“I have this day visited the Convent of La Trappe, and in the absence of the Grand Prior, to whom I brought a letter of introduction from Monsieur Lamorelie, Sub-Prefect of Mortagne, I was received and have been entertained by Frere Charle Marie, his Secretary.
“It is quite impossible that I can do justice to the kind, polite, and hospitable reception I have met with from him, by any expressions in writing. I can only observe, that it has made an impression on my mind never to be effaced! If these worthy and pious people have abandoned the world for the solitude and austerities of La Trappe, they have not forgotten, in their own self-denial, the benevolence and benignity due to strangers. May their self-devotion meet with its reward!”
I now took my leave of the Convent with feelings which I will not pretend to describe, but which, together with the impressions I received when I first entered it, and the whole circumstances of my visit, I am conscious of retaining while “Memory holds her seat”. The following lines, by P. Mandard, on quitting La Trappe, convey a very faithful and poetical picture of this extraordinary solitude:
—Saint desert, sejour pur et
Solitude profonde, au vice inaccessible;
Impetueux torrens, et vous sombres forets,
Recevez mes adieux, comme aussi mes regrets!
Toujours epris de vous, respectable retraite,
Puisse-je, dans le cours d’une vie inquiete,
Dans ce flux eternel de folie et d’erreur,
Ou flotte tristement notre malheureux coeur;
Puisse-je, pour charmer mes ennuis et mes peines,
Souvent fuir en esprit au bord de vos fontaines,
Egarer ma pensee au milieu de vos bois,
Par un doux souvenir rappeler mille fois
De vos Saints habitans les touchantes images,
Penetrer, sur leurs pas, dans vos grottes sauvages,
Me placer sur vos monts, et la, prennant l’essort,
Aller chercher en Dieu ma joie, et mon tresor!
VAL-DIEU.—RUINS OF THE CONVENT OF THE CHARTREUSE.—FORESTS OF LE PERCHE, MORTAGNE.
I quitted La Trappe in the afternoon of the third day after my arrival there, for the Val-Dieu, which lies three leagues to the east of Mortagne, taking the villages of Rinrolles and Prepotin in my way; the latter stands in the midst of a forest. By this road, so bad that it scarcely deserves the name, a great distance is saved, but the romantic scenery of the approach to La Trappe is lost. The one we took through the forest of Bellegarde more than doubles the distance; but the Abbey is seen as in the centre of a lake beneath, and the continual beauty and wildness of the landscape render it far preferable. Until the Revolution this was the only road, the other having been made when the lands became national property, and were sold to the peasantry.