Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership




Title: St Leon
Author: William Godwin
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605711.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

This eBook was produced by: Richard Scott

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html


To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au


St Leon
William Godwin



PREFACE.

The following passage from a work, said to be written by the late Dr.
John Campbel, and entitled Hermippus Redivivus, suggested the first
hint of the present performance.

"There happened in the year 1687, an odd accident at Venice, that made
a very great stir then, and which I think deserves to be rescued from
oblivion. The great freedom and ease with which all persons, who make
a good appearance, live in that city, is known sufficiently to all who
are acquainted with it; such therefore will not be surprised, that a
stranger, who went by the name of signor Gualdi, and who made a
considerable figure there, was admitted into the best company, though
no body knew who or what he was. He remained at Venice some months,
and three things were remarked in his conduct. The first was, that he
had a small collection of fine pictures, which he readily shewed to
any body that desired it; the next, that he was perfectly versed in
all arts and sciences, and spoke on every subject with such readiness
and sagacity, as astonished all who heard him; and it was in the third
place observed, that he never wrote or received any letter; never
desired any credit, or made use of bills of exchange, but paid for
every thing in ready money, and lived decently, though not in
splendour.

"This gentleman met one day at the coffee-house with a Venetian
nobleman, who was an extraordinary good judge of pictures: he had
heard of signor Gualdi's collection, and in a very polite manner
desired to see them, to which the other very readily consented. After
the Venetian had viewed signor Gualdi's collection, and expressed his
satisfaction, by telling him, that he had never seen a finer,
considering the number of pieces of which it consisted; he cast his
eye by chance over the chamber-door, where hung a picture of this
stranger. The Venetian looked upon it, and then upon him. This picture
was drawn for you, sir, says he to signor Gualdi, to which the other
made no answer, but by a low bow. You look, continued the Venetian,
like a man of fifty, and yet I know this picture to be of the hand of
Titian, who has been dead one hundred and thirty years, how is this
possible? It is not easy, said signor Gualdi, gravely, to know all
things that are possible; but there is certainly no crime in my being
like a picture drawn by Titian. The Venetian easily perceived by his
manner of speaking, that he had given the stranger offence, and
therefore took his leave.

"He could not forbear speaking of this in the evening to some of his
friends, who resolved to satisfy themselves by looking upon the
picture the next day. In order to have an opportunity of doing so,
they went to the coffee-house about the time that signor Gualdi was
wont to come thither, and not meeting with him, one of them who had
often conversed with him, went to his lodgings to enquire after him,
where he heard, that he had set out an hour before for Vienna. This
affair made a great noise, and found a place in all the news-papers of
that time."

It is well known that the philosopher's stone, the art of transmuting
metals into gold; and the elixir vitæ, which was to restore youth, and
make him that possessed it immortal, formed a principal object of the
studies of the curious for centuries. Many stories, beside this of
signor Gualdi, have been told, of persons who were supposed to be in
possession of those wonderful secrets, in the search of which hundreds
of unfortunate adventurers wasted their fortunes and their lives.

It has been said of Shakespear, that he Exhausted worlds, and then
imagined new; but the burthen sustained by Shakespear was too heavy
for the shoulders of any other individual. I leave the first part of
the task above mentioned to be divided among those celebrated
novelists, living and dead, who have attempted to delineate the scenes
of real life. In this little work I have endeavoured to gain footing
in one neglected track of the latter province. The hearts and the
curiosity of readers have been assailed in so many ways, that we,
writers who bring up the rear of our illustrious predecessors, must be
contented to arrive at novelty in whatever mode we are able. The
foundation of the following tale is such as, it is not to be supposed,
ever existed. But, if I have mixed human feelings and passions with
incredible situations, and thus rendered them impressive and
interesting, I shall entertain some hope to be pardoned the boldness
and irregularity of my design.

Some readers of my graver productions will perhaps, in perusing these
little volumes, accuse me of inconsistency; the affections and
charities of private life being every where in this publication a
topic of the warmest eulogium, while in the Enquiry concerning
Political Justice they seemed to be treated with no indulgence and
favour. In answer to this objection all I think it necessary to say on
the present occasion, is that, for more than four years, I have been
anxious for opportunity and leisure to modify some of the earlier
chapters of that work in conformity to the sentiments inculcated in
this. Not that I see cause to make any change respecting the principle
of justice, or any thing else fundamental to the system there
delivered; but that I apprehend domestic and private affections
inseparable from the nature of man, and from what may be styled the
culture of the heart, and am fully persuaded that they are not
incompatible with a profound and active sense of justice in the mind
of him that cherishes them. The way in which these seemingly jarring
principles may be reconciled, is in part pointed out in a little book
which I gave to the public in the year 1798, and which I will here
therefore take the liberty to quote.

"A sound morality requires that nothing human should be regarded by us
as indifferent; but it is impossible we should not feel the strongest
interest for those persons whom we know most intimately, and whose
welfare and sympathies are united to our own. True wisdom will
recommend to us individual attachments; for with them our minds are
more thoroughly maintained in activity and life than they can be under
the privation of them, and it is better that man should be a living
being, than a stock or a stone. True virtue will sanction this
recommendation; since it is the object of virtue to produce happiness,
and since the man who lives in the midst of domestic relations, will
have many opportunities of conferring pleasure, minute in the detail,
yet not trivial in the amount, without interfering with the purposes
of general benevolence. Nay, by kindling his sensibility, and
harmonising his soul, they may be expected, if he is endowed with a
liberal and manly spirit, to render him more prompt in the service of
strangers and the public." Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of
the Rights of Woman, Ch. VI, p. 90. IId. Edition.

For the sake of the unlearned reader, I subjoin the following
illustration of the motto prefixed to these volumes.

Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was a Portuguese, born about the year 1510.
Becoming a fugitive from his country at a very immature age, he
travelled through many parts of Africa and Asia for twenty-one years,
and, by his own account, encountered a surprising number of
distressful adventures. The translation of his travels into French
forms a very thick volume in quarto, and bears date in the year 1628.

Vicissitudes de la Fortune, 12mo.
Tom. I, p. I.
Nov. 26, 1799.




VOL. I.

Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee
thou liar of the first magnitude.
--Congreve.



CHAP. I. TRAVELS OF ST. LEON.

THERE is nothing that human imagination can figure of brilliant and
enviable, that human genius and skill do not aspire to realize. In the
early ages of antiquity, one of the favourite topics of speculation
was a perfect system of civil policy; and no sooner had Plato
delineated his imaginary republic, than he sought for a spot of earth
upon which to execute his plan. In my own times, and for upwards of a
century before them, the subject which has chiefly occupied men of
intrepid and persevering study, has been the great secret of nature,
the opus magnum, in its two grand and inseparable branches, the art of
multiplying gold, and of defying the assaults of infirmity and death.

It is notorious that uncommon talents and unparalleled industry have
been engaged in this mighty task. It has, I know, been disputed by the
audacious adversaries of all sober and reasonable evidence, whether
these talents and industry have in any case attained the object they
sought. It is not to my purpose to ascertain the number of those whose
victory over the powers and inertness of matter has been complete. It
is enough that I am a living instance of the existence of such men.
These two secrets, if they are to be considered as two, I have been
for years in the habit of resorting to for my gratification. I have in
my possession the choice of being as wealthy as I please, and the gift
of immortal life. Every thing that I see almost, I can without
difficulty make my own; for what palaces, pictures, parks or gardens,
rarities of art or nature, have not a price at which their owner will
consent to yield them? The luxuries of every quarter of the world are
emptied at my feet. I can command, to an extent almost inconceivable,
the passions of men. What heart can withstand the assault of princely
magnificence? What man is inaccessible to a bribe? Add to these
advantages, that I am invulnerable to disease. Every sun that rises,
finds the circulations of my frame in the most perfect order.
Decrepitude can never approach me. A thousand winters want the power
to surrow my countenance with wrinkles, or turn my hairs to silver.
Exhaustless wealth and eternal youth, these are the attributes by
which I am distiguished from the rest of mankind.

I do not sit down now to write a treatise of natural philosophy. The
condition by which I hold my privileges is, that they must never be
imparted. I sit down purely to relate a few of those extraordinary
events that have been produced in the period of my life which is
already elapsed, by the circumstances and the peculiarity to which I
have just alluded.

It is so obvious, as to make it almost improper to specify it, that
the pursuit in which so many of my contemporaries are engaged, and the
end of which I have so singularly atchieved, is in its appearance
infinitely more grand and interesting, than that which occupied the
thoughts of Plato and the most eminent writers of antiquity. What is
political liberty, compared with unbounded riches and immortal vigour?
The immediate application of political liberty is, to render a man's
patrimony or the fruits of his industry completely his own, and to
preserve them from the invasion of others. But the petty detail of
preservation or gradual acquisition, can never enter into competition
with the great secret, which can endow a man in a moment with every
thing that the human heart can wish. Considered in this light, how
mean and contemptible does the ambition of the boasted ancients
appear, compared with ours? What adept or probationer of the present
day would be content to resign the study of God and the profounder
secrets of nature, and to bound his ardour to the investigation of his
own miserable existence?

It may seem perhaps to many, that the history of a person possessed of
advantages so unparalleled as mine, must be like the history of
paradise, or of the future happiness of the blessed, too calm, and
motionless, too much of one invariable texture and exempt from
vicissitude, to excite the attention or interest the passions of the
reader. If he will have patience, and apply to the perusal of my
narrative, he will in no long time perceive how far his conjecture is
founded in sagacity and reason.

Some persons may be curious to know what motives can have induced a
man of such enormous wealth, and so every way qualified to revel in
delights, to take the trouble of penning his memoirs. The immortality
with which I am endowed seems to put out of the question the common
motives that relate to posthumous fame.

The curiosity here mentioned, if it really exists, I cannot consent to
gratify. I will anticipate nothing. In the progress of my story, my
motive for recording it will probably become evident.

I am descended from one of the most ancient and honourable families of
the kingdom of France. I was the only child of my father, who died
while I was an infant. My mother was a woman of rather a masculine
understanding, and full of the prejudices of nobility and
magnificence. Her whole soul was in a manner concentrated in the
ambition to render me the worthy successor of the counts de St. Leon,
who had figured with distinguished reputation in the wars of the Holy
Land. My father had died fighting gallantly in the plains of Italy
under the standard of Louis the Twelfth; a prince whose name was never
repeated to me, unaccompanied with the praises due to his military
prowess, and to the singular humanity of disposition by which he
acquired the title of The father of his people. My mother's mind was
inflamed with the greatness of my ancestors, and she indefatigably
sought to kindle in my bosom a similar flame. It has been a long-
established custom for the barons and feudal vassals of the kings of
France to enter with great personal expence into the brilliant and
dazzling expeditions of their sovereigns; and my father greatly
impaired his fortune in preparations for that very campaign in which
he terminated his life. My mother industriously applied herself to the
restoration of my patrimony; and the long period of my minority
afforded her scope for that purpose.

It was impossible for any boy to be treated with more kindness and
considerate indulgence, than I was during the period of my
adolescence. My mother loved me to the very utmost limits perhaps of
human affection. I was her darling and her pride, her waking study,
and her nightly dream. Yet I was not pampered into corporeal
imbecillity, or suffered to rust in inactivity of mind. I was provided
with the best masters. I was excited, and successfully excited,
zealously to apply myself to the lessons they taught. I became
intimately acquainted with the Italian writers of the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries. I was initiated in the study of the classics, to
the cultivation of which the revival of letters at this time gave
particular ardour. I was instructed in the principles of the fine
arts. There was no species of accomplishment at that time in vogue,
that my mother was not anxious I should make my own. The only science
I neglected, was the very science which has since given rise to the
most extra-ordinary events of my life. But the object to which my
attention was principally called, was the pursuit of military
exercises, and the cultivation of every thing that could add to the
strength, agility or grace of my body, and to the adventurousness and
enterprize of my mind. My mother loved my honour and my fame more than
she loved my person.

A circumstance that tended perhaps more than any other to fix the yet
fluctuating character of my youthful mind, was my being present as a
spectator at the celebrated meeting between Francis the First, and
Henry the Eighth, king of England, in a field between Ardres and
Guines. My mother refused to accompany me, being already arrived at an
age in which curiosity and the love of festive scenes are usually
diminished, and the expences incurred by all the nobility who attended
upon this scene being incompatible with the economy to which she
rigidly adhered. I was therefore placed under the protection of the
marquis de Villeroy, her brother, and, with two servants who attended
me, formed a part of his suite.

I was at this time fifteen years of age. My contemplations had been
familiar with ideas of magnificence and grandeur, but my life had been
spent in the most sequestered retirement. This contrast had a
particular effect upon my disposition; it irritated to a very high
degree my passion for splendour and distinction; I lived in the fairy
fields of visionary greatness, and was more than indifferent to the
greater part of the objects around me. I pined for every thing the
reverse of my present condition; I cultivated the exercises in which I
was engaged, only as they were calculated to prepare me for future
atchievements.

By the incident I have mentioned, I was transported at once from a
scene of modest obscurity, to a scene of the most lavish splendour
that the world perhaps ever contemplated. I never remembered to have
seen even Paris itself. The prevailing taste of Europe has for some
time led very much to costliness in dress. This taste, in its present
profusion, I believe took its rise in the field of the Vale of Ardres.
The two kings were both in the vigour of their youth, and were said to
be the handsomest men of the age in which they lived. The beauty of
Henry was sturdy and muscular; that of Francis more refined and
elegant, without subtracting in any considerable degree from the
firmness of his make. Henry was four years older than his brother
monarch. The first of them might have been taken as a model to
represent a youthful Hercules, and the last an Apollo.

The splendour of dress that was worn upon this occasion, exceeds
almost all credibility. Every person of distinction might be said in a
manner to carry an estate upon his shoulders; nor was the variety of
garments inferior to the richness. Wolsey, a man whose magnificence of
disposition was only surpassed by the pride of his soul, was for the
most part the director of the whole. He possessed the most absolute
ascendancy over the mind of his master, at the same time that Francis
artfully indulged his caprice, that he might claim from him in return
a similar indulgence in weightier matters.

The pomp of processions, and the ceremony of opening this memorable
festival, went first; a sort of solemn and half-moving pageant, which
the eye took in at leisure, and took in till it was filled. This was
succeeded by every thing that was rapid, animated and interesting:
masques and exhibitions of all kinds; and, which was still more to me,
and which my soul devoured with indescribable ardour, justings, tilts
and tournaments without end. The beauty of the armour, the caparisons
of the steeds, the mettle of the animals themselves, and the ardour
and grace of the combatants, surpassed every thing that my fancy had
ever painted. These scenes were acted in the midst of a vast
amphitheatre of spectators, where all that was noble and eminent of
either country was assembled, the manliness of aspiring youth, and the
boundless varieties of female attraction. All were in their gayest
attire; every eye was lighted up with complacency and joy. If
Heraclitus, or any other morose philospher who has expatiated on the
universal misery of mankind, had entered the field of Ardres, he must
have retracted his assertions, or fled from the scene with confusion.
The kings were placed at either end of the lists, surrounded with
their courtiers. Every eye through this vast assembly was fixed upon
the combatants; the body of every one present was inclined this way or
that, in unconscious sympathy with the redoubted knights. From time to
time, as the favourites of either party prevailed, the air was rent
with shouts and acclamations.

What added to the fascination of all that I have yet mentioned, was
that now, for the first time in an equal degree perhaps for centuries,
the stiffness of unwieldy form was laid aside, and the heart of man
expanded itself with generosity and confidence. It burst the fetters
of ages; and, having burst them, it seemed to revel in its new-found
liberty. It is well known that, after a few days of idle precaution
and specious imprisonment on both sides, Francis one morning mounted
his horse, and appeared, without guards or any previous notice, before
the tent of Henry. The example was contagious, and from this time all
ceremony was laid aside. The kings themselves entered personally into
the combats of their subjects. It was a delightful and a ravishing
spectacle, to witness all the freedom of the old Roman manners, almost
of the old Roman Saturnalia, polished and refined with all that was
graceful and humane in the age of chivalry.

It may easily be imagined what an effect a scene like this was
calculated to produce upon a youth of my age and my education. I
recollected with anguish that the immaturity of my years precluded me
from taking any active part in the spectacle. My appearance however
was sufficiently advantageous. I was presented to Francis the First.
He did me the honour to question me respecting my studies; and,
finding in me some knowledge of those arts and that literature of
which he was himself so zealous a favourer, he expressed to my uncle a
great satisfaction with my figure and acquisitions. I might from this
time have been taken to court, and made one of the pages to this
illustrious monarch. But the plan of my mother was different. She did
not wish for the present that my eye should be satiated with public
scenes, or that the public should grow too familiarly acquainted with
my person. She rightly judged that my passion for the theatre of glory
would grow more impetuous, by being withheld for some time from the
gratifications for which it panted. She wished that I should present
myself for the first time among the nobility of France an accomplished
cavalier, and not suffer the disadvantage of having exposed in the eye
of the world those false steps and frailties, from which the
inexperience of youth is never entirely free. These motives being
explained to the king, he was graciously pleased to sanction them with
his approbation. I accordingly returned to finish the course of my
education at my paternal chateau upon the banks of the Garonne.

The state of my mind during the three succeeding years, amply
justified the sagacity of my mother. I was more eager for improvement
than I had ever yet been. I had before formed some conceptions of the
career of honour, from the books I had read, and from the conversation
of this excellent matron. But my reveries were impotent and little,
compared with what I had now seen. Like the author of our holy
religion, I had spent my forty days without food in the wilderness,
when suddenly my eyes were opened, and I was presented with all the
kingdoms of the world, and all the glory of them. The fairy scene
continued for a moment, and then vanished; leaving nothing behind it
on all sides but the same barrenness and gloom by which it had been
preceded. I never shut my eyes without viewing in imagination the
combats of knights and the train of ladies. I had been regarded with
distinction by my sovereign; and Francis the First stood before my
mind the abstract and model of perfection and greatness. I
congratulated myself upon being born in an age and country so
favourable to the acquisition of all that my soul desired.

I was already eighteen years of age, when I experienced the first
misfortune that ever befel me. It was the death of my mother. She felt
the approach of her dissolution several weeks before it arrived, and
held repeated conversations with me, respecting the feelings I ought
to entertain, and the conduct it would become me to pursue, when she
should be no more.

"My son," said she, "your character, and the promise of your early
years, have constituted my only consolation since the death of your
excellent father. Our marriage was the result of a most sincere and
exclusive attachment, and never did man more deserve to be loved than
Reginald de St. Leon. When he died, the whole world would have been
nothing to me but one vast blank, if he had not left behind him the
representative of his person, and the heir to his virtues. While I was
busied in your education, I seemed to be discharging the last duty to
the memory of my husband. The occupation was sacred to the honour of
the dead, even before it became so peculiarly pleasing to me upon its
own account as I afterwards found it. I hope I have in some measure
discharged the task in the manner in which my lord your father would
have wished it to have been discharged if he had lived. I am thankful
to heaven that I have been spared so long for so dear and honourable a
purpose.

"You must now, my son, stand by yourself, and be the arbitrator of
your own actions. I could have wished that this necessity might have
been a little further deferred; but I trust your education has not
been of that sort which is calculated to render a young man helpless
and contemptible. You have been taught to know your rank in society,
and to respect yourself. You have been instructed in every thing that
might most effectually forward you in the career of glory. There is
not a young cavalier among all the nobility of France more
accomplished, or that promises to do greater honour to his name and
his country. I shall not live to witness the performance of this
promise, but the anticipation even now, pours a long stream of
sunshine on my departing hour.

"Farewel, my son! You no longer stand in need of my maternal care.
When I am gone, you will be compelled more vividly to feel that
singleness and self-dependence which are the source of all virtue. Be
careful of yourself. Be careful that your career may be both spotless
and illustrious. Hold your life as a thing of no account when it
enters into competition with your fame. A true knight thinks no
sacrifice and suffering hard that honour demands. Be humane, gentle,
generous and intrepid. Be prompt to follow wherever your duty calls
you. Remember your ancestors, knights of the Holy Cross. Remember your
father. Follow your king, who is the mirror of valour; and be ever
ready for the service of the distressed. May providence be your
guardian. May heaven shower down a thousand blessings upon your
innocence and the gallantry of your soul!"

The death of my mother was a severe blow to my heart. For some time
all the visions of greatness and renown which had hitherto been my
chosen delight, appeared distasteful to me. I hung over her insensible
corpse. When it had been committed to the earth, I repaired every day
to the spot where it was deposited, at the hour of dusk, when all
visible objects faded from the eye, when nature assumed her saddest
tints, and the whole world seemed about to be wrapped in the darkness
of the tomb. The dew of night drizzled unheeded on my head; and I did
not turn again towards the turrets of the chateau, till the hour of
midnight had already sounded through the stilness of the scene.

Time is the healer of almost every grief, particularly in the
sprightly season of early youth. In no long period I changed the
oppression of inactive sorrow, for the affectionate and pious
recollection of my mother's last instructions. I had been too deeply
imbued with sentiments of glory, for it to be possible, when the first
excess of grief was over, that I should remain in indolence. The
tender remembrance of my mother itself, in no long time, furnished a
new stimulus to my ambition. I forgot the melancholy spectacle of the
last struggles of her expiring life; I even became accustomed no
longer to hear her voice, no longer to expect her presence, when I
returned to the chateau from a short excursion. Her last advice was
now all that survived of the author of my existence.



CHAP. II.

I was in this state of mind, when, early one morning in the beginning
of summer, soon after I rose, I was startled by the sound of trumpets
in the plain near the chateau. The bugle at the gate was presently
sounded; the drawbridge was let down; and the marquis de Villeroy
entered the court-yard, accompanied by about thirty knights in
complete armour. I saluted him with respect, and the tenderness
excited by recent grief. He took me by the hand, after a short repast
in the hall, and led me to my closet.

"My son," said he, "it is time to throw off the effeminacy of sorrow,
and to prove yourself a true soldier of the standard of France."

"I trust, my lord," replied I, with modest earnestness, "that you well
know, there is nothing after which my heart so ardently aspires. There
is nothing that I know worth living for, but honour. Show me the path
that leads to it, or rather show me the occasion that affords scope
for the love of honour to display itself, and you shall then see
whether I am backward to embrace it. I have a passion pent up within
me, that feeds upon my vitals. It disdains speech; it burns for
something more unambiguous and substantial."

"It is well," rejoined my uncle. "I expected to find you thus. Your
reply to my admonition is worthy of the blood of your ancestors, and
of the maternal instructions of my sister. And, were you as dull as
the very stones you tread on, what I have to tell you might even then
rouse you into animation and ardour."

After this short preface my uncle proceeded to relate a tale, every
word of which inflamed my spirits, and raised all my passions in arms.
I had heard something imperfectly of the state of my country; but my
mother carefully kept me in ignorance, that my ambition might not be
excited too soon, and that, when excited, it might be with the fullest
effect. While I impatiently longed for an occasion of glory, I was far
from apprehending, what I now found to be true, that the occasion
which at this period presented itself, was such, that all the licence
of fiction could scarcely have improved it.

The marquis de Villeroy described to me the league now subsisting
against France. He revived in my memory by terms of the most fervent
loyalty, the accomplishments and talents of my royal master. He spoke
with aversion of the phlegmatic and crafty disposition of his imperial
rival; and, with the language of glowing indignation, inveighed
against the fickleness of the capricious Henry. He described the train
of disasters which had at length induced the king to take the field in
person. He contrasted, with great effect, the story of the gallant
chevalier Bayard, the knight without fear and without reproach, whose
blood was still fresh in the plains of the Milanese; with that of the
constable of Bourbon, the stain of chivalry, whom inglorious
resentment and ungoverned ambition had urged to join the enemies of
his country, in neglect of his loyalty and his oath. He stimulated me
by the example of the one, and the infamy of the other; and assured me
that there never was an opportunity more favourable for acquiring
immortal renown.

I wanted no prompter in a passion of this sort; and immediately set
about collecting the whole force of my clients and retainers. I shook
off the inglorious softness of my melancholy, and was all activity and
animation. The lessons of my youth were now called into play. I judged
it necessary to invite the assistance of some person of experience to
assist me in marshalling my men; but I did much of what was to be done
myself, and I did it well. It was my first employment in the morning;
and the last that was witnessed by the setting sun. My excellent
mother had left my revenues in the best order, and I spared no expence
in the gratification of my favourite passion.

However eager I felt myself to take the field, the desire to appear in
a manner worthy of a count de St. Leon restrained me; and I did not
join the royal army till the Imperialists, having broken up the siege
of Marseilles, and retreated with precipitation into Italy, the king
had already crossed the Alps, entered the Milanese, and gained
uncontested possession of the capital.

From Milan Francis proceeded to Pavia. Glory was the idol of his
heart; and he was the more powerfully excited to the attack of that
place, because it was the strongest and best fortified post in the
whole duchy. The more he displayed of military prowess, the more
firmly he believed he should fix himself in his newly acquired
dominions; the inhabitants would submit to him the more willingly, and
the enemy be less encouraged to enter into a fresh contention for what
he had acquired. Such at least were the motives that he assigned for
his proceedings: in reality perhaps he was principally induced by the
brilliancy which he conceived would attend on the undertaking.

It was a few weeks after the opening of the siege that I presented
myself to my royal master. He received me with those winning and
impressive manners by which he was so eminently distinguished. He
recollected immediately all that had passed at our interview in the
vale of Ardres, and warmly expressed the obligations which France had
at various times owed to my ancestors. He spoke with earnest respect
of the virtues and wisdom of my mother, and commended the resolution
by which she had in former instances held me back from the public
theatre. "Young gentleman," said the king, "I doubt not the gallantry
of your spirit; I see the impatience of a martial temper written in
your face; I expect you to act in a manner worthy of your illustrious
race, and of the instructions of a woman who deserved to be herself a
pattern to all the matrons of France. Fear not that I shall suffer
your accomplishments to rust in obscurity. I shall employ you. I shall
assign you the post of danger and of renown. Fill it nobly; and from
that hour I shall rank you in the catalogue of my chosen friends."

The siege of Pavia proved indeed to be a transaction, in the course of
which military honour might well be acquired. It was defended by a
small, but veteran garrison, and by one of the ablest captains that
Europe at that time possessed. He interrupted the approaches of the
besiegers by frequent and furious sallies. In vain, by the aid of our
excellent artillery, did we make wide and repeated breaches in the
fortifications. No sooner did we attempt to enter by the passage we
had opened, than we found ourselves encountered by a body composed of
the choicest and bravest soldiers of the garrison. The governor of the
city, who, though grey-headed and advanced in years, was profuse of
every youthful exertion, was ordinarily at the head of this body. If
we deferred our attack, or, not having succeeded in it, proposed to
commence it anew with the dawn of the following day, we were sure to
find a new wall sprung up in the room of the other, as if by
enchantment. Frequently the governor anticipated the success of our
batteries, and the old fortification was no sooner demolished, than we
beheld to our astonishment and mortification a new wall, which his
prudence and skill had erected at a small interval within the line of
the former.

One of these attacks took place on the second day after my arrival at
the camp of our sovereign. Every thing that I saw was new to me, and
inflamed me with ardour. The noise of the cannon, which had preceded
the attack, and which was now hushed; the inspiring sounds of martial
music which succeeded that noise; the standards floating in the air;
the firm and equal tread of the battalion that advanced; the armour of
the knights; the rugged, resolute and intrepid countenances of the
infantry; all swelled my soul with transport hitherto unexperienced. I
had beheld the smoke of the artillery, in the midst of which every
thing was lost and confounded; I had waited in awful suspence till the
obscurity should be dissipated; I saw with pleasure and surprise the
ruin of the wall, and the wideness of the breach. All that had been
recorded of the military feats of Christian valour seemed then to
stand crouded in my busy brain; the generosity, the condescension, the
kindness with which the king had addressed me the day before, urged me
to treble exertion. I was in the foremost rank. We surmounted the
ditch. We were resisted by a chosen body of Spaniards. The contention
was obstinate; brave men, generous and enterprising spirits, fell on
the one side and the other. I seized the cloth of a standard, as, in
the playing of the wind, it was brought near to my hand. Between me
and the Spaniard that held it there ensued an obstinate struggle. I
watched my opportunity, and with my sword severed the flag from its
staff. At this moment the trumpets of the king sounded a retreat. I
had received two severe wounds, one in the shoulder and the other in
the thigh, in the contest. I felt myself faint with the loss of blood.
A French officer of a rude appearance and gigantic stature, accosting
me with the appellation of boy, commanded me to surrender the standard
to him. I refused; and, to convince him I was in earnest, proceeded to
wrap it round my body, and fastened it under my arm. Soon after I
became insensible, and in this situation was accidentally found by my
uncle and his companions, who immediately took me and my prize under
their care. As soon as I was a little recovered of my wounds, the king
seized an opportunity, after having bestowed loud commendations upon
my gallantry, of conferring the honours of knighthood upon me in the
face of the whole army.

While our tents were pitched under the walls of Pavia, I was
continually extending the circle of my acquaintance among the young
gentry of France, who, like myself, had attended their sovereign in
this memorable expedition. I had some enemies, made such by the
distinctions I obtained during the siege. But they were few; the
greater part courted me the more, the more I showed myself worthy of
their attachment. Envy is not a passion that finds easy root in a
Frenchman's bosom. I was one of the youngest of those who attended on
the siege; but my brothers in arms were generous rivals, who in the
field obstinately strove with me for superior glory, but over the
convivial board forgot their mutual competitions, and opened their
hearts to benevolence and friendship. "Let us not," was a sentiment I
heard often repeated, "forget the object that led us from our pleasant
homes to pour from the heights of the Alps upon the fields of Italy.
It is to humble the imperious Spaniard, to punish the disloyal
Bourbon, to vindicate the honour of our beloved and illustrious
monarch. Those walls cover the enemy; yonder mountains serve to hide
them from our assault; let no Frenchman mistake him who marches under
the same standard for an adversary."

The trenches had not been opened before Pavia, till about the
beginning of November. The winter overtook us, and the siege was yet
in progress; with some apparent advantage indeed to our side of the
question, but by no means promising an instant conclusion. The season
set in with unusual severity; and both officer and soldier were glad,
as much as possible, to fence out its rigour by the indulgences of the
genial board. My finances, as I have said, were at the commencement of
the expedition in excellent order; I had brought with me a
considerable sum; and it was not spared upon the present occasion.

There were however other things to be attended to, beside the demands
of conviviality. The king became impatient of the delays of the siege.
The garrison and the inhabitants were reduced to great extremities;
but the governor discovered no symptoms of a purpose to surrender. In
the mean time intelligence was brought that Bourbon was making the
most extraordinary exertions in Germany, and promised to bring to the
enemy a reinforcement of twelve thousand men from that country, while
the Imperial generals, by mortgaging their revenues, and pawning their
jewels, and still more by their eloquence and influence with those
under their command, were able to keep together the remains of a
disheartened and defeated army in expectation of his arrival. There
was some danger therefore, if the siege were not speedily terminated,
that the king might ultimately be obliged to raise it with ignominy,
or to fight the enemy under every disadvantage. Francis however was
not to be deterred from his undertaking. He swore a solemn oath, that
Pavia should be his, or he would perish in the attempt.

Thus circumstanced, he conceived a very extraordinary project. Pavia
is defended on one side by the Tesino, the scene of the first of the
four famous battles by which Hannibal signalised his invasion of
Italy. The king believed that if this river could by the labour of his
army be diverted from its course, the town must instantly fall into
his hands. He was encouraged to the undertaking, by recollecting a
stratagem of a similar nature by which Cyrus formerly made himself
master of the city of Babylon. It was a thought highly flattering to
the grandeur of his soul, to imagine that posterity would in this
instance institute a parallel between him and Cyrus the Great.

The plan for diverting the course of the Tesino produced a new and
extraordinary scene. It was, as may well be believed, a work of
uncommon labour. A new channel was to be scooped out and deepened;
and, while the stream was turned into this channel, piles were to be
sunk, and an immense mound of earth created, as an effectual
impediment to the waters resuming their former course. This was a
heavy burthen to the soldier, in addition to the disadvantage of being
encamped during the course of a winter, remarkably severe for the
climate in which we fought. By any other army the task would have been
performed with cloudiness and discontent, if not complained of with
repining and murmurs. But here the gaiety of the French character
displayed itself. The nobility of France, who attended their sovereign
in great numbers, accompanied the infantry in their labour. We laid
aside the indulgence of the marquée, of tapestry and carpets; we threw
off our upper garments; and each of us seized a spade, a barrow of
earth, or a mattock. We put our hands to the engines, and refused no
effort under pretence that it was sordid or severe. While the trees
were leafless, and nature appeared bound up in frost, sweat ran down
our faces and bedewed our limbs. The army were encouraged by our
example. An employment which under other circumstances would have been
regarded as rigid, was thus made a source of new hilarity and
amusement. It was a memorable sight to behold the venerable and
greyheaded headed leaders of the French army endeavouring to exert the
strength and activity of their early years. To me, who had but lately
arrived at the stature of manhood, and who was accustomed to all the
exercises which give strength and vigour to the frame, this new
employment was in no degree burthensome. I felt in it the satisfaction
that a swift man experiences when he enters the lists of the race; I
congratulated myself upon the nature of my education; if it be a sin
to covet honour, that guilt was mine; and, so great was my appetite
for it, that I was inexpressibly rejoiced to observe the various ways
in which it might be gratified.

Strange as it may seem, this scene of a winter-camp, in the midst of
blood and sweat, surrounded with dangers, and called on for
unparalleled exertions, appears to me through the visto of years that
is now interposed between, to have been one of the happiest of my
life. The gay labours and surprises of the day, were succeeded by a
convivial evening in which we did not the less open our hearts, though
frequently liable to be interrupted in our midnight revels by the
inexhaustible activity and stratagems of the enemy. In this various
and ever-shifting scene, I forgot the disasters that occurred, and the
blood that flowed around me. All sense of a large and impartial
morality was, for the time at least, deadened in my breast. I was ever
upon the alert. The diversity of events neither suffered my spirits to
flag, not reflection to awake. It is only upon such occasions, or
occasions like these, that a man is able fully to feel what life is,
and to revel in its exuberance. Above all, I was delighted with the
society and friendship of my brother-officers. They honoured me; they
loved me. I seemed to feel what sympathy was; and to have conscious
pleasure in making one in a race of beings like myself. Such were my
sensations.

It must not however be imagined that all about me felt in these
respects as I did. I was deeply indebted in this particular to my
youth and my fortune. The old endeavoured to brace themselves in vain;
they sunk under the continual pressure. The poor soldier from the
ranks laboured incessantly, and I laboured as much as he; but he had
little opportunity to recruit his vigour and renovate his strength.
There was yet another class of persons in the camp, whose gaiety was
much less uninterrupted than mine. These were the king and the
generals who commanded under him. They could not be entirely devoid of
thought and consideration. They suffered much anxiety from the length
of the siege; and felt that every period of delay increased the
doubtfulness of the event.

Antonio de Leyva, governor of the city, necessarily felt himself
alarmed at the extraordinary project in which we were engaged, and
made every exertion to prevent it. One evening the king sent for me to
his tent, and told me in confidence that the enemy intended that very
night to make three several attacks upon our mound, one on each side
of the stream, and one by means of boats in the centre. Two of these,
he said, were merely intended as feints; the west bank of the Tesino
was the point against which their principal exertions would be
directed. On that side he was resolved to command in person; the boats
with which he proposed to resist their flota he consided to one of the
most famous and valuable officers of his army; the detachment on the
east bank he purposed to intrust to my uncle and myself. He observed
that the detachment he could spare for that purpose, after having
formed the other two bodies, and reserved a sufficient number for the
defence of the camp and the works, would be small; and he warned me to
the exertion of a particular vigilance. It would be doubly
unfortunate, if a body, the attack upon which was to be merely a
feigned one, should nevertheless be routed. Go, added he, fulfil my
expectations; deport yourself answerably to the merit of your first
atchievement; and depend upon it that you will prove hereafter one of
the most eminent supporters of the martial glory of France.

The marquis de Villeroy divided our little force into two bodies: with
the larger he lay in wait for the enemy near the scene of the expected
attack; the smaller he confided to my direction, and placed so that we
might be able to fall upon the rear of the garrison-troops as soon as
they should be fully engaged with our comrades. In the situation
assigned me, I took advantage of the skirts of a wood, which enabled
me to approach very near to the expected route of our assailants
without being perceived by them. The night was extremely dark, yet the
vicinity of my position was such that I could count the numbers of the
adversary as they passed along before my hiding place. I was alarmed
to find that they amounted to at least the triple of what we had been
taught to expect. They were no sooner past, than I dispatched to the
king a young knight, my particular friend, who happened to be with me,
to urge the necessity of a reinforcement. At the same time I sent a
messenger to my uncle, by a circuitous route, to inform him of what I
had observed, and the step I had taken, and to intreat him to defer
the attack as long as consistently with propriety it should be
possible. The enemy however had no sooner arrived at the place of
their destination, than the troops of the marquis, no longer capable
of restraint, rushed to engage them. The Spaniards were at first
surprised, but a short time led them to suspect the weakness of their
assailants, nor was the assistance I brought to my uncle sufficient to
turn the fortune of the fight. We lost many of our men; the rest
apparently gave ground; and it was a vain attempt amidst the darkness
of the night, to endeavour to restore order and rally them to the
assault. We were already almost completely overpowered, when the
succours we expected reached us. They were however unable to
distinguish friend from enemy. A storm of mingled rain and snow had
come on, which be-numbed our limbs, drove fiercely in our faces, and
rendered every object alike viewless. The carnage which in this
situation took place, was truly dreadful. Our blows were struck at
random. A Frenchman was not less dreadful than a Spaniard. When the
battle ceased, scarcely one of the enemy was left alive; but we
observed with astonishment and horror the number of the besiegers who
had probably, in the midst of the confusion, been cut to pieces by
their own countrymen.

I am now arrived at the period which put an end to the festivity and
jocundness of the campaign. All after this was one continued series of
disaster. About the close of January, our work, though not wholly
interrupted, was considerably retarded by a succession of heavy rains.
This was injurious to us in many ways; our project, which was executed
in the midst of waters, rendered additional damp a matter of serious
consideration. We were also seized with an apprehension of still
greater magnitude, which was speedily realised. The snows being at
length completely dissolved, and the quantity of water continually
increasing, we perceived one afternoon strong symptoms that our mound,
the principal subject of our labour and source of our hope, was giving
way in various places. The next morning at daybreak, it rushed down
every where at once with wonderful violence and noise. It is difficult
to describe the sensation of anguish which was instantly and
universally diffused. The labour of many weeks was overthrown in a
moment. As we had proceeded in our work, we every day saw ourselves
nearer the object to which we aspired. At this time our project was
almost completed, and Pavia was in imagination already in our hands,
to gain possession of which had cost us such unremitted exertions, the
display of so much gallantry, and the loss of so many soldiers. We
were confounded at the catastrophe we saw. We gazed at each other,
each in want of encouragement, and every one unable to afford it.

Still however we were not destitute of advantages. The garrison began
to be in want both of ammunition and provisions. They were in a
general state of discontent, almost of mutiny, which scarcely all the
address and authority of the governor were able to suppress. If the
town continued longer unrelieved, it was sure to fall into our hands.
But even this our last hope was considerably diminished by the
intelligence we received the very day after the destruction of our
mound, that the imperial army, after having received large
reinforcements, was approaching in considerable force. The king had
some time before, in the height of his confidence, and elation of his
heart, sent off a detachment of six thousand men to invade the kingdom
of Naples; for upon that, as well as the Milanese, he had inherited
pretensions from his immediate predecessors.

But, though the enemy was superior in numbers, and a part perhaps of
their forces better disciplined than ours, they laboured under several
disadvantages to which we were not exposed. The emperor, though his
dominions were more extensive, did not derive from them a revenue
equal to that of Francis. As he did not take the field in person, the
war appeared to his subjects only a common war, proceeding upon the
ordinary motives of war. But my countrymen were led by their
sovereign, were fresh from the recent insolence of an invasion of
their own territory, and fought at once for personal glory and their
country's honour. The king who commanded them, seemed expressly formed
to obtain their attachment and affection. His nobles became
enthusiastic by the example of his enthusiasm, and willingly disbursed
their revenues to give prosperity and eclat to the campaign.

The first question that arose upon the approach of the enemy, was,
whether we should break up the siege, and attend in some strong post
the slow, but sure, effect of their want of money, and the consequent
dispersion of their troops, or wait their attack in our present
posture. The former advice was safe; but to the gallant spirit of
Francis it appeared ignominious. He was upon all occasions the
partisan of rapid measures and decisive proceedings; and his temper,
with the exception of a few wary and deliberate counsellors, accorded
with that of our whole army. For some days we congratulated ourselves
upon the wisdom of our choice; we presented to the enemy so formidable
an appearance, that, notwithstanding the cogent motives he had to
proceed, he hesitated long before he ventured to attack us. At length
however the day came, that was pregnant with so momentous expectation.

If through the whole limits of our camp there was not a man that did
not feel himself roused upon this glorious occasion, to me it was
especially interesting. The scene accorded with the whole purpose of
my education, and novelty made it impressive. I lived only in the
present moment. I had not a thought, a wish, a straggling imagination,
that wandered beyond the circuit of the day. My soul was filled; at
one minute wild with expectation, and at another awed into solemnity.
There is something indescribably delicious in this concentration of
the mind. It raises a man above himself; and makes him feel a certain
nobleness and elevation of character, of the possession of which he
was to that hour unconscious. Fear and pain were ideas that could find
no harbour in my bosom; I regarded this as the most memorable of days,
and myself as the most fortunate of mortals. Far indeed was I from
anticipating the disgraceful event in which this elation of heart
speedily terminated.

The sun rose bright in a cloudless sky. The cold of the season was
such, as only to give new lightness and elasticity to the muscles and
animal spirits. I saw few of those objects of nature, which in this
delightful climate give so sacred a pleasure to the human soul. But in
my present temper there was no object of sight so ravishing, as the
firm and equal steps of the martial bands, the impatience of the war-
horse, and the display of military standards; nor any music so
enchanting, as the shrilness of the pipe, the clangor of the trumpet,
the neighing of steeds, and the roaring of cannon. It is thus that man
disguises to himself the real nature of his occupation; and clothes
that which is of all things most nefarious or most to be lamented,
with the semblance of jubilee and festival.

The Imperialists were at first unable to withstand the efforts of
French valour. They gave way on every side; we pursued our advantage
with impetuosity. To the slaughter of whole ranks mowed down with
tremendous celerity, to the agonies of the dying, I was blind; their
groans had no effect on my organ, for my soul was occupied in another
direction. My horse's heels spurned their mangled limbs, and were red
with their blood. I fought not merely with valour, but with fury; I
animated those around me by my example and my acclamations. It may
seem contrary to delicacy for me to speak with this freedom of my own
praises; but I am at my present writing totally changed and removed
from what I was, and I write with the freedom of a general historian.
It is this simplicity and ingenuousness that shall pervade the whole
of my narrative.

The fortune of the day speedily changed. The cowardice and desertion
of our Swiss allies, gave the first signal of adversity. The gallant
commander of the garrison of Pavia, sallied out in the midst of the
fight, and suddenly attacked us in the rear. A stratagem of the
imperial general effected the route of our cavalry. The whole face of
the field was utterly reversed.

It would be in vain for me to attempt to describe even the small part
that I beheld of the calamity and slaughter of the French army. At
this distance of time, the recollection of it opens afresh the almost
obliterated wounds of my heart. I saw my friends cut down, and perish
on every side. Those who, together with myself, had marched out in the
morning, swelled with exultation and hope, now lay weltering in their
blood. Their hopes, their thoughts, their existence, were brought to a
fatal termination. The common soldiers were hewed and cut to pieces by
hundreds without note and observation. Many of the first nobility of
France, made desperate by the change of the battle, rushed into the
thickest of the foe, and became so many voluntary sacrifices, chusing
rather to perish, than to turn their backs with dishonour.

In the battle I had two horses killed under me. The first of them
suffered a sort of gradual destruction. He had already received one
wound in the nostrils, and another in the neck, when a third shot
carried away two of his feet, and laid him prostrate on the earth.
Peter, my faithful attendant, observed what was passing, and
immediately brought me a fresh charger; but I had not long mounted
him, when he received a wound which killed him on the spot. I was
myself hurt in several places, and at length the stroke of a sabre
brought me to the ground. Here I remained for a long time insensible.
When I recovered, and looked around me, I found myself in entire
solitude, and could at present perceive no trace either of the enemy
or of my own people. Soon however I recollected what had passed, and
was but too well assured of the defeat my countrymen had sustained.
Weak and battered as I was, I attempted to retire to a place of
greater security. I had scarcely changed my ground, before I saw a
trooper of the enemy rushing towards me with the intention to take
away my life. Fortunately I observed a tree at hand, to the shelter of
which I hastened; and, partly by moving the branches to and fro, and
partly by shifting my position, I baffled my adversary, till he became
weary of the attempt. A moment after, I saw one of my most intimate
and familiar companions killed before my eyes. It was not long however
before a party of fugitive French came up to the spot where I stood,
and I, like the rest, was hurried from the field. My uncle perished in
the battle.

It is wonderful how men can harden their hearts against such scenes as
I then witnessed. It is wonderful how they can be brought to co-
operate in such demoniac fury, and more than demoniac mischief,
barbarity and murder. But they are brought to it; and enter, not from
a deplorable necessity, but as to a festival, in which each man is
eager to occupy his place, and share the amusements. It seemed to me
at that time, as it seems to me now, that it should be enough for a
man to contemplate such a field as I saw at Pavia, to induce him to
abjure the trade of violence for ever, and to commit his sword once
more to the bowels of the earth, from which it was torn for so
nefarious a purpose.

These sensations, though now finally established in my mind, were at
the time of which I am writing but of fleeting duration. The force of
education and the first bent of my mind, were too strong. The horror
which overwhelmed me in the first moments of this great national
defeat subsided; and the military passion returned upon me in its
original ardour. My convictions, and the moral integrity of my soul,
were temporary; and I became myself a monument of that inconstancy and
that wonder, to which I have just alluded.

Various circumstances however prevented this passion from its direct
operation. The character of France was altered by the battle of Pavia,
though mine remained the same. It was in the fullest degree decisive
of the fortune of the war. Milan, and every other place in the dutchy,
opened their gates to the conqueror: and, in a fortnight, not a
Frenchman was left in the fields of Italy. Of the whole army only a
small body effected an orderly retreat, under the command of the duke
of Alenson. Many persons of the highest distinction perished in the
battle: many were made prisoners by the enemy. France by this event
found the list of her noblesse considerably reduced in numbers; add to
which, those whose loss she sustained, were almost all of them taken
from among the most distinguished and meritorious in the catalogue.

But what constituted the principal feature in this memorable event,
was that the king himself was found in the number of the prisoners;
nor was he released by his ungenerous competitor till after more than
a twelvemonth's confinement. During this period Francis tasted of the
dregs of adversity. Inclined in the first instance to judge of his
rival by himself, he expected a liberal treatment. In this he was
deeply disappointed. After a detention of many months in the Milanese,
the scene of his former successes, he was transferred to Madrid. He
was personally neglected by the emperor, while his disloyal subject
was treated with singular distinction. The most rigorous terms were
proposed to him. All this had the effect, in one instance, of sinking
him into a disease of languor and dejection which he was not expected
to survive; and, in another, of inducing him to execute an instrument
by which he abdicated the crown, and declared his resolution of
remaining a prisoner for life. His confinement was at length
terminated by his solemnly engaging to compulsory articles, which he
was determined to break as soon as he found himself at liberty; an
alternative peculiarly grating to the liberality of his spirit. This
reverse of fortune materially changed his character. The fine spirit
of his ambition was from this time evaporated; and, while he still
retained the indefeasable qualities of his soul, and was gallant,
kind-hearted and generous, he bartered, as far as was compatible with
his disposition, the enterprising and audacious temper he had
previously manifested, for the wary and phlegmatic system of his more
fortunate competitor. His genius cowered before that of Charles; and
the defeat of Pavia may perhaps be considered as having given a deadly
wound to the reign of chivalry, and a secure foundation to that of
craft, dissimulation, corruption and commerce.




CHAP. III.

The lists of military ambition then being closed, if not permanently,
at least for a time, my mind took a new bias; and, without dismissing
its most cherished and darling passion, pursued a path in the present
emergency, to which the accidents of my youth had also guided me. If
my mother had survived, she would probably, either not have consented
to my serving at the siege of Pavia, or at least would have recalled
me to the obscurity of my paternal chateau as soon as the campaign was
at an end. I had not fully completed the twentieth year of my age, at
the period of the memorable battle in which my sovereign was made
prisoner. I was left without adviser or guide; even the marquis de
Villeroy, my mother's brother, of whatever consequence his admonitions
to me might have proved, was taken from me in this fatal engagement.
The king himself perhaps, had it not been for the dreadful calamities
in which he was now involved, might have condescended to interest
himself in some degree in my welfare. By the course of events, I was
left, yet a minor, and with an ample revenue at my disposition, to be
wholly guided by the suggestions of my own mind.

In the portion of his reign already elapsed, the splendid and
interesting qualities of Francis had given a new spring to the
sentiments of the nation. He was the most accomplished and amiable
prince of the time in which he lived. There was but one of all the
sovereigns of Christendom that could cope with him in power, the
emperor Charles; and, as Charles's peculiarities were of a sort that
Frenchmen were accustomed to regard with aversion and contempt, so
there had not been a doubt among my compatriots, of the side upon
which the superiority would ultimately rest. By the events of the day
of Pavia they were confounded and overwhelmed. They did not despair of
their country; they soon felt, and felt to its utmost extent, the rank
which France held among the European states. But the chain of their
ideas was interrupted; they could not but be conscious that the
fortune of the kingdom had received a grievous check. The illustrious
career which they had in fancy already traversed, was now postponed to
a distant period.

The consequences which flow from a suppressed ambition may easily be
imagined. The nobility of France exchanged the activity of the field
for the indulgences of the table: that concentrated spirit which had
sought to expand itself upon the widest field, now found vent in the
exhibition of individual expence: and, above all, the sordid and
inglorious passion for gaming, a vice eminently characteristic of the
age in which I have lived, now especially gained strength, and drew
multitudes into its destructive vortex. It was perhaps impossible for
a young man to have entered the theatre of the world under less
favourable auspices.

In what I have already written, I felt myself prompted to enlarge with
complacency upon the sentiments and scenes of my youth; and I have
yielded to the suggestion. The same internal admonition makes me
shrink from entering with minuteness into the detail of my ruin. I
recollect my infatuation with abhorrence; I fly from the memory with
sensations inexpressibly painful; I regard it as a cloud that
overshadowed and blackened for ever the fair prospects of my earlier
years.

I shall not enumerate all my youthful companions, or all my youthful
follies. I committed a mistake obvious enough, at this immature period
of my existence, when I mistook profusion and extravagance for
splendour and dignity; and the prudent economy which my mother had
practised, served in the present instance as the pandar to my vices.
The whole tendency of my education had been to inspire me with a proud
and restless desire of distinction; and I was not content to play a
second part in the career of my vices, as I should not have been
content to play a second part in the genuine theatre of honour and
fame. In all that was thoughtlessly spirited and gaily profligate I
led the way to my compeers, and was constantly held up by them as an
example. By this conduct I incurred the censure of the rigorous and
the old; but the voice of censure reached me much seldomer than that
of adulation. My person and demeanour were the topics of general
applause. I was tall and well-proportioned; my person was slender and
agile, but with an appearance of the fullest health; my countenance
was open, commanding and animated. My rank and situation in the world
gave me confidence; the sire and impetuosity of my temper rendered my
gestures easy, rapid, expressive and graceful. The consequence of all
this was to confirm me in a plan of life which I early laid down to
myself, and from which I never in any instance deviated. I put aside
those rules as splenetic and hypercritical, which confessors preach,
and with which the preceptors of youngmen are accustomed to weary and
alienate the minds of their pupils. The charge of being disorderly and
unthinking I despised; that of imprudence, even when meant for blame,
sounded in my ear like the voice of encomium. But, accustomed from
education to sentiments of honour, and from habit to the language of
eulogy, it is difficult for any man to be more firmly bent than I was
to incur no breath of dishonour, or to draw the line more
peremptorily, between the follies of youth, and the aberrations of a
gross and unprincipled spirit.

It may be alleged indeed, and with considerable justice, that the
habit of gaming is an exception to this statement. It was with great
hesitation and reluctance that I entered into this habit. I saw it as
it was, and as every ingenuous and undebauched mind must see it, base
and sordid. The possession of some degree of wealth I regarded indeed
as indispensible to a man who would fill a lofty and respectable
character in the world, a character that, by uniting the advantages of
exterior appearance with the actions of a hero, should extort the
homage of his species. But, in the picture I drew of this man in my
mind, I considered wealth as an accident, the attendant on his birth,
to be dispensed with dignity, not to be adverted to with minuteness of
attention. Deep play is certainly sufficiently inconsistent with this
character. The direct purpose of the gamester is to transfer money
from the pocket of his neighbour into his own. He rouses his sleepy
and wearied attention by the most sordid of all motives. The fear of
losing pierces his heart with anguish; and to gain, to obtain an
advantage for himself, which can scarcely exceed, and which seldom
equals, the injury his competitor suffers, is the circumstance which
most transports his heart with delight. For this he watches; for this
he calculates. An honourable gamester does not seize with
premeditation the moment when his adversary is deprived by wine or any
other cause of his usual self-possession. He does not seek with sober
malice to play upon his passions. He does not enter with avidity into
the contest with an unpractised, but presuming rival. But he cannot
avoid rejoicing, when he finds that accident has given him an unusual
advantage. I have often thought that I could better understand how a
man of honour could reconcile himself to the accursed and murderous
trade of war, than to the system of the gaming-table. In war he fights
with a stranger, a man with whom he has no habits of kindness, and who
is fairly apprised that he comes against him with ruinous intent. But
in play he robs perhaps his brother, his friend, the partner of his
bosom; or, in every event, a man seduced into the snare with all the
arts of courtesy, and whom he smiles upon, even while he stabs.

I am talking here the mere reason and common sense of the question as
it relates to mankind in general. But it is with other feelings that I
reflect upon the concern I have myself individually in the subject.
Years roll on in vain; ages themselves are useless here; looking
forward, as I do, to an existence that shall endure till time shall be
no more; no time can wipe away the remembrance of the bitter anguish
that I have endured, the consequence of gaming. It is torture! It is
madness! Poverty, I have drained thy cup to the dregs! I have seen my
wife and my children looking to me in vain for bread! Which is the
most intolerable distress? That of the period, in which all the
comforts of life gradually left me; in which I caught at every
fragment of promise, and every fragment failed; in which I rose every
morning to pamper myself with empty delusions; in which I ate the
apples of purgatory, fair without, but within bitterness and ashes; in
which I tossed, through endless, sightless nights, upon the couch of
disappointment and despair? Or the period, when at length all my hopes
were at an end; when I fled with horror to a foreign climate; when my
family, that should have been my comfort, gave me my most poignant
agony; when I looked upon them, naked, destitute and exiles, with the
tremendous thought--what and who it was that had caused their ruin?
Adversity, without consolation, adversity, when its sting is remorse,
self-abhorrence and self-contempt,--hell has no misery by which it can
be thrown into shade or exceeded!

Why do I dwell upon, or at least why do I anticipate, this detested
circumstance of my story? Let me add one remark in this place, and
pass on to the other particulars of this epoch of my prodigality. It
is true, I must take this shameful appellation to myself---I was a
gamester. But, in the beginning, I took no concern in that species of
science which is often implied in that appellation. My games were
games of hazard, not of skill. It appeared to my distempered
apprehension, to be only a mode in which for a man to display his
fortitude and philosophy. I was flattered with the practice of gaming,
because I saw in it, when gracefully pursued, the magnanimity of the
Stoic, combined with the manners of a man of the world; a magnanimity
that no success is able to intoxicate, and no vicissitude to subvert.
I committed my property to the hazard of the die; and I placed my
ambition in laughing alike at the favours of fortune, and her frowns.
In the sequel however I found myself deceived. The fickle goddess
sufficiently proved that she had the power of making me serious. But
in her most tremendous reverses I was never influenced to do any thing
that the most scrupulous gamester regards as dishonourable. I say not
this for the purpose of giving colour and speciousness to my tale. I
say it, because I have laid it down to myself in this narrative as a
sacred principle, to relate the simple, unaltered truth.

Another characteristic of the reign of Francis the First, is its
gallantries. It is well known how much the king was himself occupied
with attachments of this sort; his government was rather the
government of women than of politicians; and the manners of the
sovereign strongly tended to fix the habits of his subjects. A very
young man usually rather takes the tone of his passions from those
about him, than forms one that is properly his own; and this was my
case in the present instance as well as in the preceding. Originally
of an amorous constitution, I should perhaps have quieted the
restlessness of my appetites without ostentation and eclat, had not
the conduct of my youthful associates in general led me to regard
gallantry as an accomplishment indispensibly necessary in a young man
of rank. It must be confessed indeed that this offence against the
rigour of discipline has a thousand advantages over that of gaming.
Few women of regular and reputable lives, have that ease of manners,
that flow of fancy, and that graceful intrepidity of thinking and
expressing themselves, that is sometimes to be found among those who
have discharged themselves in a certain degree from the tyranny of
custom. There is something irresistibly captivating in that
voluptuousness, which, while it assumes a certain air of freedom,
uniformly and with preference conforms itself to the dictates of
unsophisticated delicacy. A judicious and limited voluptuousness, is
necessary to the cultivation of the mind, to the polishing of the
manners, to the refining of sentiment, and the development of the
understanding; and a woman deficient in this respect, may be of use
for the government of our families, but can neither add to the
enjoyments, nor fix the partiality, of a man of animation and taste.

But, whatever there may be in these considerations, certain it is,
that the conduct I pursued in matters of gallantry, led me into great
and serious expences. The mistresses, with whom I chanced to
associate, had neither the inexpressible captivation of madame de
Chateaubriant, nor the aspiring and impressive manners of the dutchess
d'Etampes . They had however beauty and vivacity, frolic without
rudeness, and softness without timidity. They had paid some regard to
points of knowledge and taste, considering these as additional means
for fixing the partiality of their paramours, and knowing that they
had no security for the permanence of their prosperity but in the
variety of their attractions. In their society I was led into new
trains of reflection, a nicer consideration of human passion and the
varieties of human character, and, above all, into a greater quickness
and delicacy in matter of intellectual taste. My hours, for the most
part, rolled swiftly and easily away, sometimes in the society of the
young, the gay and the ambitious of my own sex, and sometimes in the
softer and more delicious intercourse of the fair. I lived in the
midst of all that Paris could at that time furnish of splendid and
luxurious. This system of living was calculated to lull me in pleasing
dreams, and to waste away existence in delirious softness. It
sufficiently accorded with the sad period of our sovereign's
captivity, when my young compatriots sought to drown the sense of
public and patriotic considerations in copious draughts of pleasure;
nor did the monarch's return immediately restore to France her former
haughtiness and pride.

The course of sensuality in which I was now engaged, though it did not
absolutely sink into grossness, may well be supposed to have trod upon
the very edge of licence. I and my companions were young; we were made
fearless and presuming by fortune and by rank; we had laid aside those
more rigorous restraints which render the soberer part of mankind
plausible and decent, by making them timid and trite. I will not
contaminate the minds of my innocent and inexperienced readers by
entering into the detail of the sollies in which I was engaged.

One thing it is necessary for me to remark as essential to the main
thread of my story. My expences of all kinds, during this period of
self-desertion, drained my resources, but did not tarnish my good
name. My excesses were regarded by some as ornamental and becoming,
but by all were admitted as venial. The laurels I had won in the field
of military honour were not obscured by my subsequent conduct. I was
universally ranked among the most promising and honourable of the
young noblemen of France. I had some rivals; I did not pass through
this turbulent and diversified scene wholly without disputes; but no
one cast a reflection upon my name, no one ventured to speak of me in
terms of superciliousness and opprobrium. Nor was my temper more
injured than my reputation. From every dispute I extricated myself
with grace and propriety; I studied the pleasure and ease of all with
whom I associated; and no man enjoyed more extensively than I did the
sweets of friendship, as far as the sweets of friendship can be
extensively enjoyed.




CHAP. IV.

I Had been now two years in habits of life and a mode of expence
extremely injurious to my patrimony, when a circumstance occurred,
which promised completely to deliver me from the ruinous consequences
of my own folly. This was no other than my encounter with that
incomparable woman, who afterwards became the partner of my life, and
the mother of my children. I cannot even now recollect her without
tears: the sentiment which her very name excites in my mind, is a
mingled feeling, on the one hand, of the most exquisite and
unspeakable delight, a feeling that elevates and expands and
electrifies my throbbing heart; and, on the other, of the bitterest
anguish and regret.--I must develop the source of this feeling.

Marguerite Louise Isabeau de Damville was, at the period of our first
meeting, in the nineteenth year of her age. Her complexion was of the
most perfect transparency, her eyes black and sparkling, and her
eyebrows dark and long. Such were the perfect smoothness and clearness
of her skin, that at nineteen she appeared five years younger than she
was, and she long retained this extreme juvenility of form. Her step
was airy and light as that of a young fawn, yet at the same time firm,
and indicative of strength of body and vigour of mind. Her voice, like
the whole of her external appearance, was expressive of undesigning, I
had almost said childish, simplicity. Yet, with all this playfulness
of appearance, her understanding was bold and correct. Her mind was
well furnished with every thing that could add to her accomplishments
as a wife or a mother. Her indulgent parents had procured her every
advantage of education, and circumstances had been uncommonly
favourable to her improvement. She was encouraged and assisted in the
art of drawing, for which she discovered a very early talent, by
Leonardo da Vinci; and she formed her poetical taste from the
conversation and instructions of Clement Marot. But, amidst the
singular assemblage of her intellectual accomplishments, there was
nothing by which she was so much distinguished, as the uncommon
prudence of her judgments, and the unalterable amiableness of her
manners. This was the woman destined to crown my happiness, and
consummate my misery. If I had never known her, I should never have
tasted of true pleasure; if I had been guided by her counsels, I
should not have drained to the very dregs the cup of anguish.

The house of her father, the marquis de Damville, was the resort of
all the most eminent wits and scholars of that period, particularly of
Marot, Rabelais, Erasmus and Scaliger. This was my first inducement to
frequent it. My education had inspired me with an inextinguishable
love of literature; and the dissipation in which I was at this time
involved, could not entirely interrupt the propensity. The most
thoughtless and extravagant period of my life had occasional intervals
of study and reflection; and the gay, animated and ingenious
conversation of the men I have mentioned, had always peculiar charms
for me.

I had continued for some time to visit at the marquis's hotel, before
I encountered the beautiful Marguerite. The first time I saw her, she
made a deep impression upon me. The marquis, who was one of the most
benevolent and enlightened of mankind, had been led by my character
and manners to conceive a warm friendship for me. He saw the ruin in
which I was heedlessly involving myself, and believed that it was not
yet too late to save me. As he thought that there was no method so
likely to effect my reformation as the interposition of domestic
affections, he was not unwilling to encourage the attachment I began
to feel for his daughter. On my part I wanted but little
encouragement. I no sooner observed her manners, and became acquainted
with her merits, than my heart was unalterably fixed. I became as it
were a new man. I was like one, who, after his eyes had grown
imperceptibly dim, till at length every object appeared indistinct and
of a gloomy general hue, has his sight instantaneously restored, and
beholds the fabric of the universe in its genuine clearness,
brilliancy and truth. I was astonished at my own folly that I could so
long have found gratification in pleasures so mean and sensual. I was
ashamed of my own degradation. I could not endure the comparison
between the showy, unsubstantial attractions of the women I had
hitherto frequented, and the charms of the adorable Marguerite. The
purity of her mind seemed to give a celestial brilliancy and softness
to the beauties of her person. The gross and brutal pursuits of the
debauchee are often indeed described by the same epithets as the
virtuous and refined passion with which I was now for the first time
inspired; but experience convinced me that they differed in their most
essential features.

The marquis saw the state of my mind, and addressed me thus. Count,
said he, I feel the most ardent friendship for you. I am inexpressibly
concerned for your welfare. You will be convinced of this, when I have
furnished you with the clue to my late conduct towards you. I regard
you, if not as a ruined man, at least as a man in the high road to
ruin. Your present habits are of the most dangerous sort; they appear
to you perfectly conformable to principles of the strictest honour;
nay, they come recommended to you by a certain eclat and dignity with
which they seem to be surrounded. I could say to you, Recollect
yourself. Be not misled by delusive appearances. Consider the present
state of your fortune, and the state in which your mother left it. You
cannot be ignorant how greatly it is impaired. How has this
circumstance arisen? Have your revenues been expended in the service
of your country? Have you purchased any thing by them that will confer
on you lasting renown? Put together the sum of actions, which, piece
by piece, you have been willing to regard as indifferent and innocent,
if not as graceful and becoming. You cannot but be struck with their
monstrous deformity. Is it possible that you can be ignorant of the
nature of poverty? There is such a thing as honourable poverty. The
poverty of Cincinnatus was honourable, who impoverished himself by
paying the fine which was factiously imposed on his son, and then was
contented to pass his time alternately between the highest situations
and the most rigid simplicity. The poverty of a man of genius, such as
Rabelais, if not honourable, is interesting, when we compare his
merits and worth with that of many of those persons upon whom fortune
has blindly lavished her favours. It is honourable, if he have
declined the means of enriching himself by the sacrifice of his
independence and his principles. But of all earthly things the most
contemptible, is the man who, having wasted his goods in riotous
living, yet hungers after the luxuries that have proved his bane, and
feasts himself upon the steam of dainties of which he has lost the
substance. Poverty, always sufficiently disadvantageous in a
degenerate age, where attention and courtship are doled forth with
scales of gold, is tremendous to him. He is the scorn of all mankind.
Wherever he is a guest, he is invited only to be trampled upon and
insulted. He is capable of nothing, and is a burthen to society and
mankind. The helplessness of age advances upon him with stealing
steps, and he is destined to gather all its miseries and none of its
consolations.

I might have talked to you thus, but I refused it. I apprehend
something of the nature of advice. I know that it can seldom be
attended with its genuine effect, and will never be received with
deference and pleasure, where its motives are capable of
misconstruction. If I had talked to you thus, I might have appeared to
be indulging the tyranny of age; I might have seemed to assume an
unbecoming air of superiority and command: it could not have been
clear that I was really and honestly interested, in that about which I
affected so much concern. I doubt not the ingenuousness of your
nature. I doubt not that you would have been struck with the picture.
But I must be permitted to doubt the adequate and lasting effect of my
expostulation. I was not willing by my forwardness and loquacity to
wear out one of the great springs of human improvement.

I have determined on your reform. For that purpose I think it
necessary to combine my remonstrances and advice, with a change of
your habits and situation. You have tasted largely of what are
commonly called the pleasures of life, but there are pleasures that
you have not tasted. At this moment you anticipate them, and
anticipate them with the ardour of a lover. But you know not yet all
the gratifications that attend upon domestic affections.

I am willing to bestow upon you my daughter. I consent to prove the
purity of my advice, and the sincerity of my regard, by committing her
happiness to the risk. She is a treasure, the equal of which perhaps
the world does not hold. I speak not of her personal attractions. But
in understanding, accomplishments and virtue, I firmly believe, no
woman living can compare with her. In possessing her, you will be
blessed beyond the lot of princes. But, at the same time that I shall
thus put happiness within your grasp, remember that I commit to your
disposal the happiness of Marguerite. You are a worthy and an
honourable man; your talents and your virtues will constitute her
felicity. Her portion will redeem the injury which your patrimony has
suffered from your excesses, and you will have enough for yourselves,
and for your mutual offspring. I cannot believe, that, with such a
deposit intrusted to you, you will consent to bring her to misery and
ruin.

I have one condition however to stipulate with you. I require of you
as the pledge of her happiness, that you break off your present modes
of life, that you separate yourself from your connections, and retire
into the country upon your paternal estate. You are yet too young to
be in danger from that tyranny of custom, which often renders men more
advanced in life incapable of relishing the simple and genuine
pleasures. You will find contentment and joy in the society of my
daughter, and in the bosom of your rising family. You will be happy in
the circle of your own hearth, and have little to ask of the rest of
mankind. If, in any ill-omened and inauspicious moment, the
allurements of your present vices (forgive the plainness of my speech)
should resume their power over you, I hope at least that I shall never
live to see it; that I shall not be taught by bitter experience, that
I have sacrificed to the disinterestedness of my friendship the
happiness of my daughter and of my posterity!

My heart weeps blood, while I record the admonitions of this noble and
generous man. A nobler France did not contain through all her
boundaries! Refined by literature, polished by the best society his
age could afford, grown grey in the field of honour, and particularly
distinguished by the personal attachment and confidence of his
sovereign! What was all this advice to me! What return did I make to
this unparalleled kindness and friendship! I ruined this admirable
woman! I involved her in poverty and shame! With the most savage
barbarity I prepared for her an immature grave! Can I forget this! Of
what avail to me are immortal life and immortal youth? Oh, Marguerite,
Marguerite! For ever thy image haunts me! For ever thy ghost upbraids
me! How little have I proved myself worthy of such a partner! Rather
what punishment, what plagues, what shame and detestation have I not
deserved! Praised be Heaven! the last prayer of the marquis of
Damville at least was granted! He did not live to witness my relapse,
my profligacy and insanity!

I resume the thread of my story.---I listened to the address of the
marquis with reverence and admiration. I accepted his conditions with
joy. I married his adorable daughter, and conducted her to my paternal
estate in the Bordelois. Now only it was that I tasted of perfect
happiness. To judge from my own experience in this situation, I should
say, that nature has atoned for all the disasters and miseries she so
copiously and incessantly pours upon her sons, by this one gift, the
transcendant enjoyment and nameless delights which, wherever the heart
is pure and the soul is refined, wait on the attachment of two persons
of opposite sexes. My beloved Marguerite guided and directed me, at
the same time that she was ever studying my gratification. I
instructed her by my experience, while she enlightened me by the
rectitude and decision of her taste. Ours was a sober and dignified
happiness, and its very sobriety served to give it additional
voluptuousness. We had each our separate pursuits, whether for the
cultivation of our minds, or the promotion of our mutual interests.
Separation gave us respectability in each other's eyes, while it
prepared us to enter with fresh ardour into society and conversation.
In company with each other, hours passed over us, and appeared but
minutes. It has been said to be a peculiar felicity for any one to be
praised by a man who is himself eminently a subject of praise: how
much happier to be prized and loved by a person worthy of love? A man
may be prized and valued by his friend; but in how different a style
of sentiment from the regard and attachment that may reign in the
bosom of his mistress or his wife? Self-complacency and self-
satisfaction may perhaps be numbered among the principal sources of
contentment. It is necessary for him who would endure existence with
patience, that he should conceive himself to be something, that he
should be persuaded he is not a cypher in the muster-roll of man. How
bitter is the anguish we are sometimes doomed to sustain in this
respect from the marks we receive of other men's indifference and
contempt? To feel that we are loved by one whose love we have
deserved, to be employed in the mutual interchange of the marks of
this love, habitually to study the happiness of one by whom our
happiness is studied in return, this is the most desirable, as it is
the genuine and unadulterated condition of human nature. I must have
some one to sympathise with; I cannot bear to be cut off from all
relations; I desire to experience a confidence, a concord, an
attachment, that cannot rise up between common acquaintance. In every
state we long for some fond bosom on which to rest our weary head,
some speaking eye with which to exchange the glances of intelligence
and affection. Then the soul warms and expands itself; then it shuns
the observation of every other beholder; then it melts with feelings
that are inexpressible, but that the heart understands without the aid
of words; then the eyes swim with rapture; then the frame languishes
with enjoyment; then the soul burns with fire; then the two persons
thus blest, are no longer two, distance vanishes, one thought
animates, one mind informs them. Thus love acts; thus it is ripened to
perfection; never does man feel himself so much alive, so truly
etherial, as when, bursting the bonds of diffidence, uncertainty and
reserve, he pours himself entire into the bosom of the woman he
adores.

Marguerite de Damville was particularly distinguished from every other
woman I ever knew by the justness of her taste and the vividness of
her feelings. This circumstance was a fund of inexhaustible delight
and improvement to me. We were both of us well acquainted with the
most eminent poets and fine writers of modern times. But, when we came
to read them together, they presented themselves in a point of view in
which they had never been seen by us before. It is perhaps more
important that poetry and every thing that excites the imagination or
appeals to the heart, should be read in solitude than in society. But
the true way to understand our author in these cases, is to employ
each of these modes in succession. The terrible, the majestic, the
voluptuous and the melting, are all of them in a considerable degree
affairs of sympathy, and we never judge of them so infallibly or with
so much satisfaction, as when, in the presence of each other, the
emotion is kindled in either bosom at the same instant, the eye-beams,
pregnant with sentiment and meaning, involuntarily meet and mingle,
the voice of the reader becomes modulated by the ideas of his author,
and that of the hearer, by an accidental interjection of momentary
comment or applause, confesses its accord. It was in this manner that
we read together the admirable sonnets of Petrarch, and passed in
review the sublime effusions of Dante. The letters of Eloisa to
Abelard afforded us singular delight. We searched into the effusions
of the Troubadours, and, among all their absurdities and inequality,
we found a wildness, a daring pouring forth of the soul, an unpruned
richness of imagination, and from time to time a grandeur of
conception and audacious eccentricity of thought, that filled us with
unlooked for transport. At other times, when not regularly engaged in
this species of reading, we would repeat passages to each other,
communicate the discoveries of this sort that either had made in
solitude, and point out unobserved beauties, that perhaps neither of
us would have remarked, but for the suggestions of the other. It is
impossible for two persons to be constituted so much alike, but that
one of them should have a more genuine and instantaneous relish for
one sort of excellence, and another for another. Thus we added to each
other's stores, and acquired a largeness of conception and liberality
of judgment that neither of us would have arrived at, if separate. It
is difficult to imagine how prolific this kind of amusement proved of
true happiness. We were mutually delighted to remark the accord of our
feelings, and still more so, as we perceived that accord to be hourly
increasing, and what struck either as a blemish in the other, wearing
out and disappearing. We were also led by the same means to advert to
the powers of mind existing in each, the rectitude of judgment and
delicacy of feeling. As our attachment hourly increased, we rejoiced
in this reciprocation of benefits, while each gave or received
something that added to value of mind and worth of character. Mutual
esteem was incessantly kept alive, and mutual esteem is the only
substantial basis of love. Each of us hourly blessed our common lot,
while each believed it impracticable elsewhere to have found so much
worth blended with so much sweetness.

But we did not confine ourselves to the library and fire-side. We
walked, we rode, we travelled together. We observed together the
beauties of nature, and the system of the universe. We traversed many
provinces of France, and some parts of Italy and Spain. We examined
together the characters of mankind, as they are modified by the
varieties of natural descent, or the diversities of political
government. In all this we found peculiar gratification. There is
something in the scent and impression of a balmy atmosphere, in the
lustre of sunshine, in the azure heaven and the purple clouds, in the
opening of prospects on this side and on that, in the contemplation of
verdure and fertility and industry and simplicity and cheerfulness in
all their variations, in the very act and exercise of travelling,
peculiarly congenial to the human frame. It expands the heart, it
makes the spirit dance, and exquisitely disposes us for social
enjoyment. The mind becomes more elevated and refined, it assumes a
microscopical and unwonted sensibility, it feels things which in
ordinary moments are unheeded and unknown, it enjoys things too
evanescent for a name and too minute to be arrested, it trembles with
pleasure through every fibre and every articulation.

One thing is necessary to be mentioned in this place, though, while it
adds to the fidelity of delineation, I am aware it breaks the tone of
feeling and the harmony of the picture. But it is not my intention in
this history to pass myself for better than I am. I have laid down to
myself the sacred maxim of absolute truth and impartiality. I must
confess therefore, with whatever anguish, my extreme inferiority to my
incomparable partner. She had all the simplicity of genuine taste. The
more she delivered herself up to nature, the greater was her content.
All superfluous appendages and show appeared to her as so many
obstacles to enjoyment. She derived her happiness from the tone of her
own mind, and stood in no need of the gaping admiration and stupid
wonder of others to make her feel herself happy. But I retained still
the original vice of my mind. The gestures of worship, and the voice
of applause were necessary to me. I did not suffice to myself. I was
not satisfied with the tranquil and inglorious fruition of genuine
pleasures, forgetting the vain and anxious tumult of the world, and
forgotten by those who figured on its theatre. It may be, that
Marguerite could, and ought by insensible degrees, to have rooted out
this disease of my mind. But I am concerned only with the statement of
facts; and I know that no such thing was the effect of our
intercourse.

This absurd passion did not however at this time lead me to any fatal
extremities. It contented itself with the frivolous gratification
resulting from a certain portion of ostentation and expence. I
maintained a considerable train of servants. My apartments were
magnificent, and my furniture splendid. When we travelled, it was with
an attendance little short of princely. Idiot that I was, to regard
this as an addition to the genuine pleasures which I have above
enumerated! When we were at home, every accidental guest was received
and entertained with extraordinary pomp, a pomp not directed to add to
his accommodation, but that was designed to leave him impressed with
astonishment and admiration at the spirit of his host. Often indeed
did I feel this ostentation an incumbrance. Often did I languish for
the ease and freedom which result from a mediocrity of circumstances.
But this I called, doing honour to my ancestors and my country, and
vindicating the consideration due to the house of St. Leon.

To quit this painful recollection.---A circumstance which tended at
this time to fill up the measure of my happiness, consisted in the
dear pledges which Marguerite bore me of our mutual affection. It is
impossible for him who has not experienced it, to conceive the
accumulation which a genuine tenderness derives from this source. The
difficulties are many, that attend upon pregnancy; trifles are at that
period sources of fatigue and injury; it is necessary that the person
should be protected, and the mind tranquil. We love to watch over a
delicate plant, that appears to call for all our anxiety and
attention. There is in this case the sentiment, without the repulsive
circumstances, that attend upon our sympathy with a dangerous and
alarming disease. Marguerite, by her sensibility and growing
attachment, abundantly rewarded my cares. At length the critical
period arrives, when an event so extraordinary occurs, as cannot fail
to put the human frame in considerable jeopardy. Never shall I forget
the interview between us immediately subsequent to her first
parturition, the effusion of soul with which we met each other after
all danger seemed to have subsided, the kindness which animated us,
increased as it was by ideas of peril and suffering, the sacred
sensation with which the mother presented her infant to her husband,
or the complacency with which we read in each other's eyes a common
sentiment of melting tenderness and inviolable attachment!

This, she seemed to say, is the joint result of our common attachment.
It partakes equally of both, and is the shrine in which our substance
and our life have been poured together, never to be separated. Let
other lovers testify their engagements by presents and tokens; we
record and stamp our attachment in this precious creature, a creature
of that species which is more admirable than any thing else the world
has to boast, a creature susceptible of pleasure and pain, of
affection and love, of sentiment and fancy, of wisdom and virtue. This
creature will daily stand in need of an aid we shall delight to
afford; will require our meditations and exertions to forward its
improvement, and confirm its merits and its worth. We shall each blend
our exertions for that purpose, and our union, confirmed by this
common object of our labour and affection, will every day become more
sacred and indissoluble.--All this the present weakness of my beloved
Marguerite would not allow her to say. But all this occurred to my
reflections; and, when we had time tranquilly to compare our
recollection of the event, it plainly appeared that in all this our
hearts and conceptions had most truly sympathised.

The possessing a third object, a common centre of anxiety to both, is
far from weakening the regard of such a couple for each other. It does
not separate or divert them; it is a new link of connection. Each is
attached to it the more for the sake of either; each regards it as a
sort of branch or scion, representing the parent; each rejoices in its
health, its good-humour, its smiles, its increase in size, in strength
and in faculties, principally from the idea of the gratification they
will communicate to the other. Were it not for this idea, were it
possible the pleasure should not be mutual, the sentiment would be
stripped of its principal elevation and refinement; it would be
comparatively cold, selfish, solitary and inane.

In the first ten years of our marriage my wife brought me five
children, two sons and three daughters. The second son only died in
his infancy. My predominant passion at this time was that of domestic
pleasures and employments, and I devoted myself, jointly with the
mother, to the cultivation of the minds of my children. They all in a
considerable degree rewarded our care; they were all amiable. Taught
by the example of their parents, they lived in uncommon harmony and
affection. Charles, the eldest, was a lad of a bold and active
disposition; but the sentiments of virtue and honour that were infused
into him both by Marguerite and myself, found a favourable reception,
and promised to render those qualities, which, if left to themselves
might have been turbulent and dangerous, productive of the happiest
consequences. Julia, his eldest sister, was uncommonly mild and
affectionate, alive to the slightest variations of treatment,
profoundly depressed by every mark of unkindness, but exquisitely
sensible to demonstrations of sympathy and attachment. She appeared
little formed to struggle with the difficulties of life and the frowns
of the world; but, in periods of quietness and tranquillity, nothing
could exceed the sweetness of her character and the fascination of her
manners. Her chief attachment was to her mother, though she was by no
means capable of her mother's active beneficence and heroic fortitude.
Louisa, the second daughter, resembled her mother in person, and
promised to resemble her in character. Marguerite, the youngest,
differed from the whole family, in the playfulness and frolic of her
disposition. Her vivacity was inexhaustible, and was continually
displaying itself in innocent tricks, and smart, unexpected sallies.
Nothing could possibly be more ingenuous than this admirable infant;
nothing more kind, considerate and enthusiastic in her tenderness and
grief, when an occasion occurred to call forth these sentiments. But,
the moment the sorrowful occasion was over, she would resume all her
vivacity; and even sometimes, in the midst of her tears, some trait of
her native humour would escape. I know not whether all the family were
not more attached to the little Marguerite than to any other
individual member, as she certainly oftenest contributed to their
amusement and pleasure.--Such was the amiable circle, one and all of
whom have been involved by me in the most tremendous ruin and
disgrace.




CHAP. V.

Charles was now nine years of age. His mother and myself had delighted
ourselves with observing and forwarding the opening of his infant
mind, and had hitherto been contented with the assistance of a
neighbouring priest by way of preceptor. But, as he was our only son,
we were desirous that he should obtain every advantage of education.
We were neither of us illiterate; but, in the course of twenty-three
years, which had elapsed since I was myself of Charles's age, the
progress of literature and the literary passion in Europe had been
astonishingly great, and I was anxious that he should realise in his
own person every benefit which the fortunate and illustrious period of
human affairs in which he began to exist, seemed to hold out to him.
Beside, there was an impetuosity and forwardness in his character,
that seemed ill to brook the profound solitude and retirement in which
his mother and I were contented to live. His case seemed to demand
companions of his own age, a little world of fellow-beings, with whom
he might engage in their petty business and cares, with whose passions
his own might jostle or might sympathise, who might kindle his
emulation, and open to him the field of fraternal associations and
amity.

There was however a considerable difficulty attendant on this
question. The schools of real literature in France, where languages
were properly taught, and science might be acquired, were at this time
exceedingly few. The nearest university was that of Toulouse, at the
distance of twenty-six leagues. This was, practically speaking, as far
from us as Paris itself. Was then our darling child, to be torn from
his parents, from all he was accustomed to see, and all by whom he was
loved, to be planted in the midst of strangers, and to have his mind
excited to observation, and the spirit of generous contention roused,
at the risque of suppressing the tender affections of his soul, and
the sentiments of duty, reliance and love? There seemed however to be
no alternative. It was necessary that a temporary separation should
take place. Intellectual improvement was a point by all means to be
pursued; and we must direct our efforts to keep alive along with it,
those winning qualities, and that softness of heart, which had
hitherto rendered him so eminently our delight. Such were our fond
speculations and projects for the future.

It was at length determined that I should proceed along with him to
Paris. I could there observe upon the spot the state of the
university, and the means of learning that existed in the metropolis;
and could consult with some of those eminent luminaries with whom I
had become acquainted at the house of the marquis de Damville.
Marguerite declined accompanying me upon this occasion. Her father was
dead; she could not think of quitting her daughters for any
considerable time; and our nuptial engagement of residing always in
the country, gave her a repugnance to the removing with her whole
family to Paris. It was left probable that she might come to me when
the business was settled, if at that time it was determined to leave
her son at the capital; and that she might then reconduct me to the
place, which had been the scene of all my happiness, but which I was
destined never to revisit in peace.

Preliminaries being at length fully adjusted in the manner that
appeared suitable to the importance of the occasion, I set off for the
metropolis of my country, which I had seen only once, and that for a
very short period, in the course of ten years. That visit had been
produced by a very melancholy circumstance, the death of the marquis
of Damville. Marguerite and myself had then been summoned, and arrived
at his hotel but a few days before he expired. Though extremely
weakened by the mortal disease under which he laboured, he retained
all the faculties of his mind, and conversed with us in the most
affectionate and endearing terms. He congratulated us upon our mutual
felicity; nor could the situation in which we found him, upon the
brink of an everlasting oblivion of all earthly things, abate the
sincerity and fervour of his delight. He thanked me for my carriage
and conduct as a husband, which, he said, might with propriety be held
up as a model to the human species. He applauded himself for that
mingled discernment and determination, which, as he affirmed, had so
opportunely secured my virtue and his daughter's happiness. He trusted
that I was now sufficiently weaned from those habits which had
formerly given him so much alarm. At the same time he conjured me, by
every motive that an overflowing enthusiasm could suggest, to persist
in my good resolutions, and never to change that residence, where I
had found every degree of delight of which the human mind is in its
present condition susceptible. Do not, said he, be drawn aside by
ambition; do not be dazzled by the glitter of idle pomp and
decoration; do not enter the remotest circle of the vortex of
dissipation! Live in the midst of your family; cultivate domestic
affections; be the solace and joy of your wife; watch for the present
and future welfare of your children; and be assured that you will then
be found no contemptible or unbeneficial member of the community at
large!

Such were the last advices of the marquis of Damville. Excellent man!
how ill were your lessons remembered! how ill your kindness
remunerated! He died in the sixth year of our marriage. The serious
impression which this event produced in my mind, gave me small
inclination to enter into any species of society, and disposed me to
quit Paris as soon as every respect had been paid to the obsequies of
the deceased.

Upon my arrival in the metropolis on the present occasion, I
immediately sought to renew my acquaintance with those amiable and
eminent persons, who had for the most part constituted the circle of
the marquis of Damville. They received me with that interest and
attention, that I have usually found attendant on a cultivated mind.
The pleasure was considerable, that resulted from meeting them thus
again, after ten years cessation of intercourse. A few of them indeed
were dead, and others dispersed by various accidents in different
parts of France or of Europe. The greater part however I still found
in that celebrated city, which might well be considered as the
metropolis of the civilized world. The king had early been
distinguished by his love of letters and the arts; and added years,
while they abated in his mind the eagerness of ambition and glory,
gave new strength to his more cultivated propensities. The liberality
of his conduct, and the polished ease that characterised his manners,
produced a general predilection in favour of the capital in which he
resided.

I found all my former friends matured and improved by the silent
influence of time. Their knowledge was increased; their views rendered
wider; their conversation was more amusing and instuctive, their
manners more bland and unaffected. But, if their characters had
experienced revolution, mine was more materially changed. I had before
encountered them with all the heat and presumption of youth, with no
views so much present to my mind as those of chivalry and a factitious
honour, with no experience but that of a camp. I was impetuous,
volatile and dissipated. I had not rested long enough upon any one of
the flowers of intellect to extract its honey; and my mind was kept in
a state of preternatural agitation by the passions of a gamester. It
was now become cool, moderated and tranquil. The society of Marguerite
had contributed much to the improvement of my character; I had lived
in no idle and brutish solitude, but in the midst of contemplation and
letters; and I had the passions of a husband and a father, in the
extremest degree attached to his family. These passions will be found
perhaps to be the true school of humanity: the man, whose situation
continually exercises in him the softest and most amiaable charities
of our nature, will almost infallibly surpass his brethren in kindness
to sympathise with, and promptness to relieve, the distresses of
others.

Will it be accounted strange that, in Paris, surrounded by persons of
various knowledge and liberal benevolence, I found myself under the
influence of other feelings than any I had lately experienced? I was
like a man who had suffered long calamity in a famished vessel or a
town besieged, and is immediately after introduced into the midst of
luxury, to a table loaded with the most costly dainties. Every viand
has to his apprehension an exquisite relish, and every wine a
delicious flavour, that he never perceived in them before. Let no one
from hence infer that my love for Marguerite was diminished; it has
already sufficiently appeared in the course of my narrative, that no
happiness could be more consummate than mine was with this admirable
woman. Had I been called upon to choose for the seat of my future
life, between my paternal chateau in the Bordelois with Marguerite to
grace my abode, on the one hand, and all the gratifications that Paris
could afford, on the other, I should not have hesitated even for an
instant. But the mind of man is made capacious of various pleasures;
and a person of sound and uncorrupted judgment, will perhaps always
enjoy with emotion the delights which for a long time before he had
not encountered, however enviable his content may have been under
their absence. I delighted to converse with the men of genius and
refinement with whom Paris at this time abounded. It was a feast of
soul of which I had rarely partaken in my rural retreat. I delighted
to combine excellence with number, and, to a considerable degree at
least, variety of intercourse with sentiments of regard and
friendship. In these select societies I found no cold suppressions and
reserve. Their members were brethren in disposition, similar in their
pursuits, and congenial in their sentiments. When any one spoke, it
was that the person to whom he addressed himself might apprehend what
was passing in his thoughts. They participated with sincerity and a
liberal mind in each other's feelings whether of gay delight or
melancholy disappointment.

Thus situated, I forgot for a time my engagements with Marguerite. The
scenes of St. Leon, its fields, its walks, its woods and its streams,
faded from my mind. I forgot the pleasure with which I had viewed my
children sporting on the green, and the delicious, rural suppers which
I had so often partaken with my wife beneath my vines and my fig-trees
at the period of the setting-sun. When I set out for Paris, these
images had dwelt upon my mind, and saddened my fancy. At every stage I
felt myself removed still further from the scene where my treasures
and my affections were deposited. But, shortly after, new scenes and
new employments engaged my thoughts. The pleasures which I sought but
weakly at first, every time they were tasted increased my partiality
for them. I seemed for a time to be under the influence of an oblivion
of my former life. Thus circumstanced, the folly which had so deep a
root in my character took hold of me. I hired a magnificent hotel, and
entertained at my own expence those persons in whose society I
principally delighted. My circles became more numerous than those of
the marquis of Damville, and were conducted in a very different style
of splendour and profusion. I corresponded with Marguerite; but I
continually found some new pretext for lengthening my stay; and she on
her part, though the kindest and most indulgent of women, became
seriously alarmed and unhappy.

As my parties were more numerous than those of the marquis of Damville
had been, they were more mixed. Among others I occasionally associated
myself with some of those noblemen who had been the companions of my
former dissipation and gaming. An obvious consequence resulted from
this. Parties of play were occasionally proposed to me. I resisted--I
yielded. My first compliances were timid, hesitating and painful. I
recollected the lessons and exhortations of my excellent father-in-
law. At length however my alarms abated. I reproached myself with the
want of an honourable confidence in my own firmness, and the cowardice
of supposing that I was not to be trusted with the direction of my
conduct.

One evening I ventured beyond the cautious limits I had at first
prescribed myself, and won a considerable sum. This incident produced
a strong impression upon me, and filled my mind with tumult and
agitation. There was a secret that I had concealed almost from myself,
but which now recurred to me with tenfold violence. I was living
beyond the means I had to discharge my expences. My propensity of this
sort seemed to be fatal and irresistible. My marriage with Marguerite
had occurred opportunely, to heal the breaches that I had at that time
made in my fortune, and to take from me the consciousness of
embarrassments which I should otherwise have deeply felt. The death of
the marquis, however deplorable in other respects, happened at a
period when the spirit of profusion and magnificence which
characterised me, had again involved my affairs in considerable
difficulty. It might have been supposed that these two cases of
experience would suffice to extirpate my folly. But they had rather
the contrary effect. In each of them the event was such, as to prevent
extravagance and thoughtlessness from producing their genuine results;
and of consequence they appeared less criminal and mischievous in my
eyes, than otherwise they probably would have appeared. I rather
increased than diminished my establishment upon the death of my
father-in-law. I had no reasonable prospect of any property hereafter
to descend to me, that should exonerate me from the consequences of
further prodigality. But I did not advert to this. I saw myself
surrounded by my children; they were the delight and solace of my
life; and yet I was heedless of their interests. Sometimes I resolved
upon a more rigid economy. But economy is a principle that does not
easily lay hold of any but a heart framed to receive it. It is a
business of attentive and vigilant detail. It easily escapes the mind,
amidst the impetuosity of the passions, the obstinacy of rooted
propensities, and the seduction of long established habits. Marguerite
indeed did not share with me in these follies; the simplicity and
ingenuousness of her mind were such, that she would have been as happy
in a cottage as a palace; but, though she did not partake my vices, an
ill-judged forbearance and tenderness for my feelings, did not permit
her effectually to counteract them. This is perhaps the only defect of
character I am able to impute to her.

After I had won the sum to which I have alluded, I retired to my hotel
full of anxious thoughts. It produced upon me in some degree the same
effect as ordinarily belongs to a great calamity. I lay all night
sleepless and disturbed. Ruin and despair presented themselves to my
mind in a thousand forms. Heedless prodigality and dilapidated
revenues passed in review before me. I counted the years of my life. I
had completed the thirty-second year of my age. This was scarcely half
the probable duration of human existence. How was I to support the
remaining period, a period little assorted to difficulties and
expedients, and which, in the close of it, seems imperiously to call
for every indulgence? Hitherto an interval of four or five years had
repeatedly sufficed to involve me in serious embarrassment. My
children were growing up around me; my family was likely to become
still larger; as my offspring increased in years, their demands upon
my revenues would be more considerable. Were these demands to be
slighted? Were my daughters, nay, was the heir of my rank and my name,
to be committed to the compassion of the world, unprovided and
forlorn? What a cheerless prospect? What a gloomy and disconsolate hue
did these ideas spread upon that future, which the health of the human
mind requires to have gilded with the beams of hope and expectation? I
had already tried the expedient of economy, and I had uniformly found
this inestimable and only sheet-anchor of prudence gliding from my
deluded grasp. Could I promise myself better success in future? There
seemed to be something in my habits, whether of inattention,
ostentation or inconsistency, that baffled the strongest motives by
which parsimony and frugality can possibly be in forced.

Why did these thoughts importunately recur to me in the present
moment? They were the suggestions of a malignant genius, thoughts, the
destination of which was to lead me into a gulph of misery and guilt!
While I was going on in a regular train of expence, while I was
scooping the mine that was to swallow me and my hopes together, I had
the art to keep these reflections at bay. Now that I had met with an
unexpected piece of good-fortune, they rushed upon me with
irresistible violence. Unfortunate coincidence! Miserable,--rather let
me say, guilty, abandoned miscreant!

As soon as I rose in the morning, I went to the closet where, the
evening before, I had deposited my recent acquisitions. I spread out
the gold before me. I gazed upon it with intentness. My eyes, a moment
after, rolled in vacancy. I traversed the apartment with impatient
steps. All the demon seemed to make his descent upon my soul. This was
the first time that I had ever felt the struggle of conscious guilt
and dishonour. I was far indeed from anticipating that species of
guilt, and that species of ruin, which soon after overwhelmed me. My
mind did not once recur to the possibility of any serious mischief. I
dwelt only, as gamesters perhaps usually do, upon the alternative
between acquisition and no acquisition. I did not take into the
account the ungovernableness of my own passions. I assumed it as
unquestionable, that I could stop when I pleased. The thoughts that
tortured me were, in the first place, those of a sanguine and
unexperienced adventurer in a lottery, whose mind rests not for a
moment upon the sum he has risqued, but who, having in fancy the
principal prize already in his possession, and having distributed it
to various objects and purposes, sometimes fearfully recurs to the
possibility of his disappointment, and anticipates with terror what
will be his situation, if deprived of this imaginary wealth. I had now
for the first time opened my eyes to the real state of my affairs, and
I clung with proportionable vehemence to this plank which was to bear
me from the storm. In the second place, I felt, though darkly and
unwillingly, the immorality of my conception. To game may, in some
instances, not be in diametrical opposition to liberality of mind; but
he who games for the express purpose of improving his circumstances,
must be an idiot, if he does not sometimes recollect that the money
lost may be as serious a mischief to his neighbour, as the money
gained can possibly be a benefit to himself. It is past a question,
that he who thus turns his amusement into his business, loses the
dignity of a man of honour, and puts himself upon a level with the
most avaricious and usurious merchant.

Though I was far from having digested a specific plan of enriching
myself by these discreditable means, yet the very tumult of my
thoughts operated strongly to lead me once more to the gaming-table. I
was in no humour to busy myself with my own thoughts; the calmness of
literary discussion, and the polished interchange of wit, which had
lately so much delighted me, had now no attraction for my heart; the
turbulence of a scene of high play alone had power to distract my
attention from the storm within. I won a second time. I felt the
rapidity and intenseness of my contemplations still further
accelerated. I will not over again detail what they were. Suffice it
to say, that my hopes became more ardent, my conception of the
necessity of this resource more impressive, and my alarm lest this
last expedient should fail me more tormenting.

The next time I lost half as much as the sum of my winnings. I then
proceeded for several days in a nearly regular alternation of gain and
loss. This, as soon as the fact unavoidably forced itself upon my
mind, only served to render my thoughts more desperate. No, exclaimed
I, it was not for this that I entered upon so tormenting a pursuit. It
was not for this that I deserted the learned societies which were
lately my delight, and committed myself to a sea of disquiet and
anxiety. I came not here like a boy for amusement; or, like one who
has been bred in the lap of ignorance and wealth, to seek a relief
from the burthen of existence, and to find a stimulus to animate my
torpid spirits. Am I then to be for ever baffled? Am I to cultivate a
tract of land, which is to present me nothing in return but unvaried
barrenness? Am I continually to wind up my passions, and new-string my
attention in vain? Am I a mere instrument to be played upon by endless
hopes and fears and tormenting wishes? Am I to be the sport of events,
the fool of promise, always agitated with near-approaching good, yet
always deluded?

This frame of mind led me on insensibly to the most extravagant
adventures. It threw me in the first place into the hands of notorious
gamblers. Men of real property shrunk from the stakes I proposed, as,
though they were in some degree infected with the venom of gaming,
their infection was not so deep as mine, nor with my desperation of
thought. The players with whom I engaged, were for the most part well
known to every one but myself, not to be able to pay the sums they
played for, if they lost; nay, this fact might be said in some sense
to be known to me as well as the rest, though I obstinately steeled
myself against the recollection of it. One evening, I won of one of
these persons a very large sum, for which I suffered him to play with
me upon honour. The consequence was simple. The next morning he took
his departure from Paris, and I heard of him no more.

Before this however the tide of success had set strongly against me. I
had sustained some serious vicissitudes; and, while I was playing with
the wretch I have just mentioned, my eagerness increased as my good
luck began, and I flattered myself that I should now avenge myself of
fortune for some of her late unkindnesses. My anguish,--why should I
call the thing by a disproportionate and trivial appellation?---my
agony--was by so much the greater, when I found that this person, the
very individual who had already stripped me of considerable sums, had
disappeared, and left me without the smallest benefit from my
imaginary winnings.

No man who has not felt, can possibly image to himself the tortures of
a gamester, of a gamester like me, who played for the improvement of
my fortune, who played with the recollection of a wife and children
dearer to me than the blood that bubbled through the arteries of my
heart, who might be said, like the Asiatic savage, to make these
relations the stake for which I threw, who saw all my own happiness
and all theirs through the long visto of life, depending on the turn
of a card! Hell is but the chimera of priests, to bubble idiots and
cowards. What have they invented, to come into competition with what I
felt! Their alternate interchange of flames and ice, is but a feeble
image of the eternal varieties of hope and fear. All bodily racks and
torments are nothing compared with certain states of the human mind.
The gamester would be the most pitiable, if he were not the most
despicable, creature that exists. Arrange ten bits of painted paper in
a certain order, and he is ready to go wild with the extravagance of
his joy. He is only restrained by some remains of shame from dancing
about the room, and displaying the vileness of his spirit by every
sort of freak and absurdity. At another time, when his hopes have been
gradually worked up into a paroxysm, an unexpected turn arrives, and
he is made the most miserable of men. Never shall I cease to recollect
the sensation I have repeatedly felt, in the instantaneous sinking of
the spirits, the conscious fire that spread over my visage, the anger
in my eye, the burning dryness of my throat, the sentiment that in a
moment was ready to overwhelm with curses the cards, the stake, my own
existence and all mankind. How every malignant and insufferable
passion seemed to rush upon my soul! What nights of dreadful solitude
and despair did I repeatedly pass during the progress of my ruin! It
was the night of the soul! My mind was wrapped in a gloom that could
not be pierced! My heart was oppressed with a weight, that no power,
human or divine, was equal to remove! My eyelids seemed to press
downward with an invincible burthen! My eyeballs were ready to start
and crack their sockets! I lay motionless the victim of ineffable
horror! The whole endless night seemed to be filled with one vast,
appalling, immoveable idea! It was a stupour, more insupportable and
tremendous, than the utmost whirl of pain, or the fiercest agony of
exquisite perception!

One day that my mind was in a state of excessive anguish and remorse
(I had already contrived by this infernal means to dispossess myself
of the half of my property), my son came unexpectedly into my chamber.
For some time I had scarcely ever seen him: such is a gamester! All
the night, while he slept, I was engaged in these haunts of demons.
All the day, while he was awake, and studying with his masters, or
amusing himself, I was in my bed-chamber, endeavouring to court a few
broken hours of sleep. When, notwithstanding the opposition of our
habits, I had the opportunity of seeing him, I rather shunned to use,
than sought to embrace it. The sight of him had a savour of bitterness
in it, that more than balanced all the solace of natural affection. It
brought before me the image of his mother and his sisters; it
presented to my soul a frightful tale of deserted duties; it was more
galling and envenomed than the sting of scorpions.

Starting at the sound of the opening door, I called out abruptly and
with some harshness, Who is there? What do you want?

It is I, Sir, replied the boy; it is Charles; come to pay his duty to
you!

I do not want you now; you should not come but when you know I am at
leisure; answered I somewhat disturbed.

Very well, Sir; very well: I am going. As he spoke, his voice seemed
suffocated with tears. He was on the point of shutting the door, and
leaving me to myself.

Charles! said I, not well knowing what it was I intended to do.

He returned.

Come here, my dear boy!

I took his hand, I drew him between my knees, I hid my face in his
neck, I shook with the violence of my emotion.

Go, go, boy: you perceive I cannot talk to you.

I pushed him gently from me.

Papa! cried he, I do not like to leave you. I know I am but a boy, and
can be but of little use to you. If mamma were with you, I would not
be troublesome. I should cry, when I saw you were grieved, but I would
ask no questions, and would leave you, because you desired it. I hope
you have not had any bad news?

No, my boy, no. Come to me to-morrow, and I will be at leisure, and
will talk a great deal to you.

Ah, papa, to-morrow! Every day that I did not see you, I thought it
would be to-morrow! And there was one to-morrow, and another to-
morrow, and so many, that it seemed as if you had forgotten to speak
to me at all.

Why, Charles, you do not doubt my word? I tell you, that to-morrow you
shall see me as long as you please.

Well, well, I will wait! But do then let it be all day! I will not go
to college, and it shall be a holiday. Papa, I do not like my lessons
half so well as I did, since I have neither you nor mamma that I can
tell what they are about.

Good bye, Charles! Be a good boy! remember to-morrow! Good bye!

Papa! now I am sure you look a good deal better than you did at first.
Let me tell you something about the lesson I read this morning. It was
a story of Zaleucus the Locrian, who put out one of his own eyes, that
he might preserve eye-sight to his son.

This artless story, thus innocently introduced, cut me to the soul. I
started in my chair, and hid my face upon the table.

Papa, what is the matter? Indeed you frighten me!

Zaleucus was a father! What then am I?

Yes, Zaleucus was very good indeed! But, do you know, his son was very
naughty. It was his disobedience and wickedness, that made him liable
to such a punishment. I would not for the world be like Zaleucus's
son. I hope, papa, you will never suffer from my wilfulness. You shall
not, papa, indeed, indeed!

I caught the boy in my arms. No, you are very good! you are too good!
I cannot bear it!

Well, papa, I wish I were able to show you that I love you, as well as
ever Zaleucus loved his son!

I was melted with the ingenuousness of the boy's expression. I quitted
him. I paced up and down the room. Suddenly as if by a paroxysm of
insanity, I seized my child by the arm, I seated myself, I drew him
towards me, I put my eye upon him.

Boy, how dare you talk to me of Zaleucus? Do you mean to insinuate a
reproach? Do I not discharge a father's duty? If I do not, know,
urchin, I will not be insulted by my child!

The boy was astonished. He burst into tears, and was silent.

I was moved by his evident distress. No, child, you have no father. I
am afraid you have not. You do not know my baseness. You do not know
that I am the deadliest foe you have in the world.

Dear papa, do not talk thus! Do not I know that you are the best of
men? Do not I love you and mamma better than every body else put
together?

Well, Charles, cried I, endeavouring to compose myself, we will talk
no more now. Did not I tell you, you should not come to me, but when
you knew it was a proper time? I hope you will never have reason to
hate me.

I never will hate you, papa, do to me what you will!

He saw I wished to be alone, and left me.




CHAP. VI.

In the evening of the same day, my beloved Marguerite arrived
unexpectedly at Paris. In the beginning of our separation, I had been
to the last degree punctual in my letters. I had no pleasure so great,
as retiring to my closet, and pouring out my soul to the most adorable
of women. By degrees I relaxed in punctuality. Ordinary occupations,
however closely pursued, have a method in them, that easily combines
with regularity in points of an incidental nature. But gaming, when
pursued with avidity, subverts all order, and forces every avocation
from the place assigned it. When my insane project of supplying the
inadequateness of my fortune by this expedient began to produce an
effect exactly opposite, I could not, but with the extremest
difficulty, string my mind to write to the mistress of my soul. I
endeavoured not to think, with distinctness and attention, of the
persons whose happiness was most nearly involved with mine. I said to
myself, Yet another venture must be tried; fortune shall change the
animosity with which she has lately pursued me; I will repair the
breaches that have been sustained; and I shall then return with
tenfold avidity to subjects that at present I dare not fix my mind
upon. My letters were accordingly short, unfrequent and
unsatisfactory; and those of Marguerite discovered increasing anguish,
perturbation and anxiety. What a change in the minds of both had the
lapse of a few months produced! Not that my attachment had suffered
the diminution of a single particle; but that attachment, which had
lately been the source of our mutual felicity, was now fraught only
with distress. My mind was filled with horrors; and Marguerite
expected from me an encouragement and consolation in absence, which,
alas, I had it not in my power to give!

I had now continued in Paris for a time vastly greater than I had
originally proposed. After having remained more than ten days without
receiving one word of intelligence, a letter of mine was delivered to
Marguerite, more short, mysterious and distressing to her feelings,
than any that had preceded. The ten-days silence, from me who at first
had never missed an opportunity of pouring out my soul to her, and
contributing to her pleasure, was exquisitely painful. There is
scarcely any thing that produces such a sickness of the heart, as the
repeated prorogation of hope. But, when the letter arrived that had
been so anxiously looked for, when the hand-writing of the
superscription was recognised, when the letter was treasured up for
the impatiently desired moment of solitude, that the sacred emotions
of the heart might suffer no interruption, and when it at last
appeared so cold, so ominous, so withering to the buds of affection,
the determination of Marguerite was speedily formed. The relations
that bound us together were of too mighty a value, to be dispensed or
to be trifled with. She felt them as the very cords of existence. For
ten years she had known no solace that was disconnected from my idea,
no care but of our own happiness and that of our offspring. Benevolent
she was almost beyond human example, and interested for the welfare of
all she knew; but these were brief and mutable concerns; they were not
incorporated with the stamina of her existence. I was the whole world
to her; she had no idea of satisfaction without me. Her firmness had
been sufficiently tried by the interposal of separation and absence.
How was she to interpret the obscurity that had now arisen? Had I
forgotten my family and my wife? Had I been corrupted and debauched by
that Paris, the effects of which upon my character her father had so
deeply apprehended? Had I, in contempt of every thing sacred, entered
into some new attachment? Had the attractions of some new beauty in
the metropolis, made me indifferent to the virtue of my children, and
the life of their mother? Perhaps the length of our attachment had
infected me with satiety, and the inconstancy of my temper had been
roused by the charms of novelty. Perhaps the certainty of her kindness
and regard had no longer allurements for me; and I might be excited to
the pursuit of another by the pleasures of hope combined with
uncertainty, and of a coyness, that seemed to promise compliance
hereafter, even while it pronounced a present denial. These were the
images that haunted her mind; they engendered all the wildness, and
all the torments, of a delirious paroxysm; she resolved that no time
should be sacrificed to needless uncertainty, and that no effort of
hers should be unexerted to prevent the mischief she feared.

It was evening when she arrived. I was upon the point of repairing to
that scene of nightly resort, the source of all my guilt and all my
miseries. I enquired of my son's valet, where he was, and how he had
been in the course of the day. He was gone to bed: he had appeared
unusually sad, sometimes in tears; and, while he was undressing, had
sighed deeply two or three times. While I was collecting this account
in my own apartment, the gates of the hotel opened, and a number of
horsemen entered the court-yard. I was somewhat surprised; because,
though I was accustomed to see much company, few of my acquaintance
visited me at so late an hour, except on the evenings appropriated to
receive them. I crossed the saloon to enquire. One of the servants
exclaimed, It is Bernardin's voice; it must be my mistress that is
come!

Nothing could be further from my mind than the thought of her arrival.
I flew through the passage; I was on the spot, at the moment that the
servant prepared to conduct his mistress from the litter; I received
Marguerite in my arms, and led her into the house. If I had expected
her arrival, I should infallibly have met her at this moment with
anxiety and confusion; I should have gone round the circle of my
thoughts, and should not have had confidence to encounter the beam of
her eye. But the event was so unexpected as to drive all other ideas
from my mind; and, in consequence, I enjoyed several minutes,--ages,
rather let me say,--of the sincerest transport. I kissed the mistress
of my soul with extacy; I gazed upon all her well known lineaments and
features; I listened to the pleasing melody of her voice; I was
intoxicated with delight. Upon occasions like this, it seems as if
every former joy that had marked the various periods of intercourse,
distilled its very spirit and essence, to compose a draught, ten times
more delicious and refined than had ever before been tasted. Our
meeting was like awaking from the dead; it was the emancipation of the
weary captive, who exchanges the dungeon's gloom for the lustre of the
morning, and who feels a celestial exhilaration of heart, the very
memory of which had been insensibly wearing away from his treacherous
brain. All my senses partook of the rapture. Marguerite seemed to shed
ambrosial odours round her; her touch was thrilling; her lips were
nectar; her figure was like that of a descended deity!

Her pleasure was not less than mine. It is indeed absurd, it may be
termed profanation, to talk of solitary pleasure. No sensation
ordinarily distinguished by that epithet, can endure the test of a
moment's inspection, when compared with a social enjoyment. It is then
only that a man is truly pleased, when pulse replies to pulse, when
the eyes discourse eloquently to each other, when in responsive tones
and words the soul is communicated. Pleasure, in such examples,
consists in this, the unaccustomed perception that existence has
gained a duplication of itself (for, in such examples, the two beings
become one), the self-approbation that accompanies our unbounded
desire for the gratification of another, the self-complacence that
results from the distinguishing preference bestowed upon us, the
harmony of sentiment, and union of soul. Altogether, we are conscious
of a sober, a chaste and a dignified intoxication, an elevation of
spirit, that does not bereave the mind of itself, and that endures
long enough for us to analyse and favour the causes of our joy.

For some time we rested on a sopha, each filled and occupied with the
observation of the other. My eyes assured Marguerite of the constancy
of my affection; my kisses were those of chaste, undivided, entire
attachment. Our words were insignificant and idle, the broken and
incoherent phrases of a happiness that could not be silent. At length
Marguerite exclaimed, It is enough; my fears are vanished; I have no
questions to ask, no doubts to remove. Yet why, my Reginald, did you
suffer those doubts to gather, those fears to accumulate? Surely you
knew the singleness of my affection! How many painful days and hours
might you have saved me, almost by a word!

Forgive me, my love, replied I! Waste not the golden hour of meeting
in recrimination! Feeling, as your angelic goodness now makes me feel,
I wonder at myself, that I could for one moment have consented to
separation; that I could have thought any thing but this, existence;
or that, having experienced the joys that you have bestowed, I could
lose all image of the past, and, dwelling in a desert, imagine it
paradise!

Recrimination! rejoined Marguerite. No, my love; you make me too
happy, to leave room for any thing but gratitude and affection!
Forgive me, Reginald, if I pretend that, in meeting you thus, I find
myself your superior in happiness and love. You only awake from
lethargy, forgetfulness of yourself and--of me; but I awake from
anguish, a separation, that I desired not at first, and of which I
hourly wished to see an end, from doubts that would intrude, and
refused to be expelled, from the incessant contemplation and regret of
a felicity, once possessed, but possessed no longer! Melancholy ideas,
gloomy prognostics, overspread my sleepless nights, and bedewed my
pillow with tears! This it is, that, at last, has driven me away from
my family and daughters, resolved to obtain the certainty of despair,
or the dispersion of my fears! Have I known all this, and think you
that I do not enjoy with rapture this blissful moment?

While we were thus conversing, Charles entered the room. He was not
yet asleep when his mother arrived; he heard her voice; and hastened
to put on his clothes, that he might rush into her arms. The pleasure
Marguerite had conceived from our meeting, and the affectionate
serenity that had taken possession of her soul, infused double ardour
into the embraces she bestowed on her son. He gazed earnestly in her
face; he kissed her with fervency; but was silent.

Why, Charles! said she, what is the matter with you? Are not you glad
to see me?

That I am, mamma! So glad, that I do not know what to do with myself!
I was afraid I never should have been glad again!

Pooh, boy! what do you mean? You were not mother-sick, were you?

Yes, indeed, I was sick, sick at heart! Not that I am a coward! I
think that I could have been satisfied to have been without either my
father or you for a little while. But papa is so altered, you cannot
think! He never smiles and looks happy; and, when I see him, instead
of making me joyful, as it used to do, it makes me sad!

Dear Reginald! replied the mother, looking at me; is it possible that,
while my heart was haunted with fear and suspicions, separation alone
should have had such an effect on you?

I dare say it was that! interposed the boy. I could not make papa
smile, all I could do: but, now you are come, he will soon be well!
How much he must love you, mamma?

The artless prattle of my son struck anguish to my soul, and awakened
a whole train of tormenting thoughts. Alas! thought I, can it indeed
be love, that thus contrives against the peace of its object? Would to
God, my child! that my thoughts were as simple and pure as thy
innocent bosom!

And yet, added the boy, as if recollecting himself, if he could not
see you, sure that was no reason for him to avoid me? He seemed to be
as much afraid of me, as I have seen some of my play-fellows of a
snake! Indeed, mamma, it was a sad thing that, when I wanted him to
kiss me and press me to his bosom, he seemed to shrink away from me!
There now! it was just so, as he looks now, that papa used to frown
upon me, I cannot tell how often! Now is not that ugly, mamma?

I could no longer govern the tumult of my thoughts. Peace, urchin!
cried I. Why did you come to mar the transport of our meeting? Just
now, Marguerite, I forgot myself, and was happy! Now all the villain
rises in my soul!

My wife was so astonished at the perturbation of my manner, and at the
words I uttered, that she was scarcely able to articulate. Reginald!
in broken accents she exclaimed--my love!--my husband!

No matter! said I. It shall yet be well! My heart assures me, it
shall!---Be not disturbed, my love! I will never cause you a moment's
anguish! I would sooner die a thousand deaths!---Forget the odious
thoughts that poor Charles has excited in me so unseasonably! They
were mere idle words! Depend upon it they were!

While I was speaking, Marguerite hid her face upon the sopha. I took
her hand, and by my caresses endeavoured to soothe and compose her. At
length, turning to me:

Reginald! said she, in a voice of anguish, Do you then endeavour to
hide from me the real state of your thoughts? Was the joy that
attended our meeting, perishable and deceitful? After ten years of
unbounded affection and confidence, am I denied to be the partner of
your bosom?

No, Marguerite, no! this was but the thought of a moment! By to-
morrow's dawn it shall have no existence in my bosom. Why should I
torment you with what so soon shall have no existence to myself?
Meanwhile, be assured, my love (instead of suffering diminution) is
more full, more servent and entire, than it ever was!

At this instant my mind experienced an extraordinary impression.
Instead of being weaned, by the presence of this admirable woman, from
my passion for gaming, it became stronger than ever. If Charles had
not entered at the critical moment he did, I should have remained with
Marguerite, and, amidst the so long untasted solace of love, have, at
least for this night, forgotten my cares. But that occurrence had
overturned every thing, had laid naked the wounds of my bosom, and
awakened conceptions that refused to be laid to sleep again. The arms
of my wife, that were about to embrace me, suddenly became to me a
nest of scorpions. I could as soon have rested and enjoyed myself upon
the top of Vesuvius, when it flamed. New as I was to this species of
anguish, tranquilly and full of virtuous contentment as I had hitherto
passed the years of my married state, the pangs of a guilty conscience
I was wholly unable to bear. I rose from my seat, and was upon the
point of quitting the room.

Marguerite perceived by my manner that there was something
extraordinary passing in my mind. Where are you going, Reginald? said
she.

I answered with a slight nod.--Not far, I replied, attempting an air
of apathy and unconcern.

She was not satisfied. You are not going out? She enquired.

I returned to where I had been sitting. My love, I was going out at
the moment of your arrival. It is necessary, I assure you. I hope I
shall soon be back. I am sorry I am obliged to leave you. Compose
yourself. You are in want of rest, and had better go to bed.

Stop, Reginald! Afford me a minute's leisure before you depart! Leave
us, Charles! Good night, my dear boy! Kiss me; remember that your
mother is now in the same house with you; and sleep in peace.

The boy quitted the room.

Reginald! said the mother, I have no desire to control your desires,
or be a spy upon your actions. But your conduct seems so extraordinary
in this instance, as to dispense me from the observation of common
rules. I have always been a complying wife; I have never set myself in
contradiction to your will; I appeal to yourself for the truth of
this. I despise however those delicacies, an adherence to which would
entail upon us the sacrifice of all that is most valuable in human
life. Can I shut my ears upon the mysterious expressions which
Charles's complaints have extorted from you? Can I be insensible to
the extraordinary purpose you declare of leaving me, when I have yet
been scarcely half an hour under the roof with you? Before Charles
came in, you seem to have entertained no such design.

My love, replied I, how seriously you comment upon the most
insignificant incident! Is it extraordinary that your unexpected
arrival should at first have made me forget an engagement that I now
recollect?

St. Leon, answered my wife, before you indulge in surprise at my
earnestness, recollect the circumstances that immediately preceded it.
Through successive weeks I have waited for some satisfactory and
agreeable intelligence from you. I had a right before this to have
expected your return. Uncertainty and a thousand fearful apprehensions
have at length driven me from my home, and brought me to Paris. I am
come here for satisfaction to my doubts, and peace to my anxious
heart. Wonder not therefore, if you find something more earnest and
determined in my proceedings now, than upon ordinary occasions. Give
me, I conjure you, give me ease and relief, if you are able! If not,
at least allow me this consolation, to know the worst!

Be pacified, Marguerite! I rejoined. I am grieved, Heaven knows how
deeply grieved, to have occasioned you a moment's pain. But, since you
lay so much stress upon this circumstance, depend upon it, I will give
up the business I was going about, and stay with you.

This concession, voluntary and sincere, produced an effect that I had
not foreseen. Marguerite gazed for a moment in my face, and then threw
herself upon my neck.

Forgive me, my beloved husband! she cried. You indeed make me ashamed
of myself. I feel myself inexcusable. I feel that I have been brooding
over imaginary evils, and creating the misery that corroded my heart.
How inexpressibly you rise my superior! But I will conquer my
weakness. I insist upon your going to the engagement you have made,
and will henceforth place the most entire confidence in your prudence
and honour.

Every word of this speech was a dagger to my heart. What were my
feelings, while this admirable woman was taking shame to herself for
her suspicions, and pouring out her soul in commendation of my
integrity! I looked inward, and found every thing there the reverse of
her apprehension, a scene of desolation and remorse. I embraced her in
silence. My heart panted upon her bosom, and seemed bursting with a
secret that it was death to reveal. I ought, in return to her
generosity, to have given up my feigned engagement, and devoted this
night at least to console and pacify her. But I could not, and I dared
not. The wound of my bosom was opened, and would not be closed. The
more I loved her for her confidence, the less I could endure myself in
her presence. To play the hypocrite for so many hours, to assume a
face of tranquillity and joy, while all within was tumult and horror,
was a task too mighty for human powers to execute. I accepted of
Marguerite's permission, and left her. Even in the short interval
before I quitted the house, my carriage was near to betraying me. I
could perceive her watchful of my countenance, as if again suspicious
that some fatal secret lurked in my mind. She said nothing further
upon the subject however, and I presently escaped the inquisition of
her eye.

It is scarcely necessary to describe the state of my mind as I passed
along the streets. It is sufficient to say that every thing I had felt
before from the passion of gaming, was trivial to the sensations that
now occupied me. Now first it stood confessed before me, a demon that
poisoned all my joys, that changed the transport of a meeting with the
adored of my soul into anguish, that drove me forth from her yet
untasted charms a solitary wanderer on the face of the earth. My busy
soul drew forth at length the picture of what this encounter would
have been, if it had been sanctified with the stamp of conscious
innocence. At one moment I felt myself the most accursed of mankind; I
believed that he who could find, as I did, barrenness and blasting in
the choicest of heaven's blessings, must be miserable beyond precedent
or hope. Shortly after however, I reviewed again the image of my
poison, and found in it the promise of a cure. The more desperate my
case appeared to me, with the greater insanity of expectation did I
assure myself that this one night should retrieve all my misfortunes.
In giving to it this destination indeed, I should afflict the gentle
bosom of my wife but too probably with some hours of uneasiness. But
the event would richly repay her for so transitory a suffering. I
would then open my whole mind to her. I would practise no more
reserves; I should no longer be driven to the refuge of a vile
hypocrisy. I would bid farewel to the frowns and the caresses of
fortune. I would require of her no further kindnesses. If I were
incapable myself of a rigid economy, I would commit implicitly to
Marguerite the disposal of my income, whom I knew to be every way
qualified for the office. With these reflections I nerved my mind to
the most decisive adventures.

Why should I enter into a long detail of the incidents of this crisis?
Soon, though not immediately, I began to lose considerable sums. I
brought with me in the first instance a penetrating eye, a collected
mind, an intellect prepared for unintermitted exertion. Misfortune
subverted all this. My eye grew wild, my soul tempestuous, my thoughts
incoherent and distracted. I was incapable of any thing judicious; but
I was determined to persevere. I played till morning, nor could the
light of morning induce me to desist. The setting sun of that day
beheld me a beggar!

There is a degree of misery, which, as it admits of no description, so
does it leave no distinct traces in the memory. It seems as if the
weakness of the human mind alike incapacitated it to support the
delirium of joy, and the extremity of sorrow. Of what immediately
succeeded the period to which I have conducted my narrative, I have no
recollection, but a horror beyond all names of horror, wild,
inexplicable, unintelligible. Let no one however imagine that the
temporary desertion of the soul is any alleviation of its misery. The
mind that sinks under its suffering, does not by that conduct shake
off its burthen. Rather, ten thousand times rather, would I endure all
the calamities that have ever yet received a name, the sensations and
history of which are capable of being delineated, than sustain that
which has no words by which to express itself, and the conception of
which must be trusted solely to the faculties and sympathy of the
reader. Where is the cold and inapprehensive spirit that talks of
madness as a refuge from sorrow? Oh, dull and unconceiving beyond all
belief! I cannot speak of every species of madness; but I also have
been mad! This I know, that there is a vacancy of soul, where all
appears buried in stupidity, and scarcely deserves the name of
thought, that is more intolerable than the bitterest reflections. This
I know, that there is an incoherence, in which the mind seems to
wander without rudder and pilot, that laughs to scorn the
superstitious fictions of future punishments invented by designing
priests. Oh, how many sleepless days and weeks did I endure! the
thoughts frantic, the tongue raving! While we can still adhere, if I
may so express myself, to the method of misery, there is a sort of
nameless complacency that lurks under all that we can endure. We are
still conscious that we are men; we wonder at and admire our powers of
being miserable. But, when the masts and tackle of the intellectual
vessel are all swept away, then is the true sadness. We have no
consciousness to sustain us, no sentiment of dignity, no secret
admiration of what we are, still clinging to our hearts.

All this I venture to affirm, with the full recollection of what I
suffered when restored to my senses, present to my mind.

When the account was closed, and the loss of my last stake had
finished the scene, I rose, and, quitting the fatal spot where these
transactions had passed, entered the street, with a heart oppressed,
and a bursting head. My eyes glared, but I saw nothing, and could
think of nothing. It was already nearly dark; and the day which had
been tempestuous, was succeeded by a heavy and settled rain. I
wandered for some time, not knowing whither I went. My pace which had
at first been slow, gradually increased, and I traversed the whole
city with a hurried and impatient step. The streets which had
contained few persons at first, gradually lost those few. I was almost
alone. I saw occasionally ragged and houseless misery shrinking under
the cover of a miserable shed; I saw the midnight robber, watching for
his prey, and ready to start upon the unwary passenger. From me he
fled; there was something in my air that impelled even desperate
violation to shrink from the encounter. I continued this incessant,
unmeaning exertion for hours. At length, by an accidental glance of
the eye, I found myself at the gate of my own hotel. Heedless of what
it was I did, I entered; and, as nature was now completely exhausted
within me, sunk down in a sort of insensibility at the foot of the
grand stair-case.

This stupour after a considerable interval gradually subsided. I
opened my eyes, and saw various figures flitting about me; but seemed
to myself equally incapable of collecting my thoughts, and of speech.
My understanding indeed shortly became clearer, but an insuperable
reluctance to voluntary exertion hung upon me. I explained myself only
in monosyllables; a sort of instinctive terror of disclosing what had
passed, to the admirable woman I had sacrificed, maintained in me this
perpetual reserve. For several days together I sat from morning till
night in one immoveable posture, nor was any thing of force enough to
awaken me to exertion.




CHAP. VII.

It was not long before the unhappy partner of my fortunes was informed
of what had passed. The wretches who had stripped me of my all, soon
made their appearance to claim what was no longer mine. What would
have been their reception, if I had sufficiently possessed myself to
parley with them on the subject, I am unable to determine. I could not
have preserved the wreck of my property from their grasp but at the
expence of an indelible stain upon my honour; yet my desperation would
probably have led me to a conduct equally extravagant and useless. In
the condition in which I was, the whole direction of the business
devolved upon Marguerite; and never did human creature demean herself
with greater magnanimity and propriety. She saw at once that she could
not resist their claims but at the expence of my reputation; for
herself she valued not riches, and had no dread of poverty; and, thus
circumstanced, she had the courage herself to bring to me the papers
they offered, the object of which I scarcely understood, and to cause
me to annex that signature which was to strip her and her children of
all earthly fortune. Her purpose was, as soon as this business was
over, to cause us to quit France, and retire into some scene of
virtuous obscurity. But she would not leave behind her for the last
descendants of the illustrious counts of St. Leon any avoidable
disgrace. Her mode of reasoning upon the subject was extremely simple.
Obscurity she regarded as no misfortune; and eminent situation, where
it fairly presented itself, as a responsibility it would be base to
shrink from: ignominy alone she considered as the proper theme of
abhorrence. For the fickleness and inconstancy of fortune it is
impossible to answer; by one of those reverses in which she appears to
delight, she might yet restore us to the lustre of our former
condition; but, if the name of St. Leon was henceforth to disappear
from the annals of France, she was desirous at least, as far as
depended on her, that it should expire, like the far-famed bird of
Arabia, in the midst of perfumes.

When the whole situation of Marguerite is taken into consideration,
the reader, like myself, will probably stand astonished at the
fortitude of her conduct. She had come to Paris, unable any longer to
tranquillise the agitation of her mind, and exhausted with fears,
suspicions and alarms. When she arrived, she experienced indeed one
delusive moment of transport and joy. But that was soon over. It was
succeeded by reflections and conjectures respecting the mysteriousness
of my behaviour; it was succeeded by my unexpected departure, and the
hourly expectation of my return. After the lapse of a night and a day,
I returned indeed, but in what a condition? Drenched with rain,
trembling with inanition, speechless and alone. Scarcely had she
received notice of my arrival, and come forward to meet me, than she
saw me fall, motionless and insensible, at her feet. She watched my
recovery, and hung with indescribable expectation over my couch. She
was only called away by the wretches who came to advance their
accursed claims, and to visit her with the intelligence of our ruin,
as with a thunderbolt. Already enfeebled and alarmed by all the
preceding circumstances, they spoke with no consideration to her
weakness, they stooped to no qualifications and palliatives, but
disclosed the whole in the most abrupt and shocking manner. Any other
woman would have sunk under this accumulation of ill. Marguerite only
borrowed vigour from her situation, and rose in proportion to the
pressure of the calamity. She took her resolution at once, and
answered them in the most firm and decisive language.

The period of inactivity and stupour that at first seized me, was
succeeded by a period of frenzy. It was in this condition that
Marguerite conducted me and my children to an obscure retreat in the
canton of Soleure in the republic of Switzerland. Cheapness was the
first object; for the most miserable pittance was all she had saved
from the wreck of our fortune. She had not chosen for beauty of
situation, or magnificence of prospects. The shock her mind had
sustained was not so great as to destroy her activity and fortitude,
but it left her little leisure for the wantonness of studied
indulgencies. The scene was remote and somewhat sterile. She conceived
that, when I recovered my senses, an event which she did not cease to
promise herself, solitude would be most grateful, at least to the
first stage of my returning reason.

Hither then it was that she led me, our son and three daughters.
Immediately upon our arrival she purchased a small and obscure, but
neat cottage, and attired herself and her children in habits similar
to those of the neighbouring peasants. My paternal estates, as well as
those which had fallen to me by marriage, had all been swallowed up in
the gulph which my accursed conduct had prepared. Marguerite made a
general sale of our moveables, our ornaments, and even our clothes. A
few books, guided by the attachment to literature which had always
attended me, were all that she saved from the wreck. A considerable
part of the sum thus produced was appropriated by my creditors.
Marguerite had the prudence and skill to satisfy them all, and was
contented to retain that only which remained when their demands were
discharged. This was the last dictate of her pride and the high-born
integrity of her nature, at the time that she thus departed a
voluntary exile from her native country. Two servants accompanied us
in our slight, whose attachment was so great, that even if their
attendance had not been necessary, it would have been sound somewhat
difficult to shake them off. Marguerite however was governed by the
strictest principles of economy; and, whatever the struggle might have
been with the importunity of humble affection in dismissing these last
remains of our profuse and luxurious houshold, she would have thought
herself obliged to proceed even to this extreme, if judicious
parsimony had demanded it from her. But it did not. Our youngest
daughter was at this time only twelve months old, and it would have
been scarcely possible for the mother, however resolute in her
exertions, to have discharged the cares due to such a family, at a
time when the father of it was suffering under so heavy an affliction.
One female servant she retained to assist her in these offices. She
could not dispense herself from a very assiduous attention to me. She
could never otherwise have been satisfied, that every thing was done
that ought to be done, that every tenderness was exercised that might
be demanded by my humiliating situation, or that sufficient sagacity
and skill were employed in watching and encouraging the gleams of
returning reason. The violence of my paroxysms however was frequently
such as to render a manual force greater than hers, necessary to
prevent me from effecting some desperate mischief. Peter, a trusty
servant, nearly of my own age, and who had attended upon my person
almost from infancy, was retained by Marguerite for this purpose. I
was greatly indebted for the recovery which speedily followed, to the
affectionate anxiety and enlightened care of this incomparable woman.
It is inconceivable to those who have never been led to a practical
examination of the subject, how much may be effected in this respect
by an attachment ever on the watch, and an understanding judicious to
combine, where hired attendance would sleep, and the coarseness of a
blunt insensibility would irritate, nay perhaps mortally injure.

It is scarcely possible to conceive of a wife more interesting and
admirable than Marguerite appeared upon the present occasion. Fallen
at once from the highest rank to the lowest poverty, she did not allow
herself a mean and pitiful regret. No reverse could be more complete
and abrupt, but she did not sink under it. She proved in the most
convincing manner, that her elevation was not the offspring of wealth
or rank, but was properly her own. She gave a grace, even a lustre, to
poverty, which it can only receive from the emanations of a cultivated
mind. Her children were reconciled and encouraged by her example, and
soon forgot those indulgences which had not yet had time to emasculate
their spirits. The deplorable situation to which the father of the
family was reduced, was far from leading her to cease from her efforts
in the bitterness of despair. She determined for he present to be both
a father and a mother to her children. She looked forward with
confidence to my speedy recovery. Though I was the author of all her
calamities, she did not permit this consideration to subtract from the
purity of her affection, or the tenderness of her anxiety. She
resolved that no word or look of hers should ever reproach me with my
misconduct. She had been accustomed to desire rank, and affluence, and
indulgence for her children; that her son might run the career of
glory which his fore-fathers ran, and that her daughters might unite
their fates with what was most illustrious and honourable in their
native country. But, if she were disappointed in this, she was
determined, as far as it should be in her power, to give them virtue
and chearfulness and content, a mind, that should find resources
within itself, and call forth regard and esteem from the rest of
mankind.

My recovery was fitful and precarious, sometimes appearing to be
rapidly on the advance, and at others to threaten a total relapse.
Among the expedients that Marguerite employed to re-excite the
slumbering spark of reason, was that of paternal affection. Ever on
the watch for a favourable opportunity, she sometimes brought to me
her own little namesake, who, though only twelve months old, did not
fail to discover unequivocal marks of that playfulness and gaiety
which made so considerable a part of her constitutional character. Her
innocent smiles, her frolic and careless laughter, produced a
responsive vibration that reached to my inmost heart. They were not
unfrequently, powerful enough, to check the career of my fury, or to
raise me from the lowest pitch of despondence. Julia wept for me, and
Louisa endeavoured to copy the offices of kindness she was accustomed
to see her mother perform: Charles, who conceived more fully than the
rest the nature of my indisposition, was upon all occasions solicitous
to be admitted into my presence, and attended me for the most part
with speechless anxiety, while his watchful, glistening eye uttered
volumes, without the assistance of words. His mother at length yielded
to his importunity, and he became established the regular assistant of
Peter in the care of my person. The restlessness and impetuosity he
had hitherto manifested, seemed upon this occasion entirely to
subside; hour after hour he willingly continued shut up in my chamber,
eager for every opportunity of usefulness, and gratified with that
complacence with which the human mind never fails to be impressed,
when it regards its actions as beneficent, or approves its temper as
compassionate.

The restoration of my health was greatly retarded by the melancholy
impressions which necessarily offered themselves to my mind, when
recollection resumed her seat. It was fortunate for me that this sort
of retrospection appears not to be the first thing that occurs after a
paroxysm of insanity. When the tide of incoherent ideas subsides, the
soul is left in a state of exhaustion, and seems, by a sort of
instinct, to shun the influx of tumultuous emotions, and to dwell upon
such feelings as are mild, tranquil and restorative. Once however,
when I was nearly recovered, the thought of what I had been, and the
recollection of what I was, violently suggesting themselves to my
mind, brought on a relapse attended with more alarming and
discouraging symptoms than my original alienation. At that moment
Marguerite was for the first time irresistibly struck with the
conception that mine was an incurable lunacy; and, as she afterwards
assured me, at no period down to that instant, had she felt herself so
truly inconsolable. But even a sentiment of the last despair was
incapable of superseding the active beneficence of Marguerite. Her
assiduities, so far as related to this fatal calamity, were at length
crowned with success. Her gloomy prognostics were not realised, and
the distemper of my understanding quitted me for ever.

Wretched however, as I have already remarked, beyond all common
notions of wretchedness, were my thoughts, when my soul returned to
its proper bias, and I fully surveyed the nature of my present
situation. Marguerite, who, by her sagacity and patience, had
recovered me from a state of the most dreadful disease, now exerted
herself to effect the more arduous task of reconciling me to myself.
She assured me that she forgave me from her inmost heart; nay, that
she was thankful to providence, which, in the midst of what the world
calls great calamities, had preserved to her what she most valued, my
affection, entire. She contrasted what had been the subject of her
apprehensions before she came to Paris, with what had proved to be the
state of the case afterwards. She averred, that the worst that had
happened was trivial and tolerable, compared with the notion that her
fears had delineated. She had feared to find my heart alienated from
her, and herself a widowed mother to orphan children. She dreaded lest
I should have proved myself worthless in her eyes, lest I should have
been found to have committed to oblivion the most sacred of all
duties, and, for the gratification of a low and contemptible caprice,
sacrificed all pretensions to honour and character. For that indeed
her heart would have bled; against that all the pride she derived from
her ancestry and my own would have revolted; that would have produced
a revulsion of her frame, snapping the chain of all her habits, and
putting a violent close upon all the sentiments she had most fondly
nourished. She dreaded indeed that she should not have survived it.
But the mistake I had committed was of a very different nature. I had
neither forgotten that I was a husband nor a father; I had only made
an injudicious and unfortunate choice of the way of discharging what
was due to these characters. What had passed was incapable of
impeaching either the constancy of my affections, or the integrity of
my principles. She forgave me, and it was incumbent upon me to forgive
myself.

She assured me that poverty, in her apprehension, was a very slight
evil, and she appealed to my own understanding for the soundness of
her judgment. She bid me look round upon the peasantry of the
neighbourhood, upon a footing with whom we were now placed, and ask my
own heart whether they were not happy. One disadvantage indeed they
were subjected to, the absence of cultivation and learning. She could
never bring herself to believe that ignorance was a benefit; she saw
the contrary of this practically illustrated in her own case, in mine,
and in that of all the persons to whom through life she had been most
ardently attached. She wished her children to attain intellectual
refinement, possess fully the attributes of a rational nature, and to
be as far removed as possible from the condition of stocks and stones,
by accumulating a magazine of thoughts, and by a rich and cultivated
sensibility. But the want of fortune did not in our case, as in the
case of so many others, shut them out from this advantage: it was in
our own power to bestow it upon them.

It was the part of a reasonable man, she told me, not to waste his
strength in useless regrets for what was past, and had already eluded
his grasp; but to advert to the blessings he had still in possession.
If we did this in our present situation, we should find every reason
for contentment and joy. Our pleasure in each other, and the constancy
of our attachment, was unassailed and unimpaired. Where were there two
married persons, she would venture to ask, who had more reason to
applaud their connection, or to whom their connection was pregnant
with so various gratifications? From ourselves, we had only to turn
our thoughts to our children; and we were surely as singularly
fortunate in this respect, as in each other. Charles, who had always
been the subject of our pride, had lately exhibited such an example of
patient sympathy and filial affection, as perhaps had never been
equalled in a child so young. The sensibility of Julia, the
understanding of Louisa, and the vivacity of Marguerite, were all of
them so many growing sources of inexhaustible delight. Our children
were intelligent, affectionate and virtuous. Thus circumstanced, she
intreated me not to indulge that jaundice of the imagination, which
should create to itself a sentiment of melancholy and discontent in
the midst of this terrestrial paradise.

Most virtuous of women, now perhaps the purest and the brightest among
the saints in heaven! why was I deaf to the soundness of your
exhortations, and the generosity of your sentiments? Deaf indeed I
was! A prey to the deepest dejection, they appeared to me the
offspring of misapprehension and paradox! Supposing in the mean time
that they were reasonable and just in the mouth of her who uttered
them, I felt them as totally foreign to my own situation. The
language, as they were, of innocence, it was not wonderful that to an
innocent heart they spoke tranquillity and peace. Marguerite looked
round upon the present rusticity and plainness of our condition, and
every thing that she saw talked to her of her merit and her worth. If
we were reduced, she was in no way accountable for that reduction; it
had been the test of her magnanimity, her patience, and the
immutableness of her virtue. She smiled at the assaults of adversity,
and felt a merit in her smiles. How different was my situation! Every
thing that I saw reminded me of my guilt, and upbraided me with crimes
that it was hell to recollect. My own garb, and that of my wife and
children, the desertion in which we lived, the simple benches, the
unhewn rafters, the naked walls, all told me what it was I had done,
and were so many echoes to my conscience, repeating, without
intermission and without end, its heart-breaking reproaches. Sleep was
almost a stranger to me; these incessant monitors confounded my senses
in a degree scarcely short of madness itself. It is the property of
vice to convert every thing that should be consolation, into an
additional source of anguish. The beauty, the capacity and the virtue
of my children, the affection with which they regarded me, the
patience and attentiveness and forbearance of there excellent mother,
were all so many aggravations of the mischief I had perpetrated. I
could almost have wished to have been the object of their taunts and
execration. I could have wished to have been disengaged from the
dearest charities of our nature, and to have borne the weight of my
crimes alone. It would have been a relief to me, if my children had
been covered with the most loathsome diseases, deformed and monstrous.
It would have been a relief to me, if they had been abortive in
understanding, and odious in propensities, if their hearts had teemed
with every vice, and every day had marked them the predestined victims
of infamy. The guilt of having stripped them of every external faculty
would then have set light upon me. But thus to have ruined the most
lovely family perhaps that existed on the face of the earth, the most
exemplary of women, and children in whom I distinctly marked the bud
of every excellence and every virtue, was a conduct that I could never
forgive even to myself. Oh, Damville, Damville! best of men! truest of
friends! why didst thou put thy trust in such a wretch as I am! Hadst
thou no presentiment of the fatal consequences? Wert thou empowered to
commit thy only child and all her possible offspring to so dreadful a
risk? Indeed it was not well done! It was meant in kindness; but it
was the cruellest mischief that could have been inflicted on me. I was
not a creature qualified for such dear and tender connections. I was
destined by nature to wander a solitary outcast on the face of the
earth. For that only, that fearful misery, was I fitted. Why,
misguided, misjudging man! didst thou not leave me to my fate? Even
that would have been less dreadful than what I have experienced!--
Wretch that I am! Why do I reproach my best benefactor? No, let me
turn the whole current of my invective upon myself! Damville was
actuated by the noblest and most generous sentiment that ever entered
the human mind. What a return then have I made, and to what a benefit!

All the previous habits of my mind had taught me to feel my present
circumstances with the utmost acuteness. Marguerite, the generous
Marguerite, stood, with a soul almost indifferent, between the
opposite ideas of riches and poverty. Not so her husband. I had been
formed by every accident of my life, to the love of splendour. High,
heroic feats, and not the tranquillity of rural retirement, or the
pursuits of a character professedly literary, had been the food of my
imagination, ever since the faculty of imagination was unfolded in my
mind. The field of the cloth of gold, the siege and the battle of
Pavia, were for ever present to my recollection. Francis the First,
Bayard and Bourbon eternally formed the subject of my visions and
reveries. These propensities had indeed degenerated into an infantine
taste for magnificence and expence; but the roots did not embrace
their soil the less forcibly, because the branches were pressed down
and diverted from their genuine perpendicular. That from a lord,
descended from some of the most illustrious houses in France, and
myself amply imbued with the high and disdainful spirit incident to my
rank, I should become a peasant, was itself a sufficient degradation.
But I call the heavens to witness that I could have endured this with
patience, if I had endured it alone. I should have regarded it as the
just retribution of my follies, and submitted with the most exemplary
resignation. But I could not with an equal mind behold my wife and
children involved in my punishment. I turned my eyes upon the partner
of my life, and recalled with genuine anguish the magnificence to
which she was accustomed, and the hopes to which she was born. I
looked upon my children, the fruit of my loins, and once the pride of
my heart, and recollected that they were paupers, rustics, exiles. I
could foresee no return to rank, but for them and their posterity an
interminable succession of obscurity and meanness. A real parent can
support the calamity of personal degradation, but he cannot bear to
witness and anticipate this corruption of his blood. At some times I
honoured Marguerite for her equanimity. At others I almost despised
her for this integrity of her virtues. I accused her in my heart of
being destitute of the spark of true nobility. Her patience I
considered as little less than meanness and vulgarity of spirit. It
would have become her better, I thought, like me, to have cursed her
fate, and the author of that fate; like me, to have spurned indignant
at the slavery to which we were condemned; to have refused to be
pacified, and to have wasted the last dregs of existence in impatience
and regret could act that which had involved us in this dire reverse;
but I could not encounter the consequences of my act.

The state of my mind was in the utmost degree dejected and forlorn. I
carried an arrow in my heart, which the kindness of my wife and
children proved inadequate to extract, and the ranklings of which time
itself and not the power to assuage. The wound was not mortal; but,
like the wound of Philoctetes, poisoned with the blood of the Lernean
Hydra, I dragged it about with me from year to year, and it rendered
my existence a galling burthen hardly to be supported. A great portion
of my time was passed in a deep and mournful silence, which all the
foothings that were addressed to me, could not prevail on me to break.
Not that in this silence there was the least particle of ill-humour or
sullenness. It was a mild and passive situation of the mind;
affectionate, as far as it was any thing, to the persons around me;
but it was a species of disability; my soul had not force enough to
give motion to the organs of speech, or scarcely to raise a finger. My
eye only, and that only for a moment at a time, pleaded for
forbearance and pardon. I seemed like a man in that species of
distemper, in which the patient suffers a wasting of the bones, and at
length presents to us the shadow, without the powers of a human body.

This was at some times my condition. But my stupour would at others
suddenly subside. Mechanically, and in a moment, as it were, I shook
off my supineness, and sought the mountains. The wildness of an
untamed and savage scene best accorded with the temper of my mind. I
sprung from cliff to cliff among the points of the rock. I rushed down
precipices that to my sobered sense appeared in a manner
perpendicular, and only preserved my life, with a sort of inborn and
unelective care, by catching at the roots and shrubs which
occasionally broke the steepness of the descent. I hung over the tops
of rocks still more fearful in their declivities, and courted the
giddiness and whirl of spirit which such spectacles are accustomed to
produce. I could not resolve to die: death had too many charms to suit
the self-condemnation that pursued me. I found a horrible satisfaction
in determining to live and to avenge upon myself the guilt I had
incurred. I was far from imagining that the evils I had yet suffered,
were a mere sport and oftentation of misery, compared with those that
were in reserve for me.

The state of mind I am here describing, was not madness, nor such as
could be mistaken for madness. I never forgot myself, and what I was.
I was never in that delirium of thought, in which the patient is
restless and active without knowing what it is that he does, and from
which, when roused, he suddenly starts, shakes off the dream that
engaged him, and stands astonished at himself. Mine was a rage, guided
and methodised by the discipline of despair. I burst into no fits of
raving; I attempted no injury to any one. Marguerite therefore could
not reconcile herself to the placing me under any restraint. I
frequently returned home, with my clothes smeared with the soil, and
torn by the briars. But my family soon became accustomed to my
returning in personal safety; and therefore, whatever was the
uneasiness my wife felt from my excursions, she preferred the enduring
it, to the idea of imposing on me any species of violence.

The state of my family presented a singular sort of contrast with that
of its head. Marguerite was certainly not insensible to the opposition
between her former and her present mode of life; but she submitted to
the change with such an unaffected chearfulness and composure as might
have extorted admiration from malignity itself. She would perhaps have
dismissed from her thoughts all retrospect to our former grandeur, had
not the dejection and despair that seemed to have taken possession of
my mind, forcibly and continually recalled it to her memory. For my
sufferings I am well assured she felt the truest sympathy; but there
was one consideration attending them that imperiously compelled her to
task her fortitude. They deprived me of the ability of in any degree
providing for and superintending my family; it became therefore
incumbent upon her to exert herself for the welfare of all. Had we
never fallen under this astonishing reverse, I might have spent my
whole life in daily intercourse with this admirable woman, without
becoming acquainted with half the treasures of her mind. She was my
steward; and from the result of her own reflections made the most
judicious disposition of my property. She was my physician; not by
administering medicines to my body, but by carefully studying and
exerting herself to remove the distemper of my mind. Unfortunately no
distempers are so obstinate as mental ones; yet, had my distemper had
any lighter source than an upbraiding conscience, I am persuaded the
wisdom of Marguerite would have banished it. She was the instructor of
my children; her daughters felt no want of a governess, and I am even
ready to doubt whether the lessons of his mother did not amply supply
to Charles his loss of an education in the university of Paris. The
love of order, the activity, the industry, the chearfulness of, let me
say, this illustrious matron, became contagious to all the inhabitants
of my roof. Once and again have I stolen a glance at them, or viewed
them from a distance busied, sometimes gravely, sometimes gaily, in
the plain, and have whispered to my bursting heart, How miserable am
I! how happy they! So insurmountable is the barrier that divides
innocence from guilt! They may breathe the same air; they may dwell
under the same roof; they may be of one family and one blood; they may
associate with each other every day and every hour; but they can never
assimilate, never have any genuine contact. Is there a happier family
than mine in all the vallies of this farfamed republic? Is there a
family more virtuous, or more cultivated with all the refinements that
conduce to the true dignity of man? I, I only am its burthen, and its
stain! The pleasure with which I am surrounded on every side, finds a
repellent quality in my heart that will not suffer its approach. To
whatever is connected with me I communicate misfortune. Whenever I
make my appearance, those countenances that at all other times spoke
contentment and hilarity, fall into sadness. Like a pestilential wind,
I appear to breathe blast to the fruits of nature, and sickliness to
its aspect.

Marguerite expostulated with me in the most soothing manner upon the
obstinacy of my malady. My Reginald! my love! said she, cease to be
unhappy, or to reproach yourself! You were rash in the experiment you
made upon the resources of your family. But have you done us mischief,
or have you conferred a benefit? I more than half incline to the
latter opinion. Let us at length dismiss artificial tastes, and idle
and visionary pursuits, that do not slow in a direct line from any of
the genuine principles of our nature! Here we are surrounded with
sources of happiness. Here we may live in true patriarchal simplicity.
What is chivalry, what is military prowess and glory? Believe me, they
are the passions of a mind depraved, that with ambitious refinement
seeks to be wife beyond the dictates of sentiment or reason! There is
no happiness so solid, or so perfect, as that which disdains these
refinements. You, like me, are fond of the luxuriant and romantic
scences of nature. Here we are placed in the midst of them. How idle
it would be, to wish to change our arbours, our verdant lanes and
thickets, for vaulted roofs, and gloomy halls, and massy plate? Alas,
Reginald! it is I fear too true, that the splendour in which we lately
lived, has its basis in oppression; and that the superfluities of the
rich, are a boon extorted from the hunger and misery of the poor! Here
we see a peasantry more peaceful and less oppressed, than perhaps any
other tract of the earth can exhibit. They are erect and independent,
at once friendly and fearless. Is not this a refreshing spectacle? I
now begin practically to perceive that the cultivators of the fields
and the vineyards, are my brethren and my sisters; and my heart bounds
with joy, as I feel my relations to society multiply. How cumbrous is
magnificence? The moderate man is the only free. He who reduces all
beneath him to a state of servitude, becomes himself the slave of his
establishment, and of all his domestics. To diminish the cases in
which the assistance of others is felt absolutely necessary, is the
only genuine road to independence. We can now move wherever we please
without waiting the leisure of others. Our simple repasts require no
tedious preparation, and do not imprison us in saloons and eating
rooms. Yet we partake of them with a more genuine appetite, and rise
from them more truly refreshed, than from the most sumptuous feast. I
prepare for my meal by industry and exercise; and, when it is over,
amuse myself with my children in the fields and the shade.---Though I
love the sight of the peasants, I would not be a peasant. I would have
a larger stock of ideas, and a wider field of activity. I love the
fight of peasants only for their accessories or by comparison. They
are comparatively more secure than any other large masses of men, and
the scenes in the midst of which they are placed are delightful to
sense. But I would not sacrifice in prone oblivion the best
characteristics of my nature. I put in my claim for refinements and
luxuries; but they are the refinements and purifying of intellect, and
the luxuries of uncostly, simple taste. I would incite the whole
world, if I knew how to do it, to put in a similar claim. I would
improve my mind; I would enlarge my understanding; I would contribute
to the instruction of all connected with me, and to the mass of human
knowledge. The pleasures I would pursue and disseminate, though not
dependent on a large property, are such as could not be understood by
the rustic and the savage.--Our son, bred in these fields indeed, will
probably never become a preux chevalier, or figure in the roll of
military heroes. But he may become something happier and better. He
may improve his mind, and cultivate his taste. He may be the
counsellor and protector of his sisters. He may be the ornament of the
district in which he resides. He may institute in his adoptive country
new defences for liberty, new systems of public benefit, and new
improvements of life. There is no character more truly admirable than
the patriotyeoman, who unites with the utmost simplicity of garb and
manners, an understanding fraught with information and sentiment, and
a heart burning with the love of mankind. Such were Fabricius and
Regulus among the ancients, and such was Tell, the sounder of the
Helvetic liberty. For my part, I am inclined to be thankful, that this
unexpected reverse in our circumstances, has made me acquainted with
new pleasures, and opened to my mind an invaluable lesson. If you
could but be prevailed on to enter into our pleasures, to dismiss idle
reproaches and pernicious propensities, our happiness would then be
complete.

The expostulations of Marguerite often excited my attention, often my
respect, and sometimes produced a sort of imperfect conviction. But
the conviction was transient, and the feelings I have already
described as properly my own, returned, when the fresh and vivid
impression of what I had heard was gone. It was in vain that I heard
the praises of simplicity and innocence, I was well pleased to see
those who were nearest to me, not affecting contentment, but really
contented with these things. But I could not be contented for them.
The lessons of my education had left too deep an impression. I could
myself have surrendered my claim to admiration and homage, as a
penance for my misdeeds: but I could not figure to myself a genuine
satisfaction unaccompanied by these accessories; and this satisfaction
I obstinately and impatiently coveted for those I loved.




CHAP. VIII.

While I murmured in bitterness of soul at the lowness to which they
were reduced, a still heavier calamity impended over them, as if in
vengeance against the fantastic refinements of distress over which I
brooded.

I was wandering, as I had often done, with a gloomy and rebellious
spirit, among the rocks, a few miles distant from the place of our
habitation. It was the middle of summer. The weather had been
remarkably fine; but I disdained to allow the gratifications which
arise from a pure atmosphere and a serene sky, to find entrance in my
soul. My excursions had for some days been incessant; and the sun,
which matured the corn and blackened the grapes around, had imbrowned
my visage, and boiled in my blood. I drank in fierceness and
desperation from the servour of his beams. One night, as in sullen
mood I watched his setting from a point of the rock, I perceived the
clearness of the day subsiding in a threatening evening. The clouds
gathered in the west, and, as night approached, were overspread with a
deep dye of the fiercest crimson. The wind rose, and, during the hours
of darkness, its roarings were hollow and tempestuous.

In the morning the clouds were hurried rapidly along, and the air was
changed from a long series of sultriness to a nipping cold. This
change of the atmosphere I disregarded, and pursued my rambles. A
little before noon however, the air suddenly grew so dark, as to
produce a sensation perfectly tremendous. I felt as if the darkest
night had never exceeded it. The impetuous motion to which I had been
impelled, partly by the fever in my blood, and partly by the
turbulence of the season, was suspended. Mechanically I looked round
me for shelter. But I could ill distinguish the objects that were near
me, when a flash of lightning, blue and sulphureous, came directly in
my face, with a brightness that threatened to extinguish the organ of
vision. The thunder that followed was of a length and loudness to
admit of no comparison from any object with which I am acquainted. The
bursts were so frequent as almost to confound themselves with each
other. At present, I thought only of myself; and the recent habits of
my mind were not calculated to make me peculiarly accessible to fear.
I stood awe-struck; but rather with the awe that inheres to a
cultivated imagination, than that which consists in apprehension. I
seemed ready to mount amidst the clouds, and penetrate the veil with
which nature conceals her operations. I would have plunged into the
recesses in which the storm was engendered, and bared my bosom to the
streaming fire. Meanwhile my thoughts were solemnised and fixed by
observing the diversified dance of the lightnings upon the points of
the rocks, contrasting as they did in the strongest manner with the
darkness in which the rest of the scene was enveloped. This added
contention of the elements, did not however suspend the raging of the
wind. Presently a storm of mingled hail and rain poured from the
clouds, and was driven with inconceivable impetuosity. The hail-stones
were of so astonishing a magnitude, that, before I was aware, I was
beaten by them to the ground. Not daring to attempt to rise again, I
simply endeavoured to place myself in such a manner as might best
protect me from their violence. I therefore remained prostrate,
listening to the force with which they struck upon the earth, and
feeling the rebound of their blows from different parts of my body.

In about twenty minutes the shower abated, and in half an hour was
entirely over. When I began to move, I was extremely surprised at the
sensation of soreness I felt in every part of me. I raised myself upon
my elbow, and saw the hail-stones, in some places lying in heaps like
hillocks of ice, while in others they had ploughed up the surface, and
buried themselves in the earth. As I looked further, I perceived
immense trees torn from their roots, and thrown to a great distance
upon the declivity. To the noise which they made in their descent,
which must have been astonishingly great, I had been at the time
insensible. Such were the marks which the tempest had lest upon the
mountains. In the plain it was still worse. I could perceive the soil,
for long spaces together, converted into a morass, the standing corn
beaten down and buried in the mud, the vines torn into a thousand
pieces, the fruit-trees demolished, and even in some places the
animals themselves, lambs, sheep and cows, strewing the fields with
their mangled carcases. The whole hopes of the year over which my eyes
had glanced a few minutes before, for it was near the period of
harvest, were converted into the most barren and dreary scene that any
quarter of the globe ever witnessed. I was mounted upon a considerable
eminence, and had an extensive prospect of this horrible devastation.

As I stood gazing in mute astonishment, suddenly a fear came over me
that struck dampness to my very heart. What was the situation of my
own family and their little remaining property, amidst this dreadful
ruin? I was in a situation, where, though I nearly faced our
habitation, a point of the rock intercepted it from my sight. The
obstacle was but a small one, yet it would require a considerable
circuit to overcome. I flew along the path, with a speed that scarcely
permitted me to breathe. When I had passed the upper rock, the whole
extensive scene opened upon me in an instant. What were my sensations,
when I perceived that the devastation had been even more complete
here, than on the side where I first viewed it! My own cottage in
particular, which that very morning had contained, and I hoped
continued to contain, all that was most dear to my heart, seemed to
stand an entire solitude in the midst of an immense swamp.

Marguerite, whose idea, upon our retreat into Switzerland, had been
that of conforming without reserve to the new situation that was
allotted us, had immediately expended the whole of what remained from
the shipwreck of our fortune, in the purchase of the cottage in which
we dwelt, and a small portion of land around it, sufficient with
economy for the support of our family. Under her direction the hills
had been covered with vines, and the fields with corn. She had
purchased cows to furnish us with milk, and sheep with their fleeces,
and had formed her establishment upon the model of the Swiss peasantry
in our neighbourhood. Reverting to the simplicity of nature, appeared
to her like building upon an immoveable basis, which the clash of
nations could not destroy, and which was too humble to fear the
treachery of courts, or the caprice of artificial refinement.

It was all swept away in a moment. Our little property looked as if it
had been particularly a mark for the vengeance of heaven, and was more
utterly destroyed than any of the surrounding scenes. There was not a
tree that remained standing; there was not a hedge or a limit that
remained within or around it; chaos had here resumed his empire, and
avenged himself of the extraordinary order and beauty it had lately
displayed.

I was not overwhelmed with this astonishing spectacle. At that moment
nature found her way to my heart, and made a man of me. I made light
of these petty accessories of our existence; and the thought of my
wife and my children, simply as they were in themselves, filled every
avenue of my heart. For them, and them alone, I was interested: it was
a question for their lives. To conceive of what they might personally
have sustained, was a horror that seemed to freeze up all the arteries
of my heart. I descended from the mountain. It was with the greatest
difficulty, and not without many circuitous deviations that I
proceeded, so much was the surface changed, and so deep and miry the
swamps. My terror increased, as I passed near to the carcases of the
animals who had fallen victims to this convulsion of the elements. I
observed with inconceivable alarm that the dead or wounded bodies of
some human beings, were intermingled with the brute destruction. I
staid not to enquire whether they were yet in a state to require
assistance; the idea that had taken possession of me, left no room for
the sentiment of general humanity.

A little further on I distinctly remarked the body of a woman at some
distance from any habitation, who appeared to be dead, destroyed by
the storm. Near her lay a female instant, apparently about six years
of age. My attention was involuntarily arrested; I thought of Louisa,
that sweet and amiable child, so like her admirable mother. The figure
was hers; the colour of the robe corresponded to that in which I last
saw her. The child was lying on her face. With all the impatient
emotions of a father, I stooped down. I turned over the body, that I
might identify my child. It was still warm; life had scarcely deserted
it. I gazed upon the visage; it was distorted with the agonies of
death; but enough to convince me still remained discernible; it was
not Louisa!

I can scarcely recollect a period through all the strange vicissitudes
of my existence to be compared with this. If I had not felt what I
then felt, I could never have conceived it. Human nature is so
constituted, that the highest degree of anguish, an anguish in which
the heart seems to stretch itself to take in the mightiness of its
woe, can be felt but for a few instants. When the calamity we feared
is already arrived, or when the expectation of it is so certain as to
shut out hope, there seems to be a principle within us by which we
look with misanthropic composure on the state to which we are reduced,
and the heart sullenly contracts and accommodates itself to what it
most abhorred. Our hopes wither; and our pride, our self-complacence,
all that taught us to rejoice in existence, wither along with them.
But, when hope yet struggles with despair, or when the calamity
abruptly announces itself, then is the true contention, the tempest
and uproar of the soul too vast to be endured.

This sentiment of ineffable wretchedness I experienced, when I stooped
down over the body of the imaginary Louisa, and when I hastened to
obtain the certainty which was of all things most terrible to me. The
termination of such a moment of horror, is scarcely less memorable
than its intrinsic greatness. In an instant the soul recovers its
balance, and the thought is as if it has never been. I clapped my
hands in an extacy at once of joy and astonishment, so sure did I seem
to have made myself of my misfortune; I quitted the body with an
unburthened heart; I flew towards my home, that I might ascertain
whether I was prematurely speaking comfort to my spirit.

At length I reached it. I saw the happy groupe assembled at the door.
Marguerite had entertained the same terrors for me, with which I had
myself so lately been impressed. We flew into each other's arms. She
hid her face in my neck, and sobbed audibly. I embraced each of the
children in turn, but Louisa with the most heartfelt delight. Are you
safe, papa? Are you safe, my child? were echoed on every side. A
spectator, unacquainted with what was passing in our hearts, would
certainly have stood astonished to see the transport with which we
exulted, surrounded as we were with desolation and ruin.

After an interval however we opened our eyes, and began to ruminate
upon the new condition in which we were placed. Marguerite and myself
watched each other's countenances with anxiety to discover what were
likely to be the feelings of either in this terrible crisis. Be of
good heart, my love! said Marguerite. Do not suffer the accident which
has happened, entirely to overcome you! There was a mixed compassion,
tenderness and anxiety in the tone of voice with which she uttered
these words, that was inexpressibly delightful.

No, Marguerite, replied I, with enthusiastic impetuosity, I am not
cast down; I never shall be cast down again! Ruin is nothing to me, so
long as I am surrounded with you and our dear children. I have for
some time been a fool. In the midst of every real blessing, I have
fashioned for myself imaginary evils. But my eyes are now opened. How
easily is the human mind induced to forget those benefits, with which
we are constantly surrounded, and our possession of which we regard as
secure! The feelings of this morning have awakened me. I am now cured
of my folly. I have learned how to value my domestic blessings as I
ought. Having preserved them, I esteem myself to have lost nothing.
What are gold and jewels and precious utensils? Mere dross and dirt!
The human face and the human heart, reciprocations of kindness and
love, and all the nameless sympathies of our nature, these are the
only objects worth being attached to. What are rank and station, the
homage of the multitude and the applause of fools? Let me judge for
myself! The value of a man is in his intrinsic qualities, in that of
which power cannot strip him, and which adverse fortune cannot take
away. That for which he is indebted to circumstances, is mere trapping
and tinsel. I should love these precious and ingenuous creatures
before me better, though in rags, than the children of kings in all
the pomp of ornament. I am proud to be their father. Whatever may be
my personal faults, the world is my debtor for having been the
occasion of their existence. But they are endeared to me by a better
principle than pride. I love them for their qualities. He that loves,
and is loved by, a race of pure and virtuous creatures, and that lives
continually in the midst of them, is an idiot, if he does not think
himself happy. Surrounded as I am now surrounded, I feel as
irremoveable as the pillars of creation. Nothing that does not strike
at their existence, can affect me with terror.

Marguerite viewed me with surprise and joy. Now indeed, said she, you
are the man I took you for, and the man I shall henceforth be prouder
than ever to call my husband. The sorrow in which you lately indulged,
was a luxury; and we must have done with luxuries. You will be our
protector and our support.

Thus saying, she took me by the hand, and motioned me to view with her
the devastation that had been committed. There was one path I had
discovered, in which we might proceed some way with tolerable ease.
The scene was terrible. We were indeed beggars. A whole province had
been destroyed. All the corn and the fruits of the earth; most of the
trees; in many places cattle; in some places men. Persons who had been
rich in the morning, saw all the produce of their fields annihilated,
and were unable even to guess by what process fertility was to be re-
established. The comparatively wealthy scarcely knew how they were to
obtain immediate subsistence; the humbler class, who always live by
the expedients of the day, saw nothing before them but the prospect of
perishing with hunger. We witnessed in one or two instances the
anguish of their despair.

Our prospect was scarcely in any respect better than theirs; yet we
felt differently. We were more impressed with the joy of our personal
escape. As my error respecting the value of externals had been
uncommonly great, the sudden revolution of opinion I experienced was
equally memorable. The survey indeed that we took of the general
distress somewhat saddened our hearts; but the sadness it gave, was
that of sobriety, not of dejection.

It was incumbent upon us to make a strict examination into the amount
of our property, and our immediate resources; and in this office I
united myself with Marguerite, not only with a degree of chearfulness
and application, the perfect contrast of my whole conduct ever since
our arrival in Switzerland, but which greatly exceeded any thing I had
ever before exhibited in a business of this nature. We found that,
though all our hopes of a harvest were annihilated, yet we were not
destitute of the instant means of subsistence. The resources we
possessed, whether in money or provisions, that were our dependence
till the period when the new produce should supply their place, were
uninjured. Our implements of husbandry remained as before. The land
was not impoverished, but had rather derived additional fertility from
the effects of the storm. What we had lost was chiefly the produce of
our capital for one year, together with a part of that capital itself
in the live stock that had been destroyed. This was a loss which a
certain degree of care and scope in our external circumstances might
easily have enabled us to supply. But the principle of supply was
denied us. It was with considerable difficulty that all the economy of
Marguerite had enabled her to support our family establishment, while
every thing of this kind had gone on prosperously. Such a shock as the
present we were totally disqualified to surmount. It compelled us to a
complete revolution of our affairs.

Many indeed of our neighbours had scarcely any greater advantage in
their private affairs than ourselves. But they possessed one
superiority that proved of the greatest importance in this
conjuncture; they were natives of the state in which they resided. In
the cantons of Switzerland, the destruction of the fruits of the
earth, occasioned by inclement seasons and tempests, is by no means
unfrequent; and it is therefore customary in plentiful years, to lay
up corn in public magazines, that the people may not perish in periods
of scarcity. These magazines are placed under the inspection and
disposal of the magistracy; and the inhabitants looked to them with
confidence for the supply of their need. No storm however had occurred
in the memory of man so terrible and ruinous as the present; and it
became evident that the magazines would prove a resource too feeble
for the extent of the present emergency.

The storm had spread itself over a space of many leagues in
circumference, not only in the canton of Soleure, but in the
neighbouring cantons, particularly that of Berne. The sufferers in our
own canton only, amounted to scarcely less than ten thousand. While
the women and children for the most part remained at home, the houses
having in general suffered little other damage than the destruction of
their windows, the fathers of families repaired to the seat of
government to put in their claims for national relief; and these alone
formed an immense troop, that threatened little less than to besiege
the public magazines and the magistrates. An accurate investigation
was entered into of the losses of each, it being the purpose of
government, as far as its power extended, not only to supply the
people with the means of immediate subsistence, but also, by
disbursements from the public treasury, to recruit the stock of
cattle, and to assist every one to return, with revived hopes and
expectation, to the sphere of his industry. The purpose was no doubt
benevolent; but in the mean time the unhappy victims found in
uncertainty and expectation a real and corroding anguish.

I advanced my claim with the rest, but met with a peremptory refusal.
The harsh and rigorous answer I received, was, that they had not
enough for their own people, and could spare nothing to strangers.
Upon this occasion I was compelled to feel what it was to be an alien,
and how different the condition in which I was now placed, from that I
had filled in my native country. There I had lived in the midst of a
people, to whom the veneration of my ancestry and my name seemed a
part of their nature. They had witnessed for several years the
respectable manner in which I lived; the virtues of Marguerite were
familiar to them; and they took an interest in every thing that
concerned us, a sentiment that confessed us at once for kindred and
patrons. It was the turn of mind only which is generated by rank, that
had compelled us to quit their vicinity; we might have continued in
it, if not in affluence, at least enjoying the gratifications that
arise from general affection and respect. But here we were beheld with
an eye of jealousy and distaste. We had no prejudice of birth and
habit in our favour; indeed, in the reverse of fortune which had
brought us hither, Marguerite had been less desirous of obtruding,
than of withdrawing from the public eye, the circumstance of our rank.
We were too recent inmates to have secured by any thing of a personal
nature an advantageous opinion among our neighbours. They saw only a
miserable and distracted father of a family, and a mother who, in
spite of the simplicity she cultivated, sufficiently evinced that she
had been accustomed to a more elevated situation. The prepossessions
of mankind are clearly unfavourable to a newcomer, an emigrant who has
quitted his former connections and the scenes of his youth. They are
unavoidably impelled to believe, that his taking up his abode in
another country, must be owing to a weak and discreditable caprice, if
it be not owing to something still more disadvantageous to his
character.

The calamity therefore which we had suffered in common with most of
the inhabitants of the province, finally reduced us to the necessity
of a second emigration. The jealousy with which we were regarded,
daily became more visible and more threatening. Though, in consequence
of the distribution made by order of the state, the price of
commodities was not so much increased as might have been expected, we
were considered as interlopers upon the portion of the natives; the
sellers could with difficulty be persuaded to accommodate us, and the
bystanders treated us with murmurs and reviling. While we were
deliberating what course to pursue in this emergency, certain officers
of government one morning entered our habitation, producing an order
of the senate for our immediate removal out of the territory. It is of
the essence of coercive regulations, to expel, to imprison and turn
out of prison, the individuals it is thought proper to control,
without any care as to the mischiefs they may suffer, and whether they
perish under or survive the evil inflicted on them. We were
accordingly allowed only from six in the morning till noon, to prepare
for our departure. Our guards indeed offered to permit me to remain
three days to wind up my affairs, upon condition that my wife and
children were instantly removed into another country, as a sort of
hostages for my own departure. This indulgence however would have been
useless. In the present state of the country no purchaser could be
found for the little estate I possessed, and, if there could, it must
doubtless have been disposed of to great disadvantage at such an
emergency. I know not how we should have extricated ourselves out of
these difficulties, if a member of the senate, who, being one of my
nearest neighbours had been struck with admiration of the virtues of
Marguerite, and with compassion for my family, had not paid me a visit
shortly after the arrival of the officers, and generously offered to
take upon himself the care of my property, and to advance me what
money might be necessary for my emigration. This offer, which at any
other time might have been regarded as purely a matter of course,
under the present circumstances, when capital was so necessary for the
revival of agriculture in the desolated country, implied a liberal and
disinterested spirit. I accepted the kindness of my neighbour in both
its parts, but for the reimbursement of his loan referred him to the
French minister to the United Cantons, who, under all the
circumstances of the case, and taking my estate as security for the
money advanced, I thought it reasonable to believe would attend to my
application.




CHAP. IX.

My affairs being thus far adjusted, I took leave of my late
habitation, and set off with my wife and children the same afternoon.
In the evening we arrived at Basle, where we were permitted to remain
that night, and the next morning were conducted in form out at the
north gate of the city, where our attendants quitted us, with a fresh
prohibition under the severest penalties, if we were found within the
ensuing twelve months in any of the territories of the Helvetic
republic.

Marguerite and myself had already formed our plan. We began with
dismissing both our servants. An attendant was no longer necessary to
me, nor a nurse for the infant. The suggestion of this measure
originated in myself. My temper at this time, as I have already said,
underwent a striking change. I was resolved to be happy; I was
resolved to be active. It was hard to part with persons so long
familiar to us, and who appeared rather in the character of humble
friends, than domestics; but an imperious necessity seemed to demand
it. Let us, said I to Marguerite, increase and secure our happiness by
diminishing our wants. I will be your husbandman and your labourer;
you may depend upon my perseverance. My education has fitted me to
endure hardship and fatigue, though the hardships then thought of were
of a different nature. You have ever delighted in active usefulness;
and will not, I know, repine at this accumulation of employment. Let
us accommodate ourselves to our circumstances. Our children, I
perceive, are fated to be peasants, and will therefore be eminently
benefited by the example of patience and independence we shall set
before them.

The next object of our plan related to the choice of our future place
of residence. This originated with Marguerite. She had heard much of
the beauty and richness of the country bordering on the lake of
Constance, and she thought that, while we denied ourselves expensive
pleasures, or rather while they were placed out of our reach, there
would be a propriety in our procuring for ourselves a stock of those
pleasures which would cost us nothing. This was a refinement beyond
me, and serves to evince the superiority which Marguerite's virtue and
force of mind still retained over mine. The virtue I had so recently
adopted was a strenuous effort. I rather resolved to be happy, than
could strictly be said to be happy. I loved my children indeed with an
unfeigned affection. It was with sincerity that I professed to prefer
them to all earthly possessions. But vanity and ostentation were
habits wrought into my soul, and might be said to form part of its
essence. I could not, but by the force of constant recollection, keep
them out of my wishes and hopes for the future. I could not, like
Marguerite, suffer my thoughts, as it were, to riot and wanton in the
pleasures of poverty. I could only reconcile myself to my fate by a
sort of gloomy firmness. The tranquillity I seemed to have attained,
was an unnatural state of my soul, to which it was necessary that I
should resolutely hold myself down, and from which my thoughts
appeared ever upon the alert to escape. Bitter experience had at
length taught me a hard lesson, and that lesson I was determined to
practise, whatever pangs my resignation might cost me.

We proceeded without hesitation in the direction we had resolved to
pursue. Our whole journey exceeded the space of forty leagues in
extent, and the expence necessarily attendant upon it, (our family,
even after its reduction, consisting of no less than six persons)
drained our purse of a great part of the money which had been supplied
to us by the benevolent senator. But he had agreed to undertake the
disposing of the property we were obliged to leave behind us, and in
the mean time, if any considerable interval occurred before that was
accomplished, to furnish us with the sums that should be necessary for
our subsistence. We placed the utmost reliance upon his fidelity, and
dismissed from our minds all anxiety respecting the interval which our
banishment had interposed between us and the resources necessary for
our future settlement.

Upon our arrival at Constance, we found a letter from our friend; and,
though he transmitted to us no fresh supply, the complexion of his
communication was, upon the whole, so encouraging as to determine us,
with no other delay than that of four days rest from our journey, to
pass to the other side of the lake, and explore for ourselves a
situation suitable to our design. The western bank of the lake, with
the exception only of the city of Constance, was part of the pays
conquis of the United Cantons; the eastern bank was a territory
dependent on the government of that city. It was in this territory
that we purposed fixing our residence; and we trusted that our affairs
would shortly be put in a train to enable us to take possession of the
spot we should select.

Thus driven once more into flight by the pressure of misfortune, and
compelled to exchange for a land unknown the scenes which familiarity
might have endeared, or tender recollections have made interesting, we
did not sink under the weight of our adversity. This removal was not
like our last. Switzerland was to none of us endeared like the vales
of St. Leon. I was not now goaded and tormented by conscious guilt in
the degree I had then been; Marguerite was not afflicted by the
spectacle of my misery. Our present change, though it might be
denominated a fall, was light in comparison with the former. The
composure I had gained was new to me, and had to my own mind all the
gloss of novelty. To my companions it proved contagious; they were
astonished at my serenity, and drew from it an unwonted lightness of
heart.

Thus circumstanced, our tour had its charms for us all, and there are
few passages of my life that I have felt more agreeably. The lake
itself is uncommonly beautiful, and its environs are fertile and
interesting. It is surrounded with an abundance of towns, villages,
country-seats and monasteries, sufficient to adorn and diversify the
scene, but not to exclude the sweetness of a rural scenery, or the
grand features of nature. We coasted a considerable part of the lake,
that we might judge in some degree, previous to our landing, which
part of the shore promised best to yield us the object we sought. The
autumn was now commencing; the air was liquid and sweet; the foliage
was rich and varied; and the vine-covered hills exhibited a warmth and
luxuriance of colouring, that no other object of nature or art is able
to cope with. Surrounded with these objects, I sat in my boat in the
midst of my children; and, as I was but just awakened to an
observation of their worth and my own happiness, I viewed them with a
transport that would be ill illustrated by being compared with the
transport of a miser over his new-recovered treasure from the bowels
of the deep.

Oh, poverty! exclaimed I, with elevated and unconquerable emotion, if
these are the delights that attend thee, willingly will I resign the
pomp of palaces and the splendour of rank to whoever shall deem them
worth his acceptance! Henceforth I desire only to dedicate myself to
the simplicity of nature and the genuine sentiments of the heart. I
will enjoy the beauty of scenes cultivated by other hands than mine,
or that are spread out before me by the author of the universe. I will
sit in the midst of my children, and revel in the luxury of domestic
affections; pleasures these, that may be incumbered, but cannot be
heightened, by all that wealth has in its power to bestow! Wealth
serves no other purpose than to deprave the soul, and adulterate the
fountains of genuine delight.

Such was the spirit of exultation with which my mind was at this time
filled. I am sensible that it was only calculated to be transitory. I
might learn to be contented; I was not formed to be satisfied in
obscurity and a low estate.

Thus happy and thus amused, we spent two days in coasting the lake,
landing frequently for the purposes either of variety or enquiry, and
regularly passing the night on shore. On the evening of the second
day, we were struck with the neat appearance and pleasing situation of
a cottage, which we discovered in our rambles about a mile and a half
from the lake. We found that it was to be sold, and it seemed
precisely to correspond with the wishes we had formed. It was at a
considerable distance from any populous neighbourhood, the nearest
town being that of Merspurg, the usual residence of the bishops of
Constance, which was distant from this spot not less than three
leagues. The cottage was situated in a valley, the hills being for the
most part crowned with rich and verdant foliage, their sides covered
with vineyards and corn, and a clear, transparent rivulet murmuring
along from east to west. In the distance a few similar cottages
discovered themselves, and in front there was an opening between the
hills, just wide enough to show us a few sails as they floated along
the now even surface of the lake. We approached the cottage, and found
in it only one person, an interesting girl of nineteen, who had
resided there from her birth, and had been employed for the last four
years in attendance upon the closing scene of her mother. Her mother
had been dead only a few weeks, and she was upon the point of
removing, as she told us, to the house of a brother, the best creature
in the world, who was already married, and had a family of children.
While we were talking with her, we perceived a fine boy of about
eleven years of age skipping along the meadow. He proved to be her
nephew, and hastened to say that his father and Mr. Henry were just
behind, and would be with her in a few minutes. We waited their
arrival, and it was easy to see that Mr. Henry was by no means an
indifferent object in the eyes of the beautiful orphan: she had
probably conditioned that he should permit her to remain single, as
long as she could be of any use to her mother. The lovers were well
satisfied that the girl's brother should be taken aside, that I might
talk over with him the affair of the cottage. We made a tour of the
fields that were part of the property of the deceased, and the terms
of our intended purchase were easily adjusted.

Though we had now accomplished the immediate purpose of our
expedition, yet, as we had found unusual exhilaration and sweetness in
the objects it presented to us, we came to a resolution of continuing
it still further, and completing the circuit of the lake. We were
aware that it would be vain as yet to expect to receive the money
requisite for completing our purchase; and, as no pleasure, merely in
the way of relaxation, could be more delightful than that we were now
enjoying, so was it impossible that we could fill up our time in a
more frugal manner than in this little voyage. Our gratification was
not less, but more perfect, because it consisted of simple,
inartificial, unbought amusements. The scenes around us were
refreshing and invigorating; they were calculated, temporarily at
least, to inspire gaiety and youth into decrepitude itself. Amidst
these scenes we forgot our sorrows; they were a kind of stream, in
which weariness and dejection plunged their limbs, and came forth
untired and alert. They awakened in the mind all its most pleasing
associations. Having already, as we believed, chosen the scene of our
future residence, we busied ourselves in imagining all the
accompaniments that would grow out of it. We determined that poverty
with health would not fail to be attended with its portion of
pleasures. The scenes of nature were all our own; nor could wealth
give them a more perfect, or a firmer, appropriation. The affections
and charities of habitude and consanguinity we trusted we should feel
uninterrupted; unincumbered with the ceremonies and trappings of life,
and in that rural plainness which is their genial soil.

After a leisurely and delightful voyage of six days, we returned to
Constance. We expected to have found on our return some further
intelligence from the beneficent senator, but in this we were
disappointed. The imagination however easily suggested to us a variety
of circumstances that might have delayed the business he had
undertaken; and it was no forced inference to suppose that he deferred
writing, because he had nothing important to communicate. At first
therefore we suffered little uneasiness from the delay; but, as time
proceeded, and the silence of our protector continued, the affair
began to assume a more serious aspect. The little stock we had brought
with us in our exile, was in a rapid progress of decay. We had managed
it with frugality, though not at first with that anxious solicitude,
the necessity of which we now began to apprehend. We had procured for
ourselves two small and inconvenient apartments in an obscure alley of
the city of Constance. We were in the act of meditating what steps it
would be necessary to take in this unfortunate emergency, when
intelligence was brought us of the sudden decease of the person upon
whose kindness and exertions we depended.

He was succeeded in his estate by his nephew, a man of whom we had
heard something during our residence in the neighbourhood, and whose
habits we understood to be diametrically the reverse of his
predecessor's. In short, he had been represented to us as illiberal,
morose, selfish and litigious, a man who, having suffered in one part
of his life the hardships of poverty, scrupled no means, honourable or
otherwise, of removing it to the greatest practicable distance. He had
already reaped the succession some weeks, when we heard of the event
that put him in possession of it; and the letters which I had more
than once addressed to our protector, had probably fallen into his
hands. These circumstances afforded no favourable augury of the
treatment we might expect from him. The first thing which seemed
proper was to write to him, which I accordingly did. I acquainted him
with the nature of the transaction between myself and his uncle, and
signified how necessary it was that we should come to a conclusion as
speedily as possible. I represented to him pathetically the condition
to which I was born, and the opulence in which I had passed many years
of my life, together with the contrast afforded by the present reduced
and urgent circumstances of my family. I intreated him to exert his
generosity and justice in behalf of an unfortunate exile, whom
untoward events had deprived of the power of doing justice to himself.

To this letter I received no answer. Uncertain as to the cause of my
correspondent's silence, or even whether my letter had been received,
I wrote again. My heart was wrung with this new adversity. I was
forbidden under pain of perpetual imprisonment to return to the
territories of the republic, and I had no friend to solicit in my
behalf. In Constance I was utterly a stranger. In Switzerland my
unfortunate habits of life, the depression and solitude in which I had
been merged, deprived me of the opportunity of forming connections.
The deceased was the only person who had been disposed to interfere
for me. It was too probable that the silence of his successor was an
indication of the hostility of his views. I saw nothing before me but
the prospect of my family perishing with want, deprived of their last
resource, exiles and pennyless. Thus destitute and forlorn, what could
we do; to what plan could we have recourse? We had not so much as the
means of providing ourselves with the implements of the humblest
labour. If we had, could I, under my circumstances, resolve upon this?
Could I give up the last slender pittance of my children while there
was a chance of recovering it; and, by surrendering them to the
slavery of perpetual labour, surrender them to the lowest degree of
ignorance and degradation? No; I still clung to this final hope, and
was resolved to undertake any thing, however desperate, rather than
part with it. Such were my feelings; and, in the new letter which I
now dispatched, I poured out all the anguish of my soul.

A reply to this letter was at length vouchsased. The heir of my
protector informed me, that he knew nothing of the business to which I
alluded; that he had come into possession of the lands I described,
together with the other property of his late uncle, and regarded
himself as holding them by the same tenure; that he found in the
accounts of the estate a sum of money advanced to me, which he might
with the strictect justice regard as a debt, and pursue me for it
accordingly. He should be liberal enough however so far to give credit
to my story, and to consider the sum in question as advanced upon a
pledge of land: in that case, I might regard myself as sufficiently
fortunate, in having obtained even that amount at a time when, but for
the humanity or weakness of his uncle, my estate would not have sold
for a farthing. Meanwhile the forbearance which he proferred, would,
he observed, depend upon my conduct, and be retracted, if I afforded
him cause for resentment. He added, that he despised my menaces and
commands, and that, if I took a single step against him, I should find
it terminate in my utter ruin.

Nothing could be more profligate than the style of his letter. But its
impotence was equal to its wickedness. It was absurd to threaten to
inflict ruin, on a man whom ruin had already overtaken. Before the
letter arrived, I had disbursed the whole sum I brought with me from
Switzerland. This entire annihilation of my resources seemed to steal
on me unperceived. Finding that all reply to my importunity was either
refused, or deferred to an uncertain period, I would willingly at all
risks have sought the villain who thus obdurately devoted me and my
family to destruction, and have endeavoured to obtain justice in
person. But it was now too late. Before I felt the case thus
desperate, my finances were so far reduced, as to make it
impracticable for me to leave my wife and children enough to support
them in my absence, even if I had determined myself to set out upon
this perilous expedition pennyless. I resolved that, if we did perish,
we would perish together.

Penury was now advancing upon us with such rapid strides, that the
lowest and most scanty resources no longer admitted of neglect. Had a
case thus desperate been encountered with timely attention, it is not
improbable that some of the various talents I had acquired in the
course of my education, would have furnished me with a means of
subsistence, not altogether plebeian or incompetent. But, with the
uncertainty of my situation, and totally unaccustomed as I was to
regard my person or mind as a machine fitted for productive labour, I
had not looked to this question, till the urgency of the case deprived
me of every advantage I might otherwise have seized. I was glad
therefore to have recourse to menial occupation, and sought employment
under the gardener of the episcopal palace, for whose service I was
sufficiently qualified by my ten years' retreat in the Bordelois. That
I might better adapt myself to the painful necessity of my situation,
I previously exchanged some of my own clothes for garments more
suitable to the business I now solicited. It was not till I had
arrived within a very few days to the end of my resources, that even
this expedient, by a sort of accident, recurred to my mind.
Marguerite, though fully aware of the urgency of the case, had, as she
afterwards told me, imposed on herself a compulsory silence, fearing
for the inflamed and irritated frame of my mind, and aware that the
course of events would ultimately lead me to a point, with which she
dreaded to intermeddle. This was for her a trying moment; my lately
recovered insanity obliging her to contemplate in silence our growing
distress, and to wait the attack of hunger and want that threatened to
destroy us, with an apparent tranquillity and chearfulness.

For me, so entire a revolution had taken place in my sentiments, that
I spurned with contempt, so far as related to myself, that pride of
rank and romantic gallantry of honour, which had formerly been my
idols. I submitted with a sort of gloomy contentment to the situation
upon which my destiny drove me. I regarded it as the natural result of
my former misconduct; and derived a sentiment of ease and relief, from
thus expiating, as it were with the sweat of my brow, the temptations
to which I had yielded. Had I been myself only reduced thus low, or
had the produce of my labour been sufficient to purchase competence
for my wife and the means of instruction for my family, I can safely
affirm that I should have found no consequence so direct from my own
degradation, as the means of silencing the reproaches of conscience
and reconciling me to myself. But, when I returned in the evening with
the earnings of my day's labour, and found it incompetent to the
procuring for those who depended on me the simplest means of
subsistence, then indeed my sensations were different. My heart died
within me. I did not return after the fatigues of the day, which, to
me who had not been accustomed to unremitted labour, and who now began
to feel that I was not so young as I had been at the siege of Pavia,
were extremely trying,--I did not return, I say, to a night of repose.
I became a very woman, when I looked forward, and endeavoured to
picture to myself the future situation of my family. I watered my
pillow with my tears. Often, when I imagined that my whole family were
asleep, I gave vent to my perturbed and distracted mind in groans:
Marguerite would sometimes overhear me, and, with the gentlest
suggestions of her admirable mind, would endeavour to soothe my
thoughts to peace. For the present, as I have said, my earnings were
incompetent, and we found it necessary to supply the deficiency by the
sale of the few garments, not in immediate use, that we still
possessed. What then would be the case when these were gone, and when,
in addition to this, it would be necessary to purchase, not only food
to eat, and a roof to shelter, but also clothes to cover us?




CHAP. X.

These were deficiencies that I anxiously anticipated; but there was
another evil, upon which I had not calculated, that was still nearer
and more overwhelming. The mode of life in which I was now engaged, so
different from any thing to which I had been accustomed, excessive
fatigue, together with the occasional heat of the weather, the
uneasiness of my mind and the sleeplessness of my nights, all combined
to throw me into a fever, which, though it did not last long, had
raged so furiously during the period of its continuance, as to leave
me in a state of the most complete debility. While the disorder was
upon me, I was sensible of my danger; and, as the brilliant and
consolatory prospects of life seemed for ever closed upon me, I at
first regarded my approaching dissolution with complacency, and longed
to be released from a series of woes, in which I had been originally
involved by my own folly. This frame of mind however was of no great
duration; the more nearly I contemplated the idea of separation from
those I loved, the smaller was my resignation. I was unwilling to quit
those dear objects by which I still held to this mortal scene; I
shrunk with aversion from that barrier which separates us from all
that is new, mysterious and strange. Another train of ideas succeeded
this, and I began to despise myself for my impatience and cowardice.
It was by my vices that my family was involved in a long train of
misfortunes; could I shrink from partaking what I had not feared to
create? The greater were the adversities for which they were reserved,
the more ought I to desire to suffer with them. I had already
committed the evil; in what remained, it was reasonable to suppose I
should prove their benefactor and not their foe. It was incumbent on
me to soothe and to animate them, to enrich their minds with
chearfulness and courage, and to set before them an example of
philosophy and patience. By my faculties of industry I was their
principal hope; and, whatever we might suffer combined, it was
probable their sufferings would be infinitely greater, if deprived of
my assistance. These reflections gave me energy; and it seemed as if
the resolute predisection I had conceived for life, contributed much
to my recovery.

One thing which strongly confirmed the change my mind underwent in
this respect, was a conversation that I overheard, at a time when I
was supposed to be completely in a state of insensibility, but when,
though I was too much reduced to give almost any tokens of life, my
faculties of hearing and understanding what passed around me, were
entire. Charles came up to my bed-side, laid his hand upon mine as if
to feel the state of the skin, and, with a handkerchief that was near,
wiped away the moisture that bedewed my face. He had been fitted for
many nurse-like offices by the unwearied attention he had exerted
towards me in the paroxysm of my insanity. Having finished his task,
he withdrew from the bed, and burst into tears. His mother came up to
him, drew him to the furthest part of the room, and in a low voice
began the conversation.

Do, my dear boy, go down stairs, and get yourself something to eat.
You see, your papa is quiet now.

I am afraid that will not last long, and then he will be so restless,
and toss about so, it is dreadful to see him.

I will watch, Charles, and let you know.

Indeed, mamma, I cannot eat now. I will by and by.

You must try to eat, Charles, or else you will make yourself quite
ill. If you were ill too, it would be more than I could support.

I will not be ill, mamma. I assure you I will not. But, besides that I
have no stomach, I cannot bear to eat, when there is hardly enough for
my sisters.

Eat, boy. Do not trouble yourself about that. We shall get more when
that is gone. God is good, and will take care of us.

I know that God is good, but, for all that, one must not expect to
have every thing one wishes. Though God is good, there are dreadful
misfortunes in the world, and I suppose we shall have our share of
them.

Come, Charles, though you are but a boy, you are the best boy in the
world. You are now almost my only comfort, but you will not be able to
comfort me, if you do not take care of yourself.

Dear mamma!--Do you know, mamma, I heard that naughty man below stairs
count up last night how much rent you owed him for, and swear you
should not stay any longer, if you did not pay him. If I were a little
bigger, I would talk to him so that he should not dare to insult us in
our distress. But, not being big enough, I opened the door, and went
into the room, and begged him for God's sake not to add to your
distress. And, though he is so ugly, I took hold of his hand, and
kissed it. But it felt like iron, which put me in mind of his iron
heart, and I cried ready to burst with mortification. He did not say
hardly a word.

He must be paid, Charles: he shall be paid.

Do you know, mamma, as soon as I left him, I went to the bishop's
gardens, and spoke to the gardener. I asked him, if he had heard that
my papa was ill, and he said, he had. He said too, he was very sorry,
and wanted to know what hand we made of it for want of the wages. I
told him, we were sadly off, and the man of the house had just been
affronting me about his rent. But, says I, cannot you give me
something to do, to weed or to rake? I can dig a little too, and
scatter seed. He asked, if I knew weeds from flowers? Oh, that I do!
said I. Well then, said he, there is not much you can do, but you are
a good boy, and I will put you on the bishop's list. But now, mamma, I
have not the heart to work, till I see whether papa will get well
again.

While poor Charles told his artless tale, Marguerite wept over him,
and kissed him again and again. She called him the best child in the
world, and said that, if I were but so fortunate as to recover, with
such a husband and such a son, she should yet be the happiest of
women.

Oh, my poor father! exclaimed Charles. Ever since the great hailstorm,
I have every hour loved him better than before. I thought that was
impossible, but he is so gentle, so kind, so good-humoured and so
patient! I loved him when he was harsh, and when he was out of his
mind, but nothing so well then as I have done since. People that are
kind and smile, always do one good; but nobody's smiles are like my
father's. It makes me cry with joy sometimes, when I do but think of
them. Pray, papa, added he, coming up to the bedside, and whispering,
yet with a hurried and passionate accent, get well! Do but get well,
and we will be so happy! Never was there a family so happy or so
loving as we will be!

While he spoke thus, I endeavoured to put out my hand, but I could
not; I endeavoured to smile, but I was unable: my heart was in a
feeble, yet soothing tranquillity. The accents of love I had heard,
dwelt upon my memory. They had talked of distress, but the sentiment
of love was uppermost in my recollection. I was too weak of frame, to
suffer intellectual distress; no accents but those which carried balm
to my spirit, seemed capable of resting upon my ear. From this hour, I
regularly grew better, and as I recovered, seemed to feel more and
more vividly how enviable it was to be the head of a loving and
harmonious family.

My recovery however was exceedingly slow, and it was several weeks
before I had so far recruited my strength as to be capable of my
ordinary occupations. In the mean time the pecuniary difficulties to
which we were exposed, hourly increased; and the chearful, but
insignificant, labours of Charles could contribute little to the
support of a family. The melancholy nature of our situation might
perhaps have been expected to prevent the restoration of my health. At
first however it had not that effect. It seemed as if the debilitated
state of my animal functions led me, by a sort of irresistible
instinct, to reject ideas and reflections which I should then have
been unable to endure. I saw the anxiety and affection of my family,
and I was comforted. I saw the smiles of Marguerite, and I seemed
insensible to the languor, the saddened chearfulness they expressed. I
did not perceive that, while I was provided with every thing necessary
in my condition, my family were in want of the very bread that should
sustain existence.

My health in the mean time improved, and my perceptions became
proportionably clearer. Symptoms of desolation and famine, though as
much as possible covered from my sight, obtruded themselves, and were
remarked. One day in particular I observed various tokens of this
nature in silence, and with that sort of bewildered understanding,
which at once labours for comprehension, and resists belief. The day
closed; and what I had perceived, pressed upon my mind, and excluded
sleep. Now for the first time I exerted myself to recollect in a
methodical way the state of my affairs; for the severity of my illness
had at length succeeded to banish from me all ideas and all feelings,
but what related to the sensations it produced and the objects around
me; and it was not without effort that I could once more fully call to
mind the scenes in which I had been engaged. The truth then by regular
degrees rose completely to view; and I began to be astonished that my
poor wife and children had been able in any manner to get through the
horrible evils to which they must have been exposed. This thought I
revolved in my mind for near two hours; and, the longer I dwelt upon
it, the more perturbed and restless I grew. At length it became
impossible for me to hold my contemplations pent up in my own bosom. I
turned to Marguerite, and asked her, whether she were asleep.

She answered in the negative: she had been remarking my restlessness,
and tenderly enquired respecting its cause.

How long, said I, is it since I was taken with the fever?

A month to-morrow, replied she. It was of the most malignant and
distressing kind, while it lasted, and I did not expect you to live.
But it has left you a fortnight, and I hope, Reginald, you find
yourself getting strong again.

And so we are here in Constance, and we have left Switzerland?--

Three months, my love!

I remember very well the letter we received from monsieur Grimfeld;
has any further intelligence reached us from that quarter?

None.

None! No supply of any kind has reached you?

My dear Reginald, talk of something else! You will soon, I hope, be
well: our children are all alive; and the calamity, that has not
succeeded to separate us, or to diminish our circle of love even by a
single member, we will learn to bear. Let us fix our attention on the
better prospects that open before us!

Stay, Marguerite! I have other questions to ask. Before you require me
to bear the calamities that have overtaken us, let me understand what
these calamities are. While we waited for intelligence from
Switzerland, we expended the whole sum that we brought with us, and I
was obliged to hire myself to the episcopal gardener for bread; was it
not so?

Indeed, Reginald, you are to blame! Pray, question me no further!

This was our condition some time ago; and now, for a month past, I
have been incapable of labour. Marguerite, what have you done?

Indeed, my love, I have been too anxious for you, to think much of any
thing else. We had still some things, you know, that we could contrive
to do without, and those I have sold. Charles too, our excellent-
hearted son, has lately hired himself to the gardener, and has every
night brought us home a little, though it was but little.

Dear boy! What children, what a wife, have I brought to destruction!
Our rent too, surely you have not been able to pay that?

Not entirely. In part I have been obliged to pay it.

Ah, I well remember how slinty-hearted a wretch has got the power over
us in that respect!

He has not turned us out of doors. He threatened hard several times.
At last I saw it was necessary to make an effort, and the day before
yesterday I paid him half his demand. If I could have avoided that, we
might have had a supply of food a little longer. I intreated earnestly
for a little further indulgence, but it was in vain. It went against
the pride and independence of my soul to sue to this man, but it was
for you and for my children!

Remorseless wretch! Then every petty resource we had is gone?

Indeed I do not know that we have any thing more to sell. I searched
narrowly yesterday; but I will examine again to-day. The poor children
must have something to support them, and their fare has of late been
dreadfully scanty.

Their fare! What have they eaten?

Bread; nothing else for the last fortnight!

And yourself?

Oh, Reginald! it was necessary, you know, that I should keep myself
alive. But, I assure you, I have robbed them as little as I could!

Horror, horror! Marguerite, what is it you dream of? I see my wife and
children dying of hunger, and you talk to me of hope and of prospects!
Why has this detail of miseries been concealed from me! Why have I
been suffered, with accursed and unnatural appetite, to feed on the
vitals of all I love!

Reginald! even selfishness itself would have taught us that! It is to
your recovery that we look for our future support!

Mock me not, I adjure you, with senseless words! You talk idly of the
future, while the tremendous present bars all prospect to that future!
We are perishing by inches! We have no provision for the coming day!
No, no; something desperate, something yet unthought of, must be
attempted! I will not sit inactive, and see my offspring around me die
in succession. No, by heaven! Though I am starving like Ugolino, I am
not, like Ugolino, shut up in a dungeon! The world is open; its scenes
are wide; the resources it offers are to the bold and despairing,
innumerable! I am a father, and will show myself worthy of the name!

Reginald! torture me not by language like this! Think what it is to be
indeed a father, and make yourself that! Be careful of yourself;
complete your recovery,--and leave the rest to me! I have conducted it
thus far, nor am I yet without hope. Eight days ago I applied to the
secreterary of the palace, representing your case as a retainer of the
bishop, disabled by sickness, and with a family unprovided for. Till
yesterday I got no answer to my memorial, and then he informed me,
that you had been so short a time in employ, that nothing could be
done for you. But to-day I will throw myself at the feet of the bishop
himself, who arrived last night only from the other side of the lake.

Every word that Marguerite uttered, went to my heart. It was not long
before the dawn of the day, and the truths I had heard were further
confirmed to me by the organ of sight. The sentiments of this night
produced a total revolution in me, and I was no longer the seeble
convalescent that the setting sun of the preceding day had lest me.
The film was removed from my eyes, and I surveyed not the objects
around me with a glassy eye and unapprehensive observation. All the
powers I possessed were alert and in motion. To my suspicious and
hurried gaze the apartment appeared as if stripped of its moveables,
and left naked, a mansion in which for despair to take up his abode.
My children approached me; I seemed to read the wan and emaciated
traces of death in their countenances. This perhaps was in some degree
the painting of my too conscious thoughts. But there needed no
exaggeration to awaken torture in my bosom, when, thus stimulated, I
observed for the first time the dreadful change that had taken place
in Marguerite. Her colour was gone; her cheeks were sunk; her eye had
the quickness and discomposure expressive of debility. I took hold of
her hand, and found it cold, emaciated and white. I pressed it to my
lips with agony; a tear unbidden fell from my eye, and rested upon it.
Having finished my examination, I took my hat, and was hastening to
escape into the street. Marguerite noted my motions, and anxiously
interposed to prevent my design. She laid her hand on my arm, gently,
yet in a manner full of irresistible expostulation.

Where would you go? What have you purposed? Do not,--Oh, do not,
destroy a family, to whom your life, your sobriety and prudence are
indispensible!

I took her hand within both mine. Compose yourself, my love! I have
been your enemy too much already, to be capable now, so much as in
thought, of adding to my guilt! I need an interval for musing and
determination. I will return in a very short time, and you shall be
the confident of my thoughts!

With wild and impatient spirit I repassed in idea the whole history of
my life. But principally I dwelt in recollection upon the marquis of
Damville, that generous friend, that munificent benefactor, whose
confidence I had so ill repaid. Damville! exclaimed I, you trusted to
me your daughter, the dearest thing you knew on earth; you believed
that the wretch did not live who could be unjust to so rich a pledge.
Look down, look down, oh, best of men! from the heaven to which your
virtues have raised you, and see of how much baseness man, yes, the
man you disdained not to call your friend, is capable! But, no! a
fight like this might well convert the heaven you dwell in to hell!
You trusted her to me; I have robbed her! You enriched her mind with
the noblest endowments; I have buried them in the mire of the vilest
condition! All her generous, her unwearied exertions are fruitless; by
my evil genius they are blasted! I have made her a mother, only that
she might behold her children perishing with hunger! They stretch out
their hands to me for the smallest portion of that inheritance, which
I have squandered in more than demoniac vice! This, this is the fruit
of my misdeeds! I am now draining the last dregs of that mischief, of
which I have so wickedly, so basely been the author!

As I returned, I met Marguerite, who was come from her attempt upon
the bishop. He had received her paper, and delivered it to his
secretary, that very secretary who had already disappointed all her
expectations from that quarter. She had attempted to speak, to adjure
the bishop, whatever he did, not to deliver her over to a man by whom
her hopes had been so cruelly frustrated; but the tumult of the scene
drowned her voice, and the hurry and confusion overpowered her
efforts. They however drew such a degree of attention on her, that, in
the dissentions which religious broils at that time spread in
Constance, she was suspected of pressing thus earnestly towards the
person of the bishop with no good design, and in fine was rudely
thrust out of the palace. She had not recovered from the agitation
into which she had been thrown, when I met her. I eagerly enquired
into the cause of her apparent distress; but she shook her head
mournfully, and was silent. I easily understood where she had been,
and the failure of her experiment.

All then, said I, is at an end. Now, Marguerite, you must give up your
experiments, and leave to me the cure of evils of which I only am the
author. I will return this instant to the garden of the palace, and
resume the situation I formerly occupied.

For God's sake, Reginald, what is it you mean? You have just acquired
strength to seek the benefit of air. The least exertion fatigues you.
At this moment, the little walk you have taken has covered you with
perspiration. You could not dig or stoop for a quarter of an hour
without being utterly exhausted.

Marguerite, I will not sit down tamely, and see my family expire. In
many cases it is reasonable to bid a valetudinarian take care of
himself. But our situation is beyond that. I must do something.
Extraordinary circumstances often bring along with them extraordinary
strength. No man knows, till the experiment, what he is capable of
effecting. I feel at this moment no debility; and I doubt not that the
despair of my mind will give redoubled energy to my efforts.

While I spoke thus, I was conscious that I had little more than the
strength of a new-born child. But I could not endure at such a time to
remain in inactivity. I felt as much ashamed of the debilitated state
in which my fever had left me, as I could have done of the most
inglorious effeminacy and cowardice of soul. I was determined to
relieve my family, or perish in the attempt. If all my efforts were
vain, I could not better finish my career, than exhausted, sinking,
expiring under a last exertion to discharge the duties of my station.

We returned into the house. Marguerite took from a closet the last
remnant of provisions we had, the purchase of poor Charles's labour of
the preceding day. There was a general contest who should escape from
receiving any part in the distribution. Charles had withdrawn himself,
and was not to be found. Julia endeavoured to abscond, but was stopped
by Louisa and her mother. She had wept so much, that inanition seemed
more dangerous for her, than perhaps for any other of the circle. No
one can conceive, who has not felt it, how affecting a contest of this
kind must appear to me, sensible as I was to the danger that their
virtue and generous affection were the prelude only to their common
destruction. I said, There was a general contest who should avoid all
share in the distribution; but I recollect that the little Marguerite,
two years and a half old, exclaimed at first, I am so hungry, mamma!
But, watching, as she carefully did, every thing that passed, she
presently laid down her bread upon the table, in silence, and almost
untouched; and, being asked, Why she did so? she replied in a tone of
speaking sensibility, Thank you, I am not hungry now!

This scene made an impression on my mind, never to be forgotten. It
blasted and corrupted all the pulses of my soul. A little before, I
had reconciled myself to poverty; I had even brought myself to regard
it with chearfulness. But the sentiment was now reversed. I could
endure it, I could steel myself against its attacks; but never from
this hour, in the wildest paroxysms of enthusiasm, has it been the
topic of my exultation or my panegyric. No change of circumstances, no
inundation of wealth, has had the power to obliterate from my
recollection what I then saw. A family perishing with hunger; all that
is dearest to you in the world sinking under the most dreadful of all
the scourges with which this sublunary scene is ever afflicted; no
help near; no prospect but of still accumulating distress; a death,
the slowest, yet the most certain and the most agonizing, that can
befal us; no, there is nothing that has power to rend all the strings
of the heart like this! From this moment, the whole set of my feelings
was changed. Avarice descended, and took possession of my soul.
Haunted, as I perpetually was, by images of the plague of famine,
nothing appeared to me so valuable as wealth, nothing so desirable as
to be placed at the utmost possible distance from want. An appetite of
this kind is insatiable; no distance seems sufficiently great; no
obstacles, mountains on mountains of gold, appear an adequate security
to bar from us the approach of the monster we dread.

While I speak of the sentiments which in the sequel were generated in
my mind by what I now saw, I am suspending my narrative in a crisis at
which a family, interesting, amiable and virtuous, is reduced to the
lowest state of humiliation and distress.

They are moments like these, that harden the human heart, and fill us
with inextinguishable hatred and contempt for our species. They tear
off the trappings and decoration of polished society, and show it in
all its hideousness. The wanton eye of pampered pride pleases itself
with the spectacle of cities and palaces, the stately column and the
swelling arch. It observes at hand the busy scene, where all are
occupied in the various pursuits of pleasure or industry, and admires
the concert, the wide-spreading confederacy, by means of which each
after his mode is unconsciously promoting the objects of others.
Cheated by the outside of things, we denominate this a vast
combination for general benefit. The poor and the famished man
contemplates the scene with other thoughts. Unbribed to admire and
applaud, he sees in it a consederacy of hostility and general
oppression. He sees every man pursuing his selfish ends, regardless of
the wants of others. He sees himself contemptuously driven from the
circle, where the rest of his fellow-citizens are busily and
profitably engaged. He lives in the midst of a crowd, without one
friend to interest himself for his welfare. He lives in the midst of
plenty, from the participation of which he is driven by brutal menaces
and violence. No man who has not been placed in his situation, can
imagine the sensations, with which, overwhelmed as he is with domestic
ruin and despair, he beholds the riot, the prodigality, the idiot
ostentation, the senseless expence, with which he is surrounded on
every side. What were we to do? Were we to beg along the streets? Were
we to intreat for wretched offals at rich men's doors? Alas, this, it
was to be feared, even if we stooped to the miserable attempt, instead
of satisfying wants for ever new, would only prolong in the bitterness
of anguish the fate for which we were reserved!--

An unexpected relief at this time presented itself. While the scanty
meal I have mentioned was yet unfinished, a letter was presented me
inclosing under its cover a bill of one hundred crowns. The letter was
from Peter, the faithful servant, whom we had found it necessary to
dismiss three months before, when we quitted our residence in
Switzerland. It informed us that, as soon as he had parted from us, he
had set out on his return to his native town, next adjacent to my
paternal residence, that he found his father had died a short time
before, and that, from the sale of his effects, he had reaped an
inheritance, to triple the amount of the sum he had now forwarded to
us. He had heard by accident of the death of our friend in
Switzerland, and the character of his successor, and dreaded that the
consequences might prove highly injurious to us. He had still some
business to settle with the surviving branches of his family, but that
would be over in a few weeks, and then, if we would allow him, he
would return to his dear master, and afford us every assistance in his
power. The little property that had now fallen to him would prevent
him from being a burthen, and he would hire a spot of land, and remain
near us, if we refused him the consolation of returning to his former
employment.

What a reproach was it to me, that I, descended from one of the most
illustrious families in Europe, the heir of an ample patrimony, and
receiving a still larger fortune in marriage, should, by the total
neglect and profligate defiance of the duties incumbent on me, have
reduced myself so low, as to be indebted to a peasant and a menial for
the means of saving my family from instant destruction! This was a
deep and fatal wound to the pride of my soul. There was however no
alternative, no possibility of rejecting the supply afforded us at so
eventful a moment. We determined to use it for the present, and to
repay it with the earliest opportunity; and in the following week, in
spite of the remonstrances of Marguerite, the yet feeble state of my
health, and the penalties annexed to the proceeding, I set off for the
canton of Soleure, determined, if possible, to wrest the little staff
of my family from the hand that so basely detained it.

I passed through Zurich and a part of the canton of Basle without
obstacle; these parts of Switzerland had not suffered from the
calamity which had occasioned our exile. In proceeding further, I
found it necessary to assume a disguise, and to avoid large towns and
frequented roads. I reached at length the well known scene in which I
had so lately consumed twelve months of my life; in which I first
began to breathe (to breathe, not to be refreshed) from ruin, beggary
and exile. There was no pleasing recollection annexed to this spot; it
was a remembrancer of shame, sorrow and remorse. Yet, such is the
power of objects once familiar, revisited after absence, that my eye
ran over them with delight, I felt lightened from the weariness of the
journey, and found that the recollection of pains past over and
subdued was capable of being made a source of gratification. The
mountains among which I had wandered, and consumed, as it were, the
last dregs of my insanity, surrounded me; the path in which I was
travelling led along one of their ridges. I had performed this part of
my journey by night; and the first gleams of day now began to streak
the horizon. I looked towards the cottage, the distant view of which
had so often, in moments of the deepest despair, awakened in my heart
the soothings of sympathy and affection. I saw that as yet it remained
in its forlorn condition, and had undergone no repair; while the lands
around, which had lately experienced the superintendence of
Marguerite, had met with more attention, and began to resume the marks
of culture. I sighed for the return of those days and that situation,
which, while present to me, had passed unheeded and unenjoyed.

I repaired to the house of my late protector, now the residence of
monsieur Grimseld. He was a meagre, shrivelled figure; and, though
scarcely arrived at the middle of human life, exhibited all the marks
of a premature old age. I disclosed myself to him, and began warmly to
expostulate with him upon the profligacy of his conduct. He changed
colour, and betrayed symptoms of confusion, the moment I announced
myself. While I pressed him with the barbarity of his conduct, the
dreadful effects it had already produced, and the incontestible
justice of my claim, he stammered, and began to propose terms of
accommodation. During this conversation we were alone. After some time
however a servant entered the room, and the countenance of the master
assumed an expression of satisfaction and confidence. He eagerly
seized on the occasion which presented itself, and, instantly changing
his tone, called on his servant to assist him in securing a criminal
against the state. I at first resisted, but Grimseld, perceiving this,
applied to his bell with great vehemence, and three other servants
made their appearance, whose employment was in the field, but who had
now accidentally come into the house for refreshment. I had arms; but
I found it impracticable to effect my escape; and I soon felt that, by
yielding to the impulse of indignation, and punishing Grimseld on the
spot for his perfidy, I might ruin, but could not forward, the affair
in which I was engaged.

I was conducted to prison; and the thoughts produced in me by this
sudden reverse, were extremely melancholy and discouraging. Grimseld
was a man of opulence and power; I was without friends, or the means
of procuring friends. The law expressly condemned my return; and what
had I not to fear from law, when abetted and inforced by the hand of
power? I might be imprisoned for ten years; I might be imprisoned for
life. I began earnestly to wish that I had remained with my family,
and given up at least all present hopes of redress. It would be a
dreadful accumulation of all my calamities, if now at last I and my
children were destined to suffer, perhaps to perish, in a state of
separation; and the last consolations of the wretched, those of
suffering, sympathising and condoling with each other, were denied us.

Full of these tragical forebodings, I threw myself at first on the
floor of my cell in a state little short of the most absolute despair.
I exclaimed upon my adverse fortune, which was never weary of
persecuting me. I apostrophised, with tender and distracted accents,
my wife and children, from whom I now seemed to be cut off by an
everlasting divorce. I called upon death to put an end to these
tumults and emotions of the soul, which were no longer to be borne.

In a short time however I recovered myself, procured the implements of
writing, and drew up, in the strong and impressive language of truth,
a memorial to the council of the state. I was next to consider how
this was to reach its destination; for there was some danger that it
might be intercepted by the vigilance and malignity of my adversary. I
desired to speak with the keeper of the prison. He had some
recollection of me, and a still more distinct one of my family. He
concurred with the general sentiment, in a strong aversion to the
character of Grimfeld. As I pressed upon him the hardship of my case,
and the fatal consequences with which it might be attended, I could
perceive that he fully entered into the feeling with which I wished
him to be impressed. He blamed my rashness in returning to Switzerland
in defiance of the positive prohibition that had been issued; but
promised at all events that my paper should be delivered to the
president tomorrow morning.

I remained three days without an answer, and these days were to me an
eternity. I anticipated every kind of misfortune; I believed that law
and malice had succeeded to the subversion of equity. At length
however I was delivered from my apprehensions and perplexity, and
summoned to appear before the council. It was well for me perhaps that
I had to do with a government so simple and moderate as that of
Switzerland. I obtained redress. It was referred to an arbitration of
neighbour's to set a fair price on my property, and then decreed that,
if monsieur Grimseld refused the purchase, the sum should be paid me
out of the coffers of the state. He was also condemned in a certain
fine for the fraud he had attempted to commit. The affair, thus put in
train, was soon completed; and I returned with joy, having effected
the object of my journey, to my anxious and expecting family. Soon
after we removed to the spot we had chosen on the eastern bank of the
lake, where we remained for the six following years in a state of
peace and tranquility.

END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

VOL. II.




CHAP. I. TRAVELS OF ST. LEON.

It was in the evening of a summer's day in the latter end of the year
fifteen hundred and forty-four, that a stranger arrived at my
habitation. He was feeble, emaciated and pale, his forehead full of
wrinkles, and his hair and beard as white as snow. Care was written in
his face; it was easy to perceive that he had suffered much from
distress of mind; yet his eye was still quick and lively, with a
strong expression of suspiciousness and anxiety. His garb, which
externally consisted of nothing more than a robe of russet brown, with
a girdle of the same, was coarse, threadbare and ragged. He supported
his tottering steps with a staff; and, having lost his foreteeth, his
speech was indistinct and difficult to be comprehended. His wretched
appearance excited my compassion, at the same time that I could easily
discern, beneath all its disadvantages, that he was no common beggar
or rustic. Ruined and squalid as he appeared, I thought I could
perceive traces in his countenance of what had formerly been both
daring enterprise, profound meditation and generous humanity.

I saw that he was much fatigued, and I invited him to rest himself
upon the bench before the door. I set before him bread and wine, and
he partook of both. I asked him his name and his country. He told me
that he was a Venetian, and that his name, as nearly as I could
collect, was signor Francesco Zampieri. He seemed however averse to
speaking, and he requested me to suffer him to pass the night in my
habitation. There was nothing singular in the request, a hospitality
of this sort being the practice of the neighbourhood; and humanity
would have prompted my compliance, if I had not been still more
strongly urged by an undefinable curiosity, that began to spring up in
my bosom. I prepared for him a camp-bed in a summer-house at the end
of my garden. As soon as it was ready, he desired to be left alone,
that he might seek in rest some relief from the fatigue he had
undergone.

He retired early; and therefore, soon after day-break the next
morning, I waited on him to enquire how he had rested. He led me out
into the fields; the morning was genial and exhilarating. We
proceeded, till we came to a retired spot, which had frequently been
the scene of my solitary meditations, and there seated ourselves upon
a bank. We had been mutually silent during the walk. As soon as we
were seated, the stranger began: You are, I understand, a Frenchman,
and your name the count de St. Leon? I bowed assent.

St. Leon, said he, there is something in your countenance and manner
that prepossesses me in your favour. The only thing I have left to do
in the world, is to die; and what I seek at present, is a friend who
will take care that I shall be suffered to die in peace. Shall I trust
you? Will you be that friend to me?

I was astonished at this way of commencing his confidence in me; but I
did not hesitate to promise that he should not find me deficient in
any thing that became a man of humanity and honour.

You do not, I think, live alone? You have a wife and children?

I have.

Yet none of them were at home when I arrived last night. You brought
yourself to the summer-house every thing that was necessary for my
accommodation.

I did so. But I have a wife to whom I have been married seventeen
years, and from whom I have no reserves. I told her of your arrival; I
spoke of your appearance; I mentioned your name.

It is no matter. She has not seen me. My name is not Zampieri; I am no
Venetian.

Who are you then?

That you shall never know. It makes no part of the confidence I design
to repose in you. My name shall be buried with me in the grave; nor
shall any one who has hitherto known me, know how, at what time, or on
what spot of earth I shall terminate my existence. The cloud of
oblivion shall shelter me from all human curiosity. What I require of
you is that you pledge your honour and the faith of a man, that you
will never reveal to your wife, your children, or any human being,
what you may hereafter know of me, and that no particular that relates
to my history shall be disclosed, till at least one hundred years
after my decease.

Upon these conditions I am sorry that I must decline your confidence.
My wife is a part of myself; for the last six years at least I have
had no thought in which she has not participated; and these have been
the most tranquil and happy years of my life. My heart was formed by
nature for social ties; habit has confirmed the propensity; and I will
not now consent to any thing that shall infringe on the happiness of
my soul.

While I spoke, I could perceive that my companion grew disturbed and
angry. At length, turning towards me a look of ineffable contempt, he
replied: Feeble and effeminate mortal! You are neither a knight nor a
Frenchman! Or rather, having been both, you have forgotten in
inglorious obscurity every thing worthy of either! Was ever gallant
action atchieved, by him who was incapable of separating himself from
a woman? Was ever a great discovery prosecuted, or an important
benefit conferred upon the human race, by him who was incapable of
standing, and thinking, and feeling, alone? Under the usurping and
dishonoured name of virtue, you have sunk into a slavery baser than
that of the enchantress Alcina. In vain might honour, worth and
immortal renown proffer their favours to him who has made himself the
basest of all sublunary things, the puppet of a woman, the plaything
of her pleasure, wasting an inglorious life in the gratification of
her wishes and the performance of her commands!

I felt that I was not wholly unmoved at this expostulation. The
stranger touched upon the first and foremost passions of my soul,
passions the operation of which had long been suspended, but which
were by no means extinguished in my bosom. He proceeded: But it is
well! Years have passed over my head in vain, and I have not learned
to distinguish a man of honour from a slave. This is only one
additional sorrow to those in which my life has been spent. I have
wandered through every region of the earth, and have found only
disappointment. I have entered the courts of princes; I have
accompanied the march of armies; I have pined in the putridity of
dungeons. I have tasted every vicissitude of splendour and meanness;
five times have I been led to the scaffold, and with difficulty
escaped a public execution. Hated by mankind, hunted from the face of
the earth, pursued by every atrocious calumny, without a country,
without a roof, without a friend; the addition that can be made to
such misfortunes scarcely deserves a thought.

While he spoke, curiosity, resistless curiosity, presented itself as a
new motive, in aid of the sense of shame which the stranger had just
before kindled in my bosom. His manner was inconceivably impressive;
his voice, though inarticulate from age, had an irresistible melody
and volume of sound, which awed, while it won, the heart. His front
appeared open, large, and commanding; and, though he complained, his
complaints seemed to be those of conscious dignity and innocence. He
went on: Farewel, St. Leon! I go, and you shall see me, and hear of me
no more. You will repent, when it is too late, the folly of this day's
determination. I appear mean and insignificant in your eyes. You think
my secrets not worth your curiosity, and my benefits not worth your
acceptance. Know that my benefits are such as kings would barter their
thrones to purchase, and that my wealth exceeds the wealth of empires.
You are degraded from the rank you once held among mankind; your
children are destined to live in the inglorious condition of peasants.
This day you might have redeemed all your misfortunes, and raised
yourself to a station more illustrious than that to which you were
born. Farewel! Destiny has marked out you and yours for obscurity and
oblivion, and you do well to reject magnificence and distinction when
they proffer themselves for your acceptance.

Stop, cried I, mysterious stranger! Grant me a moment's leisure to
reflect and determine!

He had risen to depart, with a gesture of resolution and contempt. At
my exclamation he paused, and again turned himself towards me. My soul
was in tumults.

Answer me, most ambiguous and impenetrable of mortals! what is thy
story? and what the secrets, the disclosure of which is pregnant with
consequences so extraordinary?

Do you recollect the conditions upon which only the disclosure can be
made?

What can I say? Shall I determine to part with that which for years
has constituted the only consolation of my life? Shall I suppress the
curiosity which now torments me, and reject the boon you pretend to
have the power to confer?

I grant you the interval for reflection you demand. I refuse to place
further confidence in you, till you have maturely examined yourself,
and roused all the energies of your spirit to encounter the task you
undertake.

One word more. You know not, indeed you know not, what a woman you
exclude from your confidence. She is more worthy of it than I am.
Referring to my own experience and knowledge of the world, I can
safely pronounce her the first of her sex, perhaps the first of human
beings. Indulge me in this; include her in your confidence; and I am
content.

Be silent! I have made my determination; do you make yours! Know, I
would not, if I could, and cannot, if I would, repose the secrets that
press upon me in more than a single bosom. It was upon this condition
I received the communication; upon this condition only can I impart
it. I am resolved; to die is the election of my soul, a consummation
for which I impatiently wait. Having determined therefore to withdraw
myself from the powers committed to me, I am at liberty to impart
them; upon the same condition, and no other, you may one day, if you
desire it, seek the relief of confidence.

Having thus spoken, the stranger rose from his seat. It was yet early
morning, nor was it likely we should meet any one in our walk. He
however employed the precaution of causing me to explore the path, and
to see that we should return uninterrupted. We returned to the summer-
house. The window-shutters were still closed; the stranger determined
they should remain so. When I had come to him as soon as I rose, I had
found the door secured, nor had he admitted me, till he recognised my
voice, and had ascertained that I was alone. These precautions
scarcely excited my attention at the time; but, after the conversation
that had just passed, they returned distinctly to my memory.

The remainder of the day which had been opened by this extraordinary
scene, was passed by me in great anxiety. I ruminated with unceasing
wonder and perturbation upon the words of the stranger. Shall I shut
upon myself the gate of knowledge and information? Is it not the part
of a feeble and effeminate mind to refuse instruction, because he is
not at liberty to communicate that instruction to another, to a wife?
The stranger professes to be able to raise me to the utmost height of
wealth and distinction. Shall I refuse the gift, which in a former
instance I forfeited, but for which, though contemplated as at an
impracticable distance, my whole soul longs? If there is any thing
dishonourable connected with the participation of this wealth, I shall
still be at liberty to refuse it. There can be no crime in hearing
what this man has to communicate. I shall still, and always, be master
of myself; nor can I have any thing personally to fear from a man so
feeble, so decrepid, so emaciated. Yet what can be the gifts worthy of
acceptance, of a man who, while he possesses them, is tired of life,
and desires to die; or what the wealth of him who bears about him
every external symptom of poverty and desolation?

The conversation I had just held, revived in my mind the true feeling
of my present situation. The wounds of my soul had been lulled into
temporary insensibility; but they were in a state, in which the
slightest accident was capable of making them bleed afresh and with
all their former violence. I had rather steeled my mind to endure what
seemed unavoidable, than reconciled myself to my fate. The youthful
passions of my soul, which my early years had written there in
characters so deep, were by no means effaced. I could not contemplate
the splendour of rank with an impartial eye. I could not think of the
alternative of distinction or obscurity for my children with
indifference. But, most of all, the moment I had experienced for them
of hunger and impending destruction by famine, had produced an
indelible impression. It had destroyed all romance, I had almost said
all dignity, in my mind for ever. It had snapped, as by the touch of a
red-hot iron, all the finer and more etherialised nerves of my frame.
It had planted the sordid love of gold in my heart, there, by its
baneful vegetation, to poison its nobler and more salubrious feelings.

When I returned to the house, Marguerite enquired of me respecting the
stranger, but my answers were short and embarrassed. She seemed to
wonder that he did not come into the house, and partake of some
refreshment in the midst of my family. She asked, whether he were
indisposed, and whether he did not stand in need of some assistance
that she might afford him? Perceiving however that I was desirous of
saying as little as possible respecting him, she presently became
silent. I could see that she was hurt at my incommunicativeness, yet I
could not prevail upon myself to enter into an explanation of the
causes of my taciturnity. Ours was a family of love, and I could
observe that the children sympathised with their mother, and secretly
were surprised at and lamented my reserve. There would have been
little in this, in perhaps any other family but ours. But the last six
years had been spent by us in such primeval simplicity, that scarcely
one of us had a thought but what was known to the rest. Marguerite
cherished my frankness and unreserve with peculiar zeal; she
remembered with bitterness of soul the periods in which I fostered
conceptions only proper to myself, periods of dreadful calamity, or of
rooted melancholy and sadness. She could not help regarding the
silence into which for the present occasion I relapsed, as a portent
of evil augury. Charles, who was now sixteen years of age, recollected
the period of our ruined fortunes, when he had been alone with me at
Paris, and partook of his mother's feelings.

A trifling circumstance, at this time occasioned by the little
Marguerite, now eight years of age, rendered the restraint under which
I laboured more memorable and striking. She had left a little book of
fairy tales, in which she had been reading the day before, in the
summer-house. At first she did not recollect what was become of it,
and employed herself in searching for it with great assiduity. Of a
sudden however she remembered where she had read in it last; and,
exclaiming with exultation, it is in the summerhouse! sprang forward
to fetch it. I detained her, and told her there was a sick gentleman
there that she would disturb. Then, dear Julia! rejoined she, be so
good as to get it for me; you are so quiet and so careful, you never
disturb any body.

My love, answered I, nobody must get it for you. The gentleman chuses
to be alone, and will not let any body come to him. You shall have it
after dinner.

Ah, but, papa, I want it now. I put it away, just where the naughty
giant had shut up the gentleman in the dungeon, who came to take away
the lady. I was obliged to put it away then, because mamma called me
to go to bed; but I want so to know what will become of them, you
cannot think.

Well, dear Marguerite, I am sorry you must wait; but you must learn to
have patience.

Do you know, papa, I walked in the garden before breakfast. And so,
not thinking of any thing, I came to the summer-house; and I tried to
open the door, but I could not. I found it was locked. So I thought
Julia was there, and I knocked, and called Julia, but nobody answered.
So then I knew Julia was not there, for I was sure she would have
opened the door. So I climbed upon the stump of the pear-tree, and
tried to look in at the window; but the shutters were shut, and I
could not get to see over the top of them. And I walked all round the
summer-house, and all the shutters were shut. Papa, I wish you would
not let a man get into the summer-house, who shuts all the shutters,
and locks the door. You always used to let me go into every room I
liked; and, do you know, I think none but bad people lock and bolt
themselves up so. It puts me in mind of the giants with their draw-
bridges and their pit-falls; I shall be quite afraid of this frightful
old man.

This prattle of the child was nothing; yet it increased the
embarrassment of my situation, and made the peculiarity of the case
more conspicuous. Finding her pertinacious in insisting upon a topic
that was disagreeable to me, her mother called her from me, and put
her upon some occupation that served to divert her attention. I felt
like a person that was guilty of some crime; and this consideration
and kindness of my wife, when I seemed to myself to deserve her
reproach, had not the power to calm my uneasiness.

These little occurrences appeared like the beginning of a separation
of interests, and estrangement of hearts. I tasked myself severely. I
summoned the whole force of my mind, that I might strictly consider
what it was in which I was about to engage. If this flight and casual
hint of a secret is felt both by Marguerite and myself with so much
uneasiness and embarrassment, what will be our situation, if I go on
to accept the stranger's confidence, and become the depository of an
arcanum so important as he represents his to be? He declares himself
able to bestow upon me the highest opulence; what will be the feelings
of my wife and children, when they see my condition suddenly changed
from its present humble appearance to splendour and wealth, without
being able to assign the source of this extraordinary accession?

It is difficult to conceive a family-picture more enviable, than that
to which I was now continually present, and of which I formed a part.
We had been happy on the banks of the Garonne, and we had pictured to
ourselves a plan of happiness immediately on our arrival in the city
of Constance. But these were little and imperfect, compared with what
I now enjoyed. In the first situation my children were infants, and in
the second the eldest was but ten years of age. The mother was now
thirty-five; and she had lost, in my eyes at least, none of her
personal attractions. Her intellectual accomplishments were much
greater than ever. Her understanding was matured, her judgment
decided, her experience more comprehensive. As she had a greater
compass of materials to work upon, her fancy was more playful, her
conversation richer, and her reflections more amusing and profound.
The matronal character she had acquired, had had no other effect on
her feelings, than to render them more deep, more true and magnetical.
Her disposition was more entirely affectionate, than it had been, even
in the first year of our cohabitation. Her attachment to her children
was exemplary, and her vigilance uninterrupted; and, for myself, she
was accustomed, in all that related to our mutual love, to enter into
my sentiments and inclinations with so just a tone of equality and
kindness, that we seemed to be two bodies animated by a single soul.
If the mother were improved, the children were still more improved. In
their early years we are attached to our offspring, merely because it
is ours, and in a way that has led superficial speculators to consider
the attachment, less as the necessary operation of a sensible and
conscious mind, than as a wise provision of nature for the
perpetuation of the species. But, as they grow up, the case is
different. Our partiality is then confirmed or diminished, by
qualities visible to an impartial bystander as really as to ourselves.
They then cease to be merely the objects of our solicitude, and become
our companions, the partners of our sentiments, and the counsellors of
our undertakings. Such at least was my case at the present period.
Charles, who was now sixteen, was manly beyond his years, while the
native fire of his disposition was tempered by adversity, by an humble
situation, and by the ardour of filial and fraternal affection. Julia,
who was two years younger, became daily more interesting by the
mildness of her disposition and the tenderness of her sensibility.
Louisa was only twelve; but, as she was extremely notable, and had an
uncommonly quick and accurate spirit of imitation, she rendered
herself exceedingly useful to her mother. Marguerite, the plaything
and amusement of the family, had, as I have said, just completed the
eighth year of her age.

One exquisite source of gratification, when it is not a source of
uneasiness, to speak from my own experience, which a parent finds in
the society of his children, is their individuality. They are not
puppets, moved with wires, and to be played on at will. Almost from
the hour of their birth, they have a will of their own, to be
consulted and negociated with. We may say to them, as Adam to the
general mother of mankind, But now, thou wert flesh of my flesh, and
bone of my bone; and, even now, thou standest before me, vested in the
prerogatives of sentiment and reason; a living being, to be regarded
with attention and deference, to be courted, not compelled,
susceptible of the various catalogue of human passions, capable of
resentment and gratitude, of indignation and love, of perverseness and
submission. It is because thou art thus formed that I love thee. I
cannot be interested about objects inanimate or brute. I require a
somewhat that shall exercise my judgment, and awaken my moral
feelings. It is necessary to me to approve myself, and be approved by
another. I rejoice to stand before you, at once the defendant and the
judge. I rejoice in the restraint to which your independent character
subjects me, and it will be my pride to cultivate that independence in
your mind. I would negociate for your affections and confidence, and
not be loved by you, but in proportion as I shall have done something
to deserve it. I could not congratulate myself upon your
correspondence to my wishes, if it had not been in your power to
withhold it.

While I indulge myself in this vein of reflection, I seem again to see
my family, as they surrounded me in the year fifteen hundred and
forty-four, Marguerite the partner of my life, Charles the brother of
my cares, the blooming Julia, the sage Louisa, and the playful cadette
of the family. How richly furnished, how chearful, how heart-reviving
appeared to me the apartment in which they were assembled! I dwell
upon the image with fond affection and lingering delight. Where are
they now? How has all this happiness been maliciously undermined, and
irrevocably destroyed! To look back on it, it seems like the idle
fabric of a dream. I awake, and find myself alone! Were there really
such persons? Where are they dispersed? Whither are they gone? Oh,
miserable solitude and desertion, to which I have so long been
condemned! I see nothing around me, but speechless walls, or human
faces that say as little to my heart as the walls themselves! How
palsied is my soul! How withered my affections!--But I will not
anticipate.




CHAP. II.

I Carried food to the stranger as occasion required in the course of
the day. He seemed indisposed to speak, and we exchanged scarcely more
than two or three words. The next morning was the implied time to
which the question of his confidence was deferred, and I went to him
with the full resolution of refusing it. Whether it were that he
discerned this resolution in my countenance, or that, in the interval
that elapsed, he had formed a meaner opinion of my character, and
thought me unfit for the purposes he intended I should answer, certain
it is that he anticipated me. At the same time he magnified the
importance of the gifts he had to communicate. He expressed himself
astonished at the precipitateness of his yesterday's conduct. It was
not till after much trial and long probation that he could choose
himself a confident. I was not at present fit for the character, nor
perhaps ever should be. The talent he possessed, was one upon which
the fate of nations and of the human species might be made to depend.
God had given it for the best and highest purposes; and the vessel in
which it was deposited, must be purified from the alloy of human
frailty. It might be abused, and applied to the most atrocious
designs. It might blind the understanding of the wisest, and corrupt
the integrity of the noblest. It might overturn kingdoms, and change
the whole order of human society into anarchy and barbarism. It might
render its possessor the universal plague or the universal tyrant of
mankind.

Go, St. Leon! added the stranger, you are not qualified for so
important a trust. You are not yet purged of imbecility and weakness.
Though you have passed through much, and had considerable experience,
you are yet a child. I had heard your history, and expected to find
you a different man. Go, and learn to know yourself for what you are,
frivolous and insignificant, worthy to have been born a peasant, and
not sitted to adorn the rolls of chivalry or the rank to which you
were destined!

There was something so impressive in the rebuke and contempt of this
venerable sage, that made it impossible to contend with them. Never
was there a man more singular, and in whom were united greater
apparent contradictions. Observe him in a quiet and unanimated moment,
you might almost take him for a common beggar, a poor, miserable
wretch, in whom life lingered, and insensate stupidity reigned. But,
when his soul was touched in any of those points in which it was most
alive, he rose at once, and appeared a giant. His voice was the voice
of thunder; and rolling in a rich and sublime swell, it arrested and
stilled, while it withered all the nerves, of the soul. His eye-beam
sat upon your countenance, and seemed to look through you. You wished
to escape from its penetrating power, but you had not the strength to
move. I began in a manner to feel as if it were some mysterious and
superior being in human form, and not a mortal, with whom I was
concerned.

What a strange and contradictory being is man! I had gone to the
summer-house this morning, with a firm resolution to refuse the gifts
and the communication of the stranger. I felt lightened as it were
from a burthen, which the whole preceding day had oppressed me, while
I formed this resolution. I was chearful, and felt conscious of
rectitude and strength of mind. How cheaply we prize a gift which we
imagine to be already in our power! With what philosophical
indifference do we turn it on every side, depreciate its worth,
magnify its disadvantages, and then pique ourselves upon the sobriety
and justice of the estimate we have made! Thus it was with me in the
present transaction. But, when I had received the check of the
stranger, and saw the proposed benefit removed to a vast and uncertain
distance, then it resumed all its charms. Then the contrast of wealth
and poverty flashed full upon my soul. Before, I had questioned the
reality of the stranger's pretensions, and considered whether he might
not be an artful impostor. But now all was clearness and certainty.
The advantages of wealth passed in full review before my roused
imagination. I saw horses, palaces and their furniture; I saw the
splendour of exhibition and the trains of attendants, objects which
had been for ever dear to my puerile imagination; I contemplated the
honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, which are so apt to attend
upon wealth, when disbursed with a moderate degree of dignity and
munificence. When I compared this with my present poverty and
desertion, the meanness of our appearance, our daily labours, the
danger that an untoward accident might sink us in the deepests
distress, and the hopelessness that my son or his posterity should
ever rise to that honour and distinction to which they had once been
destined, the effect was too powerful.

Another feeling came still further in aid of this. It was the
humiliating impression which the stranger had left upon my mind. This
seemed to be his great art, if in reality his conduct is to be imputed
to art. There is no enemy to virtue so fatal as a sense of
degradation. Self-applause is our principal support in every liberal
and elevated act of virtue. If this ally can be turned against us, if
we can be made to ascribe baseness, effeminacy, want of spirit and
adventure to our virtuous resolutions, we shall then indeed feel
ourselves shaken. This was precisely my situation. The figure I made
in my own eyes was mean; I was impatient of my own degradation; I
believed that I had shown myself uxorious and effeminate, at a time
that must have roused in me the spirit of a man, if there had been a
spark of manly spirit latent in my breast. This impatience cooperated
with the temptations of the stranger, and made me anxious to possess
what he offered to my acceptance.

I reasoned thus with myself: What excites my scruples is simply the
idea of having one single secret from my wife and family. This scruple
is created by the singular and unprecedented confidence in which we
have been accustomed to live. Other men have their secrets; nor do
they find their domestic tranquillity broken by that circumstance. The
merchant does not call his wife into consultation upon his ventures;
the statesman does not unsold to her his policy and his projects; the
warrior does not take her advice upon the plan of his campaign; the
poet does not concert with her his flights and his episodes. To other
men the domestic scene is the relaxation of their cares; when they
enter it, they dismiss the business of the day, and call another
cause. I only have concentred in it the whole of my existence. By this
means I have extinguished in myself the true energy of the human
character. A man can never be respectable in the eyes of the world or
in his own, except so far as he stands by himself and is truly
independent. He may have friends; he may have domestic connections;
but he must not in these connections lose his individuality. Nothing
truly great was ever atchieved, that was not executed or planned in
solitary seclusion.

But, if these reasons are sufficient to prove that the plan I have
lately pursued is fundamentally wrong, how much more will the
importance of what is proposed by the stranger, plead my excuse for
deviating from it? How bitterly have I lamented the degradation of my
family! Shall I not seize upon this opportunity of restoring them to
their hereditary honours? I deemed the ruin I had brought upon them
irreparable; shall I not embrace the occasion of atoning for my fault?
No man despises wealth, who fully understands the advantages it
confers. Does it not confer the means of cultivating our powers? Does
it not open to us the career of honour, which is shut against the
unknown and obscure? Does it not conciliate the prepossessions of
mankind, and gain for us an indulgent and liberal construction? Does
it not inspire us with graceful confidence, and animate us to generous
adventure? The poor man is denied every advantage of education, and
wears out his life in labour and ignorance. From offices of trust,
from opportunities of distinction, he is ignominiously thrust aside;
and, though he should sacrifice his life for the public cause, he dies
unhonoured and unknown. If by any accident he comes into possession of
those qualities which, when discerned and acknowledged, command the
applause of mankind, who will listen to him? His appearance is mean;
and the sastidious auditor turns from him ere half his words are
uttered. He has no equipage and attendants, no one to blow the trumpet
before him and proclaim his rank; how can he propose any thing that
shall be worthy of attention? Aware of the prepossession of mankind in
this respect, he is alarmed and overwhelmed with confusion before he
opens his mouth. Filled with the conscience of his worth, he
anticipates the unmerited contempt that is prepared to oppress him,
and his very heart dies within him. Add to these circumstances, the
constitution of our nature, the various pleasures of which it is
adapted to partake, and how many of these pleasures it is in the power
of wealth to procure. Yes; an object like this will sufficiently
apologise for me to those for whose sake alone it was estimable in my
fight. It is indeed nothing but our poverty and the lowness of our
station, that have thus produced in us an entire concurrence and
communication of sentiments. Wealth would to a certain degree destroy
our contact, and take off the wonder that we had each our thoughts
that were not put into the common stock.

These considerations decided my choice. I was not indeed without some
variations of mind, and some compunction of heart for the resolution I
had espoused. The longer the stranger remained with me, the more
evident it was that there was something mysterious between us; and the
unreserved affection and union that had lately reigned under my roof,
suffered materially the effects of it. The stranger had been led to my
cottage in the first instance, by the entire solitude in which it was
placed. There was nothing about which he was so solicitous as
concealment; the most atrocious criminal could not be more alarmed at
the idea of being discovered. I was unable to account for this; but I
was now too anxious for his stay and the promised reward, not to be
alert in gratifying all his wishes. The most inviolable secrecy
therefore was enjoined to the whole family; and the younger branches
of it, particularly the little Marguerite, it was necessary to keep
almost immured, to prevent the danger of their reporting any thing out
of the house, that might be displeasing to the stranger, and fatal to
my expectations. Upon the whole my situation was eminently an uneasy
one. No experiment can be more precarious than that of a half-
confidence; and nothing but the sincere affection that was entertained
for me could have rendered it successful in this instance. My family
felt that they were trusted by me only in points where it was
impossible to avoid it, and that I was not therefore properly entitled
to their cooperation; I was conscious of ingratitude in making them no
return for their fidelity. They kept my secret because they were
solicitous to oblige me, not from any conviction that they were
conferring on me a benefit, but, on the contrary, suspecting that the
object as to which they were blindly assisting me, would prove
injurious to me, as well as to themselves.

The health of the stranger visibly declined; but this was a
circumstance which he evidently regarded with complacency. It was the
only source of consolation of which he appeared susceptible; his mind
was torn with painful remembrances, and agitated with terrible
forebodings. He abhorred solitude, and yet found no consolation in
society. I could not be much with him; my duty to my family who were
principally supported by my labour, was a call too imperious to be
neglected. Even when I was with him, he commonly testified no desire
for conversation. Sit with me, he was accustomed to say; give me as
much of your time as you can; but do not talk. Upon these occasions,
he would sit sometimes with his arms folded, and with the most
melancholy expression imaginable. He would then knit his brows, wring
his hands with a sadness that might have excited pity in the hardest
breast, or, with both hands closed, the one clasping the other, strike
himself impatiently on the forehead. At other times, he would rise
from his feat, pace the room with hurried and unquiet steps, and then
again throw himself on his couch in the greatest agitation. His
features were often convulsed with agony. Often have I wiped away the
sweat, which would suddenly burst out in large drops on his forehead.
At those seasons he would continually mutter words to himself, the
sense of which it was impossible for me to collect. I could perceive
however that he often repeated the names of Clara!--Henry!--a wife!--a
friend! a friend!--and then he would groan as if his heart were
bursting. Sometimes, in the midst of these recollections, he would
pass the back of his hand over his eyes; and then, looking at it,
shaking his head, and biting his under lip, exclaim with a piteous
accent, Dry!--dry! all the moisture of my frame is perished! Then, as
if recovering himself, he would cry with a startled and terrified
voice, Who is there? St. Leon? Come to me! Let me feel that there is a
human being near me! I often call for you; but I find myself alone,
deserted, friendless--friendless!

At times when his recollection was more complete, he would say, I
know, I tire you! Why should I tire you? What gratification can it be
to me to occasion emotions of disgust? Upon these occasions I
endeavoured to soothe him, and assured him I found pleasure in
administering to his relief. But he replied, No, no: do not flatter
me! It is long since I have heard the voice of flattery! I never loved
it! No, I know I am precluded from ever exciting friendship or
sympathy! Why am I not dead? Why do I live, a burthen to myself,
useful to none? My secret, I could almost resolve, should die with me;
but you have earned, and you shall receive it!

The stranger was not always in this state of extreme anguish, nor
always indisposed to converse. He had lucid intervals; and could
beguile the sorrow of his heart with social communication. We
sometimes talked of various sciences and parts of learning; he
appeared to be well informed in them all. His observations were
ingenious; his language copious; his illustrations fanciful and
picturesque; his manner bold and penetrating. It was easy to observe
in him the marks of a vigorous and masculine genius. Sometimes we
discussed the events at that time going on in the world. When we spoke
of events that had passed, and persons that had died, more than a
century before, the stranger often spoke of them in a manner as if he
had been an eye-witness and directly acquainted with the objects of
our discourse. This I ascribed to the vividness of his conceptions,
and the animation of his language. He however often checked himself in
this peculiarity, and always carefully avoided what could lead to any
thing personal to himself. I described to him the scenes of my youth,
and related my subsequent history; he on his part was invincibly
silent on every circumstance of his country, his family and his
adventures.

The longer I was acquainted with him, the more my curiosity grew. I
was restless and impatient to learn something respecting a man who
thus wrapped himself up in mystery and reserve. Often I threw out, as
it were, a line by which to fathom his secret. I talked of various
countries, I mentioned different kinds of calamities and even of
crimes, that by some incidental allusion I might discover at unawares
his country, his connections, or the nature of his story. When any
thing that offered seemed to promise to lead to the desired point, I
doubled my questions, and endeavoured to construct them with the skill
of a crafty litigant in a court of justice. There were some subjects,
the very mention of which gave him uneasiness, and upon which he
immediately silenced me; but these were not of themselves enough to
afford me a clue, or to furnish materials out of which for me to
construct the history of the stranger. He did not always perceive the
drift of my questions and snares; but, when he did, he generally
became loud, resentful and furious. There was nothing else that so
completely roused his indignation.

St. Leon! said he to me one day, silence this inquisitive temper of
yours, check your rash and rude curiosity! The only secret I have that
can be of any importance to you, you shall one day know. But my
country, my family, my adventures, I have once told you and I now tell
you again, you shall never know. That knowledge can be of moment to no
one, and it shall never be disclosed. When this heart ceases to beat,
that tale shall cease to have a place on the face of the earth. Why
should my distresses and disgraces be published to any one? Is it not
enough, that they have lacerated my bosom, that they have deprived me
of friends, that they have visited me with every adversity and every
anguish, that they have bowed me down to the earth, that they have
made thought and remembrance and life itself a burthen too heavy to be
borne? Your present injudicious conduct, if persisted in, will have
the effect of driving me from your roof, of turning me once more upon
the world, upon that world that I hate, upon that world whose bruises
and ill treatment I feel in every fibre of my frame, of exposing me
again to fresh persecutions, and causing me to perish, miserably in a
dungeon, or die upon a scaffold. Spare me, my generous host; I know
you are capable of generosity. Indeed I have endured enough to satiate
the rage of malice itself. You see what I suffer from the rage and
tempest of my own thoughts, even without the assistance of any
external soc. Let me die in that degree of tranquillity I am able to
attain! I will not trouble you long!

At another time, he addressed me in a different style. You see, St.
Leon, that the anguish of mind I endure is such as is ordinarily
attributed to the recollection of great crimes; and you have very
probably conjectured that in my case it arises from the same source.
If you have, I forgive you; but I assure you that you are mistaken.
Take from yourself that uneasiness, if it has ever visited you; you
are not giving sanctuary to a villain! I am innocent. I can take no
crime to my charge. I have suffered more almost than man ever
suffered; but I have sinned little. The cause of my uneasiness and
prime source of all my misfortunes, I dare not disclose to you. Be
contented with the plan of my conduct. I have digested my purpose. I
have determined where to speak and where to be silent.

The more I saw of this man, the more strange and unaccountable
appeared to me every thing that related to him. Why was he so poor,
possessing, as he pretended, inexhauslible wealth? Why was he unhappy,
with so great talents and genius, and such various information? Why
was he friendless, being, as he solemnly assured me, so perfectly
innocent, and of consequence so respectable? That he was an impostor,
every thing that I saw of him forbade me to believe. His sorrows were
too profound and excruciating, for it to be possible for me to rank
them among the actions that a man may pray. The greatness of his
powers, the dignity of his carriage, the irresistible appearance of
sincerity that sparkled in his eye, and modulated his voice, fully
convinced me that he really was what he pretended to be. I had heard
of men who, under the pretence of alchymy, fastened themselves upon
persons possessing sums of money, and, beguiling them with a delusive
expectation of wealth, reduced them to beggary and ruin. One such
person I had had a brief connection with during my residence in the
Bordelois, though, finding the incident by no means essential to the
progress of my history, I have passed it over, together with many
others, in silence. But nothing could be more unlike than that man and
the person respecting whom I was now concerned. In reality I possessed
at that time, if I may be allowed to say so, a more than common
insight into the characters of mankind, so as to be little likely,
except under the tyranny of passion, as in the instance of gaming, to
be made the prey of imposition. I had studied my species as it
exhibits itself in history, and had mixed with it in various scenes
and under dissimilar aspects. I had accordingly, in the transaction I
have just alluded to, soon detected the plans of the villain who
expected to delude me. But what could be the purpose of the stranger
in this respect? The pretended alchymist in France had obtained a
certain sum of money of me, and demanded more. The stranger never made
such a demand of me; and perfectly knew that, even if I had been
inclined, I was not able to supply him. The alchymist had amused me
with descriptions of various processes for the transmutation of
metals, had exhibited his crucibles and retorts, and employed a sort
of dramatic coup d'oeil, for the purpose of awakening my curiosity,
and stimulating my passions. The stranger had simply stated, in the
plainest and most direct manner, that it was in his power to enrich
me; but had been silent as to the manner of producing the wealth he
promised, and had abstained from every effort to intoxicate my mind. I
felt therefore in this instance the effect, that, without being able
to solve the difficulties and contrarieties that hung about him, I yet
believed his assertions, nor was the inscrutability of his history and
his motives capable of shaking my confidence.

One day, during the period of his concealment, certain officers of the
bishop of Constance, accompanied by a foreigner in a Neapolitan habit,
came to my house, and, as it proved, with the express purpose of
searching for the man who had put himself under my protection. Charles
and myself were at work in the fields within sight of the lake. Their
appearance first caught the attention of Charles as they approached
the shore, and he enquired of me respecting the appearance of the
foreigner which was different from any he had been accustomed to see.
While we were yet speaking, I observed in them an intention to land
within sight of my cottage. This was an uncommon circumstance; our
privacy was rarely invaded, and we lived almost as much out of the
world as we should have done in the remotest island of the Atlantic
ocean. I reasoned in my own mind upon their appearance; they had
little resemblance to a party of pleasure; the habit of the officers
of justice I was perfectly acquainted with; and the suspicion of the
real nature of their errand immediately darted on my thoughts. Without
saying a word to Charles on the subject, I hastened with all the speed
I could exert to the apartment of the stranger, and acquainted him
with what I had seen. He concurred with me in the ideas I had formed,
and appeared much shocked at the intelligence. There was however no
time to be lost; and, after having for a moment given vent to an
anguish, which was too powerful to be suppressed, he withdrew as
hastily as he could from the summer-house, and betook himself to the
woods. He recommended to me to leave him, telling me that he could
conceal himself most effectually alone, and observing that it would be
necessary for me to meet the officers, and endeavour as much as
possible to remove their suspicions.

Accordingly, as soon as he was gone, I threw open the windows of the
summer-house, removed the shutters, and took from it, as effectually
as I could, all appearance of having served as a place of concealment.
This was a precaution which the stranger had in a former instance
recommended to me. It fortunately happened that Julia and the little
Marguerite were gone out together in the fields on the eastern side of
my cottage; otherwise infallibly the child by her innocent prattle,
and perhaps Julia by the apprehensive sensibility of her temper, would
have betrayed our secret, or at least have suggested to the officers a
feeling as if, by a longer stay and a more diligent search, they might
possibly succeed in the object of their expedition. As it was, I
received them at the door, and learned from their own mouths, the
nature of their errand. Of Charles, whom they had crossed in the
fields, they had simply asked whether they were right as to the name
of the person who was proprietor of the cottage before them. They
described to me with great accuracy the appearance of the stranger,
and insisted that he had been an inhabitant of my cottage. They told
me, they were well informed that the summer-house in my garden had
carefully been shut up for more than a month past, and that some
person had been concealed there. I was interested in the distress of
the stranger; I was impressed with the dignity of his character; I
implicitly confided in his assertions of innocence and the unjust
persecution that he suffered; I was not insensible to the proposed
reward, the realising of which probably depended on his safety. But,
most of all, I considered my honour as pledged for the protection of
the man who had thus cast himself upon my sidelity, and believed that
I should be everlastingly disgraced if he suffered any evil through
treachery or neglect on my part. I therefore answered confidently to
the officers that they were misinformed, and offered to conduct them
over every part of my house and demesnes, that they might satisfy
themselves by personal inspection that there was no person concealed
any where within my possessions. I should have been better pleased,
openly to have defied their interrogatories, and to have asked them,
whether, allowing their suspicions to be just, they were entitled to
believe that I was such a villain, as to betray a man who had thrown
himself upon my generosity? But, though this conduct would have had a
greater appearance of gallantry, I believed it would have less of the
reality, as it would have strengthened their idea of my participation,
and increased the danger of the person I was bound to protect.

They accepted my offer of submitting to their search, and made a
strict examination of every place about my habitation, in which the
stranger could be concealed. Disappointed here, they endeavoured by
threats to discover whether I was able to give them any information.
To these I calmly answered, that they had mistaken my character, that,
though I was a poor man, I had not forgotten that I was noble, that
they were already in possession of my spontaneous answer to their
enquiries, and that, in no case, and upon no supposition, should
tyranny and ill-treatment extort from me, what I was not in the first
instance freely disposed to give. My wife was present during this
conversation, and, I could perceive, felt an alarm for my danger, that
she would have been incapable of feeling for a danger to herself.

Though I was extremely anxious that these men should be disappointed
in the object of their expedition, yet I did not neglect this
opportunity of endeavouring to obtain satisfaction for my own
curiosity. I remarked at first that the Neapolitan was an inquisitor,
and this circumstance had given additional poignancy to the uneasiness
of Marguerite. But the accusations of which the inquisition at this
time took cognisance were so numerous, the ecclesiastical power
continually usurping upon the civil, that I was little assisted in the
judgment I was desirous to frame, by any inference to be deduced from
this circumstance. I questioned directly, with an air as if it were
merely in the way of conversation, what was the crime of the man of
whom they were in pursuit, and what was the cause forcible enough to
induce a Neapolitan inquisitor to follow so decrepid and forlorn an
individual as he described, beyond the Alps, and almost to the banks
of the Danube? To this he answered roughly, that, though he was not
able to discover the object of his search, he was by no means
convinced that I was not his abettor and accomplice; and that, as to
his crime, that was not to be named; the welfare of Christendom
demanding, that the criminal, and the memory of his offences, should
be buried together. At the same time he warned me to consider well
what I did, before I exposed myself to be overwhelmed by the vengeance
of the court of which he was a member. To this I answered haughtily,
that I had already condescended to repel his suspicion, and that no
other man than an inquisitor would have had the stupidity or the
audaciousness to question my veracity. I added, that I was perfectly
acquainted with the nature of his court, which was an object of
abhorrence to the whole Christian world; but that he was much
mistaken, if he supposed that the detestable nature of its proceedings
would enable him to practise every sort of outrage with impunity. The
officers withdrew into the little inclosure in front of my cottage,
and I overheard them consulting whether, having failed in their
principal object, they should carry me a prisoner along with them. The
firmness of my manner however had awed them, and the fearlessness I
expressed seemed to them to arise from a consciousness of innocence.
They at length departed as they came.

I watched them from my cottage as they descended to the shore, and it
was with no little pleasure that I at length perceived them reimbark,
and stand off for the opposite side of the lake. This spectacle for a
time entirely engaged me, and, when I turned round from the door, I
observed that my beloved Marguerite had been in tears. She endeavoured
to hide this circumstance from my sight. I took her affectionately by
the hand, and, pressing her to my bosom, intreated her not to make
herself uneasy.

Ah, Reginald! said she, how can I avoid being uneasy, when I see you
exposed to this imminent danger? I thought that, in forfeiting our
fortune and our rank, and retiring to this obscure and sequestered
situation, we might at least promise ourselves the blessing of the
poor, oblivion and security; and that should have consoled me for all
I have lost. Who is this man, that is thus mysteriously hidden among
us? What is the guilt from the punishment of which he thus anxiously
withdraws himself? What can be the nature of your connection with such
a man? And what will be the issue of so perilous an adventure?

I hesitated. I knew not what to answer to so earnest an anxiety. I was
melted at the distress and the affection of Marguerite. She saw my
embarrassment, and proceeded.

Mistake me not, my beloved! said she. I have no desire to pry into
what you are willing to conceal. Forgive the perturbation which has
poured itself out in these involuntary questions. I repose an entire
confidence in you. I would sooner die, than interfere with any object
you have at heart. Go on according to the dictates of your own
judgment, undisturbed by me. I will not doubt that you have sufficient
reasons for what you communicate, and what you suppress. I am grieved
indeed at the interruption of our obscure and unambitious
tranquillity; but I had resolved not to trouble you with my uneasiness
and apprehensions. The incident of this morning has extorted them from
me; but I will behave better in future.

This scene was extremely distressing to me. My wife was oppressed with
fears, and I had nothing to answer her: The consolations that rose up
in my own mind, I was prevented from communicating. The more
generously she consided in me, the more I felt the ungracious and
disagreeable nature of the concealment I practised. I endeavoured
however to encourage myself with the idea, that the labour would not
be long, and the harvest would prove abundant. I said in my own mind,
The worst is now over; the business has been commenced; the shock to
my own family has actually occurred; I must go on resolutely, and shut
my eyes to the temporarily displeasing circumstances that may be
connected with the completing my object.




CHAP. III.

Another source of uneasiness added itself to the distraction my mind
already endured. The stranger did not appear. It was in the morning
that the officers of justice arrived; they departed about noon; and in
two hours afterwards I entered the wood in search of my guest. The
wood was of some leagues in extent; it was intersected by paths in
various directions; it was interspersed with caverns; its growth was
of all kinds, in some places lofty trees that seemed to form a support
for the clouds, in others an underwood impenetrable alike to the feet
and to the eye. As I entered the wood, I however conceived that the
discovery of the stranger, to me who was acquainted with its lurking
places, would be an affair of little toil; his feebleness and
decrepitude would not suffer him to proceed to any great distance. In
this however I was mistaken. I looked carefully on all sides; I
examined every recess and corner with which I was acquainted; but I
found no trace of the stranger. The scene was so complicated and
involved that even this was a labour of considerable duration. At
length I became satisfied that he was not in the nearer division of
the wood.

I paused. I felt at once that it was little less than a Herculean task
to hunt through the whole of its dimensions. It would probably be of
little use to call, and endeavour by that means to discover his
retreat. I knew of no name by which he was to be recognised; and, if
my own voice was but a slight resource to penetrate this immense
labyrinth of foliage, the voice of the stranger, weakened by age, and
now probably still more enfeebled by hunger and fatigue, could not be
expected to make itself heard. Beside which, as I knew not what the
source of information had been to the officers who had just left me, I
was unwilling to expose my guest to the danger that might arise from
this mode of seeking him. I could not even be sure, though I had seen
their boat stand off from the shore, that they might not afterwards
land one or more of their party, and be at this very moment within
ear-shot of me. I therefore proceeded in anxiety and silence.

My search was no more successful in the part of the wood with which I
was little acquainted, than in the part with which I was most
familiar. I had already been engaged four hours in the task, and night
began to come on. It shut in with heavy clouds, that on all sides
appeared deeply loaded with rain. I now began to consider my own
situation; and, by comparing circumstances, found that I was at a
great distance from my own habitation. There was no direct path by
which for me to return. I had proceeded to the right and the left,
backward and forward, sometimes by more open paths, and sometimes
forcing my way through briars and brush-wood, as caprice or the hope
of effecting the object of my search happened to guide me. It was
therefore no easy matter to guess how I was to return, or even, now
that the lowering clouds had covered the horizon with one uniform
tint, in which direction lay the cottage or the lake. While I stood
contemplating what was to be done, I heard the howling of the wolves
at a distance, and their howl had that particular melancholy and
discomfiting sound which is well known to precede a coming storm.
There was no time to be lost, and accordingly I set out. I was less
anxious to be at home on my own account, than for the sake of quieting
the alarms of my family, to whom I had already occasioned too great a
portion of uneasiness.

I had not proceeded far, before the rain descended in torrents,
intermingled with peals of thunder and sheets of lightning. The
thunder, interrupted, as it were, from time to time, with the noise of
the wild beasts that inhabited the wood, deafened me, while the
excessive and instantaneous brilliancy of the lighting occasioned me
an intolerable aching in the organ of sight. It rained incessantly for
two hours, and I found myself drenched and fatigued with the wet.
During this time my progress was small; and I was ever and anon
intercepted by the underwood, and could not without repeated
experiments discover the means of proceeding. At length the rain
subsided, and seemed to give place to a gloomy and motionless calm.
Soon after, I discovered a light at a distance, and advanced towards
it. As I approached, I perceived that it proceeded from a set of
banditti, to the amount of fourteen or fifteen persons, sitting round
a fire in the mouth of a cavern. I was glad to turn my steps another
way, and was for some time afraid that the noise I made in
occasionally forcing my way through the bushes, would alarm them, and
cost me my life. I however fortunately escaped their notice. This was
in a part of the wood remote from the path I ought to have taken, and
near the road to Lindau.

The day began to dawn before I reached my own habitation. The
conjecture I had made, when I was unawares upon the point of falling
into the hands of the banditti, that the road of Lindau was on the
other side of their retreat, was of some service to me as an
indication where to find the cottage and the lake. This road skirted
the wood, on the side nearly opposite to that by which I entered it.
The difficulties however I had to encounter were inconceivably great,
in endeavouring to preserve my line of direction. After having been
compelled four or five times to deviate from the line, it is seldom
that a traveller will find himself right in his conjecture as to the
direction he is pursuing, unless he has some sensible object as a sort
of pole-star by which to govern his route. It happened however in this
instance that I was more fortunate than I was entitled to expect. I
laboured indeed till day-break without getting out of the labyrinth
that inclosed me. But the sun no sooner began to lend an imperfect
light, than I recognised certain objects which upon some former
occasions I had observed, and perceived that my journey was nearly at
an end. I entered my cottage, and found Marguerite alone awake and
expecting me.

She had been somewhat uneasy on account of my absence, both from the
extreme tempestuousness of the night, and in consequence of the
painful sensations the events of the preceding morning had introduced,
events with which it was almost unavoidable for her to imagine that my
absence was in some way connected. The period of my insanity in
Switzerland might indeed have accustomed her to the irregularity of my
motions, but a term of more than six years which had intervened, had
produced in her expectations and habits of a different sort. I related
to this admirable woman the adventures of the night and the
fruitlessness of the search in which I had been engaged; and this
openness of communication, unresembling the nature of the intercourse
which had lately existed between us, relieved in some degree my
burthened heart, and cheered the drooping spirits of Marguerite. She
dropped some sweet and sadly pleasing tears; and her manner seemed to
say, though she would not suffer her tongue to give the idea words,
How sweet are cordiality and confidence! Oh, do not let our situation,
which has deprived us of many other comforts, ever again be robbed of
this comfort, which is alone worth all the rest! Though she
necessarily felt the presence of the stranger as an evil, the bane of
our domestic peace, yet it was impossible for her not to compassionate
his fate, and suffer some distress from his strange and abrupt
disappearance.

After the conversation which had so eminently served as a relief to
our minds, Marguerite left me to repose myself from the extraordinary
fatigue I had undergone. But my mind was too much disturbed to suffer
me to sink into the arms of forgetfulness. I felt something tragical
in the sad destiny of my unfortunate guest. It was but too probable
that, in his peculiarly weak state of body, and with his declining
health, the being thus exposed for a day and a night to the effects of
hunger, of the inclemency of the air, and the tempestuousness of the
elements, would put a close to his existence. I was determined soon to
recommence my search. But how could I be sure that I should be more
fortunate to-day, than the day before? If I found him, it was most
likely I should find him either dead or dying. The degree of
intercourse that had taken place between us, had made him occupy a
considerable space in my thoughts. The prospects he had opened to me,
the conduct he had induced me to adopt, the painful effects and
dissatisfaction of mind which had been produced by that conduct as it
respected my family, all combined to give me an interest in his fate.
I had seen his talents; I had felt his ascendancy; I had experienced
that sort of conflict, which appearances of guilt on the one hand, and
asseverations of innocence on the other, are calculated to produce in
the thoughts and emotions of a by-stander. He was no common man; the
expectations and conjectures he excited were of no ordinary sort; and
I felt that an army might be destroyed, and a spacious plain covered
with the wounded and the dying, without producing greater commotion in
my soul.

In the anxious and disturbed state of mind in which I was, the
thoughts flow with extraordinary rapidity. It will be found attended
with a strange, and, previously to the experiment, incredible mixture
of reasoning and passion, of philosophising and fury. I was
accordingly conscious at this moment of the truth of the stranger's
assertion, that in me he had a protector, not a friend. Friendship is
an object of a peculiar sort; the smallest reserve is deadly to it. I
may indeed feel the emotions of a friend towards a man who in part
conceals from me the thoughts of his heart; but then I must be
unconscious of this concealment. The instant I feel this limitation of
confidence, he drops into the class of ordinary men. A divorce is
effected between us. Our hearts which grew together, suffer
amputation; the arteries are closed; the blood is no longer mutually
transfused and confounded. I shall be conscious of all his qualities,
for I stand in the place of an impartial umpire. I consider him as a
machine capable of so much utility to myself, and so much utility to
other men. But I do not regard him as the brother of my soul. I do not
feel that my life is bound up in his. I do not feel as if, were he to
die, the whole world would be at an end to me, and that my happiness
would be buried with him for ever in the darkness of the grave. I am
not conscious of those emotions which are the most exquisite and
indescribable the human mind can experience, and which, being
communicated by a sort of electrical stroke to him who is their
object, constitute the solace of all his cares, the alleviator of all
his calamities, the only nectar and truest balm of human life. For me,
he stands alone in the world, having companions and associates, the
connections, as it were, of mercantile selfishness, or casual jollity
and good humour, but no friend. It was thus that I thought of the
stranger. He obtained from me the compassion due to a human being, and
the respect extorted by his qualities, but nothing calculated
radically to disturb the equilibrium of my mind. I looked forward to
his death with unruffled thoughts and an unmoistened eye. There was
one thing indeed that shook me more deeply; the thought of losing the
promised reward, and having exposed myself to the evil of an unquiet
and dissatisfied mind in vain.

I rested but a few hours before I set out again upon the search, to
which the interposition of the darkness of the preceding night had put
an abrupt close. I had the precaution to take with me a slight
provision of food and cordials, believing that, if I found the
stranger, he would at least be in the greatest need of something
reviving and restorative. Charles earnestly intreated to assist me in
the search, but upon this I put a peremptory prohibition. It would
have been in direct contradiction to what the stranger had most
solemnly required of me.

I had already spent several hours in anxiously tracing the wood in
every direction, and the period of noon was past, when, approaching an
obscure and almost impenetrable thicket, my ear was caught by a low
and melancholy sound, which at first I knew not to what I was to
ascribe. It however arrested my attention, and caused me to assume an
attitude of listening. After the lapse of little more than a minute,
the same sound was repeated. I now distinctly perceived that it was
the groan of some creature in a very seeble and exhausted state, and
immediately suspected that it was the stranger. I went almost round
the thicket before I could discern an entrance, and, though I looked
with the utmost attention, could perceive nothing that the thicket
inclosed. The groan was repeated a third time. The long intervals
between the groans gave a peculiar melancholy to the effect, and each
seemed so much lower than the groan before, that nothing but the ear
of anxious attention would have caught it, at the same time that the
tone conveyed an idea of stupified, yet vital, anguish. At length I
perceived the legs and something of the garb of a man. It was the
stranger! He appeared to have crept into the thicket upon his hands
and knees. When I forced my way to him, he seemed in the very act of
expiring. He was lying on his face, and I raised him a little. His
eyes were fixed; his mouth was open; his lips and tongue were parched
and dry. I infused a few drops of a cordial into his mouth. For a
moment it appeared to produce no sensation, but presently my patient
uttered a deep and long-drawn sigh. I repeated my application. As a
principal cause of the condition in which I found him was inanition,
the stimulant I administered produced a powerful effect. He moved his
hands, shuddered, turned his eyes languidly upon me, and, having
appeared to recognise me, shut them hastily again. I moved him slowly
and softly into a freer air, and bathed his temples with one of the
liquids I had about me. By this time he looked up, and then suddenly
round him with a wild and hurried air. He spoke not however; he was
speechless. In about a quarter of an hour he relapsed into
convulsions, in which it seemed probable he would expire. They lasted
a considerable time, and he then sunk into a state of insensibility. I
thought he was dead. Thus circumstanced, it was some relief to my
humanity to have found him yet alive, and to have received his parting
breath. But in a moment his secret and his promises recurred to me
with inexpressible anguish, and I inwardly reproached him for having
deferred his communication so long, as now to preclude its ever being
made. I cannot describe the keenness, the burning and intolerable
bitterness of my sensation. Keen it may well be supposed to be, from
its having so instantaneously and forcibly recurred, at a time when
other objects seemed to press upon my senses. No one who has not felt
what it is to fall in a moment from hope, or, as I should rather say,
from assured possession of what his soul most loved and desired, into
black and interminable despair, can imagine what was then the state of
my mind. The body of my patient slided from my nerveless arms; I
listed up the eyes of rage and frenzy as if to curse the author of my
being; and then fell helpless and immoveable by the side of the
stranger.

I felt him move. I heard him sigh. I listed up my head, and perceived
stronger marks of life and sense about him, than had yet displayed
themselves. I threw my arms about him; I pressed him to my heart. The
emphatical gesture I used, seemed to have a fort of magnetical force
to rouse his dying powers. With a little assistance from me he sat
upright. My assiduity produced wonders. It fortunately happened that
this thicket was but half a mile from my habitation, and indeed was
one of the spots which I had searched without success the day before.
About the hour of sun-set, partly by leading, and partly by supporting
him, I restored my guest to his former apartment.

He remained speechless, or nearly so. He vented his sensations in
sighs, in inward and inarticulate sounds, and, even when he arrived at
the power of making himself understood by words, it was only by
monosyllables and half-sentences that he conveyed to me his meaning. I
now gave up my time almost entirely to an assiduous attendance on the
stranger. Every day I expected to be his last; every day was more or
less interspersed with symptoms that seemed to menace his instant
dissolution. During all this time I remained in the anxious suspence
of contending hope and fear. Was it probable that he would ever
recover strength enough to confer on me the legacy he had announced?
The particulars of his secret I knew not; but, judging from what I had
heard of the pretences and pursuits of alchymy, it was natural to
suppose that he had a process to communicate, which would require on
his part considerable accuracy of recollection, as well as the power
of delivering himself in a methodical and orderly discourse.

I was fortunate enough however to perceive, after a tormenting and
tedious crisis, that he appeared to be in a progress of convalescence,
and that his strength both of body and mind were recruited daily.
After the lapse of a fortnight from the adventure of the wood, he one
evening addressed me in the following manner: St. Leon, I have been to
blame. I have put you to a sufficient trial; I have received from you
every assistance and kindness that my situation demanded; I have
imposed on you much trouble and anxiety; I have excited your
expectations by announcing to you in part what it was in my power to
bestow; and I have finally risqued the defrauding your hopes and your
humanity of their just reward. Do me the justice however to remember
that I had no presentiment of that event which has so inauspiciously
come between you and your hopes. Fool that I was, I imagined I had
suffered enough, and that, as I had obtained a longer respite from
external persecution than I almost ever experienced, I should be
permitted to spend the short remainder of my days uninterrupted! I now
however look back upon this last assault with complacency. It has cut
off something from the last remnant of a life, to the close of which I
look forward with inexpressible longing; at the same time that I am
still in prospect of obtaining the final wish of my heart, the
stealing out of the world unperceived, and thus in some measure
eluding the last malice of my enemies. After my death I have but one
injunction to leave with you, the injunction of Hercules to
Philoctetes, that no inducement may move you to betray to mortal man
the place in which you shall have deposited my ashes. Bury them in a
spot which I will describe to you; it is not far, and is only
recommended to me by its almost inaccessible situation: and that once
done, speak of me, and, if possible, think of me no more. Never on any
account mention me or allude to me; never describe me, or relate the
manner of our meeting, or the adventure which has at length brought on
the desired close of my existence.

Believe me, in the feeble and helpless condition in which I have spent
the last fortnight, your wishes and expectations have been uppermost
in my mind, and there is nothing I have felt with so much compunction
as the danger of leaving them unsatisfied. To you perhaps I at present
appear to be rapidly recovering. I feel the dart of death in my
vitals; I know I shall not live four days. It is necessary therefore
that I should finish without delay all that remains for me to finish.
I will devote this night to the arranging my thoughts and putting in
order what I have to communicate, that no mistake or omission may have
part in a transaction so important. Come to me to-morrow morning; I
will be prepared for you.

As soon as I had heard this discourse, and provided the stranger with
every thing he could want during the night, I withdrew. My heart was
big with expectation; my thoughts all night were wild and tumultuous.
When the hour of assignation arrived, I hastened along the garden to
the summer-house, conscious that upon that hour depended all the
colour of my future life. Since the stranger had been in his present
dangerous condition, the door was not bolted. It was only locked: the
key was in my possession, and remained night and day attached to my
person. I opened the door; I panted and was breathless.

I immediately saw that the stranger had undergone some great
alteration for the worse. He had suffered a sort of paralytic
affection. He lifted up his face as I entered; it was paler than I had
ever seen it. He shook his head mournfully, and intimated by signs the
disappointment which this morning must witness. He was speechless.
Fate, fate! exclaimed I in an agony of despair, am I to be for ever
baffled! Is the prize so much longed for and so ardently expected at
last to escape me!--It is not to be imagined how much these
successive, endless disappointments increased my impatience, and
magnified in my eyes the donation I sought.

The whole of this and the following day the stranger remained
speechless. The third day in the morning, he murmured many sounds, but
in a manner so excessively inarticulate, that I was not able to
understand one word in six that he said. I recollected his prediction
that he should die on the fourth day. The fever of my soul was at its
height. Mortal sinews and fibres could sustain no more. If the
stranger had died thus, it is most probable that I should have thrown
myself in anguish and rage upon his corpse, and have expired in the
same hour.

In the evening of the third day I visited him again. He had thrown his
robe around him, and was sitting on the side of his couch. The evening
sun shot his last beams over the window-shutters. There were about
eight inches between the shutter and the top of the window; and some
branches of vines, with their grapes already ripe, broke the
uniformity of the light. The side of the couch faced the west, and the
beams played upon the old man's countenance. I had never seen it so
serene. The light already softened by the decline of day, gave it a
peculiar animation; and a smile that seemed to betoken renovation and
the youth of angels, sat upon it. He beckoned me to approach. I sat
beside him on the couch; he took my hand in his, and leaned his face
towards me.

I shall never witness the light of the setting sun again! were the
first words he uttered. I immediately perceived that he spoke more
collectedly and with better articulation, than at any time since the
paralytic stroke. Still however it was no easy matter to develop his
words. But I wound up every faculty of my frame to catch them; and,
assisted as I was by the habit of listening to his speech for many
weeks, which during the whole of that time had never been distinct, I
was successful enough to make out his entire discourse.

It continued, though with various interruptions, for more than half an
hour. He explained with wonderful accuracy the whole of his secrets,
and the process with which they were connected. My soul was roused to
the utmost stretch of attention and astonishment. His secrets, as I
have already announced in the commencement of this history, consisted
of two principal particulars, the art of multiplying gold, and the
power of living for ever. The detail of these secrets I omit; into
that I am forbidden to enter. My design in writing this narrative, I
have said, is not to teach the art of which I am in possession, but to
describe the adventures it produced to me.

The more I listened, the more my astonishment grew. I looked at the
old man before me; I observed the wretchedness of his appearance, the
meanness of his attire, his apparent old age, his extreme feebleness,
the characters of approaching death that were written on his
countenance. After what I had just heard, I surveyed these things with
a sensation of novelty, as if I had never remarked them in him before.
I said to myself, Is this the man, that possesses mines of wealth
inexhaustible, and the capacity of living for ever?

Observing that he had finished his discourse, I addressed to him these
words, by a sort of uncontrolable impulse, and with all the vehemence
of unsated and unsuppressible curiosity: Tell me, I adjure you by the
living God, what use have you made of these extraordinary gifts, and
with what events has that use been attended?

As I spoke thus, the countenance of the old man underwent a surprising
change. Its serenity vanished; his eyes rolled with an expression of
agony; and he answered me thus: Be silent, St. Leon! How often must I
tell you that no single incident of my story shall ever be repeated!
Have I no claim upon your forbearance? Can you be barbarous and
inhuman enough to disturb my last scene with these bitter
recollections?--I was silent.

This is all that is material, that passed at our interview.

The stranger died the next day, and was buried according to his
instructions.




CHAP. IV.

From the moment of my last interview with the stranger I was another
creature. My thoughts incessantly rolled upon his communications. They
filled me with astonishment and joy, almost to bursting. I was unable
to contain myself; I was unable to remain in any posture or any place.
I could scarcely command myself sufficiently to perform the last
duties to his body in the manner he had directed. I paced with eager
steps the sands of the lake; I climbed the neighbouring hills, and
then descended with inconceivable rapidity to the vales below; I
traced with fierce impatience the endless mazes of the wood in which I
so hardly recovered my bewildered guest. The uninterruptedness and
swiftness of bodily motion seemed to communicate some ease to my
swelling heart.

Yet there was one thing I wanted. I wanted some friendly bosom into
which to pour out my feelings, and thus by participation to render my
transports balsamic and tolerable. But this was for ever denied me. No
human ear must ever be astonished with the story of my endowments and
my privileges. I may whisper it to the woods and the waters, but not
in the face of man. Not only am I bound to suppress the knowledge of
the important secrets I possess, but even the feelings, the
ruminations, the visions, that are for ever floating in my soul. It is
but a vain and frivolous distinction upon which I act, when I commit
to this paper my history, and not the science which is its corner-
stone. The reason why the science may not be divulged, is obvious.
Exhaustless wealth, if communicated to all men, would be but an
exhaustless heap of pebbles and dust; and nature will not admit her
everlasting laws to be so abrogated, as they would be by rendering the
whole race of sublunary man immortal. But I am bound, as far as
possible, not only to hide my secrets, but to conceal that I have any
to hide. Senseless paper! be thou at least my confident! To thee I may
impart, what my soul spurns the task to suppress. The human mind
insatiably thirsts for a confident and a friend. It is no matter that
these pages shall never be surveyed by other eyes than mine. They
afford at least the semblance of communication and the unburthening of
the mind; and I will press the illusion fondly and for ever to my
heart.

To return to the explanation of my feelings immediately after
receiving possession of my grand acquisition; for, without that
explanation, the spirit and meaning of my subsequent narrative will
scarcely be sufficiently apprehended.

Happy, happy, happy man! exclaimed I in the midst of my wanderings and
reveries. Wealth! thy power is unbounded and inconceivable. All men
bow down to thee; the most stubborn will is by thee rendered pliant as
wax; all obstacles are melted down and dissolved by the ardour of thy
beams! The man that possesses thee, finds every path level before him,
and every creature burning to anticipate his wishes! But, if these are
the advantages that wealth imparts to such as possess only those
scanty portions which states and nations allow to the richest, how
enviable must his condition be, whose wealth is literally exhaustless
and infinite! He possesses really the blessing, which priestcraft and
superstition have lyingly pronounced upon the charitable. He may give
away the revenues of princes, and not be the poorer. He possesses the
attribute which we are accustomed to ascribe to the creator of the
universe. He may say to a man, Be rich, and he is rich. He can bestow
with equal facility the smallest gifts and the greatest. Palaces, as
if they were the native exhalations of the soil, rise out of the earth
at his bidding. He holds the fate of nations and of the world in his
hand. He can remove forests, and level mountains, drain marshes,
extend canals, turn the course of rivers, and shut up the sea with
doors. He can assign to every individual in a nation the task he
pleases, can improve agriculture and establish manufactures, can found
schools, and hospitals, and infirmaries, and universities. He can
study the genius of every man, and enable every man to pursue the bent
of his mind. Poets and philosophers will be fostered, the sublimest
flights of genius be produced, and the most admirable discoveries
effected, under his auspicious patronage. The whole world are his
servants, and he, if his temper be noble and upright, will be the
servant of the whole world. Nay, it cannot happen otherwise. He has as
few temptations to obliquity as omnipotence itself. Weakness and want
are the parents of vice. But he possesses every thing; he cannot
better his situation; no man can come into rivalship or competition
with him. I thank God, I have known the extremes of poverty, and
therefore am properly qualified to enjoy my present happiness. I have
felt a reverse of fortune, driving me in one instance to insanity; in
another instance threatening to destroy me, my wife and children
together, with the plague of hunger. My heart has been racked with
never-dying remorse, because, by my guilt and folly, my children have
been deprived of the distinction and rank to which they were born, and
plunged in remediless obscurity. Heaven has seen my sufferings, and at
length has graciously said, It is enough. Because I have endured more
than man ever endured from the privation of fortune, God in his
justice has reserved for me this secret of the transmutation of
metals. I can never again fall into that wretchedness, by which my
understanding was subverted, and my heart was broken.

From this part of the legacy of the stranger, my mind reverted to the
other. I surveyed my limbs, all the joints and articulations of my
frame with curiosity and astonishment. What! exclaimed I, these limbs,
this complicated, but brittle frame, shall last for ever! No disease
shall attack it; no pain shall seize it; death shall withhold from it
for ever his abhorred grasp! Perpetual vigour, perpetual activity,
perpetual youth, shall take up their abode with me! Time shall
generate in me no decay, shall not add a wrinkle to my brow, or
convert a hair of my head to grey! This body was formed to die; this
edifice to crumble into dust; the principles of corruption and
mortality are mixed up in every atom of my frame. But for me the laws
of nature are suspended; the eternal wheels of the universe roll
backward; I am destined to be triumphant over fate and time!

Months, years, cycles, centuries! To me all these are but as
indivisible moments. I shall never become old; I shall always be, as
it were, in the porch and infancy of existence; no lapse of years
shall subtract any thing from my future duration. I was born under
Louis the Twelfth; the life of Francis the First now threatens a
speedy termination; he will be gathered to his fathers, and Henry his
son will succeed him. But what are princes and kings and generations
of men to me? I shall become familiar with the rise and fall of
empires; in a little while the very name of France, my country, will
perish from off the face of the earth, and men will dispute about the
situation of Paris, as they dispute about the scite of ancient Nineveh
and Babylon and Troy. Yet I shall still be young. I shall take my most
distant posterity by the hand; I shall accompany them in their career;
and, when they are worn out and exhausted, shall shut up the tomb over
them, and set forward.

There was something however in this part of my speculation that did
not entirely please me. Methought the race of mankind looked too
insignificant in my eyes. I felt a degree of uneasiness at the
immeasurable distance that was now put between me and the rest of my
species. I found myself alone in the world. Must I for ever live
without a companion, a friend, any one with whom I can associate upon
equal terms, with whom I can have a community of sensations, and
feelings, and hopes, and desires, and fears? I experienced something,
less than a wish, yet a something very capable of damping my joy, that
I also were subject to mortality. I could have been well contented to
be partaker with a race of immortals, but I was not satisfied to be
single in this respect. I was not pleased to recollect how trivial
would appear to me those concerns of a few years, about which the
passions of men are so eagerly occupied. I did not like the deadness
of heart that seemed to threaten to seize me. I began to be afraid of
vacancy and torpor, and that my life would become too uniformly quiet.
Nor did it sufficiently console me, to recollect that, as one set of
friends died off the stage, another race would arise to be substituted
in their stead. I felt that human affections and passions are not made
of this transferable stuff, and that we can love nothing truly, unless
we devote ourselves to it heart and soul, and our life is, as it were,
bound up in the object of our attachment.

It was worse when I recollected my wife and my children. When I
considered for the first time that they were now in a manner nothing
to me, I felt a sensation that might be said to mount to anguish. How
can a man attach himself to any thing, when he comes to consider it as
the mere plaything and amusement of the moment! In this statement
however I am not accurate. Habit is more potent than any theoretical
speculation. Past times had attached me deeply, irrevocably to all the
members of my family. But I felt that I should survive them all. They
would die one by one, and leave me alone. I should drop into their
graves the still renewing tear of anguish. In that tomb would my heart
be buried. Never, never, through the countless ages of eternity,
should I form another attachment. In the happy age of delusion, happy
and auspicious at least to the cultivation of the passions, when I
felt that I also was a mortal, I was capable of a community of
sentiments and a going forth of the heart. But how could I, an
immortal, hope ever hereafter to feel a serious, an elevating and
expansive passion for the ephemeron of an hour!

As the first tumult of my thoughts subsided, I began, as is usual with
persons whose minds are turned loose in the search of visionary
happiness, to picture to myself, more steadily and with greater
minuteness, the objects I would resolve early to accomplish. I would
in the first place return to France, my adored country, the residence
of my ancestors, whose annals they had adorned, whose plains had
witnessed their heroic feats, and whose earth inclosed their ashes. To
France I was endeared by every tie that binds the human heart; her
language had been the prattle of my infancy; her national manners and
temper were twined with the fibres of my constitution, and could not
be rooted out; I selt that every Frenchman that lived was my brother.
Banishment had only caused these prejudices to strike their tendrils
deeper in my heart. I knew not that I should finally limit my abode to
France. A man who, like Melchisedec, is "without end of life," may
well consider himself as being also like him "without father, without
mother, and without descent." But, at all events, I would first fix my
children, who did not participate in my privileges, in their native
soil. I would reside there myself, at least till they were fully
disposed of, and till the admirable partner of the last seventeen
years of my life had resigned her breath. I would immediately
repurchase the property of my ancestors, which had been so
distressfully resigned. The exile should return from his seven year's
banishment in triumph and splendour. I would return to the court of my
old patron and friend, the gallant Francis, and present to him my boy,
the future representative of my family, now one year older than I had
been at the field of the Cloth of Gold. Though an exile from my
country, I had not been an inattentive witness of her fortunes. The
year fifteen hundred and forty-four was a remarkable and interesting
year in the history of France. The endless animosities of Francis and
the emperor had broken out with new fury about two years before. In
the spring of the present year, the count d'Anguien had won a battle
in Piedmont, in which ten thousand Imperialists were left dead upon
the field, and which might be considered as having at length effaced
the defeat of Pavia, in the same part of the world nineteen years
before. The moment it had been announced that a battle was resolved
on, the young nobility of France, with their characteristic ardour,
had hurried to the scene, and the court of Paris was, in an instant as
it were, turned into a desert. On the other hand the emperor and the
king of England had concerted for the same season a formidable plan of
attack against our northern frontier. With an army of twenty-five
thousand men respectively, the one on the side of Champagne, and the
other of Picardy, they agreed to advance directly into the heart of
the kingdom, and to unite their forces in the neighbourhood of Paris.
The last intelligence that had reached me, was, that Chateau Thierry,
about twenty leagues from the metropolis, was in the hands of the
emperor, and that the inhabitants of the capital, filled with
consternation, were seeking their safety by flight in every direction.
These circumstances had passed idly by me, and left little impression,
so long as I considered myself as an obscure peasant, cut off for ever
from the bosom of my country. But, vested with the extraordinary
powers now intrusted to me, the case was altered. I felt even a
greater interest in my sovereign, now pressed down with disease and
calamity, yet retaining the original alacrity and confidence of his
soul, than I had done, when I saw him in all the pride of youth, and
all the splendour of prosperity. I was anxious that Charles should now
enter into his service; and I determined once again to assume the
cuirass and the faulchion, that I might be the instructor of his
youth, and his pattern in feats of war. I resolved that my shepherd-
boy, bred in obscurity among the woods and mountains, should burst
with sudden splendour upon his countrymen, and prove in the field his
noble blood and generous strain. I also proposed to myself, both out
of sympathy for my king, and to give greater eclat to my son's
entrance into life, to replenish with my treasures the empty coffers
of France, and thus to furnish what at this period seemed to be the
main spring upon which the fortune of war depended. With the
advantages I could afford him, the career of Charles could not fail to
be rapid and illustrious, and he would undoubtedly obtain the staff of
constable of France, the possessor of which, Montmorency, was now in
disgrace. I would marry my daughters to such of the young nobility, as
I should find most distinguished in talents, and most spotless in
character. When, by the death of her I most loved, my affections
should be weaned from my country, and the scenes to which I had been
accustomed were rendered painful and distressing, I would then set out
upon my travels. I would travel with such splendour and profusion of
expence (for this, though mortified in me by a reverse of many years
duration, continued to be the foible of my heart) as should supersede
the necessity of letters of recommendation, and secure me a favourable
reception wherever I appeared. I might spend a life, in a manner, in
every country that was fortunate enough to allure my stay, spreading
improvements, dispensing blessings, and causing all distress and
calamity to vanish from before me.




CHAP. V.

My mind was occupied in these and similar reveries for several weeks
after the death of the stranger. My wife and children had hoped, after
that event, that I should have returned to the habits which had
pervaded the last six years of my existence, and which they had felt
so eminently productive of gratification and delight. In this hope
they found themselves deceived. My domestic character was, for the
present at least, wholly destroyed. I had a subject of contemplation
that did not admit of a partaker, and from this subject I could not
withdraw my thoughts, so much as for an instant. I had no pleasure but
in that retirement, where I could be unseen and unheard by any human
eye or ear. If at any time I was compelled to join the domestic
circle, I dispatched the occasion that brought me there as speedily as
possible; and even while I remained in it, was silent and absent,
engrossed with my own contemplations, and heedless and unobservant of
every thing around me.

My abstraction was not however so entire as to prevent me from
sometimes stealing, in a sort of momentary interregnum of thought, in
that pause where the mind rests upon the chain already passed over,
and seems passively to wait for the sequel, a glance at my family. I
looked at them, without knowing what it was that I did, and without
the intention to notice what I saw. Yet, even in this state of mental
abstraction, visible objects will sometimes succeed in making their
impression. I perceived that my wife and children suffered from my
behaviour. I remarked a general air of disconsolateness, and a mild
unexpostulating submission to what nevertheless the heart deeply
deplored. They did not presume to interrupt me; they did not by prying
and inquisitive speeches attempt to extort from me the secret of the
alteration they saw; but it was manifest they conceived some great and
radical calamity had poisoned the heart of our domestic joy.

It was these symptoms thus remarked by me, that first roused me from
the inebriation of my new condition. I was compelled to suspect that,
while I revelled in visions of future enjoyment, I was inflicting
severe and unmerited pains on those I loved. It was necessary, if I
valued their happiness, that I should descend from the clouds of
speculation and fancy, and enter upon the world of realities.

But here I first found a difficulty to which, during the reign of my
intoxication, I had been utterly insensible. I was rich; I could raise
my family, as far as the power of money extended, money which may in
some sense be styled the empress of the world, to what heights I
pleased. I had hitherto committed the fault, so common to projectors,
of looking only to ultimate objects and great resting-places, and
neglecting to consider the steps between. This was an omission of high
importance. Every thing in the world is conducted by gradual process.
This seems to be the great principle of harmony in the universe.
Nothing is abrupt; one thing is so blended and softened into another,
that it is impossible to say where the former ends and the latter
begins.

This remark is fully applicable to the situation which was now before
me. Yesterday I was poor; to-day I was possessor of treasures
inexhaustible. How was this alteration to be announced? To dissipate
the revenues of princes, to purchase immense estates, to launch into
costly establishments, are tasks to which the most vulgar mind is
equal. But no man stands alone in the world, without all trace of what
he has been, and with no one near that thinks himself entitled to
scrutinise his proceedings and his condition. Least of all was this my
case. I was bound to certain other persons by the most sacred of all
obligations; I could not separate myself from them; I could not render
myself a mere enigma in their eyes; though, in the language of the
world, the head of my family, they were my natural censors and judges.
I was accountable to them for my conduct; it was my duty, paramount to
all other duties, to stand as a fair, upright and honourable character
in their eyes.

If these remarks be true taken in a general view, they are much more
so, when applied to my particular case. There are men who live in the
midst of their families, like an eastern despot surrounded with his
subjects. They are something too sacred to be approached; their
conduct is not to be reasoned upon; the amount of their receipts and
disbursements is not to be inspected; their resources are unknown; no
one must say to them, What dost thou? or, why hast thou thus conducted
thyself? Even these persons will not escape the tax to which all men
are liable. They cannot kill the general spirit of enquiry; the
mystery in which they wrap themselves will often serve as an
additional stimulus; they will finally encounter the judgment and
verdict of all. For myself, I had lived in the midst of my family upon
a system of paternal and amicable commerce. I had suffered too deeply
from a momentary season of separation and mystery, not to have been
induced to renounce it decisively and for ever.

Firm however as I had imagined my renunciation to have been, I was now
thrown back upon what I had most avoided. I had a secret source of
advantage, the effects of which were to be participated by those I
loved, while the spring was to remain for ever unknown. What I most
sought upon this occasion, was, that my family should share my good
fortune, and at the same time be prevented from so much as suspecting
that there was any thing mysterious connected with it. To effect this,
I presently conceived that it would be necessary, to sacrifice the
sudden and instantaneous prosperity I had proposed to myself, and
introduce the reverse of our condition by slow and, as far as
possible, insensible degrees.

One thing on which I determined, preparatory to the other measures I
had in view, was to remove from my present habitation, and take up my
residence for a time in the city of Constance. In the cottage of the
mountains it was impossible to make any material alteration in my
establishment. My property was of narrow extent, nor would it be
easily practicable in a country, the inhabitants of which were
accustomed to an equal allotment, considerably to enlarge it. My house
was small; and, unless it were first pulled down and built over again,
the attempt to introduce servants, equipage or splendour into it,
would be ridiculous. My design was not to make a long abode where I
now was; but, as soon as my family should be sufficiently prepared for
the transition, to return to my native country. I believed that, in
the capital of the bishopric, where my name was scarcely remembered by
a single individual, I should be more at liberty to proceed as
circumstances suggested, than in my present rural situation, where
every neighbour regarded himself as vested with a sort of
inquisitorial power over all around him.

To account for this measure to my family, I felt it incumbent on me to
confess to them a certain pecuniary acquisition. The story that most
readily suggested itself was that of the stranger having left behind
him a certain sum of which he made a donation to me. This, though in
the plain and direct sense of the terms it were false, yet in its
spirit bore a certain resemblance to the truth; and, with that
resemblance, in spite of the rigid adherence to veracity, that first
ornament of a gentleman, that most essential prerequisite to the
regard and affection of others, which I had hitherto maintained, I was
induced to content myself. What could I do? I was compelled to account
for appearances; I was forbidden by the most solemn injunctions to
unfold the truth. I should indeed have felt little complacence in the
disclosure; I should have been reluctant to announce a circumstance,
which, as I already began to feel, introduced a permanent difference
and separation between me and my family.

The sum at which I fixed the legacy of the stranger was three thousand
crowns. I was not inattentive to the future; I should have been glad,
by my present account, to have furnished a more ample solution for
circumstances which might occur hereafter. But some regard was to be
paid to probability. An unknown, a solitary man, broken with age, who
arrived on foot, and who declined all aid and attendance, must not be
represented as possessing mines of treasure.

It was some time before I could prevail on myself to break my story to
the inhabitants of my cottage. As the time approached when I was to
bid an everlasting farewel to rural obscurity and a humble station,
they seemed to adorn themselves in new charms. I was like the son of a
king, who had hitherto been told by his attendants that he was a mere
villager, and who, while his youthful imagination is dazzled by the
splendour that awaits him, yet looks back with a wistful eye upon his
mirthful sports, his former companions, and the simple charms of her
who first obtained his guileless love. I announced my acquisition and
my purpose with a faltering tongue and a beating heart.

I could perceive that my tale produced few emotions of pleasure in
those who heard it. Julia and her mother especially were warmly
attached to their retirement, and the scenes which had witnessed so
many pleasurable incidents and emotions. Chagrin, in spite of
themselves, made a transient abode upon their countenances; but the
unresisting mildness of the one, and the considerate attachment of the
other, prevented for the present their sensations from breaking out
into words. The feelings however that they consigned to silence, did
not entirely escape the notice of the lively little Marguerite. She
sympathised with them, probably without being aware that they were
sad. She came towards me, and, with much anxiety in her enquiring
face, asked why we must go away from the cottage? If I had got some
money, I might go to the town, and buy some sweetmeats, and ribbands,
and new clothes, and a hundred more pretty things, and bring them
home. For her part, she should be better pleased to put on her finery
and make her feast in the pretty, old summer-house, now she was again
permitted to go and play in it, than in a palace all stuck over with
emeralds and rubies. Her mother wiped away a tear at the innocent
speech of her darling, kissed her, and bid her go and feed the hen and
her chickens. Charles was the only one in whom I could observe any
pleasure at my intelligence. He was not as yet skilful enough to
calculate the advantages that three thousand crowns could purchase.
But I could see joy sparkle in his eyes, as I announced my intention
of bidding adieu to retirement, and taking up my rest in the capital
of the district. His veins swelled with the blood of his ancestors;
his mind was inured to the contemplation of their prowess. Already
sixteen years of age, he had secretly burned to go forth into the
world, to behold the manners of his species, and to establish for
himself a claim to some rank in their estimation. He had pined in
thought at the mediocrity of our circumstances, and the apparent
impossibility of emerging; for he regarded the duty of contributing
his labour to the subsistence of the family, as the first of all
obligations, and the more the bent of his spirit struggled against it,
the more resolutely he set himself to comply.

The rest of the family were no sooner retired to rest, than
Marguerite, finding in what I had just announced to all an occasion
from the use of which she could not excuse herself, took this
opportunity of unburthening the grief which had long been accumulating
in her mind.

St. Leon, said she, listen kindly to what I am going to say to you,
and assure yourself that I am actuated by no spleen, resentment or
ill-humour, but by the truest affection. I perceive I have lost, in
your apprehension, the right of advising you. I am no longer the
partner of your counsels; I am no longer the confident of your
thoughts. You communicate nothing but what you cannot suppress, and
that you communicate to your whole family assembled. Heaven knows how
dear to me is every individual of that family! But my love for them
does not hide from me what is due to myself. I know that a husband,
who felt as a husband ought, and, give me leave to say, as I have
deserved you should feel towards me, could not have acted as you have
acted to-night.

You must excuse my reminding you of some things which you seem to have
forgotten. I would not mention them, if they had not been forgotten
when they ought to have been remembered. I have lived seventeen years
with you; my whole study has been your advantage and pleasure. Have
you any thing to reproach me with? Point out to me, if in any thing I
could have added to your pleasure, and have neglected it! What I have
done, has not been the ceremonious discharge of a duty; it has been
the pure emanation of an attachment that knew no bounds. I have passed
with you through good fortune and ill fortune. When we were rich, I
entered with my whole heart into your pleasures, because they were
yours. When we were poor, I endured every hardship without a murmur; I
watched by you, I consoled you, I reconciled you to yourself. I do not
mean to make a merit of all this: no, Reginald! I could not have acted
otherwise if I would.

Do me the justice to recollect that I have not been a complaining or
irritable companion. In all our adversities, in the loss of fortune
and the bitter consequences of that loss, I never uttered a
reproachful word. What poverty, sorrow, hunger and famine never
extorted from me, you have at length wrung from my bleeding heart. St.
Leon! I have known your bosom thoughts. In no former instance has your
affection or your confidence been alienated from me, and they consoled
me for all the rest. But now, for three months the case has been
entirely altered. You have during all that time been busy, pensive and
agitated; but I have been as much a stranger to your meditations as if
I had never been accustomed to be their depository. You have not
scrupled to inflict a wound upon me that no subsequent change will
ever be able to cicatrise. Nor indeed do I see any likelihood of a
change. You announce our removal to Constance; what we are to do next,
with what views, or for what purpose, I am ignorant.

I have made my election. My heart is formed for affection, and must
always feel an uneasy void and desolation without it. If you had thus
robbed me of your attachment in an early period of our intercourse, I
know not upon what extremity my disappointment and anguish might have
driven me. They are harder to bear now; but I submit. It is too late
either for relief or remedy. What remains of my powers and my strength
I owe to my children. I will not seduce them from their father. They
may be benefited by his purse or his understanding, though, like me,
they should be deprived of his affection. You may be their friend when
I am no more. I feel that this will not last long. I feel that the
main link that bound me to existence cannot be snapped, and thus
snapped by unkindness worse than death, without promising soon to put
a period to my miseries. I shall be your victim in death, after having
devoted my life to you, in a way in which few women were ever devoted
to their husbands.

But this is not what I purposed chiefly to say. This is what my
situation and my feelings have unwillingly wrung from me. Though you
have injured me in the tenderest point, I still recollect what you
were to me. I still feel deeply interested in your welfare, and the
fair fame you are to transmit to your children. I intreat you then to
reflect deeply, before you proceed further. You seem to me to stand
upon a precipice; nor do the alteration that has taken place in your
manners, and the revolution of your heart, lead me to augur favourably
of the plans you have formed. What is this stranger? Whence came he?
Why did he hide himself, and why was he pursued by the officers of
justice? Had he no relations? Was his bequest of the sum he had about
him his own act, and who is the witness to its deliberateness or its
freedom? You must not think that the world is inattentive to the
actions of men or their circumstances; if it were, the fame we prize
would be an empty bauble. No, sir, a fair fame can only be secured by
unequivocal proceedings. What will, what can be thought of your giving
shelter to an unknown, a man accused of crimes, a man never beheld
even by an individual of your own family, and, upon the strength of
whose alleged bequest, you are about to change the whole mode of your
life?

Nor, Reginald, must you think me credulous enough to imagine that you
have now disclosed the whole or the precise truth. Three thousand
crowns is not a sum sufficient to account for what you propose, for
the long agitation of your thoughts, or for the change of character
you have sustained. You must either be totally deprived of rational
judgment, or there must be something behind, that you have not
communicated. What do you purpose in going to reside in the midst of a
city, foreign to the manners of a Frenchman, distracted with internal
broils, and embittered to us by the recollection of the extremities we
personally suffered in it? Is your ambition sunk so low, that it can
be gratified by such a transition? No; you mean more than you have
announced; you mean something you are unwilling to declare. Consider
that meaning well! Put me out of the question! I am nothing, and no
longer desire to be any thing. But do not involve yourself in
indelible disgrace, or entail upon your memory the curses of your
children!

What a distress was mine, who, in return to so generous and noble an
expostulation, could impart no confidence, and indulge no sincerity! I
felt a misery, of which, till this hour, I had been unable to form a
conception. Fool that I was, I had imagined that, when endowed with
the bequests of the stranger, no further evil could approach me! I
had, in my visionary mood, created castles and palaces, and expatiated
in the most distant futurity; and here I was, stopped and disappointed
at the threshold, in the very first step of my proceedings! What I
could however, I did; I poured forth to Marguerite, not the secrets of
my understanding, but the overpowering emotions of my soul.

Best, most adorable of women! cried I, how you rend my heart with the
nobleness of your remonstrances? Never was man blessed with a partner
so accomplished and exemplary as I have been! Do you think your merits
can ever be obliterated from my memory? Do you think the feeling of
gratitude and admiration can ever be weakened in my bosom, or that the
strength and singleness of my attachment can suffer decay? Bear me
witness, heaven! I know no creature on the face of the earth that can
enter into competition with you; there is not the thing in nature that
I prize in comparison. I love you a thousand times better than myself,
and would die with joy to purchase your ease and satisfaction. I can
never repay the benefits you have conferred on me; I can never rise to
an equality with you.

What anguish then do you inflict upon me, when you talk of becoming
the victim of my unkindness? Believe you I can endure, after having
dissipated your patrimony and drawn you with me into exile, after
having experienced from you a tenderness such as man never in any
other instance obtained from woman, to entertain the idea of
embittering the remainder of your life, and shortening your existence?
I should regard myself as the most execrable of monsters. I could not
live under the recollection of so unheard of a guilt. If you would not
have me abhor myself and curse existence, live, confide in me, and be
happy!

Oh, Marguerite! how wretched and pitiable is my situation! Make some
allowance for me! I have a secret, that I would give worlds to utter,
but dare not. Do not imagine that there is, or can be any decay in my
affection! Confide in me! Allow to necessity, what never, never could
be the result of choice! In all things else, you shall know my inmost
heart, as you possess the boundless and unalterable affection of my
soul!

Marguerite was somewhat, but not wholly, soothed by the earnestness of
my protestations. She saw, for the prescience of the heart is never
deceived, that a blow was given to the entireness of our affection,
from which it would never recover. She felt, for in truth and delicacy
of sentiment she was much my superior, that the reserve, in which I
persisted, and for which I deprecated excuse, might be sufficiently
consistent with a vulgar attachment, but would totally change the
nature of ours. She was aware that it related to no ordinary point,
that it formed the pole-star of my conduct, that it must present
itself afresh from day to day, and that in its operation it amounted
to a divorce of the heart. She submitted however, and endeavoured to
appear chearful. Though she felt the worm of sorrow gnawing her
vitals, she was unwilling to occasion me an uneasiness it was in her
power to withhold. She was struck with the consistency and
determination of my resistance, and expostulated no more.

We went to Constance. We bade adieu to the scene of a six years'
happiness, such as the earth has seldom witnessed. I alone had
occasioned some imperfection in that happiness. There were times
indeed when, sitting in affectionate communion with my wife, and
surrounded by my children, my sensations had been as exquisitely
delicious as the state of human existence ever had to boast. I felt my
heart expand; I was conscious to the unreserved union that subsisted
among us; I felt myself identified with all that I loved, and all for
whom my heart was anxious. But the curse entailed upon me from the
earliest period to which my memory can reach, operated even in the
cottage of the lake. I was not formed to enjoy a scene of pastoral
simplicity. Ambition still haunted me; an uneasiness, scarcely defined
in its object, from time to time recurred to my mind. If I thought I
wanted nothing for myself, I deemed a career of honour due to my
children. Again, when I regarded honour as an empty phantom, and
persuaded myself that all conditions of life were intrinsically equal,
I recollected the fearful scene where hunger and destruction had hung
over us in Constance, and in imagination often pictured to myself that
scene as on the point of being renewed. The sword of the demon famine,
seemed to my disturbed apprehension to be suspended over us by a hair.
Such had been the draught of bitterness that occasionally detracted
from this most enviable, as in retrospect I am willing to denominate
it, period of my existence.

We quitted our rural retreat, and took up our abode in a prosperous
mercantile city. I hired commodious apartments in one of the grand
squares, not far from the spot where the fairs are usually held.
Undoubtedly there was nothing in this residence very congenial to the
bent of my disposition, or the projects that fermented in my mind. I
had merely chosen it by way of interval, and to soften the transition
from what I had been, to what I purposed to be. In the multitude of
irresolute thoughts with which I laboured, the small distance of
Constance from the cottage of the lake, made me feel as if the removal
thither was one of the gentlest and most moderate measures to which I
could have recourse.

I had never been less happy and at peace with myself than I was now.
From general society and the ordinary intercourse of acquaintance I
had long been estranged, and it was in vain that I now endeavoured to
return to habits of that sort. The society which the city of Constance
afforded, had few charms for me. It had no pretensions to the
politeness, the elegance, the learning or the genius, an intercourse
with which had once been familiar to me. It scarcely contained within
its walls any but such as were occupied in merchandise or manufacture.
The attention of its inhabitants were divided between these objects,
and the incroachments which were making upon the ancient religion by
the Confession of Augsburgh and the dogmas of Calvin. The majority of
the inhabitants were Protestants; and, a few years before, they had
expelled their bishop and the canons of their cathedral. Having
however miscarried in a religious war into which they had entered,
these dignitaries had been reinstalled in their functions and
emoluments. The situation thus produced was an unnatural one; and a
storm was evidently brewing more violent than any which the city had
yet sustained. The gloomy temper and melancholy austerity of the
reformers were as little congenial to my temper, as the sordid
ignorance and selfishness of the trading spirit of the community.

I therefore lived in a state of seclusion. I endeavoured to seek
amusement in such novelties and occupations as might present
themselves to a person disengaged from the general vortex. But, if the
distinguished sphere in which I had once moved, disqualified me for
taking an interest in these puerilities, the anticipations in which I
indulged of the future disqualified me still more. My domestic scene
too no longer afforded me the consolation and relief I had been
accustomed to derive from it. Marguerite exerted herself to appear
chearful and contented; but it was an exertion. I began to fear that
the arrow of disappointment had indeed struck upon her heart. I was
anxiously occupied in considering what I was to do next. I hoped that
our next step might operate to revive her gaiety, and by additional
splendour amuse her solicitude. I began to fear that I had taken a
wrong method, and entered the career of a better fortune with too much
caution and timidity. At all events I felt that we no longer lived
together as we had done. There was no more opening of the heart
between us, no more infantine guilelessness and sincerity, no more of
that unapprehensive exposure of every thought of the soul, that adds
the purest zest to the pleasures of domestic life. We stood in awe of
each other; each was to the other in some degree an intrusive and
unwelcome spy upon what was secretly passing in the heart. There may
be persons who regard this as an evil very capable of being endured;
but they must be such as never knew the domestic joys I once
experienced. The fall from one of these conditions of life to the
other, was too bitter.




CHAP. VI.

Anxious to divert my thoughts from what I hoped was only a temporary
evil, I determined, accompanied by Charles, to make a tour of some of
the cities of Germany. Dresden was the capital to which I was most
desirous of conducting him. Maurice, duke of Saxony, who held his
court there, and who was now only twenty-three years of age, was
incomparably the most accomplished prince of the empire. Desirous as I
was that my only son should fill a distinguished career, I thought I
could not better prepare him for the theatre of his native country,
than by thus initiating him beforehand in scenes of distinction and
greatness.

He was exceedingly delighted with his tour. We had not proceeded many
leagues from Constance, before, indulging the bent of my mind, I laid
aside the humbleness of my appearance, and the obscure style in which
we travelled; and having procured a numerous cavalcade of horses and
servants, I set forward with considerable magnificence. We passed
through Munich, Ratisbon and Prague. At Munich we found the court of
the elector Palatine; the diet of the empire was sitting at Ratisbon,
when we arrived at that city. Charles had been almost entirely a
stranger to every thing princely and magnificent from the time that he
was nine years of age; and he was now exactly at that period of human
life, when external appearances are apt to make the strongest
impression. To him every thing that occurred seemed like a
transportation into a new world. The figure we made procured us as
strangers, unquestioned admission into every circle. We mixed with
princes, ourselves, in garb and figure, confounded with those we saw.
I had lived too much and too long in the most splendid society, to
find any difficulty in resuming the unembarrassed and courtly manners
which I had for years laid aside; and Charles might be said to see his
father in a new character. Novelty prompted his admiration; he was
intoxicated with wonder. His disposition had always led him to bold
and adventurous conceptions; nothing less than an imperious sense of
duty could have restrained him from quitting our humble cottage, and
casting himself upon the world in search of honour and distinction.
His generous heart had beat to burst away from the obscurity of his
station; and it was with impatience and discontent that he looked
forward to the life of a swain. Yet he knew not how to break through
the obstacles that confined him. It was therefore with transports of
delight that he saw them vanishing as of themselves, and the career of
glory opening, as if by enchantment, to his eager steps.

The court of Dresden was infinitely more delightful to him than the
court of Munich, or the imperial display at Ratisbon. Here Charles saw
a young prince in the flower of his age, whose talents and spirit
rendered him the universal object of attention and adoration. He
remarked, in the fire of his eyes, the vivacity of his gestures, and
the grandeur of his port, something inexpressibly different from those
princes, of whom it is necessary that their rank should be announced
to you by some extrinsic circumstance, that you may not mistake them
for a merchant's clerk or a city-magistrate. The sentiment that he
breathed as it were instinctively, as we returned from the first time
of our seeing duke Maurice, was, At twenty-three years of age may I,
in appearance, accomplishments and spirit, resemble this man!

Here I was desirous of making a longer stay than at the cities through
which we had previously passed, and of procuring for my son some
personal intercourse with this great ornament of the age in which we
lived. I judged this to be the more easy, as, in our first visit to
the palace, I had perceived some French noblemen of the Protestant
persuasion, who had resorted to the duke's court in search of
employment. They appeared not to know me, but that was little to be
wondered at, considering that I had been seven years absent from my
country, and that the calamities by which I had been overtaken more
than once during that period, might be supposed to have produced a
greater effect upon me than the mere lapse of years would have done.
Among the rest I remarked Gaspar de Coligny, who was only twenty-one
years of age at the time I quitted France, and had then been remarked
as one of the most promising young men his country had to boast. His
stay here was expected to be short; his hopes in his own country, from
the greatness of his connections, were of the highest class; and he
had only come to Dresden at the earnest invitation of duke Maurice,
who entertained an ardent affection for him. My heart led me towards
him; policy concurred in dictating the application, as, if I were
fortunate enough to gain his favour, my son could not have a friend
better qualified, either to form his character, or forward his
advancement.

I wrote to Coligny to announce my request to him, and, in a few hours
after the delivery of my letter, that young nobleman came in person to
wait on me. He informed me that he had done so, because he had
something of delicacy to mention, which he did not choose to trust to
the intermission of a third person, and upon which, as he hoped I
could remove his scruple, he did not like even to bestow the formality
of putting it on paper.

I am a gentleman of France, said Coligny; you will excuse my
frankness. I am a gentleman of France; you will not wonder at the
niceness of my honour. Mixing in society, I do not pretend minutely to
investigate the character of every person with whom I converse; but
what you ask of me, obliges me to consult my understanding, and
enquire into facts. I cannot consent to vouch for any man's character
to another, till I have paid some attention to the ground upon which
that character rests.

I remember the count de St. Leon with pleasure and advantage at the
court of my own sovereign. Every one admired his accomplishments, his
gallantry and his learning; every one spoke of him with respect.
Unfortunate circumstances, as we all understood, deprived you of your
patrimony; that is nothing to me; I respect a nobleman in misfortune,
as much as when he is surrounded with wealth and splendour. You
retired into voluntary exile; I heard, with great grief, of some
subsequent calamities that have overtaken you. But, here in Saxony, I
see you resuming all your former splendour, and coming forward with
the magnificence of a prince. Other of your countrymen have remarked
it, as well as myself, and feel themselves at a loss to account for
what they see.

Excuse me, count! by your application to me, you oblige me to speak
freely. I dare say, you can clear up the difficulty, and account for
this second revolution in your fortune, upon which I shall then be the
first to congratulate you. I cannot suspect a man, with your high
descent and the illustrious character you formerly maintained, of any
thing dishonourable. But you have not sufficiently considered the
account we all owe to one another, and the clearness of proceeding we
are obliged to maintain, not only to our own hearts, but in the face
of the world. The present occasion is, I trust, fortunate for you;
and, when you have assisted me in complying with the rules by which
every honourable man governs himself, I shall be eager to publish your
justification, and render you all the service in my power.

I was ready to burst with astonishment and vexation during this
representation of Coligny. I could feel my colour change from pale to
red, and from red to pale. I could only answer with suffocation and
inward rage, that I was much obliged to him; I would consider what he
said; I would acquaint him with my justification; and, whenever it was
made, he might be assured it should be an ample one.---I was cautious
as to what I uttered; I could not immediately foresee what it was
eligible, or what it was possible, to do; and I was resolved that I
would not, by an idle or hasty expression, preclude myself, in a
matter of so much moment, from the benefits of future deliberation. If
what I had just heard had come from any other person, I should
probably have despised it; but I felt at once that Gaspar de Coligny
might be considered, in a case of this sort, as the representative of
all that was most honourable and illustrious in my native country.--
Finding that I was indisposed to any further communication on the
subject, he took a polite leave, and departed.

I was no sooner alone, than I felt myself overwhelmed with
mortification and shame. I had rejoiced in the bequests of the
stranger, because I regarded them as the means of restoring me to
splendour, and replacing my children in the situation to which they
were entitled by their birth. Was that which I had regarded as the
instrument of their glory, to become the medium of their ignominy and
disgrace? I had suffered all other misfortunes, but the whisper of
dishonour had never been breathed against me. I was a son of honour,
descended of a race of heroes, and cradled in the lap of glory and
fame. When we quitted Paris in the year 1537, my incomparable wife had
set to sale our entire property, resolved that, though driven into
exile, we would not leave it in the power of the meanest individual to
controvert the sacred attention we yielded to every just obligation.
Since that time I had declined from the splendour of rank to the
humble situation of a rustic, cultivating my little property with my
own hands; nay, I had even, for a short time, hired myself as a
labourer in the garden of the bishop of Constance. But the same
disdain of every thing disgraceful had followed me to my cottage and
my truckle bed, which I had originally learned in the halls of
chivalry and the castle of my ancestors. Accordingly I had uniformly
retained the same honourable character and spotless fame. St. Leon,
the virtuous cottager, had in nothing blemished the name of St. Leon,
surrounded with glory in the siege of Pavia. Often, and with pride,
had I pointed out this circumstance to my son, adding, Wherever
fortune calls you, for whatever scenes you may be reserved, remember
that your father was unfortunate, but that through life he never acted
a deed nor conceived a thought, that should stain your manly cheeks
with the blush of shame! I stand before you a culprit, as having
robbed you of your patrimony, but I have preserved for you entire the
inheritance of our honour!

This had been the first lesson imprinted upon my infant mind. All
other possessions I had ever held cheap and worthless in comparison
with that of an illustrious name. My indignation at the attack it now
sustained, was boundless. The more I thought, the more intolerable it
appeared. I was impatient and furious, like a lion struggling in the
toils. I could with joy have trampled under my feet whoever aspersed
me. I could have wantoned in blood, and defied my adversaries to
mortal combat. Alas all my fury was useless here! It was no tale
whispered in the dark that I had to contend with; it was the
commentary of the world upon incontestible facts. Though a hecatomb of
souls should be sacrificed at the shrine of my blasted name, the facts
would still remain, the mystery still require to be solved. Coligny,
the virtuous Coligny, had made no observations on the circumstances he
mentioned; he merely proposed a difficulty, and waited my answer.

I was called upon to exercise the whole of my deliberative powers, as
to the reply which was to be returned, or the conduct to be held, upon
the question of Coligny. Every thing I most valued was now at issue;
and a false step taken under the present circumstances could never be
retrieved. I had another sort of party to deal with here, than when I
had told Marguerite the tale of the stranger and his legacy. Nothing
would pass now, but what bore an open, fair and unequivocal
appearance. I must tell no tale that could not bear to be sifted to
the bottom, and that did not fully accord with all the vouchers with
which it could be collated. I had written to Marguerite, immediately
after launching into the expence with which our tour had been
attended, that I had received an unexpected acquisition from the death
of a relation of my own family in France. I knew that the story of the
three thousand crowns would no longer account for the style in which I
was proceeding, and this fabrication suggested itself upon the spur of
the moment. I hated to think of the difficulties in the way of
explanation in which I was involved; I abhorred the system of falshood
I was driven to practise. It did not occur to me at the time,
infatuated as I was! that I should have occasion to account for this
accession of wealth to any one out of my own family. Marguerite, I
well knew, had no correspondence in France, nor therefore any obvious
means of verifying or refuting this second deception. But such a story
could not be told to noblemen of France, without being instantly
liable to be compared with known facts, and eventually investigated
upon the spot where the scene was laid. Marguerite herself, I well
knew, had listened with incredulity to the explanation I had made and
the alleged legacy of the stranger; what could I expect from
strangers? They might not all possess her good sense and sagacity in
judging; but they were destitute of that personal kindness and
partiality, which were calculated to induce her to credit whatever I
affirmed. Most men have a malignant pleasure in the detection of
specious pretences, in humbling the importunate superiority that
obscures their claims, and removing the rival who might otherwise
acquire the prize of which they are in pursuit.

My mind was still torn and distracted with these contemplations, when,
in the evening of the same day on which I had received the visit of
Coligny, my attention was suddenly roused by the abrupt entrance of my
son into the chamber where I was sitting. He opened the door with a
hurried action as he entered, and, having closed it impetuously after
him, advanced directly towards me. He then stopped himself; and,
turning from me, I could perceive a rush of crimson in his face like
that of a man suffocated. A passion of tears succeeded, that shook his
frame, and sufficiently proved that his feelings had sustained some
extraordinary shock. My whole soul was alarmed at what I saw; and,
following him as he retired to the other side of the room, in the
gentlest accents I endeavoured to soothe him, while I enquired with
earnestness and trepidation into the cause of his grief.




CHAP. VII.

He repelled me. Sit down, sir, sit down! Do not follow me, I beg of
you; but sit down!

His manner was earnest and emphatical. Mechanically and without
knowing what I did, I obeyed his directions. He came towards me.

I have no time, added he, for qualifying and form. Tell me! am I the
son of a man of honour, or a villain?

He saw I was shocked at the unexpected rudeness of his question.

Forgive me, my father! I have always been affectionate and dutiful; I
have ever looked up to you as my model and my oracle. But I have been
insulted! It never was one of your lessons to teach me to bear an
insult!

Is it, replied I, with the sternness that the character of a father
will seldom fail to inspire under such circumstances, because you have
been insulted, that you think yourself authorised to come home and
insult him to whom you owe nothing but respect and reverence?

Stop, sir! Before you claim my reverence, you must show your title to
it, and wipe off the aspersions under which you at present labour.

Insolent, presumptuous boy! Know that I am not by you to be instructed
in my duty, and will not answer so rude a questioner! The down as yet
scarcely shades your school-boy's cheek; and have you so forgot the
decencies of life as to scoff your father?---His eye brightened as I
spoke.

You are right, sir! It gives me pleasure to see your blood rise in
return to my passion. Your accent is the accent of innocence. But,
indeed! the more innocent and noble you shall prove yourself, the more
readily will you forgive my indignation.

I cannot tell. My temper does not fit me to bear the rudeness of a
son. Nor do I think that such behaviour as this can be any credit to
you, whatever may have been the provocation. Tell me however what is
the insult that has thus deeply shaken you!

I went this afternoon to the tennis-court near the river, and played
several games with the young count Luitmann. While we were playing,
came in the chevalier Dupont, my countryman. The insolence of his
nature is a subject of general remark; and he has, though I know not
for what reason, conceived a particular animosity to me. A trifling
dispute arose between us. We gradually warmed. He threatened to turn
me out of the court; I resented the insult; and he passionately
answered that the son of an adventurer and a sharper had no business
there, and he would take care should never be admitted again. I
attempted to strike him, but was prevented; and presently learned that
the sudden and unexplained way in which we have emerged from poverty,
was the ground of his aspersion. As I gained time, and reflected more
distinctly upon what was alleged, I felt that personal violence could
never remove an accusation of this sort. I saw too, though,
intoxicated, as I had idly been, with the unwonted splendour to which
I was introduced, I had not adverted to it at the time, that the case
was of a nature that required explanation; and I retired in silence,
determined, if possible, effectually to obliterate the ignominy to
which I was exposed.

To you, sir, I resort for explanation. Send me back to the insolent
youth and his companions, with a plain and unanswerable tale, that may
put to silence for ever these brutal scoffs and reproaches. Let it be
seen this night which of the two has most fully merited to be thrust
out of honourable society. I trust, I have not so demeaned myself, but
that our mutual companions will join to compel this unmannered boor to
retract his aspersions.

Charles, you are too warm and impetuous!---Too warm, sir! when I hear
my father loaded with the foulest appellations?

You are young, and ill-qualified to terminate in the proper way a
business of this serious aspect: leave it to me!

Excuse me, my father! Though the names I have repeated were bestowed
upon you, it was against me that the insult was employed. I must
return immediately, and obtain justice. This is a moment that must in
some degree fix my character for fortitude and determination, and I
cannot withdraw from the duty it imposes. Only tell me what I have to
say. Furnish me with a direct and unambiguous explanation of what
Dupont has objected to us, and I undertake for the rest.

I see, my son, that you are moved, and I will trust you!

He seized my hand, he gazed earnestly in my face, he seemed prepared
to devour every word I should utter.

Gaspar de Coligny, the flower of the French nobility, has been with me
this morning. He has stated to me in an ingenuous and friendly way the
same difficulty, with which Dupont has so brutally taunted you. I was
meditating and arranging my answer but now, when you entered the room.

As I uttered these words, Charles let go my hand, and withdrew his
eyes, with evident tokens of disappointment and chagrin. He paused for
a few moments, and then resumed: Why do you tell me of meditation and
arrangement? Why did you send away Coligny unanswered, or why baffle
and evade the earnestness of my enquiries? I know not all the sources
of wealth; but I cannot doubt that the medium through which wealth has
honourably flowed, may, without effort and premeditation, easily be
explained. A just and a brave man acts fearlessly and with
explicitness; he does not shun, but court, the scrutiny of mankind; he
lives in the face of day, and the whole world confesses the clearness
of his spirit and the rectitude of his conduct.

Sir, I have just set my foot on the threshold of life. There is one
lesson you have taught me which I swear never to forget; to hold life
and all its advantages cheap, in comparison with an honourable fame.
My soul burns with the love of distinction. I am impatient to burst
away from the goal, and commence the illustrious career. I feel that I
have a hand and a heart capable of executing the purposes that my soul
conceives. Uninured to dishonour, or to any thing that should control
the passion of my bosom, think, sir, what are my emotions at what has
just occurred!

I was bred in obscurity and a humble station. I owed this
disadvantage, you tell me, to your error. I forgave you; I was
content; I felt that it was incumbent on me by my sword and my own
exertions to hew my way to distinction. You have since exchanged the
lowness of our situation for riches and splendour. At this revolution
I felt no displeasure; I was well satisfied to start upon more
advantageous terms in the race I determined to run. But, sir, whence
came these riches? Riches and poverty are comparatively indifferent to
me; but I was not born to be a mark for shame to point her finger at.
A little while ago you were poor; you were the author of your own
poverty; you dissipated your paternal estate. Did I reproach you? No;
you were poor, but not dishonoured! I attended your couch in sickness;
I exerted my manual labour to support you in affliction. I honoured
you for your affection to my mother; I listened with transport to the
history of your youth; I was convinced I should never blush to call
Reginald de St. Leon my father. I believed that lessons of honour, so
impressive as those you instilled into my infant mind, could never
flow but from an honourable spirit. Oh, if there is any thing
equivocal or ignoble in the riches we have displayed, restore me,
instantly restore me to unblemished and virtuous poverty!

I was astonished at the firmness and manliness of spirit that Charles
upon this occasion discovered. I could scarcely believe that these
were the thoughts and words of a youth under seventeen years of age. I
felt that every thing illustrious and excellent might be augured of
one who, at these immature years, manifested so lofty and generous a
soul. I could have pressed him in my arms, have indulged my emotions
in sobs and tears of transport, and congratulated myself that I was
father to so worthy a son. But his temper and manners awed, and held
me at a distance. This was one consequence of the legacies of the
stranger!

Charles! said I, your virtues extort my confidence. For the world a
tale must be prepared that shall serve to elude its curiosity and its
malice. But to you I confess, there is a mystery annexed to the
acquisition of this wealth that can never be explained.

He stood aghast at my words. Am I to believe my ears? A tale prepared?
A mystery never to be explained? I adjure you by all that you love,
and all that you hold sacred--!

His voice was drowned in a sudden gush of tears. With an action of
earnestness and deprecation, he took hold of my hand.

No, sir, no artful tale, no disguise, no hypocrify!--As he spoke, his
voice suddenly changed, his accent became clear and determined.--Will
you consent this very hour to quit the court of Dresden, and to resign
fully and without reserve this accursed wealth, for the acquisition of
which you refuse to account?

Whence, replied I, have you the insolence to make such a proposal?---
No, I will not!

Then I swear by the omnipresent and eternal God, you shall never see
or hear of me more!

I perceived that this was no time for the assertion of paternal
authority. I saw that the poor boy was strangely and deeply moved, and
I endeavoured to soothe him. I felt that the whole course of his
education had inspired him with an uncontrolable and independent
spirit, and that it was too late to endeavour to repress it.

My dear Charles, said I, what is come to you? To hear the strange
language you employ, I should scarcely know you. This impertinent
Dupont has put you quite beside yourself. Another time we will talk
over the matter calmly, and depend upon it, every thing shall be made
out to your satisfaction.

Do not imagine, sir, that my self-possession is not perfect and
complete. I know what I do, and my resolution is unalterable. If you
have any explanation to give, give it now. If you will yield to my
proposal, declare your assent, and I am again your son. But to bear
the insults of my fellows unanswered, or to live beneath the
consciousness of an artful and fictitious tale, no consideration on
earth shall induce me. I love you, sir; I cannot forget your lessons
or your virtues. I love my mother and my sisters; no words can tell
how dearly and how much. But my resolution is taken; I separate myself
from you all and for ever. Nothing in my mind can come in competition
with a life of unblemished honour.

And are you such a novice, as to need the being told that honour is a
prize altogether out of the reach of an unknown and desolate wanderer,
such as you propose to become? My wealth, boy, is unlimited, and can
buy silence from the malicious, and shouts and applause from all the
world. A golden key unlocks the career of glory, which the mean and
the pennyless are never allowed to enter.

I am not such a novice, as not to have heard the language of vice,
though I never expected to hear it from a father. Poverty with
integrity shall content me. The restless eagerness of my spirit is so
great, that I will trust to its suggestions, and hope to surmount the
obstacles of external appearance. If I am disappointed in this, and
destined to perish unheard of and unremembered, at least I will escape
reproach. I will neither be charged with the deeds, nor give utterance
to the maxims, of dishonour.

Charles, replied I, be not the calumniator of your father! I swear to
you by every thing that is sacred; and you know my integrity; never
did the breath of falshood pollute these lips;--

He passionately interrupted me. Did the stranger bequeath you three
thousand ducats? Have you lately received an unexpected acquisition by
the death of a near relation in France?

I was silent. This was not a moment for trifling and equivocation.

Oh, my father, how is your character changed and subverted? You say
true. For sixteen years I never heard a breath of falshood from your
lips; I trusted you, as I would the oracles of eternal truth. But it
is past! A few short months have polluted and defaced a whole life of
integrity! In how many obscurities and fabulous inconsistencies have
you entangled yourself? Nor is it the least of the calamities under
which my heart sickens at this moment, that I am reduced to hold
language like this to a father!

What misery was mine, to hear myself thus arraigned by my own son, and
to be unable to utter one word in reply to his accusations! To be thus
triumphed over by a stripling; and to feel the most cruel degradation,
in the manifestation of an excellence that ought to have swelled my
heart with gratulation and transport! I had recollected my habitual
feelings for near forty years of existence; I had dropped from my
memory my recent disgrace, and dared to appeal to my acknowledged
veracity; when this resort from my son came to plunge me tenfold
deeper in a sea of shame. He proceeded: I am no longer your son! I am
compelled to disclaim all affinity with you! But this is not all. By
your dishonour, you have cut me off from the whole line of my
ancestors I cannot claim affinity with them, without acknowledging my
relation to you. You have extinguished abruptly an illustrious house.
The sun of St. Leon is set for ever! Standing as I do a candidate for
honourable fame, I must henceforth stand by myself, as if a man could
be author of his own existence, and must expect no aid, no favour, no
prepossession, from any earthly consideration, save what I am and what
I shall perform.

My son, replied I, you cut me to the heart. Such is the virtue you
display, that I must confess myself never to have been worthy of you,
and I begin to fear I am now less worthy of you than ever. Yet you
must suffer me to finish what I was about to say when you so
passionately interrupted me. I swear then by every thing that is
sacred, that I am innocent. Whatever interpretation the world may put
upon my sudden wealth, there is no shadow of dishonesty or guilt
connected with its acquisition. The circumstances of the story are
such that they must never be disclosed; I am bound to secrecy by the
most inviolable obligations, and this has led me to utter a forged and
inconsistent tale. But my conscience has nothing with which to
reproach me. If then, Charles, my son, once my friend, my best and
dearest consolation!--I pressed his hand, and my voice faltered, as I
spoke--if you are resolute to separate yourself from me, at least take
this recollection with you wherever you go,--Whatever may be my
external estimation, I am not the slave of vice, your father is not a
villain!

Alas, my father! rejoined Charles mournfully, what am I to believe?
What secret can be involved in so strange a reverse of fortune, that
is not dishonourable? You have given utterance to different fictions
on the subject, fictions that you now confess to be such; how am I to
be convinced that what you say at this moment is not dictated more by
a regard for my tranquillity, than by the simplicity of conscious
truth? If I believe you, I am afraid my credit will be the offspring
rather of inclination, than of probability. And indeed, if I believe
you, what avails it? The world will not believe. Your character is
blasted; your honour is destroyed; and, unless I separate myself from
you and disown your name, I shall be involved in the same disgrace.

Saying thus, he left me, and in about half an hour returned. His
return I had not foreseen; I had made no use of his absence. My mind
was overcome, my understanding was stupified, by a situation and
events I had so little expected. I had stood, unmoved, leaning against
the wall, from the instant of his departure. I seemed rooted to the
spot, incapable of calling up my fortitude, or arranging my ideas. My
eyes had rolled, my brow was knit, I had bit my lips and my tongue
with agony. From time to time, I had muttered a few words,---My son!
my son!--wealth! wealth!---my wife!--my son!--but they were incoherent
and without meaning.

Charles re-entered the apartment where the preceding conversation had
passed, and the noise he made in entering roused me. He had his hat in
his hand, which he threw from him, and exclaimed with an accent of
dejection and anguish, My father!--farewel!

Cruel, cruel boy! can you persist in your harsh and calamitous
resolution? If you have no affection for me, yet think of your mother
and your sisters!

Seek not, sir, to turn me from my purpose! The struggle against it in
my own bosom has been sufficiently severe, but it must be executed.--
His voice as he spoke was inward, stifled and broken with the weight
of his feelings.

Then--farewel! I replied. Yet take with you some provision for your
long and perilous adventure. Name the sum you will accept, and,
whatever is its amount, it shall instantly be yours.

I will have nothing. It is this wealth, with whose splendour I was at
first child enough to be dazzled, that has destroyed us. My fingers
shall not be contaminated with an atom of it. What is to be my fate,
as yet I know not. But I am young, and strong, and enterprising, and
courageous. The lessons of honour and nobility live in my bosom.
Though my instructor is lost, his instructions shall not be vain!

Once more farewel! From my heart I thank you for your protestations of
innocence. Never will I part with this last consolation, to believe
them. I have recollected the manner in which they were uttered; it was
the manner of truth. If there be any evidence of a contrary tendency,
that I will forget. Though to the world I shall be without father and
without relatives, I will still retain this sacred consolation for my
hours of retirement and solitude, that my ancestors were honourable,
and my father, in spite of all presumptions to the contrary,---was
innocent!

How hard it is to quit for ever a family of love and affection as ours
has been! Bear witness for me, how deeply I sympathised with you at
Paris, in Switzerland, in Constance! Though now you dissolve the tie
between us, yet till now, never had a son greater reason for gratitude
to a father. You and my mother have made me what I am; and that I may
preserve what you have made me, I now cast myself upon an untried
world. The recollection of what I found you in the past period of my
life, shall be for ever cherished in my memory!

I quit my mother and my sisters without leave-taking or adieu. It
would be a fruitless and painful addition to what each party must
learn to bear. Dear, excellent, peerless protector and companions of
my early years! my wishes are yours, my prayers shall be for ever
poured out for you! You, sir, who rob them of a son and a brother, be
careful to make up to them a loss, which I doubt not they will account
grievous! I can do nothing for them. I can throw myself into the arms
of poverty; it is my duty. But, in doing so, I must separate myself
from them, assuredly innocent, and worthy of more and greater benefits
than I could ever confer on them!---Farewel!

Saying this, he threw himself into my arms, and I felt the agonies of
a parting embrace.




CHAP. VIII.

For some time I could not believe him departed. When I retired to
rest, I felt the want of Charles to press my hand, and wish me
refreshing slumbers; and I passed on, sad and solitary, to my chamber.
When I came next morning into the breakfasting room, Charles was not
there, to greet me with looks of affection and duty; and the gilding
and ornaments of the apartment were to me no less disconsolate than
the damps and sootiness of a dungeon.

I hoped he would return. I knew how tenderly he was attached to his
mother and his sisters; I was fully convinced that the affection for
me which had been the perpetual habit of his mind, could not be
entirely eradicated from his heart. I mentioned him not in my letters
to Constance; the pen lingered, my hand trembled, when I thought of
him; I could neither pretend that he was with me, nor announce the
catastrophe of his absence. But I opened the letters of Marguerite
with still increasing impatience. Finding that he did not return to
me, I hoped that some alteration of the extraordinary resolution he
had formed would lead him to Constance. In vain I hoped! There reached
me, by no conveyance, from no quarter, tidings of my son!

How surprising an event! A youth, not seventeen years of age, forming
and executing in the same instant the purpose of flying from his
parents and his family! Deserting all his hopes, all his attachments,
all his fortune! Refusing the smallest particle of assistance or
provision in his entrance upon the wide scene of the world! Oh,
Charles! exclaimed I, you are indeed an extraordinary and admirable
youth! But are you fortified against all the temptations of the world
and all its hardships? Do your tender years qualify you to struggle
with its unkindness, its indifference and its insults? In how few
quarters is merit ever treated with the attention and benevolence it
deserves! How often is it reduced to tremble with indignation at the
scoffs and brutality to which it is exposed, and at the sight of folly
and vice exalted in its stead, and appointed its despot and its
master! My son, my son! what will be your fate? Is your unseasoned
frame reserved to perish by hunger, in barren deserts and beneath
inclement skies? Will you not in some hour of bitter disappointment
and unpitied loneliness, lay yourself down in despair and die? Will
you not be made the slave of some capricious tyrant for bread?
Generous as is your nature, will it be eternally proof against
reiterated temptation? Upon what a world are you turned adrift! a
world of which you know as little, as the poor affrighted soul of a
dying man knows, when launching into the mysterious, impenetrable
abyss of eternity! Unnatural father, to have reduced my only son to
this cruel alternative! I should with a less aching and agonising
heart have accompanied his senseless remains to the grave. Dreadful as
that parting is, there at least the anxious mind of the survivor has
rest. There are no thoughts and devices in the silence of the tomb.
There all our prospects end, and we are no longer sensible to pain, to
persecution, to insult and to agony. But Charles, thus departed,
wandering on the face of the globe, without protector, adviser or
resource, no lapse of years can put a close upon my anxiety for him!
If I am in ease and prosperity, I cannot relish them, for my exposed
and living son may be at that moment in the depth of misery! If I am
myself oppressed and suffering, the thought of what may be his fate,
will form a dreadful addition to all my other calamities! What am I to
say of him upon my return to Constance? If he had died, this was a
natural casualty; and, whatever grief it might occasion, time no doubt
would mollify and abate it. But what account can now be rendered of
him to his disconsolate mother and terrified sisters? How can I lift
up my head in their presence, or meet the glance of their reproachful
eyes!

The idea had occurred to me, in the instant of Charles's departure,
and immediately after his exit, of detaining or bringing him back by
force. He was by his extreme youth, according to the maxims of the
world, still in a state of guardianship, and unqualified to be the
chooser of his own actions. But to this mode of proceeding, however
deeply I felt the catastrophe which had taken place, I could never
consent. It was in utter hostility to the lessons of chivalry and
honour, with which I had been familiarised from my earliest infancy.
There might be many cases, in which this restraint laid by a father
upon his child would be salutary. But the idea which had occasioned
the secession of Charles, was decisive in this instance. What right
had I to chain him to dishonour? The whole bent of his education had
been to impress him with the feelings by which he was now actuated. If
I detained him for a short time, was there any vigilance on earth that
could finally prevent him from executing a purpose upon which his
whole soul was resolved? Or, suppose there were, must not the
consequence be to break his spirit, to deprive him of all manliness
and energy, and to render him the mere drooping and soulless shadow of
that conspicuous hero I had been anxious to make him? It might be said
indeed, that this was the determination of a boy, formed in an hour,
and that, if I detained him only long enough for deliberation and
revisal, he would then of his own accord retract so desperate a
project. But I felt that it was a resolution formed to endure, and was
built upon principles that could not change so long as an atom of his
mind remained. No; I was rather disposed to say, however grievous was
the wound he inflicted on me, Go, my son! Act upon the dictates of
your choice, as I have acted on mine! I admire your resolution, though
I cannot imitate it. Your purpose is lofty and godlike; and he that
harbours it, was not born to be a slave. Be free; and may every power
propitious to generosity and virtue, smooth your path through life,
and smile upon your desires!

The anguish I felt for having lost my son, and in this painful and
reproachful manner, was not diminished to me either by society or
amusement. I dared not go out of my house. I saw no one but my own
attendants. I had not the courage to meet the countenance of a human
creature. I knew not how far persons in Dresden might have heard the
injurious reports which had occasioned the flight of my son, or even
have been acquainted with the nature of that flight. I had promised to
see Coligny again, but, alas! the affair which had at first led me to
see him, was now at an end. I had no heart to seek him; nor indeed did
I know what story I was to tell him, or how I was to remove the
suspicions he had urged against me. The machine of human life, though
constituted of a thousand parts, is in all its parts regularly and
systematically connected; nor is it easy to insert an additional
member, the spuriousness of which an accurate observation will not
readily detect. How was I to assign a source of my wealth different
from the true, which would not be liable to investigation, and, when
investigated, would not be seen to be counterfeit? This indeed is the
prime source of individual security in human affairs, that whatever
any man does, may be subjected to examination, and whatever does not
admit of being satisfactorily accounted for, exposes him whom it
concerns to the most injurious suspicions. This law of our nature, so
salutary in its general operation, was the first source of all my
misfortunes.

I began now seriously to consider what judgment I was to pass upon the
bequests of the stranger. Were they to be regarded as a benefit or a
misfortune? Ought they to be set on a par with the poisoned robe of
Nessus, which, being sent as a token of affection, was found in the
experiment, to eat into the flesh, and burn up the vitals, of him that
wore it? Should I from this instant reject their use, and returning to
the modes of life established among my fellow men, content myself with
the affection of those with whom I had intercourse, though poverty and
hardships should be mingled with the balm?

The experiment I had made of these extraordinary gifts was a short
one; but how contrary were all the results I had arrived at, from
those I looked for? When the stranger had arrived fix months before at
the cottage of the lake, he had found me a poor man indeed, but rich
in the confidence, and happy in the security and content, of every
member of my family. I lived in the bosom of nature, surrounded with
the luxuriance of its gifts, and the sublimity of its features, which
the romantic elevation of my soul particularly fitted me to relish. In
my domestic scene I beheld the golden age renewed, the simplicity of
the pastoral life without its grossness, a situation remote from
cities and courts, from traffic and hypocrify, yet not unadorned with
taste, imagination and knowledge. Never was a family more united in
sentiments and affection. Now all this beauteous scene was defaced!
All was silence, suspicion and reserve. The one party dared not be
ingenuous, and the other felt that all the paradise of attachment was
dwindled to an empty name. No questions were asked; for no honest
answer was given or expected. Though corporeally we might sit in the
same apartment, in mind a gulph, wide, impassable and tremendous,
gaped between us. My wife pined in speechless grief, and, it was to be
feared, had sustained a mortal blow. My son, my only son, a youth of
such promise that I would not have exchanged him for empires, had
disappeared, and, as he had solemnly averred, for ever. My heart was
childless; my bosom was bereaved of its dearest hope. It was for him
principally that I had accepted, that I had rejoiced in, the gifts of
the stranger. My darling vision was to see him clothed in the harness,
surrounded with the insignia, of a hero. There was nothing I had so
earnestly desired, as that his merits, graced with the favours of
fortune, might cause him to stand confessed the first subject of
France, a situation more enviable than that of its monarch, since he
who holds it, is raised by deeds and the other only by birth, and if
less respected by interested courtiers, is certain to be more honoured
by the impartial voice of history. But, if I felt thus desolate and
heart-broken for the loss of my son, what would be the sentiments of
his mother, more susceptible to feel, and, in her present weakness of
spirits, less vigorous to bear than myself, when the dreadful tidings
should be communicated to her?

Yet I could not resolve to renounce donations which I had so dearly
appropriated. I held it to be base and cowardly to surrender gifts so
invaluable, upon so insufficient an experiment. He, I thought, must be
a man of ignoble and groveling spirit, who could easily be prevailed
on to part with unbounded wealth and immortal life. I had but just
entered upon the vast field that was open to me. It was of the nature
of all great undertakings, to be attended with difficulties and
obstacles in the commencement, to present a face calculated to
discourage the man that is infirm of purpose. But it became my
descent, my character and pretensions, to show myself serene in the
midst of storms. Perseverance and constancy are the virtues of a man.
Affairs of this extensive compass often prove in the issue the reverse
of what they seemed in the outset. The tempest might be expected to
disperse, difficulties to unravel themselves, and unlooked for
concurrences to arise. All opposition and hostile appearance give way
before him who goes calmly onward, and scorns to be dismayed.




CHAP. IX.

It was thus that I spurred myself on to persist in the path upon which
I had entered. Having remained some time at Dresden, encouraging
myself with the hope that Charles might yet join me before I quitted
that city, I began to think of once more turning my steps towards the
residence of the rest of my family. This was no chearful thought, but
upon what was I to determine? I had a wife whom I ardently loved, and
three daughters the darlings of my heart. Because I had lost a beloved
son, was I to estrange myself from the rest of my kindred? I already
felt most painfully the detachment and widowhood to which I was
reduced, and I clung with imperious affection to what remained of my
family. The meeting I purposed must be a melancholy one; but, in the
sorrows of the heart there is a purer and nobler gratification, than
in the most tumultuous pleasures we can partake while affection is
silent. I looked forward indeed to scenes of endless variety and
attraction, but in the mean time what seemed first to demand my
attention was the beloved circle I had left behind in the city of
Constance.

I retraced upon the present occasion the route I had lately pursued
with my son. How different were now my sensations? My heart was then
indeed painfully impressed with the variance and dissolution of
confidence that had arisen between me and his mother. It was perhaps
principally for the sake of banishing this impression that I had had
recourse to the splendour of equipage and attendance which was first
assumed upon the journey from Constance to Dresden. Nor, frivolous as
this expedient may now appear in the unattractive dispassionateness of
narrative, had it been by any means weak of effect at the time it was
employed. When Charles was once mounted on his proud and impatient
steed, and decorated in rich and costly attire, I felt as it were the
sluggishness of my imagination roused; I surveyed his shape and his
countenance with inexpressible complacence; and already anticipated
the period when he was to become the favourite of his sovereign and
his country's pride. Now I returned with the same retinue, but the
place that had been occupied by my son was empty. I sought him with
frantic and restless gaze, I figured him to my disturbed and furious
imagination, till the sensations and phantoms of my brain became
intolerable; I raved and imprecated curses on myself. I endeavoured to
divert my thoughts by observing the scenes that passed before me. They
talked to me of Charles; they had been pointed out by each to each,
and had been the subject of our mutual comment. Though Charles was
endowed with a high relish for the beauties of nature, and, in our
little retreat on the borders of the lake, had lived in the midst of
them, he had seen little of the variety of her features; and the
journey we had made through the heart of Germany had furnished him
with continual food for admiration and delight. Nor did the scenes I
beheld, merely remind me of the sensations they produced in Charles;
they led me through a wider field. I recollected long conversations
and digressive excursions which had been started by the impression
they made. I recollected many passages and occurrences to which they
had not the slightest reference, but which, having arisen while they
constituted the visible scene, were forcibly revived by its
reappearance. Thus, from various causes, my lost and lamented son was
not a moment out of my thoughts during the whole journey. While I
continued at Dresden, I seemed daily to expect his return; but, no
sooner did I quit that city, than despair took possession of my heart.

Thus anxious and distressed, I arrived at Prague, and soon after at
Ratisbon. I travelled slowly, because, though I was desirous of
returning to Constance, I anticipated my arrival there with little
complacence. As I drew nearer to my family, I felt more distinctly the
impossibility of presenting myself before them, without first
endeavouring to take off the shock they would sustain at seeing me
return without my son. I therefore resolved to send forward a servant
from Ratisbon, whom I directed to make all practicable speed, as I
designed to wait for the answer he should bring me at the city of
Munich. To attempt to write to Marguerite on this subject, was a
severe trial to me. The whole however that I proposed to myself was to
remove the surprise that would be occasioned by seeing me alone, and
to anticipate questions which it would be impossible for me to hear
without anguish of mind and perturbation of countenance. I therefore
took care to express myself in such terms as should lead Marguerite to
believe that I had voluntarily left her son in Saxony, and that in no
very long time he would rejoin his family. I trusted to subsequent
events to unfold the painful catastrophe, and could not prevail on
myself to shock her maternal feelings so much as I must necessarily
do, if I informed her of the whole at once. Charles had not been
mentioned but in an ambiguous manner, in the letters I had recently
received from Constance, and I was therefore convinced that he had
neither gone to that place, nor conveyed thither any account of his
proceedings.

The answer I received from Marguerite by my messenger was as follows:
"Your absence has been long and critical, and the welfare of your
daughters seems to require that we should rejoin each other as
speedily as may be. Whether we shall meet here or at any other place
you must determine. It is however right I should inform you that,
during your absence, rumour has been busy with your reputation. What
the extent or importance of the ill reports circulated of you may be,
I am scarcely competent to judge. We have lived in uniform privacy,
and it is natural to suppose that the portion of censure that has
reached us, is but a small part of what really exists. The mode in
which you have proceeded, and the extraordinary figure you have made
in a progress through Germany, have given weight to these
insinuations---But it is not my intention to comment on what you have
done.

"You appear to design by your letter that I should understand you have
left my son behind you in Saxony. Poor Charles! I had an epistle from
him three weeks ago, in which he informs me of what has happened, and
apologises in the most pathetic terms for any seeming want of regard
to me in his conduct, at the very moment that his heart bleeds for my
fate. I did not think it necessary to communicate this circumstance to
you. I have done with complaining. Now that I have fallen into the
worst and most unlooked for misfortunes, I have a gratification that I
do not choose to part with, in shutting up my sorrows in my own
breast.

"Oh, Charles, my son, my idol! What is become of you? For what
calamities are you reserved? He tells me it is necessary that I should
never see or hear of him again. Never--. I---his mother!--Reginald,
there are some wounds that we may endeavour to forgive; but they leave
a sentiment in the heart, the demonstrations of which may perhaps be
restrained, but which it is not in nature wholly to subdue. If I did
but know where to find or to write to my poor boy, I would take my
girls with me and partake his honest and honourable poverty, and never
again join the shadow of him who was my husband. Forgive me, Reginald!
I did not intend to say this! If I should prove unable to control the
impatience of my grief, do not inflict the punishment of my offence on
your innocent daughters!

"As to your fiction of voluntarily leaving him behind for further
improvement, it is of a piece with every thing you have lately
attempted to make me believe. I no longer expect truth from you. For
seventeen years I had a husband. Well, well! I ought not perhaps to
repine. I have had my share of the happiness which the present life is
calculated to afford.

"Reginald! I have not long to live. When I tell you this, I am not
giving way to melancholy presentiment. I will exert myself for the
benefit of my girls. They will have a grievous loss in me, and for
their sake I will live as long as I can. But I feel that you have
struck me on the heart. My nights are sleepless; my flesh is wasted;
my appetite is entirely gone. You will presently be able to judge
whether I am deceiving myself. The prospect for these poor creatures,
who are at present all my care, is a dismal one. I know not for what
they are reserved, but I can hope for nothing good. When I am dead,
remember, and be a father to them. I ask nothing for myself; I have no
longer any personal concern with life; but, if my dying request can
have any weight with you, make up to them the duty you have broken to
me. By all our past loves, by the cordiality and confidence in which
we have so long lived, by the singleness and sincerity of our
affection, by the pure delights, so seldom experienced in married
life, that have attended our union, I conjure you listen to me and
obey me in this!"

If I were deeply distressed for the loss of my son, if I looked
forward with a mingled sensation of eagerness and alarm to the
approaching interview with the rest of my family, it may easily be
imagined that this letter formed a heavy addition to my mental
anguish. I confess I thought it a cruel one. Marguerite might well
suppose that the departure of Charles was a circumstance I must
strongly feel, and she should not have thus severely aggravated the
recent wounds of paternal grief. Some allowance however was to be made
for a mother. When we are ourselves racked with intolerable pain, that
certainly is not the time at which we can rationally be expected to
exert the nicest and most vigilant consideration for another. Add to
which, she was innocent of the calamities she suffered, and could not
but know that I was their sole author. But, whatever may be decided as
to the propriety of the letter, its effect upon my mind was eminently
salutary. I instantly determined on the conduct it became me to
pursue.

I lost not a moment. From Dresden to Munich I had advanced with slow
and unwilling steps; from Munich to Constance I proceeded as rapidly,
as my conveyance and the nature of the roads would permit. I left my
retinue at the gates of the town, and flew instantly to the apartments
of my family. I hastened up stairs, and, as I entered the fitting
room, I saw the first and most exemplary of matrons surrounded by her
blooming daughters. I instantly perceived a great alteration in her
appearance. Her look was dejected; her form emaciated; her countenance
sickly and pale. She listed up her eyes as I entered, but immediately
dropped them again, without any discernible expression either of
congratulation or resentment. I embraced my children with
undescribable emotion; I said within myself, The love and affection I
had reserved for Charles, shall be divided among you, and added to the
share you each already possess of my heart! Having faluted them in
turn, I addressed myself to Marguerite, telling her that I must have
some conversation with her instantly. My manner was earnest: she led
the way into another apartment.

I felt my heart overflowing at my tongue.

I am come to you, cried I, a repenting prodigal. Take me and mould me
at your pleasure!

She looked up. She was struck with the honest fervour of my
expression. She answered in almost forgotten terms, and with a
peculiar fulness of meaning, My husband!--It seemed as if the best
years and the best emotions of our life were suddenly renewed.

Most adorable of women! I continued: do you think I can bear that you
should die, and I your murderer? No man in any age or climate of the
world ever owed so much to a human creature as I owe to you; no woman
was ever so ardently loved; no woman ever so much deserved to be
loved! If you were to die, I should never know peace again. If you
were to die the victim of any miscalculation of mine, I should be the
blackest of criminals!

Reginald! replied she, I am afraid I have been wrong. I am afraid I
have written harshly to you. You have a feeling heart, and I have been
too severe. Forgive me! it was the effect of love. Affection cannot
view with a tranquil eye the faults of the object beloved.

Let it be forgotten! Let the last six months be blotted from our
memory, be as though they had never existed!

She looked at me. Her look seemed to say, though she would not give
the sentiment words, That can never be; the loss of Charles, and
certain other calamities of that period, are irretrievable!

I resign myself into your hands! I have been guilty; I have had
secrets; meditations engendered and shut up in my own bosom; but it
shall be so no more! The tide of affection kept back from its natural
channel, now flows with doubled impetuousness. Never did I love you,
not when you first came a virgin to my arms, not on the banks of the
Garonne, not in the cottage of the lake, so fervently, so entirely, as
I love you now! Be my director; do with me as you please! I have never
been either wife or virtuous, but when I have been implicitly guided
by you!

I have wealth; I am forbidden by the most solemn obligations to
discover the source of that wealth. This only I may not communicate;
in all things else govern me despotically! Shall I resign it all?
Shall I return to the cottage of the lake? Shall I go, a houseless and
helpless wanderer, to the furthest quarter of the globe? Speak the
word only, and it shall be done! I prefer your affection, your cordial
regard, in the most obscure and meanest retreat, to all that wealth
can purchase, or kings can give!

Reginald, I thank you! I acknowledge in your present language and
earnestness the object of my first and only love. This return to your
true character gives me all the pleasure I am now capable of
receiving. But it is too late. My son is lost; that cannot be
retrieved. Your reputation is blasted; I am sorry you are returned
hither; Constance is in arms against you, and I will not answer for
the consequence. For myself; I am grieved to tell you so; I am ashamed
of my weakness; but--my heart is broken! I loved you so entirely, that
I was not able to bear any suspension of our confidence. I had passed
with you through all other misfortunes, and the firmness of my temper
was not shaken. For this one misfortune, that seemed the entire
dissolution of our attachment, I was not prepared. I feel, every
morning as I rise, the warnings of my decease. My nights are
sleepless; my appetite is gone from me.

Oh, Marguerite, talk not thus! Distract me not with the most fatal of
images! Our confidence shall return; all the causes of your malady
shall be removed! With the causes, the symptoms, depend on it! will
disappear. Your youth, your tranquillity, your happiness, shall be
renewed! Oh, no, you shall not die! We will yet live to love and
peace!

Flatter not yourself with vain hopes, my love! I feel something wrong
within me, which is rapidly wearing my body to decay. Reconcile your
mind to what very soon must happen! Prepare yourself for being the
only parent to your remaining offspring! I have composed my spirit,
and calmly wait my fate. You have now administered to me the only
consolation I aspired to, by this return to your true character, which
affords me a sanguine hope that you will faithfully discharge the duty
to your offspring, that, when I am gone, will be doubly urgent on you.

I was grieved to see that the mind of Marguerite was so deeply
impressed with the notion that she had but a short time to live. I
could not bear to imagine for a moment that her prognostic was just.
The thought seemed capable of driving me to distraction. I however
conceived that the best thing that could be done for the present, was
to turn the conversation to some other topic.

Well, well, my love! I answered. There are some things that are
immediately pressing. Direct me, direct a husband, so amply convinced
of your discretion, what I am to do at present! Shall I instantly
annihilate all that has made this unfortunate breach between us; shall
I resign my wealth, from whatever source derived? Whither shall we go?
Shall we return to the cottage of the lake? Shall we retreat into some
distant part of the world?

How can you expect me, said Marguerite faintly smiling, to advise you
respecting the disposal of a wealth, of the amount of which I am
uninformed, and the source of which is invisible? But I guess your
secret. The stranger who died your guest, was in possession of the
philosopher's stone, and he has bequeathed to you his discovery. I
have heard of this art, though I confess I was not much inclined to
credit it. I do not ask you to confirm my conjecture; I do not with
that you should violate any engagements into which you have entered.
But, upon putting circumstances together, which I have been inevitably
compelled to do, I apprehend it can be nothing else. I am astonished
that a conjecture so obvious, should have offered itself to my mind so
late.

If your wealth is of any other nature, ample as it apparently is, it
is a natural question to ask, to whom is it to be resigned? The
ordinary wealth of the world is something real and substantial, and
can neither be created nor dissipated with a breath. But, if your
wealth be of the kind I have named, let me ask, is it possible to
resign it? A secret is a thing with which we may choose whether we
will become acquainted; but, once known, we cannot become unacquainted
with it at pleasure. Your wealth, upon my supposition, will always be
at your beck; and it is perhaps beyond the strength of human nature,
to refuse, under some circumstances, at least in some emergencies, to
use the wealth that is within our reach.

It has been our mutual misfortune that such an engine has been put
into your hands. It has been your fault to make an indiscreet use of
it. Gladly would I return to the tranquil and unsuspected poverty of
the cottage of the lake. But that is impossible. You have lost your
son; you have lost your honest fame; the life of your Marguerite is
undermined and perishing. If it were possible for us to return to our
former situation and our former peace, still, my Reginald! forgive me
if I say, I doubt the inflexibleness of your resolution. The gift of
unbounded wealth, if you possess it, and, with wealth, apparently at
least, distinction and greatness, is too powerful a temptation. Nor,
though I should trust your resistance, could I be pleased in a husband
with the possession of these extraordinary powers. It sets too great a
distance between the parties. It destroys that communion of spirit
which is the soul of the marriage-tie. A consort should be a human
being and an equal. But to this equality and simple humanity it is no
longer in your power to return.

Circumstanced then as we now are, the marriage union, you must allow
me to say, irreparably dissolved, your son lost, your fair fame
destroyed, your orphan daughters to be provided for, I know not if I
should advise you to forget the prerogative that has been bought for
you at so dreadful a price. Beside, if I am not mistaken, there are
great trials in reserve for you. I am afraid your present situation is
extremely critical. I am afraid the suspicions you have excited
against you, will cost you dear. At all events I believe it to be but
a necessary precaution that we should fly from Constance. I have
nothing therefore to recommend to you on the subject of wealth but
discretion. I shall not long live to be your adviser. I shall always
regard the donation you have received, you cannot wonder that I should
so regard it, as one of the most fearful calamities to which a human
being can be exposed. If you had used your prerogative with
discretion, you might perhaps, though I confess I do not see how, have
escaped the obloquy of the world. Into your domestic scene, where the
interest is more lively, and the watch upon you more unremitted, it
must have introduced alienation and distrust. As it is, I see you
surrounded with dangers of a thousand denominations. Police has its
eyes upon you; superstition will regard you as the familiar of demons;
avarice will turn upon you a regard of jealousy and insatiable
appetite. If I could recover from the weakness that at present besets
me, and continue to live, I foresee more and severer trials, both at
home and abroad, than any I have yet sustained; and I am almost
thankful to that providence which has decreed to take me away from the
evil to come.

One thing further let me add. I will speak it, not in the character of
a censor, but a friend. It must ever be right and useful that a man
should be undeceived in any erroneous estimate he may make of himself.
I have loved you much; I found in you many good qualities; my
imagination decorated you in the virtues that you had not; but you
have removed the veil. An adept and an alchymist is a low character.
When I married you, I supposed myself united to a nobleman, a knight
and a soldier, a man who would have revolted with disdain from every
thing that was poor-spirited and base. I lived with you long and
happily. I saw faults; I saw imbecilities. I did not see them with
indifference; but I endeavoured, and with a degree of success, to
forgive, and to forget them; they did not contaminate and corrupt the
vitals of honour. At length you have completely reversed the scene.
For a soldier, you present me with a projector and a chymist, a cold-
blooded mortal, raking in the ashes of a crucible for a selfish and
solitary advantage. Here is an end of all genuine dignity, and the
truest generosity of soul. You cannot be ingenuous; for all your
dealings are secrecy and darkness. You cannot have a friend; for the
mortal lives not that can sympathise with your thoughts and emotions.
A generous spirit, Reginald, delights to live upon equal terms with
his associates and fellows. He would disdain, when offered to him,
decisive and clandestine advantages. Equality is the soul of all real
and cordial society. A man of rank indeed does not live upon equal
terms with the whole of his species; but his heart also can exult; for
he has his equals. How unhappy the wretch, the monster rather let me
say, that is without an equal; that looks through the world, and in
the world cannot find a brother; that is endowed with attributes which
no living being participates with him; and that is therefore cut off
for ever from all cordiality and confidence, can never unbend himself,
but lives the solitary, joyless tenant of a prison whose materials are
rubies and emeralds! How unhappy this wretch; how weak and ignoble the
man that voluntarily accepts these laws of existence!

In the advice of Marguerite I saw that sound wisdom and discernment,
by which in all the periods of our connection she had been so
eminently characterised. With her views of the future I was not
disposed to accord. I regarded them as obscured and discoloured by the
unfortunate state of her health. I could not indeed refuse to believe
that the prerogative I had received had been the parent of much
domestic unhappiness. Willingly would I have resigned all that I had
derived from the stranger, to be replaced in the situation in which
his pernicious legacies had found me. He had robbed me of my son; he
had destroyed my domestic peace; he had undermined the tranquillity
and health of the partner of my life. These calamities pressed with a
heavy and intolerable weight at my heart. But, if, as Marguerite
affirmed, they were irretrievable, or if they could once be removed,
and the domestic advantages I had heretofore enjoyed be restored, I
was not disposed to fear those external mischiefs which Marguerite so
feelingly predicted. I could not believe that I should have such a
league of foreign enemies to encounter, nor could I easily image to
myself any external evils that it was not in the power of gold to
remedy. These considerations I urged to my beloved partner, and by
enforcing them endeavoured to remove from her mind those gloomy
apprehensions, from the prevalence of which I feared much injury to
her health. There was another circumstance I was led particularly to
insist on; I mean the nature of the secret intrusted to me.

I admire your discernment and ingenuity, Marguerite, said I, in your
conjecture respecting the source of my wealth. I admire your delicacy
in not pressing me to decide upon the truth of your conjecture. This
only I must be permitted to say on that subject. It is a secret; and
you will perceive that the same reasons, whatever they are, which make
that secret obligatory on me, require that it should be respected by
you. The same evils that my own indiscretion may draw on me, I shall
be equally exposed to by any error or miscalculation of yours. I have
therefore most earnestly and solemnly to intreat you, whatever
misfortunes may hereafter befal me, in whatever perilous situation I
may be involved, that you will never utter a syllable on this subject;
and that, as I am the selected depository of this secret, and alone
know with certainty what is its nature, you will trust our prosperity
in this point to me.--Marguerite engaged to conduct herself as I
desired.

The night which succeeded this explanation, was particularly soothing
and grateful to me. I was relieved from a great and oppressive
burthen. I was conscious of that particular species of pleasure which
arises from the resolute discharge of an heroic duty. The peace I felt
within, shed its gay and reviving beams upon all around me. Reconciled
to myself; I was filled with sanguine and agreeable visions of the
future. My mind obstinately rejected all dark and hateful presages. I
had intrusted myself and the direction of my conduct, as far as it was
possible for me to do so, to that better pilot, under whose guidance,
if I had not avoided the rocks and quicksands of life, I had at least
escaped with little comparative injury. I felt therefore as if my
domestic enjoyments were restored, and the pleasures of my better
years were about to run over again their auspicious career. Not so
Marguerite. She was mild, gentle and soothing. Displeasure and
resentment towards me were banished from her mind. She endeavoured to
conquer her melancholy, and to forget the wounds that had been so
fatal to her hopes. But her endeavours were fruitless. A fixed
dejection clung to her heart; nor could the generous sweetness that
pervaded her manners, hide from me entirely what was passing in her
bosom.

During this interval we had talked over the plan of our future
operations. Marguerite was exceedingly urgent with me to quit
Constance; nor did I, though not impressed with her presentiments,
feel any reluctance to that change of scene, which, I believed, would
materially contribute to the serenity of her mind and the restoration
of her health. We determined on some of the cities of Italy as the
next place of our residence, and, fixed, if possible, to set out some
time in the next day or the day after. The plan of proceeding to
France, which had lately been a favourite with me, was a favourite no
longer. That had been the project of chearful and wanton prosperity.
It had had for its object the reestablishment of my family honours,
and the elevation of my son. Now my son was lost, my wife was
oppressed with languor and disease, my house was overwhelmed with
sorrow. This was no time for wantonness and triumph. If I could ever
hope to resume the plans my frolic fancy had sketched, an interval at
least of soberer hue must first be suffered to elapse.

My mind at this time sustained a revolution sufficiently remarkable,
but of which the urgency of events that immediately succeeded,
prevented me from ever ascertaining whether it would have proved
temporary or permanent. When I first received the donation of the
stranger, my thoughts, as I have already said, were in a state of
enthusiastic transport, and, amidst the golden visions in which my
fancy revelled, I became in a considerable degree alienated from
domestic sentiments and pleasures. If I still loved my wife and
children, it was the love of habit rather than sympathy, more an
anxiety for their prosperous success in the world, than an earnest
craving for their presence and intercourse. This state of intoxication
and rapture had now subsided. The events of the few last weeks had
sobered my thoughts. Having lost my son, and being threatened with the
loss of his mother, I was roused to a sense of their value. The influx
of wealth and supernatural gifts had grown familiar to my mind, and
now only occupied the back-ground of the picture. I was once more a
man, and I hoped to partake of the privileges and advantages of a man.
The fate reserved for these hopes will speedily be seen.

Some readers will perhaps ask me why, anxious as I was for the life of
Marguerite, and visible as was the decline of her health, I did not
administer to her of the elixir of immortality which was one of my
peculiar endowments. Such readers I have only to remind, that the
pivot upon which the history I am composing turns, is a mystery. If
they will not accept of my communication upon my own terms, they must
lay aside my book. I am engaged in relating the incidents of my life;
I have no intention to furnish the remotest hint respecting the
science of which I am the depository. That science affords abundant
reasons why the elixir in question might not, or rather could not, be
imbibed by any other than an adept.




CHAP. X.

The morning after my return to my family, as I sat surrounded with my
girls, and endeavouring to make myself their playmate and companion,
certain officers of justice belonging to the supreme tribunal of the
city, entered my apartment. They were sent, as they informed me, to
conduct me to prison. My blood at this intelligence mounted into my
face.

To prison? cried I--wherefore?---what have I done?--I am no citizen of
your state. What is the charge against me? Lead me not to prison: lead
me to your chief magistrate!

You will be called up for examination, when his honour is at leisure
to hear you: in the mean time you must go to prison.

Do those who sent you, know that I am a native and a gentleman of
France? They will be made to repent this insolence. Upon what pretence
do they dare to act thus?

You will please not to talk of insolence to us. If you do not demean
yourself quietly,--

Silence, fellow! answered I fiercely. Lead the way!

By this time the children, astonished at a scene so alarming and
unintelligible to them, began to express their terror in various ways.
Julia, who was ready to faint, occupied the attention of her mother.
The little Marguerite clung round my knees, and expressed her emotions
by shrieks and cries. To see her father about to be torn from her by
four strangers, the peculiarity of whose garb of office aggravated the
rudeness of their countenances and the peremptoriness of their
behaviour, was a spectacle which the affectionateness of her nature
was unable to endure.

I will go with you presently, said I to the officers. See, how you
have terrified the children!

Nay, sir, if you will behave civilly, and make it worth our while, we
do not desire to hurry you.

I was stung with the brutal assurance with which they thus set the
liberty of a few moments at a price to me. But I checked my
impatience. I felt that it would be both foolish and degrading to
enter into contention with such wretches. I turned from them proudly,
and took my child in my arms.

I will not be long gone, my love! said I. These people have made a
mistake, and I shall soon be able to rectify it.

I fancy not, muttered one of them surlily.

They shall not take you away, papa; that they shall not! I will hold
you, and will not let you go!

You are a good girl, Marguerite! But I know best what is proper, and
you must not think to control me. The men will not do me any harm,
child; they dare not. Perhaps I shall be back to dinner, and mamma
will then tell me how good you have been.

As I spoke, she looked stedfastly in my face; and then, flinging her
arms round my neck, cried, Good bye, papa! and burst into a flood of
tears.

I embraced the other children and their mother, and, saying to the
latter significantly, Fear nothing; you know I have nothing to fear!--
departed with my conductors.

The way to the citadel lay through the market place. The scene was
already crowded; and I had the mortification to be led along as a
criminal, in the midst of a thousand gazing eyes and enquiring
tongues. New as every thing connected with my present situation was to
me, I had not anticipated this vexation till it arrived. I was filled
with shame and impatience. To my dungeon! said I to my conductors
sternly. If you had shown yourself better-humoured, cried the most
brutal of them, we would have led you round by the back-way.

The master of the prison was somewhat less a savage than his officers.
He knew my person, and had heard of my wealth. Does monsieur choose
the best apartment, said he? Any where that I can be alone! answered I
hastily: He hesitated a moment. I looked in his face: Oh, yes, you
will be paid! He bowed, and showed me to a room.

I shut the door as he retired. What had happened to me was of little
importance in itself. The impertinence of bailiffs and thieftakers, is
of no more real moment than the stinging of a gnat. But I was so
utterly unacquainted with scenes of this nature! The pride of rank
that swelled within me, made every appearance of constraint galling to
my sense. From the instant I was able to write man, no one, except in
the voluntary compact of military service, had ever said to me, Go
there! or, Do this! And now, was I to be directed by the very refuse
of the species? was I to learn the prudence of not replying to their
insults? was I to purchase at a stipulated price their patience and
forbearance?---I request the reader to pardon me for troubling him
with my noviciate feelings: I soon learned to understand the world--
the world of a prison--better!

But, what was of more importance, I was apprehended as a criminal; I
had been dragged a prisoner of justice through the streets of
Constance; I was, by and by, to be subjected to the interrogatories of
the municipal tribunal. I could scarcely credit my senses, that such
an indignity had happened to the blood of St. Leon. It is true, I was
innocent. I was conscious, whatever might be my imprudencies and
offences towards my own family, that I had done nothing to merit the
animadversion of public justice. But this was of no consequence.
Nothing in my opinion could wipe away the disgrace of being
interrogated, examined! of having for an instant imputed to me the
possibility of being a criminal! I writhed under this dishonour, and
felt it as a severer attack, than the question, which was
comparatively of ceremony and etiquette, that had oppressed me in my
residence at Dresden.

The next day, when I was brought up for examination, I had expected to
be the complainant, in demanding redress for the injury I had
sustained. But I was mistaken.

I entered the room haughtily, and with the air of a man that felt
himself aggrieved. Of this however the magistrate took no notice. Do
you know, sir, said I, that I am a citizen and a gentleman of France?
Are you acquainted with the treatment I have experienced? Have you
lent your authority to that treatment?

Wait a few minutes, replied he with an imperious tone, and I shall be
at leisure to attend to you.

I was silent. After the interval of nearly a quarter of an hour, he
resumed: You call yourself the count de St. Leon?

I do.

Perhaps, sir, you are uninformed of the purity with which justice is
administered in the city within whose jurisdiction you now stand. Our
state is a small one, and its magistrates are therefore enabled to
discharge the office of a parent, not only to its proper citizens, but
to all strangers that place themselves under its protection.

I remember, sir, that seven years ago, I and my wife and four
children, sick and unfriended, were upon the point of perishing with
hunger within the walls of this city!--The fact I mentioned was wholly
foreign to the point with which I was at present concerned; but the
parading arrogance of the man brought it forcibly to my memory, and
wrung it from my lips.

Monsieur le comte, replied he, you are petulant. It is not the office
of a state to feed the souls it contains; it could not do that without
making them slaves. Its proper concern is to maintain them in that
security and freedom of action, which may best enable them to support
themselves.

I suppressed the emotions which the tone of this speech excited. I was
unwilling to enter into contention with a man whom I regarded as
inexpressibly my inferior.

Is it, cried I sternly, a part of the justice you boast of, to drag a
man of rank and a stranger from his home, without any intimation of
the cause of his being so treated, and then, instead of investigating
immediately the charge alleged against him, to send him to prison
unheard? I disdain to mention the behaviour of your officers: those
things naturally grow out of the abuses practised by their superiors.

The mode of our proceeding, replied he, depends upon the seriousness
of the crime imputed. If a man of distinction labours under a slight
accusation only, we then treat him with all proper forbearance and
respect. But, when he is suspected of a crime of more than ordinary
magnitude, that alters the case. The man who has ceased to respect
himself, must look for no respect from others.

I was for a moment thunderstruck and speechless. At length fiercely I
cried, Produce my accusers!

That is not the mode of proceeding in Constance. I have certain
questions to propound to you. When you have answered them, we shall
see what is to be done next.

Carry me before the prince-bishop of your city! If I am to be examined
further, let it be by your sovereign!

The prince-bishop, moved by the state of our affairs in matters of
religion, has been prevailed on to delegate his juridical authority. I
am the person to whom the cognisance of your business belongs, and at
certain times, aided by my assessors, have the power of life and death
within this city. You have had every indulgence to which you are
entitled, and it will be your wisdom to be no further refractory.

Propose your questions!

A person, apparently greatly advanced in years, arrived in the autumn
of the preceding year at a humble domain you at that time cultivated,
called the cottage of the lake. It is to him that my questions will
principally relate.

I stood aghast. The words of the magistrate were most unwelcome
sounds. I remembered that the stranger had said to me, When I am once
buried, speak of me, and, if possible, think of me no more. I replied
with eagerness and alarm: Of that person I have nothing to say. Spare
your questions; I have no answer to return you!

What was his name?

I know not.

His country?

I cannot inform you.

It is understood that he died, or in some manner disappeared, while
under your protection. Yet in the registers of the church there is no
notice of that event. If he died, no application was made for the
rites of religion to him dying, or to his body when his spirit had
deserted it. You are required to answer, what became of him or his
remains?

I have already told you, that from me you will obtain no information.

One question more, sir. Seven years ago, you tell me, you and your
family were perishing with hunger. Soon after, you removed from
obscure lodgings in this city to the cottage of the lake, and seemed
to be laudably employed in earning your subsistence with the labour of
your hands. But within the last six months the scene is wholly
changed. You appear to have suddenly grown rich, and here, and in
other parts of Germany, have actually disbursed considerable sums.
Whence comes this change?

The train of questions thus proposed to me, impelled me to a serious
reply.

Monsieur le juge, said I, I am a stranger, a native of France, and a
man of rank in my own country. I have paid your state the compliment
of choosing it for my residence. I have expended my industry, I expend
my wealth among you. I have comported myself as a peaceable
inhabitant. No action of my life has brought scandal upon your state,
or disturbed the peace and tranquillity of your affairs. I cannot
collect from any thing you have said, that I have any accuser, or that
any charge has been alleged against me. Till that happens, I cannot
fall under your animadversion. I am a man of generous birth and
honourable sentiments. To myself and my own conscience only am I
accountable for my expenditure and my income. I disdain to answer to
any tribunal on earth an enquiry of this sort. And now, sir, in
conclusion, what I demand of you is, first, my liberty, and secondly,
an ample reparation for the interruption I have sustained, and the
insults to which I have causelessly been exposed.

You are mistaken, sir, said the magistrate. What you mention may be
the rule of administering justice in some states. They may decide, if
they think proper, that some open act, apparently of a criminal
description, must be alleged against a man, before he can become an
object of animadversion to the state. But in Constance, as I have
already told you, the government assumes to act the part of a parent
to its subjects. I sit here, not merely to investigate and examine
definite acts, but as a censor morum; and I should commit a breach of
the oath of my office, if I did not lend a vigilant attention to the
behaviour and conduct of every one within my jurisdiction. The city of
Constance requires that nothing immoral, licentious, or of suspicious
character, shall be transacted within its walls. Your proceedings have
escaped notice too long; much longer than they would have done but for
your late absence. In cases where what is committed is merely immoral
or licentious, we content ourselves with sending the offender out of
our walls. But your case is of a very complicated nature. It has
scandalised all the inhabitants of our virtuous and religious city.
Unless you answer my enquiries, and give a very clear and satisfactory
account of your wealth, I am bound to believe that there is something
in the business that will not bear the light. The coincidence of times
obliges me to connect the disappearance of your guest, and the sudden
reverse of your fortune, this connection gives rise to the most
alarming suspicions. I have therefore to inform you that, unless you
honourably clear up these suspicions by the most ample communication,
my duty directs me to remand you to prison, and to assure you that you
will not be liberated thence till you have satisfied the whole of my
interrogatories.

Think deliberately, answered I, of your decision before you form it.
Your prisons I despise; but I will not suffer my reputation and my
honour to be trifled with. I came before you willingly, though I could
easily have avoided doing so; because I was eager to clear my fame. I
expected accusers, and I knew I could confound accusation. But what is
this that you call justice? You put together circumstances in your own
mind; you form conjectures; and then, without information, accuser or
oath, without the semblance of guilt, you condemn me to prison, and
expect to extort from me confession. In defect of articles of charge I
disdain to answer; the only return a man of honour should make to
loose conjectures and random calumnies, is silence. I am descended
from a race of heroes, knights of the cross, and champions of France;
and their blood has not degenerated in my veins. I feel myself
animated by the soul of honour, and incapable of crime. I know my
innocence, and I rest upon it with confidence. Your vulgar citizens,
habituated to none but the groveling notions of traffic and barter,
are not the peers of St. Leon, nor able to comprehend the views and
sentiments by which he is guided.

You are mighty well-spoken, monsieur St. Leon, replied the magistrate,
and your words are big and sounding. But we know that the devil can
assume the form of an angel, and that the most infamous and profligate
character can pronounce with emphasis sentiments of the purest virtue.
You are pleased to decide that the presumptions against you are
nothing but calumnies. Is it nothing that, having received a stranger
and retained him with you for months, you endeavoured to conceal this
fact, and never suffered him to be seen by a human creature? Is his
final disappearance nothing? Is it nothing that, supposing him to be
dead, as he probably is, you denied to his remains the rites of
funeral, and refuse to tell what is become of the body? Is it nothing
that, upon the death of this stranger, you, who were before in a state
almost of penury, suddenly appear to be possessed of unbounded riches?
Where is the will of this stranger? In what archives have you
deposited the declaration of his wealth? Let me tell you, sir, that
these presumptions, which you call nothing, form a body of
circumstantial evidence that, in many countries, would have led you to
the scaffold as a murderer. But the laws of Constance, which you
audaciously revile, are the mildest in the universe. Here we never put
a man to death but on his own confession. We simply condemn him to
perpetual imprisonment, or until he makes a declaration of his guilt.
You refuse to declare the name or country of the man whom you are
suspected of murdering, and then have the assurance to boast that no
private accuser rises against you. No, sir, we know there can be no
private accuser, where the connections of the party can be
successfully concealed. But shall this concealment, which is an
aggravation of the murder, prove its security? In conclusion, you
boast of your blood and heroic sentiments, and rail at our citizens as
shopkeepers and merchants. Let me tell you, sir, shopkeepers and
merchants though we are, we should scorn to conduct ourselves in the
obscure and suspicious manner that you have done. And, now I have
taken the trouble to refute your flimsy pretences, which it was wholly
unnecessary for me to do, I have done with you. You know your
destination, unless you are prepared immediately to give a
satisfactory account of yourself and your proceedings.

Finding it impossible to make on this man the impression I desired, I
declined entering into further parley; and, telling him that I should
convey a representation of my case to my native sovereign, and did not
doubt soon to make him feel the rashness of his proceeding, I
withdrew, in the custody of the officers who had conducted me to the
scene of audience. I was, I confess, struck with the coincidence of
circumstances, which the magistrate had placed in a light equally
unexpected and forcible, and which I now saw calculated to expose me
to the most injurious suspicions. I was not disposed in the smallest
degree to yield to the attack, but I felt a desire to act deliberately
and with caution. The whole of what I had heard was utterly
unforeseen, and it was with peculiar anguish that I became aware of
this new consequence of the stranger's pernicious donation. This was a
consequence that no resignation, no abjuration of his bequests could
cure; and that must be stood up to with manly courage, if any hope
were entertained of averting it.




CHAP. XI.

The appearance of wealth that accompanied me had by this time made its
impression upon my keepers; and one of them now informed me, that
monsieur Monluc, an agent of the court of France, who was making a
tour of several of the German states by order of his sovereign, had
arrived the night before at the city of Constance. There was no
representative of my country regularly resident here, and I
immediately felt the presence of Monluc to be the most fortunate event
that could have occurred for effecting my honourable deliverance.
Selfishness and avarice, it may be thought, would rather have impelled
the persons who had me in custody, to conceal from me a circumstance
calculated to deprive them of an advantageous prey. But in those
groveling souls from whom riches never fail to extort homage, however
strange it may seem, the homage often appears disinterested. They pay
it by a sort of irresistible instinct; and, admiring what they covet,
at an awful distance, with difficulty assume the courage to pollute
their worship with ideas of calculation and gain.

I immediately addressed a memorial to this gallant soldier, with whose
person indeed I was unacquainted, but the fame of whose spirit and
enterprise had not failed to have reached me. I represented to him
that I was a Frenchman of family and distinction; that I had been
seized upon and was retained in prison by the magistrates here,
without accuser or the hope of a trial; that I had not been guilty of
the shadow of a crime; and that I knew the benignity and courage of my
sovereign would never permit a subject of France to languish under
calumny and oppression in a foreign country. I added, that he would do
an acceptable service to king Francis, to whom I had the honour to be
known, by interfering in my favour; and therefore intreated him to
obtain for me immediate justice and deliverance. Monluc returned me an
answer by the bearer of my memorial, assuring me that he would lose no
time in enquiring into the merits of my case, and that I might depend
upon receiving every assistance from him that a man of honour could
desire.

The warmth and frankness of this answer filled me with hope, for there
was no deliverance from my present situation that I could contemplate
with satisfaction, but such a one as should be accompanied with
reparation and eclat. Three days however elapsed before I heard again
from the French envoy. On the morning of the fourth he announced his
intention of visiting me; and, about an hour after, arrived at the
prison. His appearance was striking. He was tall, slender and well
made, with a freedom of carriage, not derived from the polish of
courts, but which appeared to flow from the manliness and active
energies of his mind. His hair and complexion were dark; the former,
though he was still young, rather scantily shaded a high and ample
forehead. His features were expressive of the sanguine and adust
temper of his mind, and, though his eye was animated, his countenance,
as he entered, struck me as particularly solemn.

You are the count de St. Leon? said he.

I am.

You sent me a memorial a few days ago complaining of the tribunal of
this city: I am afraid, sir, I can do nothing for you.

My countenance fell as he spoke; I gasped for breath. I had conceived
a most favourable impression of him as he entered, and my
disappointment was particularly cruel. I had said in my heart, This is
the very man to rescue my injured fame.

I see, sir, you are disappointed, resumed he. I have not given up the
affair: if I had, this visit, which I design as a mark of attention,
would be an insult. The moment I received your memorial, I paid the
utmost regard to it. If the affair were as you represented it, I knew
I could not do any thing more acceptable to my sovereign than
interfere in your behalf. I have spent the whole interval in
investigating the case. I have seen the magistrate who committed you;
I have visited the spot where your crime is alleged to have been
perpetrated; I have had an interview with your wife.

Well, sir, cried I, alarmed and impatient---well, sir, and the result?

Appearances are uncommonly strong against you: they can scarcely be
stronger. But you have a right to be heard; it is for the sake of
discharging that last act of justice that you see me this morning.

Great God! exclaimed I, overwhelmed with chagrin, is it possible that
my countryman, the man to whom I was proud and happy to appeal, the
gallant Monluc, should believe me a murderer? I swear by every thing
that is sacred, by the blood of him that died for me on the cross, and
by my eternal salvation, that I am as innocent as the child unborn!

I am glad to hear you express yourself with this emphasis and fervour.
I cannot but say that to my own feelings it has great weight. But I
must not suffer myself as a man, and still less in the public capacity
in which I stand, to be overcome and confounded by your asseverations.
There is a connected and a most unfavourable story against you: this
it is incumbent on you to clear up.

And you say, you have seen my wife? I was distracted and overwhelmed
by Monluc's way of putting the question. I was divided between my
anxiety to be justified, and the solemn mystery of the affair to which
his enquiries led; and I probably spoke thus from an unconscious
desire to gain time.

Yes, that is another presumption in your favour. Madame de St. Leon is
perhaps the most striking and extraordinary woman I ever saw. Of the
husband of such a woman, especially when he appeared to be the object
of her attachment, I should be always inclined to think well. Madame
de St. Leon pleaded for you with earnestness and affection. But,
amidst all her ardour, I could perceive that she felt there was
something mysterious and unpleasant in the affair, that she was
herself unable to develop.

As Monluc spoke, I saw that I had failed in one of the main anchors of
my hope. I thought that no one could have talked with my beloved
Marguerite, and have left her with the opinion that I was a murderer.
How did this happen? Was she lukewarm and unfaithful in my
vindication?

What she, continued my countryman, I could see, was not only unable to
explain, but did not fully understand, it is you alone can clear; the
concealment of the stranger, his disappearance, what became of the
body, and your own sudden transition from poverty to wealth.

I was by this time fully sensible of the nature of my situation. I
summoned my fortitude; I felt that I had no longer any hope but in the
dignity of innocence.

You call on me for explanation, replied I. Can you not conceive,
gallant Monluc, that I may be able to resolve your doubts, and yet
that I will not? Explanation is not the business of a man of honour.
He cannot stoop to it. He will win the applause and approbation of
mankind, if won, in silence. He will hold on the even course of a
generous spirit, and turn neither to the right nor the left, to court
the suffrage, or deprecate the condemnation of a giddy multitude. Such
my brave countryman, have been the maxims of my past life; such will
be the maxims of my future.

I admire, answered Monluc, at least the gallantry of these sentiments,
though I may be inclined to doubt their prudence. But, if such is your
determination, permit me to say, you have no concern with me. He who
resolutely withholds explanation, must arm himself with patience, and
either wait the operation of time, or rest satisfied with the
consciousness of his innocence.

And is that all? Will there not be some noble spirits, who, separating
themselves from the herd, will judge of him by what they feel in their
own breasts, and be drawn to him with an irresistible impulse? Was it
not natural that I should expect Monluc to be one of these? It would
be hard indeed, if he who disdains to temporise with popularity, and
to vindicate himself from the ungenerous constructions of sordid
minds, should not by that very proceeding secure the friendship and
sympathy of those whose friendship it will be most grateful to him to
possess.

The friends of an innocent man, whom a combination of circumstances
has exposed to the most painful suspicions, must always be few. He can
scarcely expect the acquittal and sympathy of a stranger. I must know,
I must have felt and observed in a man a thousand virtues, before I
can be entitled to treat accumulated presumptions against him as
nothing.

And thus then are to end my hopes in Monluc? He does not feel that I
am innocent? He does not recognise in me the countenance, the voice,
the turn of thought, of a brother, a man no less incapable than
himself of every thing disgraceful and ignominious? Be it so! I will,
as you advise me, rest upon the consciousness of my innocence. A
Frenchman, the descendant of illustrious ancestors, long an exile,
long the victim of adversity, but at all times conscious of the purity
of my sentiments and the integrity of my conduct, I will not suffer
myself to be overwhelmed with this last desertion, this ultimate
refusal of justice!

Count de St. Leon! your appeal is full of energy. In whatever way I
decide, it will leave an unpleasant sensation in my breast. Let us
suppose that, as a private man, I could take you to my arms, and
dismiss every unfavourable appearance from my mind. You must remember,
that I am here as a public character, and that only as a public
character am I capable of affording you assistance. Thus situated, I
am bound to resist the impulses of a romantic and irregular
confidence, and to do nothing of which I shall not be able to render a
clear and intelligible account.

Let us not part thus! It is not the vindication of your character to
the world, with which we are at present concerned. It is only
necessary that you should furnish a sufficient ground to justify me to
myself for interfering in your behalf. Explain to me the particulars
of your case, in confidence if you will, but fully and without
reserve. I will not abuse your confidence. I will make no use of your
communication, but such as you shall yourself approve. Only enable me
to have a reason for acting, that is not merely capable of being felt,
but that, I may know, is in its own nature capable of being stated to
another. It is upon me that you call to take certain measures; you
must enable me to judge of their propriety.

You are mistaken when you suppose the appearances against you to be
slight. It is not a slight circumstance, that you profess to be
ignorant of, or have refused to disclose, the country, the
connections, and even the name of the stranger whom you so anxiously
concealed. The disappearance of his body is still more extraordinary.
What intelligible motive, except a guilty one, can I assign for that?
But your sudden wealth immediately after this disappearance, is
especially material. It is a broad and glaring fact, that men cannot
shut their eyes on, if they would. The chain and combination of
events, that proceeds systematically from link to link, is the
criterion of guilt and the protector of reputation. Your case, as it
now stands, is scarcely to be termed equivocal: upon the supposition
of your criminality all is plain and easy to be accounted for; upon
any other supposition it appears an inscrutable mystery. Place but the
balance even; present to me an exposition of these facts, that shall
make your innocence not less probable than your guilt; and, as I feel
myself interested for you and your family, and as the presumption,
when matters are doubtful, ought always to be on the favourable side,
I consent to be your friend!

How unfortunate, I exclaimed, am I doomed to be! Your proposal is
liberal and generous; but I must refuse it! My story is an unhappy
one: particulars have been reposed in my fidelity which I am not at
liberty to communicate, but which, if communicated, you would not
regard as dishonourable. I may be made the martyr of infamy, and the
abhorrence of my species; I can endure adversity and anguish; I can
die; but that which you demand from me, never can be confided to any
mortal ear!

As you please, rejoined Monluc. The secrets of a dead man, to be
preserved after his death, and that to the ruin of him who is their
depository, must, I believe, be villainous secrets; and the secret of
a villain no one is bound to observe. You must further give me leave
to tell you that, whatever a high-strained sense of honour might
dictate in that point, the fortune you possess is you own affair, and
to dissipate or not the mystery which hangs upon that, is wholly at
your discretion. But I have already advanced as far, perhaps further
than circumstances or propriety could justify, and there can now be no
more parley between us.

Monluc, cried I, I submit! However harsh your decision is as towards
me, however painful and unfortunate its consequences, I will admit it
to be that which duty prescribes to you. I struggle, I contend, no
further. One thing only I would willingly obtain of you, that you
would interpose your influence to obtain for me the society and
intercourse of my family. The transaction of this day will then be
remembered by me with respect towards you, and a melancholy regret
that I could not entitle myself to your esteem. I shall recollect with
pleasure that I owe something to the generosity of Monluc.

Incredible pertinacity! exclaimed my visitor with a voice of
perplexity and astonishment. What am I to conceive of you? Under what
appearance shall I consider you in the records of my memory? Your
silence is the indication of guilt, and in that indication I ought to
acquiesce. Yet the fortitude of your manner, and something, I know not
what, of emotion, that your manner produces in my own bosom, would
fain persuade me that you are innocent. Why will you leave me a prey
to this contention of thought? If all men constituted as I am, were to
feel in you, as it were, the magnetism of innocence, shame, the simple
inference of understanding, and the general sense of mankind, would
oblige them to treat you as guilty. What I can however, be assured I
will chearfully do for you. I cannot deliver you from prison, but I
will not fail to obtain the mitigation you ask. Farewel!

Such was the issue of my interview with Monluc. It was clear that my
reputation was wounded beyond the power of remedy. While the question
had only been of a magistrate, haughty, supercilious, insolent and
unfeeling, I flattered myself that the harshness of the conclusions
that were drawn, might be wholly ascribed to the depravity of his
character. But Monluc was the reverse of this man. He was not less
generous and heroic, than the magistrate was gross and illiberal. His
desire to relieve me was not less apparent, than the magistrate's
eagerness to oppress. Yet his conclusion was the same, and was felt by
me so much the more bitterly, in proportion to the humanity, the
kindness, the intrepidity and the virtue of the man from whom it
flowed. Virtue and vice, barbarism and refinement, were equally
engaged in the concert against me, and there was no chance I should
triumph in a contention with so many enemies.

I might now be said to have reached the end of my adventure: I had
closed one grand experiment upon the donation of the stranger. What
had it produced to me? Not one atom of the benefits I anticipated; not
a particle of those advantages which a little while ago had made the
intoxication of my waking dreams. Its fruits had been distasteful and
loathsome. Whether I looked to my person, my family or my fame, I had
felt in all the miserable effects of this treacherous and delusive
gift. My person was shut up in prison; and I was now to make an
experiment whether, by clandestine and secret proceedings, wealth
could restore to me the liberty of which wealth had deprived me. My
family was blasted: my wife was struck to the heart, and no mortal
skill could restore the wound she had suffered; my son was gone
unaided into voluntary exile, that he might shun the contagion of my
follies; what was I to do with the poor remains of my house, forlorn,
dejected and wretched? The wound my good-name had received, was of the
most decisive species. When I first encountered contumely at Dresden,
and was called on for explanation by Coligny, the difficulties of my
condition struck anguish to my soul. But what were they, compared with
what had now overtaken me? I was charged with robbery and murder, with
every thing that combines the whole species against the perpetrator,
and resolves them without sense of compunction to extirpate him from
the face of the earth. Perhaps it was only by the courtesy of the laws
of this state, that I was permitted my choice between an ignominious
death and perpetual imprisonment. I might possibly indeed escape from
my confinement; I might pass into a distant country; I might be
fortunate enough to cut off all connection between my past and my
future life, and thus enter upon a new career. But this to a man of
honourable mind is a miserable expedient. With what feelings does he
recollect, that there is a spot where his name is abhorred, where a
story is told against him to excite the wonder of the ignorant and the
torpid feelings of the sluggish soul, a story to darken with new
infamy the records of guilt, and to infect the imagination of the
solitary man with nameless horrors? To be the theme of such a tale, is
no common evil. No matter how far the man to whom it relates, shall
remove from the detested spot; the spot itself with all its chain of
circumstances, will often recur; the voices that repulsed and humbled
him, will ring in his ear; the degraded figure he made, will rise for
ever fresh to his imagination. He cannot ascend to any free and lofty
sentiment; he cannot attain to the healthful tone of unblemished
virtue; wherever he goes, he carries the arrow of disgrace in his
bosom, and, when he would erect his head on high, it reminds him of
the past, and stings him to the heart.

If the consciousness of all this would have been painful to any other
man, what was it to me, who had been brought up from my infancy in the
opinion that fame was the first of all human possessions, and to whom
honour and an unimpeached integrity had ever been more necessary than
my daily food, or than the life which that food supported? What would
I not have given, could I but have returned to the situation in which
the inauspicious arrival of the stranger had found me? But that was
impossible. If all that I had recently passed through could but have
proved a dream, if I could have awaked and freed myself from the
phantoms of this horrible vision, how happy beyond all names of
happiness should I by such an event have been made? What a lesson
would it have taught me of the emptiness and futility of human wishes?
What a sovereign contempt would it have impressed upon me for wealth
and all its train of ostentation? How profound a feeling of
contentment with humble circumstances and a narrow station would it
have produced in my mind? Alas, the conception of those advantages and
that peace was the illusion, and not the evils I had sustained, and
from which I could not escape!




CHAP. XII.

Meanwhile it was necessary that I should make the best of the present
circumstances. My heart was wounded; my spirit was in a manner broken;
but not so utterly withered and destroyed, as to make me rest supine
in perpetual imprisonment. I felt with equal conviction and pungency
that my character and my happiness had sustained the deepest injuries;
but I felt it incumbent on me to collect and improve the fragments
that remained. For some days indeed after the conference with Monluc I
was sunk in the deepest dejection. But, as that dejection subsided, I
began to turn a steady attention upon the future. I recollected that
an eternal and inexhaustible gift deserved to be made the subject of
more than one experiment, before a decision was formed upon its
merits. I shall become wiser, said I, as I go forward. Experience,
however bitter, will teach me sagacity and discrimination. My next
experiment shall be made with more prudence and a soberer gradation. I
will remove to some distant country, where the disadvantages of my
past adventures shall not follow me. I will take a new name. I shall
then enjoy the benefit of a tyro just entering a scene, to all the
personages of which he is wholly unknown. I shall be like a serpent
that has stripped its tarnished and wrinkled skin, and comes forth in
all the gloss and sleekness of youth. Surely, in an unknown land, with
the prejudice of wealth in my favour, and no prejudices against me, I
shall know how to conduct myself so as to obtain honour and respect.
It is impossible that inexhaustible wealth and immortal youth, gifts
so earnestly coveted by every creature that lives, gifts which if I
were known to possess, my whole species from the mere impulses of envy
would probably combine to murder me, as not able to endure the sight
of one of themselves so elevated above his brethren,--it is impossible
that such gifts should not be pregnant with variety of joy.

Marguerite had greatly contributed to raise me from the dejection,
into which my imprisonment and the conference of Monluc had sunk me.
She was my better genius. I had been so accustomed to receive
consolation from her lips in the most trying circumstances, that now
the very sound of her voice was able to smooth my wrinkled brow, and
calm my agitated spirit. I listened as to the sound of an angelic
lyre; I was all ear; I drank in the accents of her tongue; and, in the
dear delight, my cares were hushed, and my sorrows at an end. She
talked to me of her daughters, whom she represented as about to have
no protector but their father; she urged me to watch over them, and to
take such steps as should most conduce to their future virtue and
happiness; she pointed out the practicability of escape, and
recommended to me to fly to some distant country: the dreams of future
prosperity from the gifts of the stranger were not hers; they were all
my own. It was inexpressibly affecting at this time to receive
consolation from her, who had no consolation in her own breast, who
had bid farewel to all the gay attractions of the world, and talked
familiarly of her death as a thing certain to happen in no very long
time. She had lost the purest gratifications of the domestic scene;
she had lost her son; her heart was broken; yet with her dying accents
she sought to dispel retrospect and inspire chearfulness, in the
breast of her husband.

The reader may perhaps imagine that I was something too sanguine,
when, surrounded with jailors and all the precautions of a prison, I
planned the nature and scene of my next residence exactly as if I had
been a person at large. But I took it for granted that the power of
money I possessed, would easily unlock to me the gates of my
captivity. I believed that, upon the lowest calculation, personal
liberty was clearly included among the gifts of the stranger.
Impressed with this opinion, I fixed upon a negro, a servant of the
prison, and who had the keys of my apartment, as the subject of my
pecuniary experiment. The idea of applying to him had perhaps first
occurred to me, from the mere circumstance of my seeing him more
frequently than any other attendant of the prison. When I thought
further of the matter, I judged from the meanness of his rank and his
apparent poverty, that I could not have chosen better. So far as
related to the sum to be paid as the price of my liberty, it was
indeed indifferent to me whether it were large or small. I had however
suffered so much from the inconsiderate lavishing of wealth, that I
had no inclination on the present occasion to make ostentation of more
than was necessary. But, what was of most importance to me, I was
desirous that my first experiment should be a successful one. Though
not unaware of the power of gold, I conceived that, among persons of
middling rank and easier circumstances, there might be varieties of
disposition, and I might be mistaken in my choice. Some might have the
whim of integrity; or might place a sturdy sort of pride in showing
that they were content with what they had, and were too high for a
bribe. There might be persons who, though of plebeian rank, might
value reputation as much as ever I had done, and be of opinion that no
advance of station could compensate for the name or the consciousness
of dishonour. These distinctions may seem an idle and superfluous
refinement, when it is considered that I had the power of raising my
bribe to the level of any man's honesty or pride be it as great as it
might; and it may be thought that my offer might be so increased, as
to be too dazzling for any mortal firmness to resist. Be that as it
will, I am merely stating the reflections that passed through my mind,
not entering into their vindication.

Taking the first opportunity then of accosting this man when he was
alone with me, I addressed him thus: My good friend, are not you poor?

Yes, sir.

Would not you readily do me a kindness?

If my master give me leave, I will.

You mistake me. Would you be my friend?

I do not know what you mean, sir. I have been used to call the man I
love, my friend. If you mean that, you know I cannot choose whether I
will be a man's friend; it comes of itself.

Can I not make you my friend?

That is, make me love you?

I was surprised at the propriety of his answers. I am unable at this
distance of time to recal the defects of his language; and I disdain
the mimic toil of inventing a jargon for him suitable to the lowness
of his condition: the sense of what he said I faithfully report. I had
before been struck with a certain correctness of thinking in him; but
I now examined his countenance more attentively than I had ever before
done, and thought I could distinctly trace in it the indications of a
sound understanding and an excellent heart.

I do not know, sir, continued he. If I see that you are a good man, I
believe I shall love you. But if it happened that you were good and
generous to me, I am sure I should love you very much.

You are very poor?

So they tell me. I never had more than a shilling or two at a time in
my life.

It is a very sad thing to be poor?

Why, yes, so I have heard, sir. But, for my own part, I am always
merry and gay.

My good fellow, I will make you rich.

Thank you, sir! But what good will that do me?

You are a servant: I will make you a master of servants.

Now, that I should not like at all. I am merry, because I am light-
hearted. If I had money, and property to take care of, and servants to
direct, I am afraid they would make me grave and suspicious, and in
every respect unlike what you see me.

Is it possible you should be pleased with your present situation,
under the orders of one man in a house, and obliged to play the tyrant
yourself to the rest?

Why, as you say, sir, there may be more agreeable situations than the
life of a jail. But, as to being under orders, I have no objection to
that. I never knew any other condition, and therefore I am contented.
It is not pleasant indeed to have a master who is always scolding and
dissatisfied; but the gentleman I serve at present is reasonable; I
know how to content him, and, when I have done that, he leaves me to
please myself. You offer me money: now, sir, that is not what I call
being generous; I count nothing for much, except when a man shows me
he has bowels, and convinces me that he thinks justice due even to a
negro. I dare say however you designed it for generosity, and expected
something from me in return. Tell me what it is you want, and whatever
I can do with propricty, you may depend on it I will.

Do you approve of a man's being deprived of his liberty?

Will you please to tell me what you mean by liberty? You offered me
just now what you called liberty and independence; and I am content to
be a servant.

Would you be pleased, instead of being a turnkey, to have the key
turned on yourself?

That I should not. I understand the disagreeableness of that well
enough, for when I first entered this place, it was as a prisoner.

If then, my good fellow, you were convinced that I was a man disposed
to be generous to you in your own way, and to deserve your attachment
and love, surely you would not refuse to deliver me from a situation
which you have yourself felt to be so disagreeable and calamitous.

I understand you now, sir. I have already a master with whom I am
satisfied, and I do not wish to change my service. When I was a
prisoner, he found out that I was innocent; he got me cleared, and
gave me employment. I am put here for the express purpose of seeing
the prisoners in safe custody. That is the contract between me and my
master. When I took the keys, by that action I pledged myself to be
faithful to my trust; and the nobleness of my master's behaviour to me
in removing me from being a prisoner to be a free servant, is a double
bond upon my fidelity. I would sooner consent to be torn limb from
limb, than fail in what is expected from me. You may be generous to a
harmless stranger; you have most reason to be generous to a man you
love; but, if you would heap benefits upon me merely because I proved
myself a villain, I can only say, it would be disgraceful to be the
object of your favour.

Thus saying, he quitted me, and withdrew from further parley. The
conversation in which we had engaged, though I had had considerable
experience in the world, was altogether new to me, and overwhelmed me
with astonishment. I found in this trial, that the power of money was
subject to limitations, of which previously I had not been in the
slightest degree aware. I thought that nothing but the most
extraordinary degree of resolution and self-denial could enable a man
to resist its enticements; and I had even been told, though I did not
believe, that every man had his price, and a bribe capable of
indefinite augmentation, must be in all cases victorious. Yet here was
a poor creature that was utterly exempt from its operation. He had no
sense of those attractions, which so often degrade the best, and
convert virtue into the most shameless profligacy. It cost him no
effort to be honest, and he uttered sentiments that would have given
lustre to the most heroic character, without any consciousness of
their greatness. What I had seen, led me also to reflect on another
singularity I discerned in him. In the midst of the admirable, I had
almost said the sublime, integrity he discovered, (for is it not a
criterion of the sublime to be great without an effort?) he was
destitute of knowledge, of intellectual cultivation, and all those
exquisite sensations that most distinguish the man from the brute. He
passed on quietly in the road of ordinary life, and thought not of the
ambition to be wise or great, to be honoured by thousands, or a
benefactor to ages yet unborn. Kings might have confessed their
inferiority to this man. But is he to be regarded as the model of what
a human creature should be wished to be? Oh, no!

But the most memorable feeling impressed upon me by this conversation,
was a conviction of what I had been backward to confess, that knaves
were the persons to whose assistance and concert I must look, and that
I must be upon my guard against an honest man. No one was qualified to
be my coadjutor, till he had proved himself unworthy of all just and
honourable society. The friend I must seek, was a man whose very soul
melted at a bribe, whom money would seduce to perpetrate whatever his
judgment most abhorred. Honour and integrity in the most refined and
the rudest state, Monluc and the negro both refused. It is impossible
to conceive a sensation more painful and humiliating, than was this
conviction to my mind.

I was not long lest at leisure for these reflections. In a few minutes
the master of the prison entered my apartment, and along with him the
negro whom I had endeavoured to prevail on to assist in restoring me
to liberty. The master began to reproach me in very harsh terms for
attempting to seduce his servant from his duty, and asked me what sort
of enjoyment or satisfaction a man could have in life, if he could not
depend upon the people he put into his employment? To this I answered
with sternness, that I should hold no debate about right and wrong
with a jailor; that he might depend upon it I would leave no stone
unturned to set myself free, and, what was more, that I would be free;
and that, for his part, it was his business to keep me if he could,
but not to insult me. I therefore insisted upon his quitting the room.

And what use, replied the fellow, do you think now there is in putting
yourself in a passion? If I have not a right to speak to you, I know
what I have a right to do, put you in the strong room, and load you
with irons.

I turned my back upon him. And how came you, said I to the negro, to
go and betray me? I should have expected better things of you. If you
refused to serve me, at least you needed not have endeavoured to hurt
me.

I did nothing but my duty, sir. I have no wish to hurt you: but it is
my business, not merely to take care of my master's interests myself,
but to see that they are not injured by any body else. If he was not
put on his guard, you might have been more successful with the next
turnkey you endeavoured to bribe.

You will find it more your interest, monsieur, interposed the jailor,
to talk to me than to my servant. You are determined to be free, you
say. If that is the case, and it is to happen, who has so good a right
to benefit by your resolution as I have?

My eyes were opened in a moment. I saw that the knave whose rigour and
sternness could not hold out against the warmth of a bribe, the friend
of whose assistance I was in want, stood before me.

I do not wonder, proceeded he, that you preferred applying to one of
my servants. Their honesty must be expected to be had at a cheaper
market. But, for my part, I am determined that no man shall ever pass
these walls, without my being the richer. If then your escape is a
thing that must happen, let us see what you can afford to give me for
it.

Dear master, interposed the negro, you surely will not listen to the
gentleman's offer. When I refused to betray my trust, it is impossible
you should consent to betray yours!

Hold your tongue, blockhead! said the other. Do not you see that
monsieur is determined to escape? I know he is rich. Though you have
refused a bribe, I am sure that all your fellows will not. The thing
will happen sooner or later in spite of every thing I can do; and
there can be no harm in my helping to bring about, what it is
impossible I should prevent.

A morality like this seems exactly in its place in the breast of a
jailor. We had already made some progress in adjusting the terms of
our contract, when the keeper of the prison interposed, But, monsieur,
you will please to remark, that this is an affair that will be
attended with difficulty. Whatever passes between you and me must be a
secret. Your escape will be a thing open and notorious, and you must
have a confederate, that I may not bear the blame of it. You must
therefore take my black here along with you, that his flight may cause
all the blame to fall upon him.

Oh, pray, master, said the negro, do not part with me! I love you, and
will do any thing in the world, if you will let me stay. You saved my
life for aught I know, and made a man of me again; you cannot think
what good it does me to serve a master that has been so kind to me!

Get you gone! replied his owner. You are of no use to me; you are not
fit for a jail; you are so simple, I cannot tell what to do with you!

Indeed I do not like to go with this gentleman; it will break my
heart. He said, he would be generous and kind to me, if I turned a
villain; I shall never be able, and shall never desire to earn his
kindness: but you rewarded me, because I was innocent. He said, he
would make a master of me; and I am better as I am; I had much rather
be a servant.

The difficulties of this poor fellow were soon silenced by the
peremptoriness of his master. The jailor told him that he would do him
a great service, by thus giving his master an opportunity of
representing him as the traitor; and, with this consideration, the
negro dried his tears, and with a reluctant heart consented to
accompany me. Thus were his exemplary fidelity and affection rewarded!
So little do some men seem capable of feeling the value of attachment!
The character of the master was a singular one. The meanness and
mercenariness of his spirit were unredeemed by a single virtue. He was
avarice personified. But he had found or imagined an interest in
taking this negro, who had been wantonly thrown into prison by a
former tyrant, for his servant; and this the poor fellow, in the
simplicity of his heart, had mistaken for an act of exalted
generosity. His avarice had swallowed up all his other passions; and
his servants had neither impatience nor insolence to encounter from
him: weighed therefore in the balance of the negro's experience, he
appeared a miracle of mildness and benevolence.

Our bargain was at length concluded; and, the next time Marguerite
came to visit me, I announced to her the success of my negociation.
Before we parted, we sent for the jailor, and discussed with him the
road I should take. My purpose was to pass into Italy; and Marguerite
undertook by midnight to have every thing prepared to convey us to the
foot of the mountains. This point being adjusted, the keeper of the
prison left us; and, tenderly embracing Marguerite, I besought her to
congratulate me upon the recovery of my liberty. She had heard however
of the infamous nature of the charge against me, and, though she
yielded it no credit, I could easily perceive that it rendered yet
heavier the depression under which she laboured. She returned my
embrace; the tears stole down her cheeks; but she was silent. I
endeavoured to divert her thoughts and reanimate her spirits, by
hinting at the new scenes before us and the distant country to which
we were about to remove; but in vain. I will not reproach you,
Reginald! said she; I will not desert my duty while I have power to
perform it; you may depend upon my doing every thing I am able both
for the children and yourself!

She left me in a very melancholy frame of mind. I had not expected to
see her in this languid and disconsolate temper; and upon the eve of
my liberation, I felt it like caprice. Incomparable woman! She was
incapable of giving intentional pain: but, with her exquisitely
susceptible mind, she was unable to support the dreadful reverse in
which I had involved her, or even at times to assume the gestures of
chearfulness and tranquillity; gestures that, at the best, but ill
disguised the grief within!

I was busily reflecting on what had just occurred, when the keeper of
the prison reentered my apartment. I am come, monsieur, said he, to
take my leave of you. As I do not at all intend to lose my place, it
is not proper that I should see you any more. You understand me?

Two days had already elapsed since the conclusion of our contract, and
I had provided myself for this and such other demands as seemed likely
to be immediately impending. I should have preferred indeed to have
delayed this payment till the moment of my departure: but what the
jailor suggested appeared reasonable; and I could not assign, even to
my own mind, any cause why I should be reluctant to comply with it. I
paid to this wretch the price of his villainy.

I now began to count the hours, and eagerly to anticipate the arrival
of midnight. Though the moment of my liberty was so near, I yet
contemplated with unspeakable loathing the scene of my confinement,
which was associated with the deepest disgrace and the blackest
charges that are incident to a human creature. I felt as if, in
proportion as I removed from the hated spot, I should at least shake
off a part of the burthen that oppressed me, and grow comparatively
young again.

Time was far from moving indeed with the rapidity my impatience
required; but the hour of appointment at last was near, and I expected
every moment the faithful negro to appear, and announce to me my
freedom. The cathedral bell now sounded twelve; I heard the noise of
steps along the gallery; and presently a key was applied to the door
of my apartment. It opened; and three persons, whom I knew for
servants of the prison, entered.

Come, sir, said one of them; you must follow me.

Where is my friend the negro? said I.

Ask no questions; speak never a word; but come.

It was strange, that the master of the prison, whose temper was so
full of anxiety and caution, should unnecessarily trust three of his
people, who might easily have been kept ignorant of this hazardous
secret! This circumstance however did not strike me at first so
strongly as it ought to have done. I had the utmost confidence in his
fidelity to his profligate bargain, and expected every moment to meet
the negro who was to be my guide. My conductors led me by a way which
I soon perceived did not lead to the ordinary entrance of the prison.

Where are we going? said I.

Hold your tongue, or you will spoil all; replied one of them roughly.

I bethought me that there might be an objection to the dismissing me
by the public gate; I recollected to have heard that there were
several subterranean outlets to the citadel; I judged from the words I
had just heard that my conductors were acquainted with the plan that
had been formed; and for all these reasons I proceeded with tolerable
ease and security. I was not much longer however permitted to doubt. I
was conducted to one of the dungeons of the prison, and told that
there I was to remain. At first I remonstrated loudly, and told them
that I had been promised my liberty, and not a treatment like this.

We know that, sir, replied they, and that is the reason you are
brought here. It is our business to teach you that the greatest
offence that can be committed by a man in prison, is to attempt to
escape.

The shock and surprise that so unexpected an issue to my adventure
produced, rendered me outrageous. I was no longer able to control my
fury; and, without knowing what I proposed, I knocked down two of my
attendants before they had an opportunity to secure me, and rushed up
the flight of steps by which we had descended. The third however
contrived to intercept me; and, while we struggled, the other two came
to his assistance. They loaded me with fetters and chained me to the
wall. I was then left in utter darkness.

I felt myself sore with the bruises I had received in the contest; but
what was infinitely worse, I found the expectations of freedom I had
so confidently entertained, baffled and disappointed. Marguerite and
my children were at this moment waiting for me to join them. They
would probably wait hour after hour in vain. To what cause would they
attribute my failing of my appointment? To what cause was I myself to
attribute my miscarriage? My hopes in this instance had been in the
utmost degree sanguine; what was I to count upon for the future? Was
money useless in every instance, in which mankind agreed to think its
power unquestionable? What was the source of the present catastrophe
and the harsh treatment I endured? Was the keeper of the prison
discovered, and dismissed from his office? Had the negro gone, and
given information against him? I formed a thousand conjectures as to
what might have happened; but I was unable to rest in any.

I had remained about twelve hours in this situation, full of angry and
disconsolate thoughts, when the principal jailor entered my dungeon. I
looked at him with astonishment; the clouds vanished from my
understanding, and I began to comprehend the real solution of the
enigma.

Are you at large? cried I with indignation. Why then am I here?

You are here by my orders.

Execrable villain! said I. Did you not promise me my freedom? Have you
not received the price of it? How dare you show yourself in my
presence? As I spoke, I shook my chains, I clenched my fists, I
trembled with resentment and rage.

If you are not perfectly quiet and reasonable, said he, I shall leave
you to your fate, and return no more.

Nothing is more singular in a state of great mental effervescence than
the rapidity with which our ideas succeed each other. At such times we
seem to think more in minutes than at other times in hours. I felt how
miserable a slave a man is, the moment he falls completely into the
power of another. The wretch who stood before me was more vacant of
human affections, than any one I ever saw. Yet I was his creature, to
be moulded as he pleased. A thousand injuries he could inflict upon
me, for which neither the institutions of society, nor the
extraordinary endowments I derived from the stranger, could afford a
remedy. He might so torture my mind and baffle my wishes, as to kill
in me every spark of lofty adventure and generous pride. My liberty
might for aught I knew be for years at his disposal. I felt however
that my best course was to regard him with contempt, and use him as I
would a spade or a file, to execute my purposes, without suffering him
to waken my passions. I immediately grew more calm, and he perceived
the revolution of my sentiments.

You seem to wonder, continued he, that I did not keep my engagement
with you? I pride myself upon being superior to the prejudices, by
which other men are frightened, like children with a bugbear. I have
therefore no rule but my interest; and I did not see how my interest
bound me to keep my engagement with you.

And what became of the countess?

I neither know nor care. I suppose she staid all night under the
walls; I knew she durst not disturb the prison.

I felt I had still emotions to suppress. I curbed my tongue, but they
showed themselves in my eyes.

How do you intend to dispose of me?

Keep you in close custody. I have got your thousand pounds; the next
thing for me to take care of is that I do not lose my place.

And for what purpose do you come to me now?

Why to tell you a secret, I am not quite determined what conduct to
pursue, and therefore I came here that I might have a better
opportunity of judging.

Are you not afraid that I should inform the government how you have
cheated me?

You inform! Have not I got you under lock and key? I warrant you, I
will take care what goes out of these walls to the government.

The countess has a licence to visit me.

What care I for that? I can keep her at bay as long as I will. She
will not easily go to the government; and she is not such a fool as
not to know, that to lodge a complaint against me, is not the way to
procure the liberty of a man condemned to perpetual imprisonment. I
can at any time trump up a story of your attempting to corrupt the
turnkeys, and be sure, when I do, I will not want for proofs. That
will cover any thing I can do to annoy you, and answer any accusation
you can make against me. Do you think that the word of a jailor will
not be taken, before that of the murderer he has in custody?

I can bring your own servants as witnesses, three of whom assaulted me
last night.

Dunce, do you think I trusted them with my secret? They have nothing
to tell, and apprehend nothing but a plot between you and my black,
who has been put into the penitentiary for his offence. He is my only
confident; and I trust him, because his stupidity answers to me for
his faith.

Suppose I were to double the bribe for which you sold me my liberty,
what security should I have that you would abide by your bargain?

Oh, if you were to do that, it would alter the case.

Might you not then detain the money, and desy me, as you have done
now?

Suppose that a thing which might happen: can you help yourself? can
you do better?

I saw there was no remedy, and I was constrained to allow the success
of this two-fold perfidy. It was with an ill grace, and an attempt at
sullenness and indifference, that the jailor accepted my proposal. The
second thousand however had irresistible charms; and, in spite of
himself, the sensation that made his heart dance, relaxed his muscles,
and played about his mouth. He was puzzled what to think of me. The
facility with which I produced the sums he demanded, with less
apparent effort than they might have come from a duke or sovereign
prince, startled and staggered him. He had still his qualms, and
evidently doubted whether he should not raise his price a third time.
I saw no safety but in pertinacity and firmness, and had the good
fortune ultimately to check his doubtful, half-formed experiments.

I was led by the accidents which have just been related, into further
and deeper reflections on the power of money, as well as on the nature
of the situation in which I found myself placed by the legacy of the
stranger. My present experiment had been made upon a subject
apparently the most favourable that could have been devised, upon a
man whose breast the love of gold occupied without a rival: yet with
this man I very hardly succeeded. I was not indeed so blinded by the
present dejection of my spirit and sickness of my heart, as to imagine
that I had not a secure game with this base-minded wretch, if I
consented to play it. I had only to enlarge my bribe, to change it
from the limited sum of two thousand pounds to the more brilliant
offer of two thousand per annum, and no doubt I might have led him
with me to the extremity of the globe. However he might have demurred,
however he might have doubted, however curiosity, whetted even to
agony by the goadings of avarice, might have prompted him to an
incessant enquiry within himself as to the solution of my character
and my powers, his grasping spirit would infallibly have chained his
tongue, and been surety for his fidelity. But I could not yet prevail
upon myself to endow such groveling and noxious propensities with so
rich a reward. I considered, in the language of the stranger, that the
talent I possessed was of the most momentous nature, and bestowed by
the governor of the universe for the highest purposes; and I should
have held myself unjustifiable in enriching by its means, however
urgent the necessity might appear, the most worthless of mankind.

The sentiments of my tyrant varied every hour; he was fickle, anxious,
and undetermined; harrassed with the double fear of losing the sum
already obtained, and of not securing the whole of what was capable of
being acquired. He parted with me at last with all the pangs of a
lover, who witnesses the ceremony of his mistress's taking the
monastic veil, and being sundered from him for ever. I was his
Fortunatus's purse, and this was the last day he was to enjoy the use
of it; I was to him as the buried treasure of some long-forgotten
hoarder, and he feared he should quit his digging before he had
carried off every thing that the field concealed. At length however he
began to apprehend that he had urged the refinement of an unprincipled
avarice as far as it would go; and therefore in a few days, the negro
being already discharged from his penance, he suffered us to escape
together.

END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.




VOL. III.




CHAP. I. TRAVELS OF ST. LEON.

Having rejoined the remainder of my family, we set out together for
the plains of Italy. My first interview with Marguerite after my
return from Dresden, had been melancholy. But our situation was now
such as to give additional anguish to her serious thoughts. She had
then regarded me as ambiguous, mysterious and impenetrable, qualities
from which the frankness of her nature spontaneously revolted; she saw
in me the destroyer of her son, the idol of her heart; she believed me
an alchymist, a character which she viewed as base, degrading and
insensible; she had heard that rumour had been busy with my fame. But
now she saw in me a man of blasted reputation, arraigned and
imprisoned for robbery and murder. She did not credit these
imputations. But did the ingenuous and noble-minded Marguerite de
Damville ever think to find herself allied to a being thus loaded with
the world's abhorrence, that she should be compelled to honour with
the sacred name of husband a fugitive, a prison-breaker and an outlaw?
If I had suffered these things in the defence of my children, my
religion or my country, the case would have been widely different. If,
while encountering the contempt of men, I had carried within me the
glorious feeling, that what they regarded as my disgrace, was indeed
my immortal honour, Marguerite de Damville, beyond all women, was
prepared to despise their senseless blame, and proudly to demand her
share in such a dishonour.

I know there are men who will listen with fretful impatience to a
detail of such sorrows as hers, and who will cry out, If we must be
distressed, give us more substantial and genuine sources of distress!
They will regard the dejection of Marguerite as an idle wilfulness of
grief, better entitled to aversion, than to sympathy; and will tell me
that nothing but the most deplorable blindness could have prevented
her from discerning the happiness of her condition; that she had the
world before her, a rich, a brave and an enterprising husband, with a
lovely family of children; that they could move from country to
country, and from climate to climate, carrying with them the means of
luxury, indulgence, homage and usefulness. To such moralisers I write
not. For those who are incapable of sympathising with the delicate
sensations of Marguerite, I am as little qualified to enter into their
feelings, as they into mine. In the sequel of the story however, it is
not impossible they may meet with their gratification. I am hastening
to events corporeal and palpable. I and my family did wander from
country to country, and from climate to climate. With what resulting
success will speedily be seen.

Our destination at the present moment led us, through the country of
the Grisons and over a limb of the Rhetian Alps, to Como, Milan,
Piacenza, Parma and Pisa, in the neighbourhood of which latter city we
resolved to take up our immediate residence. In this passage we met
with few adventures that merit to be recorded in my history. One
however seems intitled to a place, both as it tends to display the
singular worth of a dumb and unpretending brute, and as it is in some
sort connected with the fortunes I encountered in the Pisan territory.
It occurred in our journey over the Alps.

One evening, in the wildest and most desolate part of the mountain,
after having lodged my family in an inn, I wandered forth to take a
survey of the neighbouring scenery. It was moonlight; our travel of
the day had been short, and had left on me no impression of fatigue;
while the romantic appearance of every thing around tempted me to
extend my excursion further than I had originally purposed. Stories of
robberies and murders in the vicinity had been repeated to us, and
Marguerite had employed the precaution of desiring Hector, such was
the name which the caprice of his former masters had bestowed on my
faithful negro, to follow my steps, and hold me in sight. No
anticipations of danger however disturbed my contemplations. I
resigned myself, as all my life I had been accustomed to do, to the
impressions of the moment, and sought to shut out memory and the world
from all my thoughts. The scene was inexpressibly beautiful; the
silence was uninterrupted and awful. The splendour of the moon gave a
sober and silvery tint to every thing by which its light was caught;
the shades were of a depth and blackness that could not be surpassed.
Every thing was calculated to soothe and subdue the mind, to inspire a
grand and expansive tranquillity. The enthusiasm it spoke, occupied
every channel of my heart. I stood still. It seemed as if motion would
have jarred and broken the spell that seized me; I yielded with eager
transport to the sentiment that shrowded and enveloped me in its ample
embrace.

I had remained motionless for above half an hour, when a sudden and
eager sound burst upon my ear. It seemed to be the shriek of some
human creature in distress. It was repeated several times. My first
impulse was to fly to the spot from which the sound appeared to
proceed. Meanwhile Hector came up to me, and endeavoured to detain me
by violence. His first principle was obedience to every just and
lawful command; and the errand upon which he was commissioned, was to
preserve me from the approach of danger. He represented to me the
stories of banditti we had recently heard. He told me that we should
too probably fall in with a numerous company of these desperadoes,
against whom all our efforts either for ourselves, or for those I was
desirous to succour, would be nugatory. What would become of my
children, what would become of his mistress, if my rashness were
succeeded by a fatal event? While he was thus speaking, and exerting
himself to detain me, the cries ceased. I believed they were those of
a person assassinated. I conceived that I should be the vilest of
poltroons, if I suffered any consideration to prevent me from
endeavouring to afford to this unfortunate the relief in my power.

I had not advanced far, before I perceived coming towards us, in the
same direction from which the sound had reached my ear, a dog,
entirely black, and of uncommon stature and strength. He was alone.
Having caught sight of us, he increased his pace, and had no sooner
reached the spot on which we stood, than he seized the flap of my
coat, and pulled it with considerable violence. I was somewhat alarmed
at his size and action, the latter of which I apprehended to have a
hostile design; and, having shaken him off, I put myself in a posture
of defence with a cane that I carried in my hand. Undeterred however
by my gesture, he returned to the attack, only pulling with something
less exertion of strength than he had done before. More accurate
attention convinced me that he had no intention to injure me, and I
withheld the action of Hector, who had raised his hand to strike in
defence of his master. I suffered him to guide me; and, after a
considerable circuit which the nature of the road obliged us to take,
he led me to a spot, where I found a man lying on the ground and
weltering in his blood, but with no other person near, to whom to
impute the violence he had sustained.

His blood flowed copiously from two or three different wounds; one of
them in particular near his left breast, and my first care was to stop
the effusion. For this purpose we stripped him of his clothes, and
tore his linen into bandages. When we found him, he was insensible;
but the anguish of binding his wounds revived him a little, though
only enough to extort from him sighs and groans. This accomplished, I
dismissed Hector to the inn to procure something in the nature of a
litter, by which he might more easily be conveyed to the means of
effectual assistance. I was now left for six hours with no other
companions than the wounded gentleman and his dog, upon the very spot
upon which he had just before sustained so ferocious a treatment,
probably from the hands of banditti. They might, not improbably, be
every moment expected to return. This was no agreeable notion to a
person circumstanced as I was. I was compelled to feel that a man
possessed of boundless and illimitable wealth, and of the power of
repelling old age and disease, did not in these advantages possess
every thing. Notwithstanding the disappointments and mortifications I
had sustained, I was yet attached to life: and, though the bequests of
the stranger had hitherto produced to me nothing but evil, I still
looked, with almost puerile eagerness and beating of heart, for the
time when I might spread out the whole extent of my treasures without
parsimony or the dread of reverse. During the interval which I
employed in these reflections, the wounded man was for the most part
in a state of insensibility, and constantly speechless. I expected his
death every moment, and I perceived, as I thought with certainty, that
there was no prospect of his recovery. While we had dressed his
wounds, the dog had watched our motions with the most restless
attention, and, now that it was over, he came and licked my hands, and
laid himself down at my feet. The least motion however, so much as a
rustling among the leaves, startled him: he rose, looked round, and
seemed to enquire into the cause of the disturbance; but he abstained
from barking and every kind of noise; whether it were that he was
conscious of the advantage of quiet to a person in his master's
condition, or that he had the sense to know, in the situation in which
we were placed, that whatever produced alarm, might eventually expose
us to some undiscovered danger.

It was broad day-light, before the wounded gentleman was at length, in
spite of every obstacle, removed, and we set out for the inn where I
had left my wife and children. Hector was not of a temper to recede
from any thing he undertook, and the authority of Marguerite had in
this instance seconded his remonstrances with the surly and inactive
peasants of the place. I had at this time only one other male servant;
but, when Hector reappeared, he brought with him an old and crazy kind
of litter, and a recruit of four mountaineers. The wounded man still
lived, and was conveyed alive to the place at which I had taken up my
lodging. He survived three days; and, during the whole of that period,
the dog could neither be moved by force, nor prevailed on by
intreaties, to quit the apartment of his master. Before his death my
unfortunate guest recovered the power of speech. He told me that his
name was Andrea Filosanto, and, which struck me as somewhat
extraordinary, that he was of Pisa, the very place at which I purposed
to take up my abode. He had a brother resident in that city, and had
himself been about to marry a very beautiful and accomplished young
lady, an heiress, of the house of Carracciuoli in Pisa. Previous to
his marriage, he resolved to make a visit to his mother, who had
espoused to her second husband a French nobleman of Languedoc; but
death had cruelly intercepted him in his journey. He had travelled
accompanied only by one servant, contrary to the persuasions both of
his brother and the family of his intended bride; but that servant,
though he had been a very short time in his employment, was active,
ingenious and obliging, and had established himself strongly in the
favour of his master. Signor Filosanto had taken with him a sum of
money, the produce of one year's income of the dower of his mother;
and it was but too probable that the richness of the charge he bore,
had been fatal to the life of the bearer. His servant had disappeared
from his side not a quarter of an hour before his being attacked by
the banditti; and various concurring circumstances seemed to fix on
this servant the accusation of being an accomplice with the murderers.
Having heard from the unfortunate sufferer the tale of treachery of
his human attendant, I related to him the extraordinary example of
fidelity and attachment shown by his dog. The master was struck with
the story I told, and called the dog to him upon his bed. The poor
animal first leaped up upon the foot of the bed, and then warily and
with great caution crawled to his master's face. Filosanto embraced
the dog, who by his manner showed himself fully sensible of the
purport of the action. That very evening, having requested me to
convey his remains to the tomb of his ancestors at Pisa, the master
expired. The dog in dumb and constant grief watched by the corpse, and
followed the vehicle in which it was conveyed to Pisa. After the
funeral, he made the choice, from which he could not be diverted, of
living with me, and not with the brother and relations of his master,
to whom he was almost wholly a stranger, but who would gladly have
received him. One of the advantages I derived from this adventure, was
the friendship and protection of the Filosanti and Carracciuoli, two
of the most powerful families in Pisa.

I have not yet finished the history of my dog. A few months after our
establishment in the Pisan territory, the valet of the deceased had
the audacity to appear in that city. He believed himself to be
entirely unknown there, his master having taken him into his service
during his residence as a student in the university of Bologna, and
having ordered him, previous to his projected tour into France, to
stay behind and settle his debts and other affairs at that place. He
found however an adversary in Pisa who in all his anticipations had
never occurred to his thoughts. The dog saw him at a distance in the
street, ran towards him with incredible swiftness, and fell upon him
with savage violence and ferocity. The man was not extricated from his
gripe, till he had been severely and dangerously wounded. Thus
assailed, all the terrors of superstition and an accusing conscience
seized on this devoted villain; he owned who he was and what he had
done, and confessed that he had made one among the assassins and
plunderers of his master, visible probably to the dog, though unseen
by the unfortunate Filosanto. He declared, that he knew not what
motive had brought him to Pisa, that he seemed to himself under the
guidance of an impulse which he had not power to resist, and that he
rejoiced that providence had thus conducted him to the expiation of
his guilt. He was brought to his trial, and suffered death for his
crime.

Charon, such was the name by which my dog was distinguished, showed
himself in all his actions worthy of the character for attachment and
sagacity which he had in these instances acquired. He was therefore
the favourite of my whole family and particularly of Hector. But his
own partiality was with the nicest discrimination reserved for me. The
ruling passion of his preceding master had been the sports of the
field, and his leading singularity an uncommon familiarity and
friendship towards his brute attendants. By this conduct he had won
the affections, and perhaps awakened the understanding and virtues of
the faithful Charon. I own my weakness. I could not resist the
assiduities and regard of this generous brute; and, though I had never
before conceived any extraordinary partiality for creatures of his
species, his sagacity and nobleness of nature took a strong hold of my
affection. I admired his form and agility as he bounded and gamboled
before me upon the plain. In the midst of his gayest frolics he was
all attention, and the least sign I made him would instantly divert
his exertions to a different pursuit. He was accustomed to salute me
with honest, undesigning homage every morning as I came from my
chamber, and I should have missed his presence with heaviness of heart
upon this plain and homely occasion. He was the associate of my
solitary walks, my companion when pensive meditations induced me to
withdraw from all human society. I became accustomed at such periods
to observe him by my side, and should have felt that all was not right
if he were not there. I was interested in his health, his well-being
and his enjoyments; and, if any calamity besel him, was prepared to
feel it more severely than a wife man is sometimes willing to
confess.--It would scarcely be necessary to add to this simple history
of my faithful Charon, the circumstance of his having saved the life
of a beautiful little boy of ten years old, who had unluckily slipped
into the Arno, and whom he seized by his garments and drew to the
shore, had it not some connection with what I shall speedily have
occasion to relate.




CHAP. II.

To return to the thread of my narrative, which in stating these
particulars I have in some points anticipated.---I sat down, as I have
already said, in the environs of the city of Pisa. Marguerite, as well
as myself, had a powerful attachment to the retirement of rural life,
and I judged it equally eligible for the health and intellectual
improvement of my daughters. I accordingly purchased a small domain,
delightfully situated, but of simple appearance, on the banks of the
Arno. Here I proposed to remain during the indisposition of my wife,
which I flatered myself retirement, tranquillity, attention and
kindness would in no long time be able to cure. To this object I
resolved to devote my exertions. Well did she merit this return from
me, who had restored me in the guilty ruin of my fortunes, and raised
me from the abyss of insanity. Odious and detestable in the utmost
degree should I have appeared in my own eyes, if I could have
neglected any means I was able to devise, to heal a mischief of which
my own precipitation, selfishness and folly were the only causes.
Every little, continual, nameless care I exerted, was as a drop of
healing balm to the burning fever and remorse of my conscience.
Nothing indeed could eradicate my distemper; I felt the ever-living
worm of perpetrated guilt gnawing at my heart. But my solicitudes for
Marguerite, at least during the moments they were in action, mitigated
my anguish; and this transitory relief, however insignificant it may
appear in the eyes of others, I cherished beyond the wealth of
kingdoms.

Marguerite and myself appeared at this time to have changed characters
with each other. She was languid, indisposed in body and mind, her
thoughts gloomy, her hopes blasted, her wishes bankrupt. Still however
she maintained her superiority to what I had been in a similar
condition. She endeavoured to make the best of what yet remained to
her, though she declined the vain attempt of forgetting what she had
lost. She hung over her daughters with inexpressible endearment. She
consoled them; she reasoned with them; she endeavoured to steel their
minds for whatever ill might yet be in store. She cultivated their
understandings; she breathed into them mingled sentiments of
resignation and energy. There was in her conversation with them a
striking tone of celestial and divine. Her eloquence was copious; her
manner rich, unaffected and flowing; her speech simple, free from
exaggeration and turbulence, but mild, affectionate and winning. It
sank deep into the hearts of her hearers, and seemed to give a new
turn to their tempers and disposition. It rendered the character of
Julia at once more distinctive, and yet more chastised; it inspired an
unwonted mildness and sensibility to that of Louisa; and rendered the
cadette of the family unusually grave, thoughtful and sedate.

But upon me were devolved the more active occupations of our
establishment. Marguerite had formerly been, I was now, the steward.
Every kind of superintendence, from which the distinction of sex did
not appear unavoidably to exclude me, was resigned to me by the lovely
victim of my indiscretions. Marguerite had been my nurse, I was now
ambitious to be hers. I made myself the schoolmaster of my children;
Marguerite confined her communications to general topics and the
culture of the heart. I initiated them in music, drawing, geography,
several different languages of Europe, and in every accomplishment
that I believed would be really ornamental or improving to them. I
might, it is true, have hired different masters to instruct them in
each of these branches, and it is not impossible that they might then
have been better taught, though I was myself no incompetent preceptor.
But I had an honest artifice for my guide in the plan of conduct I
adopted: I was desirous of removing out of the fight of my wife every
thing that might remind her of the fatal legacy, the effects of which
she was induced so bitterly to deplore. In some particulars I may
affirm of myself that I was now a better and a kinder husband, than I
had been in the days of our gayest prosperity, or the scene of our
infant loves. I studied with assiduity the temper of Marguerite; I
watched her looks; I endeavoured to anticipate her every wish. I
meditated with care the plan of life which her simple and feeling
heart, if solely consulted, would have led her originally to have
chosen; and I copied out in the whole arrangement of our houshold the
idea painted in my mind. Far from us were now the ostentation and pomp
of the family chateau on the banks of the Garonne. We lived now, not
to awaken admiration and envy in the bosom of guests and spectators;
we lived for ourselves. Every thing was elegant; every thing was
tasteful; but not an article found its place in our residence, that
did not rest its claim to be there upon a plea of usefulness. Though,
by the nature of my situation, I was superior to all restraint from a
consideration of expence, yet our competent board and orderly
habitation approached nearer in their appearance to the honest
plainness of a rustic, than to the sumptuousness of hereditary
nobility. A table set out with striking propriety and neatness, was
preferred to the richness of plate and the splendour of porcelain and
lustres. I was anxious that Marguerite should forget the change of our
situation and the extent of my resources. The objects of my present
pursuit were obscurity and content. That Marguerite might forget my
acquisition, I was studious to appear to have forgotten it myself. If
a stranger had entered our habitation and surveyed our economy, he
would have judged that our revenues amounted to a decent competence,
and that we disbursed them with a judicious discretion. Nothing was to
be seen that would have betrayed the possessor of the powder of
projection.

We had no guests. We cultivated no acquaintance. We were formed to
suffice to each other within our little circle; and, but for the
importunate recurrence of disquieting reflections, we should have done
so. To look at the exterior of our houshold, it might have been
thought that we had arrived at that sweet forgetfulness of anxious
care, that delicious leisure and unbroken retreat, which have in all
ages been the theme of panegyric to poets and philosophers. But it was
not so. Our reciprocal relations were changed; and the hope of the
house of St. Leon was no longer in the midst of us, to cheer, to
enlighten and to warm our bosoms.

A life of leisure is often an active and a busy life. The grand, I
might almost say, the single object of present attention to me, was
the restoration of the health and tranquillity of Marguerite. For that
I watched with unwearied assiduity. Subordinate to this occupation
were the different arts and accomplishments in which I instructed my
daughters. Yet neither the former nor the latter of these engagements
filled up all the time of a mind so restless and rapid as mine was.
Intervals occurred, in which my attentions to Marguerite would have
been, not soothing, but troublesome, and in which I could no longer
impart a lesson to my daughters, without relaxing and weakening the
spring of progression in their minds. These intervals I sometimes
dedicated to chemistry and the operations of natural magic. The more
effectually to hide these pursuits from the eye of Marguerite, I
occupied, unknown to her, a sort of grotto, buried almost from human
observation in a hollow on the banks of the river, and which was
connected, by a winding path and a concealed subterranean passage,
with the garden of my own habitation. The secrets of the stranger had
given me a particular relish for this kind of pursuit. There are
habits of the mind and modes of occupying the attention, in which when
once we have engaged, there seems a sort of physical impossibility of
ever withdrawing ourselves. This was my case in the present instance.
My habit was of no long standing. But no reading of my story, no mere
power of language and words, can enable a bystander to imagine how
deep it was sunk into my heart, how inextricably it was twisted with
all the fibres of my bosom. That he may in some degree enter into my
situation, I intreat the reader to consider what are the most
imperious passions of the human mind. They have rudely been described
to be wealth, power and pleasurable sensation. How alluring to every
one of us are the visionary conceptions of the mind respecting these
most potent excitements! But mine were no visions. I had grasped them
in my hand, and known their reality. I had felt that the wealth of the
whole world was at my disposal, and that I held my life by a tenure
independent and imperial. These are not of the class of conceptions
that can fade and perish from the mind. We cannot wake from them as
from a dream, and forget that ever such things were. They had changed
the whole constitution of my nature. It would have required a miracle,
greater than all the consecrated legends of our church record, to have
restored me to what I formerly was. If then I could have resolved
never henceforth to use the gifts I had received, I yet firmly believe
that I never could have refrained from the composition and
decomposition of simples, and from experiments on the nature of
substances, chemical and metallic. I was however far from having
formed any such resolution as that I have named. My present
forbearance to bring forth the secret treasure of my powers was purely
an accommodation to the unhappy condition of my wife; and I felt it as
a meritorious exertion thus to postpone the use of the faculties I
possessed. In the mean time the amusement I sought that I regarded as
properly and entirely my own, consisted in these experiments. While I
was busied with my crucible, I was able more vividly to present to
myself my seeming superiority to the rest of my species. I used the
employments of my grotto as a sort of starting-post from which to set
forth in a series of intoxicating reveries; not to mention that to
improve in the facility of my secret operations might become a
valuable subsidiary to the pursuits of my future life.

I took occasionally as my companion at these periods the negro of the
prison of Constance. I found him sufficiently adapted for my purpose,
his innocence and implicit obedience to whomever he served, rendering
me sufficiently secure that he would anticipate nothing, that he would
conjecture nothing, that he would rest in what he saw, that I might
almost exhibit my whole process under his eye, without once awakening
the busy fiend of curiosity in a mind to which science had never
unveiled her charms. He was formed to be a pure, passive machine in
the hands of his employer, only with this singular difference from the
lifeless machine of the engineer or mechanical inventor, that he was
susceptible of attachment and affection, as well as of a certain
species of contentment and a certain species of goodness and virtue.

A feature of my individual character which has already frequently
presented itself to the attention of the reader, is the love of
admiration and spontaneous deference. I am at this moment ashamed of
my vices and my follies; but it must be recollected, in the first
place that they are human, and in the second that I am writing, not
their vindication, but their history. In the midst of my experiments
and chemical lucubrations, I could not help sometimes ostentatiously
exhibiting to Hector the wonders of my art, and those extraordinary
effects which have in all ages drawn upon the more eminent operators
of natural magic the reproach of being necromancers and conjurers.
This I did, partly perhaps that my attendant might learn to look up to
me with a kind of nameless respect and awe, but partly also that I
might divert myself with the simplicity of his nature, and the gaping
and motionless astonishment with which he viewed my performances. If I
had not done this, or relaxed into idle and ostentatious experiments,
he would otherwise have seen enough, in the operations in which his
assistance, if not absolutely necessary, was extremely convenient, to
have induced a person, so void of the meanest European information, to
regard me as assisted by and in league with invisible powers.

The prejudice against me, with which this poor fellow had been
impressed at the commencement of our intercourse, did not long hold
out in his ingenuous mind, against the more favourable sentiments,
which my present situation and mode of living were calculated to
inspire. The specimen he had hitherto seen of European society was of
the most unfavourable kind. His first master was a wretch of brutal
disposition, ferocious and insolent, disdaining to reason himself, and
impatient of remonstrance in others. This man had exercised the temper
of his humble and honest attendant with every variety of savage
caprice; and, having tired the restlessness of his own gloomy tyranny,
without being able to exhaust the modest and unexampled patience of
his servant, had finished by throwing him into jail upon a wanton and
groundless charge of dishonesty. This, which was intended as a further
exercise of tyranny, deserved to be hailed by the poor sufferer as a
period of jubilee and deliverance. His innocence, as I have already
related, was speedily recognised by his new task-master, who
accordingly exerted himself to obtain justice for the friendless
victim, and, from a reputed thief, proposed to elevate him to the rank
of a turnkey. Hector had neither kindred nor patron to assist him; the
outcast of a jail, he must again have entered the world with a blasted
character to make his best of; thus circumstanced, and influenced
beside by gratitude to the unlooked-for liberality of his deliverer,
he willingly accepted the situation proposed to him. With his new
master, who, not less unprincipled, was less tyrannical than his
predecessor, the humbleness of his hopes taught him to be contented.
Yet in the bosom of the jailor all his fidelity and regard could not
enable him to detect one positive virtue; and, within the walls of the
prison, there had existed nothing that could by any possibility
cherish and refresh the human heart.

The scene presented to Hector's observation in our little retreat on
the banks of the Arno, was of a very different nature. To his frank
and affectionate spirit it appeared a perfect paradise. He had yet
scarcely been acquainted with any but the refuse of mankind, from the
infection of whose vices his unapprehensive and invincible simplicity
had been his only safeguard; and he was now suddenly introduced to the
presence and intercourse of the most perfect of her sex. He loved her
as a benefactor, and he worshipped her as a God. There is no receipt
for begetting affection in others, so infallible as a warm and
susceptible heart. Hector accordingly soon became in a remarkable
degree the favourite of my daughters. His temper was naturally
chearful and gay, and, warmed by their encouragement, it became a
thousand times more so. When he had completed the occupations of the
day, the lightness of his spirit would prompt him to sing and dance
for ever. He exhibited the whole circle of his sportive games for
their amusement. The infantine innocence of his understanding
remarkably adapted him to be made the butt of their little waggeries
and mischiefs. Whatever tricks were played upon him, were however
tempered by the forbearance and regard his worth demanded; while the
obstreperous chearfulness with which he would second their mirth when
most ignorant of its occasion, gave uncommon zest to the amusement,
and furnished eternal provocation to the prolonging and varying its
features.

Let not the fastidious reader complain of the inconsistency of this
part of my picture, or censure the levity of my daughters. I am not
writing a tragedy, but a history. Sad grief and melancholy cannot, and
ought not, for ever to reign in the human face or the human heart. No
daughters ever loved a mother more entirely, more fervently, than
Marguerite was loved by her children. They were unwearied in their
attention to her; often was their pillow watered with tears,
occasioned by the sad presentiment of the loss they were destined to
sustain. But the human mind, particularly in the season of youth, has
an unconquerable principle of elasticity in its frame. The bow cannot
be kept for ever on the stretch; and, when the whole soul appears to
be bent down by calamity to the grave, it will often surprisingly
recover its vigour and renew its strength. The ingenuous nature of
these poor girls led them indeed occasionally to reproach themselves
with these moments of chearfulness as with a crime. But it was no
crime. None but the uncharitably rigorous and morose will charge it
upon them as a crime. It interfered with no duty; it diminished no
affection; it had no tendency to harden their hearts. It was a tax
they paid to the imperfectness of our nature; it was a tribute of
gratitude to that God, who, while he deals out to us the most terrible
calamities, fails not to mix with the copious draught some solitary
drops of beneficence. Julia alone, whose temper was constitutionally
serious and soft, entered little into these sports, of which her
youngest sister was the eternal leader and untired partaker. Yet even
upon the grave countenance of Julia they would sometimes provoke an
unwilling smile, which upon her countenance sat with uncommon lustre.

The hilarity and loveliness which Hector found in the midst of my
family, instigated and increased the attachment he began to feel for
myself. He could not believe that the father of such daughters, and
the chosen husband of such a consort, could be destitute of a title to
be loved. He reasoned in his own way upon the attempt I had made to
corrupt his fidelity, an attack which he never thoroughly digested. I
have reason to believe that his attendance upon my chemical processes,
and the wonders I occasionally showed to excite his astonishment, did
not tend to elevate me in his good opinion. But he could not avoid
witnessing in me many of the virtues of a good husband and a good
father, and these, so new to his observation, strongly impressed him
in my favour. The regularity of my habits and the mildness of my
carriage were also calculated to win his affection and esteem. Never
had the poor fellow's affections been so forcibly called out as they
were in his new situation; and he would chearfully have stretched out
his neck to the assassin's knife, to have warded off impending evil
from the meanest of us.

Prosperity and ease have often been found the parents of wishes and
inclinations unfelt before. Adversity is the season of sober thought,
calls home the erratic mind, and teaches us to be cheaply satisfied.
But the man who has many gratifications, is apt to wander in
imagination from daily and familiar joys, and confidently to reach
after things yet untried. Such was the situation of Hector: Hector was
in love. Our sweet and simple mansion was distant scarcely more than
two hundred yards from a characteristic Italian village. The maid of a
little albergo in this place had caught his inexperienced heart. He
had been invited by some peasants to a moon-light festivity on the
lawn of the albergo; and, though I should have been better pleased
that my servants should decline this sort of amusement, I could not
find in my heart to deny him. It was, so far as I knew, the first and
the last time that Hector had ever resorted to it. But I was deceived.
Hector had proved the gayest and most amusing of the whole circle. His
chearfulness was inexhaustible, and his mirth was in the utmost degree
harmless and good-humoured. He had played a thousand antics, and
danced with an agility that knew no end. In a word, the
accomplishments of Hector, in spite of the jetty hue that stained his
face, had won the heart, or roused the coquetry, of the plump and rosy
barmaid. The overtures she made and the lures she threw out, were too
glaring to escape the notice even of the modest Hector. He felt
himself flattered, such is human nature, at suddenly becoming an
object of admiration and preference, to a woman whom his imagination,
stimulated by her visible partiality, attired in a hundred charms. He
owned himself hers, in all fair and honest fealty, to the world's end.

Love taught Hector a lesson, which he had never learned before. In
nature he was frank, and, as far as fidelity to his master permitted
it, wore his heart as naked as his face. Love taught him
dissimulation. A vulgar footman or clown is as forward as the most
empty beau, in boasting of the triumphs he has gained over the female
heart, and in sacrificing the reputation of those who have loved him
at the shrine of his vanity. Not such was Hector. He shut up his new
sensations and reveries as a sacred deposit in his bosom. Nature
worked within him, and he would have been ashamed to speak, and
distressed to hear, of emotions, now felt, till now never experienced.
His artless and ingenuous temper in this one particular assumed the
guise of cunning. Never did he tell his love in the ear of any
indifferent auditor; assiduously did he avoid pronouncing even the
name of her to whom he was attached. In any other case he would have
announced to me his inclinations, and previously demanded my leave of
absence for his excursions. But love seemed to him imperiously to
command privacy, and he employed every imaginable precaution to
prevent me and all human beings from knowing whither he went, or that
he was absent at all.

In one of his visits to his fair donzella, he happened incautiously to
drop some very remote hint of the scenes in which he had just been
engaged with me in my secret grotto. The curiosity of the girl was
strongly roused; she questioned him further. He started, and was
terrified to recollect what he had said. I had strictly enjoined
secrecy to him towards every member of my family: my precaution had
extended no further; for, as I have said, I scarcely knew that he had
the most casual intercourse with any person beyond my own roof. But
Hector naturally dreaded that that which I was so earnest to conceal
from every one in my family, he would be highly to blame to
communicate to a stranger. He therefore peremptorily refused, and with
many signs of distress, to say another word on the subject.

The donzella, piqued at his resistance, had recourse to female arts.
She was cruel; she uttered words of sharp displeasure and disdain; she
knew that a person who refused her such a trifle could not have an
atom of regard for her; she commanded him never to see her more.
Unsuccessful in these expedients, she had recourse to expedients of a
different sort. She wept; she called him base, false-hearted and
unkind; she saw he was determined to be the death of her; she was
seized with strong fits of sobbing and hysterical affection. In the
midst of all this he was as unmoved as a rock of marble. He
interpreted every thing that passed in its most literal form; he felt
more severly her unkindness, and sympathised more truly in her
distress, than perhaps any human creature would have done. But no
further could she gain upon him. The confidence of his master was in
question, and he would sooner have died upon the rack, than run the
slightest risk of betraying it.

From these arts she descended to arts more congenial to the habits of
her life. She summoned all her skill to perplex him with cunning and
insidious questions. From her questions he ought to have fled; but of
this Hector was incapable. He was distressed by her severity, he
grieved for the unintentional pain he had caused her. All these
circumstances melted his heart; and he could not resolve upon any
thing that was not considerate and respectful towards her. As the
framing of artful questions was the strong hold of the donzella, and
she might have challenged in this article the most hoary practitioner
of the quibbling bar, so it was exactly the weakest side upon which
poor Hector could be attacked. His simplicity yielded him up a
defenceless prey to the assailant; least of all human undertakings was
he capable of detecting the various faces of a doubtful question, and
of guarding himself against the traps of an insidious foe. It was not
till the fourth interview from Hector's original hint, that the
donzella had recourse to this species of attack; and she did not
withdraw her forces, till she had extorted from him all he knew.

When Hector found that all his guards were baffled and put to slight,
he had then recourse to the only expedient that remained, conjuring
her by every thing sacred and every thing tremendous not to betray a
trust she had so ungenerously obtained from him. She readily promised
every thing he desired. Soothed by her compliance, he determined not
to mention to me the lapse of which he had been guilty. It would in
his opinion have been little less than treason, to suspect his
Dulcinea of indiscretion or frailty. In the breast of this miracle of
nature was not his loyalty as secure as it could be even in his own?
Why then should he betray the secret of his love, which had never yet
been confided even to the senseless air? Why should he subject himself
to the inconceivable anguish and confusion, of owning, where my
interests, or where my wishes were concerned, that he had been found
tripping and imperfect? Why should he inflict a pain, or cause in me a
fear, which he knew, and he only could know, was groundless? Thus it
happened that I had one more confident of what I purposed should be
secret, than I was myself in the smallest degree advertised of.

The consequences of this indiscretion of my servant, were not slow in
rendering themselves visible. The donzella was by no means so
scrupulous or delicate in her sentiments, as my humble, but faithful,
attendant. As she had given her company to Hector, she had had an
opportunity of observing in him such integrity and goodness of heart,
as could not fail to extort the esteem of any human being. She really
honoured him; she was unwilling to give him any cause of uneasiness.
But she had another lover; perhaps she had more. The laws of chastity
she regarded as prejudices, and believed they were never formed for
persons in her situation in society. She was of opinion that the more
lovers she had, provided she satisfied them all, the more completely
did she improve the talents with which heaven had endowed her. Few
women have any secrets for the man they admit to their embraces. In an
hour of amorous dalliance she communicated to Agostino, the ostler,
all that she knew of the conjurations and spells of monsieur
Boismorand, such was the name I had assumed upon my entrance into
Italy. Her communication was probably attended with cautions, imitated
from those with which Hector had so industriously loaded the donzella
in the preceding example. Perhaps the illustrissimo Agostino had
another mistress, with whom he thought it would be unjust to practise
greater reserves than the donzella had done with him. Be that as it
will, the rumours which were whispered to my prejudice, speedily got
air; and, it may be, were repeated with the greater avidity, on
account of the mystery that attended them, and the injunctions of
secrecy with which they were accompanied.




CHAP. III.

Italy may be considered as the very focus and parent of superstitious
credulity. The materials which Hector had furnished, after all the
interrogations of the donzella, were slight compared with the
superstructure which was presently erected on them. My grotto was said
to be the appropriated haunt where a thousand devils held their
infernal sabbath. The terrified imagination of the rustics, listening
with a temper horribly distracted between curiosity and alarm, created
to itself fictitious howlings and shrieks, and saw pale and
sulphureous flames dancing upon the surface of the stream. Poor Hector
was early the victim of their cruel and untamed ignorance; they
believed that the peculiarity of his complexion rendered him a
singularly agreeable intercessor between me and my infernal familiars.
The colour of Charon was similar to that of my confidential attendant;
and he, like Hector, fell under the calumnious misconstructions of the
affrighted villagers. Conspicuously noble, affectionate and useful as
he was, the jaundiced eye of superstition metamorphosed him into a
devil. The storms of thunder and lightning to which the climate in
which I resided is particularly subject, acquired new terror from the
ill fame which now pursued the name of monsieur Boismorand. At those
times the shapeless form of monsters vomiting smoke and flames were
visible to the neighbourhood, sometimes scudding along the blue tops
of the distant hills, and at others, with audaciousness incredible,
brushing even at the elbow of the almost lifeless clowns and dairy-
maids, and then suddenly dissolving into air, their place no longer
marked but by the noisome and deadly stench they left behind. All the
misfortunes of the district were imputed to me, the mortality of
cattle, the convulsions and death of children, and the pale and
lingering decay of persons recently advanced to an age of puberty.
Innocent and blameless was my conduct to all around us; often was I
forward and eager for the relief of the poor and afflicted; never was
I the author of the slightest inconvenience or prejudice to any. Yet
nothing merely human could be hated in the degree in which I was
hated; few were daring and intrepid enough to repeat the very name I
bore; and, when it was inadvertently pronounced, it produced through
the whole extent of the astonished circle, an involuntary and
supernatural shudder.

Agostino, the first lover who had made an impression on the heart of
Hector's donzella, was, as I afterwards found, a fellow of a gloomy
and ferocious disposition, a true Italian spadaccino, determined that
none should perpetrate an affront against him with impunity, but
should expiate, in some refined and cruel vengeance, the levity by
which they had been so unfortunate as to give birth to his hatred. He
by no means relished or approved the liberal and good-humoured
sentiments of the donzella; often had they inflicted on him the
darkest torments of jealousy; nor had he failed, at least in one
preceding instance, to make his rival the victim of his resentment.
The donzella however went on in her career; she was light of heart,
gay in temper, and careless of consequences. She had always hitherto
succeeded, by playful blandishments, or more serious demonstrations of
contrition, in mollifying the temper of her brute; and every pardon
she received, operated with her as a new permission to offend. She did
not sufficiently consider that she was thus continually raising to a
higher pitch the frenzy of his malice. Hector in the mean time was
utterly unconscious and ignorant of the perilous situation in which he
stood; while, to the apprehension of Agostino, the giving him a negro
for a rival, whom his pride regarded as belonging to an inferior
species of beings, and his devout ignorance likened to the leader of
the infernal squadrons, was the last and most intolerable insult.

His malice was ingenious and subtle. He disdained the vulgar revenge
of stabbing his antagonist in the dark, and supposing that his enmity
could be gorged by a blow. When the venom of his nature was thoroughly
put in motion, nothing could restore it to quietness and tranquillity
but some mighty stroke, to excite the wonder of every bystander, and
that should leave behind it a track of desolation, never to be filled
up again and erased. He heard therefore with unsated appetite and
eager joy the tale of necromancy and infernal machination repeated to
him from Hector by the donzella. The impression which the narrative
produced upon him was a mixed sentiment of transport at the
apprehension of such an instrument of vengeance, and of palpitating
hatred, superstition teaching him to believe and to view with
abhorrence, that which he desired to render tenfold more an object of
faith and aversion to his neighbours. He struck an auspicious and
august alliance between his revenge and his religion, his religion
exciting him to exterminate that, the destruction of which would
produce inexpressible gratification to his revenge. The darkness of
his spirit led him to proceed with double caution and vigilance in his
correspondence with the donzella. He discovered nothing to her of the
dark project which was engendering in his mind; and only betrayed so
much of his superstitious feelings and fears, as, by giving new
emotion, might stimulate her to gratify his curiosity and her own by a
detection of further particulars. He was assiduous in the underhand
and sinister propagation of the tale, to which he did not fail to give
his own colouring and affix his own feelings. He was desirous that the
train should be laid in silence, and that the explosion he designed
should be free from all presignification of the event. Thus an
individual, of whose animosity I had no apprehension, and the meanness
of whose appearance would probably have made me neglect all precaution
against him, gave method and direction to an evil, of which however,
upon a review, I am not inclined to doubt I should have been the
victim, if the enmity and industry of this individual had been wholly
withdrawn.

The michief was long in preparation, before I received in any way the
slightest intimation of the predicament in which I stood. The first
circumstance at all calculated to excite alarm in my mind, was the
singular manner in which I found myself regarded, if I entered any of
the neighbouring villages, or met the rustics and their dames, as I
strayed along the roads or the fields. They fled my approach, deserted
the streets, and carefully shut themselves up in their houses, till I
had passed. Where it was impossible to avoid me, they bowed themselves
to the earth in the most submissive guise before me, while the most
lively terror was painted in their countenances, dreading left they
should excite the resentment of a tremendous and inexorable foe. These
tokens however were far from inspiring me with any conception of the
truth. They perplexed, they astonished, they distressed me. Sore as I
was with my recent afflictions, my mind was but too fully prepared for
anticipations of evil. I had suffered from suspicions, I had suffered
from calumnious imputations, I had suffered from the malignant effects
of popular rumour. Had I yielded my confidence to any person but such
a one as Hector, it is probable my suspicions would have turned on
that side. But my reliance on him, was not less than that which
Alexander the Great yielded to Philip the physician: I knew his
rectitude, his simplicity, his fidelity, and the singleness of his
heart; and I could not harbour the shadow of a doubt respecting him.
My reliance was of that entire and perfect sort, which did not express
itself by a recollection of the physical possibility and an acquittal
founded in deliberation, but by a total vacancy of doubt, or of
retrospect that way directed, just such as the state of my mind would
have appeared, if the thing had been naturally impossible.

I was not however ignorant and raw enough to be deceived by the
exterior of homage I have described; I sufficiently knew that what I
beheld was the offspring of hatred. To feel one's self hated, is in
all instances a painful and humiliating state of the human mind. To me
it was especially so. I was not formed to retaliate this species of
injury; I could not hate in my turn. I was formed to love. I could not
look upon my species with dark and gloomy contemplations; I was prompt
to admire their virtues, and, it may be, even too prompt to extenuate
their errors. It may, I believe, be laid down as a rule, that they who
cannot hate, can least endure to be made objects of hatred. Fettered
however, as I now was, by the tenderest consideration for the health
and tranquillity of Marguerite, I thought it best to temporise and
submit in silence. My principal anxiety was to hide these symptoms
from the notice of my family. This I could not completely effect; some
of them were too glaring and obtrusive, entirely to escape the
observation of my daughters in their walks. But the filial forbearance
they felt towards their mother, led them implicitly and without any
concerted plan to concur with me in my exertions for her quiet.

The animosity of Agostino was restless and inextinguishable. His plans
did not terminate in exciting against me a secret and covered
abhorrence; they aimed at nothing less than my utter destruction. The
next exertion of the conspiracy which was engendering against me, was
of a tragical nature.

It happened one night after all my family was retired to rest, and I
was myself sunk into a slumber, that I was suddenly alarmed at the
report of a musquet which seemed to be fired almost under the window
of my chamber. This was a very singular circumstance, and calculated
to convey an impression of danger. I leaped from my bed, and ran to
the window. The night was extremely dark, and every thing seemed
perfectly quiet. Presently I discerned a glimmering light like that of
a lanthorn, which however appeared to be gradually retiring to a
greater distance. I was not thus satisfied, but determined to hasten
down stairs, and investigate the cause of the disturbance. Marguerite,
who had heard the firing of the musquet as well as myself, now called
me to her, and intreated me not to expose myself to unnecessary
danger. In compliance with her remonstrances I promised, though
unwillingly, not to go out into the court or upon the lawn, but to
content myself with examining the state of every part of the house.
When I came to the stair-case and the hall, I found that the alarm had
communicated to almost every person in the family, who presently
assembled round me. We patroled the house, but found every thing in
the situation in which it had been left, and no where any appearance
of violence. I opened several of the windows, but all was darkness and
silence. Having thus far satisfied myself, I listened with a degree of
amusement to the conjectures and sage remarks of several of the
servants, a rank of society who may usually be found to derive a
degree of enjoyment from incidents of this sort, that for the moment
strikingly tend to level all distinctions of rank, and confer on every
one the liberty of uttering his reflections without apprehension or
constraint. I did not however feel myself entirely easy; the
circumstance which had just occurred, combined with the forebodings
which had lately impressed me, and filled me with undefinable terror
and alarm. Hector would willingly have gone over the grounds
contiguous to the house, to see if he could discover any thing that
related to or could explain the incident; but I had promised
Marguerite that I would search no further, and the temper of my mind
would not suffer me to expose another to a danger, which I abstained
from encountering in my own person. It was more than an hour before
the conclave in which we were assembled broke up, and every one
retired, fatigued with attention, and prepared to fall into the
soundest sleep. My dreams were uneasy and disturbed; my mind was in a
tumult of imaginary calamities; and I passed the greater part of the
night in a state of singular anxiety.

In the morning I was scarcely sunk into a refreshing slumber, before I
was suddenly roused from sleep by a repetion of shrieks of
astonishment and distress. I put on my clothes as quickly as I could,
and hastened towards the spot from which the sounds appeared to
proceed. The first object I beheld was the little boy of ten years
old, whom Charon had a short time before dragged out of the river,
stretched along upon the lifeless body of this faithful and generous
animal. The musquet, the report of which had alarmed us the night
before, had no doubt been aimed against Charon, and the greater part
of its contents appeared to be lodged in his body. As no further sound
had succeeded the firing, he had probably been killed on the spot. He
was at a small distance from the house near a private foot-path, where
he had been found in the morning by the lad whose life he had recently
preserved. The poor boy had not at first understood what had happened
to his benefactor, but only thought him asleep, and, prompted by
affection for the generous creature, had quietly sat down by him till
he should awake. He had not sat long however, before he discerned
about him the marks of blood. He put his hand to the wound; the animal
stirred not. He passed to his head; he saw his eyes fiery and
starting, and his lips distorted. He endeavoured to awake him, as one
would awake a human being to whom some mischief had happened of which
he was not aware. All his efforts were fruitless. He found his body
motionless, and his joints stiff in death. The apprehension of what
had occurred then suddenly flashed on his mind. He burst out into
shrieks of astonishment and anguish. Hector was the first person who
caught the sound, and hastened to the spot; I immediately followed.
The poor negro, who in the innocence of his heart was uninitiated in
the proud distinctions by which civilised man is taught to place so
vast a barrier between the human nature and the brute, was struck
speechless with sorrow and amazement. He recognised the dead being
before him for his fellow-creature. He recollected in him his friend,
his companion, his intimate acquaintance, between whom and himself
there had for some time passed an uninterrupted reciprocation of acts
of kindness and assistance.

A morose and fastidious reader will perhaps ask me why I lay so great
a stress upon so petty and insignificant an incident as the death of a
dog. It might have been little to other persons; it was not little to
us. Let the reader recollect his ingenuity in procuring aid for his
dying master, his gratitude to the person by whom that aid was
afforded, and his unconquerable antipathy to his master's murderer.
These are not common traits. There are many men, whose premature fate
has been the most unrelentingly avenged, that in moral and useful
qualities could not have stood the comparison with my generous Charon.
It surely was no common cause for regret, that a creature who had
distinguished himself by a conduct so peculiarly admirable, should
have encountered so premature and unmerited a fate. His conduct the
reader may in some degree comprehend and appreciate; but I should in
vain attempt to delineate those admirable qualities in this faithful
domestic, which do not fall within the province of narrative, and
which to have justly appreciated you must have been personally and
familiarly acquainted with him. Beside, ours was a family of love. As
we were affectionately attached to each other, so we never admitted a
servant under our roof, who did not prove himself by his conduct
utterly unworthy, to whom we did not extend a share of that friendship
and affection, which seemed to be the right of every one that dwelt in
our family. Feeling does not stay to calculate with weights and a
balance the importance and magnitude of every object that excites it:
it flows impetuously from the heart, without consulting the cooler
responses of the understanding.

There was another circumstance which rendered the catastrophe of this
generous animal of great moment to us. It was a clear proof that there
was somewhere a strong animosity at work against his masters. It was
impossible he could himself have provoked his fate. Never was a
creature more gentle and inoffensive. Though his bulk was great, and
his strength uncommon, the energies he possessed were always employed
in acts of justice and beneficence, never in acts of aggression. But,
if a hatred were at work against us so busy and fierce as to prompt an
action like this, how were we to estimate it? What was its source, and
whither did it tend? These were very interesting and serious
considerations. We however dwelt for some time longer in the centre of
general antipathy and abhorrence, without being able in the smallest
degree to explain to ourselves what we saw. As we knew not in what we
had offended, we were unable to atone for our fault, or even to guard
ourselves against the repetition of it; nor were we by any means
prepared to comprehend the extent of our danger. Happily Marguerite,
whose health was now in a rapid decline, was least exposed to the
observation of this new mischief: though she felt enough of it to
confirm her in the sentiment, that she had nothing fortunate and happy
to look forward to in the small remainder of her existence. There was
indeed one idea perpetually present to her, which rendered the
impression of ordinary occurrences extremely feeble upon her mind:---
Charles, Charles wandering alone in the world, unknowing and unknown,
without a friend, a relative, a counsellor or a protector, without
money and without a name! This melancholy image followed her wherever
she went, haunted her nightly in her dreams, attended her in all her
occupations, filled all her intervals of leisure, and, though she laid
it down as a law to herself never to repeat his beloved name in my
presence, she could think of nothing else.




CHAP. IV.

It was no long time after the death of Charon that Hector came home
one evening in a state of the most violent anxiety and trepidation. He
burst upon me in my study, where I was sitting alone, buried in one of
those deep reveries which, especially since the legacy of the
stranger, had been one of the most ordinary habits of my mind. His
perturbation was such as to render it impossible for him to impose on
himself the smallest degree of caution and restraint. The noise he
made in entering the apartment startled me. I looked up, and perceived
his features swelled, his face bruised, and his garments disfigured
with blood.

For heaven's sake, Hector, exclaimed I, what is the matter?

He answered not. He advanced towards the upper end of the room, he
took down a pistol, one of those which I always kept loaded in my
apartment, he came towards me, he fell upon his knees, he tendered the
pistol to my acceptance.

Hector! cried I: what am I to understand? what is the meaning of this?

Kill me, dear master! For Christ's sake I intreat you to kill me!

I took the pistol from his hand; it pointed towards the floor.

And will you not kill me? in a mournful accent exclaimed he.

What have you done, that deserves that I should kill you?

Kill me! only kill me! pray kill me! He spread out his hands towards
me with a gesture of intreaty.

Hector, what means this agitation? what has happened? You terrify me
beyond expression.

Must I speak? replied he. Must I be the accuser of my guilty self? He
burst into an agony of tears.

Would I were dead! Would I had been torn into a thousand pieces,
before this had happened! Indeed, sir, I am innocent! I thought no
harm! Indeed it is not my fault!

What have you done? Whence come these bruises and this wound?

It is all my fault! It is all my doing,--nobody else! Why will you not
kill me?

Hector, I cannot bear this uncertainty. Recollect yourself! Be
pacified! and tell your story!

Will you forgive me?

Forgive you what? What have you done to deserve my anger?

No, no, I do not wish to be forgiven! I only wish you to abhor, to
detest, to curse and to kill me!

This is beyond all patience.

I never loved any body but you, and my mistress, and my dear young
ladies. I never did any body else the least atom of mischief: and now
my folly will be the ruin of you all!

Pardon me, sir! I will torment you no longer. I will get the better of
myself and tell you all that has happened.

He then informed me, though with many breaks and passionate
interruptions, of what he had just discovered, my evil repute as a
necromancer, the many strange and terrible stories that were
circulated of me, the antipathy universally entertained against me,
the active ferociousness with which this antipathy was accompanied,
and the consequences that he feared would result. He ascribed the
whole to his own imprudence, and to the particulars which the superior
cunning of the donzella, in spite of his invincible refusal to
acquaint her with a single circumstance, had wrung from him. Hector
had collected several of these circumstances accidentally from a
neighbouring rustic, and had been vehement in my defence. While they
were eager in debate, others had joined them, but Hector had sound
them all opponents, not one a supporter. Irritated with the contest
and the opprobrious language heaped upon himself and his master,
Hector had been provoked to strike the most insolent of the
disputants. Immediately several had fallen upon him at once, and it
was owing to the uncommon strength and dexterity he possessed, that he
had escaped alive out of their hands. Beside innumerable blows with
fist, foot and stick, he had received two or three stabs in different
parts of the body, from the knives with which the Italian is too much
accustomed to assail his adversary. It was easy to see that the
gallant and generous defence of Hector had considerably augmented the
danger of my situation. They dismissed him with a thousand execrations
against both him and myself, and vows that they would signalise their
vengeance by setting fire to my house. Having related his story,
Hector concluded with again earnestly conjuring me to kill him, that
so he might expiate the imprudence and folly by which he had made
himself the author of my calamity.

The excessiveness of the poor fellow's distress excited me to employ
every effort to pacify his mind. Hector, said I, you have been very
imprudent, but I foresee no such consequences as your terrified
imagination has led you to forebode. The idle threats of clowns in the
midst of their brawls are entitled to little regard. I am not so weak
and infirm of soul, as to be moved from my tranquillity by their
senseless prate. I entertain no doubt of your fidelity and affection.
I am not angry with you. The fault you have been guilty of arose from
no defect of vigilance or attachment. You did what you could, and
where you failed, it was only in that to which your powers were not
commensurate. You have done well and wisely now, in acquainting me
with particulars and the whole extent of the danger: doubt not but I
will employ such precautions and be so awake to my situation, as to
forestal the possibility of mischief.

Thus I endeavoured to assuage honest Hector's perturbation, but with
no adequate effect. He hung his head in sorrow, and refused to be
comforted. Shame and terror assailed him together, and he knew not how
to support their united pressure. He intreated me not to lull myself
in fancied security, and rush blindfold on my ruin. He intreated me
not to forgive him. My clemency and forbearance served only to make
him regard with greater horror the crime of which he had been guilty.
If however I refused to punish him, and by penance or death to lighten
the remorse that hung upon his heart, he would at least devote himself
in opposition to the evil he had created, and die rather than it
should touch a hair of our heads. This idea he seemed to view with
some complacency; but the pleasure it gave was a glimmering and
momentary light; he could not remain in any place for an instant; he
wrung his hands with anguish, and exhibited every feature of the
deepest despair. I examined his bruises and wounds, the latter of
which, though attended with a copious effusion of blood, did not
appear to be dangerous. I warned him to be guilty of no further
indiscretion, to betray nothing of what had happened to any one of the
family, and to engage in no further controversies and broils in my
vindication.

Though I endeavoured to make light of what I heard, in compassion to
the distress of my servant, yet, when I came to reconsider the subject
in solitude, it by no means appeared to me in a light and trivial
point of view. One part of Hector's story had related to the death of
Charon, who, I now found, had owed his fate to the superstition of my
uncultivated neighbours. I had always entertained a formidable idea of
the character of an Italian populace, whom I regarded as more
suspicious, sanguinary and violent than any other race of men in the
world. I deplored my fate that exposed me to their rage. I deplored my
folly that had admitted any confident into my individual pursuits,
though my confidence had been so limited, and its receiver so trust-
worthy, that I could not have imagined any evil would have resulted. I
determined that I would not expose myself to the risque of such
sinister consequences, as in my opinion might in my present situation
easily overtake me. I grieved for the tender health and the doubtful
state of mind of my beloved Marguerite, which alone opposed themselves
to the adoption of an immediate change of scene. In the state of her
health I had been grievously disappointed. I had looked for amendment,
I found decay. The decay however was gradual, almost imperceptible;
from time to time I had even flattered myself that the progress was in
an opposite direction, but the delusion was soon banished. Another
difficulty arose in addition to the rest; Marguerite appeared
pregnant; a circumstance that now first presented itself, after a
cessation of ten years.

The morning after the accident and disclosure of Hector, I went to
Pisa, determined to consult with the marchese Filosanto, the elder
brother of the unfortunate Andrea, who was probably more accurately
acquainted with the Italian character than myself, and understood the
shades of that character as they were modified in the particular
territory in which I resided. The marchese was a man universally
admired for subtlety of reasoning, vigorousness of comprehension, and
refinement of taste. In the structure of his mind he was scarcely an
Italian. He had resided several years in England, and was the intimate
friend of Henry Howard earl of Surrey, who some time after fell a
victim to the jealous tyranny of his native sovereign, king Henry the
Eighth. The marchese was frank, generous and disinterested, and
possessed more fully the affections of every one within the circle of
his friendship than any other man I ever knew. He was of a sanguine
temper, always contemplating the world on its brightest side, and,
from the generosity of his own heart, incapable of crediting a distant
danger, or of discerning the storm in the distant cloud where it was
silently engendering.

In the conference we held, I was influenced too implicitly by my
consciousness of his integrity and the gigantic powers of his mind,
and did not sufficiently advert to those peculiarities in his temper
which I have now described. The external facts with which the
narrative of Hector had furnished me I fully detailed to him; as to my
own particular pursuits, I contented myself with stating that I
indulged myself freely in the study of chemistry, and was of those
persons, ordinarily accounted visionaries, who amused themselves with
the expectation of finding the philosopher's stone. Having heard my
story to an end, the marchese ridiculed my apprehensions. He saw
nothing in the facts that alarmed me, but a cowardly superstition
whose utmost flight aspired no higher than the shooting a dog, and a
squabble between a boisterous rustic, and a servant too acutely
sensitive for the reputation of his master. He assured me that the
days of such superstition as I contemplated were long since past, and
that his countrymen less deserved the imputation than any others, as,
living at the very centre and source of catholic imposition, they saw
deeper into the mystery, and were not exposed to the advantage which
distance possesses for augmenting our reverence. He expatiated with
great eloquence on the vice of a suspicious temper. A spirit of alarm
and continual apprehension, like the jealousy of lovers, he said, made
the meat it fed on. It brooded over plots that had no existence but in
the wanderings of a disturbed imagination. It was continually
interrupting the quiet of its owner, and the tranquillity of society;
and, for the sake of avoiding imaginary evils, often plunged into such
as were real. He advised me to go home and be contented. He
recommended to me to clear up the clouds of my mind, and cultivate a
light heart, a chearful temper, and a generous confidence in the
honest sympathies of mankind. In fine, he bade me continue my
pursuits, avoid eclat, and trust in his sagacity that no ill
consequences would ensue.

The remonstrances of the marchese Filosanto led me to suspect that I
had been idly credulous. I had too easily participated the feelings
and apprehensions of a poor, uninstructed negro, and had suffered the
secret griefs that brooded in my heart, to discolour my perceptions,
and aggravate the features of circumstances, in themselves trifling or
indifferent. I began to be half ashamed of the gloominess of my
conceptions. I could not, alas! follow the advice of the marchese as
to the cheerfulness of my heart; but I could exert myself to prevent
my present melancholy from disfiguring to me every thing I saw. The
influence exercised over my conceptions by persons of eminent
intellect has always been great. Not that the judgment I formed of the
powers of my own mind was peculiarly humble; but I reasoned thus.
Perhaps the person I consult is as well informed in the subject under
consideration as I am, in that case his decision is as fully entitled
to attention as my own; and thus, without cowardly self-contempt on my
part, the general balance of the argument was materially altered.
Perhaps, without being on the whole my superior, he may be more
competent to this particular question. In either case my idea of its
merits became perceptibly modified. I never listened to the sentiments
of a man of talents when they differed from my own, unless in cases
where he was evidently visionary and irrational, without being
considerably shaken as to the degree of credit due to my view of the
subject.

Such then was the effect produced on me by the marchese's
expostulation. I shook off my apprehensions, and laughed at my fears.
I was ashamed of the want of gallantry that had possessed me, when I
meditated flight from so trivial a menace. I concluded that dangers,
particularly such as arise from the irrational passions of a
capricious multitude, were increased when symptoms of apprehension
discovered themselves, and abated, when received with neglect, or
repelled with a magnanimous serenity.




CHAP. V.

Meanwhile the unrelenting Agostino was fixed in his purpose and
incessant in his machinations. He believed that the destructive mine
was now sufficiently prepared, and that he might proceed in all surety
to the ultimate explosion. He apprehended that he had now advanced too
far to retract, that the death of Charon and the assault upon Hector
were calculated sufficiently to announce what was to follow, and that
it would be injudicious and idle to grant me much respite for
reflection. The passions of his associates were now wrought up to a
frenzy of horror, and needed only a bold and artful director to urge
them to any point of fury and destruction.

Implicitly as I had confided in the decision of the marchese, I had
speedily reason to know that it was the dictate of too sanguine and
presumptuous a spirit. On my return from his palace and several
subsequent occasions I found the manners of the populace altered
respecting me. They no longer viewed me with a sort of reverential
awe, or fled my approach. They insulted me with their eyes, they
muttered curses upon me in a voice sufficiently audible to be
understood, they broke forth in gestures of abhorrence and derision.
They regarded me with looks of ferocious hatred; and, when I had
passed them, their murmurs gradually swelled into shouts of triumphant
contumely. These symptoms however were progressive; each day became
more odious and intolerable than the last. They who have never been
placed in a situation like mine, will never be able to do justice to
my grievance. They will perhaps say, that the calamity I now endured
was a trifling one, and that a weak mind only can be elevated by the
acclamations and huzzas of the multitude, or depressed by their hisses
and scorn. I did not, and I could not feel it so. There is no pleasure
more congenial to the human heart than the approbation and affection
of our fellows. I call heaven to witness that I could mount the
scaffold, surrounded with an innumerable multitude to applause my
fortitude, and feel as it were on their own neck the blow that ended
me, and count it a festival. But I cannot bear to be surrounded with
tokens of abhorrence and scorn. I cannot bear to look round me through
an extended circle, and see the impatience of despite in every face.
Man was not born to live alone. He is linked to his brethren by a
thousand ties; and, when those ties are broken, he ceases from all
genuine existence. Their complacence is a food more invigorating than
ambrosia; their aversion is a torment worse than that of the damned.
While I write, I seem again to hear resounding in my ears the hootings
and clamours of these infatuated peasants. When heard indeed, it went
to my heart, and sat there colder than the aspic's venom; it rose to
my throat with a sensation bitterer than wormwood. It unstrung all my
muscles and nerves. I could not stay; I could not fly. I wished myself
buried deep in the centre of the earth. I felt something worse, more
revolting, more opposite to all the prejudices and propensities of the
soul than annihilation. I have known in various situations and
conditions of human life, what it was to be distressed, to be
dejected, to be miserable; but never in any other situation have I
felt a misery so concentrated, so gnawing and insufferable.

I began however, like the critics I am figuring to myself, to despise
the pusillanimity of my submission, and to believe that, if I would
only make a stand and turn round upon my enemy, I should subdue him.
This resolution I could with difficulty have taken in the moment of
attack; it was formed in an interval of retrospect and reflection.
Having formed it, the contempt I should have felt for myself would
have been too exquisite, if I had failed to put it in execution. I was
not long at a loss for an opportunity. In one of my walks I found
myself pursued by a numerous populace with a peculiar degree of
inveteracy. I yielded for some time, till I came to a place that
appeared convenient for the purpose of haranguing them. It was a
bench, placed upon a rising ground and sheltered behind by a thicket,
which had probably been erected for the purpose of commanding a
neighbouring prospect. I stopped; I stepped upon the bench; I waved my
hand towards the multitude. They perceived my purpose with some degree
of confusion and surprise; they drew nearer. Do not listen to him! Do
not hear a word he has to say! cried some of them. Oh, hear him! hear
him! exclaimed others. I obtained an audience.

What is the cause, said I, of all this hatred and persecution?

Because you are a wizard, a necromancer, a dealer in the black art,
because you are in league with hell, and have sold yourself to the
devil! answered twenty voices at once.

Hear me, replied I, and I will convince you of my innocence: but hear
me in silence, and do not interrupt me.

For myself, I have no belief in the existence of such an art.

This remark produced a general groan.

Why should I have sold myself to the foe of mankind? What could he
give me, that should compensate me for consigning myself over to him
for ever hereafter? The power of exhibiting strange and extraordinary
tricks. What a pitiful recompence? But, if I had bought this power at
so dear a price, should I hide it? Should I not take every opportunity
of exciting your reverence and astonishment? Who has seen me perform
any wonderful feat? I live quietly among you, and give no cause of
offence to any. I live retired in the midst of my family. I form no
party or connections. I do not intrude into any of your affairs,
political or private. I do not even enter into conferences with any of
you, unless induced by the apparent occasion of doing some good and
benevolent action.

Quit then this ungenerous persecution! Do not turn the fury of your
resentment upon a harmless stranger! You are Italians, the most
polished and ingenious people on the face of the earth: the most
glorious monuments of art, in building, in statuary and in painting,
are to be found in the midst of you: ancient Italy governed the world
by her arms; modern Italy governs the world through the medium of that
pure and sublime religion of which providence has graciously made her
the repository. Do not stain the glory of this character! Show
yourselves worthy of the honour with which your name is heard in every
corner of the habitable world!

While I was yet speaking, a large clot of mud reached me, and struck
me on the face and the upper part of my breast. I calmly endeavoured
to free myself from its effects with my handkerchief; and, looking
round me, demanded in the sacred spirit of conscious innocence, How
have I deserved this treatment?

Thus far I had been heard with a doubtful sentiment of murmur and
approbation, and I began to feel that I was rather gaining ground upon
my audience. But this new insult seemed to turn the tide of popular
impression in an instant.

Villain, renegado, accursed of God! I heard from every side, did not
you bewitch my cow? did not you enchant my child? have not you killed
my daughter? Down with him! exterminate him! do not suffer him to
live!

I continued my efforts to be heard. It was a critical moment, a last
experiment upon the power of firmness and innocence to control the
madness of infuriated superstition. It was in vain. I was deafened
with the noise that assailed me. It was no longer shouts and clamours
of disapprobation. It was the roaring of tigers, and the shriek of
cannibals. Sticks, stones, and every kind of missile weapon that
offered itself, fell in showers around me. It seemed a sort of miracle
that I escaped instant destruction. I eluded their pursuit, and hid
myself from their search. After some time I ventured to return to my
own house. I had in the interval terrified myself with the idea that,
having missed my person, they might have hurried thither, and executed
some terrible vengeance on my helpless family. I found them however in
safety: the mob had for this time contented itself to disperse without
further mischief.

As soon as it was dark, I hastened to Pisa, and related what had just
occurred to my friend the marchese. He was surprised; but he still
adhered to his opinion. He had never supposed, he told me, that a
noisy and clamorous mob was a proper subject upon which to make
experiment of the energy of truth, and he laughed at my attempt to
reason them out of their superstition. But they meant nothing by all
that had passed. It was the mere foam and fury of a moment, poured out
with vehemence, and then dissipated in air. A certain set of
politicians had for their own particular ends represented a mob as a
terrific and formidable engine: alas! they were rather to be pitied,
than condemned. There was no malice in their hearts. They were in
reality a mere material machine, led on without reflection, and, when
they had committed a momentary ravage, astonished themselves the most
at the injury they had perpetrated. They were as light and variable as
a feather, changing with every breath; and nothing could argue greater
obliquity of intellect than to suppose, because they were in a certain
temper and sentiment to-day, that they would be found in a similar
temper and sentiment to-morrow. The marchese however wished, he said,
to relieve me from the apprehension of this imaginary danger, and
therefore offered me the whole suite of his servants for the defence
of my house. He added that, among his friends and retainers in the
city of Pisa, he did not doubt in an hour's time to be able to raise a
troop of four hundred men, and, whatever power of that sort he
possessed, he assured me was wholly at my service. I was not convinced
by the marchese's arguments, but I declined his offer. I could not
bear to think that blood should be spilled, and the lives of these
poor ignorant wretches sacrificed, for the preservation of a thing so
worthless in my eyes as the local property I possessed. I therefore
told the marchese, that I might perhaps wait yet a day or two longer
before I formed my resolution, but that, the instant I saw one fresh
symptom of the hostility of the villagers, I was determined to take my
family with me, and remove far beyond the reach both of their terrors
and their hatred.

I staid two hours with the marchese, and then set out to my own house.
The way I took was by a private road, open only to the neighbouring
gentry, but of which my servant carried the key. It led along the
higher ground, and commanded a view of the common highway.
Considerably before I reached my own habitation, I was struck with the
appearance of persons passing, in considerable numbers, and in a
tumultuous manner, along the public road. Some of them were armed with
clubs, and others with torches. Their march however led, not towards
my house, but in an opposite direction. I mended my pace, terrified
with a sort of vague apprehension of what might have happened, though
I did not disguise to myself that what I saw, was not precisely that
which I might have expected to see, if they had been returned from
demolishing my property, and burning my house.

When I arrived, I found indeed that no mischief had been actually
committed, but that I was indebted for the preservation of my house,
and perhaps for the lives of my wife and children, to the sagacity and
presence of mind of Peter, the servant of my early years. My residence
had been the object against which the march of the populace had been
directed. Peter, perceiving their intentions, had with great
difficulty prevailed upon Hector to keep out of fight. Nothing could
be more adverse to the feelings and inclination of my faithful negro;
but, Peter having convinced him that his appearance would only
exasperate the rage of the assailants, and that perhaps every thing of
importance to his master's service and happiness depended at present
upon his concealment, Hector yielded to his representations. This
accomplished, Peter next assembled the gardener and one or two
labourers in my employment who happened to be at hand, and, having
furnished them with fire-arms, stationed them at different windows in
the front of the house. With these preparations, when the mob arrived,
he resolutely told them that he would fire on the first person that
attempted to break in. They were staggered: furious as they appeared
the moment before, this threat held them in awe. They paraded two or
three times round the house, clattering their arms, and pouring out
vehement execrations, and then withdrew, solemnly promising that they
would return the following night, and level the house with the ground.

I no longer yielded the smallest degree of credit to the unsuspicious
and confiding philosophy of the marchese Filosanto. I sent off my wife
and children before day-break for Lucca, determined to take shipping
at the first convenient port, and pass over into Spain. I was little
solicitous, for reasons with which the reader is already acquainted,
about my property and moveables; I had no motive to induce me to
fetter and clog my retreat at this hour of peril and terror, with a
single article of rarity and price. My furniture indeed was not
splendid, but it was handsome and valuable, and the indifference with
which I resigned the whole to the mercy of chance, was a matter of
some surprise to the persons around me. My servants offered to defend
my possessions at the peril of their lives; but I peremptorily forbad
it. I would not even consent to their taking away certain articles by
way of appropriating them to their personal use. I believed that if I
admitted a single act of that sort, I should find it no easy matter to
set limits to their avidity; and, as I was determined to take none of
my present servants with me, the negro and Peter excepted, I feared
that the apparent possession of a single article that had been mine
might hereafter mark its proprietor a victim to the senseless rage of
blindfold superstition. I could easily make up to these honest and
faithful dependents the injury they might sustain from the seeming
severity of this order. I determined to shut up my house with all its
present contents, as Joshua, the captain of the Jews, drew a line of
separation round the profane possessions of Achan; and to leave the
villagers, if so it seemed good to them, to make of the whole a burnt
offering, to propitiate the wrath of their avenging divinity.

The directions I issued being unhesitating and peremptory, met with a
ready submission from all my other domestics: Hector only, the mild
and complying Hector, of whom obedience had hitherto appeared to
constitute the very soul, met my commands with a resolute refusal. The
present distressed appearance of my fortunes seemed to have worked the
poor fellow's mind to a paroxysm of insanity. He considered himself as
the sole author of my calamity. He reviled himself in the bitterest
terms of compunction and abhorrence. The language which the agony of
his soul forced from his lips, was such as could not fail to impress
upon my other servants, a conviction of the justice of the imputations
that were now brought against us. This however was of little
importance. I must at all events have been contented to leave behind
me in my present neighbourhood a name loaded with the execrations of
religious fanaticism. Hector imprecated upon himself a thousand
curses, if, so long as he continued to live, the populace should lay
hands upon a straw of my property. He would not move so much as an
inch from the defence of my house. He would either, by preserving it,
expiate in some degree the mischief in which he had involved me, or
fall and be crushed to death in the midst of its ruins. Arguments and
expostulations were useless here; his mind was worked up to too high a
tone, to be susceptible of the patience necessary for hearing or
understanding any reasoning that was addressed to him. Authority
itself was of no avail; for the first and the last time he threw off
the character of a servant, and appeared obstinate, self-willed and
ungovernable. It was only by direct violence that he could be forced
from the spot. I gave him in charge, with the most strict orders not
to suffer him to escape from their custody, to two of his fellows.

This business being dispatched, I went, at the invitation of the
marchese, to a small cottage he possessed at no great distance from my
own house. Its situation was so private and retired, that few persons
knew or could perceive that there was any building on the spot. Here
therefore I could remain in the most perfect safety. I felt myself
unaccountably impelled to stay and witness the catastrophe of the
tragedy. I should not have been satisfied to continue in uncertainty
as to what it would prove. After all that had passed, like the
marchese, I should have been apt to accuse myself of cowardice and a
mind soured and degenerate, if the mob had not put their threats in
execution. The marchese himself was well pleased with my determination
in this respect. He was not yet convinced that I had not painted to
myself a danger which had no adequate counterpart in the world of
realities.

I had not long to wait. The night had no sooner spread an even-
coloured and almost impervious veil over the world, than the marchese,
as if moved by a secret impulse to witness what he yet refused to
believe, came to me at the cottage. He had scarcely arrived, when we
heard the confused murmurs and turbulence of the populace; for we were
near enough to distinguish almost every thing. As they did not meet
with the defence of the preceding evening, the work they had
undertaken was presently dispatched. We saw the flames ascend. We
recognised the shouts of infernal joy with which they witnessed the
catastrophe. When the marchese beheld what, till seen he would never
admit to be possible, he burst out into a sort of transport of
misanthropy. He exclaimed, that no innocence and no merit could defend
a man from the unrelenting antipathy of his fellows. He saw that there
was a principle in the human mind destined to be eternally at war with
improvement and science. No sooner did a man devote himself to the
pursuit of discoveries which, if ascertained, would prove the highest
benefit to his species, than his whole species became armed against
him. The midnight oil was held to be the signal of infernal
machinations. The paleness of study and the furrows of thought were
adjudged to be the tokens of diabolical alliance. He saw in the
transactions of that night a pledge of the eternal triumph of
ignorance over wisdom. Above all he regretted that his countrymen, his
dear Italians, should for ever blot their honour and their character
by such savage outrages. Though myself the principal sufferer, I was
obliged to perform the part of the comforter and consoler, and
endeavour to calm the transport of agony that seized upon the
susceptible Filosanto. He was astonished, shocked and beside himself;
I viewed the whole with the gloomy firmness of a desperate resolution.

The worst event of this detested evening remains yet unrecorded. Even
now I tremble, while I attempt to commit the story to my harmless
paper. So far as related to the mere destruction of my property, I
looked on with a philosophical indifference. I disdained, and I had no
reason, to regret the loss of that which I had it in my power to
repair in a moment. I thought I had taken care that no human life
should be committed to risque upon this critical occasion. But I was
mistaken. I learned the next morning with anguish inexpressible, that
Hector, the negro of the prison of Constance, was no more. He had
eluded the vigilance of his keepers. No sooner was he at liberty, than
he hastened, unknown to every one, to die, as he had declared he
would, in the defence of my house. The mob had burst into the house;
they seized him alive. They dragged him out in the midst of them; they
insulted over him as the special favourite of the infernal king. They
inflicted on him every species of mockery and of torture; they killed
him joint by joint, and limb by limb--The pen drops from my lifeless
hand.

What right had I to make this man the victim of my idle and unhallowed
pursuits? What has the art and multiplication of gold in it, that
should compensate the destruction of so ingenuous, so simple-hearted,
so noble a creature? If I had myself fallen into the hands of the
populace, it had been well: I was a criminal, worthy of every
retribution they could inflict upon me! Some men perhaps will ask why
I lamented so bitterly over so uncultivated and uninformed an
individual as this negro. I know it is unjust and unreasonable--but
there was something so truly tragical in the fate to which this
creature in his generosity and remorse devoted himself, that I believe
for the moment I felt a sharper pang in it, than in the strange and
extraordinary loss of my only son, or perhaps in the premature death
of my beloved Marguerite.




CHAP. VI.

Before the dawn of the succeeding morning I turned my face towards
Lucca. I beheld the last cloud of mingling smoke and flame ascend from
the ashes of my villa. The blaze sunk, its materials were nearly
consumed, and it yielded an uncertain and fitful light only, when I
withdrew from being any longer the melancholy and heart-wounded
spectator of the ruin. I took an everlasting leave of the marchese. I
had been introduced to him under a friendly aspect, as the man who had
had courage to perform the last offices of humanity to his unfortunate
brother; and he had conceived a warm affection for me. The painful
nature of the catastrophe he had witnessed melted his heart, and he
earnestly pressed me to draw upon him for any supplies I wanted, or
rather to receive from him a sum equivalent to the damage the
superstition of his countrymen had inflicted on me. This I positively
refused; but I found it impossible to silence his importunity, till I
submitted to the duplicity of promising that, if I found myself
reduced to any necessity, I would not fail to apply to him. It was in
the very moment of our separation that intelligence was brought me of
the fate of Hector. The reader may imagine with how heavy a heart I
set out on my journey.

Lucca is about seventeen miles from the city of Pisa; from the place
where I had spent the greater part of this memorable night it was
twenty. The marchese made me promise to take a serpentine and
circuitous route, the more completely to elude the possibility of
future danger. An adventure occurred to me in this passage, with the
relation of which I will not now interrupt my narrative, which
prevented me from arriving at Lucca till the noon of the following
day. Suffice it to say, that it was of such a nature, that, impatient
as I was under my present extraordinary circumstances to rejoin my
family, I should have held myself destitute of every atom of humanity,
if I had not submitted to this short delay.

Short as it was, I found, when I reached Lucca, that my evil genius
had been busy to accumulate for me new misfortunes. Marguerite and her
daughters were wholly unknown in this place; and, the intelligence of
the Pisan riot having reached Lucca in the course of the day, it was
related to my wife, as to a hearer unconcerned, with all its horrid
circumstances and the calamitous fate of our generous Hector, by the
hostess of the inn. The rapidity of events, during the last part of
our residence in the Pisan territory, was such as to have obliged me
to say little of the effect they produced upon Marguerite. But the
reader can scarcely be so inadvertent and unreflecting, as not easily
to imagine to himself that she felt them in the highest degree painful
and overwhelming. This last blow was too much. Marguerite had been
some months pregnant. She was immediately seized with the pains of
labour, and delivered of a dead child. The first intelligence
delivered to me upon my arrival was that my wife was dying.

Lucca however did not witness the period of her existence. After
having continued for several days upon the very pinnacle, as it were,
between life and death, she grew perceptibly better, and in a week
more, though in a very feeble state, it became apparent that her case
was not a rapid one. We agreed to proceed upon our Spanish voyage. It
appeared not improbable that the sea-air might be found beneficial,
and the experiment was warmly recommended by her physicians. They were
not however aware of the whole of her disorder. During the voyage her
crisis returned with such malignant symptoms, as scarcely to permit us
the hope she would reach the land alive. We debarked at Barcelona on
the fourteenth of April 1546. On the fourth day after our arrival
Marguerite expired.

We had no sooner taken up our abode in this city than, fully aware of
the state of her disease, she assembled her daughters, and poured
forth to them without restraint that flood of affection, that ardent
spirit of love, by which she was distinguished and elevated above
every creature that lived. Her mind was clear, her intellectual powers
were complete and entire. The enthusiasm with which she now uttered
herself, was not of that inconsiderate nature which should tend to
make them feel with greater acuteness the loss they were about to
sustain. It was bright, unclouded and serene. It was the eloquence as
of a disembodied spirit, freed from the perturbation and alloy of
human passions. She reminded them that they were sisters, and exhorted
each to fulfil the duties of a sister and a mother to the other two.
If wife and good, they would be happy in each other, and their little
association would be a school, preparing them for the more genuine and
venerable duties for which nature had destined them. Her views of all
human things were altered by her present situation on the brink of the
grave. Our reserves and misunderstandings had wrung her heart; but she
forgave me. Things which had lately appeared of the highest magnitude
and moment, faded in the distance, and mingled with the vulgar crowd
of human concerns which was now retiring from her view: she must again
return, she said, to life, before she could again feel the passions
and the interests of this petty scene. For the sake of her daughters
she had lately desired to live. She was now reconciled and content to
die. She had formed the chain and link of connection between me and my
girls; perhaps it was better that we should burst our fetters and be
free.

There is nothing in the vast variety of objects which this wretched
world presents to our view, so dreadful and distressing as the body of
one we have loved, but who is now no more. I saw, these eyes beheld,
the lifeless corse of Marguerite. Great God of heaven! what is man?
and of what are we made? Within that petty frame resided for years all
that we worship, for there resided all that we know and can conceive
of excellence. That heart is now still. Within the whole extent of
that frame there exists no thought, no feeling, no virtue. It remains
no longer, but to mock my sense and scoff at my sorrow, to rend my
bosom with a woe, complicated, matchless and inexpressible. The cheek
is pale and livid; the eyes are sunk and circled with blackness.
Corruption and ruin have already seized their prey and turned it into
horror. Draw, for heaven's sake, draw the pall over those lifeless
features! Bury, bury them deep in the bowels of the earth! Let not my
imagination follow them into the chambers of the grave, and dwell
amidst pestilential damps and all the horrors of decay! Let me
recollect all that Marguerite was as she lived, her numerous
accomplishments, her unparalleled virtues,--aye, in all the magnitude
and wealth of their detail,---for that is a divine and celestial
madness: but let me not recollect her as I saw her on the bier, left I
become raving and blaspheme!

I have no power to talk of the situation in which I was now placed,
and the reader must therefore explain it for himself,--if he can. I
never loved but once; I never loved but Marguerite. All other
affection is stilness and ice compared with this. This is the great
crisis of my history, the gap between life and death, the gulph that
cut me off for ever from every thing that deserves the name of human.
Such was the legacy of the stranger: my son an exile, myself publicly
convicted as a murderer, the unmerited and tragical death of Hector,
the premature and self-deriving loss of the better half of my soul!
Who would have believed that this envenomed gift would, in less than
two years, have thus dreadfully changed the face of my affairs, and
destroyed every thing that composed the happiness of my life?

After some delay in this wretched and ill-omened town of Barcelona
(such it has ever since appeared to my thoughts), we proceeded to
Madrid. The reader will give me credit, when I tell him that, however
eager I had lately felt to exhibit my magnificence and my wealth, I
had no such eagerness now. I speak no more of the character of
Marguerite; I attempt not to compose her panegyric. The story of her
life is the best record of her virtues. Her defects, if defects she
had, drew their pedigree from rectitude of sentiment and perception,
from the most generous sensibility, from a heart pervaded and leavened
with tenderness. A simple stone in the western aisle of the great
church at Barcelona records her personal and her family name, with
this single addition, THE PRESERVER OF HER FAMILY IN POVERTY AND RUIN,
THE VICTIM OF HER DISCONSOLATE AND REPENTANT HUSBAND'S UNHALLOWED
WEALTH.

But, dismissing for ever, and henceforth consigning to unviolated
silence her excellencies, could I avoid feeling that I could never
again form a similar, or indeed any real union, so long as I existed?
Being now indeed more than forty years of age, having spent near
twenty of that forty in a most enviable wedlock, and being blessed
with a sufficiently numerous offspring, it may be thought perhaps I
might be contented. But, without discussing the propriety of such a
maxim as it relates to the species in general, it must be recollected
in my case that my youth was to be recommenced by a perpetual series
of renewals. I never gave credit to that axiom of a sickly
sensibility, that it is a sacrilege, in him who has been engaged in
one cordial and happy union, ever to turn his thoughts to another.
Much more reasonable than this is the Indian doctrine, that the
survivor ought to leap into the flames, and perish upon the funeral
pyre of the deceased. While we live, it is one of our most imperious
duties to seek our own happiness. He that dedicates his days to an
endless sorrow, is the worst and most degraded of suicides. It is an
important question in the economy of human life, up to what age we
should allow ourselves to contract engagements to a wise and a
probable offspring: but, separately from this consideration, I should
hold that in many cases he who entered into a second marriage, by that
action yielded a pure and honourable homage to the manes of the first.
But from genuine marriage I was henceforth for ever debarred. An
immortal can form no true and real attachment to the infect of an
hour.

Mourning, a grave and speechless regret, was yet the inmate of our
house. Grief does not commonly lay strong and invincible hold of us in
the morning of our days; and, though the temper of Julia was perhaps
at her age the most tender and susceptible I ever knew, even she, who
was now in her seventeenth year, reaped the benefit of that elasticity
which in early life is the portion of humanity. Nothing material
occurred to us in the first three months of our residence in Madrid.
It was impossible for any one to be surrounded with a more lovely and
blooming family than I was.

Yet from happiness I was immeasurably distant. Exclusively of my
recent and in every sense irreparable loss, my mind was full of dark
and gloomy forebodings. I feared not for myself, but I had an
unconquerable alarm and apprehension for my children. My youngest was
but ten years of age; the eldest was not seventeen. Sweet, tender
blossoms, that the cruelty and hardness of mankind might so easily
blight, and that required a concurrence of favourable circumstances to
ripen into all they were capable of becoming! When I recollected what
had happened to us in the course of the last two years, I could not
flatter myself that our misfortunes were at an end, or that I had not,
to speak moderately, many fierce trials yet to encounter. I seemed,
like the farfamed tree of India, to be destined to shelter only to
destroy, and to prove a deadly poison to whatever sought its refuge
under my protecting branches. In this melancholy frame of mind the
last words of my adored Marguerite passed and repassed ten thousand
times through my recollection. "She had formed the chain and link of
connection between me and my girls; perhaps it was better that we
should burst our fetters and be free."

Whatever she had said was sacred to the present temper of my
imagination: her last behest I would have died to execute. The idea
contained in the sentence I have just repeated was ambiguous and
obscure, rather hinted at than expressed. But was it worthy of the
less attention, because its author, with her usual gentleness and
sweetness, had modestly suggested an advice, instead, which she was
well entitled to have done, of prescribing a will? I determined to
part with my children, that I might no longer be to them a source of
corroding misery and affliction. I believed that the cloud that now
oppressed me was transitory. I seemed pursued for the present by a
malignant genius; but a man, endowed as I was with unbounded wealth
and immortal vigour, cannot easily be reduced to despair. When the
tide of my prosperity should unfold its rich and ample current, I
might easily communicate of its bounty to my daughters. If I parted
with them now, I did not lose them as I had perhaps lost their
brother, for ever. I could turn to a particular point, and say, There
lies my soul! I could cast my eye upon a projection of the globe, and
put my finger upon their residence. Wherever I wandered, whether I
were plunged in a dungeon or mounted a throne, my heart, like the
mariner's needle, would tremble towards that point as its cynosure. I
had still something to love, something to pant for, something to dream
about, and be happy.

Having ruminated insatiably upon the last expressions of Marguerite,
having formed my commentary, and fixed my predilection, I recollected
a person, then a young woman upon my paternal estate, for whom my wife
had conceived a remarkable friendship. She was the daughter of a
countryman, her birth had been low, and her education extremely
confined. But she had taste, she had discretion, she had integrity, I
think I may add, she had genius. As Marguerite had discovered her
merits, and distinguished her from her equals, she had been of great
use to this extraordinary peasant in unfolding her mind, and guiding
her propensities. This was not so much a matter of deliberate and
meditated purpose in la dame du seigneur; it rose out of the
circumstances of their situation. They were almost of an age; and
Marguerite frequently invited her to be the associate of her studies
and amusements. Mariana, that was her name, did not perhaps resemble
my wife considerably in her features, but her stature was the same,
her complexion and the colour of her hair. The similarity in carriage
and gesture, Mariana having never had an opportunity of contemplating
the accomplishments she admired under any form but that of madame de
St. Leon, was still more striking. There were points indeed in which
no human creature could compare with Marguerite, the expressive and
flexible tone of her voice, and those cadences, which sprung from, and
communicated to every susceptible hearer, the divinest sensibility.
One of the unhappy consequences of our exile from the Bordelois, was
the misfortunes of Mariana. Her father had fallen to decay. To relieve
his distress she had contracted a marriage, not of sentiment and
predilection, but with a man who had promised her that her father
should never come to want. This marriage had been an unhappy one. The
husband was a prodigal and a profligate. A period of seven years
however delivered her from her Egyptian bondage. She had but lately
become a widow; and the prudence and integrity of her conduct had
rendered this alliance, which to many women would have proved a rock
of destruction, an additional source of honour and respect. Mariana,
at the death of her husband, had no children; she had buried her
father; she was consequently entirely alone.

It was this woman I fixed upon as the protector of my daughters. I was
better pleased with the meanness of her extraction, than I should have
been with one of the high-born descendants of the houses of St. Leon
or Damville, had it been my fortune to have had in the female line any
near relations on either side. My daughters were no longer children;
they were singularly prudent, considerate and unimpeachable in their
conduct and propensities. They wanted a protector in the eye of the
world; it was desirable for them that they should have an adviser; but
I should have been grieved and mortified to give them a dictator.

I wrote to Mariana Chabot, communicating my project, and requesting
her to give us the meeting at St. Lizier on the frontiers of France.
She was delighted with the office I tendered to her acceptance, and
readily consented to every thing I required. I conducted my daughters
to the place of rendezvous without imparting to them the design by
which I was actuated; I believed that they would of their own motion
conceive a partiality for the friend of their mother. I was not
deceived in my prognostic; the meeting was an interesting one. The
eyes of Mariana overflowed at meeting after so long an interval the
husband and progeny of the dearest and most revered friend she had
ever known; the mourning we wore reminded her how lately her
incomparable patroness had been committed to the grave. My girls were
struck with the resemblance of Mariana to their mother. Accident had
prevented us from cultivating almost any intimate connections out of
our own family from the period of our exile; my girls had therefore
never met with any person who approached in any degree so near their
mother in accomplishments, in skill, in turn of thinking and opinion.
Mariana came up to my warmest hopes as a protector and companion for
my children; her unhappy marriage, by concentrating her thoughts and
expectations in herself, had perhaps rendered her more exemplary in
carriage, and more elevated in sentiment, than she would ever have
been without it.

At St. Lizier I passed myself for monsieur Valmire, the guardian of
the orphan heiresses of St. Leon. It fortunately happened that my
paternal estate was at this time upon sale. I determined to become the
purchaser, and to settle my girls in the scene of their nativity. I
procured an agent, and dispatched him with an ample commission for
that purpose. Having adjusted this point, I resolved to make a tour
with my daughters, through Languedoc, Dauphiné, and the provinces
usually known by the denomination of the south of France. I wished to
familiarise them to the society of madame Chabot, and to assist them
in discerning her merits under a variety of points of view. I asked
them whether they would not be delighted to obtain her, as a
companion, who might assist and conduct them in such points as only a
woman of understanding and experience is competent to. They every one
of them listened to the idea with pleasure.

At length I received the information that the purchase of St. Leon was
completed, and I proceeded to the critical disclosure that my
daughters were on the point of being separated from their father. They
listened to the communication with astonishment and terror. They had
entered successively into the feelings of their deceased mother, and I
am well persuaded felt a less ardent attachment to my person than they
had done at the cottage of the lake of Constance. But, culpable and
criminal as I had been, I was not destitute of or detached from every
virtue, and they could not discharge themselves of the respect they
had so long entertained for me. Habit has a resistless empire over the
human mind; and, when we reflect with how much reluctance we consent
to the removal of a tree or a hedge to the sight of which we have been
accustomed, it will not be wondered at that my daughters could not
calmly think of so complete a separation from their father. The
impression of their mother's death was yet green, and to lose me was
to become orphans a second time. But I had fully meditated my plan,
and was peremptory. That I might withhold from them no advantage it
was in my power to confer, I gave them Peter for the superintending
bailiff and steward of their property. Our parting was not less
painful and melancholy, than its occasion was extraordinary and its
mode uncommon. It took place at the town of Montauban.

I saw my dear children set forward on their journey, and I knew not
that I should ever behold them more. I was determined never again to
see them to their injury; and I could not take to myself the
consolation, On such a day, in such a month, or even after such a
lapse of years, I will again have the joy to embrace them. In a little
while they were out of sight, and I was alone. The reader will perhaps
agree with me, that no man had more exquisitely enjoyed the dearest
ties of society than I had, and that perhaps few men were ever better
formed to enjoy them. This complete and dreadful separation, this
stroke that seemed to cut me off abruptly from every thing most
valuable that the earth contains, was not the result of any of the
ordinary necessities of human life. Still less was it the dictate of
alienation or indifference. No; it was the pure effect of love, of a
love so strong, complete and uncontrolable, as inflexibly to refuse
every thing that could be injurious to its objects. I own I could not
thus have parted with Marguerite. Her idea was mingled with the vital
springs of my existence; and scarcely any power less resistless than
death, could have made me consent to pass an entire day without her
society. But then it is to be considered, that my daughters were in
the morning of life, their hopes were untarnished, their prospects not
obscured by a single cloud; and that the crime would probably have
been greater, obstinately to have made them the partners of my
misfortunes and disgrace. There are persons who will regard this
passage in my history as culpable, and the testimony of a cold and
unsusceptible heart. I contemplate it, even at this distance of time,
as the noblest and most virtuous effort of my life; and a thousand
circumstances have occurred since, to induce me to congratulate myself
that I had the courage to atchieve my purpose.




CHAP. VII.

Nineteen years had now elapsed from the day that had witnessed my
union with Marguerite de Damville. In all that time I had never been
alone. Alone in a certain sense indeed I had stood at Paris in the
period that had led to my exile, and at Soleure in that which
immediately succeeded it. In each case I was solitary, and my solitude
was unhappy. But my unhappiness was then in a certain sense
spontaneous; my solitude was a luxury in which I felt myself impelled
to indulge. He that has experienced both, will readily acknowledge the
extreme difference, between the misery we embrace, and the misery from
which we shrink with abhorrence and loathing. I relinquished in the
former instance my dearest connections, my proper post and situation;
but I felt that I could return to the one and resume the other at
pleasure. I repeat it therefore, Then I had not been alone, and now I
was alone. The same motive, which in this instance made me cut myself
off from my daughters that I might not be the cause of their misery,
forbad me to be the parent of a future offspring, upon whom I might
entail similar misfortune. Tell me then, Was I not alone? I
recollected the words of the stranger, wrung from him by the excess of
his misery at the summer-house of the lake, Alone--alone!---
friendless--friendless! I began to penetrate the enigma of his
history.

I fixed my daughters with an ample revenue in the chateau of St. Leon;
I repurchased for them all my paternal property. I waited some time at
Montauban to hear of the event of my project, and their final
settlement. I learned with pleasure that they found their situation
peaceful, easy and reputable; I enjoined them that they should speak
and think of me as dead. I led them to suppose, when I left Montauban,
that I should set out upon an extensive tour, that I should traverse
the Indus and the Ganges, and penetrate into the furthest extremities
of the East. How uncommon, how pitiable a fate! I became prematurely
dead to my country and my race, because I was destined never to die!
The first sensation I derived from their prosperity, as I have already
said, was pleasure: my second was that which the devil might have
felt, when he entered paradise for the seduction of our first parents.
I contemplated with some degree of malignant envy, a happiness of
which it was little probable I should ever partake. Let me not be
censured for this: let any man put himself in my situation, and say,
whether the pleasure he feels at contemplating the separated happiness
of those he loves be not a mingled sensation? With heavy heart I
sought again the road of Madrid.

Though my spirits underwent an extreme depression, I determined not to
desert myself or the advantages I had purchased at so inestimable a
price. I exerted myself to shake off my lethargy, and rouse the
faculties of my soul. I refused to give way to omens of evil portent,
and resolved to see what might yet be made of my endowments. There is
no misfortune that has not in it some slight mixture of good. My being
now alone and detached from every relative tie, left me at liberty to
pursue my projects with a bolder enterprise. The mistake of which I
accused myself in the former instance was the entering too
precipitately into the exercise of the gifts of the stranger, before I
had properly measured my strength, and investigated the use and
application of my tools. I had suffered sufficiently from the past
uncertainty and irresoluteness of my march. I determined, as far as
human precaution could secure its ends, to encounter no more
misfortunes, to subject myself to no further miscarriages, but to take
care that henceforth the tide of my pursuits should move smoothly
onward. I dedicated the six months immediately succeeding my
separation from my daughters, to the joint contemplation of morals and
natural philosophy. I was resolved to ascertain the simplest mode of
manufacturing wealth, the wisest methods for lulling the suspicions
and controling the passions of mankind, and the true science of the
use of riches. Alas! I had in the sequel frequent occasions to
confess, that, though I had fortuitously entered into possession of
the leading secrets of natural magic, I was a mere tyro in the science
of man, at least in the degree in which the exercise of these secrets
required the possession of it.

Nothing material occurred to interrupt the occupations of the winter.
My apathy,--intellectual activity, palsy of the heart,--went evenly
forward. I made no acquaintance; I was a mere spectator of the busy
scenes that passed around me. I was resolved not to entangle myself
with rashly formed connections; and it will commonly be found that he,
whose contemplations are principally employed upon some secret and
guarded hoard of reflection, has little propensity to communicate upon
idle and indifferent matters.

A slight incident indeed disturbed me for a few days during this
interval; but it passed away, and for the present I thought of it no
more. During the festival of Christmas it happened that I felt an
inclination to be the spectator of a celebrated bull-fight, that was
exhibited before the emperor and his court. For the most part I was
studious of privacy; I therefore felt the less scruple in indulging
this unusual caprice. At the commencement of the spectacle I was
attentive only to the exhibition. I was delighted with the form and
beauty of the animals, with the freedom and grandeur of their motion,
with the terrible energy of their assault and repulse. It was not long
however, before my eye was transiently caught by an individual, who
sat in a gallery at no great distance, and who seemed to view me very
attentively. But I turned again towards the area, and thought of him
no more. Some time after by mere accident I looked towards the same
gallery, and observed this man still in an attitude to examine me. It
seemed as if he had not removed his eyes from me during the whole
interval. This was repeated three or four times. Without knowing why,
I became anxious and uneasy. I had a confused feeling that I had seen
the man before, but whether in France, Switzerland or Italy I could
not tell. I experienced that sort of disagreeable sensation from
looking at his face, which arises in the mind from an association of
the object present, with some mischief or suffering that was
contemporary with its being perceived in a preceding instance. I am
now persuaded that this man was one of the multitude to whom I had
addressed myself from the bench on the hill a short time before my
slight from Pisa, and that he was among the most eager to interrupt
and molest me. But he was apparently a Spaniard by birth, and I could
not at this time develop the mystery that hung about my former
acquaintance with his features. Finding that I could neither rid
myself of his curious and watchful observation, nor of the disturbance
it gave me, I withdrew from the gallery where I had hitherto been
sitting, and removed to another gallery on the opposite side of the
area. About half an hour after, looking accidentally round, I saw this
very man at my elbow. I then accosted him with the enquiry, Do you
know me, sir? to which he immediately returned in Spanish, No, señor!
He then began to be more reserved in his attention to me, without
however by any means entirely withdrawing it.

As soon as the entertainment was over, I went away, and saw no more of
my Spaniard. I began to tax myself with pusillanimity in suffering so
insignisicant an incident to disturb me. A few days after however I
suddenly lighted upon him in the street. He was talking to three or
four of his countrymen, and in the progress of his discourse
frequently pointed to me. I could now perceive something particularly
hostile and ferocious in his countenance. The first impulse I felt,
was that I would no longer suffer the unquietness and anxiety the
sight of him produced in me, but would go up to him, and force him to
an explanation. I believed however that, in the temper he indicated,
this could not be done without involving myself in a quarrel; and I
thought it wiser to endeavour to conquer in silence an unreasonable
sensation. I therefore passed on; he immediately broke from his
company, and attempted to follow me. This I determined not to endure.
I laid my hand on my sword with a peremptory look, and waved to him so
desist. His countenance then assumed an air of diabolical malignity,
he shook his head furiously, and turned down another street. A strange
sort of animosity this, between two persons utter strangers to each
other, and which had as yet not deigned to express itself by a word!
But such is the world! We hate each other we know not why. We are
ready to cut each other's throats, because we do not like the turn of
a feature or the adjustment of a swordknot. Prejudice, party,
difference of countries, difference of religions, and a thousand wild
chimeras of fanaticism or superstition, are continually arming us
against a man, of whose virtues and qualities we are ignorant, and
into whose benevolent or evil intentions we disdain to enquire.

I saw the Spaniard but once more. It was as I was on the point of
entering the house, some apartments of which I occupied. I was
particularly mortified at this circumstance. It was plain the man
entertained, for whatever reason, a determined animosity against me;
and I was grieved to furnish him with that advantage for injuring me,
which consisted in being acquainted with the place of my residence. I
would have turned away and gone down the street; but I had too fully
marked my design of entering the house, before I reconnoitred my
enemy. The displeasure I felt was so unaccountably great, that it was
with difficulty my courage got the better of it, and I determined not
to change the place of my abode. In a short time however, as I have
already said, I thought of this incident no more. That it should have
disturbed and unhinged me, in the degree that it had done, even for a
moment, was a thing I could not account for. Had the calamities in
which the legacy of the stranger involved me, converted me in so short
a time, from a knight and a soldier, into a character of that morbid
timidity as to tremble at every shadow? Or, is there in some human
countenances a fascination, a sort of mysterious sympathy and
presentiment that makes us cower and quail whenever we meet their
eyebeams?

Several weeks now passed away, and I had nearly forgotten all the
circumstances of this seemingly foolish story, when, in a little
excursion I chanced to make from Madrid to a place about twelve miles
distant, I was overtaken upon the road by a cavalier of respectable
appearance, who presently took occasion to enter into conversation
with me. He explained to me several of the objects that presented
themselves on either side, told the names of the different nobility
and grandees who occupied the villas we saw, and sometimes entered
into the particulars of their history. I at first gave little
encouragement to this communicative traveller, but there was something
so polite in his manner and intelligent in his discourse, that I could
not prevail upon myself to treat him with rudeness or disrespect.
After having talked for some time upon indifferent topics, he led to
the general state of literature in Europe. Few subjects could appear
less dangerous than this, as there were few upon which I felt myself
better qualified to converse. By degrees I threw off some of my
original reserve, and I found my companion well informed and
ingenious, lively in his manner, and pertinent in his remarks.

By this time the unknown, having discovered that I had only come from
Madrid for a day's relaxation, invited himself to dine with me at my
inn. I departed from my established system of conduct on this
occasion, and admitted his overture. After dinner he gave me some
account of himself and his family, and seemed to expect from me a
similar explicitness. I was less pleased with him in this particular,
than I had been with his frank and undesigning conversation on the
road. Strictly speaking however, the expectation implied was only a
breach of politeness; I had no reason to suppose that he foresaw it to
be particularly offensive to me. Observing my backwardness, he
immediately changed the subject. Presently he remarked, that by my
physiognomy and accent he saw I was a Frenchman, and asked me if I had
known Cornelius Agrippa, who died about twelve years before at
Grenoble. I answered in the negative. The unknown then entered into a
warm eulogium of the talents of Agrippa, inveighed against the
illiberal treatment he had experienced in consequence of his supposed
proficiency in the art magic, and spoke with great asperity of the
priests and inquisitors who had been his persecutors. I became
attentive, watchful and suspicious. He went on to expatiate upon the
praises of the art magic, which nothing, he said, but the jealousy of
churchmen had brought into disrepute; affirmed that it had been
treated with respect and counted illustrious by the ancients in the
instance of Pythagoras, Apollonius Tyaneus and others; and expressed a
great desire to become a student of the art himself. This kind of
discourse made me repent that I had been drawn in so far as to sit
down with this unknown, and admit him as my companion of the day.
During the whole time he was the principal speaker. Sometimes he
paused, with a seeming desire to hear my sentiments. But I had now
formed my resolution, and gave him no encouragement. Presently after I
called for my horse. I should have observed that his servant who
followed him engaged conversation with mine, at the same time that the
dialogue began between their masters. Seeing me about to depart, the
unknown motioned as if to accompany me. Upon this I became serious.

Señor caballero, said I, I have now had the pleasure of your company
to dinner: I am going home, and have the honour to bid you farewel. It
is neither my disposition, nor the habit of the grave and dignified
nation among whom I at present reside, to form permanent acquaintances
upon casual rencounters; you will not therefore think I violate the
hospitality for which I am indebted to them, if I intimate to you my
desire to return alone.

All this I said with the grave and formal tone becoming a Spaniard,
and the unknown had nothing to reply. It was evident however that my
dryness chagrined him, and he even muttered words of resentment
between his teeth. I could observe now a degree of hostility and fury
in his countenance, which remarkably contrasted with the pliancy and
obligingness of his preceding demeanour. I took no notice however of
these circumstances, and rode away. I have since had sufficient
reasons to convince me that these two persons, whose story, but for
that explanation, may appear to the reader exceedingly frivolous, were
the one an informer, and the other a spy of the holy inquisition. The
man who had seen me at Pisa, had his imagination terrified, and his
superstition set in arms by all that he had heard of me in that place;
and thought he could not perform a more meritorious work, than by
giving intelligence to the fathers, what sort of person had taken
refuge in the metropolis of this most Catholic kingdom. It was with
this view he had watched me, and at length, by an accident he deemed
peculiarly fortunate, lodged me in my proper habitation. Having given
in his denunciation, my travelling companion was next fastened on me
by the contrivance and zeal of the fathers inquisitors. He was a
familiar of the holy office, and it is well known that persons of the
fairest prospects and most polite education in Spain, are led by their
religious impressions, to place a pride in performing menial and even
persidious offices in the service of the inquisition. The kind of
dishonour I put upon him in parting, though of a nature he could not
openly resent, I fear conspired with his zeal for God's and the
church's honour, to induce him to relate a story concerning me, more
modelled by the bitterness of his personal feelings, than
distinguished by a regard to truth.

Such was the snare, woven and drawing close round me on all sides for
my destruction. I was made uneasy by the rencounter of the traveller,
but by no means aware of the whole extent of the mischief that
impended over me. When I came to retrace point by point the discourse
he had held, I could not conceive that the turn it had taken
originated in accident. I perceived with no little grief of heart and
concern that I was known. It was however necessary that I should
reflect maturely upon the conduct to be pursued by me. I ought not
gratuitously to expose myself to danger. But then on the other hand,
it is a point of general wisdom, and was particularly incumbent in my
extraordinary circumstances, not to suffer vigilance to degenerate
into restless anxiety. It would be easy for me, if I were not strictly
on my guard, continually to find food for suspicion, and to surround
myself with imaginary plots and dangers. This was a vice that I was
willing enough to pity in others, but there was no character that I
more cordially disdained for myself. There was none more pointedly in
opposition to that gallant, generous, confiding spirit, which had
distinguished those military heroes of my native soil who had been the
exclusive object of my earliest admiration, and whom, in my present
dejected and deserted situation, I still desired to resemble. When I
came to reflect, I easily perceived that this vice was particularly
allied to a life of solitude; and that he who is cut off from the
genuine and happy connections of husband, father and friend, is of all
men most liable, in their absence, to conjure up for himself the
unnatural intercourses and reciprocations of hostility. It was thus
that I artificially reconciled myself to my situation, and obstinately
closed my eyes upon those equivocal demonstrations of danger which
from time to time were presented to my view.




CHAP. VIII.

Such was the state of my mind, when it happened one gloomy evening in
the latter end of March, that my valet announced to me three gentlemen
who were come to visit me. It was strange: I had no visitors; I
indulged no relaxation but that of the street, and of public places.
Do you know who they are, said I? I accidentally looked up, and saw
paleness and terror written in his countenance. He had not however
time to reply, before they burst into the room. They were alguazils of
the inquisition. They told me their errand was to conduct me to the
holy office.

I submitted and accompanied them. It was already dark. They put me
into a litter with the curtains drawn, and then arranged themselves in
silence, one on each side, while one brought up the rear. I was taken
by surprise; nothing could be further from my expectation than such an
event. As we passed along, I ruminated with myself on the line of
conduct it was incumbent on me to pursue. To make an immediate
experiment of the fidelity of my guides was a doubtful attempt. If,
for want of time and the opportunity of a tranquil hearing, I
miscarried with them, the trial would be converted into evidence
against me. If I succeeded, I had then to escape out of Spain, in the
centre of which I now was, from the hostility of a tribunal, which was
said to surpass all the tribunals on the face of the earth in activity
and vigilance. I knew of nothing that the fathers of the inquisition
could have against me. I had lived in the most entire seclusion, and I
could defy any one to report a single action of mine since I had
entered Spain, to my prejudice. I had been wholly occupied with
melancholy reflections on the past, and solitary inventions and
devices which I purposed to bring forward for the future. I determined
not to live for ever the slave of fear. I believed that the best
method for defeating a danger in many cases, was undauntedly to
encounter it; and I did not imagine that I could have a more
favourable opportunity for that purpose than the present. I had heard
much indeed of the terrors of the inquisition. But a generous and
liberal spirit lends no very attentive ear to horrors, the trite and
vulgar rumour of which only has reached him. I disdained to be blown
down with a breath. I believed that the inquisition itself would not
venture to proceed criminally against a man, against whom nothing
criminal had been alleged. In every event I believed it would never be
too late to have recourse to my peculiar prerogatives.

Upon entering the prison of the inquisition I was first conducted to a
solitary cell. It is not my intention to treat of those particulars of
the holy office, which are already to be found in innumerable
publications. I have no pleasure in reviving the images of this
sojourn of horrors. I know it is unreasonable to despise a man for the
miseries and wretchedness he has endured; but I know that such is the
human heart, and I will not expose myself to be scoffed at and
trampled upon for my misfortunes. I found myself under the necessity,
while in the inquisition, of submitting to that most profligate of all
impositions, an oath of secrecy as to what I had seen, and what I had
suffered; and, whatever may be the strict morality of such an
obligation, I will not ambitiously thrust myself forward for the
violation of it. I will restrict the story I have to relate to the
peculiarities that characterised my case, and enter as little as
possible into the general policy of this frontier intrenchment of the
Christian faith.

When I was brought up to be interrogated, I was assailed with
innumerable questions, the obvious purport of which was, as much as
possible, to extort from me evidence of every kind that might be
injurious to my cause. The object of the inquisition is to defend our
holy mother, the church, from whatever might defile her sanctity and
whiteness. Every thing that calls into question the truth of her
doctrines, that pollutes and turns from their original purpose any of
her ordinances, or that implies commerce and league with the invisible
enemy of saints, it is its peculiar province to investigate. The
fathers are therefore particularly cautious that they may not, by
confining their questions too much to a single object, preclude
themselves from the chance of discovering danger under all the forms
it may assume. It is presumed that he who is a corrupt member of the
church of Christ in one point, is unsound and unfaithful in others.

The inquisitor who examined me, first demanded, Whether I were
informed for what cause I was brought before that tribunal? Whether I
did not find myself able to conjecture the nature of my offence?
Whether I did not know the sort of crimes for which men were detained
in that prison? He then desired me to recollect myself, and consider,
whether I were not conscious of offence against the holy Catholic
church? Whether I had never asserted or maintained any doctrines
contrary to what mother church asserts and maintains? Whether I had
never, to my knowledge, defiled any of the ordinances of God, or
applied things sacred to unholy and prosane purposes? Whether I had
never invocated the devil? Whether I had never held any commerce, or
entered into any league with the enemy of saints? Whether I had never
performed, or sought to perform preternatural and miraculous acts by
unholy means? Whether I had never vexed or sought to vex those against
whom I had enmity, by secret and forbidden arts? Whether I had never
resided in countries the inhabitants of which were heretics, and
whether I had never listened to their discourses and arguments?
Whether, when I inhabited such countries, I had never assisted at the
celebration of divine ordinances, performed by heretics, or in a form
which holy church disapproves or condemns?

Finding that he could gain nothing upon me by these general
interrogatories, the inquisitor next descended to particulars. He
enquired concerning the incidents of my Pisan story, which, having
first assured myself from the train of his questions that some
representation of that unfortunate affair had already reached his ear,
I willingly related, to the same extent that I had previously done to
the marchese Filosanto.

He then proceeded to a great number of questions, the source of which
is to be traced to the commonly received notions respecting forcerers
and necromancers. They were so artfully contrived, and so large in
their scope, that it was not easy to guess whether they related to any
particular accusation alleged against me, or were formed entirely on
general principles. Yet some of them were so minute, so connected, and
arranged so perfectly in series, that I could not but believe that
they were an echo of the calumnies invented against me at Pisa, of
which however, as I had never collected any regular and detailed
account, I could not accurately trace the influence on the present
occasion.

The inquisitor demanded of me, Whether I had never seen or held
conversation with any supernatural being, or the spirit of any man
departed? Whether I had never practised diabolical arts to raise the
dead? Whether I had never had a familiar in the form of some insect,
domestic animal, or reptile? He was particularly subtle and copious in
his questions respecting the history of my unfortunate dog,
endeavouring to surprise me in some slip or contradiction in what I
affirmed on the subject. He asked, Whether I had never assumed a form
different from my real one, either a different age and appearance, or
a different species of animal? Whether I had never, by the agency of
my demon, inflicted sickness, convulsion-fits or death? Whether I had
never caused the mortality of cattle? Whether I had not the power of
being in two places at once? Whether I had never been seen riding
through the air? Whether I had never been wounded in my absence, by a
blow aimed at my astral spirit or apparition? Whether I had never
possessed books of conjuration or the art magic? Whether it had never
happened to me that an indifferent person, indiscreetly perusing a
spell or incantation in my possession, had been maimed or killed by
the spirits he had undesignedly evoked?

A further object particularly pursued in my interrogatory, was the
detection of my property; and the questions constructed for this
purpose were uncommonly artful and multiplied. The inquisitor told me
that the holy office was, by the nature of its institution, the
guardian and administrator of every person that fell under its
animadversion. Shut up, he said, as I must be during the pendency of
my cause, and separated from the rest of mankind, I was wholly
incapable of superintending my worldly affairs, which, unless they
were properly looked into, might in the interval be materially
injured. I ought therefore implicitly and without reserve to refer
myself in this point to the care of the fathers. If my innocence were
established, as he hoped, and earnestly prayed to the mother of God,
and the saints of Jesus, might ultimately happen, I should find the
holy office a faithful and qualified steward. If, on the contrary, I
should be proved a heretic and an alien to the Most High, I ought then
to rejoice in the beneficent interference of the fathers who, by
dedicating my wealth to consecrated purposes, would mitigate in the
eye of the just judge of heaven and earth, the fierceness and duration
of my punishments in a future world. The inquisitor had apparently
heard various reports of my riches, and was inexpressibly chagrined
that he should be found so unskilful a member of his profession, as
not to be able to extort from me a full consession on that head. After
having employed every artifice of menace and terror, after having
endeavoured to soothe and cajole me by blandishments and persuasion,
and finding all his expedients fruitless, he poured upon me the full
storm of his indignation. He said, it was apparent that I was dealing
disingenuously and fraudulently with the delegated guardians of our
holy religion; it was impossible that the expenditure I was well known
more or less to have incurred, could be supported without considerable
funds; and my evident duplicity and concealment in this point must be
regarded as a full confirmation of every crime my accusers had alleged
against me.

In the course of my examinations the inquisitor who questioned me,
gave himself the trouble of entering into a full vindication of the
tribunal of which he was a member. He said, that every thing that was
valuable to mankind, not only in a future state, but also in the
present, depended upon preserving in full vigour and strength the
sacred institutions of the Christian faith; and that those who were
endowed with powers sufficient for that purpose, would be in the
highest degree inexcusable in the sight of God, if they did not
vigilantly and inflexibly maintain the exertion of those powers. It
was an egregious mistake of self-willed and opinionated men, to
suppose that the maintenance of our holy religion was sufficiently
provided for by the clearness of its evidence. It was no less
dangerous to pretend that the stability and duration of the church of
Christ might be confided to the providence of God. Providence acts by
human means; and it was presumptuous for those who neglected the
means, to trust that they should nevertheless see the end adequately
secured. Why had providence thought proper to generate an alliance
between the church and the state, and to place the powers and
authority of human society in the hands of the adherents of the
Christian faith? Magistrates and governments were thus made the vicars
of heaven, and great would be their condemnation if they neglected the
trust reposed in them. The great adversary of mankind was incessantly
watchful for the destruction of souls; and, while he spread abroad his
delusions, it was folly to imagine that evidence alone was powerful
enough to counteract them. What judges were the great mass of mankind
of the integrity and validity of evidence? The jest of the scorner was
ever at hand to turn into ridicule the most sacred mysteries. The
opposers of our holy faith were indesatigable in their industry, and
as anxious in their exertions to deprive their fellow-men of every
comfort and hope, as if insidelity, which was the curse of the human
species, were the greatest blessing that could be conferred on them.
The devil was a hard taskmaster, and granted no vacation, night or
day, to those who enlisted themselves in the support of his cause. It
might answer well enough the purpose of the vain-glorious theorist, to
suppose that man was a rational animal; but they who had regarded
human society with an observing eye, knew that it was otherwise.
Delusion would ever be too hard for evidence, and the grossest
falshoods prove victorious over the most sacred truths, if what was
illiberally and maliciously styled persecution were not brought in aid
of the cause of religion. The passions of mankind were on the side of
falshood; man, unrestrained by law, was a wild, ferocious, and most
pernicious beast, and, were it not for the wholsome curb of authority,
would speedily throw off all ties and limitations, human and divine.
Nothing could more clearly prove that the heretical followers of
Luther and Calvin, who had lately sprung up for the plague of mankind,
whatever they might pretend, were in reality the determined enemies of
all revelation, than their continual demand, that the cause should be
tried by discussion, and that every man should be defended in the
exercise of his private judgment. They could not but know,--every man
not totally robbed of all power of discernment must know,--that, if
this demand were once granted, it would prove a blow at the root of
every sentiment of religion. The inquisition therefore was the most
salutary institution that had ever been devised; and the future
welfare of mankind wholly depended upon the maintenance of its powers
and its maxims. By a moderate and judicious exhibition of terror, it
superseded the necessity of innumerable punishments. The inquisition
was not capricious and uncertain in its policy; it acted under the
direction of immutable laws; it held a tender, but a firm rein upon
the extravagancies and madness of mankind. Nothing was more notorious
than that a regular and systematical proceeding was both more
effectual and more generous than one that was fickle. He defied the
whole history of the world to produce an example of so merciful a
tribunal. The great end of its policy was the reclaiming of sinners
and the multiplication of penitents, who, after a gentle and salutary
discipline, were again by holy church received into her bosom; and,
even when they delivered the finally impenitent to the flames, it was
to the flames of a purifying fire, which by destroying the flesh
redeemed or diminished the punishments of a future world. He knew that
an outcry had been artfully raised against the proceedings of the holy
office. But it was easy to see that its enemies, under the pretence of
compassion for its victims, concealed an inveterate animosity against
property, religion and civil society. The anabaptists had thrown off
the mask, and discovered their true designs; and the rest were only
more plausible and specious, in proportion as they were more timid.
The present was the most important crisis that ever occurred in the
history of the world. There was a spirit at work, that aimed at the
dissolving all the bonds of civil society, and converting mankind into
beasts and savages. Who had not heard of the levellers, millenarians
and fifth-monarchy-men, who, under the specious guise of
disinterestedness and an universal love of mankind, had nothing in
view but the most sacrilegious and unprincipled depredations? It was
true that the preachers of these doctrines were utterly contemptible
both for numbers and talent; but it would be found a short-sighted
policy, to overlook these desperate assailants on account of the
poorness and meanness of their qualifications. For his own part he did
not hesitate to say, that human society would owe its preservation, if
it were preserved, to the merciful, yet vigorous proceedings of the
court of inquisition. The misrepresentations that were invidiously
made of the present firm and vigilant system of policy, would be heard
for a day, and then universally abandoned. Posterity, he was well
assured, would do full justice to the sagacity and soundness of the
proceedings of this calumniated and much injured institution.

The reader will forgive me, if the panegyric thus elaborately
pronounced by the inquisitor who examined me, upon the court of which
he was a member, had not all the weight with my mind at the moment I
heard it, which he will probably ascribe to it in the calmness of the
closet. It is so difficult to be impartial in our own cause! The
candid mind will no doubt make a large allowance for the unhappy
situation in which I now stood, and the bitter and galling thoughts
that preyed upon my memory. But, if I am chargeable with temporary
injustice in the judgment I then passed on the arguments of the
inquisitor, I flatter myself that I have been able, after the interval
that has elapsed, to give a true and adequate statement of them.

Beside these reasonings on the necessity of a wholsome restraint on
the privileges of speaking and writing, the father in another of my
examinations condescended to delineate to me the mysteries of the
world of spirits. He reminded me that in the first grand rebellion
upon record, that of the fallen angels, of which he considered the
present defection under Luther and Calvin as in some measure a
counterpart, a third of the host of heaven had been thrust out of the
celestial mansions. These accursed spirits had since been permitted to
pursue their machinations on the face of our earth. "The devil, like a
roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour." The oracles of
the heathens, the temptations of Job and of our saviour, and the
demoniacs of sacred writ, were examples of the extensive power which
heaven had seen fit to allow him. Men of a sceptical and feeble
understanding had been tempted to doubt how this was consistent with
the wisdom and goodness of God. But, though it was in vain for us to
pretend to fathom the depth of the divine mysteries, there were
certain reasons that were sufficiently obvious to every ingenuous
mind. There were persons in all ages of the world, who, like the
Sadducees in the time of our blessed saviour, were inclined to affirm
"that there was no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit;" and God,
no doubt, permitted the lying wonders of infernal agents, the more
completely to confound the unbelief of his enemies. He who witnessed
the wonderful operations of witchcraft, or saw the ghost of a man
departed, could not doubt of the interference of invisible agents in
the concerns of our nether world; and, if there were devils and
apparitions, it would be to the last degree unreasonable to deny the
existence of God, or the miracles of Christ. These were to be received
as the grounds of the divine permission of forcerers, necromancers and
witches. But the rules of the divine conduct were not to constitute
the rules of ours. He might permit the agency of invisible malice,
because he saw things upon an unbounded scale, his judgments were
infallible, and he could say to Beelzebub himself, "Thus far shalt
thou go, and no further." Those to whose care was intrusted the
welfare of mankind here or hereafter, were bound as far as possible to
oppose themselves to the empire of Satan. His power was given him only
for a time, and, if not strictly restrained of God and the powers
ordained of God, it would overrun every thing, and replunge all this
beautiful scene of creation in its original chaos. There was an
endless and eternal war between God and the devil, and the governors
of the church were heaven's field-officers and pioneers for carrying
it on. Of all the crimes, he added, to which the depravity of human
nature had given birth, the most astonishing and the most horrible was
that of diabolical commerce. That human creatures should be so far
infatuated, as to enter into league with the declared enemy of souls,
and for the possession of a short-lived and precarious power to sign
away their spirits to eternal damnation, was so extraordinary as to
have been wholly unworthy of credit, were it not supported by evidence
as strong and irresistible as that of the miracles of Jesus Christ
himself. The persons who thus voluntarily made themselves accursed
before God, deserved to be regarded with alienation and horror by the
whole human race. Every man that saw them, was bound by his baptismal
engagements to destroy them; and whoever administered to them the
smallest portion of food, drink or comfort, thereby rendered himself a
party to their guilt. The inquisition especially had declared against
this race of men eternal war, and considered their crime as more
complicated, audacious and pestilential, than any other branch of
heresy. As, for his own part, he saw no doubt that I was one of these
noxious and enormous reprobates, he exhorted me to make a voluntary
confession of my evil deeds, and, by submitting readily to the
tortures and punishments of this world, endeavour to free myself, if
it were yet possible, from those of the world to come.

These discourses of the inquisitor were variously interspersed through
the three examinations, to which I was subjected a short time after I
became an inhabitant of the holy house. On my part I endeavoured to
the best of my power to repel the imputations cast upon me, to
establish my innocence, and to confound the severity of my oppressors.
I told the inquisitor, whatever might be the force of his arguments
respecting heresy and dealings with the devil, they were nothing to
me. I was no Lutheran, no anabaptist, no necromancer, no underminer of
the faith of others, or ally of the prince of the infernal regions. I
proudly and earnestly demanded to be confronted with my accusers. I
asked my examiner in his turn, What sort of justice that was, which
pretended to proceed capitally against its prisoners upon secret and
unavowed accusations? He endeavoured to stop me. He told me that I was
not brought there to arraign the methods and practices of their court,
that it did not become a prisoner put upon his defence to insult his
judges, that this contumacy could not be regarded but as an
aggravation of my guilt, and that I was bound strictly and simply to
answer the interrogatories that were proposed to me. The rebuke of the
inquisitor was unavailing. My spirit was wrought to too high a pitch
to be thus restrained; I was too firmly resolved to give the utmost
force of mind and truth to the topics of my just defence. It is the
practice of the inquisition for the prisoner to sit during his
examination. I started upon my feet.

The mode of your proceeding, cried I, is the mockery of a trial. From
your fatal bar no man can go forth acquitted. How is a story to be
refuted, when hardly and with difficulty you suffer your prisoner to
collect the slightest fragments of it? If I would detect a calumny, is
it not requisite that I should be acquainted with its history, and
know its authors and propagators? Then I may perhaps be able to
confound their forgeries, to show the groundlessness of their
allegaions, to expose the baseness of their purposes and the
profligacy of their characters. I am informed of nothing; yet I am
bid, first to be my own accuser, and then to answer the accusations of
others. It is only by following a falshood through all its doublings,
that it can be effectually destroyed. You bid me unravel a web, and
will not suffer me to touch it with one of my fingers. The defence of
the purest innocence is often difficult, sometimes impossible, against
the artfulness of a malicious tale, or the fortuitous concurrence of
unfavourable appearances. But you strip innocence of those consecrated
weapons by which only it can be defended. Give to an accusation the
particulars with which what really happens must always be attended,
give to it the circumstances of place and of time, lay aside the
ambiguity and generalities in which you shelter yourselves, and then,
perhaps then only, it can be victoriously repelled. You ask me a
thousand various and artfully constructed questions. What sort of a
man do you imagine me to be? I am not a fool, that I should be
inveigled; I am not a boy, that I should be menaced into confessions.
Cease your base and unprincipled arts! I will furnish no materials
against myself. If you know any thing against me, avow it! Propose it,
and I will answer. Think not to patch up a miserable accusation out of
the words which inadvertence or weariness may cause me to utter. Shame
on your institution! May infamy overtake the system of your
proceedings! That religion which is supported by such means, is viler
than atheism. That civilisation which has its buttress in despotism,
is more worthless and hateful than the state of savages running wild
in their woods.

Do you not perceive that the language I am now holding to you is the
exclusive privilege of conscious innocence? The indignation I express,
is no artificial rage, studiously contrived to overbear accusation.
You have it, as it flows spontaneously to my tongue, warm from the
promptings of an honest heart. If I could have consulted a friend, it
is probable he would have dissuaded me from my present demeanour as
impolitic. If I were governed by the dictates of an ordinary prudence,
I should have displayed less ardour, less resentment. But I am willing
to try whether shame cannot yet be lighted up even in the cheek of an
inquisitor.

The father who examined me, having in vain endeavoured to check the
current of my invective, changed his manner, and assumed a tone
diametrically the reverse of mine. He professed that he felt much
compassion and interest for my misfortune, and should deem himself
happy if he could be the instrument of my deliverance. The language I
had uttered was highly indecorous, and such as seemed in itself to
call for a rigorous penance. But he should not think himself worthy
the name of a man, if he did not make a suitable allowance for the
bitter and extravagant sentiments that would occasionally find their
way into the mind of a man in my unfortunate situation. So
circumstanced, men would often mistake their friends for their
enemies. I regarded the inquisition as my enemy; it was in reality my
firm and disinterested friend; zealously watchful for my body, my soul
and my estate. Other courts had other maxims of proceeding, because
their motives of action were different; and it was but just that they
should furnish their prisoners with a defence against their frailty.
But the breast of an inquisitor was accessible to no sentiment but
that of love; a burning love of God; love of the church; love of the
prisoner who might be wrongfully accused; love of the penitent whom he
reconciled to our common mother, the church; love even of the
incorrigible heretic whose body he burned for the good of his soul.
The inquisitor did not discover to the prisoner the evidence adduced
against him; that was between God and the inquisitor's conscience. But
the suppression which was thus practised, rendered him doubly
scrupulous and sceptical as to the evidence he received; he sifted it
with a severity that the prisoner would in vain endeavour to imitate;
and the rules of evidence in that court were so guarded, punctilious
and minute, as to render any mistake in their proceedings altogether
impossible. For a man to be once a prisoner of the court of
inquisition, by a salutary prejudice which prevailed through the
Catholic world, rendered him for ever infamous. This was another cause
of the extreme wariness and caution with which that court was
accustomed to proceed. They first listened to the accuser who was
obliged to give in his information on oath. They then instituted a
secret enquiry against the party accused; and, till they had collected
abundant ground for their proceeding, they did not venture to touch a
hair of his head. They elaborately classed all the different degrees
of evidence into half proof, full proof, proof less than half, and
proof less than full. When these things were duly considered, it would
appear certain that no court that had at any time existed on earth,
had ever been so tender in its proceedings, so pure in its
incitements, and so every way superior to the attacks of calumny and
malice, as the court of inquisition.

With respect to myself in particular, he said, they had not
apprehended me, and put me upon my defence, without previously
assembling a large body of miscellaneous and circumstantial evidence.
The evidence they had drawn from myself was negative only, but it was
strong: the obscurity that hung about my person, who I was, and whence
I came; and the obscurity that hung about my fortune, a great visible
expenditure in Spain or in Italy, and no visible means. These were not
the characteristics and tokens of innocence. They tended strongly to
confirm the accusation under which I laboured. Yet so tender was the
inquisition in its proceedings, and so chary of its reputation, that
upon these accumulated proofs and presumptions, they were not prepared
to pronounce against me. They would hear me again and again. They
would give me time to recollect myself, and for this purpose they
would order for me a coarse and scanty fare, and a solitary cell. I
might depend upon it, my contumacy should be overcome. The fundamental
principle of their proceedings was borrowed from that humane and
compassionate maxim of the old Roman law, De vita bominis nulla
cunctatio est longa; and I should accordingly find them free from all
precipitation and impatience, and ready to indulge me with a
residence, however long, in their prisons, till my case had been
sifted to the bottom.




CHAP. IX.

The indulgence thus ostentatiously proclaimed by the father-
inquisitor, was not exactly to my taste. Finding that all the energy
of mind I could apply to my defence was vain, I determined to have
recourse to a different mode of proceeding. I received three
admonitions, as they call them, the substance of which I have already
recited, in the course of the first ten days of my confinement, and I
then for some time heard of the inquisitor no more. I understood that
it was frequently the practice, after three admonitions, not to bring
up the prisoner for further hearing during a whole year; and it
appeared sufficiently probable from the last words addressed to me by
my judge, that this policy was intended to be employed in my case.
Without further delay therefore I resolved to recur to the expedient
in the use of which my power was unbounded, and by a brilliant offer
at once to subdue the scruples, and secure the fidelity, of the person
or persons upon whom my safe custody might be found to depend. All
that was necessary, was to convince the party to whom I should propose
the being my confederate, of the reality of my powers; and then to put
carte blanche into his hands, or rather to ascertain at once the
extent of his hopes and demands, and by a spirited and peremptory
conduct to yield them all. In the period which, immediately previous
to my present imprisonment, I had devoted to the meditation of my
future plans and the review of my past, I had severely accused myself
of half measures, and had determined to abjure all hesitation and
irresoluteness for the time to come. It is not indeed to be wondered
at, that, possessing a power so utterly remote from all common ideas
and conceptions, and which, speaking from experience, I do not doubt
to affirm, no mere effort of imagination is adequate to represent, I
should have acted below the prerogatives and demands of my situation.
This mistake I would make no more. I would overwhelm all opposition by
the splendour of my proceedings, and confound all scruples by the
dignity and princely magnificence of my appearance. Unshackled as I
was with connections, and risquing no one's happiness but my own, I
proposed to compel the whole human species to view me from an awful
distance, and to oblige every one that approached me to feel his
inferiority. It would be to the last degree disgraceful and
contemptible in me, being raised so far above my peers in my
privileges, if I were to fall below the ordinary standard of a gallant
man in the decision and firmness of my system of conduct. Decision and
firmness were the principles to be exercised by me now; dignity and
magnificence must await their turn hereafter.

It was not long before I embraced an opportunity of speaking to the
man who waited on me with my daily allowance of provisions, and I
designed as shortly as possible to proceed to that species of
argument, in which I principally confided to engage him in my cause.
But he did not suffer me to utter a sentence, before with a very
expressive gesture he interrupted me. I had remarked already the
silence which seemed for ever to pervade this dismal abode; but I had
not ascribed importance enough to this circumstance, to suppose that
it could materially interfere with the project I had formed. I now
perceived the countenance of my attendant to be overspread with terror
and alarm. He put his hand upon my mouth, and by his attitude seemed
earnestly to insist upon my conforming to the rules of the prison. I
was not however to be thus diverted from my purpose. I seized his
hands, and began again to resume the discourse I had meditated. This
proceeding on my part induced him to break the silence he had hitherto
preserved. He told me that if I did not instantly set him at liberty,
he would alarm the prison. I loosed his hands. I then by every gesture
I could devise endeavoured to prevail on him to approach me, to suffer
me to confer with him in the lowest whisper, and assured him that he
should have no reason to repent his compliance. I might as well have
addressed myself to the walls that inclosed me. He would not stay an
instant; he would yield in nothing. He burst from me abruptly, and,
closing the door of my cell, left me in solitude and darkness.

In the evening of the day of this attempt the keeper of the prison
entered my apartment. When he appeared, I began to flatter myself that
in this man I should find a better subject for my purpose, than in the
poor turnkey who had given me so unfavourable a prognostic of my
success. I lost no time in saying to him that I had something very
important to communicate; but he peremptorily commanded me to be
silent, and listen to what he was about to say to me. He told me that
I had already been complained against for speech, and I was now
repeating my offence. He advised me to ponder well the consequences of
what I was doing. The orders of the inquisition were rigorous and
inflexible. The cells were not so substantially separated but that a
voice might be heard from one to the other, yet it had happened more
than once, that a husband and wife, a father and child, had for years
been lodged next to each other, without the smallest suspicion of the
proximity of their situation. He was astonished at the pertinacity of
my behaviour. There was no government on the face of the earth, he
would venture to say, that had subjects more obedient, more dutiful
and exemplary than the holy inquisition. Not a murmur was ever heard;
not a discontent ever expressed. All was humbleness, thankfulness and
gratitude. He recommended to me to conform myself to my situation, and
let him hear no further complaints of me. He had no sooner finished
his harangue, than he left me as abruptly as his servant had done. It
is not possible to impart any adequate image of the inflexibility of
his features, or the stern composure of his demeanour.

I now saw my situation in a different point of view. Bribery was of no
use, where all intercourse was denied. Great God! into what position
was I got? In the midst of a great and populous city, at this time
perhaps the metropolis of the world, I heard occasionally from beyond
the limits of my prison the hum of busy throngs, or the shouts of a
tumultuous populace. Yet I was myself in the deepest solitude. Like
the wretched mariners I have somewhere read of, shipwrecked upon a
desert shore, I might remain encaged, till I lost all recollection of
European language, and all acquaintance with the sound of my own
voice. A jailor from time to time entered my apartment, but to me he
was simply a moving and breathing statue, his features never moulded
into the expression of a meaning, nor his mouth opened for the
utterance of a sound. From the first I had been struck with the
extreme and death-like silence that characterised the place of my
confinement, but my mind was occupied with other thoughts, and I had
not adverted to the cause of the phenomenon. I had then felt little
inclination to the converse of a jailor; my natural disposition was
somewhat singular for a Frenchman, and inclined to taciturnity; I had
resolved to make a fair and ample trial of the power of a just
defence, where my innocence was so complete and I was entirely
disengaged from those unfavourable appearances which had constituted
my misfortune at Constance; and I even rejoiced, that a silence, which
I regarded as casual and individual, delivered me from all fear of
impertinence in my attendant, With how different a temper do we
contemplate an incident which, we persuade ourselves, continues to
operate only because we want the inclination to remove it; and an
incident, which is violently imposed, and to which, with the utmost
exertion of our strength, we cannot succeed to impart the slightest
shock! The external object is the same; its picture in the
intellectual sensorium how unlike! What a profound and inconceivable
refinement in the art of tyranny is this silence! The jailor might
well tell me, that beneath his roofs there was neither complaint nor
murmur, that the very soul of its inhabitants was subdued, and that
they suffered the most unheard of oppressions without astonishment or
indignation. This is the peculiar prerogative of despotism: it
produces many symptoms of the same general appearance, as those which
are derived from liberty and justice. There are no remonstrances;
there is no impatience or violence; there is a calm, a fatal and
accursed tranquillity that pervades the whole. The spectator enters,
and for a time totally misinterprets every object he sees; he
perceives human bodies standing or moving around him; and it is with
the utmost surprise, if he has leisure and opportunity to observe a
little further, that he finds at last the things he sees to be the
mere shades of men, cold, inert, glaring bodies, which the heaven born
soul has long since deserted and left to themselves. Wonderful, I
doubt not to affirm, is the genuine and direct power of such a
situation as that in which I was now placed, upon the human
imagination. What was it to me, to whom speech was not merely one of
those things, misnamed indulgencies, misnamed luxuries, upon which the
desirableness and the health of human existence depend; but who had
looked to it as the only and the assured means of my rescue from this
scene of horrors! I intreat the reader to pardon me, when I confess,
that the operation of the discovery I made was so overwhelming and
apparently desperate, that it was some weeks, I might say months,
before my mind recovered its wonted bias and activity.

It was towards the close of the period I have named, that a new
incident, concurring with that familiarity which serves in some
measure to disarm every mischief of its sting, restored and re-
awakened my mind. I had vegetated now for some time, if the metaphor
can with propriety be applied to existence in a noxious and empoisoned
air, by which all vegetation would have been undermined, and which the
vital principle in man is scarcely competent to surmount; and in all
this period had encountered nothing from without, nor received any
intimation, that could in the slightest degree interrupt the
progressive destruction and waste of the soul. One day, at the
customary hour of my being attended by my warder, I was surprised to
see him bring with him a visitor to my cell. The unknown was a man
with grey hairs and a silver beard: though once tall, he now stooped
considerably, and supported himself with a staff: his dress was simple
and neat, and his whole appearance prepossessing. A sweet serenity was
diffused over his countenance; yet there were occasionally a fire, and
a contemplative grasp of thought expressed in his eyes, which
sufficiently proved to me that his serenity was not the result of
dulness. All this I discerned by the faint and uncertain light of a
small lamp which the warder had brought with him, and placed upon my
table. The introduction was performed in silence, and the warder left
us alone. The unknown beckoned me to be seated, for the first emotion
of surprise at the entrance of a stranger had caused me to start on my
feet; and, opening a folding stool he had received from my attendant,
he placed himself beside me.

He then addressed me in a low voice, and told me that, the humanity of
the fathers of the inquisition had given him permission to visit me,
and that, if I would be so obliging, in conformity to the regulations
of the prison, as to lower my voice to the standard of his, we were at
liberty to confer together. He hoped the conference would be some
relief to my solitude, if not lead to my complete liberation. He then
unfolded to me his story. He told me that he, like myself, had been
committed to the prisons of the inquisition upon an accusation of
sorcery. Having advanced thus far, he stopped. He talked
miscellaneously and digressively of witches and their familiars, of
possessions and demons, of charms, spells, talismans and incantations,
even of the elixir vitæ and the philosopher's stone. Sometimes in the
progress of this discourse I could perceive him observing me with the
utmost narrowness as if he would dive into any soul, and again,
particularly when he caught a glance of suspicion in my eye, with
infinite address changing his attitude and tone, and assuming a
surprising air of ingenuousness and gaiety. In a word he was a
consummate actor. It was evident, whether his designs were hostile or
friendly, that his purpose was to make himself master of my secret. I
asked him whether the accusation of sorcery which had been preferred
against him were well founded or a calumny. He evaded that question,
and was only influenced by it to talk more copiously and fluently on
other topics, with the apparent design of making me forget the enquiry
I had made. He avoided anticipation, lest he should miscalculate and
take wrong ground in my affair; and, though superficially he seemed
perfectly communicative, I found that he scarcely told me respecting
himself any one thing definite and clear. He celebrated the clemency
of the fathers of the inquisition. He said, they seemed to regard
themselves as the adoptive parents of those they held in their
custody, and were anxious singly for the restoration of souls. In
their exterior they were austere, and had unfortunately contracted a
forbidding manner; but he had soon found, upon a closer inspection of
their character, that the only way to deal successfully with them was
to repose in them a perfect confidence. This panegyric was not
resorted to till he had exhausted the various topics by which he had
hoped himself to extort my secret from me. I asked him, whether the
effect of his reposing confidence had been an abjuration of sorcery,
and reconciliation to the church? But this question experienced the
fate of every other that I addressed to him. Though he talked
apparently without limit or restraint, it was impossible to fix him to
a point. He only told me generally, that he had every reason to be
satisfied with, and to speak well of the treatment he had experienced
in the house of the inquisition. He possessed, or rather, as I
believed, affected, a character of thoughtless garrulity and
loquacity, well adapted to cover the strange deviations and abrupt
transitions that marked his discourse. It was certainly singularly
contrasted with that close and penetrating air which from time to time
I remarked in him.

The reader may deem it surprising and unaccountable; but certain it is
I took uncommon delight in this man's company. I pressed him earnestly
to repeat his visits, and would scarcely suffer him to depart, till he
had promised to come to me again the next day or the day after. Yet I
looked on him as my mortal enemy, and had no doubt that he was one of
the infamous wretches, employed by the policy of the inquisition, and
well known beneath those hated roofs by the appellation of moscas.
Various reasons may be assigned for my conduct in this particular. Let
it first be remembered that I was alone, and for months had not heard
the sound of my own voice. No incident marked my days; no object
arrested my attention. A dull, heavy, pestilential, soul-depressing
monotony formed the history of my life. If in this situation I had
been visited by a mouse or a rat, I should have caught it in my arms,
I should have put it to my bosom, and felt with exultation the beat of
an animal pulse, the warmth of animal life pressing responsively on my
heart. With what eager appetite I should have mixed in scenes of
calamity and curelty, intolerable to any other eye, glad for myself
that even upon such terms I could escape the frost-bound winter of the
soul! How I should have rejoiced, like king Richard of England, to see
four grim and death-dealing assassins enter my cell, like him to
struggle and wrestle and contend with my murderers, though, as in his
case, wounds and a fatal end should be the result! Thus feeling then,
it is little wonderful that I should have hailed with pleasure the
visit of the mosca.

But this was not all. While I conferred with, or rather listened to my
visitor, that pride and self-complacency, which I suspect to be the
main, or at least the indispensible ingredient of all our pleasures,
revived in my heart. I believed that he was set upon me by these
insatiable blood-suckers of the inquisition, that he might ensnare me
with his questions, and treacherously inveigle me to the faggot and
the stake. I felt a last, lambent intimation of pride within me, when
my heart whispered me, This man shall not attain his ends. I secretly
defied his arts, and amused myself with baffling his most cunning
devices. I had now some one with whom to measure myself. The
comparison, I own, for a descendant of the counts of St. Leon, was a
humble one; but it is not permitted for a prisoner in the jails of the
inquisition to be fastidious in his pleasures. This man I played with
at my ease, and laughed at his stratagems. I therefore felt that I was
his superior, and, which was a sensation I had not lately been
accustomed to, that I was somebody. These feelings recommended to me
his visits.

But what was much more material, I looked further, and proposed an
ultimate end to this occurrence. Let it be recollected what was my
unhappiness, when I found myself, if I may be allowed the expression,
suddenly deprived of speech, and then it will easily be understood how
sincerely I rejoiced to have this faculty restored to me. Speech, as I
have already said, I had regarded as the only and assured means of my
deliverance from this scene of horrors. I therefore doubted not that
from this miserable tool of my oppressors I would obtain my
enlargement. I stood firmly on my guard. I permitted him to run out
the whole length of his own project without interruption. By this
delay I should better understand his character, and finally-seize it
with a more decisive grasp. Thus purposing, I allowed three or four
visits to pass before I opened to the mosca my own proposal. I
designed unexpectedly to turn the tables upon him to surprize and
finish with him, at once. I knew not that all this precaution was
necessary, but I played for too deep a stake, not to be anxious to
omit nothing, which hereafter in retrospect I might reproach myself
that I had omitted.

The time was at length come, at which I judged it convenient to
execute what I had planned in my mind. I began with an attempt to
mortify and humble my guest in his own eyes, that he might lose the
pride to make the smallest resistance to my proposal.

Do you think, my good sir, cried I, that I have not perfectly
understood your intentions all this while? You have pretended to be my
friend, and to come to me for my good. I know that every secret I
reposed in your fidelity, every word that I might unguardedly have
dropped, every look and gesture that could have been interpreted to my
disadvantage, would have been instantly reported to the fathers of the
inquisition. Why, what a poor and miserable fool must you have
imagined me to be? How came you into my cell? Had you a secret key by
which you found your way hither unknown? Could you ever have come into
my apartment, if you had not been employed? You fawn upon me, and are
the tame and passive agent of my merciless destroyers! Shame on such
base and perfidious proceedings! Is this religion, that you should
flatter and cajole and lie to a man, purely that you may have the
gratification at last of burning him alive? If you or your masters can
make out any thing to my disadvantage, let them make it out in the way
of fair and open trial, by the production of direct evidence, and
calling on me for my defence. They style themselves the champions of
Christendom and ornaments of our holy faith; they pretend to an
extraordinary degree of sanctity, and would have all men bow down in
mute reverence and astonishment at their godliness; and yet they have
recourse to means so base, that the most profligate and abandoned
tyrant upon record would have disdained to employ them. But, base as
are the judges and assessors of the court in whose prison I stand,
even they scorn the meanness of the persidious talk in which you have
engaged.

The vehemence I put into the suppressed and under-tone with which I
delivered these reproaches, seemed to produce no emotion in my guest.
He dropped his staff upon his shoulder; he meekly folded his arms upon
his bosom, and answered that he had long since learned to bear every
contumely for the cause of God and the redeemer: they were heaven-
directed chastisements, which his manifold sins and iniquities had
amply deserved.

Hypocrite! replied I, would you make me believe that a conscientious
motive can prompt such conduct as yours, can mould your features into
a treacherous expression of kindness, and fill your mouth with lies
and deceptions innumerable?

No proceedings, rejoined he, with an unaltered air, are base, that God
and his church prescribe. I take up the cross with cheerfulness, and
glory in my shame. The more ignominious in the eyes of an unregenerate
world is my conduct, the more entire and implicit does it prove my
obedience to be.

My heart swelled within me as he talked. I could lend no attention to
such despicable cant, and was ashamed to see the most profligate
conduct assuming to itself the pretensions to an extraordinary degree
of sanctity and disinterestedness.

Come, come, said I, dissembler, I know that nothing could buy a man to
so loathsome an office but money. You are some galley-slave, some
wretch who by your complicated crimes have forfeited your life to the
community, and are now permitted to earn a miserable existence by
lying in wait for the unfortunate, and engaging in arts at which
humanity shudders. I take you upon your own terms; you are the man I
want. Assist me to escape; go with me to some safer and less cruel
country; I will reward you to the extent of your wishes. Give me your
hand; an estate of six thousand pistoles per annum without further
condition waits your acceptance. I invoke all the powers, sacred to
truth and punishers of deceit, to witness that I have ability to make
good the whole of what I promise.

While I spoke, I could perceive an extraordinary revolution taking
place in my guest. The meekness and tranquillity of his countenance
subsided; his eye became animated and alive. I hailed the auspicious
omen; I urged my proposal with all the impetuosity I could exert, and
all the arguments I could devise. At length I paused. I looked again
at the countenance of the mosca; I was less pleased than before. The
expression did not seem to be that of assent and congratulation; it
was rather of horror and alarm.

St. Jago, and all the faints and angels of heaven, protect me!
exclaimed he. What do I hear? A full confession of guilt! And art thou
then the confederate of the prince of the powers of darkness? If we
were not here, in the holy house of inquisition, I should die at this
moment with fear that the roof should fall and crush us together. I
should expect hell to swallow me alive, for being found in thy
unhallowed society. He trembled with every expression of the sincerest
terror and aversion.

"Thy money perish with thee," thou second Elymas, like him "full of
all subtlety and mischief, child of the devil, enemy of all
righteousness!" Blasted be thy offers! Have I for this devoted myself
to the service of God, assiduously sought out the basest and vilest
offices of that service, and loaded myself with ignominy here that I
might obtain a crown of glory hereafter? and am I now to be assaulted
with the worst of Satan's temptations? Even so, Lord, if such be thy
will! Oh, poor, miserable, deluded victim of the arch-deceiver of
mankind, what has the devil done for thee? He has persuaded thee that
thou art rich; and thou wantest every joy and every necessary of life.
He has promised to be thy friend; and he brings thee to the faggot and
flames in this world, as an earnest of thy eternal damnation
hereafter.

My visitor had no sooner thus poured out the tumult and agitation of
his soul, than he left me abruptly, and I saw him no more.

Such was the event of my attempt to bribe the officers of the
inquisition. In my first experiment I could not even obtain a hearing;
in what followed, my proposals were rejected with all the transports
of religious abhorrence. What I offered indeed, however dazzling in
the statement, had not in fact the nature of a temptation. He to whom
I addressed it, gave no credit to my assertions; he thought that I was
the mere drivelling dupe of him he called the arch-deceiver of
mankind, or that my money, when possessed, would soon change its
figure, and from seeming pieces of solid coin be converted into pieces
of horn or of shells. Even if he had not apprehended such a
metamorphosis, he would yet have regarded every doubloon he received
as the price of his continual adversity here and damnation hereafter.
I gained nothing favourable for my situation by the trial I had made,
but I added a new chapter to my knowledge of human nature. I found,
that to be a knave, it was not necessary to be an infidel: I corrected
the too hasty conclusion which I had adopted with the rest of my
contemporaries, that he whose conduct was infamous must inevitably be
destitute of religious impressions and conceit; and I became satisfied
that a man, while he practised every vice that can disgrace human
nature, might imagine he was doing God service.

Enough of the interior of the prison of the inquisition. I remained a
tenant of this wretched mansion twelve years. Though the wretch who
had been placed upon me as a spy, was, from my proposal to him,
satisfied of my guilt, his superiors were not so. They found nothing
in what he reported, definitive as to the nature of my unlawful
practices, and they could extort from me no further confession. They
therefore adhered to their favourite maxim, to avoid the precipitate
mistakes of other tribunals, and to allow their prisoner full time to
develop his guilt, or, as they pretended, to establish his innocence.
Perhaps too the temper of the prince who now filled the Spanish
throne, contributed to my safety. They could not content themselves
with a less punishment for so obstinate and incorrigible a heretic,
than that of the flames; but, during the reign of the emperor Charles,
this species of punishment for heresy was rarely inflicted, and only
one or two contumacious, at intervals, were delivered over to the
executioner at a time. The institution whose victim I had become,
looked for a richer and more abundant harvest from the well known
piety and zeal of his successor.

I pass over the rest of the years of my tedious imprisonment. They had
in them a sad and death-like uniformity. What surprising or agreeable
adventures can be expected from a man closed up within the four walls
of a dungeon? Yet it is not altogether the uniformity of this period
that determines me not to dwell upon and expand it. Twelve years
cannot pass in the life of man without many memorable incidents and
occurrences. He that should be buried alive in the deepest cavern of
the earth, if he were not an ideot or incapable of the task of
narration, and could subsist twelve years in that situation, could
tell of things that occurred to him, that might fill the busy man of
the world with thoughts and speculation almost to bursting. I might
unfold the secrets of my prison-house, but that I will not. I refuse
the consequences of that story both to my readers and myself. I have
no inclination to drive the most delicate or susceptible of my readers
mad with horrors. I could convince such, if such there are, who
suppose my faculties were altogether benumbed or dead, that it was not
so. I did indeed pass days, perhaps weeks, in a condition of that
sort. But at other times my mind was roused, and became busy,
restless, impatient and inventive. There was no mode of escape that I
did not ruminate upon or attempt; not to mention that, though my body
was restrained, my mind occasionally soared to the furthest regions of
the empyrean, or plunged into the deepest of the recesses in which
nature conceals her operations. All systems of philosophising became
familiar to me. I revolved every different fable that has been
constructed respecting the invisible powers that superintend the
events of the boundless universe; and I fearlessly traced out and
developed the boldest conjectures and assertions of demonism or
atheism. As the humour of the moment led me, I derived misery or
consolation from each of these systems in their turn.--But memory,
bitter memory, unperceived by its lord, is seizing my pen, and running
away with my narrative. Enough, enough of the interior of the prison
of the inquisition!




CHAP. X.

PHILIP the Second, king of Spain, succeeded to the throne of that
monarchy about the close of the year 1555; but his affairs in England
and the Netherlands long withheld him from visiting his beloved
country, and he did not reach its shores, after a seven year's
absence, till the twenty-ninth of August 1559. It may be thought that
a public event of this sort could be little interesting to me, a
forgotten prisoner, immured in the dungeons of the inquisition. The
fact was otherwise. The king was desirous of distinguishing his
arrival on his native soil by some splendid exhibition or memorable
event, that should at once express his piety to God, and conduce to
the felicity of his people: and ho could think of nothing that so
signally united these characters as an Auto de Fé. The Lutheran
heresy, which in the course of forty years had spread its poison so
widely in the different countries of Europe, had not failed to scatter
a few of its noxious seeds even in this, the purest and most Catholic
of all its divisions. But Philip had early proclaimed his hostility
against this innovation; and, prostrating himself before the image of
his saviour, had earnestly besought the divine majesty, "that he might
never suffer himself to be, or to be called, the lord of those in any
corner of the globe, who should deny Him the Lord." Previously to his
arrival in Spain, directions had been given, and arrangements made,
respecting the pious and solemn exhibition he demanded. Formerly those
who by the fathers of the inquisition had been delivered over to the
secular arm, had been executed in the different places where their
crimes had been committed, or their trials been held: but now it was
proposed that all those throughout the kingdom, who were found
properly qualified to satisfy by their deaths the sublime taste of the
royal saint, should be divided into two troops, and sent, the one to
Seville, long the capital of an illustrious monarchy, and the other to
Valladolid, which had the honour to be the birth-place of the present
sovereign. The troop destined to feed the flames at Seville was
composed of fifty persons, many of them distinguished for their rank,
their talents or their virtues. The troop to be escorted to
Valladolid, of which I was a member, amounted only to thirty: but, to
compensate this deficiency, Philip himself had signified his gracious
intention to be present, together with the heir apparent and his whole
court, at that exhibition. The Spanish nation, rejoicing in the
approach of a monarch who was born among them, whose manners and
temper happily accorded with theirs, and whom they believed about to
fix his perpetual residence in their land, expected him with all the
longings of the most ardent attachment. We, the unhappy victims of
pious and inquisitorial tyranny, also expected him. Our hearts did not
pant with a less beating quickness; though our anxiety arose from
emotions of a different nature.

Valladolid is distant from the metropolis eighty-four miles. We had
already been some weeks prepared for this journey, and piously
directed to hold ourselves in readiness to take our part, in the
solemn national sacrifice, by which Philip was determined to signalise
his arrival in his native dominions. We waited however to receive a
previous notice of the day on which the monarch would enter the place
of his birth, since so great was his royal zeal for the cause of
religion and civil society, that he would not consent to be absent
from any part of the spectacle; and accordingly it was not allowed us
to enter the scene of our final destination, till the king of Spain
and the Indies should be already on the spot, and prepared to receive
us. The Auto de Fé performed at Seville had the precedence of ours: it
took place on the twenty-fourth of September; and we were indulged
with an accurate account of it, and were present at a public reading
of the record of the act, in the chapel of our prison, previously to
our removal from the metropolis.

I will not enter into a minute detail of the scene of this reading,
though the recollection will never be effaced from my memory. Of the
persons present who were destined to suffer capital punishment, eight
were women. Four of them were taken from a single family, being a
grandmother, a mother, and two daughters of the noble house of Alcala.
They had all been beautiful of person, and of a graceful figure; the
youngest of the daughters was in the nineteenth year of her age. Their
crime, together with that of the majority of their fellow-sufferers,
was obstinate and impenitent Lutheranism. The seats of the women were
separated from the rest, and fronted with a close lattice. The men
were twenty-two in number, and their appearance was truly impressive.
Their persons were neglected, and their figures emaciated; their eyes
were sunk and ghastly, and their complexions of a sallow and death-
like white. Most of them were crippled by their long confinement and
the severities they had endured, and were supported to their seats,
upon an elevated scaffolding with benches raised one above another, by
two apparitors, one on each side of the condemned heretic. God of
mercy and benevolence! is it possible that this scene should be
regarded as thy triumph, and the execution destined to follow, as a
sacrifice acceptable in thy sight? If these papers of mine are ever
produced to light, may it not happen that they shall first be read by
a distant posterity, who will refuse to believe that their fathers
were ever mad enough to subject each other to so horrible a treatment,
merely because they were unable to adopt each other's opinions? Oh,
no! human affairs, like the waves of the ocean, are merely in a state
of ebb and flow: "there is nothing new under the sun:" two centuries
perhaps after Philip the Second shall be gathered to his ancestors [he
died in 1598], men shall learn over again to persecute each other for
conscience sake; other anabaptists or levellers shall furnish pretexts
for new persecutions; other inquisitors shall arise in the most
enlightened tracts of Europe; and professors from their chair,
sheltering their intolerance under the great names of Aristotle and
Cicero, shall instruct their scholars, that a heterodox doctrine is
the worst of crimes, and that the philanthropy and purity of heart in
which it is maintained, only render its defenders the more worthy to
be extirpated.

What were the ideas and reflections of my fellows, seated on the
benches above, below, and on either side of me, I am unable to affirm;
my own could not fail to be pungent and distressing. I understood
continually more and more of the mysterious and unuttered history, of
the stranger who died in the summer-house of the lake of Constance: I
found that I was only acting over again what he had experienced before
me. His legacies had served to involve me in the bitterest and most
unheard of miseries, but were wholly destitute of ability to rescue
from the evils themselves created. Unbounded wealth I found to have no
power to bribe the dastard slaves of religious bigotry; and the elixir
of immortality, though it could cure disease and put to flight the
approaches of age, was impotent to repel the fervour of devouring
flames. I might have been happy--I was happy when the stranger found
me. I might have lived to a virtuous and venerable old age, and have
died in the arms of my posterity. The stranger had given me wealth,
and I was now poorer than the peasant who wanders amidst polar snows.
The stranger had given me immortality, and in a few days I was to
expire in excruciating tortures. He found me tranquil, contented, in
the midst of simple, yet inestimable pleasures; he breathed into me
the restless sentiment of ambition; and it was that sentiment which at
length had placed me on high in the chapel of the prison of the
Catholic inquisition.

Our progress to Valladolid was slow and solemn, and occupied a space
of no less than four days. On the evening of the fourth day we
approached that city. The king and his court came out to meet us. He
saluted the inquisitor general with all the demonstrations of the
deepest submission and humility; and then, having yielded him the
place of honour, turned round his horse, and accompanied us back to
Valladolid. The cavalcade that attended the king, broke into two
files, and received us in the midst of them. The whole city seemed to
empty itself on this memorable occasion, and the multitudes that
crowded along the road, and were scattered in the neighbouring fields,
were innumerable. The day was now closed; and the procession went
forward amidst the light of a thousand torches. We, the condemned of
the inquisition, had been conducted from the metropolis upon tumbrils;
but, as we arrived at the gates of Valladolid, we were commanded for
the greater humiliation, to alight and proceed on foot to the place of
our confinement, as many as could not walk without assistance being
supported by the attendants. We were neither chained nor bound; the
practice of the inquisition being to deliver the condemned upon such
occasions into the hands of two sureties each, who placed their charge
in the middle between them; and men of the most respectable characters
were accustomed from religious motives to sue for this melancholy
office.

Dejected and despairing I entered the streets of the city, no object
present to the eyes of my mind but that of my approaching execution.
The crowd was vast; the confusion inexpressible. As we passed by the
end of a narrow lane, the horse of one of the guards who rode exactly
in a line with me plunged and reared in a violent manner, and at
length threw his rider upon the pavement. Others of the horse-guards
attempted to catch the bridle of the enraged animal. They rushed
against each other. Several of the crowd were thrown down, and
trampled under the horses' feet. The shrieks of these, and the loud
cries and exclamations of the by standers, mingled in confused and
discordant chorus. No found, no object could be distinguished. From
the excess of the tumult a sudden thought darted into my mind, where
all, an instant before, had been relaxation and despair. Two or three
of the horses pushed forward in a particular direction. A moment after
they resiled with equal violence, and left a wide, but transitory gap.
My project was no sooner conceived, than executed. Weak as I had just
now felt myself, a supernatural tide of strength seemed to come over
me. I sprung away with all imaginable impetuosity, and rushed down the
lane I have just mentioned. Every one amidst the confusion was
attentive to his personal safety, and several minutes elapsed before I
was missed.




CHAP. XI.

IN the lane every thing was silent, and the darkness was extreme. Man,
woman and child were gone out to view the procession. For some time I
could scarcely distinguish a single object; the doors and windows were
all closed. I now chanced to come to an open door; within I saw no one
but an old man, who was busy over some metallic work at a chasing-dish
of fire. I had no room for choice; I expected every moment to hear the
myrmidons of the inquisition at my heels. I rushed in; I impetuously
closed the door, and bolted it; I then seized the old man by the
collar of his shirt with a determined grasp, and swore vehemently that
I would annihilate him that instant, if he did not consent to afford
me assistance. Though for some time I had perhaps been feebler than
he, the terror that now drove me on, rendered me comparatively a
giant. He intreated me to permit him to breathe, and promised to do
whatever I should desire. I looked round the apartment, and saw a
rapier hanging against the wall, of which I instantly proceeded to
make myself master. While I was doing this, my involuntary host, who
was extremely terrified at my procedure, nimbly attempted to slip by
me and rush into the street. With difficulty I caught hold of his arm,
and, pulling him back, put the point of my rapier to his breast,
solemnly assuring him that no consideration on earth should save him
from my fury, if he attempted to escape a second time. He immediately
dropped on his knees, and with the most piteous accents intreated me
to spare his life. I told him that I was no robber, that I did not
intend him the slightest harm, and that, if he would implicitly yield
to my direction, he might assure himself he never should have reason
to repent his compliance. By this declaration the terrors of the old
man were somewhat appeased. I took the opportunity of this calm to go
to the street-door which I instantly locked, and put the key in my
bosom.

Nothing but the most fortunate concurrence of circumstances could have
thus far forwarded my escape. The rearing of the horse of the life-
guardsman was purely accidental. The concourse and press of the crowd
from all sides could alone have rendered this circumstance of any
magnitude. The gap which was made by the pushing forward and resiling
of the horses, continued barely long enough for me to spring through,
and closed again in an instant. It is astonishing that the thought of
escape should have thus suddenly darted into my mind, which but a
moment before was in a state of dejection equally incompatible with
activity and with hope. That in the lane down which I rushed, I should
have met no human creature, and that the first open door I saw should
lead to the residence of a decrepid old man who appeared to be its
single inhabitant, were occurrences equally extraordinary, yet seem to
have been both indispensible to my safety. One point more concurred
with this fortunate train, and assisted to still the palpitations of
my beating heart: I perceived by certain indications in the
countenance of my host that he was by parentage a Jew. I presently
concluded that he was what in Spain they denominate a new Christian,
for that otherwise he would not have been allowed to reside at large
in a Spanish city. But, upon that supposition, I did not believe that
Christianity was very deeply mingled up in him with the vital
principle: the converts of the inquisition are not conspicuous for
their sincerity. Now then for the first time I thought, in the course
of twelve years, I had opportunity to communicate with a man whose
soul was not enslaved to the blood-thirsty superstition of this
devoted country. All I had seen during the period of my confinement
were hyenas, tigers and crocodiles---they were not men.

I had no sooner soothed my host into a temper to listen to my story,
than I told him with all imaginable frankness, whence I came, and to
what I had been destined. The mention of sorcery however and
preternatural practices. I suppressed, for I suspected that persons of
all religions entertained an equal horror against these. I suffered
him to imagine that the allegation against me had been the crime of
heresy: all sects of the Christian superstition might be supposed
equally obnoxious or acceptable to a Jew. I emphatically appealed to
the persecutions which had been so long directed against the religion
of his ancestors, and observed how disgraceful it would be in him to
assist the operation of a principle, the effects of which his fathers
had so deeply deplored, and so perfectly abhorred. I assured him that
I would bring him into no danger, and that all I asked was the
protection of a few hours: I would leave him in the course of the
following day, and he should hear of me no more. I reminded him that
the danger he had to fear was in betraying, not in protecting me. The
inquisition looked upon every new Christian with an eye of the
severest jealousy; and the mere fact, if known, that I had taken
refuge in his house, would infallibly subject him to the purgation of
a temporary imprisonment in their dungeons. It would be in vain for
him to affirm that he had no choice in what had occurred; he was
without a witness to confirm his relation, and the assertions of a man
born of Jewish parents never obtained credit in the court of the
inquisition. I added with solemn asseverations, that, the moment I set
foot beyond the territory of Spain, I would remit to him the sum of
six hundred pistoles as an acknowledgment for his kindness.

During the whole of my discourse I watched his countenance with the
utmost minuteness. It gradually relaxed from the terror which had at
first appeared in it, to expressions of compassion and complacence. I
saw nothing that ought to alarm me. When it was his turn to speak, he
earnestly assured me that he took a warm interest in my story, and
would cheerfully perform every thing I required. He was happy that my
favourable stars had led me to his habitation, and would rejoice to
the latest hour of his existence, if they rendered him instrumental in
preserving the life of a human being from so deplorable a catastrophe.
While I talked to him, I easily perceived that the arguments I used,
which produced the most sensible effect upon his features, were those
of the dangers arising to him from betraying me, and the reward of six
hundred pistoles which I promised him in the event of my success. His
motives however were blended together in his mind; and he had no
sooner formed a determination, grounded perhaps upon the meanest
considerations, than he became eloquent in a panegyric of his own
benevolence, by which he was not, I believe, more anxious to impose
upon me, than to put the change upon himself. I considered all that he
said, his gestures, and the very tones of his voice with eager
anxiety; the terror of the inquisition penetrated to the marrow in my
bones; and the fate awarded against me by that court became
inexpressibly more horrible to my thoughts, now that I saw the
probability of escaping it. Every thing that I observed in the Jew was
apparently fair, plausible and encouraging; but nothing had power to
quell the agitations of my apprehensive soul.

We were still engaged in discussing the topics I have mentioned, when
I was suddenly alarmed by the noise of some one stirring in the inner
apartment. I had looked into this room, and had perceived nothing but
the bed upon which the old man nightly reposed himself. I sprung up
however at the found, and, perceiving that the door had a bolt on the
outside, I eagerly fastened it. I then turned to Mordecai, that was
the name of my host: Wretch, said I, did not you assure me that there
was no one but yourself in the house?--Oh, cried Mordecai, it is my
child! it is my child! she went into the inner apartment, and has
fallen asleep on the bed.--Beware! I answered, the slightest falshood
more shall instantly be expiated in your blood.---I call Abraham to
witness, rejoined the once-more terrified Jew, it is my child! only my
child!--Tell me, cried I with severity of accent, how old is this
child?--Only five years, said Mordecai: my dear Leah died when she was
a year old, and, though we had several children, this single one has
survived her.--Speak to your child; let me hear her voice!--He spoke
to her, and she answered, Father, I want to come out;--I was satisfied
it was the voice of a little girl. I turned to the Jew: Take care,
said I, how you deceive me now; is there no other person in that room?
He imprecated a curse on himself if there were: I opened the door with
caution, and the little girl came forward. As soon as I saw her, I
seized her with a rapid motion, and returned to my chair. Man, said I,
you have trifled with me too rashly; you have not considered what I am
escaped from, and what I have to fear; from this moment this child
shall be the pledge of my safety; I will not part with her an instant
as long as I remain in your house; and with this rapier in my hand I
will pierce her to the heart, the moment I am led to imagine that I am
no longer in safety. The Jew trembled at my resolution; the emotions
of a father worked in his features, and glistened in his eye. At least
let me kiss her! said he. Be it so! replied I: one embrace, and then,
till the dawn of the coming day, she remains with me. I released my
hold; the child rushed to her father, and he caught her in his arms.
My dear Leah, cried Mordecai, now a sainted spirit in the bosom of our
father Abraham! I call God to witness between us, that, if all my
caution and vigilance can prevent it, not a hair of this child shall
be injured! Stranger, you little know by how strong a motive you have
now engaged me to your cause. We poor Jews, hunted on the face of the
earth, the abhorrence and execration of mankind, have nothing but
family affections to support us under our multiplied disgraces; and
family affections are entwined with our existence, the fondest and
best loved part of ourselves. The God of Abraham bless you, my child!
Now, sir, speak! what is it you require of me?

I told the Jew that I must have a suit of clothes conformable to the
appearance of a Spanish cavalier, and certain medical ingredients that
I named to him, together with his chafingdish of coals to prepare
them; and, that done, I would then impose on him no further trouble.
Having received his instructions, he immediately set out to procure
what I demanded. He took with him the key of the house; and, as soon
as he was gone, I retired with the child into the inner apartment, and
fastened the door. At first I applied myself to tranquillise the
child, who had been somewhat alarmed at what she had heard and seen:
this was no very difficult task. She presently left me, to amuse
herself with some playthings that lay scattered in a corner of the
apartment. My heart was now comparatively at ease; I saw the powerful
hold I had on the fidelity of the Jew, and firmly persuaded myself
that I had no treachery to fear on his part. Thus circumstanced, the
exertion and activity with which I had lately been imbued left me; and
I insensibly sunk into a sort of slumber.

The night was now far advanced, and I was still reclined insensible
upon Mordecai's bed, when suddenly I heard various sounds that seemed
from all sides to assail me. My mind was confused; I heard something,
but seemed wholly unconscious what I was and where. I wanted to escape
from the disturbance, but it continued, and even increased. At length
I was forced to command my attention, and the first thing I perceived
was a beating at the door of the chamber. The little girl then came to
the bed-side, and endeavoured to shake me. Sir, sir, she cried in an
eager accent, my father wants to come in, and I cannot slip the bolt
of the door. By slow degrees I began to comprehend my situation, and
to recollect what had happened immediately before. I felt greatly
alarmed; I feared by the disturbance that Mordecai had not returned
alone. I essayed to speak; my organs refused their office. I
endeavoured to move; my limbs felt palsied, and absolutely lifeless. I
experienced a sinking and sickness of heart that seemed to be the
immediate precursor of death. By listening occasionally to the
discourse which the father and the daughter began to hold with each
other, I became satisfied that Mordecai was without a companion. I
endeavoured to make the little girl understand that I was incapable of
rising from the bed; and, having at length succeeded, she communicated
the information to her father. With considerable trouble he loosened
the door at its hinges, and entered the room. I found myself in the
extremest degree feeble and languid; the Jew however assiduously
administered to me of cordials he had in his possession, and by
degrees I felt myself considerably restored.

Now for the first time I was at leisure to attend to the state of my
strength and my health. My confinement in the inquisition, and the
treatment I had experienced, had before rendered me feeble and almost
helpless; but these appeared to be circumstances scarcely worthy of
attention in the situation in which I was then placed. The impulse I
felt in the midst of the confusion in the grand street of Valladolid,
produced in me an energy and power of exertion, which nothing but the
actual experience of the fact could have persuaded me was possible.
This energy, once begun, appeared to have the faculty of prolonging
itself, and I did not relapse into imbecility, till the occasion
seemed to be exhausted which called for my exertion. I examined myself
by a mirror with which Mordecai furnished me; I found my hair as white
as snow, and my face ploughed with a thousand furrows. I was now
fifty-four, an age which, with moderate exercise and a vigorous
constitution, often appears like the prime of human existence; but
whoever had looked upon me in my present condition, would not have
doubted to affirm that I had reached the eightieth year of my age. I
examined with dispassionate remark the state of my intellect; I was
persuaded that it had subsided into childishness. My mind had been as
much cribbed and immured as my body. I was the mere shadow of a man,
of no more power and worth than that which a magic lanthorn produces
upon a wall. These are thy works, superstition! this the genuine and
proper operation of what is called Christianity! Let the reader judge
of what I had passed through and known within those cursed walls, by
the effects; I have already refused, I continue to refuse, to tell how
those effects were produced. Enough of compassion; enought of
complaint; I will confine myself, as far as I am able, to simple
history.

Being recovered, as far the cordials and attention of Mordecai were
capable of recovering me, I desired for the remainder of the night, to
be alone, except that I was still resolved to retain the little Jewess
as the pledge of my safety. I was greatly obliged to my host for the
punctuality he had already displayed; he had found considerable
difficulty in procuring the articles of which I stood in need, owing
partly to the lateness of the hour, and partly to the presence of the
king, and the general hurry and confusion which had been produced by
the solemn entry of the inquisition. His efforts too to recover me
from the languor and lethargy into which I had sunk, had a character
of generosity; and perhaps I ought now to have trusted him without a
hostage. But my heart was too earnestly bent upon accomplishing its
present object, to afford harbour to the punctilios of delicacy. The
same earnestness caused me to insist upon Mordecai's repairing the
injury which the hinges of the door had sustained, and I was careful
to satisfy myself that every thing was restored to a state of perfect
security.

I was now once again alone. The little girl, who had been unusually
disturbed, and roused at an unseasonable hour, sunk into a profound
sleep. I heard the noise which Mordecai made in undressing himself,
and composing his limbs upon a mattrass, which he had dragged for the
present occasion into the front-room, and spread before the hearth. I
soon found by the hardness of his breathing that he also was asleep. I
unfolded the papers he had brought me; they consisted of various
medical ingredients I had directed him to procure; there were also two
or three vials containing syrups and essences. I had near me a pair of
scales with which to weigh my ingredients; a vessel of water; the
chasing-dish of my host in which the fire was nearly extinguished; and
a small taper, with some charcoal to relight the fire in case of
necessity. While I was occupied in surveying these articles and
arranging my materials, a sort of torpor came suddenly over me, so as
to allow me no time for resistance. I sunk upon the bed. I remained
thus for about half an hour, seemingly without the power of collecting
my thoughts. At length I started, felt alarmed, and applied my utmost
force of mind to rouse my exertions. While I drove, or attempted to
drive my animal spirits from limb to limb and from part to part, as if
to enquire into the general condition of my frame, I became convinced
that I was dying. Let not the reader be surprised at this: twelve
years imprisonment in a narrow and unwholsome cell, may well account
for so sudden a catastrophe. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, I
believe it will be found in the experiment, that the calm and security
which succeed to great internal injuries, are more dangerous than the
pangs and hardships that went before. I was now thoroughly alarmed; I
applied myself with all vigilance and expedition to the compounding my
materials. The fire was gone out; the taper was glimmering in the
socket; to swallow the julep when I had prepared it, seemed to be the
last effort of which my organs and muscles were capable. It was the
elixir of immortality, exactly made up according to the prescription
of the stranger.

Whether from the potency of the medicine, or the effect of
imagination, I felt revived the moment I had swallowed it. I placed
myself deliberately in Mordecai's bed, and drew over me the bed-
clothes. I fell asleep almost instantly. I believe my first sleep was
perfectly sound and insensible: but in no long time I was visited with
the pleasantest dreams imaginable. Nothing was distinct; nothing was
attended with the consciousness of my former identity; but every thing
was gay, chearful, invigorating and delicious. I wandered amidst
verdant lawns, and flower-enamelled gardens. I was saluted with the
singing of a thousand birds, and the murmuring of a thousand
fountains. Kids, fawns and lambs frisked and gamboled before me. At a
distance, through an opening in the trees, I discerned nymphs and
their swains dancing a variety of antic measures. I advanced towards
them; they approached towards me. Fifes, oboes, recorders, and
instruments of a hundred names, commenced a chearful and melodious
concert. Myself and the dancers now were met; they placed me in the
midst of them. They began a choral song; the motion of their limbs
conformed to the numbers. I was the theme of the general chaunt; they
ascribed to me the beauty of Apollo, the strength of Hercules, the
invention of Mercury, and the youth of Bacchus.

My sleep was not long; in a few hours I awaked. With difficulty I
recognised the objects about me, and recollected where I had been. It
seemed to me that my heart had never beat so vigorously, nor my
spirits flowed so gay. I was all elasticity and life; I could scarcely
hold myself quiet; I felt impelled to bound and leap like a kid upon
the mountains. I perceived that my little Jewess was still asleep; she
had been unusually fatigued the night before. I know not whether
Mordecai's hour of rising were come; if it were, he was careful not to
disturb his guest. I put on the garments he had prepared; I gazed upon
the mirror he had left in my apartment. I can recollect no sensation
in the course of my life, so unexpected and surprising as what I felt
at that moment. The evening before, I had seen my hair white, and my
face ploughed with furrows; I looked fourscore. What I beheld now was
totally different, yet altogether familiar; it was myself, myself as I
had appeared on the day of my marriage with Marguerite de Damville;
the eyes, the mouth, the hair, the complexion, every circumstance,
point by point, the same. I leaped a gulph of thirty-two years. I
waked from a dream, troublesome and distressful beyond all
description; but it vanished, like the shades of night upon the burst
of a glorious morning in July, and left not a trace behind. I knew not
how to take away my eyes from the mirror before me.

I soon began to consider that, if it were astonishing to me that,
through all the regions of my countenance, I could discover no trace
of what I had been the night before, it would be still more
astonishing to my host. This sort of sensation I had not the smallest
ambition to produce: one of the advantages of the metamorphosis I had
sustained, consisted in its tendency, in the eyes of all that saw me,
to cut off every species of connection between my present and my
former self. It fortunately happened that the room in which I slept,
being constructed upon the model of many others in Spain, had a stair
at the further end, with a trap-door in the cieling, for the purpose
of enabling the inhabitant to ascend on the roof in the cool of the
day. The roofs were flat, and so constructed, that there was little
difficulty in passing along them from house to house, from one end of
the street to the other. I availed myself of the opportunity; and took
leave of the residence of my kind host in a way perfectly
unceremonious, determined however speedily to transmit to him the
reward I had promised. It may easily be believed, that Mordecai was
not less rejoiced at the absence of a guest whom the vigilance of the
inquisition rendered an uncommonly dangerous one, than I was to quit
his habitation. I closed the trap after me, and clambered from roof to
roof to a considerable distance. At length I encountered the occasion
of an open window, and fortunately descended, unseen by any human
being, into the street. Having with difficulty succeeded on this
public occasion in engaging an apartment in one of the hotels of
Valladolid, I sent into it, as soon as I was able, a chest, containing
every necessary of apparel, and particularly a suit of clothes. I then
changed my dress, and threw the clothes which Mordecai had provided
into the chest I had purchased. As long as they continued safely
locked up, and the key in my possession, no faculty possessed by any
human creature could detect my identity, and expose me afresh to my
former jailors. The only peril under which I had before laboured, was
from Mordecai, who, if he had seen me in the garments he had procured,
might have recognised them: and, though a peril from this source came
barely within the limits of possibility, it was easily avoided, and I
therefore chose to avoid it.

I passed the whole of this day in a species of enjoyment, which, as it
has no parallel in the ordinary transactions of mankind, so are there
no terms in the received languages of the world that are adequate to
the description of it. It has often been a subject of melancholy and
complaint among mortals, that, while the whole vegetable system
contains in it a principle of perpetual renewal, man alone,--the
ornament and lord of the universe, man,--knows no return to youth.
When the sun declines in the west, the flowers droop, and fold up
their frail and delicate leaves; but soon the eyelids of the morn are
again opened, and again they rejoice in his invigorating beams. Upon
the approach of winter, the beech, the ash, and the monarchoak,
scatter their withered foliage over the plains; but spring reappears,
and nakedness is no longer their reproach, and they clothe themselves
anew in their leafy honours. With what a melancholy sensation does the
old man survey his decaying limbs! To me, he cries, there is no second
morning, and no returning spring. My head, pressed down with years,
shall never again erect itself in conscious manhood. These hoary locks
shall no more be adorned with the auburn of glossy youth. My weather-
beaten trunk shall at no time clothe itself with a smoother rind. A
recruited marrow shall never fill these bones, nor a more vigorous sap
circulate through my unstrung limbs. I recollect what I was in the
prime of manhood, with vain regrets; the memory answers no other end
than to torment and upbraid me.

The useless wish of the old man, the object of his hopeless sigh, was
mine. Common and every-day blessings have little value in the eye of
their prossessor. The young man squanders the endowments of youth, and
knows not to prize them. If the young man had once been old, if the
old man could again be young, then, and then only, they would justly
estimate their wealth. The springy limb, the bounding frame, the
vigour that sets fatigue at defiance, and revels in pleasures
unexhausted, would then by the near and conscious comparison, of
feebleness and lassitude, the drooping limb, the aching head, and the
frame decayed in all its senses, be well understood. Such was my
situation. Yesterday I was fourscore; to-day I was twenty. Yesterday I
was a prisoner, crippled in every limb; to-day I was a citizen of the
world, capable of all its delights. To-morrow I was destined to have
been dragged to the stake with ignominy, and to suffer intolerable
anguish amidst the shouts and huzzas of an unfeeling populace; to-
morrow I was at liberty to employ as I pleased, to choose the theatre
upon which it should be spent, and the gratifications that should be
crowded into it. What was most material, my mind was grown young with
my body. Weary of eternal struggle, I had lately resigned the contest,
and sunk under the ill-fortune that relentlessly pursued me. Now I
felt within me a superfluity of vigour; I panted for something to
contend with, and something to conquer. My senses unfolded themselves
to all the curiosity of remark; my thoughts seemed capable of industry
unwearied, and investigation the most constant and invincible.
Ambition revived in my bosom; I longed for new engagements and new
relations; I desired to perform something, that I might myself regard
with complacence, and that I might see the world start at and applaud.

I determined, for reasons that I shall presently have occasion to
unfold, that my first visit should be to my daughters at my paternal
estate of St. Leon. I proposed to spend two or three days in
preparation for this journey. By mere accident, by a most censurable
heedlessness, I became in some degree a spectator of the Auto de Fé,
in which I was destined to have been a victim. Unawares I had become
entangled in the crowd, and could with difficulty escape, or even
prevent my being carried nearer to the centre of the scene. I saw the
galleries and accommodations that had been erected for the spectators;
I saw the windows and roofs of the houses crowded with beholders. The
shrieks of the sufferers I could not hear; they were drowned in the
infernal exultations of the multitude. But what was worst of all, I
discerned some of the condemned, fixed as they were upon small boards,
near the top of stakes about four yards high, and therefore greatly
above the heads of the assembly, while the flames, abundantly fed with
faggots and dry fuel, climbed aloft, and seemed eager to embrace their
victims. As I have already said, there were thirty of these death-
devoted frames; and, if my eye did not count them all, my fancy well
supplied what sense was unable to discover. The impression I felt at
that moment was horrible beyond all conception. I exerted my new-found
strength, and pushed out of the press with irresistible vigour. If at
that instant I could have felt exultation, even in the consciousness
of my own safety, I should regard myself as the most execrable of
monsters.

END OF THE THIRD VOLUME.




VOL. IV.




CHAP. I. TRAVELS OF ST. LEON.

The first employment in which I purposed to engage my new-found
liberty and youth, was a visit to my daughters. I now carried a
disguise perpetually about with me, that would render my journey
incapable of proving injurious to them. My daughters were all that
remained, if indeed they still remained, of my once idolised family.
For twelve years I had remained in total ignorance of their fortune
and even of their existence. Part of the plan I had adopted for their
advantage, necessarily precluded me from all correspondence or
communication with them or any one near them, that might satisfy and
tranquillise the anxieties of a father. If it had been otherwise,
deprived, as I had been, of the common benefits of light and air, and
cast out from the society of mankind, I could have obtained no
intelligence of their welfare. In visiting, I determined not to make
myself known to them; yet I felt that one of the most exquisite
gratifications the earth could afford me, was to behold my children.
What a multitude of adventures and incidents might they not have
encountered in the space of twelve years? Imagination and affection
dwell impatiently on the interval; nor can any thing quiet the
conjectures of him that loves, short of the most complete information.
What a difference must twelve years have produced in the very persons
and figures of creatures so young? With what mingled and exquisite
emotions does the father contemplate his daughter, whom he left a
child, grown up into a woman? He sees her with astonishment and
rapture, displaying maturer beauties, discovering in her countenance
new traces of knowledge and sentiment, and in her gesture and manners
a character finished, matronly and sedate. The very circumstance, that
I should visit them unknown, and converse intimately with them without
being discovered, while it cut me off from many pure and ingenuous
pleasures, added in some respects a new relish to the indulgence; for
it gave it a character, singular, and perhaps unprecedented, in the
history of mankind. I anticipated with eager transport the hour at
which I should again behold the place of my birth, wander amidst the
shades where my careless infancy had strayed, recognise objects made
sacred to my heart by associations with my venerable mother and my
adorable wife, now illumined with the presence of my children, and
steal a joy, unsuspected and unknown, to which the very secrecy with
which it was ravished would give a tenfold gust.

I embraced the nearest route, by Pampeluna and the Pyrenees, to the
banks of the Garonne. One particular pleasure which I reaped during
this tour, that the climate and scenery might alone have rendered
delightful, consisted in the youthful sensation with which every thing
I saw was enjoyed. Every one who can call to mind the amusements of
his childhood, will be conscious that during that period, all his
senses were in a tone adapted to convey the most exquisite
gratification. This is not merely, as is vulgarly supposed, the result
of the novelty and freshness with which at that time every thing
strikes us. The extremities of the nerves are in a state of the most
delicate susceptibility, upon which no touch, however slight and
evanescent, is lost, and which makes us, upon every occasion
favourable to enjoyment, gasp and tremble with the pleasure we imbibe.
We feel it thrilling through every pulse, and communicating its tone
to every part. Our attention is engrossed by a single object; or, if
we are sensible to accompanying incidents, it spreads over them an
animating sunshine, and totally varies their appearance and hue. Age,
on the contrary, imperceptibly brings along with it callosity and
sluggishness of sensation, our gratifications are coldly relished, and
our desires feebly awakened. Such is the difference in our perception,
of delicious fruits, of fragrant smells, of smooth and glossy
surfaces, of the vividness of colour, and the heavenly sweetness of
sound. If this be a just account, I leave the reader to imagine how I
enjoyed my tour from Valladolid to the beautiful and romantic
retirement of St. Leon.

There was however one sentiment with which I was at this time
impressed, that I shall find it difficult to make the reader
understand in the extent in which I felt it, and that formed a
powerful drawback upon the pleasures I have just described. A short
time ago I had been old; now I was young: I had quaffed of the elixir
of immortality. The revolution this had produced in my sentiments, was
not less memorable than that which it had effected in my corporeal
lineaments and my mental elasticity. It is so different a thing to
conceive a proposition theoretically, and to experience it in
practice! The case is parallel to that of the expectation which an
ordinary Christian entertains of eternal bliss. It is an article in
his creed; he repeats it every night when he lies down, and every
morning when he rises. He would be both offended and surprised if you
told him he was not persuaded of it; and yet how faint and indistinct
a picture it produces in his intellectual retina! The affairs of this
world strike him with all the force of vision; to them he cannot make
himself a stranger and a pilgrim; he cannot transfer all his
affections to the mere creature of his imagination, engendered in
solitude, and nurtured by enthusiasm, heaven. How different must have
been the feelings of the celebrated apostles, who had been taken up
into the third heaven, and had beheld the new Jerusalem with all its
jaspers, its chrysolites, its emeralds, and its sapphires!

My situation was similar to this. I had long known, as far as
reflection could assure me of it, that I possessed the elixir of
immortality. But never till now had I felt the julep tingling in my
veins, and known the effects of it in every joint and articulation of
my frame. I before believed, I now felt, that I was immortal. The
consequence of this intimate persuasion was not without its portion of
melancholy. I still bore the figure and lineaments of a human
creature; but I knew that I was not what I seemed. There was a greater
distance between me and the best constructed and most consummate of
the human species, than there is between him and an ant or a muskito,
crushed by the first accidental tread, or consumed by the first spark
wasted by the wind. I can no longer cheat my fancy; I know that I am
alone. The creature does not exist with whom I have any common
language, or any genuine sympathies. Society is a bitter and galling
mockery to my heart; it only shows in more glaring colours my desolate
condition. The nearer I attempt to draw any of the nominal ties of our
nature, the more they start and shrink from my grasp. From this moment
I could not shake off the terrible impression of my lonesomeness, no
not for an hour. Often does this impression induce me to regard my
immortality with loathing indescribable; often do I wish to shelter
myself from it in the sweet oblivion of the grave. From this hour I
had no passions, no interests, no affections; my heart has never
expanded with one natural emotion; I have never delivered myself up to
the repose of one genuine amusement. If at any time I have had a
glimpse of pleasure, it has irritated, only to deceive; it has
increased the appetite, while it displayed in stronger colours my
impotence to gratify it. What is worse, every added year has still
subtracted something from the little poignancy and relish which the
bowl of human life continued to retain. In so much of my adventures as
remains for me to describe, I feel that I shall be obliged to employ
the established terms of human description. I cannot interrupt the
history of my sensations, by a recital of those pangs by which they
have been every moment interrupted. The terms I must use may delude
the reader into an imagination that I still participate of enjoyment
and of hope. Be it so: they may cheat the reader; they cannot cheat
myself!

Previously to my arrival in the vicinity of the Garonne, I equipped
myself in the habit of an Armenian, and assumed the character of a
merchant travelling from country to country for the sale of his
commodities.

It was in the close of a wintery day in the bleak and cheerless month
of December, that I first viewed from a distance the turrets of St.
Leon. I procured myself accommodations for the night in the adjoining
village. Being now, after so long an absence, within reach of the
residence of these lovely treasures, I sought, without any direct
consciousness of the sentiment, to delay our interview. When I entered
the little auberge, sheltered under a small plantation of olives, I
dreaded to hear the repetition of my family name. I longed most
fervently to be informed of the welfare of my daughters, yet I could
have died sooner than utter a single question on the subject. I found
that that ardent love which had urged me with rapid steps from
Valladolid to St. Leon, gradually, as the distance grew little,
changed from an impetuous vehemence to hear of, and to see them, to
fearful, awe-struck, motionless anxiety. Their light and airy figures,
as I last saw them at Montauban in 1547, danced before the eyes of my
imagination: what casualties, what calamities might not have overtaken
them since 1547? I was afraid almost to breathe, lest I should
dissolve the unreal scene that played around me. How did I know that I
did not indulge this cheerful imagination for the last time? Again and
again in the course of the evening, I felt as if I could have wasted
ages in this auberge and the neighbouring fields, still believing that
my daughters inhabited yonder towers, still hovering round their
fancied residence, but never daring to utter their name, lest it
should be found the prelude to some fatal intelligence. How rich and
refined a meat in some cases is uncertainty! It had the power to
impart to these precious pledges a share of that immortality of which
I was the destined monopolist.

Why had I not the courage never to overpass the limit at which I was
now arrived, and, wherever I afterwards wandered on the various
surface of the globe, still to be able to repeat to myself the
complacent whisper, I have visited my daughters in their separated
abode, and my visit was productive of none but agreeable sensations?
My passions were too much afloat to suffer me really to rest in this
patient, contemplative gratification. Before the morning's dawn, I
walked forth, and turned my eyes towards the castle. I loitered from
bank to bank, and from point to point. Daylight slowly broke in upon
me, but all was silent and quiet in my paternal chateau. "The family
is not yet stirring," said I to myself. I turned my steps to the spot
where the ashes of my mother were mingled with their parent-earth. The
time that had intervened since her death, the various fortunes and
impressions I had experienced, had somewhat obliterated the vividness
of her picture in my memory, and deadened the tremblingness of
sensation with which I once thought of her. Yet enough was left to
make it an interesting moment to me, when I kneeled at her tomb. Why,
oh why, as it had been with my great forefathers, was it not a moment
of exultation to me, when I thus feelingly saluted the shade of a
parent! He that exults in such an hour, must feel that he has
illustrated his birth, and honoured his progenitors. I had done
nothing of this: I was an exile on the face of the earth, had acquired
no trophies, and accumulated no fame. I had none to honour, none even
to know me; I had no family, I had no friend! These bitter
recollections started up in array before me, and cut me to the heart.
The spirit of my mother frowned upon her son; and I returned along the
path by which I came, disgraced and disconsolate.

"I am now," said I, "in a fit temper to learn intelligence of my
daughters: if they have been unhappy, to hear it will not make me more
forlorn; if they have been fortunate, that knowledge, and that alone,
may revive my courage." I hastened towards the avenue. I looked into
the thickets and winding paths, as I passed. They communicated to me
mingled pictures of my own boyish days, and of the amusements of the
present inhabitants.

I told my pretended business to the servants of the house, and
proposed my commodities; I was admitted, as I desired, to the
apartment of their mistresses. I saw two young ladies, who appeared to
be respectively about twenty-eight and twenty-four years of age, and
whom without much difficulty I recognised for my daughters Louisa and
Marguerite. Their situation and their ages identified them, and when
afterwards I came to peruse their features attentively, I could easily
discover traits of the amiable young woman and the playful child they
had been when last I parted from them. I found them employed upon a
piece of embroidery; a comely and respectable-looking young woman, a
servant, was sewing in another part of the room. Every thing about the
ladies bespoke the ease of their circumstances, and the propriety of
their sentiments. Each had on an elegant morning-habit; both had an
air of sedateness and sobriety, that to my apprehension told that they
had not lived unchastened by misfortune.

They both slightly looked up, as I was ushered into the apartment:
they saluted me with a graceful and condescending bend of the head,
such as we are accustomed to use to an inferior, whom we are willing
to put at his ease. What were my sensations, a father, disguised and
unknown, in the presence of his children! I attempted to stand, as is
usual for a tradesman, when he waits on his customers at their own
house. I attempted to speak. My tongue refused its office; my legs
tottered as if sustaining an unusual weight. Louisa observed me, and
desired me to be seated. I had no power of choice; I accepted her
civility. No sooner was I seated, than in spite of myself a flood of
tears gushed from my eyes. She was astonished; she begged to know if I
were indisposed; she requested me to make use of every assistance the
house could afford. I now sound my speech. I apologised for my
behaviour; said I had felt suddenly ill, but that the tears I shed
would prove the most effectual relief to me. My appearance, it may be
proper to mention, was not that of a vulgar pedlar; it was tall,
graceful and ingenuous, with a certain air of refinement and
politeness; my Armenian dress, though formed of uncostly materials,
was such as to display my person to considerable advantage. Both the
young ladies showed themselves interested in the symptoms of my
distress. After a few minutes internal struggle, I rose, made an
excuse for the abruptness of my departure, and requested permission to
repeat my visit in the afternoon, when I should have something not
unimportant to communicate to them.

I had seen two of my daughters; I had been satisfied that they still
existed; I had witnessed their exterior health and beauty. As I
withdrew, I laid my hand upon my heart, and congratulated myself: Thus
far, said I, it is well! I felt relieved from part of the weight that
lay there. With my right hand I struck upon my forehead: But, oh,
where, cried I, is my other daughter? The thought came over me with
the force of a demonstration: She is dead! A servant was attending me
to the door; I requested to speak to the housekeeper; I was introduced
to Mariana Chabot. She was struck with my appearance, as I believe my
daughters had been, as if my features were those of some person with
whom she was intimately acquainted. She would probably have taken me
for my own son, but that I looked considerably too young. I intreated
her to pardon my curiosity; but, I assured her, I had a particular
reason to interest myself in the family of monsieur St. Leon, and I
therefore requested that she would have the goodness to inform me of
their affairs, as far as she could with propriety communicate them to
a person who was not so happy as to be in the catalogue of their
acquaintance. I told her that I had just seen two of her ladies, but
that I had understood there had been three, and I particularly desired
some information as to the young lady who had not made her appearance
in the parlour. My presentiment was true; the impression that smote me
when I left the parlour, was her funeral knell; my beloved Julia was
dead; she had been dead four years! If it had not been for the
agitation of my mind when I visited the tomb of my venerable parent, I
should have discovered her monument near that of her grandmother. That
would have been too overwhelming a mode of learning the painful
intelligence; I was glad at least to have escaped that!

In this and some subsequent conversations I held with this respectable
matron, I learned a variety of particulars respecting my daughters.
Madame Chabot expressed herself sorry that she had nothing pleasing to
communicate. Her young ladies had been pursued by a train of
misfortunes, though, heaven knew, they had merited every happiness. A
few years after they had been settled at St. Leon, Julia had been
addressed by a lover in every sense worthy of her. He was rich, noble,
of a gallant spirit, of a cultivated understanding, and a truly kind
and affectionate heart. Their attachment had been long and tried;
habit and experience of each other's virtues had caused it to take a
deep root. The father of the young man had destined him to marry the
daughter of a duke and peer of the kingdom; but, finding his
affections unalterably fixed, he had at length yielded, and sanctioned
their mutual passion with his consent. Every thing was now prepared
for the nuptials; a day was fixed, and the appointed time was fast
approaching. Just at this juncture, the father changed his mind, and
became more obstinate and inexorable than ever. A report had begun to
be circulated that monsieur St. Leon, the father of the young ladies,
was still alive. Madame Chabot expressed her fear that this report had
originated in some indiscretion of Peter, who however had always
proved himself a most zealous and faithful servant, and who had since
paid the debt of nature. Be that as it might, the father of the lover
of Julia was found no longer accessible to expostulation or intreaty.
He was of an extremely avaricious disposition, and he regarded the
fortune of the young lady, which would otherwise have been
considerable, as entirely alienate and annihilated by this flaw in the
title. But what was more material, it by no means accorded with his
ideas of nobility and honour, that the father-in-law of his only son
should be a fugitive and a wanderer, with whose residence no one was
acquainted, and of whom no one could tell whether he were living or
dead. The manner in which the ladies had entered into the repossession
of their paternal estate, when minutely investigated, was thought to
have something in it of an ambiguous and unpleasant nature. It was
well known that monsieur St. Leon had left the country in consequence
of his having ruined himself by the vice of gaming: surely, said some,
it is a little mysterious, how his children came, after an interval of
nine years, to be able to repurchase all he ever possessed. In short,
the more the old vicomte was reasoned with, the more furious he grew.
At length he made use of the power which the government of France
vests in the father of a family, and shut up his son in one of the
royal prisons. This was a fatal blow both to the chevalier and his
mistress. Disappointed in the object of his warmest affections,
maltreated and disgraced by the severity of a father, his health
sensibly declined. Nothing however could shake the inflexibility of
the vicomte; he would release his son upon no other terms than a
renunciation of his love, terms which the sense of dignity and honour
in the young gentleman, equally with his passion, forbad him to
accept. To all representations of the necessity of granting liberty to
his son, if he would not make himself answerable for his death, the
vicomte sternly replied, that he preferred his dying to the idea of
his connecting himself with a family of dishonour. It was not till a
few weeks before he expired, that the father had consented to his
release from prison, and had removed him to one of his castles in a
remote province. But the malady of the chevalier was found incurable;
the vital principles of the system were fatally deranged. The lover
died; and the consequences of this unhappy affair had put a premature
close to the existence of the unfortunate Julia. Madame Chabot added
that, the circumstances of this story having become a subject of
public animadversion, it had had a most unfavourable effect on the
prospects of the surviving sisters. They bore their situation with
dignity; but they could not but feel the unhappy coincidence, which
cut them off from the happiest condition of human life, an honourable
and well assorted settlement in marriage.

While madame Chabot related to me the tragical history of Julia, I
felt myself convulsed with passion, and more than once burst into an
agony of tears. Fatal legacy! atrocious secrets of medicine and
chemistry! every day opened to my astonished and terrified sight a
wider prospect of their wasteful effects! A common degree of
penetration might have shown me, that secrets of this character cut
off their possessor from the dearest ties of human existence, and
render him a solitary, cold, self-centred individual; his heart no
longer able to pour itself into the bosom of a mistress or a friend;
his bosom no longer qualified to receive upon equal terms the
overflowing of a kindred heart. But no mere exercise of imagination,
nothing short of the actual experience through which I had passed,
could have adequately represented the mischiefs of a thousand various
names, that issued from this Pandora's box, this extract of a
universal panacea. I regarded myself as the murderer of these two
lovers, than whom I concluded, from my personal observation of the
one, and all that I heard of the other, two purer and more
affectionate beings, more singularly qualified to form each other's
happiness, had never existed. I felt as truly haunted with the ghosts
of those I had murdered, as Nero or Caligula might have been; my wife,
my son, my faithful negro; and now, in addition to these, the tender
Julia and her unalterable admirer. I possessed the gist of immortal
life; but I looked on myself as a monster that did not deserve to
exist.

It is with difficulty that I shall be able to make the reader
understand, how much more severe the impression of this last
catastrophe was made to me, by the place and time in which I received
the intelligence. We are creatures of sensation: our worst calamities
derive as much of their pungency from the accessories by which they
are accompanied, as they do from their intrinsic evil. If I had heard
this story at any other period, I am persuaded its effect would not
have been half so painful. The idea of my daughters was faded in my
sensorium, and whatever related to them, though really felt, and felt
like a father, would have been felt with a less overpowering interest.
But now I had journeyed from Valladolid to the Garonne to behold them;
I had surveyed the castle they inhabited; I had viewed the garden
which they arranged with their hands; I had entered the parlour which
they adorned with their presence. All this controled the operation of
absence and of distance; I felt at this moment, as if I had been
accustomed to see them every day, and to regard them as inseparable
from my existence. I experienced, as it were, the united effect of
familiarity and novelty; I felt the melancholy fate of Julia, with all
the keenness of an inmate, and all the surprise of a long absent
traveller. The very metamorphosis I had undergone gave new poignancy
to my distress. Madame Chabot tortured me deliberately and at leisure,
without the slightest consciousness of what she was doing; she
believed she was pouring a tale of persons unknown into the ears of a
native of the other hemisphere, at the moment that she was calling up
in arms the strongest and most excruciating feelings of a father for
his child. I on the other hand had the most violent struggle with
myself, while I endeavoured to suppress the appearances of an emotion,
which to the person who witnessed them must have been for ever
unaccountable. As it was, and in spite of all my efforts, madame
Chabot betrayed no little amazement at the agitation with which I
listened to a story, in which, as she apprehended, I could not
possibly have any personal interest.

What I heard from madame Chabot suggested to me a conduct which I was
resolved to adopt under the present circumstances. In my next
interview I told Louisa, that I would now account to her for emotions
which, at the time they occurred, must have struck her as somewhat
extraordinary. I owned that I had been acquainted with her father; I
said that I had first met with him, in a journey, in which I was then
engaged through the province of Mesopotamia; that I had received from
him, though a stranger, a singular obligation; that a sincere
friendship between us had been the result of this event; that he died
about two years since; that I had attended him in his last moments;
that he had charged me with his dying recommendations and requests;
and that my present journey into France had principally been
instigated by a desire to visit his children. I then delivered into
her hands various letters and papers, which I had counterfeited
chiefly with the intention of supplying my daughters with legal
evidence of the decease of their father.

Louisa listened to what I related with those marks of affection and
sorrow, which are inseparable from the habits of a well constituted
mind. The emotion she discovered led me further than I had at first
intended. I was urged by an irresistible impulse to practise, beyond
what the occasion demanded, upon the feelings of her virtuous mind. I
know not whether this is to be considered as a vain refinement and a
criminal curiosity; but---I think--every generous spirit will excuse
me, when it is recollected that this covert and imperfect proceeding
was all that was left me, to soothe the impatient cravings of a
father's heart. From time to time I reminded her of particulars that
it was scarcely possible any one but her father should know; I
conjured up past scenes; I made all the revolutions of her youth pass
successively in review before her. I touched all the pulses of her
soul. Sometimes she was fixed in mute astonishment at the exactness of
my information, and was ready to do me homage as some aerial genius
who condescended to clothe himself in this earthly figure; at other
times astonishment was swallowed up in feeling, her soul dissolved in
tenderness, and she appeared ready to faint into my arms. It is
scarcely possible to depict the pleasurable sensations I drew from
these intercourses; I know not whether they were entirely innocent;
but this I know, that in me they produced a sentiment of innocence,
and a sentiment of paradise. I felt sometimes as if I could have
wasted ages in this sort of gratification.

As the executor of their father, my daughters received me with every
mark of respect; but, after having already protracted my visit to them
for the space of many days, I felt that I should be guilty of
something alike hostile to their decorum and reputation, if I did not
speedily bring it to a termination. I was a person unknown and almost
without a name; nor could it be proper for a young woman to continue
to receive the visits of a person of her own age and a different sex,
upon the intimate and confidential footing upon which my visits were
paid, except in the case of him whom she intends to make her husband.
To considerations of this sort I was obliged to sacrifice the
gratifications in which I had lately been indulging. My principal
concern at St. Leon, from the time in which madame Chabot had
communicated to me the real nature of my daughters' situation, was to
remove those disadvantages in which my destiny and my errors had
involved them: it would therefore have been the extreme of
inconsistency in me, while I was healing one mischief, to prepare for
them another. It is not indeed probable that I should long have been
contented for myself with this anomalous and neutral situation, in
which I more resembled a piece of furniture, endowed with the faculty
of noting the sensations of those around me, than the member of any
human society. It was high time, as I thought, even in this point of
view, that I should put an end to the inglorious scene, should appear
in some real character, and engage in some real undertaking.

Influenced by these considerations, I now quitted the residence of my
daughters. I had satisfied the longing curiosity of a father, had seen
their situation, had witnessed their beauty, their accomplishments and
their virtues. If I had been afflicted at hearing of the premature
fate of my eldest daughter, if I had been agonised by the reflection
that I might justly regard myself as her murderer, who was so fitted
to suffer this anguish as myself? The outcast of my species, what
right had I to expect to be happy in my own person, or prosperous in
any of my relations? The guilty cause of all this mischief, it was but
suitable, that it should be brought home to my own bosom, that it
should tear and distract my own brain! Add to this, I was not without
a hope, that my journey would not be found useless to the survivors.
By furnishing to them the proper documents to certify the death of
their father, I flattered myself that I had cut them off more
effectually than before from all connection with my unpropitious
destiny, and had placed them nearly upon a footing with the other
noble and unmarried heiresses of their native country. I have nothing
further to relate in regard to these two amiable and excellent
sisters. From the time that I quitted St. Leon upon this occasion, to
the time in which I am now writing, the opportunity of making further
enquiries respecting them has not occurred to me. If ever it does
occur, I have only this one wish to entertain, which, if granted,
will, I am sure, satisfy my fondest hopes, May I find they have been
as happy, as they so well deserve to be!

The parting between me and my daughters was not an unaffecting one. On
my part, whose bosom was fraught with a thousand tender feelings to
which I could give no language, and of which those whom they
principally concerned had not the slightest suspicion, it could not be
unaffecting. Nor did Louisa and her younger sister look with an
indifferent eye upon the bearer of the last sentiments of their
father, the witness of his death, the executor of his will. There was
something in the features of my countenance, a peculiar sort of
conformation, a family-resemblance to themselves, which it is probable
they did not advert to, but which I am persuaded wrought within them
to the full extent of the mysterious sympathies of our nature. I
pretended to have been the familiar confident of their father, I told
them of things at which they started and almost blushed to think that
any one beyond the circuit of their dearest relations should have been
privy. In the hour of our separation, they shed many tears, and
embraced me with a warmth that might have well become sisters to a
brother. Yet, shall I confess my weakness, a weakness in which I do
not apprehend myself to be singular? It happens to few men to witness
the manner in which the story of their own deaths is received. If it
did, I believe we all of us have enough of vanity and personal
feeling, however sincere a grief might show itself in the demeanour of
survivors, to find it falling short of our appetites and demand. This
I know, I was myself a party to this unreasonableness. My daughters
received the intellignece of my death with a decorum and sensibility,
which in the eyes of every impartial spectator would have reflected
honour on their characters, a sensibility beyond what could have been
imagined in daughters who now had not seen their father for twelve
years. Yet it was an unpleasing reflection to me, thus to have
occasion to gauge their love, and to say, This is the exact measure of
their affection. I remained in this part of the world, long enough to
see my children consoled, and myself forgotten. Self-importance of
man, upon how slight a basis do thy gigantic erections repose!




CHAP. II.

From St. Leon I proceeded to the kingdom of Hungary. To complete this
journey I must pass through near twenty degrees of longitude. But that
was a trivial consideration: what I most desired was to gain a new
situation, and enter upon an untried scene. I had determined in my
next experiment upon the endowments of the stranger, to make no half-
formed efforts, and to suffer no mischiefs that drew their source from
my own irresolution. I determined, as I have said, to forestal all
opposition by my firmness, and to silence all objectors by the display
of a more than princely magnificence. I thought it therefore eligible
to remove to a scene, where no encounter with any one I had ever known
might abash me, and no relation of any adventure I had ever met should
follow me. The change of my figure, it is true, would render an
encounter of this sort of little moment to my liberty or my
reputation; but I was a new man, and I was desirous to engross and to
feel the benefits that attend upon novelty.

There was another motive however, secretly working at my heart, of a
grander and more exalted cast, that made me prefer Hungary to all the
countries of the earth. Hungary had been now for upwards of a century
the great frontier of the Christian world, the theatre upon which the
followers of Mahomet contended against the followers of Jesus for
destruction and for empire. My mind had from time to time brooded over
this picture in the solitude and forlornness of my dungeon. I
ruminated on all the calamities of Hungary, from the battle of Warna
in 1444 to the battle of Mohacz in 1526, in both of which this
generous nation had unsuccessfully atchieved prodigies of valour, and,
even by their defeats, had protracted the date of their own
independence, and cooperated for the defence of the population and
arts of Europe against a barbarous and blood-delighting foe. My
thoughts dwelt with rapturous admiration upon the exploits of the
heroic Huniades and his greater son. In the course of my many-coloured
experience I had seen something of war, and was not totally
unacquainted with its never failing consequences. Meditating as I had
done in the dungeons of the inquisition, if ever I recovered my
personal liberty and my freedom of action, a journey into Hungary, my
imagination had grown familiar with captured towns and smoking
villages; with the gallant soldier stretched lifeless on the plain,
and the defenceless mother and her offspring brutally insulted and
massacred; with fields laid waste, and a people lifting up their hands
for bread. Determined as I was to open at once all the stores of my
wealth, I thought I could not find a nobler scene for its display. I
resolved to pour the entire stream of my riches like a mighty river,
to fertilise these wasted plains, and revive their fainting
inhabitants. Thus proceeding, should I not have a right, to expect to
find myself guarded by the faithful love of a people, who would be
indebted to my beneficence for every breath they drew? This was the
proper scene, in which for the possessor of the philosopher's stone to
take up his abode. He who could feel his ambition satisfied in a more
straitened field, would by so doing prove himself unworthy of the
mighty blessing.

Nothing occurred to me in my journey, of importance enough to obtain a
place in this history. When I arrived, I found the condition of the
inhabitants even more wretched than the lawlessness of my imagination
had represented it. In the battle of Mohacz the last of the line of
their native sovereigns, together with the flower of his nobility, had
fallen a victim to the merciless plague of war. What survived of
eminent persons in the state assembled soon after in national diet,
and elected, as they had been accustomed to do, one of the most
illustrious among themselves to preside over the councils, and to
conduct the battles of their country. But the princes of the house of
Austria, ever on the watch for the aggrandisement of their family,
seized the opportunity of their present disastrous situation to
enslave the Hungarians to their sceptre. Charles the Fifth caused his
brother Ferdinand, whose consort was only sister to the deceased
monarch, to advance his claim to the vacant throne, and to enter the
country with an imperial army. The native and elected sovereign found
himself, in the weakened condition of his realm, unable to resist the
Austrian arms, and was finally driven to the desperate expedient of
calling in the Turk to his assistance. From this time, for now upwards
of thirty years, the kingdom had been a prey to two foreign invaders,
alternately taking and retaking her most considerable towns, and
distributing with the strictest impartiality the miseries of war to
her devoted inhabitants. Solyman the Magnificent, the present Ottoman
emperor, in no long time threw off the mask, and, like his rival
Ferdinand, professed to fight only for the enlargement of his own
dominions, while the claims, the liberties, the constitution and the
prosperity of Hungary, were alike trodden under foot in the protracted
and sanguinary struggle.

At the period at which I entered this unfortunate realm, the Turk was
in possession of Buda, Gran, Temeswar, and many of the most
considerable cities; and Ferdinand, who had now succeeded Charles in
the imperial dignity, had been obliged to withdraw the seat of the
national government from the first of these towns, the ancient
metropolis, to the comparatively insignificant city of Presburg. The
war between the two parties had more than once been interrupted, not
indeed by the more stable accommodations of a treaty of peace, but by
a truce variously concluded for the terms of six or of eight years.
Short as was the period assigned to the suspension of arms, it was
never suffered to reach its natural termination; but, after the
interval of one or two summers, hostilities did not fail to break out
again with new marks of resentment and animosity. The warfare that was
now carried on had more in it of passion than vigour; it was of little
moment to the interest of either of the princes under whose banners it
was conducted; but it was not on that account the less, but rather the
more, vexatious and distressing to the Hungarian people. It obeyed no
rule; it operated in every direction; no place, no province, no town,
neither the church nor the palace, neither the cottage nor the castle,
could assure safety to those who sought its protection. A flying party
which was to-day in the west, would almost the next day make its
appearance in the eastern extremity of the kingdom. Arts were
neglected; civilisation was destroyed; the stern and haughty baron,
free from restraint, would sally from his castle, sometimes in pursuit
of plunder, sometimes of private resentment and revenge; the starving
peasantry gladly inlisted in the band of a ferocious partisan for
bread; the gangs of robbers, which the vigilant policy of better times
had almost annihilated, rose again in importance, and swelled into
regiments; and, while they assumed at pleasure the denomination of
adherents to Ferdinand or to Solyman, perpetrated every species of
excess with impunity. When a reflecting spectator surveys a country in
a condition like this, he is tempted to wonder that the inhabitants
still retain the courage to bestow on their fields any sort of
cultivation, and that the licensed or the unlicensed robber still
finds something over which to extend the fangs of his rapacity.

I had not long passed the gates of Vienna, before I began to observe
the symptoms of that, which I had come from the Pyrenees and the
Garonne to visit. The further I advanced, the more melancholy was the
scene I beheld. The country in some places entirely deserted; villages
laid in ashes; cities reduced to the dimensions and insignificance of
villages; fields fertilised or made rank with the manure of human
blood; the roads broken up; the erections of human ingenuity almost
obliterated; mills thrown down; rivers choaked up and rendered
stagnant; a few solitary plots of cultivation scattered amidst the
mighty waste. The inhabitants I saw, appeared terrified, sickly,
dejected and despairing; there was scarcely one who earlier or later
had not lost a father or a brother, whose wife had not been made the
victim of brutal lust, or who had not seen his children butchered
before his face. The misery of these was their protection; persons of
the richer class could not travel the country in safety, without arms
and associating in companies and caravans. I was myself obliged to
obtain the protection of parties of soldiers, who from time to time
happened to be marching in the route I pursued. The savage neglect
into which every thing was declining, produced in repeated instances a
contagious air and pestilential diseases; while dearth and famine
unrelentingly haunted the steps of those whom the sword and the
pestilence had spared. Such is war: such are the evils nations
willingly plunge into, or are compelled to endure, to pamper the
senseless luxury or pride of a Ferdinand and a Solyman!

I proceeded, as I had originally determined to do, to Buda, the
metropolis of the kingdom. It was in the hands of the Turk. It was of
little importance to me whether the monarch of the soil were a
Mahometan or a Christian; my mind was engrossed by considerations of a
very different magnitude. I came to relieve and assist, to the utmost
of my power, the inhabitants of the country in the extremity of their
distress.

I had not proceeded thus far, without bestowing a certain strictness
of reflection on the subject. I easily saw that, if I would confer a
substantial benefit on this unfortunate nation, I had scarcely any
other means for the purpose, than that of reviving among them a spirit
of industry. I was aware that, in the strictness of the term, money
was not wealth; that it could be neither eaten nor drunk; that it
would not of itself either clothe the naked, or shelter the houseless;
and that it was unable, but by a circuitous operation, to increase the
quantity of provisions or commodities that the country afforded. It
was my business therefore not to proceed idly in the distribution of
gold, but to meditate seriously my plan of operations.

I fixed myself in a spacious and beautiful mansion in the capital.
This in the present distressed and depopulated condition of Hungary,
it was not difficult to procure. The house I selected had for
centuries been the principal residence of the illustrious family of
Ragotski; but the present representative of that family, after having
seen his sons, one after another, killed in the battles of his
country, and his estates ruined by military depredation, had found
himself compelled to fly in his old age, and had taken refuge with a
distant branch of the same house in the great duchy of Lithuania. It
was not necessary for me to proceed to any great extent in the first
instance in the manufacture of my wealth; I had every facility for
adding to my store from time to time as circumstances should demand.

I determined to open my operations with the article of building. There
was sufficient need of it. One half of the houses, through most of the
districts of Lower, or Western Hungary in particular, were ruined and
untenantable. I did not begin with erecting palaces; I felt that the
first claimants in the present emergency were the peasant and the
cultivator. I was more desirous that the rustic than the prince should
be well lodged and accommodated, provided with the means of rest after
fatigue, and secured against the invasion of ungenial seasons.

My reasons for beginning with building were these. It was my purpose
to stimulate and revive the industry of the nation: I was desirous of
doing this with the least practicable violence upon the inclinations
and freedom of the inhabitants. Had I required of those to whom I
addressed myself, that they should fertilise the earth, the seeds with
which it should be impregnated might be wanting: I should have a nice
balance to adjust between what was necessary for immediate
subsistence, and what might be applied as the basis of future; a point
better left to its spontaneous level: I might be impeded and controled
by a thousand circumstances and at every step. But the materials of
building are to be found in every country; no seasons can impair, no
malignity of man can annihilate them. Wherever there are quarries,
there is stone; wherever there is clay, there are the means of
manufacturing bricks. I was anxious to leave the rest of the great
process of human accommodation to its course. While I employed
labourers, and paid them their wages, there would be, in the mildest
and most salutary mode, a continual influx of money into the market.
The increase of the precious metals would give new alacrity to the
operations of traffic; the buyers would come forward with double
confidence; the venders would be eager to meet the activity and spirit
of the demand. Ardour and hope would revisit the human mind; and the
industry I created, and the accommodations of one kind at least to
which I gave birth, would inoculate the other departments of the
community with a similar industry. I came into Hungary in the spring
of 1560; the season was favourable to feeding and cultivation; I
seemed to enter on my undertaking with the happiest auspices.

Some time however must necessarily elapse between the period of
impregnating the soil, and that of the future harvest. Though I laid
it down therefore as a law to myself, to commit the least practicable
violence upon the genuine action of human society in pursuit of the
means of subsistence, I thought proper in a certain degree to engage
in the importation of corn from Poland, Silesia, and other
neighbouring countries. This seemed an eligible measure, if it were
only that I might show others the way, and excite them by my example.
I procured agents; I extended my concerns in various directions over
the navigable rivers; I formed magazines. It would have been contrary
to the genius of my undertaking, either to make a gratuitous
distribution of what I purchased, or to sell it at such low prices as
to drive other speculators, whose spirit of enterprise might happily
co-operate with mine, out of the market. However indifferent I might
feel to the receipt of pecuniary compensation, it was necessary that,
in the concerns of barter and trade, I should assume the exterior of a
merchant.

Nor did I wholly confine my exertions within the occupations of an
architect and a corn-dealer. These, or rather the former of the two, I
regarded as my true and genuine province; but I did not so far enslave
myself to my own maxims, as to negative in all instances the direct
demands of want. I was not anxious to convert a nation or an army of
men into my personal adherents and retainers: I was rather desirous to
avoid this as a dangerous source of obloquy. I did not therefore
always decline, by pretended loans to assist other men to employ
labourers as well as myself, to act upon their own designs, and
prosecute their own fortune. The cries of the poor man, the widow and
the orphan were sometimes too importunate, and too well justified by
their unquestionable necessities, to allow me to withhold from them my
alms. In a few instances I conveyed my supplies anonymously to
persons, whose dignity of birth, or whose proud independence would
have been too grievously wounded if they had known their benefactor. I
was cautious and apprehensive as to the direct dispensing of money,
but not entirely bent against it; I regarded it as a precarious, but
in some cases a necessary interference.

The impulse which, by these various measures, I was fortunate enough
to generate, seemed to have the effect, so far at least as the sphere
of my activity extended, to revive the almost expiring life of the
country. Dejection and hopeless indolence, when I commenced my
operations, were written in every face; the miserable inhabitants
crawled along the roads or the street, their hands idly relaxed by
their side, and their slow and painful steps scarcely supporting their
lifeless trunk. When my plan became known, and I had already in a few
instances reduced my maxims into practice, it was as if the mellow and
spirit-stirring blast of a trumpet had wakened their sleeping souls.
Their eyes lightened with intelligence; the tear of anguish was wiped
from their faded cheeks; the smile of hope slowly expelled, and
faintly succeeded to the bitter expression of despair. Busy and active
thoughts gave new motion to their limbs and quickness to their steps;
the labourer was seen hastening from place to place; the sound of the
hammer, the saw, and the various tools of the workman, was to be heard
from every side.

The conduct I pursued necessarily fixed upon me a considerable portion
of public attention. I was a foreigner, destitute of connections, and
not having a previous acquaintance with any individual in the country.
I was in appearance a mere boy, a young man in all the flower and
bloom of adolescence, and who must be supposed to have just entered
into possession of his patrimony. These things tended to increase the
public wonder, and to render the mystery of my proceedings more
perplexing and obscure. In the age of genial warmth and melting
softness, I did not appear accessible to those passions, which haunt
the days, and too often undermine the virtues of youth. Youth is the
season of benevolence; but benevolence is rarely, as seemed to be my
case, the only fruit that youth is found to produce. There was a
maturity and a justness of adaptation in my plans, not less foreign
from what those who surrounded me would have expected me to display.
The apparent disinterestedness and modesty of my proceedings were not
lost upon the spectators. The consequence of all this was that the
sieur de Chatillon, such was the name I at this time assumed, was
regarded as a phenomenon which could not be too much admired, or too
loudly extolled. Wherever I appeared, the people followed me with
their gratitude and their blessings; ballads were written in my
praise; the very children were taught with their infant tongues to
lisp the virtues of the Saviour of Hungary. My doors were besieged; my
steps were watched; I could move no where without public observation.
I was importuned with petitions without end; yet, if any petitioner
showed himself presumptuous and intrusive, the whole multitude of
bystanders was ready to repress his indiscretion, and teach him the
respect that was due to their generous benefactor, who never refused
any thing, but what it would be improper and injurious to grant.

Such was the treatment I experienced in Buda and the neighbouring
districts. Whether I looked within or without, I was equally presented
with incitements to self-approbation. I sent forth labour, accompanied
with her best and loveliest companions, plenty and health,
congratulation and contentment, to scatter blessings through the land.
I felt that I was prompted to this conduct by none of the motives of
vulgar ambition. I desired neither lordships nor estates, neither
elevation of rank nor extension of prerogative. Sufficient to myself,
if I effected the happiness of the people and they confessed me their
benefactor, my every passion would then be gratified. The utmost
boundary of my personal wishes proceeded no further than this, that I
might be honoured and loved. What I desired, I obtained; the youth I
had procured to myself through the medium of the opus magnum, was like
what we are told of the youth of Job. "When I went out through the
gate of the city, the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the
aged arose and stood up; the nobles refrained from talking, and the
princes laid their hands upon their mouths. When the ear heard me,
then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to my
actions."

Here it may be thought I had ascended to that sphere which it was fit
the possessor of the philosopher's stone should fill, and reaped the
rewards to which a man thus endowed ought to be forward to entitle
himself. Nor will I affirm that I was insensible to the gratifications
of my present situation. Though I sought to escape from the applause
that pursued me, yet there is something in the nature of the human
mind that makes it impossible for us to hear it without complacence.
It was not however a boisterous and obtrusive acclamation that
satisfied me. A certain inwrought modesty of nature made me listen to
noisy commendations with a sentiment of shame. They seemed to be more
than any thing I had done could deserve; or they seemed to be in a
tone from which the delicacy of a virtuous mind shrinks back
displeased. They were so obstreperous as to take from me the power of
hearing the sweeter verdict of my own conscience. No; it was the
unbidden tear that glistened in the eye of my beneficiaries; the
tongue that faltered beneath the essays of gratitude: the overwhelmed
heart that had no power to express itself; the hand of the parent that
was stretched out to his children, and dumbly said, These, these shall
thank you!--it was these things, that I felt within as the balsam of
my life, and the ambrosia of heaven.




CHAP. III.

Yet, thus surrounded, and regaled with this animated praise, I was not
content; I wanted a friend. I was alone amidst the innumerable
multitudes of those I had blessed. I knew no cordiality; I could
repose no confidence; I could find no equal. I was like a God, who
dispenses his bounties profusely through twenty climates, but who at
the same time sits, separate, elevated and alone, in the highest
heaven. The reader may, if he pleases, despise me for the confession;
but I felt that I was not formed for the happiness of a God.

I was not however long sufficiently at leisure, thus to refine upon
the deficiences of my apparently enviable situation. I had engaged in
a task of extreme delicacy, in which the smallest failure would draw
along with it the most serious consequences. Mine was not an
undertaking that had for its object, to supply those around me with
luxuries, or to augment the stock of their cheerful relaxations and
amusements; the very existence of my beneficiaries depended on its
success. I had put myself in a considerable degree, with whatever
diffidence and caution, in the room of the course of nature, and had
taken the administration of the common benefits of human society into
my hands. The populace are ever ready to construe this delegation in
the strictest sense: unqualified to trace the wheels and combinations
of the great machine, if prosperity is their lot, they willingly
ascribe it to their protectors and governors; and, if they are
unfortunate, it is against them that the whole storm of their
resentment is directed. The moment they are thus irritated, their
impatience is too great to admit of correctives and remedies; in the
fury of their disappointment, they disturb every thing, and render
that irreparable and fatal, which was at first only doubtful and
unpromising.

My proceedings, as I have already said, bore in the commencement the
most benignant face, and seemed a revival of this despairing and
unfortunate nation little less than miraculous. The regular labours in
which the inhabitants became engaged, restored a healthful tone to
their minds; the payments they duly received seemed to discharge them
from all anxious solicitude; and, as, by my own efforts and the
enterprises of others, the market was supplied with provisions, they
had no difficulty in exchanging these payments for the necessaries of
life. The supply of the market at first was easy; the universal
dejection that preceded, though it had not prevented all exertions for
that purpose, had rendered those exertions too feeble for extensive
success. The strenuous efforts that were now made were productive of a
copious supply; but they rendered each importation more difficult than
the importation before. The demand continued the same; the relief was
every day more diminutive and precarious. The harvest was however
advancing with the happiest auspices: and, though some time must yet
be consumed in expectation, it was probable frugality and fortitude
might enable the inhabitants to hold out till the season of plenty
should arrive.

But fortitude is not the virtue of a populace. The higher had been
their hopes, and the more unexpected their deliverance, with so much
the more blank and melancholy a countenance they beheld this
unexpected delay and retrogression. Not understanding the powers by
which I acted, they blindly ascribed to me the faculty of doing
whatever I pleased. As long as every thing went on prosperously, they
were grateful; the moment a reverse occurred, they were inclined to
murmur. They made no allowance for the limited capacities of a human
creature; they imputed whatever was unpleasing to indifference or ill
will. The price of commodities, after having for a while become
moderate, now rapidly rose again; this was partly the consequence of
the increased quantity of the precious metals, by means of which any
assignable sum bore a less proportion to the provisions of the market
than it had done before. Bread was at a very high price; and it
occasionally happened to buyers who did not come early enough, that
there was no bread to be purchased. The doors of the houses where it
was sold, were besieged; the industrious poor appeared before them
with the first faint dawn of the morning's light. Here they consumed
hours of painful expectation, in grievous addition to the hours of
their customary fatigue. The whole was a scene of anguish and
calamity; the passions of those who composed it, mingled with the
distress, and rendered it too heavy to be borne. Anticipating famine,
they felt the mischiefs of it before it arrived. Never was the demand
so urgent; it seemed as if the capacity of men's appetites was
enlarged, and the cravings of hunger became more insatiable, in
proportion to the smallness of the supply. To people thus
circumstanced, it would have been vain to recommend frugality and
moderation. They devoured the food with their eyes, while it was yet
beyond the reach of their hands; and the lesson you read them, would
have sounded in their ears as if you had bid them die to-day, to
escape the danger of dying tomorrow.

The crowds which the necessity of purchasing bread brought together at
certain hours, when assembled, naturally entered into the discussion
of their present discontents. They were not satisfied with the
discourse and jostling of the morning; the habits produced by these
noisy assemblies had a secret charm with them, and drew them together
at seasons of less urgent demand. They patroled the streets: they were
loud in the expressions of their dissatisfaction. With the
inconsequence incident to the lower orders of mankind, they threatened
to destroy the mills, the markets, the places of sale, the means and
materials by which their wants were to be supplied.

In the midst of these scenes of turbulence and confusion, it is not to
be imagined that I escaped uncensured. Far otherwise: in proportion to
the gratitude and adoration with which they had lately regarded me,
was their detestation and abhorrence now. My interference was spoken
of with contempt and execration. For what purpose had I, a foreigner,
come into their country, and intruded myself into their affairs? Why
had I impiously taken them out of the hands of their heavenly Father,
whose care was so constant, and whose relief so certain? It was on my
part a despicable vanity and presumption, which the justice of
providence could not fail to avenge; and they must now suffer the
punishment of my blasphemy. But they did not stop here. There was no
horrible calumny, which they did not invent, or give credit to against
me. They imputed to me the basest personal motives for what I had
done. Under the hypocritical pretence, they cried, of being their
benefactor and saviour, I was using them only for my private ends. I
had become a purchaser and vender of corn, for the single purpose of
increasing my fortune. The present scarcity they were well assured was
artificial and of my own contriving. I had magazines in different
stations on the borders, which, when the price was risen to the
standard of my avarice, and when half the people had fallen victims to
my inhumanity, I purposed to dispose of to an immense profit.

Such were the aspersions to which my character became generally
exposed. By the populace, who now experienced the unsatisfied cravings
of hunger, and in whom my proceedings had excited hope, only to be
followed by a more cruel disappointment, they were greedily credited.
Many who knew their falshood, were yet zealous to propagate them.
Short as had been my residence in Hungary, I had made many enemies. It
is to be feared that no man can be assiduous and indefatigable in the
service of others, without incurring that consequence. I employed a
great number of workmen; every one whom for whatever reason I refused
to employ, every one who, being unqualified for the service I
required, looked with an envious eye on the better fortune of his
neighbour, was well disposed to be my enemy. Persons of no
contemptible account in the community, had been excited by
expectations of profit to engage in the importation of corn: these
persons viewed my efforts in the same department with a suspicious
eye, and regarded a man who, however cautious in his proceedings, was
not regulated by the same motive, as a most pernicious rival. My
sudden elevation and importance in the country were regarded with not
more astonishment than aversion by those whose importance I obscured.
They could not hear with patience of an upstart, a boy, a stranger,
one universally unknown, elbowing out the influence of all that was
most illustrious and venerable in the community, and robbing them
daily of their adherents and retainers. All these persons left no
effort untried to defame my character.

The impulse being once given, the tumultuous disposition of the
populace became every day more formidable. It is much easier to
disseminate a temper of this sort than to quell it: my opulent foes
might take alarm at its excesses, and desire to undo what they had
done, but the thing was beyond their power. Every day I feared lest,
from threats and invectives, the populace should proceed to violence:
every night I thought I had reason to congratulate myself, that the
day had passed without waste and spoil committed by them on the means
of their subsistence, or was not marked with the destruction of their
champion and benefactor. In some places a sort of petty sedition broke
out among the labourers I employed: in the morning they refused to
work; why should a man work, they muttered, when after all he may
starve with the wages of his labour in his possession? at night they
became impatient and furious, and demanded from my superintendents and
storehousemen the food, which in the morning they had refused to earn,
and were therefore now unable to purchase. I had already had some
experience in the nature of popular tumults; I had now no marchese
Filosanto at hand to persuade me of their inefficacy; and, if I had, I
should no longer have lent an ear to his serene and unsuspicious
generosity. I felt the reality of the danger; I saw the storm as it
blackened in my horizon, and was deeply convinced what it would be if
it burst upon my head.

It may be imagined with what feelings I saw my whole design on the
point to be subverted, by the unruliness of those for whose benefit it
had been planned. It is true I had now no darling relations to be
involved in my fate, no incomparable wife, no daughters illustrious in
innocence and beauty; yet my feelings were scarcely less pungent than
they had been at the period of my catastrophe at Pisa. I had blamed
myself in review, that, in my experiments at Constance, at Dresden, at
Pisa and at Madrid, I had not commenced upon a sufficient ample scale,
but had suffered myself to be frustrated by the ingloriousness of my
precautions. That had not been my error in the present instance; yet
my success now promised to be scarcely more flattering than upon
former occasions. I had looked for happiness as the result of the
benevolence and philanthropy I was exerting; I found only anxiety and
a well grounded fear even for my personal safety. Let no man build on
the expected gratitude of those he spends his strength to serve! Let
him be beneficent if he will; but let him not depend for his happiness
on the conviction of his rectitude and virtue that is to be impressed
on the minds of others! There is a principle in the human breast, that
easily induces them to regard every thing that can be done for them,
as no more than their due, and speedily discharges them from the
oppressive consciousness of obligation. There is a levity in the
generality of men, that entails on them a continual oblivion of past
benefits, and makes one recent disappointment of more importance in
their eyes, than an eternity of kindnesses and condescension. I shall
have other instances of ingratitude to display in what yet remains to
be related of my story.

My nights were restless; my thoughts were in arms. What was it that it
became me to do in the present emergency? Sometimes, in the bitterness
of my heart, hating myself, hating the endowments of the stranger,
hating a race of beings who denied all credit to the most unheard of
exertions for their advantage, I determined to withdraw unobserved
from my attendants and clients, and bid adieu to Hungary for ever. But
whither was I to fly? What was I to do next? What experiment could I
make of the purposes to which to apply the philosopher's stone, that I
had not already made? These questions, to none of which I could give a
satisfactory answer, checked the career of my passion, and gave pause
to my thoughts.

Whatever I did, I was determined to do nothing rashly, nor to quit a
great experiment without its having been fully tried. It was no light
concern, no trivial child's-play in which I had embarked. I had taken
the welfare, perhaps the existence, of a great and heroic nation under
my protection. In this glorious vocation it did not become me to be
lightly discouraged. What if those I served and saved did not shew
themselves sufficiently sensible to the exertions I made for them? I
ought to purify my bosom, on an occasion like this, from base and
ignoble motives, and to deem myself sufficiently recompensed by my
conscious virtue. What if the service in which I had engaged now
appeared to be a service of hazard and peril? Is there any great
undertaking that can be separated from this condition? If hastily,
from cowardice, from pique, or from any other motive, I deserted the
business on which I had entered, what was to become of my mistaken
indeed, but in that case most unfortunate clients? The greater was the
crisis to which they were exposed, the more unremitted vigilance and
the more uncommon powers were necessary to guide them amidst its rocks
and its quicksands. I saw thousands of men who for several weeks had
fed, as it were, from the stores of my bounty. By a propensity
inseparable from the human heart, I became attached to the work of my
own meditations, and the labour of my own thoughts. All their
fickleness, their injustice, even the atrocious calumnies they
admitted and propagated against me, could not wean my attachment from
beings, a great portion of whom, but for my interference, would, I
believed, long ere this have expired of hunger.

In the peculiar and urgent circumstances in which I found myself, no
expedient was so obvious, as that of calling in the interference of
the government under which I lived. It was necessary that the
resources of national subsistence should be defended from the wanton
spoil of those who, when they were annihilated, must inevitably
perish. It was necessary that the benefactor of Hungary, who, I
flattered myself, was still able to watch effectively for her
advantage, should be protected from her misguided resentment. The
alternative was singularly painful to my feelings. The pride with
which my unparalleled endowments inspired me, was deeply wounded, when
I was compelled to confess, that I was not alone equal to the task I
had undertaken, and that I must submit to call in a foreign auxiliary.
I augured little favourable from the interference of government,
which, if I implored, I could scarcely expect to guide, which was not
likely to submit to my principle of rendering its interference the
mildest and the smallest that the nature of the case would admit, but,
puffed up with presumption, and intoxicated with authority, would
probably leave no concern of the public welfare uninvaded. Least of
all, could I anticipate much of good from a Turkish government. But
what could I do? I could discover no other expedient. Influenced by
the views I have recited, I had hitherto kept myself as far from the
observation of the political directors of the state as I could. But my
cautiousness and reserve were now at an end. With my eyes open I
exposed myself to all the evils that might attend on my proceeding.

I determined to apply to the bashaw of the province. Previously to my
taking this step, I had the precaution to enquire his character. He
was the genuine offspring of the Turkish system of government. His
name was Muzaffer Bey. He was originally a Circassian slave; then a
Janissary; and, rising by insensible gradation, had at length been
appointed bashaw of Buda, which, as being the immediate frontier
between Austria and the Porte, was at this time the most arduous
situation in the gift of the sultan. He was esteemed a good soldier;
he had been early distinguished by his dexterity in military
exercises; he had since seen much service; and, in every situation in
which he was placed, had earned commendation and honour. He was
abstemious and hardy; for himself, he neither pampered his appetites,
nor shrunk from severity; and he had as little indulgence for those
under his command, as for his own person. Yet he was indebted for his
present eminence more to the arts of the courtier, than to his merits
in the field. His chief care had ever been to recommend himself to
those above him, and to obtain the good will of his equals; for the
opinion of his inferiors he gave himself little concern. With
considerable ability, he laboured under no check from either principle
or ingenuous pride; and therefore was extremely successful in his
attacks on the inclination of those he sought. The habits of his mind
had modified the lines of his countenance, and the tones of his voice.
Except to his dependents and the poor, he almost always spoke with a
smile upon his face, and his enunciation was silver-tongued, oily,
copious and insinuating. If he ever adopted a different manner, the
variation was only in the means, not the end; and, when he seemed to
travel by an opposite road, the goal at which he aimed was the same.
He never consulted any oracle, but that of his apparent interest; if
he had any insolence in his nature, he regarded his slaves and those
under his military command as affording a sufficient scope for its
evaporation; he had no affections to disturb him from his bent; he had
no passions, but the self-complacency of superior cunning, and the
sordid love of pelf.

This account of the man with whom I had to deal was far from
encouraging; but I had no alternative. I sent to signify my desire to
confer with him; or, to speak more accurately, to ask, in the Eastern
manner, when it would be agreeable to him to receive a present of
which I requested his acceptance. He appointed the morning of the
following day. I prepared a gift, such as might tend to conciliate his
favour, without marking in the donor the possession of immoderate
wealth. It consisted of silks and muslins, with a small piece of plate
of exquisite workmanship. My present was borne by two of my servants.
We were ushered to the bashaw in his private apartment; there were two
or three persons in attendance upon him. They examined my present
together; and, without condescending to express much approbation, I
could nevertheless discern that the bashaw was pleased with it. This
ceremony concluded, Muzaffer ordered what I had brought to be taken
into a different apartment; and, every other person then withdrawing,
we were left alone.

While the bashaw was examining my gift, I took that opportunity of
considering his person. He appeared to be about sixty years of age;
his complexion dark and muddy; his features coarse and distorted; his
mustachoes remarkably large; his person, though bony and muscular,
considerably below the middle size; and his figure ungainly and
ungraceful. I felt surprised that such a man should ever have been an
excellent soldier, or have risen from a low rank to one of the first
situations of the empire. To look at him, he seemed better formed for
the vice of a comedy, than the ruler of a nation. He raised his eyes
towards me askance, as he sat leaning on his elbow, and said.

You call yourself--?

The sieur de Chatillon.

And your age--?

Is two and twenty.

I am glad you are come to me. I intended to have sent for you, and you
have saved me the trouble.

I made many apologies for my intrusion, but added that I had a
petition to prefer, and I hoped he would favour me with a hearing.

Not at all, not at all; do not call it an intrusion: it is necessary I
should be acquainted with you. He proceeded:

You have undertaken to confer great benefits on the subjects of the
grand signior, my master; to rescue them from famine. Young, rich, a
stranger, unknown to my master, unknown to his subjects, I understand
that you have spared no labour or expence to bring about their
welfare. This is really a very extraordinary case; your merit is
unprecedented; I do not feel myself competent to reward it.

I answered that I laid no claim to uncommon merit; that every temper
had its particular gratifications; and that I found as real a luxury
in the proceedings he had remarked, as other men did in the excesses
of the table, or the promiscuous enjoyments of the harem.

It is out of my power, continued he, to remunerate you as you deserve;
I must send you to Constantinople.

I perceived that this was the first essay of his artifice. I informed
him, of what I have no doubt he knew well enough before, that I had no
desire to go to Constantinople. I wished to remain where I was, and to
finish what I had begun.

What, you have not done then? suddenly and with an abrupt voice
exclaimed the bashaw. By Mahomet, a man of a reasonable appetite in
your place, might be satisfied. Have not you filled the streets with
riots, and the country with rebellion? Do not the populace assemble in
crowds, insulting every one they meet, and talking of nothing but fire
and devastation, the bow-string and the scymetar? Be so good, my dear
sir, as to inform me what further you may have in view?

Reverend bashaw, cried I with submission, yet with firmness, I have
none of these things in view. But a moment ago you did justice to my
intentions. They are those of beneficence, and beneficence only.

I know nothing about that. I have nothing to do with honest men's
blunders; I look to the effects they produce.

These effects, most mighty sir, are temporary; they are the clouds
that will often obscure for an instant the brightest sunshine.
Condescend to lend me your generous assistance, and all will be well.

Do not tell me of clouds and sunshine. This is, to my thinking, not an
April-shower, but an earthquake and a hurricane. If we are all to be
swallowed up or whirled into the air, it is no consolation to me,
that, the day after we are gone, every thing shall be as fair and
serene as paradise itself.

Remember, sir, that, when I came into Hungary, I found its inhabitants
in the most desperate condition, miserable, wasted and starving. Have
I not already suspended this evil for months?

Yes, I do remember. You are one of those busy-bodies, who never see an
evil without imagining they are the persons to correct it, intruding
into every thing, and subverting every thing. The superintendence of
the public welfare is a mystery to which none are competent, but those
whom Mahomet has raised to the situation of statesmen. Your
interference is blasphemy against the spirit of our religion, and
deserves to be encountered with the most exemplary punishment.

Good God then, is it in this country a crime to feed the hungry, to
clothe the naked, and to shelter the houseless?

Sieur de Chatillon, retorted the bashaw, you appear to be unacquainted
with the maxims of Turkish policy, the wisest and most beneficent in
the world. If none of the disturbances had happened at which I have so
much reason to be alarmed, still, in relieving the people in the
manner you have done, you have incurred the guilt of high treason
against the sultan. Know, sir, that, through the whole extent of his
dominions, there is but one proprietor, and that is our illustrious
monarch. You say, that you wish to be the benefactor of his subjects,
and the judge of your own proceedings: such sentiments are flat
rebellion against the glorious constitution of Ottoman. The sovereign
of Constantinople will have no benefactor in the countries he presides
over, but himself. Like the invisible ruler of the universe, he acts
by second causes; he allows his ministers to be the instruments of his
beneficence; but all must be ascribed to him, must flow from his will,
and be placed under his control. You, who have formed a plan of public
benefit without consulting him, and have presumed, like a luminary of
the world, to move in an orbit of your own, have in strictness of
construction forfeited your life to his justice; and I consult rather
the clemency of his nature, than the maxims of his policy, if I suffer
you to go from this palace with your head upon your shoulders.

Without suffering myself to be too much moved by the imperious
language addressed to me, I complained to the bashaw of the rigorous
and arbitrary character of what he stated to be the maxims of the
Turkish government. I solemnly protested that I had no private or
personal object in view. The effect of my operations would be to give
new strength and energy to his master's dominions. By diffusing
happiness among his subjects, by reviving industry, and scattering
plenty prosperity and ease, all discontent and disaffection would be
rooted out, and the people, who are never minute in scanning the cause
of their enjoyments, would bless the sceptre under which they were
made to participate such manifold benefits. If the policy of the divan
led them in any degree to interfere, they ought rather to crown my
measures with their applause, than wantonly to throw obstacles in the
way of what I purposed. I asked however no reward, I demanded no
favour for myself; all I desired was that the sultan would assist me
in securing to his people those benefits, the dissemination of which I
had so auspiciously begun.

The bashaw, without taking any direct notice of this expostulation,
answered, that I was not aware of the maxims of his government, to
which, in consideration of my seeming generosity and rectitude, he was
willing to give the mildest interpretation. It is however, continued
he, to the last degree idle in you to imagine, that you can be
permitted to go on unobserved, and that the sultan and his
representatives are to take no account of your proceeding. The great
instrument for ruling mankind is by their passions and their opinions.
The man from whom they believe they have the most to fear and the most
to hope, will always be their master. Whatever be your secret or your
professed designs, you go on from day to day making yourself
partisans, and enlisting the subjects of the sultan among your
personal retainers. What security has he for your submission and
loyalty? How shall he know that, when you have acquired the advantages
of a powerful leader, you will not go over to the enemy, or, in the
present distracted condition of the province, even have the audacity
to set up for yourself? If therefore, by an unexampled clemency of
construction, I decline to reduce you into the passive machine of my
master's will, it is at least incumbent on me, that I should take
account of your powers, and possess myself of the schedule of your
property. By this means only can I watch your progress, and take care
that you do not suddenly become too powerful for a subject. Are you
prepared to satisfy me on this head?

On this question I hesitated for a moment; I had not exactly
anticipated the enquiry; at length I requested the delay of a few
days, and then I promised that all his demands should be satisfied.
The bashaw resumed:

Sieur de Chatillon, I remark your hesitation, and I draw from it no
favourable augury. These indirect and involuntary indications are more
worthy of my attention, than all the studied and elaborate information
you shall think proper to give me. Sir, you are a man of darkness, and
every thing that relates to you is enveloped in mystery. You come
hither without any apparent motive; you have no connections of blood
in Hungary; you have no acquaintance with any eminent person of the
Hungarian nation. I have had my spies on you long, though I have not
hitherto thought proper to summon you to my presence. You have
purchased no property in the province; I cannot learn that you have
any correspondencies or resources from abroad. I have been at the
pains to procure an account of your expenditure during the three
months you have resided among us; much of that expenditure has been
obscure, clandestine and indirect; but I believe you will find my
estimate, which you are at liberty to inspect and remark upon,
tolerably correct. Your disbursements for three months, exceed the
amount of two years income of the richest subject, that even the
credulous monarchs of Christendom suffer and protect within their
dominions. What am I to think of this? How can I be sufficiently
vigilant respecting a man, whose expenditure is immense, and whose
wealth can neither be traced to its source, nor ascertained in its
amount?

I was not slow in conjecturing the object which the bashaw proposed to
himself in our present conference. I was confirmed in my conjecture by
the circumstance of his choosing that the discussion between us should
be apart form all witnesses. He regarded me as a boy, and had
therefore practised upon me all those arts which might most
effectually excite in me fear and alarm. He found however that, under
the external indications of youth and inexperience, I possessed the
wariness that added years most powerfully inculcate, and the self-
possession of a mind thoroughly awake to its situation and its
resources. This must have been to the minister before whom I stood a
memorable phenomenon. But curiosity is not a Turkish passion; and the
single object of the bashaw in the present instance, was to make the
mysteriousness of my circumstances a pretext for extorting money. I
submitted with as little seeming reluctance as possible to the
necessity of the case; I requested the good offices of Muzaffer to
protect my benefactions; and begged permission to make him the
compliment of a handsome sum of money, by way of convincing him that I
was worthy of his friendship.

This business was easily adjusted between us. I found him perfectly
skilled in the duties of a public office, and by no means under the
dominion of visionary scruples. He told me he was now convinced that I
was a well meaning man, and a good subject; he said, that nothing
could tend more effectually to demonstrate my innocence, than my
showing that I understood the duties and concerns of a minister of
state; and that for his own part he was never so happy, as when he was
thus able to reconcile his private interests with the good and
faithful service of his master. There was nothing that demanded a more
unremitted vigilance, or a more skilful management, than such a
situation as his; and it would be most unreasonable, either in the
sovereign that appointed him, or the subjects over whom he was placed,
to expect him to be indifferent to the emoluments and perquisites of
his function. He complimented me warmly upon the disinterestedness and
liberality of my exertions. He thought himself particularly fortunate
in having so public-spirited an individual within the circuit of his
jurisdiction. In fine, he hoped he should be honoured with my personal
acquaintance, and assured me that nothing could make him more happy
than the frequent repetition of my visits.

We now perfectly understood one another; and it was apparent that I
had to do with a man, who, for what he deemed an adequate
consideration, would willingly lend me the authority and countenance
of his office, and suffer me to guide him in any of the functions I
might conceive necessary for the execution of my projects. Guards were
agreed to be placed upon the magazines where corn was still contained,
and from place to place on the banks of the rivers, where the
depredations of a misguided populace were most to be apprehended.
Finding the bashaw so perfectly willing to comply with my
requisitions, I further obtained from him the direction of several
squadrons of cavalry for the protection of the crops, which from the
consequences of my interference now began on all sides to variegate
the scene. This was a most important service. When the corn was first
committed to the earth, it was out of the reach of military
devastation. But, as time glided silently on, the case became
materially altered; the enemy might from forecast and prudence desire
to reap the harvest of what he had not sown, or from malice to destroy
that without which the Turk would perhaps be unable to retain his
newly acquired territory. This had in reality been the principal
cause, before my arrival in Hungary, of the very general neglect into
which agriculture had fallen. Muzaffer, than whom no person could now
be more polite and condescending, allowed me to determine the number
and nature of the troops I required; and added that, though he could
not openly put them under my direction, the slightest intimation I
might think proper to convey to him, should at any time decide their
march, and regulate their quarters.




CHAP. IV.

In my conference with the bashaw I may seem to have secured more than
one point of material importance; yet it was difficult for any man to
be in a state less consolatory or more full of danger and menace, than
I was at this moment. By my vigilance and the power which thus I had
acquired, I prevented indeed the inhabitants from wantonly destroying
the means of their own subsistence; but, the more I was their
benefactor, the more I appeared to become odious to their thoughts. My
negociation with the bashaw, whatever other benefit might accrue from
it, did not tend to increase the resources of the country; I was
obliged to witness many scenes of wretchedness and distress. He that
would assist mankind in their adversity, must harden his heart to be
the spectator of the distress that he can, and that he cannot,
relieve. But whatever I beheld of this sort the majority of the
bystanders obstinately persisted to ascribe to my deliberate
malignity. The military aid I found myself necessitated to introduce,
by no means tended to disarm the prejudices of my clients. In one or
two instances, but no more, flight tumults arose, and a few of the
rioters fell a prey to their own wickedness and folly. These
misfortunes were cast in my teeth; and I was pursued with clamours and
curses. I found it requisite to obtain a guard for my person. I was
abhorred by those for whom all my vigilance was exerted, and insulted
by the mouths that I supplied with the necessaries of existence.

Nor was this my only source of alarm and uneasiness in my present
situation. I was by no means a dupe to the ostentatious civility of
the bashaw. I perfectly understood his insinuation when he invited the
frequent repetition of my visits. I knew that, however dearly I
purchased his friendship and patronage, I should still have to
purchase them again and again. His extortions upon me admitted of no
limits, except from his own modesty, or the estimate he might form of
my invisible resources. Bribery itself afforded me no complete
security; and, now that I had become an object of curiosity and
remark, he had sufficiently shown me I was at the mercy of his
caprice, or of that of his master, for my liberty, and even for my
life.

Yet, could I have resolved to quit Hungary, and seek the protection of
some more regular government, what benefit should I derive from a
removal? Mystery was the great and unconquerable bane of my situation,
and from the poisonous influence of mystery the most regular system of
government was not competent to protect me. It would be idle to
imagine that, in any country on earth, a stranger would be permitted
to launch into such expences as those in which I was engaged, without
becoming an object of suspicion, and being made liable to continual
interruption in his measures. Yet, unless allowed to use the resources
I possessed, of what advantage was it to be the depository of wealth
without a bound? Was it to be wished for a man under my circumstances,
to have a family, or to be without a family? When I had one, I found
the legacy of the stranger robbing me of every comfort of that sort
with the most calamitous aggravations. When I was stripped of wife and
children, though no man could prize those benefits more dearly than I
prized them, I took to myself the consolation, that at least now I
should risk no one's happiness but my own, and that, for a person
exercising my endowments, it was perhaps requisite to be free from
every shackle and incumbrance. I found however the topic from which I
had consoled myself, in reality the source of a new misfortune. I had
the wealth of a nobleman; but I was deprived of his adventitious
attributes. I had no illustrious ancestry to boast; I had neither
lineage nor parent; I had neither wife nor children, in whom mutually
to reflect and see reflected the elevatedness and generosity of my
station. I had not even the ordinary advantage, which is within the
reach of almost every man, of connections and acquaintance, friends
handed down to me as a branch of my patrimonial inheritance, friends
whose value experience enabled me to ascertain, and friends with whom
long habits of familiarity had given birth to reciprocal endearment.
The bashaw had imputed to me the design of forming a party. Alas!
these, which are the great materials for cementing party-attachments,
were totally denied me. I had no bonds of alliance but those which
money afforded, the coarsest, the meanest, the least flattering, and
the most brittle of those ligatures, that afford the semblance of
uniting man with man.




CHAP. V.

Aware of the difficulties which unavoidably sprung out of the nature
of my situation, I resolved immediately to endeavour to supply them to
the best of my power. I conceived that there was no consideration so
urgent upon me at the present moment, as that I should without loss of
time create to myself connections that might balance and keep at bay
the fallies of arbitrary rule, and that I should weave with my own
hand the cords of friendship.

I had no sooner formed this project, than an individual suggested
himself to my reflections, whom I judged to be by a singular
concurrence of circumstances happily fitted to be the subject of my
experiment, and admirably qualified to afford me protection in the
most unfavourable events. The name of this man was Bethlem Gabor. He
had been some time before brought to me by one of his friends, and he
was a man whom for a thousand reasons it was impossible to see and
converse with, without receiving the most indelible impression. He was
the lineal representative of one of the most illustrious houses in
Hungary. His vocation, like that of the majority of the Hungarian
nobility, had been arms; but, in the midst of a fraternity all of whom
were warlike, he stood conspicuous and alone. His courage, though cool
and deliberate, almost mounted to a degree of desperate rashness; and
the fertility of his invention and the variety of his stratagems did
not fall short of his courage. The celerity of his measures was
equally distinguished; distance was no bar to him; and he had no
sooner conceived a project, however arduous, than it was executed. He
had formed under his own eye a band of men like himself, impetuous,
yet deliberate, swift in execution, silent in march, invincible to
hardship, contemners of fatigue, of difficulties, of hunger and of
thirst. When introduced to me, he was upwards of fifty years of age.
He was more than six feet in stature; and yet he was built as if it
had been a colossus, destined to sustain the weight of the starry
heavens. His voice was like thunder; and he never uttered a word, but
it seemed to shake his manly chest. His head and chin were clothed
with a thick and shaggy hair, in colour a dead black. He had suffered
considerable mutilation in the services through which he had passed;
of one of his hands three fingers were gone; the sight of his right
eye was extinguished, and the cheek half shot away, while the same
explosion had burned his complexion into a colour that was universally
dun or black. His nose was scarred, and his lips were thick and large.
Bethlem Gabor, though universally respected for the honour and
magnanimity of a soldier, was not less remarkable for habits of
reserve and taciturnity. But these habits misfortune had caused to
become more deeply engrafted in his nature. During one of his military
excursions, a party of marauders had in his absence surprised his
castle, burned it to the ground, and savagely murdered his wife, and
children, and every living creature within the walls. The same stroke
that rendered him childless, made him also a beggar. He had been
regarded for his proceedings as an adherent of the Turkish standard,
but he had always tenaciously maintained the most complete
independence. The adversity that had now fallen upon him was too
great. He would not become a pensioner of the sultan; despair had
taken fast possession of his heart. He disbanded the body of men he
had formed, and wandered a solitary outcast upon the face of his
country. For some time he seemed to have a savage complacence, in
conceiving that the evil he had suffered was past all remedy, and in
spurning at those palliations and disguises with which vulgar souls
are accustomed to assuage their woe. Yet the energy of his nature
would not suffer him to rest: he wandered an outcast; but every day
engendered some new thought or some new passion: and it appeared
probable that he would not yet quit the stage of existence till he had
left behind him the remembrances of a terrible and desolating revenge.

It may seem strange that such a man as I have described should be the
individual I selected out of the whole Hungarian nation to make my
friend. It may seem that his qualities were better adapted to repel
than attract. My choice would not appear strange, if the reader could
have conversed with him, as I did. He was hideous to the sight; and he
never addressed himself to speak, that I did not feel my very heart
shudder within me. Seldom did he allow himself to open his thoughts;
but, when he did, Great God! what supernatural eloquence seemed to
inspire and enshroud him! Not that upon such occasions he was copious
and Ciceronian, but that every muscle and every limb seemed to live,
and to quiver with the thoughts he expressed. The hearer could not
refuse to venerate, as well as fear him. I never pitied him; Bethlem
Gabor's was a soul that soared to a sightless distance above the
sphere of pity; I can scarcely say I sympathised with him; but, when I
listened to his complaints, rather let me say his invectives, I was
astonished, overwhelmed and motionless. The secret of the effects he
thus produced, lay in his own way of feeling the incidents he
described. Look at him, when he sat alone, wrapped in meditation, you
would say, That is a man of iron; though adversity pour her fiercest
darts upon him, he is invulnerable; he is of too colossal a structure
to be accessible to human feelings and human affections. Listen to his
narrative, or rather to the bursts of passion, which with him supplied
the place and performed the functions of narrative, you would soon
confess your mistake. While he spoke, he ceased to be a man, and
became something more amazing. When he alluded to what he had endured,
you did not compassionate him, for you felt that he was a creature of
another nature; but you confessed, that never man seemed to have
suffered so much, or to favour with such bitterness the cup of woe. He
did not love his wife or his children as any other man would do; he
probably never dandled or fondled them; his love was speechless; and
disdaining the common modes of exhibition, it might sometimes be
mistaken for indifferenece. But it brooded over and clung round his
heart; and, when it was disturbed, when the strong ties of domestic
charity were by the merciless hand of war snapped asunder, you then
saw its voluminous folds spread and convulsed before you, gigantic and
immeasurable. He cursed their murderers, he cursed mankind, he rose up
in fierce defiance of eternal providence; and your blood curdled
within you as he spoke. Such was Bethlem Gabor: I could not help
admiring him; his greatness excited my wonder and my reverence; and,
while his manners awed and overwhelmed me, I felt an inexplicable
attachment to his person still increasing in my bosom.

On his part, my kindness and partiality appeared scarcely less
pleasing to Bethlem Gabor, than his character and discourse were
fascinating to me. He had found himself without a confident or a
friend. His wife and his children in a certain degree understood him;
and, though he had an atmosphere of repulsion beyond which no mortal
ever penetrated, they came to the edge of that, and rested there; they
trembled involuntarily at his aspect, but at the same time they adored
and they loved him. The rest of the world viewed him from a more
fearful distance; respected him, but dared not even in fancy be
familiar with him. When therefore he lost his family, he lost his all.
He roamed the earth in solitude, and all men made room for him as he
passed. I was the first who, since the fatal event that had made him
childless and a beggar, had courted his society, and invited his
communications. I had dared to take the lion by the paw, and seat
myself next him in his den. There was a similarity in our fortunes
that secretly endeared him to me. We had each by the malice of a
hostile destiny, though in a very different manner, been deprived of
our families; we were each of us alone. Fated each to be hereafter for
ever alone; we blended ourselves the one with the other as perfectly
as we could. Often over our gloomy bowl we mingled groans, and
sweetened our draught as we drank it with maledictions. In the school
of Bethlem Gabor I became acquainted with the delights of melancholy,
of a melancholy, not that contracted, but that swelled the soul, of a
melancholy that looked down upon the world with indignation, and that
relieved its secret load with curses and execrations. We frequently
continued whole nights in the participation of these bitter joys; and
were surprised, still at our serious board, by the light of the
morrow's sun.

I have now, I believe, fully accounted for our intimacy, and displayed
the ligatures that secretly bound us to each other. It is scarcely
necessary to add, that my understanding confirmed what my heart
impelled. Bethlem Gabor appeared to me the fittest man in the world
upon whom to fix for my friend. We were qualified mutually to benefit
each other. My kindness, my unremitted attentions, the earnestness
with which I listened to and soothed his griefs, mitigated their
agony. I proposed, when I could once more reconcile and incite him to
activity, to repair his castle, and restore his fortune. On the other
hand, he was, of all the persons I could have pitched upon, the ablest
to protect me. By his birth he ranked among the first men of his
country; by his ability, at least as a partisan-soldier, a character
at that time highly esteemed, he rose above them all.

For some time I regarded Bethlem Gabor as entirely my friend, and I
consulted him in every thing, in which, compatibly with the legacy of
the stranger of the summer-house, I could consult him. I told him of
the suspicions of the bashaw, and the precariousness of my safety. I
demanded his advice as to the best method of securing it. Ought I to
regard it as a more effectual or as a cheaper expedient, to attempt to
purchase the countenance of the sultan, instead of condescending to
bribe his minister? Ought I to set up for myself, and by rendering
myself the independent prince of one of the Hungarian provinces, defy
the Turk, or at least endeavour to negociate with him from a more
respectable and commanding situation? I said more than enough under
these heads, as it afterwards appeared, to awaken strange imaginations
in a mind of so much penetration as that of Bethlem Gabor. In fine, I
demanded of him whether, in case of any great and formidable danger
falling on me, he would to the utmost of his power afford me
protection? When the question was first started, he swore to me with
his customary impressiveness and energy that he would.

While I was thus employed in consulting him, and opening to him as far
as was practicable my prospects and my fears, I did not less succeed
in dissipating or suspending the despair of his own melancholy. It was
of benefit to him in this respect, that, by opening to him my affairs,
I from time to time called off his attention from his personal
misfortunes. I proposed to him the rebuilding his castle, and I at
length obtained his permission to send off a corps of workmen for that
purpose. Beside the castle in which his wife and children had been
murdered, and which the marauders had nearly destroyed, he had one
considerably stronger, though void of all recommendation from
chearfulness or beauty, in the more northerly part of the kingdom.
This we visited together. I restored the condition of his fields; with
considerable difficulty I replaced the cattle he had lost, by
purchases in Poland; and I revived his dilapidated revenues. At first,
he felt an invincible repugnance to the receiving any advantage from
the voluntary bounty of another; but by continual remonstrances I was
able to persuade him, that he owed me nothing, and that what I did was
no more than was required from me by a regard for my own safety.

If ever on the face of the earth there lived a misanthrope, Bethlem
Gabor was the man. Never for a moment did he forget or forgive the
sanguinary catastrophe of his family, and I could sometimes have
imagined that for his own misfortunes he had vowed vengeance against
the whole human race. He almost hated the very face of man; and, when
expressions of chearfulness, peace and contentment displayed
themselves in his presence, I could see, by the hideous working of his
features, that his spirit experienced intolerable agonies. To him such
expressions were tones horribly discordant; all was uproar and havoc
within his own bosom, and the gaiety of other men inspired him with
sentiments of invincible antipathy. He never saw a festive board
without an inclination to overturn it; or a father encircled with a
smiling family, without feeling his soul thrill with suggestions of
murder. Something, I know not what, withheld his hand: it might be
some small remaining atom of humanity: it might be--for his whole
character was contemplative and deliberate---it might be that he
regarded that as a pitiful and impotent revenge, which should cause
him the next hour to be locked up as a madman, or put to death as
criminal. Horrible as was his personal aspect, and wild and savage as
was his mind, yet, as I have already said, I felt myself attached to
him. I knew that all the unsocial propensities that now animated him,
were the offspring of love, were the sentiments of a lioness bereaved
of her young; and I found an undescribable and exhaustless pleasure in
examining the sublime desolation of a mighty soul.

Bethlem Gabor had at first regarded me with some degree of partiality.
Kindness in almost all cases begets kindness; he could not see how
much I interested myself about, and how much I courted him, without
feeling for me a sentiment different from that he confessed for other
men. I saw however after some time, with inexpressible grief, that his
regard for me, instead or increasing, suffered perceptible diminution.
Our propensities were diametrically opposite to each other. He
rejoiced in disorder and desolation as in his congenial element; my
present pursuit was the restoration of public order and prosperity. He
repeatedly expostulated with me on this. I had sometimes in our
conversations, in the bitterness of my recollections, exclaimed on
myself as the most unfortunate and most persecuted of men, though
without entering into an explanation of my sufferings. He reminded me
of these exclamations. He reproached me as a contemptible and
pusillanimous wretch, that I did not, like him, resolve amply and
memorably to revenge my own sufferings upon my species at large. In
his estimate, the poorest and most servile of all maxims, was that of
the author of the Christian religion, to repay injury with favour, and
curses with benediction.

I perceived with grief that the kindness towards me that had been
excited in Bethlem Gabor's mind, rather declined, than augmented; but
I was very far from being aware of the degree in which, as I
afterwards found, this sentiment had relapsed into its opposite. It
seems, I inflicted on him a daily torture, by my daily efforts for the
dissemination of happiness. Of these he had not been at first so
completely aware. His mind had been too much absorbed in its own
feelings to attend very distinctly to any thing I did, unless it were
done in his presence. But, in proportion as I soothed his sorrows, and
made him my confident, the film was removed; and all that he saw had
the peculiar misfortune to excite at once his contempt and his rage.
The finishing stroke that I gave to the animosity which, unknown to
me, was now brooding and engendering in his breast, consisted in my
bestowing an important benefit upon one, against whom he had
entertained a long and eternal feud.




CHAP. VI.

While Bethlem Gabor every day became more confirmed in his antipathy
against me, I reposed in him an unsuspecting confidence, a confidence
more extensive than I had, since the singular and fatal acquisition I
had made, ever reposed in any other man. Frequently for a considerable
time together he resided under my roof; frequently we went forth
together in those excursions which either my projects or his views
rendered it necessary for us to make. In his character of a nobleman
of great consideration in his native country, he was now rising like a
phoenix from its ashes. His castles were repairing; his property was
restored; the list of his retainers daily became more numerous; he
revived and carefully recruited the martial band, which, in the first
exacerbations of his despair, he had dismissed from his service. My
purse and all that I had were his; he never made a demand upon me that
I did not instantly supply; I reaped a particular pleasure from the
largeness and frequency of his demands; there was nothing for which I
was more anxious, than to bind him to me in indissoluble ties of
gratitude and affection.

Little, alas! did I understand the compound of tenderness and
ferocity, of decisiveness and inscrutability, with which I was now
concerned. I had once already, as I have above said, visited the
castle of Bethlem Gabor in the more northerly part of the kingdom; I
was destined to visit it again. My friend, such I esteemed him, had
been absent some time; I expected his return to my residence at Buda;
and, anxious as I was to pay him every mark of attention and respect,
I proposed to set out to meet him. It was scarcely safe, during the
existing hostilities between the Austrians and the Turks, to travel
any where without a guard; I had the precaution in the present
instance to take with me an attendance of twenty men.

It was after having partaken of a slight and early dinner that I set
out on my excursion. The season was remarkably fine, and the air
genial and balsamic. I scarcely ever commenced any tour with more
agreeable sensations. The harvest was already ripe; and, as I passed
along, I saw reapers from time to time entering upon the first essay
of their interesting occupation. I felt that I had at length
surmounted one of those difficulties, with which I had been so
strongly assailed, and to which I had refused to yield. If I were not
free from apprehensions from the arbitrary nature of the government
under which I lived, I believed however that I had nothing more to
dread from the misconstruction and animosity of the nation I
preserved. My anxiety as to whether I should be able to substantiate
the benefit I had sought to confer, was at an end; and I had little
doubt that, with the plenteous crops which were on the point of being
gathered, my popularity would return and the gratitude of my clients
become more ardent than ever. It was a delicious enjoyment that I now
experienced; the pleasures that the eye unavoidably takes in from the
spectacle of a luxuriant autumn, became blended in my mind with the
ideas of famine put to flight, my own rectitude vindicated, and the
benevolent purposes realised, the prosecution of which had cost me so
profound a heart-ache.

We at length passed the lines of the soldiers planted for the defence
of the soil against the depredations of the enemy. I had calculated
that I should meet my guest a few leagues from Buda; I was deceived in
my estimate. The day however of his arrival was fixed; I could not be
mistaken in his route; I resolved not to turn back without meeting
him. The road I took led upon the borders of that part of Hungary
which owned the Austrian yoke; the shades of night were fast gathering
round us, and we heard at a distance the alarm-guns and the drums of
the enemy. I was not however a novice in the appearances of a country,
the seat of military excursions and war; and, if my mind were not
wholly free from perturbation and uncertainty, I at least resolved not
to be turned aside from my purpose. We travelled two hours longer;
still no notice of the approach of Bethlem Gabor. At length a question
was started whether we were still in the right road, and I thought it
advisable to hold a sort of council of war to deliberate respecting
our further proceedings. Having assembled my attendants for that
purpose, I was now first struck with the apprehensions and timidity
which they unanimously betrayed. They had been drawn out rather for
show, and to keep accidental stragglers in awe, than with the
expectation of actual service. I became sensible that nothing was to
be hoped from their resistance in the event of an action; and the
utmost I could aim at was in the mean time to hold them together by
the sentiment of a common danger.

It was resolved to return; I began to be apprehensive that Bethlem
Gabor had been prevented by some unexpected occurrence from observing
his appointment. Scarcely had we faced about, before we heard a body
of cavalry nearly approaching us. I called to my party to halt. I soon
discerned, from symptoms not difficult to be remarked by a careful
observer, that the party near at hand was composed of Austro-
Hungarians. We had every thing to fear from them. I held myself bound
under these circumstances first to make experiment of the fleetness of
our horses. I however charged my people to keep together, and not to
suffer the enemy, by means of our inadvertence and folly, to make an
easy prize of us one after another. In a short time I found that our
pursuers sensibly gained ground upon us. I was mounted upon a very
excellent beast, and could easily have rode away from my troop, while
they would have been placed as a sort of intercepting object between
me and the enemy. But I had too much of a military spirit not
instantly to reject so inglorious an expedient. I called out a second
time to my attendants to halt. I judged that the party of our pursuers
was less numerous than ours. I was convinced that our common safety
depended upon our concerted resistance. Filled with the gallantry that
my situation irresistibly inspired, I did not perceive, till it was
too late, that my present call to halt was attended to but by few;
even those few rather hung back, divided between apprehension and
shame. I was the foremost, and, before I was aware, I found myself,
through the medium of the darkness, enveloped by the enemy. From my
appearance they judged that I was the master, and the rest my
attendants: they contented themselves therefore with the prize they
had made, and did not even give themselves the trouble to pursue the
fugitives. They eagerly enquired of me who I was; and, comparing my
answers with various circumstances which rumour had brought to their
ear, they easily concluded that I was the rich stranger of Buda. The
character they had heard of me did not produce in these freebooters
any sentiments of forbearance or demonstrations of respect; the only
point about which persons of their habits were concerned, was how they
should make the greatest advantage of what the fortune of war had
thrown in their way.

While they were consulting, and various expedients were started by one
and another for this purpose, a second alarm was given, and one of the
party being dispatched to reconnoitre, presently returned with
intelligence, that the persons approaching were horsemen of the enemy,
and that they amounted, as he guessed, to forty in number. Upon this
information the party whose prisoner I was become agreed to return
with all expedition by the way they had come, and commanded me upon
pain of death to proceed in their company. This menace had not the
effect to deprive me either of my courage or presence of mind; and I
presently conceived that the readiest way to deliver myself from my
embarrassment would be to join at the first opportunity the band of
Turco-Hungarians whose approach had occasioned our sudden retreat. The
darkness of the night was favourable to my purpose; and, taking
advantage of a sudden winding in the road, I slackened all at once the
pace of my horse without being observed by my companions, who, as the
enemy approached, had now their thoughts almost wholly intent upon the
safety of their retreat. They passed me; and I no sooner perceived
that to be the case, than, covered from their observation by the
intervening inclosure, I turned my horse, and gradually, as my
distance from my keepers increased, urged him to a fuller speed. It
was not long before I came up with the band which had produced our
alarm; and hailing them with the acclamation, Long live the mighty
sultan! was without difficulty admitted into their troop. I instantly
understood to my great joy that this was the party of Bethlem Gabor
that I had come out to meet.

He received me with much cordiality, and seemed greatly rejoiced that
fortune had made him the instrument of my rescue. He proposed however
that, having met on the road, I should now, instead of proceeding to
Buda, return with him to his northern castle, from which our distance
was scarcely greater than from the metropolis. The proposal was such
as I had not expected, nor could I well comprehend the purpose with
which it was made. But the habitual demeanour of Bethlem Gabor neither
accorded with his minutely assigning an argument for what he did, nor
was calculated to encourage enquiry in another. I saw no material
objection, and therefore felt little scruple in yielding to his
desires. Our brief consultation on this point passed at some little
distance from the rest of the troop.

When the morning broke, the first thing that excited my attention was
the appearance of his followers. They were full forty in number, well
mounted, of a large and athletic figure, with sun-burnt faces, immense
whiskers and a ferocious countenance. I thought I had never seen so
tremendous a band. To me they were every one of them strangers; of all
the persons that surrounded me, the only one of whom I had the
slightest knowledge was Bethlem Gabor himself. I know not why it was,
but I no sooner beheld my situation than I was struck with alarm. I
saw myself completely in the power of persons who three months before
were ignorant even of my existence. I had not a single attendant of my
own, not an individual with me over whom I had personal authority or
command. I had no reason to distrust my host; towards me his demeanour
had ever been frank, confidential and manly; I had every imaginable
claim upon his generosity and his gratitude. But our senses are often
the masters of our mind, and reason vainly opposes itself to the
liveliness of their impressions. Every time that I lifted my eyes, and
saw myself hemmed in by these barbarians, my heart seemed
involuntarily to fail me. Bethlem Gabor too appeared to neglect me; he
had never shown himself so little obliging and attentive as at this
moment; and, aided by the rest of the scene, I thought I had never
beheld him so deformed or so tremendous. I was more than half inclined
to wish myself once again a prisoner with the Austrians.

When we arrived at the castle, we were all of us fatigued and hungry;
we had roamed during the whole night. A repast was prepared; we sat
down to partake of it. Excuse me, said Bethlem Gabor in a low voice as
he passed me, that I this night offer you the fare of a soldier; to-
morrow you shall be accommodated in a different manner. His words were
innocent; but there was a mysterious gloom, at least as I thought, in
the tone in which they were uttered, that electified me. The hall in
which we supped was spacious and lofty; the naked walls and rafters
were imbrowned with age. Though it was day-break as we entered, the
windows were still darkened, and the apartment was illuminated only by
the partial glare of lamps depending from the roof. As I sat at table
with the troop of my host, I appeared to myself as if inclosed in a
cavern of banditti. Though excellent partisans, skilful in execution,
and perfect in their discipline, they were unpolished in their manners
and brutal in their conversation. I had been accustomed from my
infancy to all the refinement that the age in which I lived had any
where to boast; and, amidst the various evils I had suffered, that of
being associated with the vulgar and the base had never presented
itself. While they uttered, now a loathsome jest, and now a sanguinary
ejaculation, I became ashamed of my species, and the pride of manhood
perished within me. They however paid little attention either to my
feelings or my person; and, accustomed as I had been whether with
friends or enemies to be regarded as of some importance, I found
myself unaccountably and suddenly dwindled into a cypher. I felt it
like a release from the state of a galley-slave, when Bethlem Gabor
proposed that we should break up our meeting and retire to rest.




CHAP. VII.

A Succession of gloomy thoughts revolved in my mind for some time
after I was left to myself. I was however overcome with fatigue, and,
after an interval of harrassing meditations, insensibly fell asleep. I
was awaked after some hours' repose, by the presence of Bethlem Gabor
standing by the side of my couch. He invited me to rise, and, when I
had attired myself, started the plan of our visiting together the
various apartments of the castle, a small part of which only had been
seen by me when I was last at this place. Among other things, he told
me, there was a subterranean of most wonderful extent, interspersed
with a variety of cells and lurking places, of which no man had to his
knowledge ever ascertained the number.

The same dreary complexion of thoughts followed me to-day, which had
been first produced in me upon my reception into the troop of Bethlem
Gabor the preceding night. My sensations were of the most depressing
and discomfiting nature; I felt as if I were the slave of some dark,
mysterious tyrant, and dragged along supinely wherever he motioned me
to go. I tasked myself seriously; I reasoned with myself. I felt that
it was no idle and every-day part that I was called to sustain, and I
resolved that I would not be ruined by my own inactivity and
cowardice. Yet, when I examined the question dispassionately, I could
not find that I had any occasion for courage, and I confessed that it
was not less censurable, to discover a useless spirit of mistrust and
defiance, than to desert one's preservation where resistance was
demanded. What reason had I to suspect a man between whom and myself
there had prevailed so much mutual confidence? None, none, I replied,
but the causeless and superstitious misgivings of my own mind! Even if
I had ground to distrust him, what remedy had I against his ill faith,
placed as I was in the midst of his own domains, and surrounded by men
devoted to his service? To discover apprehension under such
circumstances, was to excite animosity.--These reasonings particularly
occurred to my mind, as I stood waiting for the torch, which he had
himself gone to procure that he might attend me to the subterranean
caverns.--I had as yet seen no one, since we broke up from our nightly
repast, but my host. We will breakfast, said he, when we return from
viewing these curiosities.

We crept along a succession of dark and gloomy vaults, almost in
silence. Bethlem Gabor, though he led me on, and discharged the office
of a guide, seemed to have small inclination to assume that of an
interpreter. This was sufficiently in unison with his ordinary
character to have little claim to excite surprise. Yet the reader will
not on reflection greatly wonder that my present situation was far
from agreeable. I was alone in passages which, to judge from any
discoverable token, you would scarcely imagine had for ages been trod
by a human creature. The voice was lost amidst the damps of these
immense caverns, nor was it possible by any exertion to call the hand
of man to your aid. My guide was an individual whom calamity had
prompted to quarrel with all the world; of strong feelings indeed, of
capacious thought; but rugged, ferocious, brutal, and inaccessible to
prayer. I had chosen him for my protector and ally; I had never
intended to put myself in his power. There was a mystery in his
carriage, a something not to be explained, a shell that no human
forces could penetrate, that was mortal to confidence, and might quail
the stoutest.

I thought there would be no end to our pilgrimage. At length we came
to a strong door, cross-barred and secured with a frame of iron.
Bethlem Gabor unlocked it. We had no sooner entered, than it
impetuously closed behind us. What is that? said I, startled at the
loudness of the report. Come on, cried my host; it is only the wind
whistling through the caverns: the spring-bolt is shot, but I have the
key in my hand!--At the opposite end of the apartment was another door
with an ascent of five steps leading to it. Bethlem Gabor unlocked
that also, and then faced about with the torch in his hand: I was
close behind him. Stay where you are! said he with a furious accent,
and thrust me violently from him. The violence was unexpected: I
staggered from the top of the steps to the bottom. This door closed
with as loud a report as the other; Bethlem Gabor disappeared; I was
left in darkness.

For an instant I doubted whether the situation in which I thus found
myself were the result of design or of accident. The shutting of the
door might be ascribed to the latter: the action however and the words
of my host did not admit of that interpretation. I stood motionless,
astonished, and almost incapable of reflection. What an incredible
reverse was thus the creature of a moment! Yesterday I possessed
unbounded treasures, and the hearts of the whole Turco-Hungarian
nation. Yesterday, as I rode forth on this fatal excursion, I beheld
the food of a mighty people, mature for consumption, and the growth of
my exertions; and it will not be thought surprising that my heart
leaped within me at the sight. Who would not have envied the
unparalleled eminence at which I had arrived? My triumphs were
attended with no melancholy exceptions to damp their joy. They were
the children of no intrigue; they were manly, frank, ingenuous and
honourable. My laurels were stained with no drop of blood, were
tarnished with no tears of the widow and the orphan. How much more
noble to rescue mankind from famine and death, than to violate the
honest pride of their nature with the exhibition of victories and
trophies!

Yet, truly considered, there was nothing abrupt in the reverse under
which I was now suffering. The whole was a chain, every link of which
was indissolubly connected from one end to the other. My attempt to
rescue a people from the horrors of famine necessarily exposed me to
unfavourable accidents and to misconstruction. It inevitably led to my
application to the government for its aid. It could not fail to excite
the alarms and jealousies of government as to the tendency of my
proceedings. By exhibiting me as the possessor of immense wealth, with
very limited means for the protection of that wealth, it marked me a
prey to a rapacious viceroy or his more despotic master. When I became
sensible of the precarious situation in which I stood towards the
powers of the state, could I have fallen upon a more natural
expedient, than the endeavour to cover myself with the shield of
friendship and gratitude in the person of one of its nobles? But this
expedient would almost infallibly guide to the placing myself sooner
or later in the power of the man whose friendship I sought. I had done
so, and this was the termination of my views and my projects.

I now well understood the purpose of that inattention and neglect with
which Bethlem Gabor had treated me the preceding evening, the
uneasiness resulting from which I had blamed in myself at the time, as
the dictate of weakness and unworthy suspicion. Yesterday I had been
placed under the safeguard of a nation; every man in Buda and its
environs was familiar with my person; every man would have been ready
almost to sacrifice his life to procure my safety. Now I was far from
the scene of my philanthropical exertions; no one in the troop of
Bethlem Gabor knew who I was; he had appeared to treat me the
preceding evening with indifference and contempt; if they saw me no
more, no curiosity would by that circumstance be excited in their
minds. My clients on the other hand in the vicinity of the metropolis,
however great an interest they might take in my fortune, had no clue
that could lead them to the knowledge of it. They must suppose me a
prisoner with the Austrians, or that I had been killed in resisting to
become their prisoner. I was cut off from all assistance and
discovery, and left as much in the power of my treacherous ally, as if
I had been alone with him, oppressed with the utmost disparity of
personal force, in the remotest island of the Pacific Ocean.

Such were the reflections that early suggested themselves to my mind
in the solitude and darkness in which I was thus unexpectedly
involved. Meanwhile one tedious hour succeeded to another, and I
remained unintruded on and unnoticed. I could form no conjecture as to
the object of Bethlem Gabor in the atrocious perfidy he had committed.
Could he have any resentment against me, and did he meditate revenge?
He had received from me nothing but benefits. Did he employ restraint
on my person as the means of extortion? I could not conceive that he
could have any clue leading him to the discovery of my grand secret;
and, short of this, my bounties had been so exuberant, as, I imagined,
left him nothing to wish. In this wilderness of conjecture I however
fixed upon extortion as a motive less incredible than revenge. I
impatiently waited, till the appearance of my tyrant should free me
from some part of my present uncertainty.

He did not appear. In the mean time I was in a condition feeble and
exhausted. The exercise of yesterday, the hourly-baffled expectation
of meeting him whom I had called my friend, the alternation of being
first taken prisoner and afterwards rescued, had extremely fatigued
me. We had travelled during the whole night. Yet the unaccountable
dejection of mind under which I laboured on our arrival at Bethlem
Gabor's castle, had prevented me from taking almost any share in the
coarse repast that had then been set before us. The entrance of my
host in the morning had rendered my slumbers short. As I followed him
to my dungeon unconscious whither I went, my limbs ached, and my heart
ached still more. I was ill prepared for a fast of thirty-six hours
which the brutality of my jailor inflicted upon me. After having long
expected him in vain, I gave myself up to despair. What a termination
of life was this for him who possessed the philosopher's stone!

I cannot do justice to the sensations that now took possession of my
mind. It was not the deadly calm of despair, for I still expected
every moment when Bethlem Gabor would appear. I believed that he
would, and I believed that he would not, leave me to perish. I
listened with eager attention to every sound, and my soul floated on
the howling winds. In vain! nothing came of it; there was no
alteration in the sound, or only those vicissitudes to which the
howling of the wind is unavoidably subject. I then turned away in
anguish; I cursed; I stamped with my feet; I smote my forehead with my
closed hand; I tore my hair. Anon another sound arrested my attention;
it was a different howling; it seemed to be like a human voice; my
fancy created to me the tread of a human foot. I listened with more
intentness of soul than ever. It was again in vain!

No, no; he will not come; he will never come. Why should I agitate
myself thus to no purpose? Let me lie down and die!--I reasoned with
myself. Why should I wish to live? I am nothing to any human being: I
am alone in the boundless universe; I have no tie to existence. St.
Leon has no wife; St. Leon has no child; he has neither connection nor
friend in the world. Even in this wretched vision of the philosopher's
stone, have I not tried it enough? have I any hopes from it? is it not
time that I should throw away that and existence together?---My
meditations were ineffectual. I suppose it is the case with all men
thus violently thrust out of life in the full possession of their
faculties; I know it was the case with me; the more peremptory was my
summoner, the more obstinately I clung to the worthless toy.

At length I laid myself down on the floor; and, if I occasionally
listened, I no longer ran to the walls and the doors to catch the
uncertain sounds. The gnawings I now felt in my stomach were
intolerable. They were at one period so severe, that I can compare
them to nothing, but the sensation of having swallowed a glowing
ember. Afterwards, the weakness of nature would no longer feed this
excruciating pain, and it subsided into a starting and convulsive
throb; the pain was diversified with intervals of a deathlike and
insupportable sickness--But, no; I will not attempt to describe the
horrors of hunger sublimed by despair, where the torture of the mind
gives new pungency and uproar to the corporeal anguish. The image, as
it now presents itself to my recollection, is too dreadful.

At last I sunk into a state of insensibility; and the agony I had
suffered seemed drawn to its final close. The busy turmoil, the
feverish dream of human existence was at an end. I shut my eyes, and I
believed I should open them no more.




CHAP. VIII.

How long I endured this suspension of the vital faculties I cannot
tell. The next impression on my sensorium, subsequent to those I have
described, was a sort of twitching and pinching that seemed to
persecute me. It was an importunity from which I felt desirous to
escape; I longed to be undisturbed and at rest. The intruder on my
quiet would not leave me; and I at length roused myself as if to put
away my cause of molestation. My thoughts were all confounded and
obscure; I knew not where, I could scarcely be said to know who, I
was. A little more effort brought with it a further capacity of
perception; I saw before me, what was now the chief object of my
mortal aversion, the figure of Bethlem Gabor. It was some time longer,
before I became aware that he had been employed in taking up my
apparent lifeless corpse, placing it on a stone-bench in the side of
the cave, and chaining it to the wall. He observed the motions that
indicated in me returning life; he remarked the stare of my glassy and
rayless eyes; he now spoke with a stern and unpitying voice. There is
food; there is a light; eat! Having thus said, he left me.

What a cruel and remorseless treatment! He cared not for my life; he
disdained to make the slightest exertion to restore me; he left it to
chance whether I should revive or perish. The figure of a dying man
that I presented, did not make one fibre of his bosom bend or quiver.

I revived; I ate. By degrees I recovered from the deadly languor which
had invaded my senses. In about twelve hours longer Bethlem Gabor
returned with a new supply of sustenance. I was now strong enough to
be able to converse with him. I heard him from a distance as he
advanced towards my cell, and summoned my faculties to expostulate
with him.

Why am I here? What is the meaning of the unworthy way in which you
treat me?

It is,--he regarded me with a truculent aspect, as if he would pierce
through my heart,--because I hate you!

You hate me? Good God, is it possible? What evil have I done to you?
What good have I not done you? What supplies have I refused you? What
occasions have I neglected of studying your advantage, your interest
and your honour? If thus your hatred is purchased, how shall that man
demean himself who is to purchase your love?

Oh, think not my hatred idle or capricious! Heaven knows, I would have
refrained from hating you, if I had been able; I struggled against it
with all the energies of my soul. But you have committed towards me
the most mortal offences that man ever endured. There is an antipathy
between your nature and mine, that all the menstruums in the world
could never bring to coalesce.

Eternal Providence! and what is the source of this antipathy?

And do you profess ignorance? Have you not gone on day after day with
the full consciousness and will to torment me? Have I not warned you,
and expostulated with you times without number?

Of what have you warned me?

I hate mankind. I was not born to hate them. I have no native
obliquity of character. I have no diabolical maliciousness of
constitution. But they have forced me to hate them, and the debt of
abhorrence shall be amply paid.

I loved as never mortal loved. No human heart was ever so devoted, and
centred, and enveloped in the kindly affections of family and
parentage as mine has been. Was not my wife, were not my children
murdered? When I came home to feast my eyes, and tranquillise my soul
with the sight of them, did I not find all waste and desolation? Did I
not find their bodies naked, pale, disfigured with wounds, plunged in
blood, and already putrid? This was the welcome I looked for! This was
the object I so speeded to see! No, never was a moment like that! My
whole nature was changed in an instant. My eyes were blasted and dried
to horn. My blood froze in my well stored veins. I have no longer
delight but in human misery.

My revenge is not causeless; this was not the act of individuals. All
men, in the place of these murderers, would have done as they did.
They are in a league together. Human pity and forbearance never had a
harbour but in my breast; and I have now abjured it. With something
more of inwrought vigour and energy, I will become like to my
brethren. All men are excited by the same motives, urged by the same
temptations, influenced by the same inducements. Why should I attempt
a futile distinction, when nature had made none? All men bear the same
figure; I cannot view the human figure without a torture the most
dreadful.

I always knew, answered I, your general hatred of mankind; but your
manners and your behaviour persuaded me that you exempted me from the
general censure.

I wished to do so; you made the attempt impossible. You told me, that
you had suffered the same misfortunes which I had, that you, by the
injustice and persecutions of men, had also lost your wife and your
children. I hailed you as a brother; in my heart I swore to you
eternal friendship; I said, we will carry on this holy warfare
together. We communicated to each other our mutual sorrows, with you,
and you only, I found moments of consolation.

Soon I discovered my mistake. Instead of, like me, seeking occasions
of glorious mischief and vengeance, you took upon yourself to be the
benefactor and parent of mankind. What vocation had you to the task?
With the spirit of a slave who, the more he is beaten, becomes the
more servile and submissive, you remunerated injuries with benefits. I
found that there was not within you one atom of generous sentiment,
one honest glow of fervent indignation. Chicken-hearted wretch! poor,
soulless poltroon! to say the best of you, to your insensate heart it
was the same whether you were treated with reverence or with scorn. I
saw you hunted, hooted at and pursued by the people you fed; you held
on your course and fed them still. I was compelled to witness or to
hear of your senseless liberalities every day I lived. Could I submit
to this torment, and not endeavour to remove it? I hate the man in
whom kindness produces no responsive affection, and injustice no
swell, no glow of resentment. I hated you the more because, having
suffered what I had suffered, your feelings and conduct on the
occasion have been the reverse of mine. Your character, I thank God!
is of all beings the most opposite to that of Bethlem Gabor.

At length you filled up the measure of the various thwartings with
which you daily insulted me. There was one native of Hungary between
whom and me there subsisted an open and eternal war. I relate in no
human ear the cause of my animosity to that man. Suffice it, that it
was deep, immeasurable and inexpiable. With a refinement of cruelty
and insult difficult to conceive, you chose that man for one of the
objects of your beneficence. Would I consent to see my name joined in
pension-list with my mortal enemy? The injury you inflicted on me
would have been less if you had stabbed me to the heart. Less? That
would have been a blessing. I impose on myself the task of living for
my revenge: but never shall I deem that man my foe, who should rid me
of all this tumult of passions, and this insupportable load of
existence together.

You have heard my motives. You may wonder at, you may censure them:
but they are human. I have nothing further to say to you now: you have
no need to recur to expostulation; expostulation never moved the heart
of Bethlem Gabor. Hereafter you shall hear more!

Thus speaking, he left me; and I must confess, with whatever disgrace
to my sagacity, he opened upon me a new world. I conceived not, till
now, the faintest suspicion of what had been labouring in his bosom.
Amidst all my experience of the varieties of human character, this was
a species that had never fallen under my observation before. What a
painful and mortifying occurrence is it in human life, when we have
lived with a man from day to day, when we have conversed with him
familiarly and seen him in all the changes of circumstance, and when
we flatter ourselves we have penetrated all the recesses of his heart,
suddenly to start upon something portentous that brooded there, of
which to that moment we had not the lightest suspicion! I am not the
only individual to whom this event has occurred.

In a subsequent visit of Bethlem Gabor to my cell (for he only
attended me with provisions; he would intrust the secret of my
confinement to no other mortal), I intreated him to inform me with
what intention he retained me a prisoner, and to fix a price on my
ransom. To this overture he appeared to yield some degree of
attention. He made no explicit answer, but asked with an inquisitive
and severe tone, in what manner I imagined I could procure money in my
dungeon?

Let us agree upon the terms, and set me at large. You have never found
me deceitful, and you shall not find me deceitful now.

Do not hope I will consent to that. I ask you again then, in what
manner do you imagine you can procure money in your dungeon?

I reflected for a moment. Liberty is ineffably sweet; and, whatever
came of the present opening, I was determined not to neglect the
faintest prospect that led to the regaining my liberty.

There is, answered I, in my mansion at Buda, a chest which, if it can
be brought to me hither, will enable me to supply your demands. I have
the key in my custody; and no key, but my own, will unlock the
treasure. Give me the key! replied Bethlem Gabor.

No, rejoined I, it is in my custody; it is not upon my person: I have
taken care of that. No human hand shall ever touch it but my own.

And how can I cause this chest to be brought to you without risking a
discovery of your situation, or that I had a concern in your
disappearance?

Of that, said I, judge for yourself. I have made a proposition to you,
and I have done enough. I will have no share in the detail of its
execution.

Well, said Bethlem Gabor after having ruminated a moment, the chest
you shall have; I undertake for that part of the business. Describe
it.

I described the chest, and its situation in my house, with a
minuteness that made mistake impossible. After a considerable time it
was brought to me. On the occasion of admitting it, Bethlem Gabor
removed me to a cavern similar to my own, where I found it already
deposited, and where the same precautions as before were employed for
my restraint. I was secure that the lock was such a one as could not
be forced; but I examined the different surfaces of the chest, to see
whether violence of any other sort had been exercised on it. There
were marks of damage, but not sufficiently unequivocal to enable me to
form a certain judgment on this point. The chest contained, not gold,
but the implements for making and fashioning gold. Allowing for the
distance they had passed, they appeared to be pretty exactly in the
state in which I had left them. I had never placed much confidence in
this expedient for softening the heart of Bethlem Gabor; but I
perceived that it would serve at worst to divert my thoughts, and, by
exciting in me some share of expectation, might call off my attention
from the miseries of my present condition. Embracing the occasions
when I was most secure against the intrusion of my jailor, I provided
myself with the sum that had been previously agreed on between us. My
task being finished, I carefully displayed the produce of my labour,
against the next time Bethlem Gabor should visit my cell. He viewed it
with an air of sullen and gloomy triumph; he removed it from the cave
which was my habitation, to an apartment of this subterraneous abode,
little distant from my own. When he had concluded this employment, it
seemed to be a just inference that he was to give me my liberty. He
did no such thing. Without uttering a word, he closed the door of my
cavern, locked it, and departed.

When Bethlem Gabor next entered my cell, I reproached him with this,
as with the breach of a solemn engagement. His first answer was an
infernal laugh, expressive of derision, hard heartedness and contempt.
By and by however he condescended to explain himself more fully.

I made no engagement, cried he. You talked of a ransom, and I suffered
you to talk. I made you no answer; I gave you no encouragement. Boy, I
deceived you not! No; though my heart pants for vengeance and for
misery, I will never be guilty of treachery; I will break no
engagements; I am a knight and a soldier. You have given me ten
thousand ducats; what are ten thousand ducats to me? Do you think I am
uninformed of your secret? I opened your chest; I found no gold; its
contents were crucibles, minerals, chymical preparations, and the
tools of an artist. You are possessed of the grand arcanum, the
philosopher's stone. If I had a doubt of it before, the transaction of
yesterday converted conjecture into certainty. And did you suppose,
idiot, driveller that you are, that I should take ten thousand ducats
in commutation for wealth inexhaustible? No; you are my prisoner; and
may chuse in this infallible dilemma, whether you will remain my
slave, to supply me daily resources as I shall daily think proper to
demand, or at once make over to me your whole mystery, and place me in
this respect on a level with yourself.

It was now my part to be peremptory and firm.

I refuse, said I, every part of your dilemma, and all that you can
propose to me. Do you talk of my remaining your slave, to supply you
with daily resources? Do you imagine that, shut up in this dungeon, I
will nevertheless labour for your gratification? Do you believe that
that gift, which I received as the instrument of my own happiness and
the benefit of mankind, shall be made the pledge of my perpetual
imprisonment?

With regard to imparting to you the secret you suppose me to possess,
I answer without hesitation, that, dearly as I prize liberty, and
numerous as are the motives you may think I have to prize it, I will
not purchase my liberty at that rate. I would rather spend the days of
eternity in this cavern, than comply with your proposal. The gift of
the philosopher's stone, the moment a man possesses it, purifies his
mind from sordid and ignoble inducements. The endowment which raises
him so much above his species, makes him glory in his superiority, and
cherish his innocence. He cannot, if he would, mingle in the low
passions and pursuits of the generality of mankind. For myself, I
value too much the verdict of my own heart, ever to allow myself to be
influenced in the main concerns of my existence by menaces and
compulsion. Beside, this gift I received for holy and beneficent
purposes; to such it is consecrated; and, if I ever impart it, I must
select its depository with all the assiduity and penetration it is
practicable for me to exert. You I will henceforth benefit no more.
You hate me, my disapprobation of you is fixed and irrevocable. I weep
to think how much I have been deceived in you; I weep to think how
many high and heroic qualities in your breast are now converted into
malignity and venom.--You the possessor of the philosopher's stone!
You tell me, the sole pursuit of the rest of your life is revenge and
human misery. What an image do you raise in my mind, if, with such
dispositions, you possessed the means which the acquisition of riches
inexhaustible would confer on you? And do you believe that any
consideration on earth could induce me to realize such an image?

As you please, replied Bethlem Gabor indignantly. I have nothing to
propose to you. Think you that, either as my enemy or my slave, and I
hold you for both, I would descend to negociate with you? I simply
told you your situation. Yours be the consequences of your wilfulness
and folly!

One mistake however that I see you make respecting my purposes I will
remove. You seem to suppose that, if you were to communicate to me
your secret, I would then set you at liberty. No, by heavens! This
cavern is your abode for ever. You shall never go forth from it alive;
and, when you are dead, here your flesh shall moulder, and your
skeleton shall rest, as long as the world remains. Look round your
walls! Enter fully into possession of your final home! I know that to
keep you here, and alive, my prisoner, I must in a certain sense
imprison myself. But at that I do not murmur. I shall have the
gratification of beholding my foe, and seeing him daily wither in
disappointment. You wish to be a father to the human race; and I shall
deem the scope of my misanthropy almost satisfied, while, in your
restraint, I image myself as making the human race an orphan. Never
shall Bethlem Gabor set at large a man of your unnatural and gall-less
disposition, and your powers for the indulgence of that disposition.

Sieur de Chatillon, I do not want your secret. It suffices that I know
you possess it. Have I not yourself in my keeping? It will be more joy
to me, rudely to issue my commands, and to see you complying with them
in spite of the most heart-felt reluctance, than to possess the
richest gift on earth in the fullest independence. Think you Bethlem
Gabor incompetent to tame the tenant of this wretched cavern? Boy, you
are my prisoner; you shall be my creature. I will humble you at my
feet, and teach you to implore my bounty for the most miserable
pittance. Look to it! You know your destiny! Do not provoke my fury,
without a foresight of the consequences!

I will enter into little further detail of this my wretched
imprisonment in the wilds of Hungary. It was not destitute of its
varieties; and I could, if I pleased, fill a volume with the artifices
and the violence of my gloomy superintendent. But I will not. I will
bring to an end the history of Bethlem Gabor; and then, having
detailed the surprising events that immediately followed it, will
close the page of St. Leon's history for ever. How different was my
imprisonment in the cavern of the man-abhorring palatine, from that
which I had experienced in the dungeons of the inquisition! There an
inexorable apathy prevailed; my tyrants were indifferent whether I
died or lived; filled with the sense of their religious elevation,
they held on the even gravity of their course, and counted my groans
and my tears neither for remorse nor pleasure. The variety I
experienced in their dungeons was the growth of my own thoughts: from
without I encountered no interruption; it was not to be ascribed to
those who held me in durance, if my faculties were not lethargied into
death. Bethlem Gabor possessed no share of their apathy; his malice
was ever alive, his hatred ever ingenious and new in its devices. He
had a purpose to answer, to extort from me the supply of his
necessities and projects. It was not so much perhaps that he stood in
need of this, as that he placed a pride in it, and had fiercely
resolved to show me that I was unreservedly his slave. His animosity
against me was so fixed and insatiable, that nothing that was pain to
me was indifferent to him. If at any time he saw me subsiding into
insensibility, he failed not to exert himself to sting me into life
again.

The consequence of this was somewhat different from what Bethlem Gabor
expected. Desponding as I was, weary of life, and almost finally
alienated from the all-coveted gift of the philosopher's stone, if he
had left me to myself, I should very probably have sought in
insensibility relief from the torment of my own thoughts. But he
taught me a better lesson. Refusing me the indulgence of torpor, he
obliged me to string myself to resistance. He gave me a passion; he
gave me an object; he gave me comparative happiness. I was roused to
opposition; I was resolved that, placed, as I seemed to be, at his
mercy, I would yield him no atom of his desires. Thus employed, I
found in my employment pride. I had occasion for fortitude; and I
gradually ascended to the sweets of consistency, perseverance and
self-gratulation. I had for years been inured to satisfy myself with a
sparing stock of pleasures; and I was less at a loss to expand and
ramify those which I now possessed, than almost any other man would
have been in my situation. If my attendant train of sensations was
scanty, Bethlem Gabor took care to afford them a perpetual supply of
food and employment, and I was comparatively little exposed to the
pain of vacuity. When he saw that I was inflexible, and that he could
no longer gain from me the smallest compliance with his will, he raged
against me with terrifying fury. Was it a crime in me, that this fury
in my tyrant produced the operation of a sedative and a cordial? There
was no malignity in the joy it gave me. I had much aversion for
Bethlem Gabor, but no hatred. I took no pleasure in his agonies,
because they were agonies. My sympathies towards him now, I confess,
were small; but the joy I felt, was because his fury told me, was the
unwilling evidence of, my own value. I left him to assail the mound I
opposed to his desires as he pleased; it remained strong and
unaffected as the sea-beaten rock.---From the inefficacy of his
efforts, I sometimes took occasion to remonstrate with my jailor, and
demand the restoration of my liberty; but Bethlem Gabor was not a man
whom arguments and expostulations like these could move. In spite of
himself however I commanded his astonishment, if not his admiration.
He regarded the contrast as almost incredible between the boy-aspect
under which he saw me, and the inflexibility and resources of my time-
instructed mind.

The contentment that I have here described in myself, was however a
creature of the imagination, the forced progeny of uncommon effort. It
was no natural state of the soul. My mind would sometimes wander
beyond the limits of my cavern, and remember that there were other
persons beside Bethlem Gabor and myself in the world. I recollected
the situation in which I had left my great project for the
reviviscence of Hungary, and rejoiced to remember that it was already
in such forwardness, as, I hoped, no longer to stand in absolute need
of my assistance. Yet what I had done was but a small portion, a
dismembered branch, of what I had meditated to do, and what every
person of a generous and enterprizing mind, who had been in possession
of the philosopher's stone, would have designed. Why was I thus
stopped in the commencement of a career, so auspiciously begun, and to
which an ardent fancy would prescribe no limits? Why was every power
of the social constitution, every caprice of the multitude, every
insidious project of the noble, thus instantly in arms against so
liberal and grand an undertaking as mine? Nor could I help repining at
the perverseness of my fate, which had decreed that I should savour
all the bitterness incidentally resulting from my plan, and not be
permitted so much as to taste the applause and reward that ought to
grow out of its completion. Thousands of men were at this instant
indebted to my generosity and exertions for every blessing they
enjoyed; and I was cast forth as the refuse of the earth, pining under
the alternate succession of solitude, negligence and malice, my very
existence and the manner of it unknown, except to one individual, who
had, from the strangest and most unexpected motives, sworn eternal
hostility to me.

Bethlem Gabor had resolved that, so long as he lived, I should remain
a prisoner: when he died, if he continued my only jailor, the single
individual acquainted with the place of my confinement, the probable
issue was that I should perish with hunger. Twelve years before, I
should have contemplated this attitude and condition of existence with
indescribable horror. But within that time I had been better taught. I
had received an education, I thank them, in the dungeons of the
Spanish inquisition; and, if that be properly considered, it will not
be wondered at that I was superior to ordinary terrors. Early in my
present situation the presentiment had suggested itself to me that, by
some striking event, I should be rescued from my present confinement;
and, improbable as the suggestion was, it made an indelible impression
on my mind. It had originated in, or it had produced, a dream, the
scenes of which had appeared particularly luminous and vivid. I
imagined I saw Charles, my dearest and only son, exactly such in
figure and age as he had parted from me at the Saxon court. He did not
now encounter me with reproach: an angelic smile of affection and
tenderness beamed on his countenance. I pressed him to my bosom with
uncontrolable rapture. Presently, with the incoherency usually
attendant on a dream, instead of a blooming boy, I held a knight,
cased complete in proof, in my embrace. Again the figure changed to
that of a female of unblemished grace and beauty; it unfolded a pair
of radiant wings; we ascended together in the air; I looked down, and
saw the castle of Bethlem Gabor a prey to devouring flames.--Here
ended my dream. I soon felt that I could reason myself out of all
confidence in the presages of this wild and incongruous vision. But I
refused to do it; my consolations were not so plenteous in this
frightful solitude as that I should willingly part with one so
delicious. Reason, thus applied, I contemplated as an abhorred
intruder. It was, for a long time, part of my occupation in every day
to ruminate on this vision, not with the sternness of a syllogist, but
with the colouring of a painter and the rapture of a bard. From thus
obstinately dwelling on it in the day, it happened that it became
again and again and again my vision of the night. Slumbers like these
were truly refreshing, and armed and nerved me for the contentions of
my tyrant. Sacred and adorable power of fancy, that can thus purify
and irradiate the damps of a dungeon, and extract from midnight glooms
and impervious darkness perceptions more lovely and inspiriting than
noontide splendour!




CHAP. IX.

I Had now continued here for several months, and in all that time had
received no external impressions but such as related to the cell I
inhabited, and the misanthropical savage by whom it was visited. One
evening that Bethlem Gabor entered my dungeon, I observed in him an
air of unusual disturbance. Where apathy reigns, the intercourse
between those over whom it presides will be marked with a death-like
uniformity; but, wherever the furious passions take their turn, they
will occasionally subside into a semblance of familiarity and
benevolence. There was something in the countenance of my tyrant that
made me for the moment forget the complicated injuries I had received
from him. What is it that has disturbed you? cried I. There was no
answer. There was a knitting in his brow, and a contraction in his
features, that showed me his silence was an effort. He departed
however, and had already passed the threshold of my dungeon. The door
was in his hand. He returned. Chatillon, said he, perhaps you will
never see me more!

My castle is besieged. I have passed through dangers of a thousand
names, and I ought not to be made serious by that which now assails
me. But a gloomy presentiment hangs upon my mind. The busy phantom of
life has lasted too long, and I am sick at heart. In the worst event I
will not be made a prisoner; I will die fighting.

I feel as if this were the last day of my existence; and, upon the
brink of the grave, animosity and ferociousness die away in my soul.
In this solemn moment, my original character returns here (striking
his heart) to take possession of its native home; a character, stern
and serious, if you will; but not sanguinary, not cruel, not
treacherous or unjust. Between you and me there is a deadly antipathy;
but you did not make yourself; you intended me friendship and
advantage; the sufferings you have experienced from me in return have
been sufficiently severe. If I die defending my walls, and you remain
thus, you will perish with hunger. I had intended it should be so; but
I am now willing to remit this part of your fate. I will enter into a
compromise with you; I will trust to your fidelity, and your honour. I
will take off your chains; I will bring you a time-piece and torches;
I will leave with you the key of the spring-lock of your cavern,---
provided you will engage your word to me that you will not attempt to
make use of your advantages till the expiration of twenty-four hours.

To these terms I agreed without hesitation. The chains fell from my
wrists and my ancles; I stood up once more unshackled, and in respect
of my limbs a free man. When Bethlem Gabor was on the point to depart,
my soul melted within me. I took hold of his hand; my fingers
trembled; I grasped and pressed the fingers of my tyrant. I cannot
describe what then passed in my bosom. No man can understand my
sensations, who has not been in my situation, who has not passed
through a treatment, arbitrary, ferocious and inhuman, and has not
then seen the being who had wounded him so unpardonably, suddenly
changing his character, commiserating his fate, and rescuing him from
destruction.

From this time I saw Bethlem Gabor no more; he died, as he had sworn
to do, in the last ditch of his castle. His self-balanced and mighty
soul could not submit to the condition of a prisoner; he was nothing,
if he were not free as the air, and wild as the winds. I may be
mistaken; but this appears to me to have been a great and admirable
man. He had within him all the ingredients of sublimity; and surely
the ingredients of sublimity are the materials of heroic virtue. I
have much cause of complaint against him; he conceived towards me an
animosity the most barbarous and unprovoked; but, in writing this
narrative, I have placed my pride in controling the suggestions of
resentment, and I have endeavoured to do him justice.

I had engaged to wait twenty-four hours; I waited only six. I know not
how the reader will decide upon the morality of my conduct; but I own
I had not the force, I believe I may call it the insensibility, to
remain in my dungeon any longer. There was no doubt that, if Bethlem
Gabor returned a conqueror, the term of my imprisonment would be
renewed, and all his former menaces continued in force. What should I
deserve to have thought of me, if I could sit down idly, and tamely
wait the return of my jailor? No! liberty is one of the rights that I
put on when I put on the form of a man, and no event is of power to
dissolve or abdicate that right. Of what validity was the promise that
Bethlem Gabor had extorted from me by compulsion, and as the condition
of that which he had no title to withhold? What gratitude did I owe to
this man, who treated me with every contumely, and shrunk back from
nothing but the thought of causing me to perish with hunger? Whatever
became of my attempt to escape, I could at least in this vast
subterranean hide myself from the face of him who had injured me. I
had a provision of phosphorus in my chest; and could therefore
extinguish my torch upon the slightest alarm, and relume it again at
pleasure. What was the value of life, situated as I was situated? It
was better to perish in the attempt to escape, than linger on for ever
in perpetual imprisonment. As a further resource I left a paper in my
dungeon (for for this also I had implements) intreating Bethlem Gabor
by every motive of compassion and humanity, to leave provisions for me
as usual. Having taken these precautions, I lighted a fresh torch,
and, unlocking the door, and thrusting the key into my girdle, set out
upon my expedition. Though Bethlem Gabor had stipulated for twenty-
four hours, the siege might even now be over, and I trembled every
instant lest my jailor should return.

I wandered for a considerable time among the alleys and windings of
this immeasurable cavern. I had the precaution to mark the sides of
the vault with characters and tokens as I passed, that, if necessary,
I might be able to find the way back to my dungeon: this might prove
an indispensible resource, to prevent me from perishing with hunger.
Once or twice I changed my route, inferring from a comparison of
circumstances, the best I could make, that I was not in the direction
of the castle from which Bethlem Gabor had led me to my imprisonment.
In all this wandering I had seen nothing, I had heard nothing, which
could demonstrate to me that I was approaching the habitation of man.
I had groped my way for near two hours, when on a sudden I heard a
loud and tremendous shout that almost stunned me, and that from its
uncommon shock could be at no great distance from the place where I
stood. This was succeeded by a terrifying glare of light. I
extinguished my torch, both that I might be better qualified to
observe, and that I might be less in danger of discovery, by any one
who should approach me unawares. The shouts were several times
repeated. The light I found to proceed from that end of the vault
towards which I had been advancing, and, by the best conjectures I
could form, I concluded the outlet into the castle to be at no great
distance. I heard the crackling of the flames, and the fall of rafters
and beams. Presently I discerned a volume of somke approaching me, and
found that, if I remained long in my present station, I should incur
the risk of being suffocated. I formed my resolution. I once more
lighted my torch, and returned by the straitest road I could find, to
my dungeon. I concluded that Bethlem Gabor's castle was taken, and set
on fire by the Austrians. I believed that my persecutor was already no
more: to this faith I was undoubtedly prompted by the presentiment
which he had communicated to me. I saw that it would be impossible for
me to emerge into light, till the flames should abate. Being no longer
impressed with the apprehension of my jailor, and persuaded that to
mount into the castle would prove the assured means of my deliverance,
I determined to pass the interval quietly, in the cavern where I had
so long felt the weight of the Hungarian's chains. There were still
some small remains of the provisions he had recently left me.

I continued in the subterranean all that day and all the succeeding
night. Once in this period I attempted to reconnoitre the avenue of my
escape, but I found the situation still so heated and suffocating that
I did not venture to proceed. At length I came forth from this den of
horrors, and again beheld the light of the sun. The path had already
been sufficiently explored by me, and I no longer found any material
obstacles. I now saw that my conjectures were true: the castle of my
ferocious adversary was a pile of ruins. The walls indeed for the most
part remained, but choaked with fragments of the falling edifice,
blackened with the flames, and penetrated in every direction by the
light of day. With difficulty I climbed over the ruins, which opposed
my egress from the subterranean, and rendered my passage to the
outside of the castle an affair of peril and caution. Here the first
object that struck me was some tents, probably of the soldiers who had
been employed in this work of destruction. I was hailed by a centinel,
and I demanded that he would conduct me to his commander. He led me to
the centre of the little encampment, and I stood in the presence of
his chief. I lifted my eye to behold him, and was petrified with such
astonishment as till that hour I had never felt. It was Charles, my
son, my only son, the darling of his mother, the idol of my soul!




CHAP. X.

It may seem extraordinary that I should instantly have known him. He
was sitting at a table, covered with papers, and with one or two aides
de-camp waiting to receive his orders. He was clothed in complete
armour, and his casque was resting on the ground by his side. When I
entered, his eye was fixed on a dispatch that day received from the
great palatine of Hungary; but, in little more than a minute, he
raised his head, and his countenance was completely presented to my
view. It was fifteen years since I had beheld it; he was then scarcely
above half his present age, a mere stripling, in whom the first blush
of manhood had awakened the sentiment of independence and an honour
impatient of a shade; he was now a leader of warlike bands, his
complexion olived over with service, and his eye rendered steady with
observation and thought. But I knew him; I knew him in a moment. My
soul, with the rapidity of lightning, told me who he was. Not all the
arts in the world could have hid him from me; not all the tales that
delusion ever framed could have baffled me; I could have challenged
him against the earth!

I have already had occasion to explain the complexity of my feelings,
when, after a long absence, I visited the heiresses of the house of
St. Leon. The sweets of recognition, that transporting effervescence
of the mind, where the heart bounds to meet a kindred heart, where
emotions and tears mingle in speechless encounter, where all is gazing
love and strict embrace,--these pleasures were denied me. I stood
stiff and motionless in the presence of my child. My heart might
burst; but it must not, and it could not communicate its feelings.

After an instant's pause of overwhelming sensation, I sunk back on
myself, and considered my own figure. It happened that, exactly
opposite to me, in the tent of my son, hung his armour, and over the
rest his polished shield, in which I saw my own person clearly
reflected. The youth of my figure indeed was still visible; but the
hardships of my dungeon had imprinted themselves in glaring characters
on my face. My beard was neglected, my hair was matted and shaggy, my
complexion was of a strong and deadly yellow. My appearance to a
considerable degree told my story without the need of words. Charles
enquired of those who brought me, where they had found this wretched
and unhappy figure; and was told that I had been seen a few minutes
before coming out from the ruins of Bethlem Gabor's castle. He
humanely and naturally concluded, that I was a victim on whom the
tyrant had exercised his ferocity, and that I had been shut up in some
dungeon of the fortress: it was impossible that any person above
ground in the castle should have come out alive from the operation of
the flames. He commanded that I should be led to a neighbouring tent
and taken care of. After having been refreshed with food and rest, and
attired with other apparel, he directed that I should be brought to
him again, that he might hear my story.

Under these circumstances there was nothing for which I was more
anxious, than that I might recruit myself, and shake off as quickly as
possible the effects of my confinement. Cordials were brought me, and
I tasted of them: I bathed in a neighbouring stream: one of my son's
attendants removed my beard, and arranged my hair. I now desired to be
left alone that I might take some needful repose. I could not sleep;
but I reclined my limbs upon a couch, and began to collect my
thoughts.

I saw myself in one hour the sport of the most complete reverse of
fortune that could happen to a mortal. I had been the prisoner of a
cavern so wild and pathless, as almost to defy the utmost extent of
human sagacity to explore its recesses. From this cavern, but for the
sudden and extraordinary event which had just occurred, I could never
have come forth alive. All sober calculation would have taught me to
expect that I should have remained there, chained up like a savage
tiger in his cage, as long as Bethlem Gabor existed, and that, when he
died, I should perish, unheard, unknown, no creature that lived
suspecting my situation, no lapse of ages ever bringing to light my
dismal catastrophe. The remorse and relenting of Bethlem Gabor towards
me, seemed so little to accord with any thing that I had personally
witnessed of his habits and his mind, that even now I feel myself
totally unable to account for it. As it was however, I was once again
free. From the state of an outlaw imprisoned for life, I suddenly saw
myself at large, inspirited by the light of the sun, and refreshed by
his genial rays, in the full possession of youth and all its
faculties, enabled to return amidst my clients of Buda, or to seek
some new adventure, in any corner of the earth to which my inclination
led me. There is no man, however overwhelmed with calamities, however
persecuted with endless disappointment, however disgusted with life
and all its specious allurements, to whom so sudden and admirable a
change would not convey some portion of elasticity and joy.

But there was one thought that entirely occupied me. I cannot describe
how my soul yearned towards this my only son: the sentiment, even now
as I write, is an oppression I am scarcely able to sustain. Willingly,
most willingly, would I have traversed every region of the globe, if
so I might have discovered his unknown retreat; and now, suddenly,
without the smallest effort on my part, he was placed before me. His
last solemn parting, his abjuration of my society and intercourse for
ever, rose to my memory, and gave a zest inexpressible to our present
encounter. At the thought that my son was in the neighbouring tent,
all earthly objects beside faded from my mind, and appeared
uninteresting and contemptible. I instantly resolved to devote myself
to his service, and to place all my enjoyment in the contemplation of
his happiness, and the secret consciousness of promoting it. He had,
if I may so express myself, in my own person forbidden me his
presence: in my now altered figure I might disobey his injunction
without exposing myself to his rebuke. Let not the reader condemn me,
that, endowed as I was with unlimited powers of action, I preferred a
single individual, my own son, to all the world beside. Philanthropy
is a godlike virtue, and can never be too loudly commended, or too
ardently enjoined: but natural affection winds itself in so many folds
about the heart, and is the parent of so complicated, so various, and
so exquisite emotions, that he who should attempt to divest himself of
it, will find that he is divesting himself of all that is most to be
coveted in existence. It is not a selfish propensity; on the contrary
I will venture to affirm that the generosity it breathes is its
greatest charm. Beside, in my case, I considered my own existence as
blasted; and I could therefore find nothing better, than to forget
myself in my son. I had made a sufficient experiment of the
philosopher's stone, and all my experiments had miscarried. My latest
trials in attempting to be the benefactor of nations and mankind, not
only had been themselves abortive, but contained in them shrewd
indications that no similar plan could ever succeed. I therefore
discarded, for the present occasion at least, all ambitious and
comprehensive views, and believed that I ought to be well content if I
could prove the unknown benefactor of the son of Marguerite de
Damville. I entered into a solemn engagement with myself, that I would
forget and trample upon every personal concern, and be the victim and
the sacrifice, if need were, of the happiness of my son. Dismissing my
project of becoming a factor for the Hungarian people, I determined to
lay aside the name of Chatillon, and cut off every indication that
might connect my present existence with that of the rich stranger of
Buda. One of the advantages I possessed for that purpose, was, that no
creature in Hungary had the slightest suspicion that the sieur de
Chatillon had ever been the prisoner of Bethlem Gabor.

Having thus arranged my thoughts, I now called for the garments that
had been assigned me. They were supplied me from the stock of my son;
and, when I had put them on, I overheard the attendants whispering to
each other their astonishment, at the striking resemblance between
their master and myself. When I came once more into the tent of their
captain, and stood as in the former instance before his shield, I did
not wonder at their remark. The coincidence of our features was so
great, that, had we passed through a strange place in each other's
company, I should infallibly have been regarded as his younger
brother. Yet there was something of Marguerite in the countenance of
Charles that I wanted. When I recovered, as in a short time afterwards
I did, my vigour and health, I was more blooming than he; but there
was something graceful, ingenuous and prepossessing in his aspect,
which I could by no means boast in an equal degree, and which might
have carried him unhurt and honoured through the world. We shall see
some of the effects of this in what I shall presently have occasion to
relate.

When my son required of me to declare who I was, I told him, as I had
already concerted to do, that I was a cadet of the house of Aubigny in
France; that, after having passed through several other countries, I
had come into Poland with the floating and half-formed purpose of
entering as a volunteer against the Turk; but that, before my plan was
completely arranged, having been led, by my juvenile ardour in a
hunting party, far within the frontier of Hungary, I had been so
unfortunate as to become a prisoner to the troopers of Bethlem Gabor.
I added that, when introduced to their chief, I had given him so much
offence, by the firmness of my manner, and my refusing to comply with
certain propositions he made me, that he had thrust me into a dungeon,
from which, but for the gallant exertions of the present detachment, I
should never have come out alive.

Charles heard my story with attention and interest. He called on me to
resume my courage and my hopes, and to be confident that my sufferings
were now at an end. He told me, that he was a Frenchman as well as
myself, and, like myself, had been a soldier of fortune. He felt, he
said, a powerful sympathy in my tale; there was something in my
countenance that irresistibly won his kindness; and, if I would put
myself under his protection, he did not doubt to be the means of my
future success. He spoke with great asperity of Bethlem Gabor, who, as
an intrepid, indefatigable and sanguinary partisan, had been the
author of greater mischiefs to the Christian cause, than any of the
immediate servants of the sultan of Constantinople. He congratulated
himself, that the same action that had delivered the world from so
murderous a renegado, had rendered him the preserver of a youth of so
much enterprise and worth, as he doubted not I should prove. He said,
there was but one other man in Hungary, who had been so effectual an
enemy to the cause of truth and Christianity as Bethlem Gabor. The
name of this man he understood was Chatillon, and he grieved to say
that he bore the name of a Frenchman. To the eternal disgrace of the
nation that gave him birth, he had joined the Turkish standard, and,
by exertions difficult to be comprehended, had rescued the infidels
from famine at a time, when, but for his inauspicious interference,
Buda, and perhaps every strong town in Hungary, were on the point of
falling into the hands of the emperor. It was this same man who had
revived the resources of Bethlem Gabor, after they had once before
been completely rooted out; and whom I might therefore in some sense
consider as the author of my calamities, as well as the inveterate foe
of Christendom. Such a wretch as this was scarcely intitled to the
common benefit of the laws of war; and he would not answer for
himself, if Chatillon had fallen into his power, to what extremity his
holy resentment against this degenerate fellow-countryman might have
hurried him. Providence however had overtaken him in his impious
career; and he had fallen obscurely, as he had lived basely, in a
night-skirmish with a party of marauders from the Austrian camp.--The
reader may believe that I did not a little rejoice that, in announcing
myself a few moments before, I had taken the name, not of Chatillon,
but D'Aubigny. What I heard however occasioned in me a profound
reflection on the capriciousness of honour and fame, and the strange
contrarieties with which opposite prejudices cause the same action to
be viewed. I could not repress the vehemence of my emotions, while I
was thus calumniated and vilified for actions, which I had firmly
believed no malice could misrepresent, and fondly supposed that all
sects and ages, as far as their record extended, would agree to
admire.

In another point of view the invective which my son thus unconsciously
poured in my ears, had the effect of making me regard with a more
complacent satisfaction the plan I had formed of devoting myself to
his service. Here I pursued no delusive meteor of fame; the very
essence of my project lay in its obscurity. Kings and prelates, armies
and churches, would not longer find an interest in disputing about my
measures; I should indulge the secret promptings of my soul,
undisturbed alike by the censure of the world, and its applause. It
was thus that, under every change of fortune, I continued to soothe my
soul with delusive dreams.

Meanwhile my project went on with the happiest auspices. The
friendship between me and Charles continued hourly to increase. As a
Frenchman, whom chance had introduced to his acquaintance in a distant
country, it was natural that he should feel a strong bias of affection
towards me. But that sort of fraternal resemblance which the most
inattentive spectator remarked in us, operated forcibly to the
increase of Charles's attachment. He would often, in the ingenuous
opening of his soul towards me, call me his brother, and swear that I
should for ever experience from him a brother's love. Charles had by
this time completed the thirty-second year of his age; I was, in
appearance, at least ten years younger than he. There is something in
this degree of disparity, that greatly contributes to the cultivation
of kindness, and is adapted to the engendering a thousand interesting
sentiments. Frequently would he exclaim, Our fortunes, my dear Henry,
that was the name I assumed, have been in a considerable degree
similar: we were both of us early cast on the world; I indeed at the
immature age of seventeen. I entered the world without an adviser or a
friend; but my destiny was favourable, and I escaped its quicksands
and its rocks. I have now by a concurrence of happy circumstances
obtained a place among honourable men and soldiers, and for what is to
come may reasonably regard myself with some degree of confidence. You
are yet in one of the most dangerous periods of human life; your work
is all to do; your battles are yet to fight. Suffer me, my dear
friend, to represent your better genius, and to act an elder brother's
part. You shall find me no ignorant Mentor, and no unfaithful one.

Nothing could be more gratifying to me than to see the shoots of
affection thus springing up spontaneously in Charles's bosom. I
willingly humoured the generous deception that he was putting on
himself, and heard with transports inconceivable his assurances of
kindness and protection. We rode, and we walked together; we were in a
manner inseparable. When he went out to reconnoitre, I was his chosen
companion; when he inspected the discipline and condition of his
soldiers, he took that opportunity to initiate me in the science of
war; when he expected to encounter the enemy, he placed me immediately
by his side.

Sometimes he would open his heart to me, and dwell with a melancholy
delight upon his secret sorrows. It is no wonder, my Henry, he would
say, that I feel this uncommon attachment to you. I am alone in the
world. I have no father, no mother and no brethren. I am an exile from
my country, and cut off for ever from those of my own lineage and my
own blood. It is with inexpressible delight that I thus cheat the
malice of my fate, and hold you to my bosom as if you were indeed my
brother. I would not part with the fiction for the mines of Peru; and
I know not whether I do not cultivate it more assiduously, and regard
it with a sentiment of more anxiety and zeal, because it is a fiction,
than I should do if it were a reality. I had indeed, added Charles, a
mother!---And, when he had started this theme, he would dwell for ever
on her praises. I easily saw that never son loved a mother more
cordially, than Charles loved the all-accomplished Marguerite. With
what sentiments did I hear her eulogium? I could not join in her
praises; I could not be supposed to know her. I stood there, as the
statue of Prometheus might have done, if, after being informed with a
living soul, the Gods had seen fit to chain its limbs in everlasting
marble. The passion within me panted and laboured for a vent; but I
was invincibly silent. With what sentiments did I hear her eulogium?
Every word of it was a dagger to my heart; every word said, "And thou,
villain, wert not thou her murderer?" more painfully, than the
fiercest reproaches could have done.

When Charles had celebrated with an eloquence truly divine this
incomparable mother, a sudden pang of memory would make him start into
rage.--And this mother I left! Of this mother I cannot tell whether
she is alive or dead! What shall I say? the crime, or the not less
fatal error of my father separated me from this mother! I loved my
father: I loved him because he was my father; I had great obligations
to him; he once had virtues. But my mother,--if I could have found her
in the wildest desert of Africa, and have known her virtues, a
stranger to my blood, descended from the remotest tribe of the human
race, I should have chosen her for my friend, my preceptress and my
guide, beyond all that youth and beauty, with their most radiant
charms, could tender to my acceptance!

Thus unconsciously, yet ingeniously, did my dear son from time to time
torture his father's heart. I could not even deliver him from that
most gloomy and wretched of uncertainties, whether this mother were
alive or dead. With one word I could have composed his soul into a
sober grief; I could have said, Your adorable mother at length rests
from her sorrows; she is no longer the victim of a misguided and a
cruel father; you have no longer occasion to brood over that most
disconsolate of reflections, "I know not what anguish may be at this
moment suffered by her who is entitled to all my duty and all my
affection." With one word I might have told this; and that word I
dared not utter.




CHAP. XI.

My son related to me his history, and made me the depository of his
feelings and reflections. The name of St. Leon indeed never passed his
lips; I felt that he had consigned that to inviolable oblivion. The
appellation he bore in the army was the chevalier de Damville. Soon
after he abandoned me at Dresden, he had entered as a volunteer in the
imperial army. Charles the Fifth was at that time assembling forces to
encounter the confederates of the league of Smalcalde. In this
situation my son was eminently fortunate. He was distinguished for
uncommon enterprise and courage in some of the first actions of the
war, and early attracted the notice of Gian-Battista Castaldo, count
of Piadena, who held an eminent command under the emperor. In this
army my son was a party to the decisive battle of Muhlberg in April
1547. Four years afterwards Castaldo was appointed commander in chief
against the Turks in Hungary, and the French chevalier accompanied his
patron to this new scene of military enterprise. Charles had felt
dissatisfied with the grounds and motives of war between the Catholics
and the Protestants of Germany, men worshipping the same saviour, and
appealing to the same authorities, but from the most upright and
ingenuous scruples differing in their interpretation of those
authorities. But, in the contentions between the crescent and the
cross, he entered with unbounded enthusiasm into all the feelings that
constitute a champion or a martyr. He conceived that whatever was dear
to the human race in this world or the next, hung on the issue; he
regarded the grandeur of the cause as purifying his efforts and
consecrating his name; and, when he lifted his sword in vindication of
an expiring God, he felt himself steeled with a more than mortal
energy.

My son dwelt on the merits of his patron with a degree of veneration
and love that knew no bounds. Castaldo was ranked by the consenting
voice of mankind with the most accomplished generals of the age in
which he lived. I knew him, said Charles, in his most private hours,
and I stood next to and observed him in the greatest and most critical
occasions of his life. It was the least of his merits that he
distinguished me, that he took me up friendless and an orphan, that
under every circumstance he was more than a father to me, that he
corrected my faults, that he guided me with his advice, that he
instructed me with his wisdom, and supported me by his countenance.
Castaldo was the most persevering and indefatigable of mankind; no
difficulties could undermine his apparent serenity; no accumulation of
dangers could appal or perplex him. Victory never robbed him of his
caution; misfortune and defeat never destroyed the grandeur and
elasticity of his soul. I firmly believe that no general had ever a
more discouraging variety of counteractions to struggle with. The
enemy was barbarous and sanguinary, yet firm and undismayed, in the
full vigour of their political health, under the rule of the ablest of
their sovereigns. The nobles of the country Castaldo had to defend,
had almost all of them been alienated, one after another, by the
tricking and ill-judged politics of the house of Austria. The nation
was ruined, houseless and starving. Many of the officers who served
under my general were the basest of poltroons; but they were imposed
upon him by his court; he was compelled to place them in the most
important trusts; and, even when in the most dastardly way they
betrayed those trusts, they were by some pitiful intrigue sheltered
from his discipline and his justice. The forces of Castaldo were
mutinous and ungovernable; and he was almost constantly denied the
funds requisite for their pay.

For two years the count of Piadena struggled with these complicated
difficulties. When he had obtained a hard-earned advantage at one
extremity of the kingdom, he found it rendered useless by some
treachery or incapacity in the other extremity, which it was instantly
necessary he should hasten to repair. He quelled four alarming
mutinies by his firmness, his resources, and the prudent combination
of his calmness and severity. In the midst of one of his most arduous
situations he suddenly received intelligence that the states of
Hungary, which were at that time assembled, were debating whether they
should not enter into a treaty with Solyman for the purpose of placing
their country under the Turkish sceptre. He immediately flew to the
place of council; the decision in favour of Solyman was drawn up and
ready to be adopted; but Castaldo, by his presence, his authority and
his eloquence, recalled the states to their duty, and prevented them
from eternally staining the Christian name. Surrounded with these
difficulties, opposed to an enemy many times more numerous than the
forces he could bring against them, and whose wants were all
plentifully supplied, Castaldo by his single abilities kept the
balance even, or rather caused it to incline in favour of the
Christian scale. But what, added Charles, avails the most consummate
merit? How may the most incessant and undaunted exertions be shadowed
by the veil of obscurity? The world judges by events; success is
necessary to procure the palm of fame. After two years of such labours
as I witnessed and glory to describe, a mutiny broke out among the
mercenary troops, more formidable than any that preceded; it was no
longer even in the abilities of Castaldo to quell it. We honour and
respect you, said the mutineers, but we will no more serve without
pay: we have been baffled two years; we will march to the gates of
Vienna, and demand from Ferdinand, our sovereign, why we are thus
denied the arrears that are due to us. They chose leaders for this
expedition among themselves. The great Castaldo, whose peculiar talent
it is to accommodate himself to events, and never by any misfortune to
be deprived of his invention and resources, saw what it was that
became him. Having in vain tried every method for retaining his troops
in Hungary, he offered himself to lead them to Vienna. Then was seen
the true ascendancy of a noble mind. Goaded with poverty and distress,
they were deaf to the remonstrances of their general when he sought to
direct their strength against the enemy. But, when they saw him
submitting himself to their rage and impatience, and fearlessly
intrusting his safety to those who had before refused even to listen
to him, and who had reason to fear his retribution as their accuser
and judge, they were awed and speechless. They almost repented of
their frenzy, and were half determined to return to their duty. Their
remorse indeed was imperfect and ineffectual; but Castaldo led this
band of mutineers through the heart of the kingdom, with as many
symptoms of regularity, modesty and order, as if they had been the
best paid, the promptest and most loyal army in the world.

My son spoke in terms of the warmest enthusiasm of the defence of
Erlau, in the period of Castaldo's last and most arduous campaign
against the Turks. In respect of fortifications this town was scarcely
competent to resist the feeblest enemy; but its deficiency in this
point was supplied by the constancy and valour of its garrison and
inhabitants. The very women displayed an enterprise, that the more
vigorous sex can seldom boast to have exhibited. In one instance a
heroine of this sort was seen fighting in the presence of her mother
and her husband. Her husband fell dead by her side. Let us, my
daughter, said the mother, remove the body, and devote the rest of our
care to its honourable funeral. May God, returned the impassioned
widow, never suffer the earth to cover my husband's corse, till his
death has been amply revenged: this is the hour of battle, not a time
for funreal and for tears! So speaking, and seizing the sword and
shield of the breathless champion, she rushed upon the enemy; nor did
she quit the breach till, by the slaughter of three Turks who were
ascending the scaling ladders, she had appeased the fury in her
breast, and the ghost of her departed husband. Then raising the
corpse, and pressing it to her bosom, she drew it to the great church
of the city, and paid to it the last honours with all possible
magnificence. Many other examples of a heroism not inferior to this
were displayed on the same occasion. And shall I, added Charles in a
sally of glorious enthusiasm, ever desert a cause which has been thus
honoured? Shall I betray a soil which has been immortalised by such
illustrious actions? Shall I join myself to the renegado Bethlem
Gabor, and the execrable Chatillon? No; such virtue as I have
described never could have been conceived, but in the bosom of truth!
Great as is the pious devotion I feel for that God who died on the
cross for the salvation of mankind, I own my weakness, if it be a
weakness, his cause is scarcely less endeared to me by the sublime
exertions of his heroic followers, than by his own adorable
condescension and mercy.

When the glorious Castaldo departed with his rebellious army for the
metropolis of Germany, there was nothing I more earnestly desired than
to accompany his march. For seven years he had conferred on me the
benefits, and shown towards me the affection of a father; and I could
not think of being separated from him without the extremest anguish.
Beside, I regarded it as little less than sacrilege, to quit his side
at a time that he was exposed to the furious suggestions of a host of
robbers and banditti. But he would not allow me to quit my post. Some
time, said he, we must separate, and you must stand alone. I have been
long enough your instructor; and, if my lessons or my example can
produce improvement in you, they must have performed that office
already. He treated with disdain the thought of the danger to which he
might be exposed, and his need of a faithful guard; a thought which he
had detected in the midst of my anxieties, but which I had not the
courage to mention. This, said he, is your genuine sphere. You are a
young man, burning with the zeal of truth and religion. You are
inspired with the enthusiasm of a champion and a martyr. Heaven knows
how willingly I would have spent my blood for the overthrow of Mahomet
and his blasphemous impieties. To me this is not permitted; to you it
is. I shall be engaged in the painful scenes of civil contention
between Christian and Christian, misguided and inflamed by the human
inventions of Luther and of Calvin. You have before you a clearer and
a brighter field; and, I confidently persuade myself, you will be
found worthy of your happier destiny.--The count of Piadena bestowed
me, so he was pleased to express himself, upon Nadasti, the great
palatine of the realm, as the most precious pledge of his friendship
that it was in his power to confer.

Since the retreat of Castaldo, the Christian standard has obtained
little more either of attention or aid from our lawful sovereign, now
the possessor of the imperial throne. Ferdinand for a great part of
this time has had his negociators at Constantinople, whom the
insulting Turk has condescended neither sincerely to treat with, nor
to dismiss. The Christian army in Hungary has been left to its own
resources; but zeal has supplied the place of magazines, and religious
ardour has taught us to omit no occasion of annoying and distressing
the enemy. The most considerable occurrence of this period, has been
the siege of Ziget about four years ago. Solyman, taking advantage of
certain factious broils among our hereditary nobility, appointed at
that time one of his eunuchs bashaw of Buda; and, having placed a
numerous army under his command, dismissed him from the foot of his
throne with this arrogant injunction, not to enter the capital of his
province, till he had first sent the keys of Ziget as an offering to
his royal master. Horvati, the Christian governor of this
fortification, is one of the most accomplished and the bravest of our
native commanders; and, Nadasti having sent him a reinforcement the
better to enable him to support the threatened siege, I was in the
number of the soldiers appointed on this service. The trenches were
opened early in June, and the siege continued for the space of seven
weeks. The bashaw, though a eunuch, in person stunted, and of
monstrous deformity, was distinguished for an uncommon degree of
audacity and perseverance. Four times he filled the dykes of the
fortification with wood and earth; and as often, by means of a furious
sally of the besieged, the materials, which had thus with vast expence
of industry and labour been accumulated, were set fire to and
consumed. On the twelfth day of the siege he gained possession of the
town, and drove us back into the citadel; but on the day following we
recovered the ground we had lost, and from that time the town was his
no more. The actions of these days were the severest of the whole
siege; we fought the enemy street by street, and inch by inch; the
great fountain in the market-place ran with blood; we ascended hills
of the dead, which the infidels opposed as a barrier to our further
progress; I seized two Turkish standards; and, though wounded, pursued
the enemy through the eastern gate, and returned in triumph. Nadasti
in the sixth week of the siege marched to our relief; but he was met
and worsted by the bashaw, who returned victorious to the foot of the
walls. During the whole of the siege mutual animosity was cultivated
by every species of contrivance, and the heads of the distinguished
dead were exhibited on both sides as spectacles of abhorrence and
terror. The inflamed passions of the combatants several times found a
vent in listed duels: Horvati, the governor, killed in one of these
encounters a gigantic Turk, who had sent a proud defiance to our host.
I procured myself honour upon a similar occasion; and the scarf which
I now wear, composed the turban of the infidel I slew. At length the
disappointed bashaw was obliged to raise the siege; and he soon after
died of grief and mortification in his palace at Buda. I confess I
recollect the Christian exploits in the defence of Ziget, in which I
also had a share, with rapture and delight; they will serve to awaken
in me new animation, when hereafter the coldness of ordinary life
might strike palsy to my soul. I shall never think I have lived in
vain, after having contributed, in however humble a place, to arrest
the career of insolence and impiety which, under the standard of the
crescent, threatened to overrun the whole Christian world.

Such were the adventures and such the sentiments of the gallant
chevalier de Damville. I had myself been a warrior in my youth, and
the discourse he held was sufficiently congenial to my earliest
propensities. I saw indeed that he had gained, in the zeal of a
soldier of the cross, a source of martial heroism, to which my
military history had been a stranger. But, though I could not entirely
enter into this sentiment of his, and indeed regarded it as an
infatuation and delusion, I did not the less admire the grandeur of
soul with which this heroic fable inspired him. There was no present
propensity in my heart that led me to delight in deeds of blood and
war; I saw them in their genuine colours without varnish or disguise;
I hated and loathed them from my very inmost soul; but,
notwithstanding this, I was sensible to the lustre which military zeal
cast round the character of my son. Nor is this altogether incredible
and absurd; the qualities of a generous and enterprising champion are
truly admirable, though the direction they have received is worthy of
eternal regret.

Charles de Damville was my friend; and, when I say this, I cannot help
stopping a moment for the indulgence of reflecting on the contrast
between my present intercourse with my son, and my late connection
with Bethlem Gabor. I had sought the friendship of the Hungarian
partisan, partly because I wanted a protector and an ally, but partly
also because in my soul I looked up to and admired the man. I called
Bethlem Gabor my friend; I persuaded myself that I was not without
cogent reasons for calling him so. But there was little sympathy
between us; he was wrapped up in his own contemplations; he was
withered by his own calamities; our souls scarcely came into contact
in a single point. No, no; this is not friendship.

Friendship is a necessity of our nature, the stimulating and restless
want of every susceptible heart. How wretched an imposture in this
point of view does human life for the most part appear! With boyish
eyes, full of sanguine spirits and hope, we look round us for a
friend; we sink into the grave, broken down with years and
infirmities, and still have not found the object of our search. We
talk to one man, and he does not understand us; we address ourselves
to another, and we find him the unreal similitude only of what we
believed him to be. We ally ourselves to a man of intellect and of
worth; upon further experience we cannot deny him either of these
qualities; but the more we know each other, the less we find of
resemblance; he is cold, where we are warm; he is harsh, where we are
melted into the tenderest sympathy; what fills us with rapture, is
regarded by him with indifference; we finish with a distant respect,
where we looked for a commingling soul: this is not friendship. We
know of other men, we have viewed their countenances, we have
occasionally sat in their society: we believe it is impossible we
should not find in them the object we sought. But disparity of
situation and dissimilitude of connections, prove as effectual a
barrier to intimacy, as if we were inhabitants of different planets.

It is one of the most striking characteristics of the nature of man,
that we are eternally apt to grow dead and insensible to the thing we
have not. Half our faculties become palsied, before we are in the
slightest degree aware that we are not what we were, and what we might
be. There are philosophers who regard this as the peculiar privilege
of man, a wise provision of providence to render us contented and easy
with our lot in existence. For my part, I do not envy, and I have
never aspired to, the happiness of ignorance and stupidity. But, be it
a blessing or a curse, the phenomenon is undoubted. Present me with
some inestimable benefit, that my nature fitted me to enjoy, but that
my fortune has long denied me to partake, and I instantly rise as from
an oppressive lethargy. Before, it may be, I felt myself uneasy; but I
knew of no remedy, I dreamed it was my nature, I did not put forth a
finger for relief. But now, that I have drawn the unexpected prize, I
grow astonished at my own blindness; I become suddenly sensible of my
powers and my worth; the blood that slept in my heart, circulates, and
distends every vein; I tread on air; I feel a calm, yet ravishing
delight; I know what kind of an endowment life is, to a being in whom
sentiment and affection are awakened to their genuine action.

This was the effect of the mutual attachment produced between me and
Charles. I looked into him, and saw a man; I saw expansive powers of
intellect and true sensibility of heart. To be esteemed and loved and
protected by such a man; to have him to take one by the hand, to
inquire into one's sorrows, to interest himself in one's anxieties, to
exult in one's good fortune and one's joys; this and this only
deserves the name of existence.

I had however a painful drawback upon my satisfaction. It was my fate,
since the visit of the stranger of the lake of Constance, to rejoice
for moments, and to lament for years. I could not at first ascend to
that purity and eminence of friendship, to forget myself; I could not
but painfully feel the contrast between me and my son. How happy was
Charles, how respectable, how self-approving, how cheerful of heart: I
shall presently have occasion to speak of a still further addition to
his happiness! I looked indeed young, fair and blooming, a stranger to
care: but I had a secret worm gnawing at my vitals. This very
deceitfulness of my countenance, was a bitter aggravation to my
remorse. I never saw my features reflected in the polished shield,
without feeling myself struck to the core. Charles had walked right
onward in the paths of honour; he feared no detection; he had no
secret consciousness that gave the lie to the voice of applause,
partiality and friendship. But I was all a lie; I was no youth; I was
no man; I was no member of the great community of my species. The past
and the future were euqally a burthen to my thoughts. To the eye that
saw me, I was a youth, flushed with hope, and panting for existence.
In my soul, I knew, and I only knew, that I was a worn-out veteran,
battered with the storms of life, having tried every thing and
rejected every thing, and discarded for ever by hope and joy. When I
walked forth, leaning on the arm of him who delighted to call me his
younger brother, this was the consciousness that hunted my steps, and
blasted me with its aspect which ever way we turned.




CHAP. XII.

Among the various confidences reposed in me by my son, one was his
love. The object of his attachment was a young lady of quality, named
Pandora, niece to Nadasti, great palatine of Hungary. In consequence
of the earnest recommendation of Castaldo in 1553, Nadasti had taken
my son under his particular protection, and Charles's principal home,
at the periods when the army was dispersed in winter-quarters, was at
the palatine's house in the city of Presburg. Here his manners had
become more polished, and his taste more refined. Till then, bred in
tents, and living amidst the clangour of arms, he had been a mere
soldier, rough, generous, manly and brave. But Nadasti was an elegant
scholar, smitten with that ardent love of classical and ancient lore,
which has so eminently distinguished the sixteenth century. He
assembled around him men of letters from various parts of Europe; and,
under his auspices, the days of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary,
seemed to be revived, whose love of literature was such, that he kept
three hundred transcribers in his house, constantly employed in
multiplying copies of the precious reliques of Roman and Athenian
learning. The consort of Nadasti was one of the most accomplished
matrons of the age in which she lived, and her three daughters were
patterns of every polite and amiable accomplishment. Such was the
school into which the chevalier de Damville entered, at the age of
twenty-five, immediately after the retreat of Castaldo. This may seem
an age somewhat late for new modelling the character, but Charles had
an enterprising and aspiring temper; and he soon became a
distinguished ornament of courts and the society of ladies. Castaldo
had taught him all he knew, the temper, the manners, and the science
of a military chieftain: the palace of Nadasti finished and completed
the education of my son.

Pandora was only fourteen years of age when Charles de Damville first
became a sort of inmate of the house of her uncle. She at that time
lived with her father; but, he being afterwards killed in the battle
which Nadasti sought for the relief of Ziget, Pandora occupied an
apartment in the palatine palace. From the first hour that he saw her,
a mere child as it were, accompanied by her governess, Charles
confessed to me that he had beheld her with eyes of distinction. He
had said to himself, This little girl will hereafter be a jewel worthy
of the crown of an emperor. He had found something inexpressibly
attractive in the starry brightness of her complexion; her air he
regarded as both lighter and more graceful than any thing he had ever
before seen; and her speaking and humid eye seemed to him the very
emblem of sensibility and sweetness. If, at the girlish and immature
season of fourteen, he had ascribed to her all these perfections, it
will easily be supposed that, as she increased in stature, as the
beauties of form unfolded themselves in her, and as she advanced in
sentiment and a lovely consciousness of her worth, the partiality of
Charles became more deep and unalterable. But the orphan niece of
Nadasti was altogether without a portion; and the great palatine would
have seen with more complacency the chevalier de Damville addressing
his pretensions to one of his daughters.

Charles confessed to me that the passion he nourished had been
fruitful of pleasures and griefs, of hope and perplexity. It was now
almost a year since Pandora and himself had confessed a mutual
affection. The confession had not been the result of design on either
side: both had wished to suppress it, Pandora from virgin dignity and
reserve; and Charles, because he saw not how their affection could be
crowned with success, and he dreaded, more than any misery to himself,
to be the author of degradation and misery to her he loved. But what
is ever uppermost in the heart will at some time or other betray
itself. Their sympathetic and accordant feelings upon a point so
deeply interesting to both, rendered them eagle-eyed to discern the
smallest indications. They had had a thousand opportunities, and a
thousand opportunities had been resisted. They became more than
usually silent and reserved towards each other; they shunned to meet,
and, when they met, they avoided each other's eyes. One day a casual
encounter in a solitary retreat, which each had fought principally
with intention to escape the presence of the other, had taken them off
their guard. They were mutually hesitating and perplexed; each
discerned more unequivocal indications than had ever occurred before
of the state of the other's sentiments; the entire accord snapped as
it were at once the chains of reserve; and each, after a short
interval of hesitation, spoke with an eloquence, hitherto untried, the
language of love. The difference of years between them gave a zest to
the communication. Pandora seemed to be throwing herself upon the
protection of an elder brother, of a guardian, of one in whose
prudence she confided as the antidote of her inexperience; Charles
felt his maturer years as imposing on him more severely that sacred
integrity, the obligation of which, at least as society is at present
constituted, seems in the majority of cases to grow out of the
relative situation of the sexes, of the protectorship of the one, and
the dependence of the other.

And now, exclaimed Charles, what am I to do? what am I to desire? It
would be affectation in me to conceal from myself on an occasion like
this, that the reputation I have acquired both in the arts of peace
and war is such, as to have caused Nadasti to have set his heart upon
my becoming his son-in-law. The great palatine, though in many
respects generous and liberal, has that inflexibleness of opinion,
which is perhaps more apt to grow up in the hearts of scholars, than
in other departments of society. He is grave and solemn; all his
habits are of a majestic and lordly nature; and I have small reason to
hope that I shall find him accessible to my representations. He is
little subject to sallies of passion; his own propensities are wholly
under the control of his judgment; and it is not likely that he will
make allowance for the ardent affections of other minds. Pandora is
entirely dependent on him; in any case the portion she would receive
from him would be very inadequate to her worth; but, discarded and
discountenanced by him who has the absolute rule of Christian Hungary,
what can she expect? I am myself destitute of fortune; my provision as
a soldier will be very inadequate to the wants of the first and
softest of her sex. But even of that provision Nadasti will deprive
me, if I marry in opposition to his pleasure. Shall I make Pandora the
inhabitant of tents and encampments; shall I expose her to all the
changes and hazards of a military life; shall I drag her as the
attendant of a soldier of fortune through every climate of Europe? No,
by heavens! I should regard myself as the most selfish and the basest
of mankind if I could deliberate on such a question. Never shall the
charmer of my soul owe a single privation to her Charles. I love her
with so pure and entire a passion, that I prefer her prosperity to
every earthly good. Nor is it merely necessary to my attachment that
she should live in plenty and ease; I require that my Pandora should
be seen in her native lustre, that she should be surrounded with every
appendage due to her merit, that she should command applause from the
mercenary, and homage from the superficial. Her praise is the only
music I enjoy. I could not bear to hear her name coupled with levity
and scorn. I could not bear that, where she appeared, every eye should
not be turned to her with reverence and honour. My passion, I confess
it, is that of a disciple of liberal arts and of a nobleman, not that
of an Arcadian.

The period of the campaign now drew to an end, and Charles, having
rquested me to accompany him, set out for his usual winter retreat in
the city of Presburg. I saw Pandora. Never in my life had I beheld any
thing so sweetly simple. I had always been an admirer of the sex; but
the perfections of Pandora were of a nature that I had not observed in
any other woman. Her symmetry was so perfect, the pearly lustre of her
skin so admirable, and her form and carriage so light and etherial,
that at first view it was difficult to persuade one's self that she
was framed of the same gross materials as the rest of the species. She
seemed not constructed to endure the shocks of the world, and the rude
assaults of ill humour or neglect, of censure or adversity. Her voice
was of the sweetest, the clearest and softest tone I ever heard. There
was a peculiar naïveté in her accents, that riveted your soul in
irresistible fetters. Her conversation, for in the sequel I enjoyed
much of her conversation, had a very uncommon zest. She seemed to have
no art, and what she uttered appeared as if wholly unchecked by
consideration or reserve. You were persuaded that she always delivered
without restraint the first thing that occurred to her mind; yet in
what she said there was so much good-sense, so much true feeling, and,
as the occasion allowed, so much whim and imagination, that you could
not discover how any of her words could be changed but for a worse.
This circumstance strikingly contrasted with the childish simplicity,
or rather the feminine softness and sylphlike delicacy of her manner
and her tone. The opposition of appearance between her and my son made
a strong impression upon me. He was a perfect soldier, with an ample
chest, broad shoulders, and a figure, though graceful and well
proportioned, yet so strong, that it seemed framed to contend with and
to conquer the wrestlers in the Grecian games. His complexion, shaded
with luxuriant curls of manly hair, was itself made brown with the
rigours of climate. Pandora was so heavenly fair, so sweetly delicate
and slender, that you would have thought she would be withered and
destroyed in his embrace, like the frailest ornament of the garden
before the northern breeze. But courage to choose what is rugged and
manlike, is often characteristic of the softest of her sex.

I speedily contracted a very intimate commerce with the beautiful
Pandora. I was naturally desirous to be as consummate a judge as
possible of those perfections, which I believed fated to determine the
future happiness of my son. When sufficiently satisfied in that
respect, I still continued the indulgence, and found a very pure and
exquisite pleasure in the daily contemplation of accomplishments that
were to prove the materials of his gratification and delight, whose
gratification I preferred to my own. I had a still further view in
this commerce. I was anxious to be perfectly informed of the
connections and family of Pandora, that upon them I might build a
project I had deeply at heart, of bestowing on her, in the least
questionable and exceptionable manner, a dowry, that should place her
fully upon an equality with her cousins, the daughters of Nadasti, and
deliver my son from all apprehension of the unpleasing consequences to
result from the resentment of the great palatine. Nadasti was
extremely opulent, and the portions of his daughters very
considerable; and, however inclined, I could not exceed this limit
without risking the entire miscarriage of my project. Charles thought
nothing too rich either in situation or income to do honour to the
mistress of his soul; but, separately from this enthusiastic
sentiment, both he and Pandora had too just a taste, not to prefer the
simple majesty of ancient nobility, to the expensive ostentations of
modern refinement.

Having digested my plan I was obliged to travel as far as Venice for
the execution of it. The mother of Pandora had been a Venetian, and
the uncle of her mother was one of the adventurers who had sailed with
Pizarro for the conquest of Peru. He had died before the completion of
that business, and had left behind him no relative so near to him in
blood as the lovely Pandora. By a singular piece of good fortune, I
encountered at Venice an individual who had sailed in the same ship
with the young lady's uncle. The uncle having died prematurely, the
share he might otherwise have obtained of the spoils of Peru was sunk
in the shares of the rest, and nothing was allowed to remain that
might have descended to his heirs. His friend and countryman, I found,
though once rich with the booty he made, had by a series of
calamities, before he reached his native home, been reduced again to a
state of poverty. The vicissitudes he experienced had produced in him
the effect of a very uncommon eagerness for acquisition. This man I
fixed on for my instrument; I opened to him my plan, and offered him a
very ample gratification, provided he acted successfully the part I
assigned him. In concert with each other we digested and forged the
various documents that might be best calculated to give credibility to
the tale. Having completed our arrangement, I set out for Presburg
without a moment's delay, and directed my Venetian not to follow me
till after a stipulated interval. He was not to enter into full
possession of his reward, till he had completed the task he had
undertaken. It was fixed that no person in Hungary should be
acquainted with my visit to Venice, but only be allowed to understand
generally, that I had been engaged for a certain time in an excursion
of amusement. So hard is the fate of the possessor of the
philosopher's stone, and so limited his power, as to have rendered all
these precautions on my part indispensibly necessary. Had not the
various circumstances concurred the detail of which is here stated,
the birth of Pandora's mother in a maritime state, the expedition of
Pizarro to Peru, her uncle's engaging in this expedition and dying
before it was completed, and my own casual rencounter with his
compagnon du voyage, my project would too probably have been baffled.
A direct gift of the fortune I designed would never have been admitted
of; and, had not the coincidence been eminently favourable, even
though I should have succeeded in misleading every other party, I
could not hope to have eluded the perspicacity and jealous honour of
my son.

When I returned to Presburg, I again renewed my intimacy with Pandora.
The passion entertained by Damville for the beautiful orphan was a
secret from every person at court; they had managed so discreetly as
to have avoided every hint of suspicion; and, as it was universally
known that the great palatine had an eye on this gallant soldier for
one of his daughters, few persons entertained a doubt but that my son
would speedily declare his election among the co-heiresses of Nadasti.
On the other hand, in the friendly intercouse between me and Pandora,
neither she nor myself felt that there was any thing to conceal, and
it was therefore a matter of complete notoriety. My blooming youth of
appearance was remarked; by the majority of bystanders we were judged
formed for each other; and, before I was aware, the beautiful
Hungarian was awarded to me by the general voice as my destined bride.
When however I became acquainted with the rumour, I was contented to
smile at it; the consciousness in my own breast how far the public
sagacity had wandered in its guess, gave to that guess in my
apprehension a certain air of whimsical and amusing.




CHAP. XIII.

Such was the situation of the affair of Pandora, and I daily looked
for the arrival of my Venetian confederate, when suddenly I remarked
an alteration in the carriage of my beautiful ally. She had hitherto
on all occasions sought my conversation; she now appeared sedulously
to avoid me. Her manner had been characterised by the gaiety, the
spriteliness and general good-humour, incident to her age, and
congenial to her disposition. She was now melancholy. Her melancholy
assumed a tone correspondent to the habits of her mind, and was
peculiar and individual. It had an ingenuous and defenceless air,
inexpressibly calculated to excite interest. It seemed to ask, what
have I done to deserve to be melancholy? You felt for her, as for a
spotless lily depressed by the unpitying storm. You saw, that those
enchanting features were never made for a face of sorrow, and that
that bewitching voice ought never to have been modulated into an
expression of heaviness.

I was in the highest degree anxious to learn the cause of this
revolution, and was the furthest in the world from suspecting its real
foundation. I pursued Pandora with so much importunity, and demanded
an interview with such irresistible earnestness, that she at length
consented to grant it. We met in a remote part of the garden. Why,
Henry, said she, do you thus persecute me? You are my evil genius, the
cause of the greatest calamity that could ever have overtaken me.

I started. For heaven's sake, beautiful Pandora, what do you mean?

I love the chevalier de Damville. I have loved him long; he is dearer
to me than life; and he has cast me off for ever!

And am I the cause?

Yes, you, and you alone. I had for some time observed a change in his
behaviour, that he was uncommonly grave, serious and reserved. I
endeavoured to soothe him; I redoubled my blandishments in our next
season of unreserved discourse; I tenderly enquired into the source of
his grief.

For a long time he resisted my importunity. At length, Faithless girl,
said he, have you the cruelty to ask the meaning of my depression?
This is the extremity of insult. Is it not enough that I know your
inconstancy? Is it not enough that I have found you, like the rest of
your frivolous sex, the mere slave of your sense of sight, regardless
of vows, regardless of an affection which despised all interests but
that of tenderness and love, caught by the first appearance of
something younger, softer and more courtly, than I pretend or desire
to be? Will nothing satisfy you but the confession of my
disappointment from my own mouth? Do you require expostulation,
intreaty and despair from your discarded lover, to fill up the measure
of your triumph?

For a long time I was totally at a loss to apprehend my dear
chevalier's meaning.

No, continued he, I am not jealous. There is no temper I hold in such
sovereign contempt, as jealousy. I am not of a disposition easily to
conceive umbrage, or lightly to doubt the protestations of the woman I
adore. I have been blind too long. But I see that you are eternally
together. I see that you take advantage of the distance at which the
despotic temper of Nadasti keeps us from each other, to give all your
time to my favoured rival. You seem never to be happy out of his
society. I was first led to throw off the dulness of my unsuspecting
security, by the general voice of the public. The whole court gives
you to each other. Not a creature it holds, but has discerned that
passion, which you have the insolence to expect to conceal from me.
Since I have been awakened from my security, I have seen it a thousand
times. I have seen your eyes seek and encounter each other. I have
seen them suddenly lighted up by your interchanging glances. I have
seen the signs of your mutual intelligence. I have seen with what
impatience, the moment you could escape from the crowded circle, you
have joined each other, and retired together. Ungenerous Pandora!

But do not imagine I will enter the lists with the gaudy butterfly who
has now attracted your favour. I have told you already that I am not
formed for jealousy. I am not the sort of man you have supposed me to
be. I have loved you much; I have loved you long. But I would tear out
my heart from my manly breast, if I believed it yet retained an atom
of passion for you. I know what it was I loved; I loved a character of
frankness, of ingenuousness, of simplicity, which I fondly imagined
was yours, but which I now find was the creature of my own fancy. The
Pandora that stands before me; the child of art; the base wretch that
could take advantage of my forbearance in regard to her uncle, which
was adopted purely out of love to her; the unfeeling coquette that
would wish to retain me in her chains when she had discarded me from
her affections; this creature I never did love, and I never will. I
know how deeply rooted the habit has been in my bosom of regarding you
as the thing you are not; I know how bitter it is to a temper like
mine to detect so unlooked-for a delusion; I know what it will cost me
to cast you off for ever. But I never yet proposed to myself a
conquest over my own weakness that I did not gain, nor will I now. If
you were to discard this wretched D'Aubigny tomorrow, if you were
convinced of and contrite for your error, I must ingenuously tell you,
no time, no penitence could restore you to my admiration. I had set up
an imaginary idol in my bosom, but you have convinced me of its
brittleness, and dashed it to pieces.

I endeavoured, continued Pandora, by every imaginable protestation to
convince my late faithful lover of his mistake. But it was to no
purpose; all I could say only tended to swell the tide of his fearful
resentment.

Be silent, cried he. Add no further to the catalogue of your wanton
and causeless delusions. Do not make me hate too much what I once so
blindly and ardently adored. I feel that I have an enemy within me,
that would fain co-operate with your deceptions and hypocrisy. I find
that man, treacherous to himself, is formed by nature to be the fool
of your artful sex. But I will subdue this propensity in me, though I
die for it. I may be wretched; but I will not despise myself. Have I
not seen your falshood? Have not all my senses been the witnesses of
your guilt? The miracle is that I could have been duped so long. I
have heard this stripling lover of yours inexhaustible in your
praises, and dwelling upon them with an ardour that nothing but
passion could have inspired. I have seen, as I have already told you,
the intelligence of your eyes. I have seen those melting glances, I
have heard those tender and familiar tones between you, that bespoke
the most perfect confidence and the most entire mingling of heart. If
I did not believe this, I should believe worse of you. I should think
your heart not merely capricious, but an absolute prostitute; prepared
to bestow upon hundreds those sweet, those nameless tendernesses of
accent and countenance, which I fondly imagined were reserved for me
alone. I should regard you as the worst and most pernicious
acquisition that could fall to the lot of a man.--Go, Pandora, added
he: my heart is chaste; my soul is firm. I can no longer be deceived
by you; I will not dispute your charms with the idle boy you have now
thought proper to favour.---And, saying thus, he burst from me in an
agony of impatience.

Alas, continued the sweet and ingenuous Pandora, my dear Henry, what
shall I do? How shall I remove the unreasonable imaginations of this
noble mind? Bear me witness, Heaven! nothing could be more innocent
than the correspondence I allowed myself to hold with you. My adorable
Charles was continually calling you brother; I scarcely ever heard him
speak of you by any other appellation. I regarded Charles as my
husband; I already viewed you in anticipation as the brother of my
lord. Excluded as I was from frequent conversation with him whom most
I loved, I endeavoured to supply the deficiency by an unreserved
communication with you. The extreme resemblance of your persons
increased my gratification. You were his picture, his speaking image.
While I looked at you, I said, Such once was my Charles, before he was
the great man, the gallant soldier, the accomplished cavalier, the
adored object, that now engrosses all my affections. Beside, I knew
that Charles loved you as much as he did any man on earth, and that
knowledge made you dear to me. You were constantly eager to dwell upon
and describe his excellencies; could I fail to be pleased with your
conversation? I own that the pleasure I took in it was unbounded, and
the emotions it awakened in my affectionate heart delicious. But all
this, candidly explained, was only a further proof of the tenderness
and constancy of my earliest attachment.

And now, ever since the fatal day in which this conversation passed
with my Charles, he is absent from court, and I know not whither he is
gone. He has disdained to seek any further explanation, nor do I know
how to appeal to his calmer feelings and more deliberate mind. One
thing however I had determined on, and that was, Henry, strictly to
avoid your society. I trust, wherever my Charles is, he will hear of
this. I owe this expiation to his agonized feelings, and to the
appearances that in some degree justify his misconstruction. I will
wait patiently, till the simplicity and singleness of my conduct have
cleared my faith. If I should otherwise have found pleasure and relief
in your society, I will make a merit with myself of sacrificing this
to the apprehensive delicacy of my Charles's mind. In this single
instance your importunity has prevailed with me to dispense with my
rule: you were not to blame, and I thought upon more mature reflection
that I owed you an explanation. But henceforth, if you have any
kindness for me, or value for him who has acted and felt towards you
like a brother, I must intreat you to co-operate with me in this, and
that, whether in public or private, we may bestow no notice of each
other, and avoid all opportunities of communication. To persuade you
to this, was indeed a principal inducement with me so far to deviate
from the rule I had laid down to myself, as to admit this
conversation.

I was extremely affected with the unhappiness of Pandora. I exerted
myself to console her. I promised that nothing on my part should be
wanting to remove every shadow of doubt that hung upon her fidelity,
and I exhorted her to believe that every thing would infallibly
terminate in the way most honourable and gratifying to herself.
Pandora listened to me, and dried her tears. The conversation was
interesting and soothing to us both; we regarded it as the last
unreserved and sympathetic communication we should ever have with each
other; it insensibly grew longer and longer, and we knew not how to
put an end to it. We were still in this state of irresolution when,
looking up, I perceived Charles de Damville approaching from the
further end of the walk that led to the alcove.

I would have withdrawn. I was anxious to remove the unjust suspicions
that hung upon his mind; but the instant that presented to him so
strong an apparent confirmation of them, the instant that by so doing
must have worked up his soul into tumults, did not appear to me a
favourable occasion for explanations. To withdraw was impossible.
Pandora had discerned her lover at the same moment with myself. She
was seized with a faintness. She would have sunk to the ground, but I
caught her in my arms. I rested with one knee on the earth, her head
was reclined on my bosom. Charles approached us with a quicker pace.

Rise, said he. This is beyond my hopes. I left Presburg, with the
purpose of not revisiting it for years. But, as I proceeded further
and further from a place which had lately been the centre of all my
affections, I began to doubt whether I had not acted with too much
precipitation, and to believe that there was yet some uncertainty
hanging on my fate. The seemingly earnest protestations of this
delusive syren rung in my ears; mechanically, without any formed
resolution, I changed my course, and returned on my steps. My doubts
are now at an end. I find you taking instant advantage of my absence
to throw yourselves into each other's arms. The feelings I so lately
uttered in your presence, Pandora, would have kept you apart, if my
feelings had been in the least sacred in your eyes, if all my surmises
had not been too true.--He took by the hand the weeping Pandora, and
led her to the seat which a little before she had quitted.

Why all this artifice? Why all this deceit? It is said that we are not
masters of our own hearts, and that no human passion is formed to
endure for ever. Influenced by these maxims, I could have pardoned
your inconstancy, too fair, too sickle Pandora! but why strain every
nerve to make me believe you still retained a passion you had
discarded, to subject me to the lingering torture of deceit, instead
of communicating to me a truth, agonising indeed to human frailty, but
calculated to inspire fortitude and decision? This I cannot excuse:
this racks me with the bitterest of disappointments, disappointment in
the virtues I had ascribed to you; and convinces me, that you are
neither worthy of me, nor worthy of happiness.

And you too, D'Aubigny, you have acted a part in this unworthy plot. I
rescued you from prison, from a dungeon from which, a few hours
before, you had no hope of coming forth alive. I took you under my
protection, when you had no friend; I placed you next myself; I
conceived for you the affection of a brother; I loved you, next in
degree to the mistress of my soul. In return for all that I have done,
and all that I felt for you, you have with the most insidious art and
every base disguise seduced from me the woman of my choice. Why not
frankly and ingenuously have demanded her at my hands? The heart is
free; your reciprocal passion, though I might have regretted it, I
should have been unable to blame; it is the cloke that you have drawn
over it that proves the baseness of its origin. Do you think I had not
the courage cheerfully and without a murmur to resign to you this
illustrious fair one? I feel that I was worthy to be openly treated.
Had I seen in you a mutual and ingenuous passion, I would not have
been the bar to its just consummation. I would not have sought the
person of a woman, whose heart, in spite perhaps of her better
resolutions, was given to another. I should loathe myself for ever,
were I capable of such a part. It was the sympathetic sentiment
towards me, beating in accord to the sentiment of my own bosom, that I
once saw in Pandora, and not either her peerless beauties, or the
excellencies I imputed to her mind, that formed the master-charm which
fascinated my soul. I feel that I had the force, in the negation of my
own happiness, to have drawn comfort and compensation from the
happiness of two creatures I so dearly loved, as D'Aubigny and
Pandora.

But this alleviation in the midst of what you have condemned me to
suffer, you have ungenerously denied me.--

I sought to interrupt my son. I could no longer bear to see him
involved in so painful an error, and not exert every nerve to rescue
him from it. But his passions were wrought higher than mine: he would
not suffer me to speak.

Be silent, D'Aubigny! I cannot brook to be interrupted now. My heart
is full: and I must have leave to utter the sentiments that agitate
and distend it.

He advanced towards Pandora. He took hold of her hand.

Rise, madam. I shall not long trouble you with the boisterous
impetuousness of my passions. Do not resist me now!

She rose, and followed him; her face still covered with her
handkerchief, and drowned in tears. He led her to the front of the
alove. He motioned me to approach; with his other hand he took hold of
mine. He seemed to lift Pandora's hand to his lips, as if to kiss it;
with a sudden start he put it down again; he held it below the level
of his breast.

During all this scene, Pandora and myself were speechless. Most women,
in the situation of Pandora, would, I suppose, have spoken, and have
been eager to vindicate themselves from so groundless an imputation.
But what she did was peculiar to the delicacy and defencelessness of
her personal character. She was overwhelmed, and incapable of effort.
For my own part, my feelings were uncommonly complicated. My apparent
situation was a plain one, the situation of a youth mistaken by his
friend for the seducer of the mistress of that friend; and had my
feelings been merely relative to this situation, I could undoubtedly
have spoken without embarrassment. But with this were involved the
sentiments originating in my secret character, the sentiments of a man
anxious to benefit, and who had devoted himself to the interests of
another; of a father tremblingly alive to the happiness of his son,
and eager to dive into his soul, that he might the more sensibly
admire his virtues, and with a more enlightened skill secure his
fortune. I was silent: Charles de Damville proceeded:

Thus, said he, I join your hands; thus I withdraw all my claims upon
Pandora; thus I remove every impediment to your wishes. This, Pandora,
this D'Aubigny, I was capable of, if you had treated me honourably,
and avowed an honest passion. You do not know Charles de Damville. You
have treated me, as none but the most groveling soul could deserve to
be treated. Had you been ingenuous, I should have had a consolation in
what I am doing, that now I cannot have. I can no longer persuade
myself that I am joining two worthy hearts to each other. I can no
longer relieve the bitterness of my own disappointment, by the image
of your future felicity. May I be mistaken! May you be truly happy in
each other! You cannot be happy beyond the wishes formed in your
favour, by him who will remember, to the latest hour of his existence,
how much his heart was devoted to you both.

Saying this, he burst away from us abruptly, and disappeared. At
first, as I listened to the heroic language of my son, I asked myself
whether it were the expression of a warm heart or a cold one. It costs
nothing to a cold heart to ape the language of heroism, and to pretend
to make the greatest sacrifices, when its constitution has rendered
all effort unnecessary to the feat. But I looked in the face of
Charles, and forgot my doubts. His voice he had indeed wound up to the
tone of his speech; it was a little tremulous, but in the main firm,
serious, deliberate, and elevated. But his countenance was the picture
of distress. There sat enthroned, defying all banishment and disguise,
the anguish of his soul. His eye was haggard; his complexion was
colourless and wan. He had been absent several days from Presburg; his
appearance told me that he could scarcely either have eaten or slept
during the period of his absence. He might talk of the generosity with
which he could resign Pandora; I read in his face what that
resignation had cost, and would go on to cost him. Ingenuous, noble-
hearted Charles! I doubted whether, but for a reverse of the events he
apprehended, he would be able to survive it.

He had no sooner left us, than I applied myself to comfort Pandora. I
swore to her that, in spite of every temporary cloud, I would yet
witness the union of her and her adored chevalier. I assured her that
I would not rest, till I had forced Damville to hear me, and compelled
him to credit the sincerity of my tale.

How many things were there, that, in the scene which had just passed,
I might have urged in answer to Damville, but respecting which my
situation imposed upon me the most rigorous silence! I might have
said, You call yourself my protector, my benefactor, my patron; the
real relation between us is the reverse of the picture you have drawn.
I want not your protection; I am qualified, if I please, to be a
patron to all the world. I am meditating the most generous things in
your behalf: this perfidious friend, as you deem him, has devoted all
his thoughts, and postponed all his gratifications, that he might
prove himself substantially and in the most important particulars,
your friend.

More than this I might have said. I might have said, I am your father.
I have no inclinations, no passions contravening your gratification. I
love you with more than a father's love; I transfer to you all the
affection I entertained for your peerless, murdered mother! All my
study is your happiness. You are to me the whole world, and more than
the whole world. Extensive and singular as are my prerogatives, I fold
them all up; I forget them all; and think of you alone.

I cannot give a stronger proof, than is contained in what I have here
stated, of the misery of my condition. I was cheated, as I have once
before remarked, with the form of a man, but had nothing of the
substance. I was endowed with the faculty of speech, but was cut off
from its proper and genuine use. I was utterly alone in the world,
separated by an insurmountable barrier from every being of my species.
No man could understand me; no man could sympathise with me; no man
could form the remotest guess at what was passing in my breast. I had
the use of words; I could address my fellow-beings; I could enter into
dialogue with them. I could discourse of every indifferent thing that
the universe contained; I could talk of every thing but my own
feelings. This, and not the dungeon of Bethlem Gabor, is the true
solitude. Let no man, after me, pant for the acquisition of the
philosopher's stone!

Charles de Damville had again left Presburg, the very instant he
quitted the alcove. When I enquired for him in the palace, I received
this afflicting intelligence. I did not hesitate a moment in
resolving, that I would pursue his steps. It was of the utmost
consequence that I should overtake him; all that was most interesting
to me hung upon our