Laperouse eBook

Sir Ernest Scott
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about Laperouse.
What old lady would not?  She was a very grand lady indeed, was Madame la Marquise; but this officer who wrote his heart’s story to her, was a dashing hero.  He told her how he had fallen in love in Ile-de-France; how consent to his marriage had been officially and paternally refused; how he had tried “to stifle the sentiments which were nevertheless remaining at the bottom of my heart.”  Would she intercede with the Minister for him and excuse him?

Of course she would!  She was a dear old lady, was Madame la Marquise.  Within a few days Laperouse received from the Minister a most paternal, good natured letter, which assured him that his romantic affair should not interfere with his prospects, and concluded:  “Enjoy the pleasure of having made someone happy, and the marks of honour and distinction that you have received from your fellow citizens.”

Such is the love story of Laperouse.  Alas! the marriage did not bring many years of happiness to poor Eleonore, much as she deserved them.  Two years afterwards, her hero sailed away on that expedition from which he never returned.  She dwelt at Albi, hoping until hope gave way to despair, and at last she died, of sheer grief they said, nine years after the waters of the Pacific had closed over him who had wooed her and wedded her for herself alone.

Chapter IV.

THE VOYAGE OF EXPLORATION.

King Louis XVI of France was as unfortunate a monarch as was ever born to a throne.  Had it been his happier lot to be the son of a farmer, a shopkeeper, or a merchant, he would have passed for an excellent man of business and a good, solid, sober, intelligent citizen.  But he inherited with his crown a system of government too antiquated for the times, too repressive for the popular temper to endure, and was not statesman enough to remodel it to suit the requirements of his people.  It was not his fault that he was not a great man; and a great man—­a man of large grasp, wide vision, keen sympathies, and penetrating imagination—­was needed in France if the social forces at work, the result of new ideas fermenting in the minds of men and impelling them, were to be directed towards wise and wholesome reform.  Failing such direction, those forces burst through the restraints of law, custom, authority, loyalty and respect, and produced the most startling upheaval in modern history, the Great French Revolution.  Louis lost both his crown and his head, the whole system of government was overturned, and the way was left open for the masterful mind and strong arm needed to restore discipline and order to the nation:  Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis was very fond of literature.  During the sad last months of his imprisonment, before the guillotine took his life, he read over 230 volumes.  He especially liked books of travel and geography, and one of his favourite works was the voyages of Cook.  He had the volumes near him in the last phase of his existence.  There is a pleasant drawing representing the King in his prison, with the little Dauphin seated on his knee, pointing out the countries and oceans on a large geographical globe; and he took a pride in having had prepared “for the education of Monsieur le Dauphin,” a History of the Exploration of the South Seas.  It was published in Paris, in three small volumes, in 1791.

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Project Gutenberg
Laperouse from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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