise
To sing the chorus of the poor, or come
When Labour lays
him down fatigued at home.
To cover rags with gilded robes were vain--
The rents of poverty would
show too plain.
How would this dainty dame, with haughty brow,
Shrink at a load, and shudder at a
Sulky, and piqued, and silent would she stand
As the tired peasant urged his team along:
word of kind encouragement at hand,
For flocks no welcome, and for herds no song!
Yet we will learn,
and you shall teach--
Our people shall have double speech:
One to be homely, one polite,
As you have
robes for different wear;
But this is all:--'tis just and right,
And more our children will not bear,
of buzzards flit along,
Where nightingales once poured their song.
There may be some who, vain and
May ape the manners of the crowd,
Lisp French, and maim it at each word,
And jest and gibe to
But we, as in long ages past,
Will still be poets to the last!1
Hark! and list the bridal song,
they lead the bride along:
"Hear, gentle bride! your mother's sighs,
And you would hence away!
weep, for tears become those eyes."
---"I cannot weep--to-day."
Hark! the farmer in the mead
shepherd swain take heed:
"Come, your lambs together fold,
Haste, my sons! your toil is o'er:
setting sun has told
That the ox should work no more."
Hark! the cooper in the shade
Sings to the sound
his hammer made:
"Strike, comrades, strike! prepare the cask.
'Tis lusty May that fills the flask:
comrades! summer suns that shine
Fill the cellars full of wine."
Verse is, with us, a charm divine,
people, loving verse, will still,
Unknowing of their art, entwine
Garlands of poesy at will.
language suits them best:
Then let them keep it and be blest.
Let the wise critics build a wall
the nurse's cherished voice,
And the fond ear her words enthral,
And say their idol is her choice.
let our fingers feel the rule,
The angry chiding of the school;
True to our nurse, in good or ill,
We are not
French, but Gascon still.
'Tis said that age new feeling brings,
Our youth returns as we grow old;
that we love again the things
Which in our memory had grown cold.
If this be true, the time will come
When to our ancient tongue, once more,
You will return, as to a home,
And thank us that we kept the
Remember thou the tale they tell
Of Lacuee and Lacepede,2
When age crept on, who loved to
On words that once their music made;
And, in the midst of grandeur, hung,
Delighted, on their
This will you do: and it may be,
When weary of the world's deceit,
Some summer-day we