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Title: Devereux — Complete
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron, 1803-1873
Language: English
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DEVEREUX

BY

EDWARD BULWER LYTTON
(Lord Lytton)



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE PRESENT EDITION.

IN this edition of a work composed in early youth, I have not attempted
to remove those faults of construction which may be sufficiently
apparent in the plot, but which could not indeed be thoroughly rectified
without re-writing the whole work. I can only hope that with the
defects of inexperience may be found some of the merits of frank and
artless enthusiasm. I have, however, lightened the narrative of certain
episodical and irrelevant passages, and relieved the general style of
some boyish extravagances of diction. At the time this work was written
I was deeply engaged in the study of metaphysics and ethics, and out of
that study grew the character of Algernon Mordaunt. He is represented
as a type of the Heroism of Christian Philosophy,--a union of love and
knowledge placed in the midst of sorrow, and labouring on through the
pilgrimage of life, strong in the fortitude that comes from belief in
Heaven.

KNEBWORTH, May 3, 1852.

E. B. L.



DEDICATORY EPISTLE

TO

JOHN AULDJO, ESQ., ETC.,

AT NAPLES



LONDON.

MY DEAR AULDJO,--Permit me, as a memento of the pleasant hours we passed
together, and the intimacy we formed by the winding shores and the rosy
seas of the old Parthenope, to dedicate to you this romance. It was
written in perhaps the happiest period of my literary life,--when
success began to brighten upon my labours, and it seemed to me a fine
thing to make a name. Reputation, like all possessions, fairer in the
hope than the reality, shone before me in the gloss of novelty; and I
had neither felt the envy it excites, the weariness it occasions, nor
(worse than all) that coarse and painful notoriety, that, something
between the gossip and the slander, which attends every man whose
writings become known,--surrendering the grateful privacies of life to

   "The gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day."

In short, yet almost a boy (for, in years at least, I was little more,
when "Pelham" and "The Disowned" were conceived and composed), and full
of the sanguine arrogance of hope, I pictured to myself far greater
triumphs than it will ever be mine to achieve: and never did architect
of dreams build his pyramid upon (alas!) a narrower base, or a more
crumbling soil! . . . Time cures us effectually of these self-conceits,
and brings us, somewhat harshly, from the gay extravagance of
confounding the much that we design with the little that we can
accomplish.

"The Disowned" and "Devereux" were both completed in retirement, and in
the midst of metaphysical studies and investigations, varied and
miscellaneous enough, if not very deeply conned. At that time I was
indeed engaged in preparing for the press a Philosophical Work which I
had afterwards the good sense to postpone to a riper age and a more
sobered mind. But the effect of these studies is somewhat prejudicially
visible in both the romances I have referred to; and the external and
dramatic colourings which belong to fiction are too often forsaken for
the inward and subtile analysis of motives, characters, and actions.
The workman was not sufficiently master of his art to forbear the vanity
of parading the wheels of the mechanism, and was too fond of calling
attention to the minute and tedious operations by which the movements
were to be performed and the result obtained. I believe that an author
is generally pleased with his work less in proportion as it is good,
than in proportion as it fulfils the idea with which he commenced it.
He is rarely perhaps an accurate judge how far the execution is in
itself faulty or meritorious; but he judges with tolerable success how
far it accomplishes the end and objects of the conception. He is
pleased with his work, in short, according as he can say, "This has
expressed what I meant it to convey." But the reader, who is not in the
secret of the author's original design, usually views the work through a
different medium; and is perhaps in this the wiser critic of the two:
for the book that wanders the most from the idea which originated it may
often be better than that which is rigidly limited to the unfolding and
_denouement_ of a single conception. If we accept this solution, we may
be enabled to understand why an author not unfrequently makes favourites
of some of his productions most condemned by the public. For my own
part, I remember that "Devereux" pleased me better than "Pelham" or "The
Disowned," because the execution more exactly corresponded with the
design. It expressed with tolerable fidelity what I meant it to
express. That was a happy age, my dear Auldjo, when, on finishing a
work, we could feel contented with our labour, and fancy we had done our
best! Now, alas I I have learned enough of the wonders of the Art to
recognize all the deficiencies of the Disciple; and to know that no
author worth the reading can ever in one single work do half of which he
is capable.

What man ever wrote anything really good who did not feel that he had
the ability to write something better? Writing, after all, is a cold
and a coarse interpreter of thought. How much of the imagination, how
much of the intellect, evaporates and is lost while we seek to embody it
in words! Man made language and God the genius. Nothing short of an
eternity could enable men who imagine, think, and feel, to express all
they have imagined, thought, and felt. Immortality, the spiritual
desire, is the intellectual _necessity_.

In "Devereux" I wished to portray a man flourishing in the last century
with the train of mind and sentiment peculiar to the present; describing
a life, and not its dramatic epitome, the historical characters
introduced are not closely woven with the main plot, like those in the
fictions of Sir Walter Scott, but are rather, like the narrative
romances of an earlier school, designed to relieve the predominant
interest, and give a greater air of truth and actuality to the supposed
memoir. It is a fiction which deals less with the Picturesque than the
Real. Of the principal character thus introduced (the celebrated and
graceful, but charlatanic, Bolingbroke) I still think that my sketch,
upon the whole, is substantially just. We must not judge of the
politicians of one age by the lights of another. Happily we now demand
in a statesman a desire for other aims than his own advancement; but at
that period ambition was almost universally selfish--the Statesman was
yet a Courtier--a man whose very destiny it was to intrigue, to plot, to
glitter, to deceive. It is in proportion as politics have ceased to be
a secret science, in proportion as courts are less to be flattered and
tools to be managed, that politicians have become useful and honest men;
and the statesman now directs a people, where once he outwitted an
ante-chamber. Compare Bolingbroke--not with the men and by the rules of
this day, but with the men and by the rules of the last. He will lose
nothing in comparison with a Walpole, with a Marlborough on the one
side,--with an Oxford or a Swift upon the other.

And now, my dear Auldjo, you have had enough of my egotisms. As our
works grow up,--like old parents, we grow garrulous, and love to recur
to the happier days of their childhood; we talk over the pleasant pain
they cost us in their rearing, and memory renews the season of dreams
and hopes; we speak of their faults as of things past, of their merits
as of things enduring: we are proud to see them still living, and, after
many a harsh ordeal and rude assault, keeping a certain station in the
world; we hoped perhaps something better for them in their cradle, but
as it is we have good cause to be contented. You, a fellow-author, and
one whose spirited and charming sketches embody so much of personal
adventure, and therefore so much connect themselves with associations of
real life as well as of the studious closet; _you_ know, and must feel
with me, that these our books are a part of us, bone of our bone and
flesh of our flesh! They treasure up the thoughts which stirred us, the
affections which warmed us, years ago; they are the mirrors of how much
of what we were! To the world they are but as a certain number of
pages,--good or bad,--tedious or diverting; but to ourselves, the
authors, they are as marks in the wild maze of life by which we can
retrace our steps, and be with our youth again. What would I not give
to feel as I felt, to hope as I hoped, to believe as I believed, when
this work was first launched upon the world! But time gives while it
takes away; and amongst its recompenses for many losses are the memories
I referred to in commencing this letter, and gratefully revert to at its
close. From the land of cloud and the life of toil, I turn to that
golden clime and the happy indolence that so well accords with it; and
hope once more, ere I die, with a companion whose knowledge can recall
the past and whose gayety can enliven the present, to visit the
Disburied City of Pompeii, and see the moonlight sparkle over the waves
of Naples. Adieu, my dear Auldjo,

 And believe me,
  Your obliged and attached friend,
   E. B. LYTTON.



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHER'S INTRODUCTION.

MY life has been one of frequent adventure and constant excitement. It
has been passed, to this present day, in a stirring age, and not without
acquaintance of the most eminent and active spirits of the time. Men of
all grades and of every character have been familiar to me. War, love,
ambition, the scroll of sages, the festivals of wit, the intrigues of
states,--all that agitate mankind, the hope and the fear, the labour and
the pleasure, the great drama of vanities, with the little interludes of
wisdom; these have been the occupations of my manhood; these will
furnish forth the materials of that history which is now open to your
survey. Whatever be the faults of the historian, he has no motive to
palliate what he has committed nor to conceal what he has felt.

Children of an after century, the very time in which these pages will
greet you destroys enough of the connection between you and myself to
render me indifferent alike to your censure and your applause. Exactly
one hundred years from the day this record is completed will the seal I
shall place on it be broken and the secrets it contains be disclosed. I
claim that congeniality with you which I have found not among my own
coevals. _Their_ thoughts, their feelings, their views, have nothing
kindred to my own. I speak their language, but it is not as a native:
_they_ know not a syllable of mine! With a future age my heart may have
more in common; to a future age my thoughts may be less unfamiliar, and
my sentiments less strange. I trust these confessions to the trial!

Children of an after century, between you and the being who has traced
the pages ye behold--that busy, versatile, restless being--there is but
one step,--but that step is a century! His _now_ is separated from your
now by an interval of three generations! While he writes, he is
exulting in the vigour of health and manhood; while ye read, the very
worms are starving upon his dust. This commune between the living and
the dead; this intercourse between that which breathes and moves and
_is_, and that which life animates not nor mortality knows,--annihilates
falsehood, and chills even self-delusion into awe. Come, then, and look
upon the picture of a past day and of a gone being, without apprehension
of deceit; and as the shadows and lights of a checkered and wild
existence flit before you, watch if in your own hearts there be aught
which mirrors the reflection.

 MORTON DEVEREUX.



NOTE TO THE PRESENT EDITION (1852).

If this work possess any merit of a Narrative order, it will perhaps be
found in its fidelity to the characteristics of an Autobiography. The
reader must, indeed, comply with the condition exacted from his
imagination and faith; that is to say, he must take the hero of the
story upon the terms for which Morton Devereux himself stipulates; and
regard the supposed Count as one who lived and wrote in the last
century, but who (dimly conscious that the tone of his mind harmonized
less with his own age than with that which was to come) left his
biography as a legacy to the present. This assumption (which is not an
unfair one) liberally conceded, and allowed to account for occasional
anachronisms in sentiment, Morton Devereux will be found to write as a
man who is not constructing a romance, but narrating a life. He gives
to Love, its joy and its sorrow, its due share in an eventful and
passionate existence; but it is the share of biography, not of fiction.
He selects from the crowd of personages with whom he is brought into
contact, not only those who directly influence his personal destinies,
but those of whom a sketch or an anecdote would appear to a biographer
likely to have interest for posterity. Louis XIV., the Regent Orleans,
Peter the Great, Lord Bolingbroke, and others less eminent, but still of
mark in their own day, if growing obscure to ours, are introduced not
for the purposes and agencies of fiction, but as an autobiographer's
natural illustrations of the men and manners of his time.

And here be it pardoned if I add that so minute an attention has been
paid to accuracy that even in petty details, and in relation to
historical characters but slightly known to the ordinary reader, a
critic deeply acquainted with the memoirs of the age will allow that the
novelist is always merged in the narrator.

Unless the Author has failed more in his design than, on revising the
work of his early youth with the comparatively impartial eye of maturer
judgment, he is disposed to concede, Morton Devereux will also be found
with that marked individuality of character which distinguishes the man
who has lived and laboured from the hero of romance. He admits into his
life but few passions; those are tenacious and intense: conscious that
none who are around him will sympathize with his deeper feelings, he
veils them under the sneer of an irony which is often affected and never
mirthful. Wherever we find him, after surviving the brief episode of
love, we feel--though he does not tell us so--that he is alone in the
world. He is represented as a keen observer and a successful actor in
the busy theatre of mankind, precisely in proportion as no cloud from
the heart obscures the cold clearness of the mind. In the scenes of
pleasure there is no joy in his smile; in the contests of ambition there
is no quicker beat of the pulse. Attaining in the prime of manhood such
position and honour as would first content and then sate a man of this
mould, he has nothing left but to discover the vanities of this world
and to ponder on the hopes of the next; and, his last passion dying out
in the retribution that falls on his foe, he finally sits down in
retirement to rebuild the ruined home of his youth,--unconscious that to
that solitude the Destinies have led him to repair the waste and ravages
of his own melancholy soul.

But while outward Dramatic harmonies between cause and effect, and the
proportionate agencies which characters introduced in the Drama bring to
bear upon event and catastrophe, are carefully shunned,--as real life
does for the most part shun them,--yet there is a latent coherence in
all that, by influencing the mind, do, though indirectly, shape out the
fate and guide the actions.

Dialogue and adventures which, considered dramatically, would be
episodical,--considered biographically, will be found essential to the
formation, change, and development of the narrator's character. The
grave conversations with Bolingbroke and Richard Cromwell, the light
scenes in London and at Paris, the favour obtained with the Czar of
Russia, are all essential to the creation of that mixture of wearied
satiety and mournful thought which conducts the Probationer to the
lonely spot in which he is destined to learn at once the mystery of his
past life and to clear his reason from the doubts that had obscured the
future world.

Viewing the work in this more subtile and contemplative light, the
reader will find not only the true test by which to judge of its design
and nature, but he may also recognize sources of interest in the story
which might otherwise have been lost to him; and if so, the Author will
not be without excuse for this criticism upon the scope and intention of
his own work. For it is not only the privilege of an artist, but it is
also sometimes his duty to the principles of Art, to place the spectator
in that point of view wherein the light best falls upon the canvas. "Do
not place yourself there," says the painter; "to judge of my composition
you must stand where I place you."



CONTENTS.



Book I.


CHAPTER I.
Of the Hero's Birth and Parentage.--Nothing can differ more from the
 End of Things than their Beginning

CHAPTER II.
A Family Consultation.--A Priest, and an Era in Life

CHAPTER III.
A Change in Conduct and in Character: our evil Passions will some-
 times produce good Effects; and on the contrary, an Alteration for
 the better in Manners will, not unfrequently, have amongst its
 Causes a little Corruption of Mind; for the Feelings are so blended
 that, in suppressing those disagreeable to others, we often suppress
 those which are amiable in themselves

CHAPTER IV.
A Contest of Art and a League of Friendship.--Two Characters in
 mutual Ignorance of each other, and the Reader no wiser than
 either of them

CHAPTER V.
Rural Hospitality.--An extraordinary Guest.--A Fine Gentleman is
 not necessarily a Fool

CHAPTER VI.
A Dialogue, which might be dull if it were longer

CHAPTER VII.
A Change of Prospects.--A new Insight into the Character of the Hero.
--A Conference between two Brothers

CHAPTER VIII.
First Love

CHAPTER IX.
A Discovery and a Departure

CHAPTER X.
A very short Chapter,--containing a Valet

CHAPTER XI.
The Hero acquits himself honourably as a Coxcomb.--A Fine Lady of
 the Eighteenth Century, and a fashionable Dialogue; the Substance
 of fashionable Dialogue being in all Centuries the same

CHAPTER XII.
The Abbe's Return.--A Sword, and a Soliloquy

CHAPTER XIII.
A mysterious Letter.-A Duel.--The Departure of one of the Family

CHAPTER XIV.
Being a Chapter of Trifles

CHAPTER XV.
The Mother and Son.--Virtue should be the Sovereign of the Feelings,
 not their Destroyer



Book II.


CHAPTER I.
The Hero in London.--Pleasure is often the shortest, as it is the
 earliest road to Wisdom, and we may say of the World what Zeal-of-
 the-Land-Busy says of the Pig-Booth, "We escape so much of the
 other Vanities by our early Entering"

CHAPTER II.
Gay Scenes and Conversations.--The New Exchange and the Puppet-
 Show.--The Actor, the Sexton, and the Beauty

CHAPTER III.
More Lions

CHAPTER IV.
An intellectual Adventure

CHAPTER V.
The Beau in his Den, and a Philosopher discovered

CHAPTER VI.
A universal Genius.--Pericles turned Barber.--Names of Beauties in
 171-.--The Toasts of the Kit-Cat Club

CHAPTER VII.
A Dialogue of Sentiment succeeded by the Sketch of a Character, in
 whose Eyes Sentiment was to Wise Men what Religion is to Fools;
 namely, a Subject of Ridicule

CHAPTER VIII.
Lightly won, lightly lost.--A Dialogue of equal Instruction and
 Amusement.--A Visit to Sir Godfrey Kneller

CHAPTER IX.
A Development of Character, and a long Letter; a Chapter, on the
 whole, more important than it seems

CHAPTER X.
Being a short Chapter, containing a most important Event

CHAPTER XI.
Containing more than any other Chapter in the Second Book of this
History



Book III.


CHAPTER I.
Wherein the History makes great Progress and is marked by one
 important Event in Human Life

CHAPTER II.
Love; Parting; a Death-Bed.--After all human Nature is a beautiful
 Fabric; and even its Imperfections are not odious to him who has
 studied the Science of its Architecture, and formed a reverent
 Estimate of its Creator

CHAPTER III.
A great Change of Prospects

CHAPTER IV.
An Episode.--The Son of the Greatest Man who (one only excepted)
 _ever rose to a Throne_, but by no means of the Greatest Man (save
 one) _who ever existed_

CHAPTER V.
In which the Hero shows Decision on more Points than one.--More of
 Isora's Character is developed

CHAPTER VI.
An Unexpected Meeting.--Conjecture and Anticipation

CHAPTER VII.
The Events of a Single Night.--Moments make the Hues in which
 Years are coloured



Book IV.


CHAPTER I.
A Re-entrance into Life through the Ebon Gate, Affliction

CHAPTER II.
Ambitious Projects

CHAPTER III.

The real Actors Spectators to the false ones

CHAPTER IV.
Paris.--A Female Politician, and an Ecclesiastical One.--Sundry other
 Matters

CHAPTER V.
A Meeting of Wits.--Conversation gone out to Supper in her Dress of
 Velvet and Jewels

CHAPTER VI.
A Court, Courtiers, and a King

CHAPTER VII.
Reflections.--A Soiree.--The Appearance of one important in the
 History.--A Conversation with Madame de Balzac highly satisfactory
 and cheering.--A Rencontre with a curious old Soldier.--
 The Extinction of a once great Luminary

CHAPTER VIII.
In which there is Reason to fear that Princes are not invariably free
 from Human Peccadilloes

CHAPTER IX.
A Prince, an Audience, and a Secret Embassy

CHAPTER X.
Royal Exertions for the Good of the People

CHAPTER XI.
An Interview



Book V.


CHAPTER I.
A Portrait

CHAPTER II.
The Entrance into Petersburg.--A Rencontre with an inquisitive and
 mysterious Stranger.--Nothing like Travel

CHAPTER III.
The Czar.--The Czarina.--A Feast at a Russian Nobleman's

CHAPTER IV.
Conversations with the Czar.--If Cromwell was the greatest Man
 (Caesar excepted) who ever _rose_ to the Supreme Power, Peter was
 the greatest Man ever _born_ to it

CHAPTER V.
Return to Paris.--Interview with Bolingbroke.--A gallant Adventure.
--Affair with Dubois.--Public Life is a Drama, in which private
 Vices generally play the Part of the Scene-shifters

CHAPTER VI.
A long Interval of Years.--A Change of Mind and its Causes



Book VI.


CHAPTER I.
The Retreat

CHAPTER II.
The Victory

CHAPTER III.
The Hermit of the Well

CHAPTER IV.
The Solution of many Mysteries.--A dark View of the Life and Nature
 of Man

CHAPTER V.
In which the History makes a great Stride towards the final Catastrophe.
--The Return to England, and the Visit to a Devotee

CHAPTER VI.
The Retreat of a celebrated Man, and a Visit to a great Poet

CHAPTER VII.
The Plot approaches its _Denouement_

CHAPTER VIII.
The Catastrophe



CONCLUSION



DEVEREUX.



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

OF THE HERO'S BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.--NOTHING CAN DIFFER MORE FROM THE END
OF THINGS THAN THEIR BEGINNING.

MY grandfather, Sir Arthur Devereux (peace be with his ashes!) was a
noble old knight and cavalier, possessed of a property sufficiently
large to have maintained in full dignity half a dozen peers,--such as
peers have been since the days of the first James. Nevertheless, my
grandfather loved the equestrian order better than the patrician,
rejected all offers of advancement, and left his posterity no titles but
those to his estate.

Sir Arthur had two children by wedlock,--both sons; at his death, my
father, the younger, bade adieu to the old hall and his only brother,
prayed to the grim portraits of his ancestors to inspire him, and set
out--to join as a volunteer the armies of that Louis, afterwards
surnamed _le grand_. Of him I shall say but little; the life of a
soldier has only two events worth recording,--his first campaign and his
last. My uncle did as his ancestors had done before him, and, cheap as
the dignity had grown, went up to court to be knighted by Charles II.
He was so delighted with what he saw of the metropolis that he forswore
all intention of leaving it, took to Sedley and champagne, flirted with
Nell Gwynne, lost double the value of his brother's portion at one
sitting to the chivalrous Grammont, wrote a comedy corrected by
Etherege, and took a wife recommended by Rochester. The wife brought
him a child six months after marriage, and the infant was born on the
same day the comedy was acted. Luckily for the honour of the house, my
uncle shared the fate of Plemneus, king of Sicyon, and all the offspring
he ever had (that is to say, the child and the play) "died as soon as
they were born." My uncle was now only at a loss what to do with his
wife,--that remaining treasure, whose readiness to oblige him had been
so miraculously evinced. She saved him the trouble of long cogitation,
an exercise of intellect to which he was never too ardently inclined.
There was a gentleman of the court, celebrated for his sedateness and
solemnity; my aunt was piqued into emulating Orpheus, and, six weeks
after her confinement, she put this rock into motion,--they eloped.
Poor gentleman! it must have been a severe trial of patience to a man
never known before to transgress the very slowest of all possible walks,
to have had two events of the most rapid nature happen to him in the
same week: scarcely had he recovered the shock of being run away with by
my aunt, before, terminating forever his vagrancies, he was run through
by my uncle. The wits made an epigram upon the event, and my uncle, who
was as bold as a lion at the point of a sword, was, to speak frankly,
terribly disconcerted by the point of a jest. He retired to the country
in a fit of disgust and gout. Here his natural goodness soon recovered
the effects of the artificial atmosphere to which it had been exposed,
and he solaced himself by righteously governing domains worthy of a
prince, for the mortifications he had experienced in the dishonourable
career of a courtier.

Hitherto I have spoken somewhat slightingly of my uncle, and in his
dissipation he deserved it, for he was both too honest and too simple to
shine in that galaxy of prostituted genius of which Charles II. was the
centre. But in retirement he was no longer the same person; and I do
not think that the elements of human nature could have furnished forth a
more amiable character than Sir William Devereux presiding at Christmas
over the merriment of his great hall.

Good old man! his very defects were what we loved best in him: vanity
was so mingled with good-nature, that it became graceful, and we
reverenced one the most, while we most smiled at the other.

One peculiarity had he which the age he had lived in and his domestic
history rendered natural enough; namely, an exceeding distaste to the
matrimonial state: early marriages were misery, imprudent marriages
idiotism, and marriage, at the best, he was wont to say, with a kindling
eye and a heightened colour, marriage at the best was the devil! Yet it
must not be supposed that Sir William Devereux was an ungallant man. On
the contrary, never did the _beau sexe_ have a humbler or more devoted
servant. As nothing in his estimation was less becoming to a wise man
than matrimony, so nothing was more ornamental than flirtation.

He had the old man's weakness, garrulity; and he told the wittiest
stories in the world, without omitting anything in them but the point.
This omission did not arise from the want either of memory or of humour;
but solely from a deficiency in the malice natural to all jesters. He
could not persuade his lips to repeat a sarcasm hurting even the dead or
the ungrateful; and when he came to the drop of gall which should have
given zest to the story, the milk of human kindness broke its barrier,
despite of himself,--and washed it away. He was a fine wreck, a little
prematurely broken by dissipation, but not perhaps the less interesting
on that account; tall, and somewhat of the jovial old English girth,
with a face where good-nature and good living mingled their smiles and
glow. He wore the garb of twenty years back, and was curiously
particular in the choice of his silk stockings. Between you and me, he
was not a little vain of his leg, and a compliment on that score was
always sure of a gracious reception.

The solitude of my uncle's household was broken by an invasion of three
boys,--none of the quietest,--and their mother, who, the gentlest and
saddest of womankind, seemed to follow them, the emblem of that primeval
silence from which all noise was born. These three boys were my two
brothers and myself. My father, who had conceived a strong personal
attachment for Louis XIV., never quitted his service, and the great King
repaid him by orders and favours without number; he died of wounds
received in battle,--a Count and a Marshal, full of renown and destitute
of money. He had married twice: his first wife, who died without issue,
was a daughter of the noble house of La Tremouille; his second, our
mother, was of a younger branch of the English race of Howard. Brought
up in her native country, and influenced by a primitive and retired
education, she never loved that gay land which her husband had adopted
as his own. Upon his death she hastened her return to England, and
refusing, with somewhat of honourable pride, the magnificent pension
which Louis wished to settle upon the widow of his favourite, came to
throw herself and her children upon those affections which she knew they
were entitled to claim.

My uncle was unaffectedly rejoiced to receive us; to say nothing of his
love for my father, and his pride at the honours the latter had won to
their ancient house, the good gentleman was very well pleased with the
idea of obtaining four new listeners, out of whom he might select an
heir, and he soon grew as fond of us as we were of him. At the time of
our new settlement, I had attained the age of twelve; my second brother
(we were twins) was born an hour after me; my third was about fifteen
months younger. I had never been the favourite of the three. In the
first place, my brothers (my youngest especially) were uncommonly
handsome, and, at most, I was but tolerably good-looking: in the second
place, my mind was considered as much inferior to theirs as my body; I
was idle and dull, sullen and haughty,--the only wit I ever displayed
was in sneering at my friends, and the only spirit, in quarrelling with
my twin brother; so said or so thought all who saw us in our childhood;
and it follows, therefore, that I was either very unamiable or very much
misunderstood.

But, to the astonishment of myself and my relations, my fate was now to
be reversed; and I was no sooner settled at Devereux Court than I became
evidently the object of Sir William's pre-eminent attachment. The fact
was, that I really liked both the knight and his stories better than my
brothers did; and the very first time I had seen my uncle, I had
commented on the beauty of his stocking, and envied the constitution of
his leg; from such trifles spring affection! In truth, our attachment
to each other so increased that we grew to be constantly together; and
while my childish anticipations of the world made me love to listen to
stories of courts and courtiers, my uncle returned the compliment by
declaring of my wit, as the angler declared of the River Lea, that one
would find enough in it, if one would but angle sufficiently long.

Nor was this all; my uncle and myself were exceedingly like the waters
of Alpheus and Arethusa,--nothing was thrown into the one without being
seen very shortly afterwards floating upon the other. Every witticism
or legend Sir William imparted to me (and some, to say truth, were a
little tinged with the licentiousness of the times he had lived in), I
took the first opportunity of retailing, whatever might be the audience;
and few boys, at the age of thirteen, can boast of having so often as
myself excited the laughter of the men and the blushes of the women.
This circumstance, while it aggravated my own vanity, delighted my
uncle's; and as I was always getting into scrapes on his account, so he
was perpetually bound, by duty, to defend me from the charges of which
he was the cause. No man defends another long without loving him the
better for it; and perhaps Sir William Devereux and his eldest nephew
were the only allies in the world who had no jealousy of each other.



CHAPTER II.

A FAMILY CONSULTATION.--A PRIEST, AND AN ERA IN LIFE.

"YOU are ruining the children, my dear Sir William," said my gentle
mother, one day when I had been particularly witty; "and the Abbe
Montreuil declares it absolutely necessary that they should go to
school."

"To school!" said my uncle, who was caressing his right leg, as it lay
over his left knee,--"to school, Madam! you are joking. What for,
pray?"

"Instruction, my dear Sir William," replied my mother.

"Ah, ah; I forgot that; true, true!" said my uncle, despondingly, and
there was a pause. My mother counted her rosary; my uncle sank into a
revery; my twin brother pinched my leg under the table, to which I
replied by a silent kick; and my youngest fixed his large, dark,
speaking eyes upon a picture of the Holy Family, which hung opposite to
him.

My uncle broke the silence; he did it with a start.

"Od's fish, Madam,"--(my uncle dressed his oaths, like himself, a little
after the example of Charles II.)--"od's fish, Madam, I have thought of
a better plan than that; they shall have instruction without going to
school for it."

"And how, Sir William?"

"I will instruct them myself, Madam," and William slapped the calf of
the leg he was caressing.

My mother smiled.

"Ay, Madam, you may smile; but I and my Lord Dorset were the best
scholars of the age; you shall read my play."

"Do, Mother," said I, "read the play. Shall I tell her some of the
jests in it, Uncle?"

My mother shook her head in anticipative horror, and raised her finger
reprovingly. My uncle said nothing, but winked at me; I understood the
signal, and was about to begin, when the door opened, and the Abbe
Montreuil entered. My uncle released his right leg, and my jest was cut
off. Nobody ever inspired a more dim, religious awe than the Abbe
Montreuil. The priest entered with a smile. My mother hailed the
entrance of an ally.

"Father," said she, rising, "I have just represented to my good brother
the necessity of sending my sons to school; he has proposed an
alternative which I will leave you to discuss with him."

"And what is it?" said Montreuil, sliding into a chair, and patting
Gerald's head with a benignant air.

"To educate them himself," answered my mother, with a sort of satirical
gravity. My uncle moved uneasily in his seat, as if, for the first
time, he saw something ridiculous in the proposal.

The smile, immediately fading from the thin lips of the priest, gave way
to an expression of respectful approbation. "An admirable plan," said
he slowly, "but liable to some little exceptions, which Sir William will
allow me to point out."

My mother called to us, and we left the room with her. The next time we
saw my uncle, the priest's reasonings had prevailed. The following week
we all three went to school. My father had been a Catholic, my mother
was of the same creed, and consequently we were brought up in that
unpopular faith. But my uncle, whose religion had been sadly undermined
at court, was a terrible caviller at the holy mysteries of Catholicism;
and while his friends termed him a Protestant, his enemies hinted,
falsely enough, that he was a sceptic. When Montreuil first followed us
to Devereux Court, many and bitter were the little jests my worthy uncle
had provided for his reception; and he would shake his head with a
notable archness whenever he heard our reverential description of the
expected guest. But, somehow or other, no sooner had he seen the priest
than all his proposed railleries deserted him. Not a single witticism
came to his assistance, and the calm, smooth face of the ecclesiastic
seemed to operate upon the fierce resolves of the facetious knight in
the same manner as the human eye is supposed to awe into impotence the
malignant intentions of the ignobler animals. Yet nothing could be
blander than the demeanour of the Abbe Montreuil; nothing more worldly,
in their urbanity, than his manner and address. His garb was as little
clerical as possible, his conversation rather familiar than formal, and
he invariably listened to every syllable the good knight uttered with a
countenance and mien of the most attentive respect.

What then was the charm by which the singular man never failed to obtain
an ascendency, in some measure allied with fear, over all in whose
company he was thrown? This was a secret my uncle never could solve,
and which only in later life I myself was able to discover. It was
partly by the magic of an extraordinary and powerful mind, partly by an
expression of manner, if I may use such a phrase, that seemed to sneer
most, when most it affected to respect; and partly by an air like that
of a man never exactly at ease; not that he was shy, or ungraceful, or
even taciturn,--no! it was an indescribable embarrassment, resembling
that of one playing a part, familiar to him, indeed, but somewhat
distasteful. This embarrassment, however, was sufficient to be
contagious, and to confuse that dignity in others, which, strangely
enough, never forsook himself.

He was of low origin, but his address and appearance did not betray his
birth. Pride suited his mien better than familiarity; and his
countenance, rigid, thoughtful, and cold, even through smiles, in
expression was strikingly commanding. In person he was slightly above
the middle standard; and had not the texture of his frame been
remarkably hard, wiry, and muscular, the total absence of all
superfluous flesh would have given the lean gauntness of his figure an
appearance of almost spectral emaciation. In reality, his age did not
exceed twenty-eight years; but his high broad forehead was already so
marked with line and furrow, his air was so staid and quiet, his figure
so destitute of the roundness and elasticity of youth, that his
appearance always impressed the beholder with the involuntary idea of a
man considerably more advanced in life. Abstemious to habitual penance,
and regular to mechanical exactness in his frequent and severe
devotions, he was as little inwardly addicted to the pleasures and
pursuits of youth, as he was externally possessed of its freshness and
its bloom.

Nor was gravity with him that unmeaning veil to imbecility which
Rochefoucauld has so happily called "the mystery of the body." The
variety and depth of his learning fully sustained the respect which his
demeanour insensibly created. To say nothing of his lore in the dead
tongues, he possessed a knowledge of the principal European languages
besides his own, namely, English, Italian, German, and Spanish, not less
accurate and little less fluent than that of a native; and he had not
only gained the key to these various coffers of intellectual wealth, but
he had also possessed himself of their treasures. He had been educated
at St. Omer: and, young as he was, he had already acquired no
inconsiderable reputation among his brethren of that illustrious and
celebrated Order of Jesus which has produced some of the worst and some
of the best men that the Christian world has ever known,--which has, in
its successful zeal for knowledge, and the circulation of mental light,
bequeathed a vast debt of gratitude to posterity; but which, unhappily
encouraging certain scholastic doctrines, that by a mind at once subtle
and vicious can be easily perverted into the sanction of the most
dangerous and systematized immorality, has already drawn upon its
professors an almost universal odium.

So highly established was the good name of Montreuil that when, three
years prior to the time of which I now speak, he had been elected to the
office he held in our family, it was scarcely deemed a less fortunate
occurrence for us to gain so learned and so pious a preceptor, than it
was for him to acquire a situation of such trust and confidence in the
household of a Marshal of France and the especial favourite of Louis
XIV.

It was pleasant enough to mark the gradual ascendency he gained over my
uncle; and the timorous dislike which the good knight entertained for
him, yet struggled to conceal. Perhaps that was the only time in his
life in which Sir William Devereux was a hypocrite.

Enough of the priest at present; I return to his charge. To school we
went: our parting with our uncle was quite pathetic; mine in especial.
"Hark ye, Sir Count," whispered he (I bore my father's title), "hark ye,
don't mind what the old priest tells you; your real man of wit never
wants the musty lessons of schools in order to make a figure in the
world. Don't cramp your genius, my boy; read over my play, and honest
George Etherege's 'Man of Mode;' they'll keep your spirits alive, after
dozing over those old pages which Homer (good soul!) dozed over before.
God bless you, my child; write to me; no one, not even your mother,
shall see your letters; and--and be sure, my fine fellow, that you don't
fag too hard. The glass of life is the best book, and one's natural wit
the only diamond that can write legibly on it."

Such were my uncle's parting admonitions; it must be confessed that,
coupled with the dramatic gifts alluded to, they were likely to be of
infinite service to the _debutant_ for academical honours. In fact, Sir
William Devereux was deeply impregnated with the notion of his
time,--that ability and inspiration were the same thing, and that,
unless you were thoroughly idle, you could not be thoroughly a genius.
I verily believe that he thought wisdom got its gems, as Abu Zeid al
Hassan* declares some Chinese philosophers thought oysters got their
pearls, namely, _by gaping_!


* In his Commentary on the account of China by two Travellers.



CHAPTER III.

A CHANGE IN CONDUCT AND IN CHARACTER: OUR EVIL PASSIONS WILL SOMETIMES
PRODUCE GOOD EFFECTS; AND ON THE CONTRARY, AN ALTERATION FOR THE BETTER
IN MANNERS WILL, NOT UNFREQUENTLY, HAVE AMONGST ITS CAUSES A LITTLE
CORRUPTION OF MIND; FOR THE FEELINGS ARE SO BLENDED THAT, IN SUPPRESSING
THOSE DISAGREEABLE TO OTHERS, WE OFTEN SUPPRESS THOSE WHICH ARE AMIABLE
IN THEMSELVES.

MY twin brother, Gerald, was a tall, strong, handsome boy, blessed with
a great love for the orthodox academical studies, and extraordinary
quickness of ability. Nevertheless, he was indolent by nature in things
which were contrary to his taste; fond of pleasure; and, amidst all his
personal courage, ran a certain vein of irresolution, which rendered it
easy for a cool and determined mind to awe or to persuade him. I cannot
help thinking, too, that, clever as he was, there was something
commonplace in the cleverness; and that his talent was of that
mechanical yet quick nature which makes wonderful boys but mediocre men.
In any other family he would have been considered the beauty; in ours he
was thought the genius.

My youngest brother, Aubrey, was of a very different disposition of mind
and frame of body; thoughtful, gentle, susceptible, acute; with an
uncertain bravery, like a woman's, and a taste for reading, that varied
with the caprice of every hour. He was the beauty of the three, and my
mother's favourite. Never, indeed, have I seen the countenance of man
so perfect, so glowingly yet delicately handsome, as that of Aubrey
Devereux. Locks, soft, glossy, and twining into ringlets, fell in dark
profusion over a brow whiter than marble; his eyes were black and tender
as a Georgian girl's; his lips, his teeth, the contour of his face, were
all cast in the same feminine and faultless mould; his hands would have
shamed those of Madame de la Tisseur, whose lover offered six thousand
marks to any European who could wear her glove; and his figure would
have made Titania give up her Henchman, and the King of the Fairies be
anything but pleased with the exchange.

Such were my two brothers; or, rather (so far as the internal qualities
are concerned), such they seemed to me; for it is a singular fact that
we never judge of our near kindred so well as we judge of others; and I
appeal to any one, whether, of all people by whom he has been mistaken,
he has not been most often mistaken by those with whom he was brought
up.

I had always loved Aubrey, but they had not suffered him to love me; and
we had been so little together that we had in common none of those
childish remembrances which serve, more powerfully than all else in
later life, to cement and soften affection. In fact, I was the
scapegoat of the family. What I must have been in early childhood I
cannot tell; but before I was ten years old I was the object of all the
despondency and evil forebodings of my relations. My father said I
laughed at _la gloire et le grand monarque_ the very first time he
attempted to explain to me the value of the one and the greatness of the
other. The countess said I had neither my father's eye nor her own
smile,--that I was slow at my letters and quick with my tongue; and
throughout the whole house nothing was so favourite a topic as the
extent of my rudeness and the venom of my repartee. Montreuil, on his
entrance into our family, not only fell in with, but favoured and
fostered, the reigning humour against me; whether from that _divide et
impera_ system, which was so grateful to his temper, or from the mere
love of meddling and intrigue, which in him, as in Alberoni, attached
itself equally to petty as to large circles, was not then clearly
apparent; it was only certain that he fomented the dissensions and
widened the breach between my brothers and myself. Alas! after all, I
believe my sole crime was my candour. I had a spirit of frankness which
no fear could tame, and my vengeance for any infantine punishment was in
speaking veraciously of my punishers. Never tell me of the pang of
falsehood to the slandered: nothing is so agonizing to the fine skin of
vanity as the application of a rough truth!

As I grew older, I saw my power and indulged it; and, being scolded for
sarcasm, I was flattered into believing I had wit; so I punned and
jested, lampooned and satirized, till I was as much a torment to others
as I was tormented myself. The secret of all this was that I was
unhappy. Nobody loved me: I felt it to my heart of hearts. I was
conscious of injustice, and the sense of it made me bitter. Our
feelings, especially in youth, resemble that leaf which, in some old
traveller, is described as expanding itself to warmth, but when chilled,
not only shrinking and closing, but presenting to the spectator thorns
which had lain concealed upon the opposite side of it before.

With my brother Gerald, I had a deadly and irreconcilable feud. He was
much stouter, taller, and stronger than myself; and, far from conceding
to me that respect which I imagined my priority of birth entitled me to
claim, he took every opportunity to deride my pretensions, and to
vindicate the cause of the superior strength and vigour which
constituted his own. It would have done your heart good to have seen us
cuff one another, we did it with such zeal. There is nothing in human
passion like a good brotherly hatred! My mother said, with the most
feeling earnestness, that she used to feel us fighting even before our
birth: we certainly lost no time directly after it. Both my parents
were secretly vexed that I had come into the world an hour sooner than
my brother; and Gerald himself looked upon it as a sort of juggle,--a
kind of jockeyship by which he had lost the prerogative of birthright.
This very early rankled in his heart, and he was so much a greater
favourite than myself that, instead of rooting out so unfortunate a
feeling on his part, my good parents made no scruple of openly lamenting
my seniority. I believe the real cause of our being taken from the
domestic instructions of the Abbe (who was an admirable teacher) and
sent to school, was solely to prevent my uncle deciding everything in my
favour. Montreuil, however, accompanied us to our academy, and remained
with us during the three years in which we were perfecting ourselves in
the blessings of education.

At the end of the second year, a prize was instituted for the best
proficient at a very severe examination; two months before it took place
we went home for a few days. After dinner my uncle asked me to walk
with him in the park. I did so: we strolled along to the margin of a
rivulet which ornamented the grounds. There my uncle, for the first
time, broke silence.

"Morton," said he, looking down at his left leg, "Morton, let me see;
thou art now of a reasonable age,--fourteen at the least."

"Fifteen, if it please you, sir," said I, elevating my stature as much
as I was able.

"Humph! my boy; and a pretty time of life it is, too. Your brother
Gerald is taller than you by two inches."

"But I can beat him for all that, uncle," said I, colouring, and
clenching my fist.

My uncle pulled down his right ruffle. "'Gad so, Morton, you're a brave
fellow," said he; "but I wish you were less of a hero and more of a
scholar. I wish you could beat him in Greek as well as in boxing. I
will tell you what Old Rowley said," and my uncle occupied the next
quarter of an hour with a story. The story opened the good old
gentleman's heart; my laughter opened it still more. "Hark ye, sirrah!"
said he, pausing abruptly, and grasping my hand with a vigorous effort
of love and muscle, "hark ye, sirrah,--I love you,--'Sdeath, I do. I
love you better than both your brothers, and that crab of a priest into
the bargain; but I am grieved to the heart to hear what I do of you.
They tell me you are the idlest boy in the school; that you are always
beating your brother Gerald, and making a scurrilous jest of your mother
or myself."

"Who says so? who dares say so?" said I, with an emphasis that would
have startled a less hearty man than Sir William Devereux. "They lie,
Uncle; by my soul they do. Idle I am; quarrelsome with my brother I
confess myself; but jesting at you or my mother--never--never. No, no;
_you_, too, who have been so kind to me,--the only one who ever was.
No, no; do not think I could be such a wretch:" and as I said this the
tears gushed from my eyes.

My good uncle was exceedingly affected. "Look ye, child," said he, "I
do not believe them. 'Sdeath, not a word; I would repeat to you a good
jest now of Sedley's, 'Gad, I would, but I am really too much moved just
at present. I tell you what, my boy, I tell you what you shall do:
there is a trial coming on at school--eh?--well, the Abbe tells me
Gerald is certain of being first, and you of being last. Now, Morton,
you shall beat your brother, and shame the Jesuit. There; my mind's
spoken; dry your tears, my boy, and I'll tell you the jest Sedley made:
it was in the Mulberry Garden one day--" And the knight told his story.

I dried my tears, pressed my uncle's hand, escaped from him as soon as I
was able, hastened to my room, and surrendered myself to reflection.

When my uncle so good-naturedly proposed that I should conquer Gerald at
the examination, nothing appeared to him more easy; he was pleased to
think I had more talent than my brother, and talent, according to his
creed, was the only master-key to unlock every science. A problem in
Euclid or a phrase in Pindar, a secret in astronomy or a knotty passage
in the Fathers, were all riddles, with the solution of which application
had nothing to do. One's mother-wit was a precious sort of necromancy,
which could pierce every mystery at first sight; and all the gifts of
knowledge, in his opinion, like reading and writing in that of the sage
Dogberry, "came by nature." Alas! I was not under the same pleasurable
delusion; I rather exaggerated than diminished the difficulty of my
task, and thought, at the first glance, that nothing short of a miracle
would enable me to excel my brother. Gerald, a boy of natural talent,
and, as I said before, of great assiduity in the orthodox
studies,--especially favoured too by the instruction of Montreuil,--had
long been esteemed the first scholar of our little world; and though I
knew that with some branches of learning I was more conversant than
himself, yet, as my emulation had been hitherto solely directed to
bodily contention, I had never thought of contesting with him a
reputation for which I cared little, and on a point in which I had been
early taught that I could never hope to enter into any advantageous
comparison with the "genius" of the Devereuxs.

A new spirit now passed into me: I examined myself with a jealous and
impartial scrutiny; I weighed my acquisitions against those of my
brother; I called forth, from their secret recesses, the unexercised and
almost unknown stores I had from time to time laid up in my mental
armoury to moulder and to rust. I surveyed them with a feeling that
they might yet be polished into use; and, excited alike by the stimulus
of affection on one side and hatred on the other, my mind worked itself
from despondency into doubt, and from doubt into the sanguineness of
hope. I told none of my design; I exacted from my uncle a promise not
to betray it; I shut myself in my room; I gave out that I was ill; I saw
no one, not even the Abbe; I rejected his instructions, for I looked
upon him as an enemy; and, for the two months before my trial, I spent
night and day in an unrelaxing application, of which, till then, I had
not imagined myself capable.

Though inattentive to the school exercises, I had never been wholly
idle. I was a lover of abstruser researches than the hackneyed subjects
of the school, and we had really received such extensive and judicious
instructions from the Abbe during our early years that it would have
been scarcely possible for any of us to have fallen into a thorough
distaste for intellectual pursuits. In the examination I foresaw that
much which I had previously acquired might be profitably
displayed,--much secret and recondite knowledge of the customs and
manners of the ancients, as well as their literature, which curiosity
had led me to obtain, and which I knew had never entered into the heads
of those who, contented with their reputation in the customary
academical routine, had rarely dreamed of wandering into less beaten
paths of learning. Fortunately too for me, Gerald was so certain of
success that latterly he omitted all precaution to obtain it; and as
none of our schoolfellows had the vanity to think of contesting with
him, even the Abbe seemed to imagine him justified in his supineness.

The day arrived. Sir William, my mother, the whole aristocracy of the
neighbourhood, were present at the trial. The Abbe came to my room a
few hours before it commenced: he found the door locked.

"Ungracious boy," said he, "admit me; I come at the earnest request of
your brother Aubrey to give you some hints preparatory to the
examination."

"He has indeed come at my wish," said the soft and silver voice of
Aubrey, in a supplicating tone: "do admit him, dear Morton, for my
sake!"

"Go," said I, bitterly, from within, "go: ye are both my foes and
slanderers; you come to insult my disgrace beforehand; but perhaps you
will yet be disappointed."

"You will not open the door?" said the priest.

"I will not; begone."

"He will indeed disgrace his family," said Montreuil, moving away.

"He will disgrace himself," said Aubrey, dejectedly.

I laughed scornfully. If ever the consciousness of strength is
pleasant, it is when we are thought most weak.

The greater part of our examination consisted in the answering of
certain questions in writing, given to us in the three days immediately
previous to the grand and final one; for this last day was reserved the
paper of composition (as it was termed) in verse and prose, and the
personal examination in a few showy, but generally understood, subjects.
When Gerald gave in his paper, and answered the verbal questions, a buzz
of admiration and anxiety went round the room. His person was so
handsome, his address so graceful, his voice so assured and clear, that
a strong and universal sympathy was excited in his favour. The
head-master publicly complimented him. He regretted only the deficiency
of his pupil in certain minor but important matters. I came next, for I
stood next to Gerald in our class. As I walked up the hall, I raised my
eyes to the gallery in which my uncle and his party sat. I saw that my
mother was listening to the Abbe, whose eye, severe, cold, and
contemptuous, was bent upon me. But my uncle leaned over the railing of
the gallery, with his plumed hat in his hand, which, when he caught my
look, he waved gently,--as if in token of encouragement, and with an air
so kind and cheering, that I felt my step grow prouder as I approached
the conclave of the masters.

"Morton Devereux," said the president of the school, in a calm, loud,
austere voice, that filled the whole hall, "we have looked over your
papers on the three previous days, and they have given us no less
surprise than pleasure. Take heed and time how you answer us now."

At this speech a loud murmur was heard in my uncle's party, which
gradually spread round the hall. I again looked up: my mother's face
was averted; that of the Abbe was impenetrable; but I saw my uncle
wiping his eyes, and felt a strange emotion creeping into my own, I
turned hastily away, and presented my paper; the head master received
it, and, putting it aside, proceeded to the verbal examination.
Conscious of the parts in which Gerald was likely to fail, I had paid
especial attention to the minutiae of scholarship, and my forethought
stood me in good stead at the present moment. My trial ceased; my last
paper was read. I bowed, and retired to the other end of the hall. I
was not so popular as Gerald; a crowd was assembled round him, but I
stood alone. As I leaned against a column, with folded arms, and a
countenance which I felt betrayed little of my internal emotions, my eye
caught Gerald's. He was very pale, and I could see that his hand
trembled. Despite of our enmity, I felt for him. The worst passions
are softened by triumph, and I foresaw that mine was at hand.

The whole examination was over. Every boy had passed it. The masters
retired for a moment; they reappeared and reseated themselves. The
first sound I heard was that of my own name. I was the victor of the
day: I was more; I was one hundred marks before my brother. My head
swam round; my breath forsook me. Since then I have been placed in many
trials of life, and had many triumphs; but never was I so overcome as at
that moment. I left the hall; I scarcely listened to the applauses with
which it rang. I hurried to my own chamber, and threw myself on the bed
in a delirium of intoxicated feeling, which had in it more of rapture
than anything but the gratification of first love or first vanity can
bestow.

Ah! it would be worth stimulating our passions if it were only for the
pleasure of remembering their effect; and all violent excitement should
be indulged less for present joy than for future retrospection.

My uncle's step was the first thing which intruded on my solitude.

"Od's fish, my boy," said he, crying like a child, "this is fine
work,--'Gad, so it is. I almost wish I were a boy myself to have a
match with you,--faith I do,--see what it is to learn a little of life!
If you had never read my play, do you think you would have done half so
well?--no, my boy, I sharpened your wits for you. Honest George
Etherege and I,--we were the making of you! and when you come to be a
great man, and are asked what made you so, you shall say, 'My uncle's
play;' 'Gad, you shall. Faith, boy, never smile! Od's fish, I'll tell
you a story as _a propos_ to the present occasion as if it had been made
on purpose. Rochester and I and Sedley were walking one day,
and--_entre nous_--awaiting certain appointments--hem!--for my part I
was a little melancholy or so, thinking of my catastrophe,--that is, of
my play's catastrophe; and so, said Sedley, winking at Rochester, 'Our
friend is sorrowful.' 'Truly,' said I, seeing they were about to banter
me,--for you know they were arch fellows,--'truly, little Sid' (we
called Sedley Sid), 'you are greatly mistaken;'--you see, Morton, I was
thus sharp upon him because when you go to court you will discover that
it does not do to take without giving. And then Rochester said, looking
roguishly towards me, the wittiest thing against Sedley that ever I
heard; it was the most celebrated _bon mot_ at court for three weeks; he
said--no, boy, od's fish, it was so stinging I can't tell it thee;
faith, I can't. Poor Sid; he was a good fellow, though malicious,--and
he's dead now. I'm sorry I said a word about it. Nay, never look so
disappointed, boy. You have all the cream of the story as it is. And
now put on your hat, and come with me. I've got leave for you to take a
walk with your old uncle."

That night, as I was undressing, I heard a gentle rap at the door, and
Aubrey entered. He approached me timidly, and then, throwing his arms
round my neck, kissed me in silence. I had not for years experienced
such tenderness from him; and I sat now mute and surprised. At last I
said, with the sneer which I must confess I usually assumed towards
those persons whom I imagined I had a right to think ill of:--

"Pardon me, my gentle brother, there is something portentous in this
sudden change. Look well round the room, and tell me at your earliest
leisure what treasure it is that you are desirous should pass from my
possession into your own."

"Your love, Morton," said Aubrey, drawing back, but apparently in pride,
not anger; "your love: I ask nothing more."

"Of a surety, kind Aubrey," said I, "the favour seems somewhat slight to
have caused your modesty such delay in requesting it. I think you have
been now some years nerving your mind to the exertion."

"Listen to me, Morton," said Aubrey, suppressing his emotion; "you have
always been my favourite brother. From our first childhood my heart
yearned to you. Do you remember the time when an enraged bull pursued
me, and you, then only ten years old, placed yourself before it and
defended me at the risk of your own life? Do you think I could ever
forget that,--child as I was?--never, Morton, never!"

Before I could answer the door was thrown open, and the Abbe entered.
"Children," said he, and the single light of the room shone full upon
his unmoved, rigid, commanding features--"children, be as Heaven
intended you,--friends and brothers. Morton, I have wronged you, I own
it; here is my hand: Aubrey, let all but early love, and the present
promise of excellence which your brother displays, be forgotten."

With these words the priest joined our hands. I looked on my brother,
and my heart melted. I flung myself into his arms and wept.

"This is well," said Montreuil, surveying us with a kind of grim
complacency, and, taking my brother's arm, he blest us both, and led
Aubrey away.

That day was a new era in my boyish life. I grew henceforth both better
and worse. Application and I having once shaken hands became very good
acquaintance. I had hitherto valued myself upon supplying the frailties
of a delicate frame by an uncommon agility in all bodily exercises. I
now strove rather to improve the deficiencies of my mind, and became
orderly, industrious, and devoted to study. So far so well; but as I
grew wiser, I grew also more wary. Candour no longer seemed to me the
finest of virtues. I thought before I spoke: and second thought
sometimes quite changed the nature of the intended speech; in short,
gentlemen of the next century, to tell you the exact truth, the little
Count Devereux became somewhat of a hypocrite!



CHAPTER IV.

A CONTEST OF ART AND A LEAGUE OF FRIENDSHIP.--TWO CHARACTERS IN MUTUAL
IGNORANCE OF EACH OTHER, AND THE READER NO WISER THAN EITHER OF THEM.

THE Abbe was now particularly courteous to me. He made Gerald and
myself breakfast with him, and told us nothing was so amiable as
friendship among brothers. We agreed to the sentiment, and, like all
philosophers, did not agree a bit the better for acknowledging the same
first principles. Perhaps, notwithstanding his fine speeches, the Abbe
was the real cause of our continued want of cordiality. However, we did
not fight any more: we avoided each other, and at last became as civil
and as distant as those mathematical lines which appear to be taking all
possible pains to approach one another and never get a jot the nearer
for it. Oh! your civility is the prettiest invention possible for
dislike! Aubrey and I were inseparable, and we both gained by the
intercourse. I grew more gentle, and he more masculine; and, for my
part, the kindness of his temper so softened the satire of mine that I
learned at last to smile full as often as to sneer.

The Abbe had obtained a wonderful hold over Aubrey; he had made the poor
boy think so much of the next world, that he had lost all relish for
this. He lived in a perpetual fear of offence: he was like a chemist of
conscience, and weighed minutiae by scruples. To play, to ride, to run,
to laugh at a jest, or to banquet on a melon, were all sins to be atoned
for; and I have found (as a penance for eating twenty-three cherries
instead of eighteen) the penitent of fourteen standing, barefooted, in
the coldest nights of winter, upon the hearthstones, almost utterly
naked, and shivering like a leaf, beneath the mingled effect of frost
and devotion. At first I attempted to wrestle with this exceeding
holiness, but finding my admonitions received with great distaste and
some horror, I suffered my brother to be happy in his own way. I only
looked with a very evil and jealous eye upon the good Abbe, and
examined, while I encouraged them, the motives of his advances to
myself. What doubled my suspicions of the purity of the priest was my
perceiving that he appeared to hold out different inducements for
trusting him to each of us, according to his notions of our respective
characters. My brother Gerald he alternately awed and persuaded, by the
sole effect of superior intellect. With Aubrey he used the mechanism of
superstition. To me, he, on the one hand, never spoke of religion, nor,
on the other, ever used threats or persuasion, to induce me to follow
any plan suggested to my adoption; everything seemed to be left to my
reason and my ambition. He would converse with me for hours upon the
world and its affairs, speak of courts and kings, in an easy and
unpedantic strain; point out the advantage of intellect in acquiring
power and controlling one's species; and, whenever I was disposed to be
sarcastic upon the human nature I had read of, he supported my sarcasm
by illustrations of the human nature he had seen. We were both, I think
(for myself I can answer), endeavouring to pierce the real nature of the
other; and perhaps the talent of diplomacy for which, years afterwards,
I obtained some applause, was first learnt in my skirmishing warfare
with the Abbe Montreuil.

At last, the evening before we quitted school for good arrived. Aubrey
had just left me for solitary prayers, and I was sitting alone by my
fire, when Montreuil entered gently. He sat himself down by me, and,
after giving me the salutation of the evening, sank into a silence which
I was the first to break.

"Pray, Abbe," said I, "have one's years anything to do with one's age?"

The priest was accustomed to the peculiar tone of my sagacious remarks,
and answered dryly,--

"Mankind in general imagine that they have."

"Faith, then," said I, "mankind know very little about the matter.
To-day I am at school, and a boy; to-morrow I leave school; if I hasten
to town I am presented at court; and lo! I am a man; and this change
within half-a-dozen changes of the sun! therefore, most reverend father,
I humbly opine that age is measured by events, not years."

"And are you not happy at the idea of passing the age of thraldom, and
seeing arrayed before you the numberless and dazzling pomps and
pleasures of the great world?" said Montreuil, abruptly, fixing his dark
and keen eye upon me.

"I have not yet fully made up my mind whether to be happy or not," said
I, carelessly.

"It is a strange answer;" said the priest; "but" (after a pause) "you
are a strange youth: a character that resembles a riddle is at your age
uncommon, and, pardon me, unamiable. Age, naturally repulsive, requires
a mask; and in every wrinkle you may behold the ambush of a scheme: but
the heart of youth should be open as its countenance! However, I will
not weary you with homilies; let us change the topic. Tell me, Morton,
do you repent having turned your attention of late to those graver and
more systematic studies which can alone hereafter obtain you
distinction?"

"No, father," said I, with a courtly bow, "for the change has gained me
your good opinion."

A smile, of peculiar and undefinable expression, crossed the thin lips
of the priest; he rose, walked to the door, and saw that it was
carefully closed. I expected some important communication, but in vain;
pacing the small room to and fro, as if in a musing mood, the Abbe
remained silent, till, pausing opposite some fencing foils, which among
various matters (books, papers, quoits, etc.) were thrown idly in one
corner of the room, he said,--

"They tell me that you are the best fencer in the school--is it so?"

"I hope not, for fencing is an accomplishment in which Gerald is very
nearly my equal," I replied.

"You run, ride, leap, too, better than any one else, according to the
votes of your comrades?"

"It is a noble reputation," said I, "in which I believe I am only
excelled by our huntsman's eldest son."

"You are a strange youth," repeated the priest; "no pursuit seems to
give you pleasure, and no success to gratify your vanity. Can you not
think of any triumph which would elate you?"

I was silent.

"Yes," cried Montreuil, approaching me,--"yes," cried he, "I read your
heart, and I respect it; these are petty competitions and worthless
honours. You require a nobler goal, and a more glorious reward. He who
feels in his soul that Fate has reserved for him a great and exalted
part in this world's drama may reasonably look with indifference on
these paltry rehearsals of common characters."

I raised my eye, and as it met that of the priest, I was irresistibly
struck with the proud and luminous expression which Montreuil's look had
assumed. Perhaps something kindred to its nature was perceptible in my
own; for, after surveying me with an air of more approbation than he had
ever honoured me with before, he grasped my arm firmly, and said,
"Morton, you know me not; for many years I have not known you: that time
is past. No sooner did your talents develop themselves than I was the
first to do homage to their power: let us henceforth be more to each
other than we have been; let us not be pupil and teacher; let us be
friends. Do not think that I invite you to an unequal exchange of good
offices: you may be the heir to wealth and a distinguished name; I may
seem to you but an unknown and undignified priest; but the authority of
the Almighty can raise up, from the sheepfold and the cotter's shed, a
power, which, as the organ of His own, can trample upon sceptres and
dictate to the supremacy of kings. And _I_--_I_"--the priest abruptly
paused, checked the warmth of his manner, as if he thought it about to
encroach on indiscretion, and, sinking into a calmer tone, continued,
"yes, I, Morton, insignificant as I appear to you, can, in _every_ path
through this intricate labyrinth of life, be more useful to your desires
than you can ever be to mine. I offer to you in my friendship a fervour
of zeal and energy of power which in none of your equals, in age and
station, you can hope to find. Do you accept my offer?"

"Can you doubt," said I, with eagerness, "that I would avail myself of
the services of any man, however displeasing to me, and worthless in
himself? How, then, can I avoid embracing the friendship of one so
extraordinary in knowledge and intellect as yourself? I do embrace it,
and with rapture."

The priest pressed my hand. "But," continued he, fixing his eyes upon
mine, "all alliances have their conditions: I require implicit
confidence; and for some years, till time gives you experience, regard
for your interests induces me also to require obedience. Name any wish
you may form for worldly advancement, opulence, honour, the smile of
kings, the gifts of states, and--I--I will pledge myself to carry that
wish into effect. Never had eastern prince so faithful a servant among
the Dives and Genii as Morton Devereux shall find in me: but question me
not of the sources of my power; be satisfied when their channel wafts
you the success you covet. And, more, when I in my turn (and this shall
be but rarely) request a favour of you, ask me not for what end nor
hesitate to adopt the means I shall propose. You seem startled; are you
content at this understanding between us, or will you retract the bond?"

"My father," said I, "there is enough to startle me in your proposal; it
greatly resembles that made by the Old Man of the Mountains to his
vassals, and it would not exactly suit my inclinations to be called upon
some morning to act the part of a private executioner."

The priest smiled. "My young friend," said he, "those days have passed;
neither religion nor friendship requires of her votaries sacrifices of
blood. But make yourself easy; whenever I ask of you what offends your
conscience, even in a punctilio, refuse my request. With this
exception, what say you?"

"That I think I will agree to the bond: but, father, I am an irresolute
person; I must have time to consider."

"Be it so. To-morrow, having surrendered my charge to your uncle, I
depart for France."

"For France!" said I; "and how? Surely the war will prevent your
passage."

The priest smiled. Nothing ever displeased me more than that priest's
smile. "The ecclesiastics," said he, "are the ambassadors of Heaven,
and have nothing to do with the wars of earth. I shall find no
difficulty in crossing the Channel. I shall not return for several
months, perhaps not till the expiration of a year: I leave you, till
then, to decide upon the terms I have proposed to you. Meanwhile,
gratify my vanity by employing my power; name some commission in France
which you wish me to execute."

"I can think of none,--yet, stay;" and I felt some curiosity to try the
power of which he boasted,--"I have read that kings are blest with a
most accommodating memory, and perfectly forget their favourites when
they can be no longer useful. You will see, perhaps, if my father's
name has become a Gothic and unknown sound at the court of the Great
King. I confess myself curious to learn this, though I can have no
personal interest in it."

"Enough, the commission shall be done. And now, my child, Heaven bless
you! and send you many such friends as the humble priest, who, whatever
be his failings, has, at least, the merit of wishing to serve those whom
he loves."

So saying, the priest closed the door. Sinking into a revery, as his
footsteps died upon my ear, I muttered to myself: "Well, well, my sage
ecclesiastic, the game is not over yet; let us see if, at sixteen, we
cannot shuffle cards, and play tricks with the gamester of thirty. Yet
he may be in earnest, and faith I believe he is; but I must look well
before I leap, or consign my actions into such spiritual keeping.
However, if the worst come to the worst, if I do make this compact, and
am deceived,--if, above all, I am ever seduced, or led blindfold into
one of those snares which priestcraft sometimes lays to the cost of
honour,--why, I shall have a sword, which I shall never be at a loss to
use, and it can find its way through a priest's gown as well as a
soldier's corselet."

Confess that a youth who could think so promptly of his sword was well
fitted to wear one!



CHAPTER V.

RURAL HOSPITALITY.--AN EXTRAORDINARY GUEST.--A FIN$ GENTLEMAN IS NOT
NECESSARILY A FOOL.

WE were all three (my brothers and myself) precocious geniuses. Our
early instructions, under a man like the Abbe, at once learned and
worldly, and the society into which we had been initiated from our
childhood, made us premature adepts in the manners of the world; and I,
in especial, flattered myself that a quick habit of observation rendered
me no despicable profiter by my experience. Our academy, too, had been
more like a college than a school; and we had enjoyed a license that
seemed to the superficial more likely to benefit our manners than to
strengthen our morals. I do not think, however, that the latter
suffered by our freedom from restraint. On the contrary, we the earlier
learned that vice, but for the piquancy of its unlawfulness, would never
be so captivating a goddess; and our errors and crimes in after life had
certainly not their origin in our wanderings out of academical bounds.

It is right that I should mention our prematurity of intellect, because,
otherwise, much of my language and reflections, as detailed in the first
book of this history, might seem ill suited to the tender age at which
they occurred. However, they approach, as nearly as possible, to my
state of mind at that period; and I have, indeed, often mortified my
vanity in later life by thinking how little the march of time has
ripened my abilities, and how petty would have been the intellectual
acquisitions of manhood, if they had not brought me something like
content!

My uncle had always, during his retirement, seen as many people as he
could assemble out of the "mob of gentlemen who _live at_ ease." But,
on our quitting school and becoming men, he resolved to set no bounds to
his hospitality. His doors were literally thrown open; and as he was by
far the greatest person in the district--to say nothing of his wines,
and his French cook--many of the good people of London did not think it
too great an honour to confer upon the wealthy representative of the
Devereuxs the distinction of their company and compliments. Heavens!
what notable samples of court breeding and furbelows did the crane-neck
coaches, which made our own family vehicle look like a gilt tortoise,
pour forth by couples and leashes into the great hall; while my gallant
uncle, in new periwig and a pair of silver-clocked stockings (a present
from a _ci-devant_ fine lady), stood at the far end of the
picture-gallery to receive his visitors with all the graces of the last
age.

My mother, who had preserved her beauty wonderfully, sat in a chair of
green velvet, and astonished the courtiers by the fashion of a dress
only just imported. The worthy Countess (she had dropped in England the
loftier distinction of _Madame la Marechale_) was however quite innocent
of any intentional affectation of the _mode_; for the new stomacher, so
admired in London, had been the last alteration in female garniture at
Paris a month before my father died. Is not this "Fashion" a noble
divinity to possess such zealous adherents?--a pitiful, lackey-like
creature, which struts through one country with the cast-off finery of
another!

As for Aubrey and Gerald, they produced quite an effect; and I should
most certainly have been thrown irrevocably into the background had I
not been born to the good fortune of an eldest son. This was far more
than sufficient to atone for the comparative plainness of my person; and
when it was discovered that I was also Sir William's favourite, it is
quite astonishing what a beauty I became! Aubrey was declared too
effeminate; Gerald too tall. And the Duchess of Lackland one day, when
she had placed a lean, sallow ghost of a daughter on either side of me,
whispered my uncle in a voice, like the _aside_ of a player, intended
for none but the whole audience, that the young Count had the most
imposing air and the finest eyes she had ever seen. All this inspired
me with courage, as well as contempt; and not liking to be beholden
solely to my priority of birth for my priority of distinction, I
resolved to become as agreeable as possible. If I had not in the vanity
of my heart resolved also to be "myself alone," Fate would have
furnished me at the happiest age for successful imitation with an
admirable model.

Time rolled on; two years were flown since I had left school, and
Montreuil was not yet returned. I had passed the age of eighteen, when
the whole house, which, as it was summer, when none but cats and
physicians were supposed gifted by Providence with the power to exist in
town, was uncommonly full,--the whole house, I say, was thrown into a
positive fever of expectation. The visit of a guest, if not of greater
consequence at least of greater interest than any who had hitherto
honoured my uncle, was announced. Even the young Count, with the most
imposing air in the world and the finest eyes, was forgotten by
everybody but the Duchess of Lackland and her daughters, who had just
returned to Devereux Court to observe how amazingly the Count had grown!
Oh! what a prodigy wisdom would be, if it were but blest with a memory
as keen and constant as that of interest!

Struck with the universal excitement, I went to my uncle to inquire the
name of the expected guest. My uncle was occupied in fanning the Lady
Hasselton, a daughter of one of King Charles's Beauties. He had only
time to answer me literally, and without comment; the guest's name was
Mr. St. John.

I had never conned the "Flying Post," and I knew nothing about politics.
"Who is Mr. St. John?" said I; my uncle had renewed the office of a
zephyr. The daughter of the Beauty heard and answered, "The most
charming person in England." I bowed and turned away. "How vastly
explanatory!" said I. I met a furious politician. "Who is Mr. St.
John?" I asked.

"The cleverest man in England," answered the politician, hurrying off
with a pamphlet in his hand.

"Nothing can be more satisfactory," thought I. Stopping a coxcomb of
the first water, "Who is Mr. St. John?" I asked.

"The finest gentleman in England," answered the coxcomb, settling his
cravat.

"Perfectly intelligible!" was my reflection on this reply; and I
forthwith arrested a Whig parson,--"Who is Mr. St. John?" said I.

"The greatest reprobate in England!" answered the Whig parson, and I was
too stunned to inquire more.

Five minutes afterwards the sound of carriage wheels was heard in the
courtyard, then a slight bustle in the hall, and the door of the
ante-room being thrown open Mr. St. John entered.

He was in the very prime of life, about the middle height, and of a mien
and air so strikingly noble that it was some time before you recovered
the general effect of his person sufficiently to examine its peculiar
claims to admiration. However, he lost nothing by a further survey: he
possessed not only an eminently handsome but a very extraordinary
countenance. Through an air of _nonchalance_, and even something of
lassitude; through an ease of manners sometimes sinking into effeminate
softness, sometimes bordering upon licentious effrontery,--his eye
thoughtful, yet wandering, seemed to announce that the mind partook but
little of the whim of the moment, or of those levities of ordinary life
over which the grace of his manner threw so peculiar a charm. His brow
was, perhaps, rather too large and prominent for the exactness of
perfect symmetry, but it had an expression of great mental power and
determination. His features were high, yet delicate, and his mouth,
which, when closed, assumed a firm and rather severe expression,
softened, when speaking, into a smile of almost magical enchantment.
Richly but not extravagantly dressed, he appeared to cultivate rather
than disdain the ornaments of outward appearance; and whatever can
fascinate or attract was so inherent in this singular man that all which
in others would have been most artificial was in him most natural: so
that it is no exaggeration to add that to be well dressed seemed to the
elegance of his person not so much the result of art as of a property
innate and peculiar to himself.

Such was the outward appearance of Henry St. John; one well suited to
the qualities of a mind at once more vigorous and more accomplished than
that of any other person with whom the vicissitudes of my life have ever
brought me into contact.

I kept my eye on the new guest throughout the whole day: I observed the
mingled liveliness and softness which pervaded his attentions to women,
the intellectual yet unpedantic superiority he possessed in his
conversations with men; his respectful demeanour to age; his careless,
yet not over-familiar, ease with the young; and, what interested me more
than all, the occasional cloud which passed over his countenance at
moments when he seemed sunk into a revery that had for its objects
nothing in common with those around him.

Just before dinner St. John was talking to a little group, among whom
curiosity seemed to have drawn the Whig parson whom I have before
mentioned. He stood at a little distance, shy and uneasy; one of the
company took advantage of so favourable a butt for jests, and alluded to
the bystander in a witticism which drew laughter from all but St. John,
who, turning suddenly towards the parson, addressed an observation to
him in the most respectful tone. Nor did he cease talking with him
(fatiguing as the conference must have been, for never was there a
duller ecclesiastic than the gentleman conversed with) until we
descended to dinner. Then, for the first time, I learned that nothing
can constitute good breeding that has not good-nature for its
foundation; and then, too, as I was leading Lady Barbara Lackland to the
great hall by the tip of her forefinger I made another observation.
Passing the priest, I heard him say to a fellow-clerk,--

"Certainly, he is the greatest man in England;" and I mentally remarked,
"There is no policy like politeness; and a good manner is the best thing
in the world, either to get one a good name or to supply the want of
it."



CHAPTER VI.

A DIALOGUE, WHICH MIGHT BE DULL IF IT WERE LONGER.

THREE days after the arrival of St. John, I escaped from the crowd of
impertinents, seized a volume of Cowley, and, in a fit of mingled poetry
and melancholy, strolled idly into the park. I came to the margin of
the stream, and to the very spot on which I had stood with my uncle on
the evening when he had first excited my emulation to scholastic rather
than manual contention with my brother; I seated myself by the
water-side, and, feeling indisposed to read, leaned my cheek upon my
hand, and surrendered my thoughts as prisoners to the reflections which
I could not resist.

I continued I know not how long in my meditation, till I was roused by a
gentle touch upon my shoulder; I looked up, and saw St. John.

"Pardon me, Count," said he, smiling, "I should not have disturbed your
reflections had not your neglect of an old friend emboldened me to
address you upon his behalf." And St. John pointed to the volume of
Cowley which he had taken up without my perceiving it.

"Well," added he, seating himself on the turf beside me, "in my younger
days, poetry and I were better friends than we are now. And if I had
had Cowley as a companion, I should not have parted with him as you have
done, even for my own reflections."

"You admire him then?" said I.

"Why, that is too general a question. I admire what is fine in him, as
in every one else, but I do not love him the better for his points and
his conceits. He reminds me of what Cardinal Pallavicino said of
Seneca, that he 'perfumes his conceits with civet and ambergris.'
However, Count, I have opened upon a beautiful motto for you:--

 "'Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
  Hear the soft winds above me flying,
  With all their wanton boughs dispute,
  And the more tuneful birds to both replying;
  Nor be myself too mute.'

"What say you to that wish? If you have a germ of poetry in you such
verse ought to bring it into flower."

"Ay," answered I, though not exactly in accordance with the truth; "but
I have not that germ. I destroyed it four years ago. Reading the
dedications of poets cured me of the love for poetry. What a pity that
the Divine Inspiration should have for its oracles such mean souls!"

"Yes, and how industrious the good gentlemen are in debasing themselves!
Their ingenuity is never half so much shown in a simile as in a
compliment; I know nothing in nature more melancholy than the discovery
of any meanness in a great man. There is so little to redeem the dry
mass of follies and errors from which the materials of this life are
composed, that anything to love or to reverence becomes, as it were, the
sabbath for the mind. It is better to feel, as we grow older, how the
respite is abridged, and how the few objects left to our admiration are
abased. What a foe not only to life, but to all that dignifies and
ennobles it, is Time! Our affections and our pleasures resemble those
fabulous trees described by Saint Oderic: the fruits which they bring
forth are no sooner ripened into maturity than they are transformed into
birds and fly away. But these reflections cannot yet be familiar to
you. Let us return to Cowley. Do you feel any sympathy with his prose
writings? For some minds they have a great attraction."

"They have for mine," answered I: "but then I am naturally a dreamer;
and a contemplative egotist is always to me a mirror in which I behold
myself."

"The world," answered St. John, with a melancholy smile, "will soon
dissolve, or forever confirm, your humour for dreaming; in either case,
Cowley will not be less a favourite. But you must, like me, have long
toiled in the heat and travail of business, or of pleasure, which is
more wearisome still, in order fully to sympathize with those beautiful
panegyrics upon solitude which make perhaps the finest passages in
Cowley. I have often thought that he whom God hath gifted with a love
of retirement possesses, as it were, an extra sense. And among what our
poet so eloquently calls 'the vast and noble scenes of Nature,' we find
the balm for the wounds we have sustained among the 'pitiful shifts of
policy;' for the attachment to solitude is the surest preservative from
the ills of life: and I know not if the Romans ever instilled, under
allegory, a sublimer truth than when they inculcated the belief that
those inspired by Feronia, the goddess of woods and forests, could walk
barefoot and uninjured over burning coals."

At this part of our conference, the bell swinging hoarsely through the
long avenues, and over the silent water, summoned us to the grand
occupation of civilized life; we rose and walked slowly towards the
house.

"Does not," said I, "this regular routine of petty occurrence, this
periodical solemnity of trifles, weary and disgust you? For my part, I
almost long for the old days of knight-errantry, and would rather be
knocked on the head by a giant, or carried through the air by a flying
griffin, than live in this circle of dull regularities,--the brute at
the mill."

"You may live even in these days," answered St. John, "without too tame
a regularity. Women and politics furnish ample food for adventure, and
you must not judge of all life by country life."

"Nor of all conversation," said I, with a look which implied a
compliment, "by the insipid idlers who fill our saloons. Behold them
now, gathered by the oriel window, yonder; precious distillers of
talk,--sentinels of society with certain set phrases as watchwords,
which they never exceed; sages, who follow Face's advice to Dapper,--

 "'Hum thrice, and buzz as often.'"



CHAPTER VII.

A CHANGE OF PROSPECTS.--A NEW INSIGHT INTO THE CHARACTER OF THE HERO.--A
CONFERENCE BETWEEN TWO BROTHERS.

A DAY or two after the conversation recorded in my last chapter, St.
John, to my inexpressible regret, left us for London; however, we had
enjoyed several conferences together during his stay, and when we parted
it was with a pressing invitation on his side to visit him in London,
and a most faithful promise on mine to avail myself of the request.

No sooner was he fairly gone than I went to seek my uncle; I found him
reading one of Farquhar's comedies. Despite my sorrow at interrupting
him in so venerable a study, I was too full of my new plot to heed
breaking off that in the comedy. In very few words I made the good
knight understand that his descriptions had infected me, and that I was
dying to ascertain their truth; in a word, that his hopeful nephew was
fully bent on going to town. My uncle first stared, then swore, then
paused, then looked at his leg, drew up his stocking, frowned, whistled,
and told me at last to talk to him about it another time. Now, for my
part, I think there are only two classes of people in the world
authorized to put one off to "another time,"--prime ministers and
creditors; accordingly, I would not take my uncle's dismissal. I had
not read plays, studied philosophy, and laid snares for the Abbe
Montreuil without deriving some little wisdom from my experience; so I
took to teasing, and a notable plan it is too! Whoever has pursued it
may guess the result. My uncle yielded, and that day fortnight was
fixed for my departure.

Oh! with what transport did I look forward to the completion of my
wishes, the goal of my ambition! I hastened forth; I hurried into the
woods; I sang out in the gladness of my heart, like a bird released; I
drank in the air with a rapturous sympathy in its freedom; my step
scarcely touched the earth, and my whole frame seemed ethereal, elated,
exalted by the vivifying inspiration of my hopes. I paused by a little
streamlet, which, brawling over stones and through unpenetrated
thicknesses of wood, seemed, like confined ambition, not the less
restless for its obscurity.

"Wild brooklet," I cried, as my thoughts rushed into words, "fret on,
our lot is no longer the same; your wanderings and your murmurs are
wasted in solitude and shade; your voice dies and re-awakes, but without
an echo; your waves spread around their path neither fertility nor
terror; their anger is idle, and their freshness is lavished on a
sterile soil; the sun shines in vain for you, through these unvarying
wastes of silence and gloom; Fortune freights not your channel with her
hoarded stores, and Pleasure ventures not her silken sails upon your
tide; not even the solitary idler roves beside you, to consecrate with
human fellowship your melancholy course; no shape of beauty bends over
your turbid waters, or mirrors in your breast the loveliness that
hallows earth. Lonely and sullen, through storm or sunshine, you repine
along your desolate way, and only catch, through the matted boughs that
darken over you, the beams of the wan stars, which, like human hopes,
tremble upon your breast, and are broken, even before they fade, by the
very turbulence of the surface on which they fall. Rove, repine, murmur
on! Such was my fate, but the resemblance is no more. I shall no
longer be a lonely and regretful being; my affections will no longer
waste themselves upon barrenness and stone. I go among the living and
warm world of mortal energies and desires; my existence shall glide
alternately through crested cities, and bowers in which Poetry worships
Love; and the clear depths of my heart shall reflect whatever its young
dreams have shadowed forth, the visioned form, the gentle and fairy
spirit, the Eve of my soul's imagined and foreboded paradise."

Venting, in this incoherent strain, the exultation which filled my
thoughts, I wandered on, throughout the whole day, till my spirits had
exhausted themselves by indulgence; and, wearied alike by mental
excitement and bodily exertion, I turned, with slow steps, towards the
house. As I ascended the gentle acclivity on which it stood, I saw a
figure approaching towards me: the increasing shades of the evening did
not allow me to recognize the shape until it was almost by my side; it
was Aubrey.

Of late I had seen very little of him. His devotional studies and
habits seemed to draw him from the idle pursuits of myself and my
uncle's guests; and Aubrey was one peculiarly susceptible of neglect,
and sore, to morbidity, at the semblance of unkindness; so that he
required to be sought, and rarely troubled others with advances: that
night, however, his greeting was unusually warm.

"I was uneasy about you, Morton," said he, drawing my arm in his; "you
have not been seen since morning; and, oh! Morton, my uncle told me,
with tears in his eyes, that you were going to leave us. Is it so?"

"Had he tears in his eyes? Kind old man! And you, Aubrey, shall you,
too, grieve for my departure?"

"Can you ask it, Morton? But why will you leave us? Are we not all
happy here, now? _Now_ that there is no longer any barrier or
difference between us,--_now_ that I may look upon you, and listen to
you, and love you, and _own_ that I love you? Why will you leave us
now? And [continued Aubrey, as if fearful of giving me time to
answer]--and every one praises you so here; and my uncle and all of us
are so proud of you. Why should you desert our affections merely
because they are not new? Why plunge into that hollow and cold world
which all who have tried it picture in such fearful hues? Can you find
anything there to repay you for the love you leave behind?"

"My brother," said I, mournfully, and in a tone which startled him,--it
was so different from that which I usually assumed,--"my brother, hear
before you reproach me. Let us sit down upon this bank, and I will
suffer you to see more of my restless and secret heart than any hitherto
have beheld."

We sat down upon a little mound: how well I remember the spot! I can
see the tree which shadows it from my window at this moment. How many
seasons have the sweet herb and the emerald grass been withered there
and renewed! Ah, what is this revival of all things fresh and youthful
in external Nature but a mockery of the wintry spot which lies perished
and _irrenewable_ within!

We drew near to each other, and as my arm wound around him, I said,
"Aubrey, your love has been to me a more precious gift than any who have
not, like me, thirsted and longed even for the love of a dog, can
conceive. Never let me lose that affection! And do not think of me
hereafter as of one whose heart echoed all that his lip uttered. Do not
believe that irony, and sarcasm, and bitterness of tongue flowed from a
malignant or evil source. That disposition which seems to you
alternately so light and gloomy had, perhaps, its origin in a mind too
intense in its affections, and too exacting in having them returned.
Till you sought my friendship, three short years ago, none but my uncle,
with whom I could have nothing in common but attachment, seemed to care
for my very existence. I blame them not; they were deceived in my
nature: but blame _me_ not too severely if my temper suffered from their
mistake. Your friendship came to me, not too late to save me from a
premature misanthropy, but too late to eradicate every morbidity of
mind. Something of sternness on the one hand, and of satire on the
other, has mingled so long with my better feelings that the taint and
the stream have become inseparable. Do not sigh, Aubrey. To be
unamiable is not to be ungrateful; and I shall not love you the less if
I have but a few objects to love. You ask me my inducement to leave
you. 'The World' will be sufficient answer. I cannot share your
contempt of it, nor your fear. I am, and have been of late, consumed
with a thirst,--eager, and burning, and unquenchable: it is ambition!"

"Oh, Morton!" said Aubrey, with a second sigh, longer and deeper than
the first, "that evil passion! the passion which lost an angel heaven."

"Let us not now dispute, my brother, whether it be sinful in itself, or
whether, if its object be virtuous, it is not a virtue. In baring my
soul before you, I only speak of my motives, and seek not to excuse
them. Perhaps on this earth there is no good without a little evil.
When my mind was once turned to the acquisition of mental superiority,
every petty acquisition I made increased my desire to attain more, and
partial emulation soon widened into universal ambition. We three,
Gerald and ourselves, are the keepers of a treasure more valuable than
gold,--the treasure of a not ignoble nor sullied name. For my part, I
confess that I am impatient to increase the store of honour which our
father bequeathed to us. Nor is this all: despite our birth, we are
poor in the gifts of fortune. We are all dependants on my uncle's
favour; and, however we may deserve it, there would be something better
in earning an independence for ourselves."

"That," said Aubrey, "may be an argument for mine and Gerald's
exertions; but not for yours. You are the eldest, and my uncle's
favourite. Nature and affection both point to you as his heir."

"If so, Aubrey, may many years pass before that inheritance be mine!
Why should those years that might produce so much lie fallow? But
though I would not affect an unreal delicacy, and disown my chance of
future fortune, yet you must remember that it is a matter possible, not
certain. My birthright gives me no claim over my uncle, whose estates
are in his own gift; and favour, even in the good, is a wind which
varies without power on our side to calculate the season or the cause.
However this be,--and I love the person on whom fortune depends so much
that I cannot, without pain, speak of the mere chance of its passing
from his possession into mine,--you will own at least that I shall not
hereafter deserve wealth the less for the advantages of experience."

"Alas!" said Aubrey, raising his eyes, "the worship of our Father in
Heaven finds us ample cause for occupation, even in retirement; and the
more we mix with His creatures, the more, I fear, we may forget the
Creator. But if it must be so, I will pray for you, Morton; and you
will remember that the powerless and poor Aubrey can still lift up his
voice in your behalf."

As Aubrey thus spoke, I looked with mingled envy and admiration upon the
countenance beside me, which the beauty of a spirit seemed at once to
soften and to exalt.

Since our conference had begun, the dusk of twilight had melted away;
and the moon had called into lustre--living, indeed, but unlike the
common and unhallowing life of day--the wood and herbage, and silent
variations of hill and valley, which slept around us; and, as the still
and shadowy light fell over the upward face of my brother, it gave to
his features an additional, and not wholly earth-born, solemnity of
expression. There was indeed in his face and air that from which the
painter of a seraph might not have disdained to copy: something
resembling the vision of an angel in the dark eyes that swam with tears,
in which emotion had so little of mortal dross; in the youthful and soft
cheeks, which the earnestness of divine thought had refined by a pale
but transparent hue; in the high and unclouded forehead, over which the
hair, parted in the centre, fell in long and wavelike curls; and in the
lips, silent, yet moving with internal prayer, which seemed the more
fervent, because unheard.

I did not interrupt him in the prayer, which my soul felt, though my ear
caught it not, was for me. But when he had ceased, and turned towards
me, I clasped him to my breast. "My brother," I said, "we shall part,
it is true, but not till our hearts have annihilated the space that was
between them; not till we have felt that the love of brotherhood can
pass the love of woman. Whatever await you, your devoted and holy mind
will be, if not your shield from affliction, at least your balm for its
wounds. Remain here. The quiet which breathes around you well becomes
your tranquillity within; and sometimes bless me in your devotions, as
you have done now. For me, I shall not regret those harder and harsher
qualities which you blame in me, if thereafter their very sternness can
afford me an opportunity of protecting your gentleness from evil, or
redressing the wrongs from which your nature may be too innocent to
preserve you. And now let us return home in the conviction that we have
in our friendship one treasure beyond the reach of fate."

Aubrey did not answer; but he kissed my forehead, and I felt his tears
upon my cheek. We rose, and with arms still embracing each other as we
walked, bent our steps to the house.

Ah, earth! what hast thou more beautiful than the love of those whose
ties are knit by nature, and whose union seems ordained to begin from
the very moment of their birth?



CHAPTER VIII.

FIRST LOVE.

WE are under very changeful influences in this world! The night on
which occurred the interview with Aubrey that I have just narrated, I
was burning to leave Devereux Court. Within one little week from that
time my eagerness was wonderfully abated. The sagacious reader will
readily discover the cause of this alteration. About eight miles from
my uncle's house was a seaport town; there were many and varied rides
leading to it, and the town was a favourite place of visitation with all
the family. Within a few hundred yards of the town was a small cottage,
prettily situated in the midst of a garden, kept with singular neatness,
and ornamented with several rare shrubs and exotics. I had more than
once observed in the garden of this house a female in the very first
blush of youth, and beautiful enough to excite within me a strong
curiosity to learn the owner of the cottage. I inquired, and
ascertained that its tenant was a Spaniard of high birth, and one who
had acquired a melancholy celebrity by his conduct and misfortunes in
the part he had taken in a certain feeble but gallant insurrection in
his native country. He had only escaped with life and a very small sum
of money, and now lived in the obscure seaport of------, a refugee and
a recluse. He was a widower, and had only one child,--a daughter; and I
was therefore at no loss to discover who was the beautiful female I had
noted and admired.

On the day after my conversation with Aubrey detailed in the last
chapter, in riding past this cottage alone, I perceived a crowd
assembled round the entrance; I paused to inquire the cause.

"Why, your honour," quoth a senior of the village, "I believe the
tipstaves be come to take the foreigner for not paying his rent; and he
does not understand our English liberty like, and has drawn his sword,
and swears, in his outlandish lingo, he will not be made prisoner
alive."

I required no further inducement to make me enter the house. The crowd
gave way when they saw me dismount, and suffered me to penetrate into
the first apartment. There I found the gallant old Spaniard with his
sword drawn, keeping at bay a couple of sturdy-looking men, who appeared
to be only prevented from using violence by respect for the person or
the safety of a young woman, who clung to her father's knees and
implored him not to resist where resistance was so unavailing. Let me
cut short this scene; I dismissed the bailiffs, and paid the debt. I
then endeavoured to explain to the Spaniard, in French, for he scarcely
understood three words of our language, the cause of a rudeness towards
him which he persisted in calling a great insult and inhospitality
manifested to a stranger and an exile. I succeeded at length in
pacifying him. I remained for more than an hour at the cottage, and I
left it with a heart beating at a certain persuasion that I had
established therein the claim of acquaintance and visitation.

Will the reader pardon me for having curtailed this scene? It is
connected with a subject on which I shall better endure to dwell as my
narrative proceeds. From that time I paid frequent visits to the
cottage; the Spaniard soon grew intimate with me, and I thought the
daughter began to blush when I entered, and to sigh when I departed.

One evening I was conversing with Don Diego D'Alvarez (such was the
Spaniard's name), as he sat without the threshold, inhaling the gentle
air, that stole freshness from the rippling sea that spread before us,
and fragrance from the earth, over which the summer now reigned in its
most mellow glory. Isora (the daughter) sat at a little distance.

"How comes it," said Don Diego, "that you have never met our friend
Senor Bar--Bar--these English names are always escaping my memory. How
is he called, Isora?"

"Mr.--Mr. Barnard," said Isora (who, brought early to England, spoke its
language like a native), but with evident confusion, and looking down as
she spoke--"Mr. Barnard, I believe, you mean."

"Right, my love," rejoined the Spaniard, who was smoking a long pipe
with great gravity, and did not notice his daughter's embarrassment,--"a
fine youth, but somewhat shy and over-modest in manner."

"Youth!" thought I, and I darted a piercing look towards Isora. "How
comes it, indeed," I said aloud, "that I have not met him? Is he a
friend of long standing?"

"Nay, not very,--perhaps of some six weeks earlier date than you, Senor
Don Devereux. I pressed him, when he called this morning, to tarry your
coming: but, poor youth, he is diffident, and not yet accustomed to mix
freely with strangers, especially those of rank; our own presence a
little overawes him;" and from Don Diego's gray mustachios issued a yet
fuller cloud than was ordinarily wont to emerge thence.

My eyes were still fixed on Isora; she looked up, met them, blushed
deeply, rose, and disappeared within the house. I was already
susceptible of jealousy. My lip trembled as I resumed: "And will Don
Diego pardon me for inquiring how commenced his knowledge of this
ingenuous youth?"

The question was a little beyond the pale of good breeding; perhaps the
Spaniard, who was tolerably punctilious in such matters, thought so, for
he did not reply. I was sensible of my error, and apologizing for it,
insinuated, nevertheless, the question in a more respectful and covert
shape. Still Don Diego, inhaling the fragrant weed with renewed
vehemence, only--like Pion's tomb, recorded by Pausanias--replied to the
request of his petitioner _by smoke_. I did not venture to renew my
interrogatories, and there was a long silence. My eyes fixed their gaze
on the door by which Isora had disappeared. In vain; she returned not;
and as the chill of the increasing evening began now to make itself felt
by the frame of one accustomed to warmer skies, the Spaniard soon rose
to re-enter his house, and I took my farewell for the night.

There were many ways (as I before said) by which I could return home,
all nearly equal in picturesque beauty; for the county in which my
uncle's estates were placed was one where stream roved and woodland
flourished even to the very strand or cliff of the sea. The shortest
route, though one the least frequented by any except foot-passengers,
was along the coast, and it was by this path that I rode slowly
homeward. On winding a curve in the road about one mile from Devereux
Court, the old building broke slowly, tower by tower, upon me. I have
never yet described the house, and perhaps it will not be uninteresting
to the reader if I do so now.

It had anciently belonged to Ralph de Bigod. From his possession it had
passed into that of the then noblest branch the stem of Devereux,
whence, without break or flaw in the direct line of heritage, it had
ultimately descended to the present owner. It was a pile of vast
extent, built around three quadrangular courts, the farthest of which
spread to the very verge of the gray, tall cliffs that overhung the sea;
in this court was a rude tower, which, according to tradition, had
contained the apartments ordinarily inhabited by our ill-fated namesake
and distant kinsman, Robert Devereux, the favourite and the victim of
Elizabeth, whenever he had honoured the mansion with a visit. There was
nothing, it is true, in the old tower calculated to flatter the
tradition, for it contained only two habitable rooms, communicating with
each other, and by no means remarkable for size or splendour; and every
one of our household, save myself, was wont to discredit the idle rumour
which would assign to so distinguished a guest so unseemly a lodgment.
But, as I looked from the narrow lattices of the chambers, over the wide
expanse of ocean and of land which they commanded; as I noted, too, that
the tower was utterly separated from the rest of the house, and that the
convenience of its site enabled one on quitting it, to escape at once,
and privately, either to the solitary beach, or to the glades and groves
of the wide park which stretched behind,--I could not help indulging the
belief that the unceremonious and not unromantic noble had himself
selected his place of retirement, and that, in so doing, the gallant of
a stately court was not perhaps undesirous of securing at well-chosen
moments a brief relaxation from the heavy honours of country homage; or
that the patron and poetic admirer of the dreaming Spenser might have
preferred, to all more gorgeous accommodation, the quiet and unseen
egress to that sea and shore, which, if we may believe the accomplished
Roman,* are so fertile in the powers of inspiration.


* "O mare, O litus, verum secretumque Movoetov, quam multa dictatis,
quam multa invenitis!"--PLINIUS.

"O sea, O shore, true and secret sanctuary of the Muses, how many things
ye dictate, how many things ye discover!"


However this be, I had cheated myself into the belief that my conjecture
was true, and I had petitioned my uncle, when, on leaving school, he
assigned to each of us our several apartments, to grant me the exclusive
right to this dilapidated tower. I gained my boon easily enough;
and--so strangely is our future fate compounded from past trifles--I
verily believe that the strong desire which thenceforth seized me to
visit courts and mix with statesmen--which afterwards hurried me into
intrigue, war, the plots of London, the dissipations of Paris, the
perilous schemes of Petersburg, nay, the very hardships of a Cossack
tent--was first formed by the imaginary honour of inhabiting the same
chamber as the glittering but ill-fated courtier of my own name. Thus
youth imitates where it should avoid; and thus that which should have
been to me a warning became an example.

In the oaken floor to the outer chamber of this tower was situated a
trap-door, the entrance into a lower room or rather cell, fitted up as a
bath; and here a wooden door opened into a long subterranean passage
that led out into a cavern by the sea-shore. This cave, partly by
nature, partly by art, was hollowed into a beautiful Gothic form; and
here, on moonlight evenings, when the sea crept gently over the yellow
and smooth sands and the summer tempered the air from too keen a
freshness, my uncle had often in his younger days, ere gout and rheum
had grown familiar images, assembled his guests. It was a place which
the echoes peculiarly adapted for music; and the scene was certainly not
calculated to diminish the effect of "sweet sounds." Even now, though
my uncle rarely joined us, we were often wont to hold our evening revels
in this spot; and the high cliffs, circling either side in the form of a
bay, tolerably well concealed our meetings from the gaze of the vulgar.
It is true (for these cliffs were perforated with numerous excavations)
that some roving peasant, mariner, or perchance smuggler, would now and
then, at low water, intrude upon us. But our London Nereids and courtly
Tritons were always well pleased with the interest of what they
graciously termed "an adventure;" and our assemblies were too numerous
to think an unbroken secrecy indispensable. Hence, therefore, the
cavern was almost considered a part of the house itself; and though
there was an iron door at the entrance which it gave to the passage
leading to my apartments, yet so great was our confidence in our
neighbours or ourselves that it was rarely secured, save as a defence
against the high tides of winter.

The stars were shining quietly over the old gray castle (for castle it
really was), as I now came within view of it. To the left, and in the
rear of the house, the trees of the park, grouped by distance, seemed
blent into one thick mass of wood; to the right, as I now (descending
the cliff by a gradual path) entered on the level sands, and at about
the distance of a league from the main shore, a small islet, notorious
as the resort and shelter of contraband adventurers, scarcely relieved
the wide and glassy azure of the waves. The tide was out; and passing
through one of the arches worn in the bay, I came somewhat suddenly by
the cavern. Seated there on a crag of stone I found Aubrey.

My acquaintance with Isora and her father had so immediately succeeded
the friendly meeting with Aubrey which I last recorded, and had so
utterly engrossed my time and thoughts, that I had not taken of that
interview all the brotherly advantage which I might have done. My heart
now smote me for my involuntary negligence. I dismounted, and fastening
my horse to one of a long line of posts that ran into the sea,
approached Aubrey and accosted him.

"Alone, Aubrey? and at an hour when my uncle always makes the old walls
ring with revel? Hark! can you not hear the music even now? It comes
from the ball-room, I think, does it not?"

"Yes," said Aubrey, briefly, and looking down upon a devotional book,
which (as was his wont) he had made his companion.

"And we are the only truants!--Well, Gerald will supply our places with
a lighter step, and, perhaps, a merrier heart."

Aubrey sighed. I bent over him affectionately (I loved that boy with
something of a father's as well as a brother's love), and as I did bend
over him, I saw that his eyelids were red with weeping.

"My brother--my own dear brother," said I, "what grieves you?--are we
not friends, and more than friends?--what can grieve you that grieves
not me?"

Suddenly raising his head, Aubrey gazed at me with a long, searching
intentness of eye; his lips moved, but he did not answer.

"Speak to me, Aubrey," said I, passing my arm over his shoulder; "has
any one, anything, hurt you? See, now, if I cannot remedy the evil."

"Morton," said Aubrey, speaking very slowly, "do you believe that Heaven
pre-orders as well as foresees our destiny?"

"It is the schoolman's question," said I, smiling; "but I know how these
idle subtleties vex the mind; and you, my brother, are ever too occupied
with considerations of the future. If Heaven does pre-order our
destiny, we know that Heaven is merciful, and we should be fearless, as
we arm ourselves in that knowledge."

"Morton Devereux," said Aubrey, again repeating my name, and with an
evident inward effort that left his lip colourless, and yet lit his dark
dilating eye with a strange and unwonted fire,--"Morton Devereux, I feel
that I am predestined to the power of the Evil One!"

I drew back, inexpressibly shocked. "Good Heavens!" I exclaimed, "what
can induce you to cherish so terrible a phantasy? what can induce you
to wrong so fearfully the goodness and mercy of our Creator?"

Aubrey shrank from my arm, which had still been round him, and covered
his face with his hands. I took up the book he had been reading; it was
a Latin treatise on predestination, and seemed fraught with the most
gloomy and bewildering subtleties. I sat down beside him, and pointed
out the various incoherencies and contradictions of the work, and the
doctrine it espoused: so long and so earnestly did I speak that at
length Aubrey looked up, seemingly cheered and relieved.

"I wish," said he, timidly, "I wish that you loved me, and that you
loved _me only_: but you love pleasure, and power, and show, and wit,
and revelry; and you know not what it is to feel for me as I feel at
times for you,--nay, perhaps you really dislike or despise me."

Aubrey's voice grew bitter in its tone as he concluded these words, and
I was instantly impressed with the belief that some one had insinuated
distrust of my affection for him.

"Why should you think thus?" I said; "has any cause occurred of late to
make you deem my affection for you weaker than it was? Has any one
hinted a surmise that I do not repay your brotherly regard?"

Aubrey did not answer.

"Has Gerald," I continued, "jealous of our mutual attachment, uttered
aught tending to diminish it? Yes, I see that he has."

Aubrey remained motionless, sullenly gazing downward and still silent.

"Speak," said I, "in justice to both of us,--speak! You know, Aubrey,
how I _have_ loved and love you: put your arms round me, and say that
thing on earth which you wish me to do, and it shall be done!"

Aubrey looked up; he met my eyes, and he threw himself upon my neck, and
burst into a violent paroxysm of tears.

I was greatly affected. "I see my fault," said I, soothing him; "you
are angry, and with justice, that I have neglected you of late; and,
perhaps, while I ask your confidence, you suspect that there is some
subject on which I should have granted you mine. You are right, and, at
a fitter moment, I will. Now let us return homeward: our uncle is never
merry when we are absent; and when my mother misses your dark locks and
fair cheek, I fancy that she sees little beauty in the ball. And yet,
Aubrey," I added, as he now rose from my embrace and dried his tears, "I
will own to you that I love this scene better than any, however gay,
within;" and I turned to the sea, starlit as it was, and murmuring with
a silver voice, and I became suddenly silent.

There was a long pause. I believe we both felt the influence of the
scene around us, softening and tranquillizing our hearts; for, at
length, Aubrey put his hand in mine, and said, "You were always more
generous and kind than I, Morton, though there are times when you seem
different from what you are; and I know you have already forgiven me."

I drew him affectionately towards me, and we went home. But although I
meant from that night to devote myself more to Aubrey than I had done of
late, my hourly increasing love for Isora interfered greatly with my
resolution. In order, however, to excuse any future neglect, I, the
very next morning, bestowed upon him my confidence. Aubrey did not much
encourage my passion: he represented to me Isora's situation, my own
youth, my own worldly ambition; and, more than all (reminding me of my
uncle's aversion even to the most prosperous and well-suited marriage),
he insisted upon the certainty that Sir William would never yield
consent to the lawful consummation of so unequal a love. I was not too
well pleased with this reception of my tale, and I did not much trouble
my adviser with any further communication and confidence on the subject.
Day after day I renewed my visits to the Spaniard's cottage; and yet
time passed on, and I had not told Isora a syllable of my love. I was
inexpressibly jealous of this Barnard, whom her father often eulogized,
and whom I never met. There appeared to be some mystery in his
acquaintance with Don Diego, which that personage carefully concealed;
and once, when I was expressing my surprise to have so often missed
seeing his friend, the Spaniard shook his head gravely, and said that he
had now learnt the real reason for it: there were circumstances of state
which made men fearful of new acquaintances even in their own country.
He drew back, as if he had said too much, and left me to conjecture that
Barnard was connected with him in some intrigue, more delightful in
itself than agreeable to the government. This belief was strengthened
by my noting that Alvarez was frequently absent from home, and this too
in the evening, when he was generally wont to shun the bleakness of the
English air,--an atmosphere, by the by, which I once heard a Frenchman
wittily compare to Augustus placed between Horace and Virgil; namely, in
the _bon mot_ of the emperor himself, _between sighs and tears_.

But Isora herself never heard the name of this Barnard mentioned without
a visible confusion, which galled me to the heart; and at length, unable
to endure any longer my suspense upon the subject, I resolved to seek
from her own lips its termination. I long tarried my opportunity; it
was one evening that coming rather unexpectedly to the cottage, I was
informed by the single servant that Don Diego had gone to the
neighbouring town, but that Isora was in the garden. Small as it was,
this garden had been cultivated with some care, and was not devoid of
variety. A high and very thick fence of living box-wood, closely
interlaced with the honeysuckle and the common rose, screened a few
plots of rarer flowers, a small circular fountain, and a rustic arbour,
both from the sea breezes and the eyes of any passer-by, to which the
open and unsheltered portion of the garden was exposed. When I passed
through the opening cut in the fence, I was somewhat surprised at not
immediately seeing Isora. Perhaps she was in the arbour. I approached
the arbour trembling. What was my astonishment and my terror when I
beheld her stretched lifeless on the ground!

I uttered a loud cry, and sprang forward. I raised her from the earth,
and supported her in my arms; her complexion--through whose pure and
transparent white the wandering blood was wont so gently, yet so
glowingly, to blush, undulating while it blushed, as youngest
rose-leaves which the air just stirs into trembling--was blanched into
the hues of death. My kisses tinged it with a momentary colour not its
own; and yet as I pressed her to my heart, methought hers, which seemed
still before, began as if by an involuntary sympathy, palpably and
suddenly to throb against my own. My alarm melted away as I held her
thus,--nay, I would not, if I could, have recalled her _yet_ to life; I
was forgetful, I was unheeding, I was unconscious of all things else,--a
few broken and passionate words escaped my lips, but even they ceased
when I felt her breath just stirring and mingling with my own. It
seemed to me as if all living kind but ourselves had, by a spell,
departed from the earth, and we were left alone with the breathless and
inaudible Nature from which spring the love and the life of all things.

Isora slowly recovered; her eyes in opening dwelt upon mine; her blood
rushed at once to her cheek, and as suddenly left it hueless as before.
She rose from my embrace, but I still extended my arms towards her; and
words over which I had no control, and of which now I have no
remembrance, rushed from my lips. Still pale, and leaning against the
side of the arbour, Isora heard me, as--confused, incoherent, impetuous,
but still intelligible to her--my released heart poured itself forth.
And when I had ceased, she turned her face towards me, and my blood
seemed at once frozen in its channel. Anguish, deep ineffable anguish,
was depicted upon every feature; and when she strove at last to speak,
her lips quivered so violently that, after a vain effort, she ceased
abruptly. I again approached; I seized her hand, which I covered with
my kisses.

"Will you not answer me, Isora?" said I, trembling. "_Be_ silent,
then; but give me one look, one glance of hope, of pardon, from those
dear eyes, and I ask no more."

Isora's whole frame seemed sinking beneath her emotions; she raised her
head, and looked hurriedly and fearfully round; my eye followed hers,
and I then saw upon the damp ground the recent print of a man's
footstep, not my own: and close to the spot where I had found Isora lay
a man's glove. A pang shot through me; I felt my eyes flash fire, and
my brow darken, as I turned to Isora and said, "I see it; I see all: I
have a rival, who has but just left you; you love me not; your
affections are for him!" Isora sobbed violently, but made no reply.
"You love him," said I, but in a milder and more mournful tone, "you
love him; it is enough; I will persecute you no more; and yet--" I
paused a moment, for the remembrance of many a sign, which my heart had
interpreted flatteringly, flashed upon me, and my voice faltered.
"Well, I have no right to murmur--only, Isora--only tell me with your
lips that you love another, and I will depart in peace."

Very slowly Isora turned her eyes to me, and even through her tears they
dwelt upon me with a tender and a soft reproach.

"You love another?" said I; and from her lips, which scarcely parted,
came a single word which thrilled to my heart like fire,--"No!"

"No!" I repeated, "no? say that again, and again; yet who then is this
that has dared so to agitate and overpower you? Who is he whom you have
met, and whom, even now while I speak, you tremble to hear me recur to?
Answer me one word: is it this mysterious stranger whom your father
honours with his friendship? is it Barnard?"

Alarm and fear again wholly engrossed the expression of Isora's
countenance.

"Barnard!" she said; "yes--yes--it is Barnard!"

"Who is he?" I cried vehemently; "who or what is he; and of what nature
is his influence upon you? Confide in me," and I poured forth a long
tide of inquiry and solicitation.

By the time I had ended, Isora seemed to have recovered herself. With
her softness was mingled something of spirit and self-control, which was
rare alike in her country and her sex.

"Listen to me!" said she, and her voice, which faltered a little at
first, grew calm and firm as she proceeded. "You profess to love me: I
am not worthy your love; and if, Count Devereux, I do not reject nor
disclaim it--for I am a woman, and a weak and fond one--I will not at
least wrong you by encouraging hopes which I may not and I dare not
fulfil. I cannot,--" here she spoke with a fearful distinctness,--"I
cannot, I can never be yours; and when you ask me to be so, you know not
what you ask nor what perils you incur. Enough; I am grateful to you.
The poor exiled girl is grateful for your esteem--and--and your
affection. She will never forget them,--never! But be this our last
meeting--our very last--God bless you, Morton!" and, as she read my
heart, pierced and agonized as it was, in my countenance, Isora bent
over me, for I knelt beside her, and I felt her tears upon my
cheek,--"God bless you--and farewell!"

"You insult, you wound me," said I, bitterly, "by this cold and taunting
kindness; tell me, tell me only, who it is that you love better than
me."

Isora had turned to leave me, for I was too proud to detain her; but
when I said this, she came back, after a moment's pause, and laid her
hand upon my arm.

"If it make you happy to know _my_ unhappiness," she said, and the tone
of her voice made me look full in her face, which was one deep blush,
"know that I am not insensible--"

I heard no more: my lips pressed themselves involuntarily to hers,--a
long, long kiss,--burning, intense, concentrating emotion, heart, soul,
all the rays of life's light into a single focus; and she tore herself
away from me,--and I was alone.



CHAPTER IX.

A DISCOVERY AND A DEPARTURE.

I HASTENED home after my eventful interview with Isora, and gave myself
up to tumultuous and wild conjecture. Aubrey sought me the next
morning: I narrated to him all that had occurred: he said little, but
that little enraged me, for it was contrary to the dictates of my own
wishes. The character of Morose in the "Silent Woman" is by no means an
uncommon one. Many men--certainly many lovers--would say with equal
truth, always provided they had equal candour, "All discourses but my
own afflict me; they seem harsh, impertinent, and irksome." Certainly I
felt that amiable sentiment most sincerely with regard to Aubrey. I
left him abruptly: a resolution possessed me. "I will see," said I,
"this Barnard; I will lie in wait for him; I will demand and obtain,
though it be by force, the secret which evidently subsists between him
and this exiled family."

Full of this idea, I drew my cloak round me, and repaired on foot to the
neighbourhood of the Spaniard's cottage. There was no place near it
very commodious for accommodation both of vigil and concealment.
However, I made a little hill, in a field opposite the house, my
warder's station, and, lying at full length on the ground, wrapt in my
cloak, I trusted to escape notice. The day passed: no visitor appeared.
The next morning I went from my own rooms, through the subterranean
passage into the castle cave, as the excavation I have before described
was generally termed. On the shore I saw Gerald by one of the small
fishing-boats usually kept there. I passed him with a sneer at his
amusements, which were always those of conflicts against fish or fowl.
He answered me in the same strain, as he threw his nets into the boat,
and pushed out to sea. "How is it that you go alone?" said I; "is there
so much glory in the capture of mackerel and dogfish that you will allow
no one to share it?"

"There are other sports besides those for men," answered Gerald,
colouring indignantly: "my taste is confined to amusements in which he
is but a fool who seeks companionship; and if you could read character
better, my wise brother, you would know that the bold rover is ever less
idle and more fortunate than the speculative dreamer."

As Gerald said this, which he did with a significant emphasis, he rowed
vigorously across the water, and the little boat was soon half way to
the opposite islet. My eyes followed it musingly as it glided over the
waves, and my thoughts painfully revolved the words which Gerald had
uttered. "What can he mean?" said I, half aloud; "yet what matters it?
Perhaps some low amour, some village conquest, inspires him with that
becoming fulness of pride and vain-glory; joy be with so bold a rover!"
and I strode away along the beach towards my place of watch; once only I
turned to look at Gerald; he had then just touched the islet, which was
celebrated as much for the fishing it afforded as the smuggling it
protected.

I arrived at last at the hillock, and resumed my station. Time passed
on, till, at the dusk of evening, the Spaniard came out. He walked
slowly towards the town; I followed him at a distance. Just before he
reached the town, he turned off by a path which led to the beach. As
the evening was unusually fresh and chill, I felt convinced that some
cause, not wholly trivial, drew the Spaniard forth to brave it. My
pride a little revolted at the idea of following him; but I persuaded
myself that Isora's happiness, and perhaps her father's safety, depended
on my obtaining some knowledge of the character and designs of this
Barnard, who appeared to possess so dangerous an influence over both
daughter and sire; nor did I doubt but that the old man was now gone
forth to meet him. The times were those of mystery and of intrigue: the
emissaries of the House of Stuart were restlessly at work among all
classes; many of them, obscure and mean individuals, made their way the
more dangerously from their apparent insignificance. My uncle, a
moderate Tory, was opposed, though quietly and without vehemence, to the
claims of the banished House. Like Sedley, who became so stanch a
revolutionist, he had seen the Court of Charles II. and the character of
that King's brother too closely to feel much respect for either; but he
thought it indecorous to express opposition loudly against a party among
whom were many of his early friends; and the good old knight was too
much attached to private ties to be very much alive to public feeling.
However, at his well-filled board, conversation, generally, though
displeasingly to himself, turned upon politics, and I had there often
listened, of late, to dark hints of the danger to which we were exposed,
and of the restless machinations of the Jacobites. I did not,
therefore, scruple to suspect this Barnard of some plot against the
existing state, and I did it the more from observing that the Spaniard
often spoke bitterly of the English Court, which had rejected some
claims he had imagined himself entitled to make upon it; and that he was
naturally of a temper vehemently opposed to quiet and alive to
enterprise. With this impression, I deemed it fair to seize any
opportunity of seeing, at least, even if I could not question, the man
whom the Spaniard himself confessed to have state reasons for
concealment; and my anxiety to behold one whose very name could agitate
Isora, and whose presence could occasion the state in which I had found
her, sharpened this desire into the keenness of a passion.

While Alvarez descended to the beach, I kept the upper path, which wound
along the cliff. There was a spot where the rocks were rude and broken
into crags, and afforded me a place where, unseen, I could behold what
passed below. The first thing I beheld was a boat approaching rapidly
towards the shore; one man was seated in it; he reached the shore, and I
recognized Gerald. That was a dreadful moment. Alvarez now slowly
joined him; they remained together for nearly an hour. I saw Gerald
give the Spaniard a letter, which appeared to make the chief subject of
their conversation. At length they parted, with the signs rather of
respect than familiarity. Don Diego returned homeward, and Gerald
re-entered the boat. I watched its progress over the waves with
feelings of a dark and almost unutterable nature. "My enemy! my rival!
ruiner of my hopes!--_my brother_!--_my twin brother_!" I muttered
bitterly between my ground teeth.

The boat did not make to the open sea: it skulked along the shore, till
distance and shadow scarcely allowed me to trace the outline of Gerald's
figure. It then touched the beach, and I could just descry the dim
shape of another man enter; and Gerald, instead of returning homewards,
pushed out towards the islet. I spent the greater part of the night in
the open air. Wearied and exhausted by the furious indulgence of my
passions, I gained my room at length. There, however, as elsewhere,
thought succeeded to thought, and scheme to scheme. Should I speak to
Gerald? Should I confide in Alvarez? Should I renew my suit to Isora?
If the first, what could I hope to learn from my enemy? If the second,
what could I gain from the father, while the daughter remained averse to
me? If the third,--there my heart pointed, and the third scheme I
resolved to adopt.

But was I sure that Gerald was this Barnard? Might there not be some
hope that he was not? No, I could perceive none. Alvarez had never
spoken to me of acquaintance with any other Englishman than Barnard; I
had no reason to believe that he ever held converse with any other.
Would it not have been natural too, unless some powerful cause, such as
love to Isora, induced silence,--would it not have been natural that
Gerald should have mentioned his acquaintance with the Spaniard? Unless
some dark scheme, such as that which Barnard appeared to have in common
with Don Diego, commanded obscurity, would it have been likely that
Gerald should have met Alvarez alone,--at night,--on an unfrequented
spot? What that scheme _was_, I guessed not,--I cared not. All my
interest in the identity of Barnard with Gerald Devereux was that
derived from the power he seemed to possess over Isora. Here, too, at
once, was explained the pretended Barnard's desire of concealment, and
the vigilance with which it had been effected. It was so certain that
Gerald, if my rival, would seek to avoid me; it was so easy for him, who
could watch all my motions, to secure the power of doing so. Then I
remembered Gerald's character through the country as a gallant and a
general lover; and I closed my eyes as if to shut out the vision when I
recalled the beauty of his form contrasted with the comparative
plainness of my own.

"There is no hope," I repeated; and an insensibility, rather than sleep,
crept over me. Dreadful and fierce dreams peopled my slumbers; and,
when I started from them at a late hour the next day, I was unable to
rise from my bed: my agitation and my wanderings had terminated in a
burning fever. In four days, however, I recovered sufficiently to mount
my horse: I rode to the Spaniard's house; I found there only the woman
who had been Don Diego's solitary domestic. The morning before, Alvarez
and his daughter had departed, none knew for certain whither; but it was
supposed their destination was London. The woman gave me a note: it was
from Isora; it contained only these lines:


Forget me: we are now parted forever. As you value my peace of mind--of
happiness I do not speak--seek not to discover our next retreat. I
implore you to think no more of what has been; you are young, very
young. Life has a thousand paths for you; any one of them will lead you
from remembrance of me. Farewell, again and again!

        ISORA D'ALVAREZ.


With this note was another, in French, from Don Diego: it was colder and
more formal than I could have expected; it thanked me for my attentions
towards him; it regretted that he could not take leave of me in person,
and it enclosed the sum by the loan of which our acquaintance had
commenced.

"It is well!" said I, calmly, to myself, "it is well; I will forget
her:" and I rode instantly home. "But," I resumed in my soliloquy, "I
will yet strive to obtain confirmation to what perhaps needs it not. I
will yet strive to see if Gerald can deny the depth of his injuries
towards me; there will be at least some comfort in witnessing either his
defiance or his confusion."

Agreeably to this thought, I hastened to seek Gerald. I found him in
his apartment; I shut the door, and seating myself, with a smile thus
addressed him,--

"Dear Gerald, I have a favour to ask of you."

"What is it?"

"How long have you known a certain Mr. Barnard?" Gerald changed colour;
his voice faltered as he repeated the name "Barnard!"

"Yes," said I, with affected composure, "Barnard! a great friend of Don
Diego D'Alvarez."

"I perceive," said Gerald, collecting himself, "that you are in some
measure acquainted with my secret: how far it is known to you I cannot
guess; but I tell you, very fairly, that from me you will not increase
the sum of your knowledge."

When one is in a good sound rage, it is astonishing how calm one can be!
I was certainly somewhat amazed by Gerald's hardihood and assurance, but
I continued, with a smile,

"And Donna Isora, how long, if not very intrusive on your confidence,
have you known her?"

"I tell you," answered Gerald, doggedly, "that I will answer no
questions."

"You remember the old story," returned I, "of the two brothers, Eteocles
and Polynices, whose very ashes refused to mingle; faith, Gerald, our
love seems much of the same sort. I know not if our ashes will exhibit
so laudible an antipathy: but I think our hearts and hands will do so
while a spark of life animates them; yes, though our blood" (I added, in
a voice quivering with furious emotion) "prevents our contest by the
sword, it prevents not the hatred and the curses of the heart."

Gerald turned pale. "I do not understand you," he faltered out,--"I
know you abhor me; but why, why this excess of malice?"

I cast on him a look of bitter scorn, and turned from the room.

It is not pleasing to place before the reader these dark passages of
fraternal hatred: but in the record of all passions there is a moral;
and it is wise to see to how vast a sum the units of childish animosity
swell, when they are once brought into a heap, by some violent event,
and told over by the nice accuracy of Revenge.

But I long to pass from these scenes, and my history is about to glide
along others of more glittering and smiling aspect. Thank Heaven, I
write a tale, not only of love, but of a life; and that which I cannot
avoid I can at least condense.



CHAPTER X.

A VERY SHORT CHAPTER,--CONTAINING A VALET.

MY uncle for several weeks had flattered himself that I had quite
forgotten or foregone the desire of leaving Devereux Court for London.
Good easy man! he was not a little distressed when I renewed the subject
with redoubled firmness, and demanded an early period for that event.
He managed, however, still to protract the evil day. At one time it was
impossible to part with me, because the house was so full; at another
time it was cruel to leave him, when the house was so empty. Meanwhile,
a new change came over me. As the first shock of Isora's departure
passed away, I began to suspect the purity of her feelings towards me.
Might not Gerald--the beautiful, the stately, the glittering
Gerald--have been a successful wooer under the disguised name of
Barnard, and _hence_ Isora's confusion when that name was mentioned, and
hence the power which its possessor exercised over her?

This idea, once admitted, soon gained ground. It is true that Isora had
testified something of favourable feelings towards me; but this might
spring from coquetry or compassion. My love had been a boy's love,
founded upon beauty and coloured by romance. I had not investigated the
character of the object; and I had judged of the mind solely by the
face. I might easily have been deceived: I persuaded myself that I was.
Perhaps Gerald had provided their present retreat for sire and daughter;
perhaps they at this moment laughed over my rivalry and my folly.
Methought Gerald's lip wore a contemptuous curve when we met. "It shall
have no cause," I said, stung to the soul; "I will indeed forget this
woman, and yet, though in other ways, eclipse this rival. Pleasure,
ambition, the brilliancy of a court, the resources of wealth, invite me
to a thousand joys. I will not be deaf to the call. Meanwhile I will
not betray to Gerald, to any one, the scar of the wound I have received;
and I will mortify Gerald, by showing him that, handsome as he is, he
shall be forgotten in my presence!"

Agreeably to this exquisite resolution, I paid incessant court to the
numerous dames by whom my uncle's mansion was thronged; and I resolved
to prepare, among them, the reputation for gallantry and for wit which I
proposed to establish in town.

"You are greatly altered since your love," said Aubrey, one day to me,
"but not by your love. Own that I did right in dissuading you from its
indulgence!"

"Tell me!" said I, sinking my voice to a whisper, "do you think Gerald
was my rival?" and I recounted the causes of my suspicion.

Aubrey's countenance testified astonishment as he listened. "It is
strange, very strange," said he; "and the evidence of the boat is almost
conclusive; still I do not think it quite sufficient to leave no
loop-hole of doubt. But what matters it? you have conquered your love
now."

"Ay," I said, with a laugh, "I have conquered it, and I am now about to
find some other empress of the heart. What think you of the Lady
Hasselton?--a fair dame and a sprightly. I want nothing but her love to
be the most enviable of men, and a French _valet-de-chambre_ to be the
most irresistible."

"The former is easier to obtain than the latter, I fear," returned
Aubrey; "all places produce light dames, but the war makes a scarcity of
French valets."

"True," said I, "but I never thought of instituting a comparison between
their relative value. The Lady Hasselton, no disparagement to her
merits, is but one woman; but a French valet who knows his _metier_ arms
one for conquest over a thousand;" and I turned to the saloon.

Fate, which had destined to me the valuable affections of the Lady
Hasselton, granted me also, at a yet earlier period, the greater boon of
a French valet. About two or three weeks after this sapient
communication with Aubrey, the most charming person in the world
presented himself a candidate _pour le supreme bonheur de soigner
Monsieur le Comte_. Intelligence beamed in his eye; a modest assurance
reigned upon his brow; respect made his step vigilant as a zephyr's; and
his ruffles were the envy of the world!

I took him at a glance; and I presented to the admiring inmates of the
house a greater coxcomb than the Count Devereux in the ethereal person
of Jean Desmarais.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HERO ACQUITS HIMSELF HONOURABLY AS A COXCOMB.--A FINE LADY OF THE
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, AND A FASHIONABLE DIALOGUE; THE SUBSTANCE OF
FASHIONABLE DIALOGUE BEING IN ALL CENTURIES THE SAME.

"I AM thinking, Morton," said my uncle, "that if you are to go to town,
you should go in a style suitable to your rank. What say you to flying
along the road in my green and gold chariot? 'Sdeath! I'll make you a
present of it. Nay--no thanks; and you may have four of my black
Flanders mares to draw you."

"Now, my dear Sir William," cried Lady Hasselton, who, it may be
remembered, was the daughter of one of King Charles's Beauties, and who
alone shared the breakfast-room with my uncle and myself,--"now, my dear
Sir William, I think it would be a better plan to suffer the Count to
accompany us to town. We go next week. He shall have a seat in our
coach, help Lovell to pay our post-horses, protect us at inns, scold at
the drawers in the pretty oaths of the fashion, which are so innocent
that I will teach them to his Countship myself; and unless I am much
more frightful than my honoured mother, whose beauties you so gallantly
laud, I think you will own, Sir William, that this is better for your
nephew than doing solitary penance in your chariot of green and gold,
with a handkerchief tied over his head to keep away cold, and with no
more fanciful occupation than composing sonnets to the four Flanders
mares."

"'Sdeath, Madam, you inherit your mother's wit as well as beauty," cried
my uncle, with an impassioned air.

"And his Countship," said I, "will accept your invitation without asking
his uncle's leave."

"Come, that is bold for a gentleman of--let me see, thirteen--are you
not?"

"Really," answered I, "one learns to forget time so terribly in the
presence of Lady Hasselton that I do not remember even how long it has
existed for me."

"Bravo!" cried the knight, with a moistening eye; "you see, Madam, the
boy has not lived with his old uncle for nothing."

"I am lost in astonishment!" said the lady, glancing towards the glass;
"why, you will eclipse all our beaux at your first appearance;
but--but--Sir William--how green those glasses have become! Bless me,
there is something so contagious in the effects of the country that the
very mirrors grow verdant. But--Count--Count--where are you, Count? [I
was exactly opposite to the fair speaker.] Oh, there you are! Pray, do
you carry a little pocket-glass of the true quality about you? But, of
course you do; lend it me."

"I have not the glass you want, but I carry with me a mirror that
reflects your features much more faithfully."

"How! I protest I do not understand you!"

"The mirror is here!" said I, laying my hand to my heart.

"'Gad, I must kiss the boy!" cried my uncle, starting up.

"I have sworn," said I, fixing my eyes upon the lady,--"I have sworn
never to be kissed, even by women. You must pardon me, Uncle."

"I declare," cried the Lady Hasselton, flirting her fan, which was
somewhat smaller than the screen that one puts into a great hall, in
order to take off the discomfort of too large a room,--"I declare,
Count, there is a vast deal of originality about you. But tell me, Sir
William, where did your nephew acquire, at so early an age--eleven, you
say, he is--such a fund of agreeable assurance?"

"Nay, Madam, let the boy answer for himself."

"_Imprimis_, then," said I, playing with the ribbon of my
cane,--"_imprimis_, early study of the best authors,--Congreve and
Farquhar, Etherege and Rochester; secondly, the constant intercourse of
company which gives one the spleen so overpoweringly that despair
inspires one with boldness--to get rid of them; thirdly, the personal
example of Sir William Devereux; and, fourthly, the inspiration of
hope."

"Hope, sir?" said the Lady Hasselton, covering her face with her fan, so
as only to leave me a glimpse of the farthest patch upon her left
cheek,--"hope, sir?"

"Yes, the hope of being pleasing to you. Suffer me to add that the hope
has now become certainty."

"Upon my word, Count--"

"Nay, you cannot deny it; if one can once succeed in impudence, one is
irresistible."

"Sir William," cried Lady Hasselton, "you may give the Count your
chariot of green and gold, and your four Flanders mares, and send his
mother's maid with him. He shall not go with me."

"Cruel! and why?" said I.

"You are too"--the lady paused, and looked at me over her fan. She was
really very handsome--"you are too _old_, Count. You must be more than
nine."

"Pardon me," said I, "I _am_ nine,--a very mystical number nine is too,
and represents the Muses, who, you know, were always attendant upon
Venus--or you, which is the same thing; so you can no more dispense with
my company than you can with that of the Graces."

"Good morning, Sir William," cried the Lady Hasselton, rising.

I offered to hand her to the door; with great difficulty, for her hoop
was of the very newest enormity of circumference; I effected this
object. "Well, Count," said she, "I am glad to see you have brought so
much learning from school; make the best use of it while it lasts, for
your memory will not furnish you with a single simile out of the
mythology by the end of next winter."

"That would be a pity," said I, "for I intend having as many goddesses
as the heathens had, and I should like to worship them in a classical
fashion."

"Oh, the young reprobate!" said the beauty, tapping me with her fan.
"And pray, what other deities besides Venus do I resemble?"

"All!" said I,--"at least, all the celestial ones!"

Though half way through the door, the beauty extricated her hoop, and
drew back. "Bless me, the gods as well as the goddesses?"

"Certainly."

"You jest: tell me how."

"Nothing can be easier; you resemble Mercury because of your thefts."

"Thefts!"

"Ay; stolen hearts, and," added I, in a whisper, "glances; Jupiter,
partly because of your lightning, which you lock up in the said
glances,--principally because all things are subservient to you;
Neptune, because you are as changeable as the seas; Vulcan, because you
live among the flames you excite; and Mars, because--"

"You are so destructive," cried my uncle.

"Exactly so; and because," added I--as I shut the door upon the
beauty--"because, thanks to your hoop, you cover nine acres of ground."

"Ods fish, Morton," said my uncle, "you surprise me at times: one while
you are so reserved, at another so assured; to-day so brisk, to-morrow
so gloomy. Why now, Lady Hasselton (she is very comely, eh! faith, but
not comparable to her mother) told me, a week ago, that she, gave you up
in despair, that you were dull, past hoping for; and now, 'Gad, you had
a life in you that Sid himself could not have surpassed. How comes it,
Sir, eh?"

"Why, Uncle, you have explained the reason; it was exactly because she
said I was dull that I was resolved to convict her in an untruth."

"Well, now, there is some sense in that, boy; always contradict ill
report by personal merit. But what think you of her ladyship? 'Gad,
you know what old Bellair said of Emilia. 'Make much of her: she's one
of the best of your acquaintance. I like her countenance and behaviour.
Well, she has a modesty not i' this age, a-dad she has.' Applicable
enough; eh, boy?"

"'I know her value, Sir, and esteem her accordingly,'" answered I, out
of the same play, which by dint of long study I had got by heart. "But,
to confess the truth," added I, "I think you might have left out the
passage about her modesty."

"There, now; you young chaps are so censorious; why, 'sdeath, sir, you
don't think the worse of her virtue because of her wit?"

"Humph!"

"Ah, boy! when you are my age, you'll know that your demure cats are not
the best; and that reminds me of a little story; shall I tell it you,
child?"

"If it so please you, Sir."

"Zauns--where's my snuff-box?--oh, here it is. Well, Sir, you shall
have the whole thing, from beginning to end. Sedley and I were one day
conversing together about women. Sid was a very deep fellow in that
game: no passion you know; no love on his own side; nothing of the sort;
all done by rule and compass; knew women as well as dice, and calculated
the exact moment when his snares would catch them, according to the
principles of geometry. D----d clever fellow, faith; but a confounded
rascal: but let it go no further; mum's the word! must not slander the
dead; and 'tis only my suspicion, you know, after all. Poor fellow: I
don't think he was such a rascal; he gave a beggar an angel once,--well,
boy, have a pinch?--Well, so I said to Sir Charles, 'I think you will
lose the widow, after all,--'Gad I do.' 'Upon what principle of
science, Sir William?' said he. 'Why, faith, man, she is so modest, you
see, and has such a pretty way of blushing.' 'Hark ye, friend
Devereux,' said Sir Charles, smoothing his collar and mincing his words
musically, as he was wont to do,--'hark ye, friend Devereux, I will give
you the whole experience of my life in one maxim: I can answer for its
being new, and I think it is profound; and that maxim is--,' no, faith,
Morton--no, I can't tell it thee: it is villanous, and then it's so
desperately against all the sex."

"My dear uncle, don't tantalize me so: pray tell it me; it shall be a
secret."

"No, boy, no: it will corrupt thee; besides, it will do poor Sid's
memory no good. But, 'sdeath, it was a most wonderfully shrewd
saying,--i' faith, it was. But, zounds, Morton, I forgot to tell you
that I have had a letter from the Abbe to-day."

"Ha! and when does he return?"

"To-morrow, God willing!" said the knight, with a sigh.

"So soon, or rather after so long an absence! Well, I am glad of it. I
wish much to see him before I leave you."

"Indeed!" quoth my uncle; "you have an advantage over me, then! But,
ods fish, Morton, how is it that you grew so friendly with the priest
before his departure? He used to speak very suspiciously of thee
formerly; and, when I last saw him, he lauded thee to the skies."

"Why, the clergy of his faith have a habit of defending the strong and
crushing the weak, I believe; that's all. He once thought I was dull
enough to damn my fortune, and then he had some strange doubts for my
soul; now he thinks me wise enough to become prosperous, and it is
astonishing what a respect he has conceived for my principles."

"Ha! ha! ha!--you have a spice of your uncle's humour in you; and, 'Gad,
you have no small knowledge of the world, considering you have seen so
little of it."

A hit at the popish clergy was, in my good uncle's eyes, the exact acme
of wit and wisdom. We are always clever with those who imagine we think
as they do. To be shallow you must differ from people: to be profound
you must agree with them. "Why, Sir," answered the sage nephew, "you
forget that I have seen more of the world than many of twice my age.
Your house has been full of company ever since I have been in it, and
you set me to making observations on what I saw before I was thirteen.
And then, too, if one is reading books about real life, at the very time
one is mixing in it, it is astonishing how naturally one remarks and how
well one remembers."

"Especially if one has a genius for it,--eh, boy? And then too, you
have read my play; turned Horace's Satires into a lampoon upon the boys
at school; been regularly to assizes during the vacation; attended the
county balls, and been a most premature male coquette with the ladies.
Ods fish, boy! it is quite curious to see how the young sparks of the
present day get on with their lovemaking."

"Especially if one has a genius for it,--eh, sir?" said I.

"Besides, too," said my uncle, ironically, "you have had the Abbe's
instructions."

"Ay, and if the priests would communicate to their pupils their
experience in frailty, as well as in virtue, how wise they would make
us!"

"Ods fish! Morton, you are quite oracular. How got you that fancy of
priests?--by observation in life already?"

"No, Uncle: by observation in plays, which you tell me are the mirrors
of life; you remember what Lee says,--

        "''Tis thought
 That earth is more obliged to priests for bodies
 Than Heaven for souls.'"


And my uncle laughed, and called me a smart fellow.



CHAPTER XII.

THE ABBE'S RETURN.--A SWORD, AND A SOLILOQUY.

THE next evening, when I was sitting alone in my room, the Abbe
Montreuil suddenly entered. "Ah, is it you? welcome!" cried I. The
priest held out his arms, and embraced me in the most paternal manner.

"It is your friend," said he, "returned at last to bless and
congratulate you. Behold my success in your service," and the Abbe
produced a long leather case richly inlaid with gold.

"Faith, Abbe," said I, "am I to understand that this is a present for
your eldest pupil?"

"You are," said Montreuil, opening the case, and producing a sword. The
light fell upon the hilt, and I drew back, dazzled with its lustre; it
was covered with stones, apparently of the most costly value. Attached
to the hilt was a label of purple velvet, on which, in letters of gold,
was inscribed, "To the son of Marshal Devereux, the soldier of France,
and the friend of Louis XIV."

Before I recovered my surprise at this sight, the Abbe said: "It was
from the King's own hand that I received this sword, and I have
authority to inform you that if ever you wield it in the service of
France it will be accompanied by a post worthy of your name."

"The service of France!" I repeated; "why, at present that is the
service of an enemy."

"An enemy only to a _part_ of England!" said the Abbe, emphatically;
"perhaps I have overtures to you from other monarchs, and the friendship
of the court of France may be synonymous with the friendship of the true
sovereign of England."

There was no mistaking the purport of this speech, and even in the midst
of my gratified vanity I drew back alarmed.

The Abbe noted the changed expression of my countenance, and artfully
turned the subject to comments on the sword, on which I still gazed with
a lover's ardour. Thence he veered to a description of the grace and
greatness of the royal donor: he dwelt at length upon the flattering
terms in which Louis had spoken of my father, and had inquired
concerning myself; he enumerated all the hopes that the illustrious
house into which my father had first married expressed for a speedy
introduction to his son; he lingered with an eloquence more savouring of
the court than of the cloister on the dazzling circle which surrounded
the French throne; and when my vanity, my curiosity, my love of
pleasure, my ambition, all that are most susceptible in young minds,
were fully aroused, he suddenly ceased, and wished me a good night.

"Stay," said I; and looking at him more attentively than I had hitherto
done, I perceived a change in his external appearance which somewhat
startled and surprised me. Montreuil had always hitherto been
remarkably plain in his dress; but he was now richly attired, and by his
side hung a rapier, which had never adorned it before. Something in his
aspect seemed to suit the alteration in his garb: and whether it was
that long absence had effaced enough of the familiarity of his features
to allow me to be more alive than formerly to the real impression they
were calculated to produce, or whether a commune with kings and nobles
had of late dignified their old expression, as power was said to have
clothed the soldier-mien of Cromwell with a monarch's bearing,--I do not
affect to decide; but I thought that, in his high brow and Roman
features, the compression of his lip, and his calm but haughty air,
there was a nobleness, which I acknowledged for the first time. "Stay,
my father," said I, surveying him, "and tell me, if there be no
irreverence in the question, whether brocade and a sword are compatible
with the laws of the Order of Jesus?"

"Policy, Morton," answered Montreuil, "often dispenses with custom; and
the declarations of the Institute provide, with their usual wisdom, for
worldly and temporary occasions. Even while the constitution ordains us
to discard habits repugnant to our professions of poverty, the following
exception is made: 'Si in occurrenti aliqua occasione, vel necessitate,
quis vestibus melioribus, honestis tamen, indueretur.'"*


* "But should there chance any occasion or necessity, one may wear
better though still decorous garments."


"There is now, then, some occasion for a more glittering display than
ordinary?" said I.

"There is, my pupil," answered Montreuil; "and whenever you embrace the
offer of my friendship made to you more than two years ago,--whenever,
too, your ambition points to a lofty and sublime career,--whenever to
make and unmake kings, and in the noblest sphere to execute the will of
God, indemnifies you for a sacrifice of petty wishes and momentary
passions,--I will confide to you schemes worthy of your ancestors and
yourself."

With this the priest departed. Left to myself, I revolved his hints,
and marvelled at the power he seemed to possess. "Closeted with kings,"
said I, soliloquizing,--"bearing their presents through armed men and
military espionage; speaking of empires and their overthrow as of
ordinary objects of ambition; and he himself a low-born and undignified
priest, of a poor though a wise order,--well, there is more in this than
I can fathom: but I will hesitate before I embark in his dangerous and
concealed intrigues; above all, I will look well ere I hazard my safe
heritage of these broad lands in the service of that House which is
reported to be ungrateful, and which is certainly exiled."

After this prudent and notable resolution, I took up the sword,
re-examined it, kissed the hilt once and the blade twice, put it under
my pillow, sent for my valet, undressed, went to bed, fell asleep, and
dreamed that I was teaching the Marechal de Villars the thrust _en
seconde_.

But Fate, that arch-gossip, who, like her prototypes on earth, settles
all our affairs for us without our knowledge of the matter, had decreed
that my friendship with the Abbe Montreuil should be of very short
continuance, and that my adventures on earth should flow through a
different channel than, in all probability, they would have done under
his spiritual direction.



CHAPTER XIII.

A MYSTERIOUS LETTER.--A DUEL.--THE DEPARTURE OF ONE OF THE FAMILY.

THE next morning I communicated to the Abbe my intention of proceeding
to London. He received it with favour. "I myself," said he, "shall
soon meet you there: my office in your family has expired; and your
mother, after so long an absence, will perhaps readily dispense with my
spiritual advice to her. But time presses: since you depart so soon,
give me an audience to-night in your apartment. Perhaps our
conversation may be of moment."

I agreed; the hour was fixed, and I left the Abbe to join my uncle and
his guests. While I was employing among them my time and genius with
equal dignity and profit, one of the servants informed me that a man at
the gate wished to see me--and alone.

Somewhat surprised, I followed the servant out of the room into the
great hall, and desired him to bid the stranger attend me there. In a
few minutes, a small, dark man, dressed between gentility and meanness,
made his appearance. He greeted me with great respect, and presented a
letter, which, he said, he was charged to deliver into my own hands,
"with," he added in a low tone, "a special desire that none should, till
I had carefully read it, be made acquainted with its contents." I was
not a little startled by this request; and, withdrawing to one of the
windows, broke the seal. A letter, enclosed in the envelope, in the
Abbe's own handwriting, was the first thing that met my eyes. At that
instant the Abbe himself rushed into the hall. He cast one hasty look
at the messenger, whose countenance evinced something of surprise and
consternation at beholding him; and, hastening up to me, grasped my hand
vehemently, and, while his eye dwelt upon the letter I held, cried, "Do
not read it--not a word--not a word: there is poison in it!" And so
saying, he snatched desperately at the letter. I detained it from him
with one hand, and pushing him aside with the other, said,--

"Pardon me, Father, directly I have read it you shall have that
pleasure,--not till then!" and, as I said this, my eye falling upon the
letter discovered my own name written in two places. My suspicions were
aroused. I raised my eyes to the spot where the messenger had stood,
with the view of addressing some question to him respecting his
employer, when, to my surprise, I perceived he was already gone; I had
no time, however, to follow him.

"Boy," said the Abbe, gasping for breath, and still seizing me with his
lean, bony hand,--"boy, give me that letter instantly; I charge you not
to disobey me."

"You forget yourself, Sir," said I, endeavouring to shake him off, "you
forget yourself: there is no longer between us the distinction of pupil
and teacher; and if you have not yet learned the respect due to my
station, suffer me to tell you that it is time you should."

"Give me that letter, I beseech you," said Montreuil, changing his voice
from anger to supplication; "I ask your pardon for my violence: the
letter does not concern you but me; there is a secret in those lines
which you see are in my handwriting that implicates my personal safety.
Give it me, my dear, dear son: your own honour, if not your affection
for me, demands that you should."

I was staggered. His violence had confirmed my suspicions, but his
gentleness weakened them. "Besides," thought I, "the handwriting _is
his_; and even if my life depended upon reading the letter of another, I
do not think my honour would suffer me to do so against his consent." A
thought struck me,--

"Will you swear," said I, "that this letter does not concern me?"

"Solemnly," answered the Abbe, raising his eyes.

"Will you swear that I am not even mentioned in it?"

"Upon peril of my soul, I will."

"Liar! traitor! perjured blasphemer!" cried I, in an inexpressible rage,
"look here, and here!" and I pointed out to the priest various lines in
which my name legibly and frequently occurred. A change came over
Montreuil's face: he released my arm and staggered back against the
wainscot; but recovering his composure instantaneously, he said, "I
forgot, my son--I forgot--your name is mentioned, it is true, but with
honourable eulogy, that is all."

"Bravo, honest Father!" cried I, losing my fury in admiring surprise at
his address,--"bravo! However, if that be all, you can have no
objection to allow me to read the lines in which my name occurs; your
benevolence cannot refuse me such a gratification as the sight of your
written panegyric!"

"Count Devereux," said the Abbe, sternly, while his dark face worked
with suppressed passion, "this is trifling with me, and I warn you not
to push my patience too far. I _will_ have that letter, or--" he ceased
abruptly, and touched the hilt of his sword.

"Dare you threaten me?" I said, and the natural fierceness of my own
disposition, deepened by vague and strong suspicions of some treachery
designed against me, spoke in the tones of my voice.

"Dare I?" repeated Montreuil, sinking and sharpening his voice into a
sort of inward screech. "Dare I!--ay, were your whole tribe arrayed
against me. Give me the letter, or you will find me now and forever
your most deadly foe; deadly--ay--deadly, deadly!" and he shook his
clenched hand at me, with an expression of countenance so malignant and
menacing that I drew back involuntarily, and laid my hand on my sword.

The action seemed to give Montreuil a signal for which he had hitherto
waited. "Draw then," he said through his teeth, and unsheathed his
rapier.

Though surprised at his determination, I was not backward in meeting it.
Thrusting the letter in my bosom, I drew my sword in time to parry a
rapid and fierce thrust. I had expected easily to master Montreuil, for
I had some skill at my weapon: I was deceived; I found him far more
adroit than myself in the art of offence; and perhaps it would have
fared ill for the hero of this narrative had Montreuil deemed it wise to
direct against my life all the science he possessed. But the moment our
swords crossed, the constitutional coolness of the man, which rage or
fear had for a brief time banished, returned at once, and he probably
saw that it would be as dangerous to him to take away the life of his
pupil as to forfeit the paper for which he fought. He, therefore,
appeared to bend all his efforts towards disarming me. Whether or not
he would have effected this it is hard to say, for my blood was up, and
any neglect of my antagonist, in attaining an object very dangerous,
when engaged with a skilful and quick swordsman, might have sent him to
the place from which the prayers of his brethren have (we are bound to
believe) released so many thousands of souls. But, meanwhile, the
servants, who at first thought the clashing of swords was the wanton
sport of some young gallants as yet new to the honour of wearing them,
grew alarmed by the continuance of the sound, and flocked hurriedly to
the place of contest. At their intrusion we mutually drew back.
Recovering my presence of mind (it was a possession I very easily lost
at that time), I saw the unseemliness of fighting with my preceptor, and
a priest. I therefore burst, though awkwardly enough, into a laugh,
and, affecting to treat the affair as a friendly trial of skill between
the Abbe and myself, resheathed my sword and dismissed the intruders,
who, evidently disbelieving my version of the story, retreated slowly,
and exchanging looks. Montreuil, who had scarcely seconded my attempt
to gloss over our _rencontre_, now approached me.

"Count," he said, with a collected and cool voice, "suffer me to request
you to exchange three words with me in a spot less liable than this to
interruption."

"Follow me then!" said I; and I led the way to a part of the grounds
which lay remote and sequestered from intrusion. I then turned round,
and perceived that the Abbe had left his sword behind. "How is this?" I
said, pointing to his unarmed side, "have you not come hither to renew
our engagement?"

"No!" answered Montreuil, "I repent me of my sudden haste, and I have
resolved to deny myself all further possibility of unseemly warfare.
That letter, young man, I still demand from you; I demanded it from your
own sense of honour and of right: it was written by me; it was not
intended for your eye; it contains secrets implicating the lives of
others besides myself; now, read it if you will."

"You are right, Sir," said I, after a short pause; "there is the letter;
never shall it be said of Morton Devereux that he hazarded his honour to
secure his safety. But the tie between us is broken now and forever!"

So saying, I flung down the debated epistle, and strode away. I
re-entered the great hall. I saw by one of the windows a sheet of
paper; I picked it up, and perceived that it was the envelope in which
the letter had been enclosed. It contained only these lines, addressed
me in French:--


A friend of the late Marshal Devereux encloses to his son a letter, the
contents of which it is essential for His safety that he should know.

        C. D. B.


"Umph!" said I, "a very satisfactory intimation, considering that the
son of the late Marshal Devereux is so very well assured that he shall
not know one line of the contents of the said letter. But let me see
after this messenger!" and I immediately hastened to institute inquiry
respecting him. I found that he was already gone; on leaving the hall
he had remounted his horse and taken his departure. One servant,
however, had seen him, as he passed the front court, address a few words
to my valet, Desmarais, who happened to be loitering there. I summoned
Desmarais and questioned him.

"The dirty fellow," said the Frenchman, pointing to his spattered
stockings with a lachrymose air, "splashed me, by a prance of his horse,
from head to foot, and while I was screaming for very anguish, he
stopped and said, 'Tell the Count Devereux that I was unable to tarry,
but that the letter requires no answer.'"

I consoled Desmarais for his misfortune, and hastened to my uncle with a
determination to reveal to him all that had occurred. Sir William was
in his dressing-room, and his gentleman was very busy in adorning his
wig. I entreated him to dismiss the _coiffeur_, and then, without much
preliminary detail, acquainted him with all that had passed between the
Abbe and myself.

The knight seemed startled when I came to the story of the sword.
"'Gad, Sir Count, what have you been doing?" said he; "know you not that
this may be a very ticklish matter? The King of France is a very great
man, to be sure,--a very great man,--and a very fine gentleman; but you
will please to remember that we are at war with his Majesty, and I
cannot guess how far the accepting such presents may be held
treasonable."

And Sir William shook his head with a mournful significance. "Ah,"
cried he, at last (when I had concluded my whole story), with a
complacent look, "I have not lived at court, and studied human nature,
for nothing: and I will wager my best full-bottom to a night-cap that
the crafty old fox is as much a Jacobite as he is a rogue! The letter
would have proved it, Sir; it would have proved it!"

"But what shall be done now?" said I; "will you suffer him to remain any
longer in the house?"

"Why," replied the knight, suddenly recollecting his reverence to the
fair sex, "he is your mother's guest, not mine; we must refer the matter
to her. But zauns, Sir, with all deference to her ladyship, we cannot
suffer our house to be a conspiracy-hatch as well as a popish chapel;
and to attempt your life too--the devil! Ods fish, boy, I will go to
the countess myself, if you will just let Nicholls finish my wig,--never
attend the ladies _en deshabille_,--always, with them, take care of your
person most, when you most want to display your mind;" and my uncle
ringing a little silver bell on his dressing-table, the sound
immediately brought Nicholls to his toilet.

Trusting the cause to the zeal of my uncle, whose hatred to the
ecclesiastic would, I knew, be an efficacious adjunct to his diplomatic
address, and not unwilling to avoid being myself the person to acquaint
my mother with the suspected delinquency of her favourite, I hastened
from the knight's apartment in search of Aubrey. He was not in the
house. His attendants (for my uncle, with old-fashioned grandeur of
respect, suitable to his great wealth and aristocratic temper, allotted
to each of us a separate suite of servants as well as of apartments)
believed he was in the park. Thither I repaired, and found him, at
length, seated by an old tree, with a large book of a religious cast
before him, on which his eyes were intently bent.

"I rejoice to have found thee, my gentle brother," said I, throwing
myself on the green turf by his side; "in truth you have chosen a
fitting and fair place for study."

"I have chosen," said Aubrey, "a place meet for the peculiar study I am
engrossed in; for where can we better read of the power and benevolence
of God than among the living testimonies of both? Beautiful--how very
beautiful!--is this happy world; but I fear," added Aubrey, and the glow
of his countenance died away,--"I fear that we enjoy it too much."

"We hold different interpretations of our creed then," said I, "for I
esteem enjoyment the best proof of gratitude; nor do I think we can pay
a more acceptable duty to the Father of all Goodness than by showing
ourselves sensible of the favours He bestows upon us."

Aubrey shook his head gently, but replied not.

"Yes," resumed I, after a pause,--"yes, it is indeed a glorious and fair
world which we have for our inheritance. Look how the sunlight sleeps
yonder upon fields covered with golden corn; and seems, like the divine
benevolence of which you spoke, to smile upon the luxuriance which its
power created. This carpet at our feet, covered with flowers that
breathe, sweet as good deeds, to Heaven; the stream that breaks through
that distant copse, laughing in the light of noon, and sending its voice
through the hill and woodland, like a messenger of glad tidings; the
green boughs over our head, vocal with a thousand songs, all
inspirations of a joy too exquisite for silence; the very leaves, which
seem to dance and quiver with delight,--think you, Aubrey, that these
are so sullen as not to return thanks for the happiness they imbibe with
being: what are those thanks but the incense of their joy? The flowers
send it up to heaven in fragrance; the air and the wave, in music.
Shall the heart of man be the only part of His creation that shall
dishonour His worship with lamentation and gloom? When the inspired
writers call upon us to praise our Creator, do they not say to us,--'Be
_joyful_ in your God?'"

"How can we be joyful with the Judgment-Day ever before us?" said
Aubrey; "how can we be joyful" (and here a dark shade crossed his
countenance, and his lip trembled with emotion) "while the deadly
passions of this world plead and rankle at the heart? Oh, none but they
who have known the full blessedness of a commune with Heaven can dream
of the whole anguish and agony of the conscience, when it feels itself
sullied by the mire and crushed by the load of earth!" Aubrey paused,
and his words, his tone, his look, made upon me a powerful impression.
I was about to answer, when, interrupting me, he said, "Let us talk not
of these matters; speak to me on more worldly topics."

"I sought you," said I; "that I might do so," and I proceeded to detail
to Aubrey as much of my private intercourse with the Abbe as I deemed
necessary in order to warn him from too close a confidence in the wily
ecclesiastic. Aubrey listened to me with earnest attention: the affair
of the letter; the gross falsehood of the priest in denying the mention
of my name, in his epistle, evidently dismayed him. "But," said he,
after a long silence,--"but it is not for us, Morton,--weak, ignorant,
inexperienced as we are,--to judge prematurely of our spiritual pastors.
To them also is given a far greater license of conduct than to us, and
ways enveloped in what to our eyes are mystery and shade; nay, I know
not whether it be much less impious to question the paths of God's
chosen than to scrutinize those of the Deity Himself."

"Aubrey, Aubrey, this is childish!" said I, somewhat moved to anger.
"Mystery is always the trick of imposture: God's chosen should be
distinguished from their flock only by superior virtue, and not by a
superior privilege in deceit."

"But," said Aubrey, pointing to a passage in the book before him, "see
what a preacher of the word has said!" and Aubrey recited one of the
most dangerous maxims in priestcraft, as reverently as if he were
quoting from the Scripture itself. "'The nakedness of truth should
never be too openly exposed to the eyes of the vulgar. It was wisely
feigned by the ancients that Truth did lie concealed in a well!'"

"Yes," said I, with enthusiasm, "but that well is like the holy stream
at Dodona, which has the gift of enlightening those who seek it, and the
power of illumining every torch which touches the surface of its water!"

Whatever answer Aubrey might have made was interrupted by my uncle, who
appeared approaching towards us with unusual satisfaction depicted on
his comely countenance.

"Well, boys, well," said he, when he came within hearing, "a holyday for
you! Ods fish,--and a holier day than my old house has known since its
former proprietor, Sir Hugo, of valorous memory, demolished the nunnery,
of which some remains yet stand on yonder eminence. Morton, my man of
might, the thing is done; the court is purified; the wicked one is
departed. Look here, and be as happy as I am at our release;" and he
threw me a note in Montreuil's writing:--


TO SIR WILLIAM DEVEREUX, KT.

MY HONOURED FRIEND,--In consequence of a dispute between your eldest
nephew, Count Morton Devereux, and myself, in which he desired me to
remember, not only that our former relationship of tutor and pupil was
at an end, but that friendship for his person was incompatible with the
respect due to his superior station, I can neither so far degrade the
dignity of letters, nor, above all, so meanly debase the sanctity of my
divine profession, as any longer to remain beneath your hospitable
roof,--a guest not only unwelcome to, but insulted by, your relation and
apparent heir. Suffer me to offer you my gratitude for the favours you
have hitherto bestowed on me, and to bid you farewell forever.

   I have the honour to be,
     With the most profound respect, etc.,
        JULIAN MONTREUIL.


"Well, sir, what say you?" cried my uncle, stamping his cane firmly on
the ground, when I had finished reading the letter, and had transmitted
it to Aubrey.

"That the good Abbe has displayed his usual skill in composition. And
my mother? Is she imbued with our opinion of his priestship?"

"Not exactly, I fear. However, Heaven bless her, she is too soft to say
'nay.' But those Jesuits are so smooth-tongued to women. 'Gad, they
threaten damnation with such an irresistible air, that they are as much
like William the Conqueror as Edward the Confessor. Ha! master Aubrey,
have you become amorous of the old Jacobite, that you sigh over his
crabbed writing, as if it were a _billet-doux_?"

"There seems a great deal of feeling in what he says, Sir," said Aubrey,
returning the letter to my uncle.

"Feeling!" cried the knight; "ay, the reverend gentry always have a
marvellously tender feeling for their own interest,--eh, Morton?"

"Right, dear sir," said I, wishing to change a subject which I knew
might hurt Aubrey; "but should we not join yon party of dames and
damsels? I see they are about to make a water excursion."

"'Sdeath, sir, with all my heart," cried the good-natured knight; "I
love to see the dear creatures amuse themselves; for, to tell you the
truth, Morton," said he, sinking his voice into a knowing whisper, "the
best thing to keep them from playing the devil is to encourage them in
playing the fool!" and, laughing heartily at the jest he had purloined
from one of his favourite writers, Sir William led the way to the
water-party.



CHAPTER XIV.

BEING A CHAPTER OF TRIFLES.

THE Abby disappeared! It is astonishing how well everybody bore his
departure. My mother scarcely spoke on the subject; but along the
irrefragable smoothness of her temperament all things glided without
resistance to their course, or trace where they had been. Gerald, who,
occupied solely in rural sports or rustic loves, seldom mingled in the
festivities of the house, was equally silent on the subject. Aubrey
looked grieved for a day or two: but his countenance soon settled into
its customary and grave softness; and, in less than a week, so little
was the Abbe spoken of or missed that you would scarcely have imagined
Julian Montreuil had ever passed the threshold of our gate. The
oblivion of one buried is nothing to the oblivion of one disgraced.

Meanwhile I pressed for my departure; and, at length, the day was
finally fixed. Ever since that conversation with Lady Hasselton which
has been set before the reader, that lady had lingered and
lingered--though the house was growing empty, and London, in all
seasons, was, according to her, better than the country in any--until
the Count Devereux, with that amiable modesty which so especially
characterized him, began to suspect that the Lady Hasselton lingered on
his account. This emboldened that bashful personage to press in earnest
for the fourth seat in the beauty's carriage, which we have seen in the
conversation before mentioned had been previously offered to him in
jest. After a great affectation of horror at the proposal, the Lady
Hasselton yielded. She had always, she said, been dotingly fond of
children, and it was certainly very shocking to send such a chit as the
little Count to London by himself.

My uncle was charmed with the arrangement. The beauty was a peculiar
favourite of his, and, in fact, he was sometimes pleased to hint that he
had private reasons for love towards her mother's daughter. Of the
truth of this insinuation I am, however, more than somewhat suspicious,
and believe it was only a little ruse of the good knight, in order to
excuse the vent of those kindly affections with which (while the
heartless tone of the company his youth had frequented made him ashamed
to own it) his breast overflowed. There was in Lady Hasselton's
familiarity--her ease of manner--a certain good-nature mingled with her
affectation, and a gayety of spirit, which never flagged,--something
greatly calculated to win favour with a man of my uncle's temper.

An old gentleman who filled in her family the office of "the
_chevalier_" in a French one; namely, who told stories; not too long,
and did not challenge you for interrupting them; who had a good air, and
unexceptionable pedigree,--a turn for wit, literature, note-writing, and
the management of lap-dogs; who could attend _Madame_ to auctions,
plays, courts, and the puppet-show; who had a right to the best company,
but would, on a signal, give up his seat to any one the pretty
_capricieuse_ whom he served might select from the worst,--in short a
very useful, charming personage, "vastly" liked by all, and
"prodigiously" respected by none,--this gentleman, I say, by name Mr.
Lovell, had attended her ladyship in her excursion to Devereux Court.
Besides him there came also a widow lady, a distant relation, with one
eye and a sharp tongue,--the Lady Needleham, whom the beauty carried
about with her as a sort of _gouvernante_ or duenna. These excellent
persons made my _compagnons de voyage_, and filled the remaining
complements of the coach. To say truth, and to say nothing of my
_tendresse_ for the Lady Hasselton, I was very anxious to escape the
ridicule of crawling up to the town like a green beetle, in my uncle's
verdant chariot, with the four Flanders mares trained not to exceed two
miles an hour. And my Lady Hasselton's _private_ raileries--for she was
really well bred, and made no jest of my uncle's antiquities of taste,
in his presence, at least--had considerably heightened my intuitive
dislike to that mode of transporting myself to the metropolis. The day
before my departure, Gerald, for the first time, spoke of it.

Glancing towards the mirror, which gave in full contrast the magnificent
beauty of his person, and the smaller proportions and plainer features
of my own, he said with a sneer, "Your appearance must create a
wonderful sensation in town."

"No doubt of it," said I, taking his words literally, and arraying my
laced cravat with the air of a _petit-maitre_.

"What a wit the Count has!" whispered the Duchess of Lackland, who had
not yet given up all hope of the elder brother.

"Wit!" said the Lady Hasselton; "poor child, he is a perfect simpleton!"



CHAPTER XV.

THE MOTHER AND SON.--VIRTUE SHOULD BE THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FEELINGS, NOT
THEIR DESTROYER.

I TOOK the first opportunity to escape from the good company who were so
divided in opinion as to my mental accomplishments, and repaired to my
mother; for whom, despite of her evenness of disposition, verging
towards insensibility, I felt a powerful and ineffaceable affection.
Indeed, if purity of life, rectitude of intentions, and fervour of piety
can win love, none ever deserved it more than she. It was a pity that,
with such admirable qualities, she had not more diligently cultivated
her affections. The seed was not wanting; but it had been neglected.
Originally intended for the veil, she had been taught, early in life,
that much feeling was synonymous with much sin; and she had so long and
so carefully repressed in her heart every attempt of the forbidden fruit
to put forth a single blossom, that the soil seemed at last to have
become incapable of bearing it. If, in one corner of this barren but
sacred spot, some green and tender verdure of affection did exist, it
was, with a partial and petty reserve for my twin-brother, kept
exclusive, and consecrated to Aubrey. His congenial habits of pious
silence and rigid devotion; his softness of temper; his utter freedom
from all boyish excesses, joined to his almost angelic beauty,--a
quality which, in no female heart, is ever without its value,--were
exactly calculated to attract her sympathy, and work themselves into her
love. Gerald was also regular in his habits, attentive to devotion, and
had, from an early period, been high in the favour of her spiritual
director. Gerald, too, if he had not the delicate and dream-like beauty
of Aubrey, possessed attractions of a more masculine and decided order;
and for Gerald, therefore, the Countess gave the little of love that she
could spare from Aubrey. To me she manifested the most utter
indifference. My difficult and fastidious temper; my sarcastic turn of
mind; my violent and headstrong passions; my daring, reckless and, when
roused, almost ferocious nature,--all, especially, revolted the even and
polished and quiescent character of my maternal parent. The little
extravagances of my childhood seemed to her pure and inexperienced mind
the crimes of a heart naturally distorted and evil; my jesting vein,
which, though it never, even in the wantonness of youth, attacked the
substances of good, seldom respected its semblances and its forms, she
considered as the effusions of malignity; and even the bursts of love,
kindness, and benevolence, which were by no means unfrequent in my wild
and motley character, were so foreign to her stillness of temperament
that they only revolted her by their violence, instead of affecting her
by their warmth.

Nor did she like me the better for the mutual understanding between my
uncle and myself. On the contrary, shocked by the idle and gay turn of
the knight's conversation, the frivolities of his mind, and his
heretical disregard for the forms of the religious sect which she so
zealously espoused, she was utterly insensible to the points which
redeemed and ennobled his sterling and generous character; utterly
obtuse to his warmth of heart,--his overflowing kindness of
disposition,--his charity,--his high honour,--his justice of principle,
that nothing save benevolence could warp,--and the shrewd, penetrating
sense, which, though often clouded by foibles and humorous eccentricity,
still made the stratum of his intellectual composition. Nevertheless,
despite her prepossessions against us both, there was in her temper
something so gentle, meek, and unupbraiding, that even the sense of
injustice lost its sting, and one could not help loving the softness of
her character, while one was most chilled by its frigidity. Anger,
hope, fear, the faintest breath or sign of passion, never seemed to stir
the breezeless languor of her feelings; and quiet was so inseparable
from her image that I have almost thought, like that people described by
Herodotus, her very sleep could never be disturbed by dreams.

Yes! how fondly, how tenderly I loved her! What tears, secret but deep,
bitter but unreproaching, have I retired to shed, when I caught her cold
and unaffectionate glance! How (unnoticed and uncared for) have I
watched and prayed and wept without her door when a transitory sickness
or suffering detained her within; and how, when stretched myself upon
the feverish bed to which my early weakness of frame often condemned
me,--how have I counted the moments to her punctilious and brief visit,
and started as I caught her footstep, and felt my heart leap within me
as she approached! and then, as I heard her cold tone and looked upon
her unmoved face, how bitterly have I turned away with all that
repressed and crushed affection which was construed into sullenness or
disrespect! O mighty and enduring force of early associations, that
almost seems, in its unconquerable strength, to partake of an innate
prepossession, that binds the son to the mother who concealed him in her
womb and purchased life for him with the travail of death?--fountain of
filial love, which coldness cannot freeze, nor injustice embitter, nor
pride divert into fresh channels, nor time, and the hot suns of our
toiling manhood, exhaust,--even at this moment, how livingly do you gush
upon my heart, and water with your divine waves the memories that yet
flourish amidst the sterility of years?

I approached the apartments appropriated to my mother: I knocked at her
door; one of her women admitted me. The Countess was sitting on a
high-backed chair, curiously adorned with tapestry. Her feet, which
were remarkable for their beauty, were upon a velvet cushion; three
hand-maids stood round her, and she herself was busily employed in a
piece of delicate embroidery, an art in which she eminently excelled.

"The Count, Madam!" said the woman who had admitted me, placing a chair
beside my mother, and then retiring to join her sister maidens.

"Good day to you, my son," said the Countess, lifting her eyes for a
moment, and then dropping them again upon her work.

"I have come to seek you, dearest mother, as I know not, if, among the
crowd of guests and amusements which surround us, I shall enjoy another
opportunity of having a private conversation with you: will it please
you to dismiss your women?"

My mother again lifted up her eyes. "And why, my son? surely there
_can_ be nothing between us which requires their absence; what is your
reason?"

"I leave you to-morrow, Madam: is it strange that a son should wish to
see his mother alone before his departure?"

"By no means, Morton; but your absence will not be very long, will it?"

"Forgive my importunity, dear Mother; but _will_ you dismiss your
attendants?"

"If you wish it, certainly; but I dislike feeling alone, especially in
these large rooms; nor did I think being unattended quite consistent
with our rank: however, I never contradict you, my son," and the
Countess directed her women to wait in the anteroom.

"Well, Morton, what is your wish?"

"Only to bid you farewell, and to ask if London contains nothing which
you will commission me to obtain for you?"

The Countess again raised her eyes from her work. "I am greatly obliged
to you, my dear son; this is a very delicate attention on your part. I
am informed that stomachers are worn a thought less pointed than they
were. I care not, you well know, for such vanities; but respect for the
memory of your illustrious father renders me desirous to retain a seemly
appearance to the world, and my women shall give you written
instructions thereon to Madame Tourville; she lives in St. James's
Street, and is the only person to be employed in these matters. She is
a woman who has known misfortune, and appreciates the sorrowful and
subdued tastes of those whom an exalted station has not preserved from
like afflictions. So you go to-morrow: will you get me the scissors?
They are on the ivory table yonder. When do you return?"

"Perhaps never!" said I, abruptly.

"Never, Morton; how singular--why?"

"I may join the army, and be killed."

"I hope not. Dear, how cold it is: will you shut the window? pray
forgive my troubling you, but you _would_ send away the women. Join the
army, you say? It is a very dangerous profession; your poor father
might be alive now but for having embraced it; nevertheless, in a
righteous cause, under the Lord of Hosts, there is great glory to be
obtained beneath its banners. Alas, however, for its private evils!
alas, for the orphan and the widow! You will be sure, my dear son, to
give the note to Madame Tourville herself? Her assistants have not her
knowledge of my misfortunes, nor indeed of my exact proportions; and at
my age, and in my desolate state, I would fain be decorous in these
things, and that reminds me of dinner. Have you aught else to say,
Morton?"

"Yes!" said I, suppressing my emotions, "yes, Mother! do bestow on me
one warm wish, one kind word, before we part: see,--I kneel for your
blessing,--will you not give it me?"

"Bless you, my child,--bless you! look you now; I have dropped my
needle!"

I rose hastily, bowed profoundly (my mother returned the courtesy with
the grace peculiar to herself), and withdrew. I hurried into the great
drawing-room, found Lady Needleham alone, rushed out in despair,
encountered the Lady Hasselton, and coquetted with her the rest of the
evening. Vain hope! to forget one's real feelings by pretending those
one never felt!

The next morning, then, after suitable adieux to all (Gerald excepted)
whom I left behind; after some tears too from my uncle, which, had it
not been for the presence of the Lady Hasselton, I could have returned
with interest; and after a long caress to his dog Ponto, which now, in
parting with that dear old man, seemed to me as dog never seemed before,
I hurried into the Beauty's carriage, bade farewell forever to the
Rubicon of Life, and commenced my career of manhood and citizenship by
learning, under the tuition of the prettiest coquette of her time, the
dignified duties of a Court Gallant and a Town Beau.



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I.

THE HERO IN LONDON.--PLEASURE IS OFTEN THE SHORTEST, AS IT IS THE
EARLIEST ROAD TO WISDOM, AND WE MAY SAY OF THE WORLD WHAT
ZEAL-OF-THE-LAND-BUSY SAYS OF THE PIG-BOOTH, "WE ESCAPE SO MUCH OF THE
OTHER VANITIES BY OUR EARLY ENTERING."

IT had, when I first went to town, just become the fashion for young men
of fortune to keep house, and to give their bachelor establishments the
importance hitherto reserved for the household of a Benedict.

Let the reader figure to himself a suite of apartments, magnificently
furnished, in the vicinity of the court. An anteroom is crowded with
divers persons, all messengers in the various negotiations of pleasure.
There, a French valet,--that inestimable valet, Jean Desmarais,--sitting
over a small fire, was watching the operations of a coffee-pot, and
conversing, in a mutilated attempt at the language of our nation, though
with the enviable fluency of his own, with the various loiterers who
were beguiling the hours they were obliged to wait for an audience of
the master himself, by laughing at the master's Gallic representative.
There stood a tailor with his books of patterns just imported from
Paris,--that modern Prometheus, who makes a man what he is! Next to him
a tall, gaunt fellow, in a coat covered with tarnished lace, a night-cap
wig, and a large whip in his hands, comes to vouch for the pedigree and
excellence of the three horses he intends to dispose of, out of pure
love and amity for the buyer. By the window stood a thin starveling
poet, who, like the grammarian of Cos, might have put lead in his
pockets to prevent being blown away, had he not, with a more paternal
precaution, put so much in his works that he had left none to spare.
Excellent trick of the times, when ten guineas can purchase every virtue
under the sun, and when an author thinks to vindicate the sins of his
book by proving the admirable qualities of the paragon to whom it is
dedicated.* There with an air of supercilious contempt upon his smooth
cheeks, a page, in purple and silver, sat upon the table, swinging his
legs to and fro, and big with all the reflected importance of a
_billet-doux_. There stood the pert haberdasher, with his box of
silver-fringed gloves, and lace which Diana might have worn. At that
time there was indeed no enemy to female chastity like the former
article of man-millinery: the delicate whiteness of the glove, the
starry splendour of the fringe, were irresistible, and the fair Adorna,
in poor Lee's tragedy of "Caesar Borgia," is far from the only lady who
has been killed by a pair of gloves.


* Thank Heaven, for the honour of literature, _nous avons change tout
cela!_--ED.


Next to the haberdasher, dingy and dull of aspect, a book-hunter bent
beneath the load of old works gathered from stall and shed, and about to
be re-sold according to the price exacted from all literary gallants who
affect to unite the fine gentleman with the profound scholar. A little
girl, whose brazen face and voluble tongue betrayed the growth of her
intellectual faculties, leaned against the wainscot, and repeated, in
the anteroom, the tart repartees which her mistress (the most celebrated
actress of the day) uttered on the stage; while a stout, sturdy,
bull-headed gentleman, in a gray surtout and a black wig, mingled with
the various voices of the motley group the gentle phrases of
Hockley-in-the-Hole, from which place of polite merriment he came
charged with a message of invitation. While such were the inmates of
the anteroom, what picture shall we draw of the _salon_ and its
occupant?

A table was covered with books, a couple of fencing foils, a woman's
mask, and a profusion of letters; a scarlet cloak, richly laced, hung
over, trailing on the ground. Upon a slab of marble lay a hat, looped
with diamonds, a sword, and a lady's lute. Extended upon a sofa,
loosely robed in a dressing-gown of black velvet, his shirt collar
unbuttoned, his stockings ungartered, his own hair (undressed and
released for a brief interval from the false locks universally worn)
waving from his forehead in short yet dishevelled curls, his whole
appearance stamped with the morning negligence which usually follows
midnight dissipation, lay a young man of about nineteen years. His
features were neither handsome nor ill-favoured, and his stature was
small, slight, and somewhat insignificant, but not, perhaps, ill-formed
either for active enterprise or for muscular effort. Such, reader, is
the picture of the young prodigal who occupied the apartments I have
described, and such (though somewhat flattered by partiality) is a
portrait of Morton Devereux, six months after his arrival in town.

The door was suddenly thrown open with that unhesitating rudeness by
which our friends think it necessary to signify the extent of their
familiarity; and a young man of about eight-and-twenty, richly dressed,
and of a countenance in which a dissipated _nonchalance_ and an
aristocratic _hauteur_ seemed to struggle for mastery, abruptly entered.

"What! ho, my noble royster," cried he, flinging himself upon a chair,
"still suffering from St. John's Burgundy! Fie, fie, upon your
apprenticeship!--why, before I had served half your time, I could take
my three bottles as easily as the sea took the good ship 'Revolution,'
swallow them down with a gulp, and never show the least sign of them the
next morning!"

"I really believe you, most magnanimous Tarleton. Providence gives to
each of its creatures different favours,--to one wit, to the other a
capacity for drinking. A thousand pities that they are never united!"

"So bitter, Count!--ah, what will ever cure you of sarcasm?"

"A wise man by conversation, or fools by satiety."

"Well, I dare say that is witty enough, but I never admire fine things
of a morning. I like letting my faculties live till night in a
deshabille; let us talk easily and sillily of the affairs of the day.
_Imprimis_, will you stroll to the New Exchange? There is a black eye
there that measures out ribbons, and my green ones long to flirt with
it."

"With all my heart--and in return you shall accompany me to Master
Powell's puppet-show."

"You speak as wisely as Solomon himself in the puppet-show. I own that
I love that sight: 'tis a pleasure to the littleness of human nature to
see great things abased by mimicry; kings moved by bobbins, and the
pomps of the earth personated by Punch."

"But how do you like sharing the mirth of the groundlings, the filthy
plebeians, and letting them see how petty are those distinctions which
you value so highly, by showing them how heartily you can laugh at such
distinctions yourself? Allow, my superb Coriolanus, that one purchases
pride by the loss of consistency."

"Ah, Devereux, you poison my enjoyment by the mere word 'plebeian'! Oh,
what a beastly thing is a common person!--a shape of the trodden clay
without any alloy; a compound of dirty clothes, bacon breaths, villanous
smells, beggarly cowardice, and cattish ferocity. Pah, Devereux! rub
civet on the very thought!"

"Yet they will laugh to-day at the same things you will, and
consequently there would be a most flattering congeniality between you.
Emotion, whether of ridicule, anger, or sorrow; whether raised at a
puppet-show, a funeral, or a battle,--is your grandest of levellers.
The man who would be always superior should be always apathetic."

"Oracular, as usual, Count,--but, hark, the clock gives tongue. One, by
the Lord!--will you not dress?"

And I rose and dressed. We passed through the anteroom; my attendant
assistants in the art of wasting money drew up in a row.

"Pardon me, gentlemen," said I ("gentlemen, indeed!" cried Tarleton),
"for keeping you so long. Mr. Snivelship, your waistcoats are
exquisite: favour me by conversing with my valet on the width of the
lace for my liveries; he has my instructions. Mr. Jockelton, your
horses shall be tried to-morrow at one. Ay, Mr. Rymer, I beg you a
thousand pardons; I beseech you to forgive the ignorance of my rascals
in suffering a gentleman of your merit to remain for a moment unattended
to. I have read your ode; it is splendid,--the ease of Horace with the
fire of Pindar; your Pegasus never touches the earth, and yet in his
wildest excesses you curb him with equal grace and facility: I object,
sir, only to your dedication; it is too flattering."

"By no means, my Lord Count, it fits you to a hair."

"Pardon me," interrupted I, "and allow me to transfer the honour to Lord
Halifax; he loves men of merit; he loves also their dedications. I will
mention it to him to-morrow: everything you say of me will suit him
exactly. You will oblige me with a copy of your poem directly it is
printed, and suffer me to pay your bookseller for it now, and through
your friendly mediation; adieu!"

"Oh, Count, this is too generous."

"A letter for me, my pretty page? Ah! tell her ladyship I shall wait
upon her commands at Powell's: time will move with a tortoise speed till
I kiss her hands. Mr. Fribbleden, your gloves would fit the giants at
Guildhall: my valet will furnish you with my exact size; you will see to
the legitimate breadth of the fringe. My little beauty, you are from
Mrs. Bracegirdle: the play _shall_ succeed; I have taken seven boxes;
Mr. St. John promised his influence. Say, therefore, my Hebe, that the
thing is certain, and let me kiss thee: thou hast dew on thy lip
already. Mr. Thumpen, you are a fine fellow, and deserve to be
encouraged; I will see that the next time your head is broken it shall
be broken fairly: but I will not patronize the bear; consider that
peremptory. What, Mr. Bookworm, again! I hope you have succeeded
better this time: the old songs had an autumn fit upon them, and had
lost the best part of their _leaves_; and Plato had mortgaged one half
his 'Republic,' to pay, I suppose, the exorbitant sum you thought proper
to set upon the other. As for Diogenes Laertius, and his
philosophers--"

"Pish!" interrupted Tarleton; "are you going, by your theoretical
treatises on philosophy, to make me learn the practical part of it, and
prate upon learning while I am supporting myself with patience?"

"Pardon me! Mr. Bookworm; you will deposit your load, and visit me
to-morrow at an earlier hour. And now, Tarleton, I am at your service."



CHAPTER II.

GAY SCENES AND CONVERSATIONS.--THE NEW EXCHANGE AND THE
PUPPET-SHOW.--THE ACTOR, THE SEXTON, AND THE BEAUTY.

"WELL, Tarleton," said I, looking round that mart of millinery and
love-making, which, so celebrated in the reign of Charles II., still
preserved the shadow of its old renown in that of Anne,--"well, here we
are upon the classical ground so often commemorated in the comedies
which our chaste grandmothers thronged to see. Here we can make
appointments, while we profess to buy gloves, and should our mistress
tarry too long, beguile our impatience by a flirtation with her
milliner. Is there not a breathing air of gayety about the place?--does
it not still smack of the Ethereges and Sedleys?"

"Right," said Tarleton, leaning over a counter and amorously eying the
pretty coquette to whom it belonged; while, with the coxcombry then in
fashion, he sprinkled the long curls that touched his shoulders with a
fragrant shower from a bottle of jessamine water upon the
counter,--"right; saw you ever such an eye? Have you snuff of the true
scent, my beauty--foh! this is for the nostril of a Welsh
parson--choleric and hot, my beauty,--pulverized horse-radish,--why, it
would make a nose of the coldest constitution imaginable sneeze like a
washed school-boy on a Saturday night.--Ah, this is better, my princess:
there is some courtesy in this snuff; it flatters the brain like a
poet's dedication. Right, Devereux, right, there is something
infectious in the atmosphere; one catches good humour as easily as if it
were cold. Shall we stroll on?--_my_ Clelia is on the other side of the
Exchange.--You were speaking of the play-writers: what a pity that our
Ethereges and Wycherleys should be so frank in their gallantry that the
prudish public already begins to look shy on them. They have a world of
wit!"

"Ay," said I; "and, as my good uncle would say, a world of knowledge of
human nature, namely, of the worst part of it. But they are worse than
merely licentious: they are positively villanous; pregnant with the most
redemptionless _scoundrelism_,--cheating, lying, thieving, and fraud;
their humour debauches the whole moral system; they are like the
Sardinian herb,--they make you laugh, it is true, but they poison you in
the act. But who comes here?"

"Oh, honest Coll!--Ah, Cibber, how goes it with you?"

The person thus addressed was a man of about the middle age, very
grotesquely attired, and with a periwig preposterously long. His
countenance (which, in its features, was rather comely) was stamped with
an odd mixture of liveliness, impudence, and a coarse yet not unjoyous
spirit of reckless debauchery. He approached us with a saunter, and
saluted Tarleton with an air servile enough, in spite of an affected
familiarity.

"What think you," resumed my companion, "we were conversing upon?"

"Why, indeed, Mr. Tarleton," answered Cibber, bowing very low, "unless
it were the exquisite fashion of your waistcoat, or your success with my
Lady Duchess, I know not what to guess."

"Pooh, man," said Tarleton, haughtily, "none of your compliments;" and
then added in a milder tone, "No, Colley, we were abusing the
immoralities that existed on the stage until thou, by the light of thy
virtuous example, didst undertake to reform it."

"Why," rejoined Cibber, with an air of mock sanctity, "Heaven be
praised, I have pulled out some of the weeds from our theatrical
_parterre_--"

"Hear you that, Count? Does he not look a pretty fellow for a censor?"

"Surely," said Cibber, "ever since Dicky Steele has set up for a saint,
and assumed the methodistical twang, some hopes of conversion may be
left even for such reprobates as myself. Where, may I ask, will Mr.
Tarleton drink to-night?"

"Not with thee, Coll. The Saturnalia don't happen every day. Rid us
now of thy company: but stop, I will do thee a pleasure; know you this
gentleman?"

"I have not that extreme honour."

"Know a Count, then! Count Devereux, demean yourself by sometimes
acknowledging Colley Cibber, a rare fellow at a song, a bottle, and a
message to an actress; a lively rascal enough, but without the goodness
to be loved, or the independence to be respected."

"Mr. Cibber," said I, rather hurt at Tarleton's speech, though the
object of it seemed to hear this description with the most unruffled
composure--"Mr. Cibber, I am happy and proud of an introduction to the
author of the 'Careless Husband.' Here is my address; oblige me with a
visit at your leisure."

"How could you be so galling to the poor devil?" said I, when Cibber,
with a profusion of bows and compliments, had left us to ourselves.

"Ah, hang him,--a low fellow, who pins all his happiness to the skirts
of the quality, is proud of being despised, and that which would
excruciate the vanity of others only flatters his. And now for my
Clelia."

After my companion had amused himself with a brief flirtation with a
young lady who affected a most edifying demureness, we left the
Exchange, and repaired to the puppet-show.

On entering the Piazza, in which, as I am writing for the next century,
it may be necessary to say that Punch held his court, we saw a tall,
thin fellow, loitering under the columns, and exhibiting a countenance
of the most ludicrous discontent. There was an insolent arrogance about
Tarleton's good-nature, which always led him to consult the whim of the
moment at the expense of every other consideration, especially if the
whim referred to a member of the _canaille_ whom my aristocratic friend
esteemed as a base part of the exclusive and despotic property of
gentlemen.

"Egad, Devereux," said he, "do you see that fellow? he has the audacity
to affect spleen. Faith, I thought melancholy was the distinguishing
patent of nobility: we will smoke him." And advancing towards the man
of gloom, Tarleton touched him with the end of his cane. The man
started and turned round. "Pray, sirrah," said Tarleton, coldly, "pray
who the devil are you that you presume to look discontented?"

"Why, Sir," said the man, good-humouredly enough, "I have some right to
be angry."

"I doubt it, my friend," said Tarleton. "What is your complaint? a rise
in the price of tripe, or a drinking wife? Those, I take it, are the
sole misfortunes incidental to your condition."

"If that be the case," said I, observing a cloud on our new friend's
brow, "shall we heal thy sufferings? Tell us thy complaints, and we
will prescribe thee a silver specific; there is a sample of our skill."

"Thank you humbly, gentlemen," said the man, pocketing the money, and
clearing his countenance; "and seriously, mine is an uncommonly hard
case. I was, till within the last few weeks, the under-sexton of St.
Paul's, Covent Garden, and my duty was that of ringing the bells for
daily prayers but a man of Belial came hitherwards, set up a
puppet-show, and, timing the hours of his exhibition with a wicked
sagacity, made the bell I rang for church serve as a summons to
Punch,--so, gentlemen, that whenever your humble servant began to pull
for the Lord, his perverted congregation began to flock to the devil;
and, instead of being an instrument for saving souls, I was made the
innocent means of destroying them. Oh, gentlemen, it was a shocking
thing to tug away at the rope till the sweat ran down one, for four
shillings a week; and to see all the time that one was thinning one's
own congregation and emptying one's own pockets!"

"It was indeed a lamentable dilemma; and what did you, Mr. Sexton?"

"Do, Sir? why, I could not stifle my conscience, and I left my place.
Ever since then, Sir, I have stationed myself in the Piazza, to warn my
poor, deluded fellow-creatures of their error, and to assure them that
when the bell of St. Paul's rings, it rings for prayers, and not for
puppet-shows, and--Lord help us, there it goes at this very moment; and
look, look, gentlemen, how the wigs and hoods are crowding to the
motion* instead of the minister."


* An antiquated word in use for puppet-shows.


"Ha! ha! ha!" cried Tarleton, "Mr. Powell is not the first man who has
wrested things holy to serve a carnal purpose, and made use of church
bells in order to ring money to the wide pouch of the church's enemies.
Hark ye, my friend, follow my advice, and turn preacher yourself; mount
a cart opposite to the motion, and I'll wager a trifle that the crowd
forsake the theatrical mountebank in favour of the religious one; for
the more sacred the thing played upon, the more certain is the game."

"Body of me, gentlemen," cried the ex-sexton, "I'll follow your advice."

"Do so, man, and never presume to look doleful again; leave dulness to
your superiors."*


* See "Spectator," No. 14, for a letter from this unfortunate
under-sexton.


And with this advice, and an additional compensation for his confidence,
we left the innocent assistant of Mr. Powell, and marched into the
puppet-show, by the sound of the very bells the perversion of which the
good sexton had so pathetically lamented.

The first person I saw at the show, and indeed the express person I came
to see, was the Lady Hasselton. Tarleton and myself separated for the
present, and I repaired to the coquette. "Angels of grace!" said I,
approaching; "and, by the by, before I proceed another word, observe,
Lady Hasselton, how appropriate the exclamation is to _you_! Angels of
_grace_! why, you have moved all your patches--one--two--three--six--
eight--as I am a gentleman, from the left side of your cheek to the
right! What is the reason of so sudden an emigration?"

"I have changed my politics, Count,* that is all, and have resolved to
lose no time in proclaiming the change. But is it true that you are
going to be married?"


* Whig ladies patched on one side of the cheek, Tories on the other.


"Married! Heaven forbid! which of my enemies spread so cruel a report?"

"Oh, the report is universal!" and the Lady Hasselton flirted her fan
with the most flattering violence.

"It is false, nevertheless; I cannot afford to buy a wife at present,
for, thanks to jointures and pin-money, these things are all matters of
commerce; and (see how closely civilized life resembles the savage!) the
English, like the Tartar gentleman, obtains his wife only by purchase!
But who is the bride?"

"The Duke of Newcastle's rich daughter, Lady Henrietta Pelham."

"What, Harley's object of ambition!* Faith, Madam, the report is not so
cruel as I thought for!"


* Lord Bolingbroke tells us that it was the main end of Harley's
administration to marry his son to this lady. Thus is the fate of
nations a bundle made up of a thousand little private schemes.


"Oh, you fop!--but is it not true?"

"By my honour, I fear not; my rivals are too numerous and too powerful.
Look now, yonder! how they already flock around the illustrious
heiress; note those smiles and simpers. Is it not pretty to see those
very fine gentlemen imitating bumpkins at a fair, and grinning their
best _for a gold ring_! But you need not fear me, Lady Hasselton, my
love cannot wander if it would. In the quaint thought of Sidney,* love
having once flown to my heart, burned its wings there, and cannot fly
away."


* In the "Arcadia," that museum of oddities and beauties.


"La, you now!" said the Beauty; "I do not comprehend you exactly: your
master of the graces does not teach you your compliments properly."

"Yes, he does, but in your presence I forget them; and now," I added,
lowering my voice into the lowest of whispers, "now that you are assured
of my fidelity, will you not learn at last to discredit rumours and
trust to me?"

"I love you too well!" answered the Lady Hasselton in the same tone, and
that answer gives an admirable idea of the affection of every coquette!
love and confidence with them are qualities that have a natural
antipathy, and can never be united. Our _tete-a-tete_ was at an end;
the people round us became social, and conversation general.

"Betterton acts to-morrow night," cried the Lady Pratterly: "we must
go!"

"We must go," cried the Lady Hasselton.

"We must go!" cried all.

And so passed the time till the puppet-show was over, and my attendance
dispensed with.

It is a charming thing to be the lover of a lady of the mode! One so
honoured does with his hours as a miser with his guineas; namely,
nothing but count them!



CHAPTER III.

MORE LIONS.

THE next night, after the theatre, Tarleton and I strolled into Wills's.
Half-a-dozen wits were assembled. Heavens! how they talked! actors,
actresses, poets, statesmen, philosophers, critics, divines, were all
pulled to pieces with the most gratifying malice imaginable. We sat
ourselves down, and while Tarleton amused himself with a dish of coffee
and the "Flying Post," I listened very attentively to the conversation.
Certainly if we would take every opportunity of getting a grain or two
of knowledge, we should soon have a chest-full; a man earned an
excellent subsistence by asking every one who came out of a
tobacconist's shop for a pinch of snuff, and retailing the mixture as
soon as he had filled his box.*


* "Tatler."


While I was listening to a tall lusty gentleman, who was abusing Dogget,
the actor, a well-dressed man entered, and immediately attracted the
general observation. He was of a very flat, ill-favoured countenance,
but of a quick eye, and a genteel air; there was, however, something
constrained and artificial in his address, and he appeared to be
endeavouring to clothe a natural good-humour with a certain primness
which could never be made to fit it.

"Ha, Steele!" cried a gentleman in an orange-coloured coat, who seemed
by a fashionable swagger of importance desirous of giving the tone to
the company,--"Ha, Steele, whence come you? from the chapel or the
tavern?" and the speaker winked round the room as if he wished us to
participate in the pleasure of a good thing.

Mr. Steele drew up, seemingly a little affronted; but his good-nature
conquering the affectation of personal sanctity, which, at the time I
refer to, that excellent writer was pleased to assume, he contented
himself with nodding to the speaker, and saying,--

"All the world knows, Colonel Cleland, that you are a wit, and therefore
we take your fine sayings as we take change from an honest
tradesman,--rest perfectly satisfied with the coin we get, without
paying any attention to it."

"Zounds, Cleland, you got the worst of it there," cried a gentleman in a
flaxen wig. And Steele slid into a seat near my own.

Tarleton, who was sufficiently well educated to pretend to the character
of a man of letters, hereupon thought it necessary to lay aside the
"Flying Post," and to introduce me to my literary neighbour.

"Pray," said Colonel Cleland, taking snuff and swinging himself to and
fro with an air of fashionable grace, "has any one seen the new paper?"

"What!" cried the gentleman in the flaxen wig, "what! the 'Tatler's'
successor,--the 'Spectator'?"

"The same," quoth the colonel.

"To be sure; who has not?" returned he of the flaxen ornament. "People
say Congreve writes it."

"They are very much mistaken, then," cried a little square man with
spectacles; "to my certain knowledge Swift is the author."

"Pooh!" said Cleland, imperiously, "pooh! it is neither the one nor the
other; I, gentlemen, am in the secret--but--you take me, eh? One must
not speak well of one's self; mum is the word."

"Then," asked Steele, quietly, "we are to suppose that you, Colonel, are
the writer?"

"I never said so, Dicky; but the women will have it that I am," and the
colonel smoothed down his cravat.

"Pray, Mr. Addison, what say you?" cried the gentleman in the flaxen
wig; "are you for Congreve, Swift, or Colonel Cleland?" This was
addressed to a gentleman of a grave but rather prepossessing mien; who,
with eyes fixed upon the ground, was very quietly and to all appearance
very inattentively solacing himself with a pipe; without lifting his
eyes, this personage, then eminent, afterwards rendered immortal,
replied,

"Colonel Cleland must produce other witnesses to prove his claim to the
authorship of the 'Spectator:' the women, we well know, are prejudiced
in his favour."

"That's true enough, old friend," cried the colonel, looking askant at
his orange-coloured coat; "but faith, Addison, I wish you would set up a
paper of the same sort, d'ye see; you're a nice judge of merit, and your
sketches of character would do justice to your friends."

"If ever I do, Colonel, I, or my coadjutors, will study at least to do
justice to you."*


* This seems to corroborate the suspicion entertained of the identity of
Colonel Cleland with the Will Honeycomb of the "Spectator."


"Prithee, Steele," cried the stranger in spectacles, "prithee, tell us
thy thoughts on the subject: dost thou know the author of this droll
periodical?"

"I saw him this morning," replied Steele, carelessly.

"Aha! and what said you to him?"

"I asked him his name."

"And what did he answer?" cried he of the flaxen wig, while all of us
crowded round the speaker, with the curiosity every one felt in the
authorship of a work then exciting the most universal and eager
interest.

"He answered me solemnly," said Steele, "in the following words,--


 "'Graeci carent ablativo, Itali dativo, ego nominativo.'"*


* "The Greek wants an ablative, the Italians a dative, I a nominative."


"Famous--capital!" cried the gentleman in spectacles; and then, touching
Colonel Cleland, added, "what does it exactly mean?"

"Ignoramus!" said Cleland, disdainfully, "every _schoolboy knows
Virgil_!"

"Devereux," said Tarleton, yawning, "what a d----d delightful thing it
is to hear so much wit: pity that the atmosphere is so fine that no
lungs unaccustomed to it can endure it long, Let us recover ourselves by
a walk."

"Willingly," said I; and we sauntered forth into the streets.

"Wills's is not what it was," said Tarleton; "'tis a pitiful ghost of
its former self, and if they had not introduced cards, one would die of
the vapours there."

"I know nothing so insipid," said I, "as that mock literary air which it
is so much the fashion to assume. 'Tis but a wearisome relief to
conversation to have interludes of songs about Strephon and Sylvia,
recited with a lisp by a gentleman with fringed gloves and a languishing
look."

"Fie on it," cried Tarleton, "let us seek for a fresher topic. Are you
asked to Abigail Masham's to-night, or will you come to Dame de la
Riviere Manley's?"

"Dame de la what?--in the name of long words who is she?"

"Oh! Learning made libidinous: one who reads Catullus and profits by
it."

"Bah, no, we will not leave the gentle Abigail for her. I have promised
to meet St. John, too, at the Mashams'."

"As you like. We shall get some wine at Abigail's, which we should
never do at the house of her cousin of Marlborough."

And, comforting himself with this belief, Tarleton peaceably accompanied
me to that celebrated woman, who did the Tories such notable service, at
the expense of being termed by the Whigs one great want divided into two
parts; namely, a great want of every shilling belonging to other people,
and a great want of every virtue that should have belonged to herself.
As we mounted the staircase, a door to the left (a private apartment)
was opened, and I saw the favourite dismiss, with the most flattering
air of respect, my old preceptor, the Abbe Montreuil. He received her
attentions as his due, and, descending the stairs, came full upon me.
He drew back, changed neither hue nor muscle, bowed civilly enough, and
disappeared. I had not much opportunity to muse over this circumstance,
for St. John and Mr. Domville--excellent companions both--joined us; and
the party being small, we had the unwonted felicity of talking, as well
as bowing, to each other. It was impossible to think of any one else
when St. John chose to exert himself; and so even the Abbe Montreuil
glided out of my brain as St. John's wit glided into it. We were all of
the same way of thinking on politics, and therefore were witty without
being quarrelsome,--a rare thing. The trusty Abigail told us stories of
the good Queen, and we added _bons mots_ by way of corollary. Wine,
too, wine that even Tarleton approved, lit up our intellects, and we
spent altogether an evening such as gentlemen and Tories very seldom
have the sense to enjoy.

O Apollo! I wonder whether Tories of the next century will be such
clever, charming, well-informed fellows as we were!



CHAPTER IV.

AN INTELLECTUAL ADVENTURE.

A LITTLE affected by the vinous potations which had been so much an
object of anticipation with my companion, Tarleton and I were strolling
homeward when we perceived a remarkably tall man engaged in a contest
with a couple of watchmen. Watchmen were in all cases the especial and
natural enemies of the gallants in my young days; and no sooner did we
see the unequal contest than, drawing our swords with that true English
valour which makes all the quarrels of other people its own, we hastened
to the relief of the weaker party.

"Gentlemen," said the elder watchman, drawing back, "this is no common
brawl; we have been shamefully beaten by this here madman, and for no
earthly cause."

"Who ever did beat a watchman for any earthly cause, you rascal?" cried
the accused party, swinging his walking cane over the complainant's head
with a menacing air.

"Very true," cried Tarleton, coolly. "Seigneurs of the watch, you are
both made and paid to be beaten; _ergo_--you have no right to complain.
Release this worthy cavalier, and depart elsewhere to make night hideous
with your voices."

"Come, come," quoth the younger Dogberry, who perceived a reinforcement
approaching, "move on, good people, and let us do our duty."

"Which," interrupted the elder watchman, "consists in taking this
hulking swaggerer to the watchhouse."

"Thou speakest wisely, man of peace," said Tarleton; "defend thyself;"
and without adding another word he ran the watchman through--not the
body but the coat; avoiding with great dexterity the corporeal substance
of the attacked party, and yet approaching it so closely as to give the
guardian of the streets very reasonable ground for apprehension. No
sooner did the watchman find the hilt strike against his breast, than he
uttered a dismal cry and fell upon the pavement as if he had been shot.

"Now for thee, varlet," cried Tarleton, brandishing his rapier before
the eyes of the other watchman, "tremble at the sword of Gideon."

"O Lord, O Lord!" ejaculated the terrified comrade of the fallen man,
dropping on his knees, "for Heaven's sake, sir, have a care."

"What argument canst thou allege, thou screech-owl of the metropolis,
that thou shouldst not share the same fate as thy brother owl?"

"Oh, sir!" cried the craven night-bird (a bit of a humourist in its
way), "because I have a nest and seven little owlets at home, and t'
other owl is only a bachelor."

"Thou art an impudent thing to jest at us," said Tarleton; "but thy wit
has saved thee; rise."

At this moment two other watchmen came up.

"Gentlemen," said the tall stranger whom we had rescued, "we had better
fly."

Tarleton cast at him a contemptuous look, and placed himself in a
posture of offence.

"Hark ye," said I, "let us effect an honourable peace. Messieurs the
watch, be it lawful for you to carry off the slain, and for us to claim
the prisoners."

But our new foes understood not a jest, and advanced upon us with a
ferocity which might really have terminated in a serious engagement, had
not the tall stranger thrust his bulky form in front of the approaching
battalion, and cried out with a loud voice, "Zounds, my good fellows,
what's all this for? If you take us up you will get broken heads
to-night, and a few shillings perhaps to-morrow. If you leave us alone,
you will have whole heads, and a guinea between you. Now, what say
you?"

Well spoke Phaedra against the dangers of eloquence. The watchmen
looked at each other. "Why really, sir," said one, "what you say alters
the case very much; and if Dick here is not much hurt, I don't know what
we may say to the offer."

So saying, they raised the fallen watchman, who, after three or four
grunts, began slowly to recover himself.

"Are you dead, Dick?" said the owl with seven owlets.

"I think I am," answered the other, groaning.

"Are you able to drink a pot of ale, Dick?" cried the tall stranger.

"I think I am," reiterated the dead man, very lack-a-daisically. And
this answer satisfying his comrades, the articles of peace were
subscribed to.

Now, then, the tall stranger began searching his pockets with a most
consequential air.

"Gad, so!" said he at last; "not in my breeches pocket!--well, it must
be in my waistcoat. No. Well, 'tis a strange thing--demme it is!
Gentlemen, I have had the misfortune to leave my purse behind me: add to
your other favours by lending me wherewithal to satisfy these honest
men."

And Tarleton lent him the guinea. The watchmen now retired, and we were
left alone with our portly ally.

Placing his hand to his heart he made us half-a-dozen profound bows,
returned us thanks for our assistance in some very courtly phrases, and
requested us to allow him to make our acquaintance. We exchanged cards
and departed on our several ways.

"I have met that gentleman before," said Tarleton. "Let us see what
name he pretends to. 'Fielding--Fielding;' ah, by the Lord, it is no
less a person! It is the great Fielding himself."

"Is Mr. Fielding, then, as elevated in fame as in stature?"

"What, is it possible that you have not yet heard of Beau Fielding, who
bared his bosom at the theatre in order to attract the admiring
compassion of the female part of the audience?"

"What!" I cried, "the Duchess of Cleveland's Fielding?"

"The same; the best-looking fellow of his day! A sketch of his history
is in the 'Tatler,' under the name of 'Orlando the Fair.' He is
terribly fallen as to fortune since the day when he drove about in a car
like a sea-shell, with a dozen tall fellows, in the Austrian livery,
black and yellow, running before and behind him. You know he claims
relationship to the house of Hapsburg. As for the present, he writes
poems, makes love, is still good-natured, humorous, and odd; is rather
unhappily addicted to wine and borrowing, and rigidly keeps that oath of
the Carthusians which never suffers them to carry any money about them."

"An acquaintance more likely to yield amusement than profit."

"Exactly so. He will favour you with a visit--to-morrow, perhaps, and
you will remember his propensities."

"Ah! who ever forgets a warning that relates to his purse!"

"True!" said Tarleton, sighing. "Alas! my guinea, thou and I have
parted company forever! _vale, vale, inquit Iolas_!"



CHAPTER V.

THE BEAU IN HIS DEN, AND A PHILOSOPHER DISCOVERED.

MR. FIELDING having twice favoured me with visits, which found me from
home, I thought it right to pay my respects to him; accordingly one
morning I repaired to his abode. It was situated in a street which had
been excessively the mode some thirty years back; and the house still
exhibited a stately and somewhat ostentatious exterior. I observed a
considerable cluster of infantine ragamuffins collected round the door,
and no sooner did the portal open to my summons than they pressed
forward in a manner infinitely more zealous than respectful. A servant
in the Austrian livery, with a broad belt round his middle, officiated
as porter. "Look, look!" cried one of the youthful gazers, "look at the
Beau's _keeper_!" This imputation on his own respectability and that of
his master, the domestic seemed by no means to relish; for, muttering
some maledictory menace, which I at first took to be German, but which I
afterwards found to be Irish, he banged the door in the faces of the
intrusive impertinents, and said, in an accent which suited very ill
with his Continental attire,--

"And is it my master you're wanting, Sir?"

"It is."

"And you would be after seeing him immediately?"

"Rightly conjectured, my sagacious friend."

"Fait then, your honour, my master's in bed with a terrible fit of the
megrims."

"Then you will favour me by giving this card to your master, and
expressing my sorrow at his indisposition."

Upon this the orange-coloured lacquey, very quietly reading the address
on the card, and spelling letter by letter in an audible mutter,
rejoined,

"C--o--u (cou) n--t (unt) Count, D--e--v. Och, by my shoul, and it's
Count Devereux after all I'm thinking?"

"You think with equal profundity and truth."

"You may well say that, your honour. Stip in a bit: I'll tell my
master; it is himself that will see you in a twinkling!"

"But you forget that your master is ill?" said I.

"Sorrow a bit for the matter o' that: my master is never ill to a
jontleman."

And with this assurance "the Beau's keeper" ushered me up a splendid
staircase into a large, dreary, faded apartment, and left me to amuse
myself with the curiosities within, while he went to perform a cure upon
his master's "megrims." The chamber, suiting with the house and the
owner, looked like a place in the other world set apart for the
reception of the ghosts of departed furniture. The hangings were wan
and colourless; the chairs and sofas were most spiritually
unsubstantial; the mirrors reflected all things in a sepulchral
sea-green; even a huge picture of Mr. Fielding himself, placed over the
chimney-piece, seemed like the apparition of a portrait, so dim, watery,
and indistinct had it been rendered by neglect and damp. On a huge
tomb-like table in the middle of the room, lay two pencilled profiles of
Mr. Fielding, a pawnbroker's ticket, a pair of ruffles, a very little
muff, an immense broadsword, a Wycherley comb, a jackboot, and an old
plumed hat; to these were added a cracked pomatum-pot containing ink,
and a scrap of paper, ornamented with sundry paintings of hearts and
torches, on which were scrawled several lines in a hand so large and
round that I could not avoid seeing the first verse, though I turned
away my eyes as quickly as possible; that verse, to the best of my
memory, ran thus: "Say, lovely Lesbia, when thy swain." Upon the ground
lay a box of patches, a periwig, and two or three well thumbed books of
songs. Such was the reception-room of Beau Fielding, one indifferently
well calculated to exhibit the propensities of a man, half bully, half
fribble; a poet, a fop, a fighter, a beauty, a walking museum of all odd
humours, and a living shadow of a past renown. "There are changes in
wit as in fashion," said Sir William Temple, and he proceeds to instance
a nobleman who was the greatest wit of the court of Charles I., and the
greatest dullard in that of Charles II.* But Heavens! how awful are the
revolutions of coxcombry! what a change from Beau Fielding the Beauty,
to Beau Fielding the Oddity!


* The Earl of Norwich.


After I had remained in this apartment about ten minutes, the great man
made his appearance. He was attired in a dressing-gown of the most
gorgeous material and colour, but so old that it was difficult to
conceive any period of past time which it might not have been supposed
to have witnessed; a little velvet cap, with a tarnished gold tassel,
surmounted his head, and his nether limbs were sheathed in a pair of
military boots. In person he still retained the trace of that
extraordinary symmetry he had once possessed, and his features were yet
handsome, though the complexion had grown coarse and florid, and the
expression had settled into a broad, hardy, farcical mixture of
effrontery, humour, and conceit.

But how different his costume from that of old! Where was the long wig
with its myriad curls? the coat stiff with golden lace? the diamond
buttons,--"the pomp, pride, and circumstance of glorious war?" the
glorious war Beau Fielding had carried on throughout the female
world,--finding in every saloon a Blenheim, in every play-house a
Ramilies? Alas! to what abyss of fate will not the love of notoriety
bring men! to what but the lust of show do we owe the misanthropy of
Timon, or the ruin of Beau Fielding!

"By the Lord!" cried Mr. Fielding, approaching, and shaking me
familiarly by the hand, "by the Lord, I am delighted to see thee! As I
am a soldier, I thought thou wert a spirit, invisible and incorporeal;
and as long as I was in that belief I trembled for thy salvation, for I
knew at least that thou wert not a spirit of Heaven, since thy door is
the very reverse of the doors above, which we are assured shall be
opened unto our knocking. But thou art early, Count; like the ghost in
'Hamlet,' thou snuffest the morning air. Wilt thou not keep out the
rank atmosphere by a pint of wine and a toast?"

"Many thanks to you, Mr. Fielding; but I have at least one property of a
ghost, and don't drink after daybreak."

"Nay, now, 'tis a bad rule! a villanous bad rule, fit _only for_ ghosts
and graybeards. We youngsters, Count, should have a more generous
policy. Come, now, where didst thou drink last night? has the bottle
bequeathed thee a qualm or a headache, which preaches repentance and
abstinence this morning?"

"No, but I visit my mistress this morning; would you have me smell of
strong potations, and seem a worshipper of the '_Glass_ of Fashion,'
rather than of 'the Mould of Form'? Confess, Mr. Fielding, that the
women love not an early tippler, and that they expect sober and sweet
kisses from a pair 'of youngsters' like us."

"By the Lord," cried Mr. Fielding, stroking down his comely stomach,
"there is a great show of reason in thy excuses, but only the show, not
substance, my noble Count. You know me, you know my experience with the
women: I would not boast, as I'm a soldier; but 'tis something! nine
hundred and fifty locks of hair have I got in my strong box, under
padlock and key; fifty within the last week,--true, on my soul,--so that
I may pretend to know a little of the dear creatures; well, I give thee
my honour, Count, that they like a royster; they love a fellow who can
carry his six bottles under a silken doublet; there's vigour and manhood
in it; and, then, too, what a power of toasts can a six-bottle man drink
to his mistress! Oh, 'tis your only chivalry now,--your modern
substitute for tilt and tournament; true, Count, as I am a soldier!"

"I fear my Dulcinea differs from the herd, then; for she quarrelled with
me for supping with St. John three nights ago, and--"

"St. John," interrupted Fielding, cutting me off in the beginning of a
witticism, "St. John, famous fellow, is he not? By the Lord, we will
drink to his administration, you in chocolate, I in Madeira. O'Carroll,
you dog,--O'Carroll--rogue--rascal--ass--dolt!"

"The same, your honour," said the orange-coloured lacquey, thrusting in
his lean visage.

"Ay, the same indeed, thou anatomized son of Saint Patrick; why dost
thou not get fat? Thou shamest my good living, and thy belly is a
rascally minister to thee, devouring all things for itself, without
fattening a single member of the body corporate. Look at _me_, you dog,
am _I_ thin? Go and get fat, or I will discharge thee: by the Lord I
will! the sun shines through thee like an empty wineglass."

"And is it upon your honour's lavings you would have me get fat?"
rejoined Mr. O'Carroll, with an air of deferential inquiry.

"Now, as I live, thou art the impudentest varlet!" cried Mr. Fielding,
stamping his foot on the floor, with an angry frown.

"And is it for talking of your honour's lavings? an' sure that's
_nothing_ at all, at all," said the valet, twirling his thumbs with
expostulating innocence.

"Begone, rascal!" said Mr. Fielding, "begone; go to the Salop, and bring
us a pint of Madeira, a toast, and a dish of chocolate."

"Yes, your honour, in a twinkling," said the valet, disappearing.

"A sorry fellow," said Mr. Fielding, "but honest and faithful, and loves
me as well as a saint loves gold; 'tis his love makes him familiar."

Here the door was again opened, and the sharp face of Mr. O'Carroll
again intruded.

"How now, sirrah!" exclaimed his master.

Mr. O'Carroll, without answering by voice, gave a grotesque sort of
signal between a wink and a beckon. Mr. Fielding rose muttering an
oath, and underwent a whisper. "By the Lord," cried he, seemingly in a
furious passion, "and thou hast not got the bill cashed yet, though I
told thee twice to have it done last evening? Have I not my debts of
honour to discharge, and did I not give the last guinea I had about me
for a walking cane yesterday? Go down to the city immediately, sirrah,
and bring me the change."

The valet again whispered.

"Ah," resumed Fielding, "ah--so far, you say, 'tis true; 'tis a great
way, and perhaps the Count can't wait till you return. Prithee (turning
to me), prithee now, is it not vexatious,--no change about me, and my
fool has not cashed a trifling bill I have, for a thousand or so, on
Messrs. Child! and the cursed Salop puts not its _trust_ even in
princes; 'tis its way; 'Gad now, you have not a guinea about you?"

What could I say? My guinea joined Tarleton's, in a visit to that
bourne whence no _such_ traveller e'er returned.

Mr. O'Carroll now vanished in earnest, the wine and the chocolate soon
appeared. Mr. Fielding brightened up, recited his poetry, blessed his
good fortune, promised to call on me in a day or two; and assured me,
with a round oath, that the next time he had the honour of seeing me, he
would treat me with another pint of Madeira, exactly of the same sort.

I remember well that it was the evening of the same day in which I had
paid this visit to the redoubted Mr. Fielding, that, on returning from a
drum at Lady Hasselton's, I entered my anteroom with so silent a step,
that I did not arouse even the keen senses of Monsieur Desmarais. He
was seated by the fire, with his head supported by his hands, and
intently poring over a huge folio. I had often observed that he
possessed a literary turn, and all the hours in which he was unemployed
by me he was wont to occupy with books. I felt now, as I stood still
and contemplated his absorbed attention in the contents of the book
before him, a strong curiosity to know the nature of his studies; and so
little did my taste second the routine of trifles in which I had been
lately engaged, that in looking upon the earnest features of the man on
which the solitary light streamed calm and full; and impressed with the
deep quiet and solitude of the chamber, together with the undisturbed
sanctity of comfort presiding over the small, bright hearth, and
contrasting what I saw with the brilliant scene--brilliant with gaudy,
wearing, wearisome frivolities--which I had just quitted, a sensation of
envy at the enjoyments of my dependant entered my breast, accompanied
with a sentiment resembling humiliation at the nature of my own
pursuits. I am generally thought a proud man; but I am never proud to
my inferiors; nor can I imagine pride where there is no competition. I
approached Desmarais, and said, in French,--

"How is this? why did you not, like your fellows, take advantage of my
absence to pursue your own amusements? They must be dull indeed if they
do not hold out to you more tempting inducements than that colossal
offspring of the press."

"Pardon me, Sir," said Desmarais, very respectfully, and closing the
book, "pardon me, I was not aware of your return. Will Monsieur doff
his cloak?"

"No; shut the door, wheel round that chair, and favour me with a sight
of your book."

"Monsieur will be angry, I fear," said the valet (obeying the first two
orders, but hesitating about the third), "with my course of reading: I
confess it is not very compatible with my station."

"Ah, some long romance, the 'Clelia,' I suppose,--nay, bring it hither;
that is to say, if it be movable by the strength of a single man."

Thus urged, Desmarais modestly brought me the book. Judge of my
surprise when I found it was a volume of Leibnitz, a philosopher then
very much the rage,--because one might talk of him very safely, without
having read him.* Despite of my surprise, I could not help smiling when
my eye turned from the book to the student. It is impossible to
conceive an appearance less like a philosopher's than that of Jean
Desmarais. His wig was of a nicety that would not have brooked the
irregularity of a single hair; his dress was not preposterous, for I do
not remember, among gentles or valets, a more really exquisite taste
than that of Desmarais; but it evinced, in every particular, the arts of
the toilet. A perpetual smile sat upon his lips,--sometimes it deepened
into a sneer, but that was the only change it ever experienced; an
irresistible air of self-conceit gave piquancy to his long, marked
features, small glittering eye, and withered cheeks, on which a delicate
and soft bloom excited suspicion of artificial embellishment. A very
fit frame of body this for a valet; but I humbly opine a very unseemly
one for a student of Leibnitz.


* Which is possibly the reason why there are so many disciples of Kant
at the present moment.--ED.


"And what," said I, after a short pause, "is your opinion of this
philosopher? I understand that he has just written a work* above all
praise and comprehension."


* The "Theodicaea."


"It is true, Monsieur, that it is above his own understanding. He knows
not what sly conclusions may be drawn from his premises; but I beg
Monsieur's pardon, I shall be tedious and intrusive."

"Not a whit! speak out, and at length. So you conceive that Leibnitz
makes ropes which _others_ will make into ladders?"

"Exactly so," said Desmarais; "all his arguments go to swell the sails
of the great philosophical truth,--'Necessity!' We are the things and
toys of Fate, and its everlasting chain compels even the Power that
creates as well as the things created."

"Ha!" said I, who, though little versed at that time in these
metaphysical subtleties, had heard St. John often speak of the strange
doctrine to which Desmarais referred, "you are, then, a believer in the
fatalism of Spinoza?"

"No, Monsieur," said Desmarais, with a complacent smile, "my system is
my own: it is composed of the thoughts of others; but my thoughts are
the cords which bind the various sticks into a fagot."

"Well," said I, smiling at the man's conceited air, "and what is your
main dogma?"

"Our utter impotence."

"Pleasing! Mean you that we have no free will?"

"None."

"Why, then, you take away the very existence of vice and virtue; and,
according to you, we sin or act well, not from our own accord, but
because we are compelled and preordained to it."

Desmarais' smile withered into the grim sneer with which, as I have
said, it was sometimes varied.

"Monsieur's penetration is extreme; but shall I not prepare his nightly
draught?"

"No; answer me at length; and tell me the difference between good and
ill, if we are compelled by Necessity to either."

Desmarais hemmed, and began. Despite of his caution, the coxcomb loved
to hear himself talk, and he talked, therefore, to the following
purpose:

"Liberty is a thing impossible! Can you _will_ a single action, however
simple, independent of your organization,--independent of the
organization of others,--independent of the order of things
past,--independent of the order of things to come? You cannot. But if
not independent, you are dependent; if dependent, where is your liberty?
where your freedom of will? Education disposes our characters: can you
control your own education, begun at the hour of birth? You cannot.
Our character, joined to the conduct of others, disposes of our
happiness, our sorrow, our crime, our virtue. Can you control your
character? We have already seen that you cannot. Can you control the
conduct of others,--others perhaps whom you have never seen, but who may
ruin you at a word; a despot, for instance, or a warrior? You cannot.
What remains? that if we cannot choose our characters, nor our fates, we
cannot be accountable for either. If you are a good man, you are a
lucky man; but you are not to be praised for what you could not help.
If you are a bad man, you are an unfortunate one; but you are not to be
execrated for what you could not prevent."*


* Whatever pretensions Monsieur Desmarais may have had to originality,
this tissue of opinions is as old as philosophy itself.--ED.


"Then, most wise Desmarais, if you steal this diamond loop from my hat,
you are only an unlucky man, not a guilty one, and worthy of my
sympathy, not anger?"

"Exactly so; but you must hang me for it. You cannot control events,
but you can modify man. Education, law, adversity, prosperity,
correction, praise, modify him,--without his choice, and sometimes
without his perception. But once acknowledge Necessity, and evil
passions cease; you may punish, you may destroy others, if for the
safety and good of the commonwealth; but motives for doing so cease to
be private: you can have no personal hatred to men for committing
actions which they were irresistibly compelled to commit."

I felt that, however I might listen to and dislike these sentiments, it
would not do for the master to argue with the domestic, especially when
there was a chance that he might have the worst of it. And so I was
suddenly seized with a fit of sleepiness, which broke off our
conversation. Meanwhile I inly resolved, in my own mind, to take the
first opportunity of discharging a valet who saw no difference between
good and evil, but that of luck; and who, by the irresistible compulsion
of Necessity, might some day or other have the involuntary misfortune to
cut the throat of his master!

I did not, however, carry this unphilosophical resolution into effect.
Indeed, the rogue, doubting perhaps the nature of the impression he had
made on me, redoubled so zealously his efforts to please me in the
science of his profession that I could not determine upon relinquishing
such a treasure for a speculative opinion, and I was too much accustomed
to laugh at my Sosia to believe there could be any reason to fear him.



CHAPTER VI.

A UNIVERSAL GENIUS.--PERICLES TURNED BARBER.--NAMES OF BEAUTIES IN
171-.--THE TOASTS OF THE KIT-CAT CLUB.

As I was riding with Tarleton towards Chelsea, one day, he asked me if I
had ever seen the celebrated Mr. Salter. "No," said I, "but I heard
Steele talk of him the other night at Wills's. He is an antiquarian and
a barber, is he not?"

"Yes, a shaving virtuoso; really a comical and strange character, and
has oddities enough to compensate one for the debasement of talking with
a man in his rank."

"Let us go to him forthwith," said I, spurring my horse into a canter.

"_Quod petis hic est_," cried Tarleton, "there is his house." And my
companion pointed to a coffee-house.

"What!" said I, "does he draw wine as well as teeth?"

"To be sure: Don Saltero is a universal genius. Let us dismount."

Consigning our horses to the care of our grooms, we marched into the
strangest-looking place I ever had the good fortune to behold. A long
narrow coffee-room was furnished with all manner of things that,
belonging neither to heaven, earth, nor the water under the earth, the
redoubted Saltero might well worship without incurring the crime of
idolatry. The first thing that greeted my eyes was a bull's head, with
a most ferocious pair of vulture's wings on its neck. While I was
surveying this, I felt something touch my hat; I looked up and
discovered an immense alligator swinging from the ceiling, and fixing a
monstrous pair of glass eyes upon me. A thing which seemed to me like
an immense shoe, upon a nearer approach expanded itself into an Indian
canoe; and a most hideous spectre with mummy skin, and glittering teeth,
that made my blood run cold, was labelled, "Beautiful specimen of a
Calmuc Tartar."

While lost in wonder, I stood in the middle of the apartment, up walks a
little man as lean as a miser, and says to me, rubbing his hands,--

"Wonderful, Sir, is it not?"

"Wonderful, indeed, Don!" said Tarleton; "you look like a Chinese Adam
surrounded by a Japanese creation."

"He, he, he, Sir, you have so pleasant a vein," said the little Don, in
a sharp shrill voice. "But it has been all done, Sir, by one man; all
of it collected by me, simple as I stand."

"Simple, indeed," quoth Tarleton; "and how gets on the fiddle?"

"Bravely, Sir, bravely; shall I play you a tune?"

"No, no, my good Don; another time."

"Nay, Sir, nay," cried the antiquarian, "suffer me to welcome your
arrival properly."

And, forthwith disappearing, he returned in an instant with a
marvellously ill-favoured old fiddle. Throwing a _penseroso_ air into
his thin cheeks, our Don then began a few preliminary thrummings, which
set my teeth on edge, and made Tarleton put both hands to his ears.
Three sober-looking citizens, who had just sat themselves down to pipes
and the journal, started to their feet like so many pieces of clockwork;
but no sooner had Don Saltero, with a _degage_ air of graceful
melancholy, actually launched into what he was pleased to term a tune,
than a universal irritation of nerves seized the whole company. At the
first overture, the three citizens swore and cursed, at the second
division of the tune, they seized their hats, at the third they
vanished. As for me, I found all my limbs twitching as if they were
dancing to St. Vitus's music; the very drawers disappeared; the
alligator itself twirled round, as if revivified by so harsh an
experiment on the nervous system; and I verily believe the whole museum,
bull, wings, Indian canoe, and Calmuc Tartar, would have been set into
motion by this new Orpheus, had not Tarleton, in a paroxysm of rage,
seized him by the tail of the coat, and whirled him round, fiddle and
all, with such velocity that the poor musician lost his equilibrium, and
falling against a row of Chinese monsters, brought the whole set to the
ground, where he lay covered by the wrecks that accompanied his
overthrow, screaming and struggling, and grasping his fiddle, which
every now and then, touched involuntarily by his fingers, uttered a
dismal squeak, as if sympathizing in the disaster it had caused, until
the drawer ran in, and, raising the unhappy antiquarian, placed him on a
great chair.

"O Lord!" groaned Don Saltero, "O Lord! my monsters--my monsters--the
pagoda--the mandarin, and the idol where are they?--broken--ruined--
annihilated!"

"No, Sir; all safe, Sir," said the drawer, a smart, small, smug, pert
man; "put 'em down in the bill, nevertheless, Sir. Is it Alderman
Atkins, Sir, or Mr. Higgins?"

"Pooh," said Tarleton, "bring me some lemonade; send the pagoda to the
bricklayer, the mandarin to the surgeon, and the idol to the Papist over
the way! There's a guinea to pay for their carriage. How are you,
Don?"

"Oh, Mr. Tarleton, Mr. Tarleton! how could you be so cruel?"

"The nature of things demanded it, my good Don. Did I not call you a
Chinese Adam? and how could you bear that name without undergoing the
fall?"

"Oh, Sir, this is no jesting matter,--broke the railing of my pagoda,
bruised my arm, cracked my fiddle, and cut me off in the middle of that
beautiful air!--no jesting matter."

"Come, Mr. Salter," said I, "'tis very true! but cheer up. 'The gods,'
says Seneca, 'look with pleasure on a great man falling with the
statesmen, the temples, and the divinities of his country;' all of
which, mandarin, pagoda, and idol, accompanied _your_ fall. Let us have
a bottle of your best wine, and the honour of your company to drink it."

"No, Count, no," said Tarleton, haughtily; "we can drink not with the
Don; but we'll have the wine, and he shall drink it. Meanwhile, Don,
tell us what possible combination of circumstances made thee fiddler,
barber, anatomist, and virtuoso!"

Don Saltero loved fiddling better than anything in the world, but next
to fiddling he loved talking. So being satisfied that he should be
reimbursed for his pagoda, and fortifying himself with a glass or two of
his own wine, he yielded to Tarleton's desire, and told us his history.
I believe it was very entertaining to the good barber, but Tarleton and
I saw nothing extraordinary in it; and long before it was over, we
wished him an excellent good day, and a new race of Chinese monsters.

That evening we were engaged at the Kit-Cat Club, for though I was
opposed to the politics of its members, they admitted me on account of
my literary pretensions. Halifax was there, and I commended the poet to
his protection. We were very gay, and Halifax favoured us with three
new toasts by himself. O Venus! what beauties we made, and what
characters we murdered! Never was there so important a synod to the
female world as the gods of the Kit-Cat Club. Alas! I am writing for
the children of an after age, to whom the very names of those who made
the blood of their ancestors leap within their veins will be unknown.
What cheek will colour at the name of Carlisle? What hand will tremble
as it touches the paper inscribed by that of Brudenel? The graceful
Godolphin, the sparkling enchantment of Harper, the divine voice of
Claverine, the gentle and bashful Bridgewater, the damask cheek and ruby
lips of the Hebe Manchester,--what will these be to the race for whom
alone these pages are penned? This history is a union of strange
contrasts! like the tree of the Sun, described by Marco Polo, which was
green when approached on one side, but white when perceived on the
other: to me it is clothed in the verdure and spring of the existing
time; to the reader it comes covered with the hoariness and wanness of
the Past!



CHAPTER VII.

A DIALOGUE OF SENTIMENT SUCCEEDED BY THE SKETCH OF A CHARACTER, IN WHOSE
EYES SENTIMENT WAS TO WISE MEN WHAT RELIGION IS TO FOOLS; NAMELY, A
SUBJECT OF RIDICULE.

ST. JOHN was now in power, and in the full flush of his many ambitious
and restless schemes. I saw as much of him as the high rank he held in
the state, and the consequent business with which he was oppressed,
would suffer me,--me, who was prevented by religion from actively
embracing any political party, and who, therefore, though inclined to
Toryism, associated pretty equally with all. St. John and myself formed
a great friendship for each other, a friendship which no after change or
chance could efface, but which exists, strengthened and mellowed by
time, at the very hour in which I write.

One evening he sent to tell me he should be alone, if I would sup with
him; accordingly I repaired to his house. He was walking up and down
the room with uneven and rapid steps, and his countenance was flushed
with an expression of joy and triumph, very rare to the thoughtful and
earnest calm which it usually wore. "Congratulate me, Devereux," said
he, seizing me eagerly by the hand, "congratulate me!"

"For what?"

"Ay, true: you are not yet a politician; you cannot yet tell how
dear--how inexpressibly dear to a politician--is a momentary and petty
victory,--but--if I were Prime Minister of this country, what would you
say?"

"That you could bear the duty better than any man living; but remember
Harley is in the way."

"Ah, there's the rub," said St. John, slowly, and the expression of his
face again changed from triumph to thoughtfulness; "but this is a
subject not to your taste: let us choose another." And flinging himself
into a chair, this singular man, who prided himself on suiting his
conversation to every one, began conversing with me upon the lighter
topics of the day; these we soon exhausted, and at last we settled upon
that of love and women.

"I own," said I, "that, in this respect, pleasure has disappointed as
well as wearied me. I have longed for some better object of worship
than the trifler of fashion, or the yet more ignoble minion of the
senses. I ask a vent for enthusiasm, for devotion, for romance, for a
thousand subtle and secret streams of unuttered and unutterable feeling.
I often think that I bear within me the desire and the sentiment of
poetry, though I enjoy not its faculty of expression; and that that
desire and that sentiment, denied legitimate egress, centre and shrink
into one absorbing passion,--which is the want of love. Where am I to
satisfy this want? I look round these great circles of gayety which we
term the world; I send forth my heart as a wanderer over their regions
and recesses, and it returns, sated and palled and languid, to myself
again."

"You express a common want in every less worldly or more morbid nature,"
said St. John; "a want which I myself have experienced, and if I had
never felt it, I should never, perhaps, have turned to ambition to
console or to engross me. But do not flatter yourself that the want
will ever be fulfilled. Nature places us alone in this hospitable
world, and no heart is cast in a similar mould to that which we bear
within us. We pine for sympathy; we make to ourselves a creation of
ideal beauties, in which we expect to find it: but the creation has no
reality; it is the mind's phantasma which the mind adores; and it is
because the phantasma can have no actual being that the mind despairs.
Throughout life, from the cradle to the grave, it is no real living
thing which we demand; it is the realization of the idea we have formed
within us, and which, as we are not gods, we can never call into
existence. We are enamoured of the statue ourselves have graven; but,
unlike the statue of the Cyprian, it kindles not to our homage nor melts
to our embraces."

"I believe you," said I; "but it is hard to undeceive ourselves. The
heart is the most credulous of all fanatics, and its ruling passion the
most enduring of all superstitions. Oh! what can tear from us, to the
last, the hope, the desire, the yearning for some bosom which, while it
mirrors our own, parts not with the reflection! I have read that, in
the very hour and instant of our birth, one exactly similar to
ourselves, in spirit and form, is born also, and that a secret and
unintelligible sympathy preserves that likeness, even through the
vicissitudes of fortune and circumstance, until, in the same point of
time, the two beings are resolved once more into the elements of earth:
confess that there is something welcome, though unfounded in the fancy,
and that there are few of the substances of worldly honour which one
would not renounce, to possess, in the closest and fondest of all
relations, this shadow of ourselves!"

"Alas!" said St. John, "the possession, like all earthly blessings,
carries within it its own principle of corruption. The deadliest foe to
love is not change nor misfortune nor jealousy nor wrath, nor anything
that flows from passion or emanates from fortune; the deadliest foe to
it is custom! With custom die away the delusions and the mysteries
which encircle it; leaf after leaf, in the green poetry on which its
beauty depends, droops and withers, till nothing but the bare and rude
trunk is left. With all passion the soul demands something unexpressed,
some vague recess to explore or to marvel upon,--some veil upon the
mental as well as the corporeal deity. Custom leaves nothing to
romance, and often but little to respect. The whole character is bared
before us like a plain, and the heart's eye grows wearied with the
sameness of the survey. And to weariness succeeds distaste, and to
distaste one of the myriad shapes of the Proteus Aversion; so that the
passion we would make the rarest of treasures fritters down to a very
instance of the commonest of proverbs,--and out of familiarity cometh
indeed contempt!"

"And are we, then," said I, "forever to forego the most delicious of our
dreams? Are we to consider love as an entire delusion, and to reconcile
ourselves to an eternal solitude of heart? What, then, shall fill the
crying and unappeasable void of our souls? What shall become of those
mighty sources of tenderness which, refused all channel in the rocky
soil of the world, must have an outlet elsewhere or stagnate into
torpor?"

"Our passions," said St. John, "are restless, and will make each
experiment in their power, though vanity be the result of all.
Disappointed in love, they yearn towards ambition; _and the object of
ambition, unlike that of love, never being wholly possessed, ambition is
the more durable passion of the two_. But sooner or later even that and
all passions are sated at last; and when wearied of too wide a flight we
limit our excursions, and looking round us discover the narrow bounds of
our proper end, we grow satisfied with the loss of rapture if we can
partake of enjoyment; and the experience which seemed at first so
bitterly to betray us becomes our most real benefactor, and ultimately
leads us to content. For it is the excess and not the nature of our
passions which is perishable. Like the trees which grew by the tomb of
Protesilaus, the passions flourish till they reach a certain height, but
no sooner is that height attained than they wither away."

Before I could reply, our conversation received an abrupt and complete
interruption for the night. The door was thrown open, and a man,
pushing aside the servant with a rude and yet a dignified air, entered
the room unannounced, and with the most perfect disregard to ceremony--

"How d'ye do, Mr. St. John," said he,--"how d'ye do?--Pretty sort of a
day we've had. Lucky to find you at home,--that is to say if you will
give me some broiled oysters and champagne for supper."

"With all my heart, Doctor," said St. John, changing his manner at once
from the pensive to an easy and somewhat brusque familiarity,--"with all
my heart; but I am glad to hear you are a convert to champagne: you
spent a whole evening last week in endeavouring to dissuade me from the
sparkling sin."

"Pish! I had suffered the day before from it; so, like a true Old
Bailey penitent, I preached up conversion to others, not from a desire
of their welfare, but a plaguy sore feeling for my own misfortune.
Where did you dine to-day? At home! Oh! the devil! I starved on three
courses at the Duke of Ormond's."

"Aha! Honest Matt was there?"

"Yes, to my cost. He borrowed a shilling of me for a chair. Hang this
weather, it costs me seven shillings a day for coach-fare, besides my
paying the fares of all my poor brother parsons, who come over from
Ireland to solicit my patronage for a bishopric, and end by borrowing
half-a-crown in the meanwhile. But Matt Prior will pay me again, I
suppose, out of the public money?"

"To be sure, if Chloe does not ruin him first."

"Hang the slut: don't talk of her. How Prior rails against his place!*
He says the excise spoils his wit, and that the only rhymes he ever
dreams of now-a-days are 'docket and cocket.'"


* In the Customs.


"Ha, ha! we must do something better for Matt,--make him a bishop or an
ambassador. But pardon me, Count, I have not yet made known to you the
most courted, authoritative, impertinent, clever, independent, haughty,
delightful, troublesome parson of the age: do homage to Dr. Swift.
Doctor, be merciful to my particular friend, Count Devereux."

Drawing himself up, with a manner which contrasted his previous one
strongly enough, Dr. Swift saluted me with a dignity which might even be
called polished, and which certainly showed that however he might
prefer, as his usual demeanour, an air of negligence and semi-rudeness,
he had profited sufficiently by his acquaintance with the great to equal
them in the external graces, supposed to be peculiar to their order,
whenever it suited his inclination. In person Swift is much above the
middle height, strongly built, and with a remarkably fine outline of
throat and chest; his front face is certainly displeasing, though far
from uncomely; but the clear chiselling of the nose, the curved upper
lip, the full, round Roman chin, the hanging brow, and the resolute
decision, stamped upon the whole expression of the large forehead, and
the clear blue eye, make his profile one of the most striking I ever
saw. He honoured me, to my great surprise, with a fine speech and a
compliment; and then, with a look, which menaced to St. John the retort
that ensued, he added: "And I shall always be glad to think that I owe
your acquaintance to Mr. Secretary St. John, who, if he talked less
about operas and singers,--thought less about Alcibiades and
Pericles,--if he never complained of the load of business not being
suited to his temper, at the very moment he had been working, like
Gumdragon, to get the said load upon his shoulders; and if he persuaded
one of his sincerity being as great as his genius,--would appear to all
time as adorned with the choicest gifts that Heaven has yet thought fit
to bestow on the children of men. Prithee now, Mr. Sec., when shall we
have the oysters? Will you be merry to-night, Count?"

"Certainly; if one may find absolution for the champagne."

"I'll absolve you, with a vengeance, on condition that you'll walk home
with me, and protect the poor parson from the Mohawks. Faith, they ran
young Davenant's chair through with a sword, t' other night. I hear
they have sworn to make daylight through my Tory cassock,--all Whigs you
know, Count Devereux, nasty, dangerous animals, how I hate them! they
cost me five-and-sixpence a week in chairs to avoid them."

"Never mind, Doctor, I'll send my servants home with you," said St.
John.

"Ay, a nice way of mending the matter--that's curing the itch by
scratching the skin off. I could not give your tall fellows less than a
crown a-piece, and I could buy off the bloodiest Mohawk in the kingdom,
if he's a Whig, for half that sum. But, thank Heaven, the supper is
ready."

And to supper we went. The oysters and champagne seemed to exhilarate,
if it did not refine, the Doctor's wit. St. John was unusually
brilliant. I myself caught the infection of their humour, and
contributed my quota to the common stock of jest and repartee; and that
evening, spent with the two most extraordinary men of the age, had in it
more of broad and familiar mirth than any I have ever wasted in the
company of the youngest and noisiest disciples of the bowl and its
concomitants. Even amidst all the coarse ore of Swift's conversation,
the diamond perpetually broke out; his vulgarity was never that of a
vulgar mind. Pity that, while he condemned St. John's over affectation
of the grace of life, he never perceived that his own affectation of
coarseness and brutality was to the full as unworthy of the simplicity
of intellect;* and that the aversion to cant, which was the strongest
characteristic of his mind, led him into the very faults he despised,
only through a more displeasing and offensive road. That same aversion
to cant is, by the way, the greatest and most prevalent enemy to the
reputation of high and of strong minds; and in judging Swift's character
in especial, we should always bear it in recollection. This
aversion--the very antipodes to hypocrisy--leads men not only to
disclaim the virtues they have, but to pretend to the vices they have
not. Foolish trick of disguised vanity! the world, alas, readily
believes them! Like Justice Overdo, in the garb of poor Arthur of
Bradley, they may deem it a virtue to have assumed the disguise; but
they must not wonder if the sham Arthur is taken for the real, beaten as
a vagabond, and set in the stocks as a rogue!


* It has been said that Swift was only coarse in his later years, and,
with a curious ignorance both of fact and of character, that Pope was
the cause of the Dean's grossness of taste. There is no doubt that he
grew coarser with age; but there is also no doubt that, graceful and
dignified as that great genius could be when he pleased, he affected at
a period earlier than the one in which he is now introduced, to be
coarse both in speech and manner. I seize upon this opportunity, _mal a
propos_ as it is, to observe that Swift's preference of Harley to St.
John is by no means so certain as writers have been pleased generally to
assert. Warton has already noted a passage in one of Swift's letters to
Bolingbroke, to which I will beg to call the reader's attention.

"It is _you were_ my hero, but the other (Lord Oxford) _never was_; yet
if he were, it was your own fault, who taught me to love him, and often
vindicated him, in the beginning of your ministry, from my accusations.
But I granted he had the greatest inequalities of any man alive; and his
whole scene was fifty times more a what-d'ye-call-it than yours; for I
declare yours was _unie_, and I wish you would so order it that the
world may be as wise as I upon that article."

I have to apologize for introducing this quotation, which I have done
because (and I entreat the reader to remember this) I observe that Count
Devereux always speaks of Lord Bolingbroke as he was spoken of by the
eminent men of that day,--not as he is now rated by the judgment of
posterity.--ED.



CHAPTER VIII.

LIGHTLY WON, LIGHTLY LOST.--A DIALOGUE OF EQUAL INSTRUCTION AND
AMUSEMENT.--A VISIT TO SIR GODFREY KNELLER.

ONE morning Tarleton breakfasted with me. "I don't see the little
page," said he, "who was always in attendance in your anteroom; what the
deuce has become of him?"

"You must ask his mistress; she has quarrelled with me, and withdrawn
both her favour and her messenger."

"What! the Lady Hasselton quarrelled with you! _Diable_! Wherefore?"

"Because I am not enough of the 'pretty fellow;' am tired of carrying
hood and scarf, and sitting behind her chair through five long acts of a
dull play; because I disappointed her in not searching for her at every
drum and quadrille party; because I admired not her monkey; and because
I broke a teapot with a toad for a cover."

"And is not that enough?" cried Tarleton. "Heavens! what a black
bead-roll of offences; Mrs. Merton would have discarded me for one of
them. However, thy account has removed my surprise; I heard her praise
thee the other day; now, as long as she loved thee, she always abused
thee like a pickpocket."

"Ha! ha! ha!--and what said she in my favour?"

"Why, that you were certainly very handsome, though you were small; that
you were certainly a great genius, though every one would not discover
it; and that you certainly had the air of high birth, though you were
not nearly so well dressed as Beau Tippetly. But _entre nous_,
Devereux, I think she hates you, and would play you a trick of
spite--revenge is too strong a word--if she could find an opportunity."

"Likely enough, Tarleton; but a coquette's lover is always on his guard;
so she will not take me unawares."

"So be it. But tell me, Devereux, who is to be your next mistress, Mrs.
Denton or Lady Clancathcart? the world gives them both to you."

"The world is always as generous with what is worthless as the bishop in
the fable was with his blessing. However, I promise thee, Tarleton,
that I will not interfere with thy claims either upon Mrs. Denton or
Lady Clancathcart."

"Nay," said Tarleton, "I will own that you are a very Scipio; but it
must be confessed, even by you, satirist as you are, that Lady
Clancathcart has a beautiful set of features."

"A handsome face, but so vilely made. She would make a splendid picture
if, like the goddess Laverna, she could be painted as a head without a
body."

"Ha! ha! ha!--you have a bitter tongue, Count; but Mrs. Denton, what
have you to say against her?"

"Nothing; she has no pretensions for me to contradict. She has a green
eye and a sharp voice; a mincing gait and a broad foot. What friend of
Mrs. Denton would not, therefore, counsel her to a prudent obscurity?"

"She never had but one lover in the world," said Tarleton, "who was old,
blind, lame, and poor; she accepted him, and became Mrs. Denton."

"Yes," said I, "she was like the magnet, and received her name from the
very first person* sensible of her attraction."


*Magnes.


"Well, you have a shrewd way of saying sweet things," said Tarleton;
"but I must own that you rarely or never direct it towards women
individually. What makes you break through your ordinary custom?"

"Because I am angry with women collectively; and must pour my spleen
through whatever channel presents itself."

"Astonishing," said Tarleton; "I despise women myself. I always did;
but you were their most enthusiastic and chivalrous defender a month or
two ago. What makes thee change, my Sir Amadis?"

"Disappointment! they weary, vex, disgust me; selfish, frivolous, mean,
heartless: out on them! 'tis a disgrace to have their love!"

"O _Ciel_! What a sensation the news of thy misogyny will cause; the
young, gay, rich Count Devereux, whose wit, vivacity, splendour of
appearance, in equipage and dress, in the course of one season have
thrown all the most established beaux and pretty fellows into the shade;
to whom dedications and odes and _billet-doux_ are so much waste paper;
who has carried off the most general envy and dislike that any man ever
was blest with, since St. John turned politician; what! thou all of a
sudden to become a railer against the divine sex that made thee what
thou art! Fly, fly, unhappy apostate, or expect the fate of Orpheus, at
least!"

"None of your raileries, Tarleton, or I shall speak to you of plebeians
and the _canaille!_"

"_Sacre_! my teeth are on edge already! Oh, the base, base _canaille_,
how I loathe them! Nay, Devereux, joking apart, I love you twice as
well for your humour. I despise the sex heartily. Indeed, _sub rosa_
be it spoken, there are few things that breathe that I do not despise.
Human nature seems to me a most pitiful bundle of rags and scraps, which
the gods threw out of Heaven, as the dust and rubbish there."

"A pleasant view of thy species," said I.

"By my soul it is. Contempt is to me a luxury. I would not lose the
privilege of loathing for all the objects which fools ever admired.
What does old Persius say on the subject?


 "'Hoc ridere meum, tam nil, nulla tibi vendo Iliade.'"*


* "This privilege of mine, to laugh,--such a nothing as it seems,--I
would not barter to thee for an Iliad."


"And yet, Tarleton," said I, "the littlest feeling of all is a delight
in contemplating the littleness of other people. Nothing is more
contemptible than habitual contempt."

"Prithee, now," answered the haughty aristocrat, "let us not talk of
these matters so subtly: leave me my enjoyment without refining upon it.
What is your first pursuit for the morning?"

"Why, I have promised my uncle a picture of that invaluable countenance
which Lady Hasselton finds so handsome; and I am going to give Kneller
my last sitting."

"So, so, I will accompany you; I like the vain old dog; 'tis a pleasure
to hear him admire himself so wittily."

"Come, then!" said I, taking up my hat and sword; and, entering
Tarleton's carriage, we drove to the painter's abode.

We found him employed in finishing a portrait of Lady Godolphin.

"He, he!" cried he, when he beheld me approach. "By Got, I am glad to
see you, Count Tevereux; dis painting is tamned poor work by one's self,
widout any one to make _des grands yeux_, and cry, 'Oh, Sir Godfrey
Kneller, how fine dis is!'"

"Very true, indeed," said I, "no great man can be expected to waste his
talents without his proper reward of praise. But, Heavens, Tarleton,
did you ever see anything so wonderful? that hand, that arm, how
exquisite! If Apollo turned painter, and borrowed colours from the
rainbow and models from the goddesses, he would not be fit to hold the
pallet to Sir Godfrey Kneller."

"By Got, Count Tevereux, you are von grand judge of painting," cried the
artist, with sparkling eyes, "and I will paint you as von tamned
handsome man!"

"Nay, my Apelles, you might as well preserve some likeness."

"Likeness, by Got! I vill make you like and handsome both. By my shoul
you make me von Apelles, I vill make you von Alexander!"

"People in general," said Tarleton, gravely, "believe that Alexander had
a wry neck, and was a very plain fellow; but no one can know about
Alexander like Sir Godfrey Kneller, who has studied military tactics so
accurately, and who, if he had taken up the sword instead of the pencil,
would have been at least an Alexander himself."

"By Got, Meester Tarleton, you are as goot a judge of de talents for de
war as Count Tevereux of de _genie_ for de painting! Meester Tarleton,
I vill paint your picture, and I vill make your eyes von goot inch
bigger than dey are!"

"Large or small," said I (for Tarleton, who had a haughty custom of
contracting his orbs till they were scarce perceptible, was so much
offended, that I thought it prudent to cut off his reply), "large or
small, Sir Godfrey, Mr. Tarleton's eyes are capable of admiring your
genius; why, your painting is like lightning, and one flash of your
brush would be sufficient to restore even a blind man to sight."

"It is tamned true," said Sir Godfrey, earnestly; "and it did restore
von man to sight once! By my shoul, it did! but sit yourself town,
Count Tevereux, and look over your left shoulder--ah, dat is it--and
now, praise on, Count Tevereux; de thought of my genius gives you--vat
you call it--von animation--von fire, look you--by my shoul, it does!"

And by dint of such moderate panegyric, the worthy Sir Godfrey completed
my picture, with equal satisfaction to himself and the original. See
what a beautifier is flattery: a few sweet words will send the Count
Devereux down to posterity with at least three times as much beauty as
he could justly lay claim to.*


* This picture represents the Count in an undress. The face is
decidedly, though by no means remarkably, handsome; the nose is
aquiline,--the upper lip short and chiselled,--the eyes gray, and the
forehead, which is by far the finest feature in the countenance, is
peculiarly high, broad, and massive. The mouth has but little beauty;
it is severe, caustic, and rather displeasing, from the extreme
compression of the lips. The great and prevalent expression of the face
is energy. The eye, the brow, the turn of the head, the erect,
penetrating aspect,--are all strikingly bold, animated, and even daring.
And this expression makes a singular contrast to that in another
likeness to the Count, which was taken at a much later period of life.
The latter portrait represents him in a foreign uniform, decorated with
orders. The peculiar sarcasm of the month is hidden beneath a very long
and thick mustachio, of a much darker colour than the hair (for in both
portraits, as in Jervas's picture of Lord Bolingbroke, the hair is left
undisguised by the odious fashion of the day). Across one cheek there
is a slight scar, as of a sabre cut. The whole character of this
portrait is widely different from that in the earlier one. Not a trace
of the fire, the animation, which were so striking in the physiognomy of
the youth of twenty, is discoverable in the calm, sedate, stately, yet
somewhat stern expression, which seems immovably spread over the paler
hue and the more prominent features of the man of about four or five and
thirty. Yet, upon the whole, the face in the latter portrait is
handsomer; and, from its air of dignity and reflection, even more
impressive than that in the one I have first described.--ED.



CHAPTER IX.

A DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER, AND A LONG LETTER; A CHAPTER, ON THE WHOLE,
MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT SEEMS.

THE scenes through which, of late, I have conducted my reader are by no
means episodical: they illustrate far more than mere narration the
career to which I was so honourably devoted.

Dissipation,--women,--wine,--Tarleton for a friend, Lady Hasselton for a
mistress. Let me now throw aside the mask.

To people who have naturally very intense and very acute feelings,
nothing is so fretting, so wearing to the heart, as the commonplace
affections, which are the properties and offspring of the world. We
have seen the birds which, with wings unclipt, children fasten to a
stake. The birds seek to fly, and are pulled back before their wings
are well spread; till, at last, they either perpetually strain at the
end of their short tether, exciting only ridicule by their anguish and
their impotent impatience; or, sullen and despondent, they remain on the
ground, without any attempt to fly, nor creep, even to the full limit
which their fetters will allow. Thus it is with the feelings of the
keen, wild nature I speak of: they are either striving forever to pass
the little circle of slavery to which they are condemned, and so move
laughter by an excess of action and a want of adequate power; or they
rest motionless and moody, disdaining the petty indulgence they _might_
enjoy, till sullenness is construed into resignation, and despair seems
the apathy of content. Time, however, cures what it does not kill; and
both bird and beast, if they pine not to the death at first, grow tame
and acquiescent at last.

What to me was the companionship of Tarleton, or the attachment of Lady
Hasselton? I had yielded to the one, and I had half eagerly, half
scornfully, sought the other. These, and the avocations they brought
with them, consumed my time, and of Time murdered there is a ghost which
we term _ennui_. The hauntings of this spectre are the especial curse
of the higher orders; and hence springs a certain consequence to the
passions. Persons in those ranks of society so exposed to _ennui_ are
either rendered totally incapable of real love, or they love far more
intensely than those in a lower station; for the affections in them are
either utterly frittered away on a thousand petty objects (poor shifts
to escape the persecuting spectre), or else, early disgusted with the
worthlessness of these objects, the heart turns within and languishes
for something not found in the daily routine of life. When this is the
case, and when the pining of the heart is once satisfied, and the object
of love is found, there are two mighty reasons why the love should be
most passionately cherished. The first is, the utter indolence in which
aristocratic life oozes away, and which allows full food for that
meditation which can nurse by sure degrees the weakest desire into the
strongest passion; and the second reason is, that the insipidity and
hollowness of all patrician pursuits and pleasures render the excitement
of love more delicious and more necessary to the "_ignavi terrarum
domini_," than it is to those orders of society more usefully, more
constantly, and more engrossingly engaged.

Wearied and sated with the pursuit of what was worthless, my heart, at
last, exhausted itself in pining for what was pure. I recurred with a
tenderness which I struggled with at first, and which in yielding to I
blushed to acknowledge, to the memory of Isora. And in the world,
surrounded by all which might be supposed to cause me to forget her, my
heart clung to her far more endearingly than it had done in the rural
solitudes in which she had first allured it. The truth was this; at the
time I first loved her, other passions--passions almost equally
powerful--shared her empire. Ambition and pleasure--vast whirlpools of
thought--had just opened themselves a channel in my mind, and thither
the tides of my desires were hurried and lost. Now those whirlpools had
lost their power, and the channels, being dammed up, flowed back upon my
breast. Pleasure had disgusted me, and the only ambition I had yet
courted and pursued had palled upon me still more. I say, the only
ambition, for as yet that which is of the loftier and more lasting kind
had not afforded me a temptation; and the hope which had borne the name
and rank of ambition had been the hope rather to glitter than to rise.

These passions, not yet experienced when I lost Isora, had afforded me
at that period a ready comfort and a sure engrossment. And, in
satisfying the hasty jealousies of my temper, in deeming Isora unworthy
and Gerald my rival, I naturally aroused in my pride a dexterous orator
as well as a firm ally. Pride not only strengthened my passions, it
also persuaded them by its voice; and it was not till the languid yet
deep stillness of sated wishes and palled desires fell upon me, that the
low accent of a love still surviving at my heart made itself heard in
answer.

I now began to take a different view of Isora's conduct. I now began to
doubt where I had formerly believed; and the doubt, first allied to
fear, gradually brightened into hope. Of Gerald's rivalry, at least of
his identity with Barnard, and, consequently, of his power over Isora,
there was, and there could be, no feeling short of certainty. But of
what nature was that power? Had not Isora assured me that it was not
love? Why should I disbelieve her? Nay, did she not love myself? had
not her cheek blushed and her hand trembled when I addressed her? Were
these signs the counterfeits of love? Were they not rather of that
heart's dye which no skill _can_ counterfeit? She had declared that she
could not, that she could never, be mine; she had declared so with a
fearful earnestness which seemed to annihilate hope; but had she not
also, in the same meeting, confessed that I was dear to her? Had not
her lip given me a sweeter and a more eloquent assurance of that
confession than words?--and could hope perish while love existed? She
had left me,--she had bid me farewell forever; but that was no proof of
a want of love, or of her unworthiness. Gerald, or Barnard, evidently
possessed an influence over father as well as child. Their departure
from------might have been occasioned by him, and she might have
deplored, while she could not resist it; or she might not even have
deplored; nay, she might have desired, she might have advised it, for my
sake as well as hers, were she thoroughly convinced that the union of
our loves was impossible.

But, then, of what nature could be this mysterious authority which
Gerald possessed over her? That which he possessed over the sire,
political schemes might account for; but these, surely, could not have
much weight for the daughter. This, indeed, must still remain doubtful
and unaccounted for. One presumption, that Gerald was either no
favoured lover or that he was unacquainted with her retreat, might be
drawn from his continued residence at Devereux Court. If he loved
Isora, and knew her present abode, would he not have sought her? Could
he, I thought, live away from that bright face, if once allowed to
behold it? unless, indeed (terrible thought!) there hung over it the
dimness of guilty familiarity, and indifference had been the offspring
of possession. But was that delicate and virgin face, where changes
with every moment coursed each other, harmonious to the changes of the
mind, as shadows in a valley reflect the clouds of heaven!--was that
face, so ingenuous, so girlishly revelant of all,--even of the
slightest, the most transitory, emotion,--the face of one hardened in
deceit and inured to shame? The countenance is, it is true, but a
faithless mirror; but what man that has studied women will not own that
there is, at least while the down of first youth is not brushed away, in
the eye and cheek of zoned and untainted Innocence, that which survives
not even the fruition of a lawful love, and has no (nay, not even a
shadowed and imperfect) likeness in the face of guilt? Then, too, had
any worldlier or mercenary sentiment entered her breast respecting me,
would Isora have flown from the suit of the eldest scion of the rich
house of Devereux? and would she, poor and destitute, the daughter of an
alien and an exile, would she have spontaneously relinquished any hope
of obtaining that alliance which maidens of the loftiest houses of
England had not disdained to desire? Thus confused and incoherent, but
thus yearning fondly towards her image and its imagined purity, did my
thoughts daily and hourly array themselves; and, in proportion as I
suffered common ties to drop from me one by one, those thoughts clung
the more tenderly to that which, though severed from the rich argosy of
former love, was still indissolubly attached to the anchor of its hope.

It was during this period of revived affection that I received the
following letter from my uncle:--


I thank thee for thy long letter, my dear boy; I read it over three
times with great delight. Ods fish, Morton, you are a sad Pickle, I
fear, and seem to know all the ways of the town as well as your old
uncle did some thirty years ago! 'Tis a very pretty acquaintance with
human nature that your letters display. You put me in mind of little
Sid, who was just about your height, and who had just such a pretty,
shrewd way of expressing himself in simile and point. Ah, it is easy to
see that you have profited by your old uncle's conversation, and that
Farquhar and Etherege were not studied for nothing.

But I have sad news for thee, my child, or rather it is sad for me to
tell thee my tidings. It is sad for the old birds to linger in their
nest when the young ones take wing and leave them; but it is merry for
the young birds to get away from the dull old tree, and frisk it in the
sunshine,--merry for them to get mates, and have young themselves. Now,
do not think, Morton, that by speaking of mates and young I am going to
tell thee thy brothers are already married; nay, there is time enough
for those things, and I am not friendly to early weddings, nor to speak
truly, a marvellous great admirer of that holy ceremony at any age; for
the which there may be private reasons too long to relate to thee now.
Moreover, I fear my young day was a wicked time,--a heinous wicked time,
and we were wont to laugh at the wedded state, until, body of me, some
of us found it no laughing matter.

But to return, Morton,--to return to thy brothers: they have both left
me; and the house seems to me not the good old house it did when ye were
all about me; and, somehow or other, I look now oftener at the
churchyard than I was wont to do. You are all gone now,--all shot up
and become men; and when your old uncle sees you no more, and recollects
that all his own contemporaries are out of the world, he cannot help
saying, as William Temple, poor fellow, once prettily enough said,
"Methinks it seems an impertinence in me to be still alive." You went
first, Morton; and I missed you more than I cared to say: but you were
always a kind boy to those you loved, and you wrote the old knight merry
letters, that made him laugh, and think he was grown young again (faith,
boy, that was a jolly story of the three Squires at Button's!), and once
a week comes your packet, well filled, as if you did not think it a task
to make me happy, which your handwriting always does; nor a shame to my
gray hairs that I take pleasure in the same things that please thee!
So, thou seest, my child, that I have got through thy absence pretty
well, save that I have had no one to read thy letters to; for Gerald and
thou are still jealous of each other,--a great sin in thee, Morton,
which I prithee to reform. And Aubrey, poor lad, is a little too rigid,
considering his years, and it looks not well in the dear boy to shake
his head at the follies of his uncle. And as to thy mother, Morton, I
read her one of thy letters, and she said thou wert a graceless
reprobate to think so much of this wicked world, and to write so
familiarly to thine aged relative. Now, I am not a young man, Morton;
but the word aged has a sharp sound with it when it comes from a lady's
mouth.

Well, after thou hadst been gone a month, Aubrey and Gerald, as I wrote
thee word long since, in the last letter I wrote thee with my own hand,
made a tour together for a little while, and that was a hard stroke on
me. But after a week or two Gerald returned; and I went out in my chair
to see the dear boy shoot,--'sdeath, Morton, he handles the gun well.
And then Aubrey returned alone: but he looked pined and moping, and shut
himself up, and as thou dost love him so, I did not like to tell thee
till now, when he is quite well, that he alarmed me much for him; he is
too much addicted to his devotions, poor child, and seems to forget that
the hope of the next world ought to make us happy in this. Well,
Morton, at last, two months ago, Aubrey left us again, and Gerald last
week set off on a tour through the sister kingdom, as it is called.
Faith, boy, if Scotland and England are sister kingdoms, 'tis a thousand
pities for Scotland that they are not co-heiresses!

I should have told thee of this news before, but I have had, as thou
knowest, the gout so villanously in my hand that, till t' other day, I
have not held a pen, and old Nicholls, my amanuensis, is but a poor
scribe; and I did not love to let the dog write to thee on all our
family affairs, especially as I have a secret to tell thee which makes
me plaguy uneasy. Thou must know, Morton, that after thy departure
Gerald asked me for thy rooms; and though I did not like that any one
else should have what belonged to thee, yet I have always had a foolish
antipathy to say "No!" so thy brother had them, on condition to leave
them exactly as they were, and to yield them to thee whenever thou
shouldst return to claim them. Well, Morton, when Gerald went on his
tour with thy youngest brother, old Nicholls--you know 'tis a garrulous
fellow--told me one night that his son Hugh--you remember Hugh, a thin
youth and a tall--lingering by the beach one evening, saw a man, wrapped
in a cloak, come out of the castle cave, unmoor one of the boats, and
push off to the little island opposite. Hugh swears by more than yea
and nay that the man was Father Montreuil. Now, Morton, this made me
very uneasy, and I saw why thy brother Gerald wanted thy rooms, which
communicate so snugly with the sea. So I told Nicholls, slyly, to have
the great iron gate at the mouth of the passage carefully locked; and
when it was locked, I had an iron plate put over the whole lock, that
the lean Jesuit might not creep even through the keyhole. Thy brother
returned, and I told him a tale of the smugglers, who have really been
too daring of late, and insisted on the door being left as I had
ordered; and I told him, moreover, though not as if I had suspected his
communication with the priest, that I interdicted all further converse
with that limb of the Church. Thy brother heard me with an
indifferently bad grace; but I was peremptory, and the thing was agreed
on.

Well, child, the day before Gerald last left us, I went to take leave of
him in his own room,--to tell thee the truth, I had forgotten his
travelling expenses; when I was on the stairs of the tower I heard--by
the Lord I did--Montreuil's voice in the outer room, as plainly as ever
I heard it at prayers. Ods fish, Morton, I was an angered, and I made
so much haste to the door that my foot slipped by the way: thy brother
heard me fall, and came out; but I looked at him as I never looked at
thee, Morton, and entered the room. Lo, the priest was not there: I
searched both chambers in vain; so I made thy brother lift up the
trapdoor, and kindle a lamp, and I searched the room below, and the
passage. The priest was invisible. Thou knowest, Morton, that there is
only one egress in the passage, and that was locked, as I have said
before, so where the devil--the devil indeed--could thy tutor have
escaped? He could not have passed me on the stairs without my seeing
him; he could not have leaped the window without breaking his neck; he
could not have got out of the passage without making himself a current
of air. Ods fish, Morton, this thing might puzzle a wiser man, than
thine uncle. Gerald affected to be mighty indignant at my suspicions;
but, God forgive him, I saw he was playing a part. A man does not write
plays, my child, without being keen-sighted in these little intrigues;
and, moreover, it is impossible I could have mistaken thy tutor's voice,
which, to do it justice, is musical enough, and is the most singular
voice I ever heard,--unless little Sid's be excepted.

_A propos_ of little Sid. I remember that in the Mall, when I was
walking there alone, three weeks after my marriage, De Grammont and Sid
joined me. I was in a melancholic mood ('sdeath, Morton, marriage tames
a man as water tames mice!)--"Aha, Sir William," cried Sedley, "thou
hast a cloud on thee; prithee now brighten it away: see, thy wife shines
on thee from the other end of the Mall." "Ah, talk not to a dying man
of his physic!" said Grammont (that Grammont was a shocking rogue,
Morton!) "Prithee, Sir William, what is the chief characteristic of
wedlock? is it a state of war or of peace?" "Oh, peace to be sure!"
cried Sedley, "and Sir William and his lady carry with them the emblem."
"How!" cried I; for I do assure thee, Morton, I was of a different turn
of mind. "How!" said Sid, gravely, "why, the emblem of peace is the
_cornucopia_, which your lady and you equitably divide: she carries the
_copia_, and you the _cor_--." Nay, Morton, nay, I cannot finish the
jest; for, after all, it was a sorry thing in little Sid, whom I had
befriended like a brother, with heart and purse, to wound me so
cuttingly; but 'tis the way with your jesters.

Ods fish, now how I have got out of my story! Well, I did not go back
to my room, Morton, till I had looked to the outside of the iron door,
and seen that the plate was as firm as ever: so now you have the whole
of the matter. Gerald went the next day, and I fear me much lest he
should already be caught in some Jacobite trap. Write me thy advice on
the subject. Meanwhile, I have taken the precaution to have the
trap-door removed, and the aperture strongly boarded over.

But 'tis time for me to give over. I have been four days on this
letter, for the gout comes now to me oftener than it did, and I do not
know when I may again write to thee with my own hand; so I resolved I
would e'en empty my whole budget at once. Thy mother is well and
blooming; she is, at the present, abstractedly employed in a prodigious
piece of tapestry which old Nicholls informs me is the wonder of all the
women.

Heaven bless thee, my child! Take care of thyself, and drink
moderately. It is hurtful, at thy age, to drink above a gallon or so at
a sitting. Heaven bless thee again, and when the weather gets warmer,
thou must come with thy kind looks, to make me feel at home again. At
present the country wears a cheerless face, and everything about us is
harsh and frosty, except the blunt, good-for-nothing heart of thine
uncle, and that, winter or summer, is always warm to thee.

        WILLIAM DEVEREUX.

P. S. I thank thee heartily for the little spaniel of the new breed
thou gottest me from the Duchess of Marlborough. It has the prettiest
red and white, and the blackest eyes possible. But poor Ponto is as
jealous as a wife three years married, and I cannot bear the old hound
to be vexed, so I shall transfer the little creature, its rival, to thy
mother.


This letter, tolerably characteristic of the blended simplicity,
penetration, and overflowing kindness of the writer, occasioned me much
anxious thought. There was no doubt in my mind but that Gerald and
Montreuil were engaged in some intrigue for the exiled family. The
disguised name which the former assumed, the state reasons which
D'Alvarez confessed that Barnard, or rather Gerald, had for concealment,
and which proved, at least, that some state plot in which Gerald was
engaged was known to the Spaniard, joined to those expressions of
Montreuil, which did all but own a design for the restoration of the
deposed line, and the power which I knew he possessed over Gerald, whose
mind, at once bold and facile, would love the adventure of the intrigue,
and yield to Montreuil's suggestions on its nature,--these combined
circumstances left me in no doubt upon a subject deeply interesting to
the honour of our house, and the very life of one of its members.
Nothing, however, for me to do, calculated to prevent or impede the
designs of Montreuil and the danger of Gerald, occurred to me. Eager
alike in my hatred and my love, I said, inly, "What matters it whether
one whom the ties of blood never softened towards me, with whom, from my
childhood upwards, I have wrestled as with an enemy, what matters it
whether he win fame or death in the perilous game he has engaged in?"
And turning from this most generous and most brotherly view of the
subject, I began only to think whether the search or the society of
Isora also influenced Gerald in his absence from home. After a
fruitless and inconclusive meditation on that head, my thoughts took a
less selfish turn, and dwelt with all the softness of pity, and the
anxiety of love, upon the morbid temperament and ascetic devotions of
Aubrey. What, for one already so abstracted from the enjoyments of
earth, so darkened by superstitious misconceptions of the true nature of
God and the true objects of His creatures,--what could be anticipated
but wasted powers and a perverted life? Alas! when will men perceive
the difference between religion and priestcraft? When will they
perceive that reason, so far from extinguishing religion by a more gaudy
light, sheds on it all its lustre? It is fabled that the first
legislator of the Peruvians received from the Deity a golden rod, with
which in his wanderings he was to strike the earth, until in some
destined spot the earth entirely absorbed it, and there--and there
alone--was he to erect a temple to the Divinity. What is this fable but
the cloak of an inestimable moral? Our reason is the rod of gold; the
vast world of truth gives the soil, which it is perpetually to sound;
and only where without resistance the soil receives the rod which guided
and supported us will our altar be sacred and our worship be accepted.



CHAPTER X.

BEING A SHORT CHAPTER, CONTAINING A MOST IMPORTANT EVENT.

SIR WILLIAM'S letter was still fresh in my mind, when, for want of some
less noble quarter wherein to bestow my tediousness, I repaired to St.
John. As I crossed the hall to his apartment, two men, just dismissed
from his presence, passed me rapidly; one was unknown to me, but there
was no mistaking the other,--it was Montreuil. I was greatly startled;
the priest, not appearing to notice me, and conversing in a whispered
yet seemingly vehement tone with his companion, hurried on and vanished
through the street door. I entered St. John's room: he was alone, and
received me with his usual gayety.

"Pardon me, Mr. Secretary," said I; "but if not a question of state, do
inform me what you know respecting the taller one of those two gentlemen
who have just quitted you."

"It is a question of state, my dear Devereux, so my answer must be
brief,--very little."

"You know who he is?"

"Yes, a Jesuit, and a marvellously shrewd one: the Abbe Montreuil."

"He was my tutor."

"Ah, so I have heard."

"And your acquaintance with him is positively and _bona fide_ of a state
nature?"

"Positively and _bona fide_."

"I could tell you something of him; he is certainly in the service of
the Court at St. Germains, and a terrible plotter on this side the
Channel."

"Possibly; but I wish to receive no information respecting him."

One great virtue of business did St. John possess, and I have never
known any statesman who possessed it so eminently: it was the discreet
distinction between friends of the statesman and friends of the man.
Much and intimately as I knew St. John, I could never glean from him a
single secret of a state nature, until, indeed, at a later period, I
leagued myself to a portion of his public schemes. Accordingly I found
him, at the present moment, perfectly impregnable to my inquiries; and
it was not till I knew Montreuil's companion was that celebrated
intriguant, the Abbe Gaultier, that I ascertained the exact nature of
the priest's business with St. John, and the exact motive of the
civilities he had received from Abigail Masham.* Being at last forced,
despairingly, to give over the attempt on his discretion, I suffered St.
John to turn the conversation upon other topics, and as these were not
much to the existent humour of my mind, I soon rose to depart.


* Namely, that Count Devereux ascertained the priest's communications
and overtures from the Chevalier. The precise extent of Bolingbroke's
secret negotiations with the exiled Prince is still one of the darkest
portions of the history of that time. That negotiations _were_ carried
on, both by Harley and by St. John, very largely, and very closely, I
need not say that there is no doubt.


"Stay, Count," said St. John; "shall you ride to-day?"

"If you will bear me company."

"_Volontiers_,--to say the truth, I was about to ask you to canter your
bay horse with me first to Spring Gardens,* where I have a promise to
make to the director; and, secondly, on a mission of charity to a poor
foreigner of rank and birth, who, in his profound ignorance of this
country, thought it right to enter into a plot with some wise heads, and
to reveal it to some foolish tongues, who brought it to us with as much
clatter as if it were a second gunpowder project. I easily brought him
off that scrape, and I am now going to give him a caution for the
future. Poor gentleman, I hear that he is grievously distressed in
pecuniary matters, and I always had a kindness for exiles. Who knows
but that a state of exile may be our own fate! and this alien is sprung
from a race as haughty as that of St. John or of Devereux. The _res
angusta domi_ must gall him sorely!"


* Vauxhall.

"True," said I, slowly. "What may be the name of the foreigner?"

"Why--complain not hereafter that I do not trust you in state matters--I
will indulge--D'Alvarez--Don Diego,--a hidalgo of the best blood of
Andalusia; and not unworthy of it, I fancy, in the virtues of fighting,
though he may be in those of council. But--Heavens! Devereux--you seem
ill!"

"No, no! Have you ever seen this man?"

"Never."

At this word a thrill of joy shot across me, for I knew St. John's fame
for gallantry, and I was suspicious of the motives of his visit.

"St. John, I know this Spaniard; I know him well, and intimately. Could
you not commission me to do your errand, and deliver your caution?
Relief from me he might accept; from you, as a stranger, pride might
forbid it; and you would really confer on me a personal and essential
kindness, if you would give me so fair an opportunity to confer kindness
upon him."

"Very well, I am delighted to oblige you in any way. Take his
direction; you see his abode is in a very pitiful suburb. Tell him from
me that he is quite safe at present; but tell him also to avoid,
henceforth, all imprudence, all connection with priests, plotters, _et
tous ces gens-la_, as he values his personal safety, or at least his
continuance in this most hospitable country. It is not from every wood
that we make a Mercury, nor from every brain that we can carve a
Mercury's genius of intrigue."

"Nobody ought to be better skilled in the materials requisite for such
productions than Mr. Secretary St. John!" said I; "and now, adieu."

"Adieu, if you will not ride with me. We meet at Sir William Wyndham's
to-morrow."

Masking my agitation till I was alone, I rejoiced when I found myself in
the open streets. I summoned a hackney-coach, and drove as rapidly as
the vehicle would permit to the petty and obscure suburb to which St.
John had directed me. The coach stopped at the door of a very humble
but not absolutely wretched abode. I knocked at the door. A woman
opened it, and, in answer to my inquiries, told me that the poor foreign
gentleman was very ill,--very ill indeed,--had suffered a paralytic
stroke,--not expected to live. His daughter was with him now,--would
see no one,--even Mr. Barnard had been denied admission.

At that name my feelings, shocked and stunned at first by the unexpected
intelligence of the poor Spaniard's danger, felt a sudden and fierce
revulsion. I combated it. "This is no time," I thought, "for any
jealous, for any selfish, emotion. If I can serve her, if I can relieve
her father, let me be contented."--"She will see me," I said aloud, and
I slipped some money in the woman's hand. "I am an old friend of the
family, and I shall not be an unwelcome intruder on the sickroom of the
sufferer."

"Intruder, sir,--bless you, the poor gentleman is quite speechless and
insensible."

At hearing this I could refrain no longer. Isora's disconsolate,
solitary, destitute condition broke irresistibly upon me, and all
scruple of more delicate and formal nature vanished at once. I ascended
the stairs, followed by the old woman--she stopped me by the threshold
of a room on the second floor, and whispered "_There_!" I paused an
instant,--collected breath and courage, and entered. The room was
partially darkened. The curtains were drawn closely around the bed. By
a table, on which stood two or three phials of medicine, I beheld Isora,
listening with an eager, a _most_ eager and intent face to a man whose
garb betrayed his healing profession, and who, laying a finger on the
outstretched palm of his other hand, appeared giving his precise
instructions, and uttering that oracular breath which--mere human words
to him--was a message of fate itself,--a fiat on which hung all that
makes life life to his trembling and devout listener. Monarchs of
earth, ye have not so supreme a power over woe and happiness as one
village leech! As he turned to leave her, she drew from a most slender
purse a few petty coins, and I saw that she muttered some words
indicative of the shame of poverty, as she tremblingly tended them to
the outstretched palm. Twice did that palm close and open on the paltry
sum; and the third time the native instinct of the heart overcame the
later impulse of the profession. The limb of Galen drew back, and
shaking with a gentle oscillation his capitalian honours, he laid the
money softly on the table, and buttoning up the pouch of his nether
garment, as if to resist temptation, he pressed the poor hand still
extended towards him, and bowing over it with a kind respect for which I
did long to approach and kiss his most withered and undainty cheek, he
turned quickly round, and almost fell against me in the abstracted hurry
of his exit.

"Hush!" said I, softly. "What hope of your patient?"

The leech glanced at me meaningly, and I whispered to him to wait for me
below. Isora had not yet seen me. It is a notable distinction in the
feelings, that all but the solitary one of grief sharpen into exquisite
edge the keenness of the senses, but grief blunts them to a most dull
obtuseness. I hesitated now to come forward; and so I stood, hat in
hand, by the door, and not knowing that the tears streamed down my
cheeks as I fixed my gaze upon Isora. She too stood still, just where
the leech had left her, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, and her
head drooping. The right hand, which the man had pressed, had sunk
slowly and heavily by her side, with the small snowy fingers half closed
over the palm. There is no describing the despondency which the
listless position of that hand spoke, and the left hand lay with a like
indolence of sorrow on the table, with one finger outstretched and
pointing towards the phials, just as it bad, some moments before,
seconded the injunctions of the prim physician. Well, for my part, if I
were a painter I would come now and then to a sick chamber for a study.

At last Isora, with a very quiet gesture of self-recovery, moved towards
the bed, and the next moment I was by her side. If my life depended on
it, I could not write one, no, not _one_ syllable more of this scene.



CHAPTER XI.

CONTAINING MORE THAN ANY OTHER CHAPTER IN THE SECOND BOOK OF THIS
HISTORY.

MY first proposal was to remove the patient, with all due care and
gentleness, to a better lodging, and a district more convenient for the
visits of the most eminent physicians. When I expressed this wish to
Isora, she looked at me long and wistfully, and then burst into tears.
"_You_ will not deceive us," said she, "and I accept your kindness at
once,--from _him_ I rejected the same offer."

"Him?--of whom speak you?--this Barnard, or rather--but I know him!" A
startling expression passed over Isora's speaking face.

"Know him!" she cried, interrupting me, "you do not,--you cannot!"

"Take courage, dearest Isora,--if I may so dare to call you,--take
courage: it is fearful to have a rival in that quarter; but I am
prepared for it. This Barnard, tell me again, do you love him?"

"Love--O God, no!"

"What then? do you still fear him?--fear him, too, protected by the
unsleeping eye and the vigilant hand of a love like mine?"

"Yes!" she said falteringly, "I fear for _you_!"

"Me!" I cried, laughing scornfully, "me! nay, dearest, there breathes
not that man whom you need fear on _my_ account. But, answer me; is
not--"

"For Heaven's sake, for mercy's sake!" cried Isora, eagerly, "do not
question me; I may not tell you who, or what this man is; I am bound, by
a most solemn oath, never to divulge that secret."

"I care not," said I, calmly, "I want no confirmation of my knowledge:
this masked rival is my own brother!"

I fixed my eyes full on Isora while I said this, and she quailed beneath
my gaze: her cheek, her lips, were utterly without colour, and an
expression of sickening and keen anguish was graven upon her face. She
made no answer.

"Yes!" resumed I, bitterly, "it is my brother,--be it so,--I am
prepared; but if you can, Isora, say one word to deny it."

Isora's tongue seemed literally to cleave to her mouth; at last with a
violent effort, she muttered, "I have told you, Morton, that I am bound
by oath not to divulge this secret; nor may I breathe a single syllable
calculated to do so,--if I deny one name, you may question me on
more,--and, therefore, to deny one is a breach of my oath. But,
beware!" she added vehemently, "oh! beware how your suspicions--mere
vague, baseless suspicions--criminate a brother; and, above all,
whomsoever you believe to be the real being under this disguised name,
as you value your life, and therefore mine,--breathe not to him a
syllable of your belief."

I was so struck with the energy with which this was said, that, after a
short pause, I rejoined, in an altered tone,--

"I cannot believe that I have aught against life to fear from a
brother's hand; but I will promise you to guard against latent danger.
But is your oath so peremptory that you cannot deny even one name?--if
not, and you _can_ deny this, I swear to you that I will never question
you upon another."

Again a fierce convulsion wrung the lip and distorted the perfect
features of Isora. She remained silent for some moments, and then
murmured, "My oath forbids me even that single answer: tempt me no more;
now, and forever, I am mute upon this subject."

Perhaps some slight and momentary anger, or doubt, or suspicion,
betrayed itself upon my countenance; for Isora, after looking upon me
long and mournfully, said, in a quiet but melancholy tone, "I see your
thoughts, and I do not reproach you for them--it is natural that you
should think ill of one whom this mystery surrounds,--one too placed
under such circumstances of humiliation and distrust. I have lived long
in your country: I have seen, for the last few months, much of its
inhabitants; I have studied too the works which profess to unfold its
national and peculiar character: I know that you have a distrust of the
people of other climates; I know that you are cautious and full of
suspicious vigilance, even in your commerce with each other; I know, too
[and Isora's heart swelled visibly as she spoke], that poverty itself,
in the eyes of your commercial countrymen, is a crime, and that they
rarely feel confidence or place faith in those who are unhappy;--why,
Count Devereux, why should I require more of you than of the rest of
your nation? Why should you think better of the penniless and
friendless girl, the degraded exile, the victim of doubt,--which is so
often the disguise of guilt,--than any other, any one even among my own
people, would think of one so mercilessly deprived of all the decent and
appropriate barriers by which a maiden should be surrounded? No--no:
leave me as you found me; leave my poor father where you see him; any
place will do for us to die in."

"Isora!" I said, clasping her in my arms, "you do not know me yet: had I
found you in prosperity, and in the world's honour; had I wooed you in
your father's halls, and girt around with the friends and kinsmen of
your race,--I might have pressed for more than you will now tell me; I
might have indulged suspicion where I perceived mystery, and I might not
have loved as I love you now! Now, Isora, in misfortune, in
destitution, I place without reserve my whole heart--its trust, its
zeal, its devotion--in your keeping; come evil or good, storm or
sunshine, I am yours, wholly and forever. Reject me if you will, I will
return to you again; and never, never--save from my own eyes or your own
lips--will I receive a single evidence detracting from your purity, or,
Isora,--mine own, own Isora,--may I not add also--from your love?"

"Too, too generous!" murmured Isora, struggling passionately with her
tears, "may Heaven forsake me if ever I am ungrateful to thee; and
believe--believe, that if love more fond, more true, more devoted than
woman ever felt before can repay you, you shall be repaid!"

Why, at that moment, did my heart leap so joyously within me?--why did I
say inly,--"The treasure I have so long yearned for is found at last: we
have met, and through the waste of years, we will work together, and
never part again"? Why, at that moment of bliss, did I not rather feel
a foretaste of the coming woe? Oh, blind and capricious Fate, that
gives us a presentiment at one while and withholds it at an other!
Knowledge, and Prudence, and calculating Foresight, what are
ye?--warnings unto others, not ourselves. Reason is a lamp which
sheddeth afar a glorious and general light, but leaveth all that is
around it in darkness and in gloom. We foresee and foretell the destiny
of others: we march credulous and benighted to our own; and like
Laocoon, from the very altars by which we stand as the soothsayer and
the priest, creep forth, unsuspected and undreamt of, the serpents which
are fated to destroy us!

That very day, then, Alvarez was removed to a lodging more worthy of his
birth, and more calculated to afford hope of his recovery. He bore the
removal without any evident signs of fatigue; but his dreadful malady
had taken away both speech and sense, and he was already more than half
the property of the grave. I sent, however, for the best medical advice
which London could afford. They met, prescribed, and left the patient
just as they found him. I know not, in the progress of science, what
physicians may be to posterity, but in my time they are false witnesses
subpoenaed against death, whose testimony always tells less in favour of
the plaintiff than the defendant.

Before we left the poor Spaniard's former lodging, and when I was on the
point of giving some instructions to the landlady respecting the place
to which the few articles of property belonging to Don Diego and Isora
were to be moved, Isora made me a sign to be silent, which I obeyed.
"Pardon me," said she afterwards; "but I confess that I am anxious our
next residence should not be known,--should not be subject to the
intrusion of--of this--"

"Barnard, as you call him. I understand you; be it so!" and accordingly
I enjoined the goods to be sent to my own house, whence they were
removed to Don Diego's new abode and I took especial care to leave with
the good lady no clew to discover Alvarez and his daughter, otherwise
than _through me_. The pleasure afforded me of directing Gerald's
attention to myself, I could not resist. "Tell Mr. Barnard, when he
calls," said I, "that only through Count Morton Devereux will he hear of
Don Diego d'Alvarez and the lady his daughter."

"I will, your honour," said the landlady; and then looking at me more
attentively, she added: "Bless me! now when you speak, there is a very
strong likeness between yourself and Mr. Barnard."

I recoiled as if an adder had stung me, and hurried into the coach to
support the patient, who was already placed there.

Now then my daily post was by the bed of disease and suffering: in the
chamber of death was my vow of love ratified; and in sadness and in
sorrow was it returned. But it is in such scenes that the deepest, the
most endearing, and the most holy species of the passion is engendered.
As I heard Isora's low voice tremble with the suspense of one who
watches over the hourly severing of the affection of Nature and of early
years; and as I saw her light step flit by the pillow which she
smoothed, and her cheek alternately flush and fade, in watching the
wants which she relieved; as I marked her mute, her unwearying
tenderness, breaking into a thousand nameless but mighty cares, and
pervading like an angel's vigilance every--yea, the minutest--course
into which it flowed,--did I not behold her in that sphere in which
woman is most lovely, and in which love itself consecrates its
admiration and purifies its most ardent desires? That was not a time
for our hearts to speak audibly to each other; but we felt that they
grew closer and closer, and we asked not for the poor eloquence of
words. But over this scene let me not linger.

One morning, as I was proceeding on foot to Isora's, I perceived on the
opposite side of the way Montreuil and Gerald: they were conversing
eagerly; they both saw me. Montreuil made a slight, quiet, and
dignified inclination of the head: Gerald coloured, and hesitated. I
thought he was about to leave his companion and address me; but, with a
haughty and severe air, I passed on, and Gerald, as if stung by my
demeanour, bit his lip vehemently and followed my example. A few
minutes afterwards I felt an inclination to regret that I had not
afforded him an opportunity of addressing me. "I might," thought I,
"have then taunted him with his persecution of Isora, and defied him to
execute those threats against me, in which it is evident, from her
apprehensions for my safety, that he indulged."

I had not, however, much leisure for these thoughts. When I arrived at
the lodgings of Alvarez, I found that a great change had taken place in
his condition; he had recovered speech, though imperfectly, and
testified a return to sense. I flew upstairs with a light step to
congratulate Isora: she met me at the door. "Hush!" she whispered: "my
father sleeps!" But she did not speak with the animation I had
anticipated.

"What is the matter, dearest?" said I, following her into another
apartment: "you seem sad, and your eyes are red with tears, which are
not, methinks, entirely the tears of joy at this happy change in your
father."

"I am marked out for suffering," returned Isora, more keenly than she
was wont to speak. I pressed her to explain her meaning; she hesitated
at first, but at length confessed that her father had always been
anxious for her marriage with this _soi-disant_ Barnard, and that his
first words on his recovery had been to press her to consent to his
wishes.

"My poor father," said she, weepingly, "speaks and thinks only for my
fancied good; but his senses as yet are only recovered in part, and he
cannot even understand me when I speak of you. 'I shall die,' he said,
'I shall die, and you will be left on the wide world!' I in vain
endeavoured to explain to him that I should have a protector: he fell
asleep muttering those words, and with tears in his eyes."

"Does he know as much of this Barnard as you do?" said I.

"Heavens, no!--or he would never have pressed me to marry one so
wicked."

"Does he know even who he is?"

"Yes!" said Isora, after a pause; "but he has not known it long."

Here the physician joined us, and taking me aside, informed me that, as
he had foreboded, sleep had been the harbinger of death, and that Don
Diego was no more. I broke the news as gently as I could to Isora: but
her grief was far more violent than I could have anticipated; and
nothing seemed to cut her so deeply to the heart as the thought that his
last wish had been one with which she had not complied, and could never
comply.

I pass over the first days of mourning: I come to the one after Don
Diego's funeral. I had been with Isora in the morning; I left her for a
few hours, and returned at the first dusk of evening with some books and
music, which I vainly hoped she might recur to for a momentary
abstraction from her grief. I dismissed my carriage, with the intention
of walking home, and addressing the woman-servant who admitted me,
inquired, as was my wont, after Isora. "She has been very ill," replied
the woman, "ever since the strange gentleman left her."

"The strange gentleman?"

Yes, he had forced his way upstairs, despite of the denial the servant
had been ordered to give to all strangers. He had entered Isora's room;
and the woman, in answer to my urgent inquiries, added that she had
heard his voice raised to a loud and harsh key in the apartment; he had
stayed there about a quarter of an hour, and had then hurried out,
seemingly in great disorder and agitation.

"What description of man was he?" I asked.

The woman answered that he was mantled from head to foot in his cloak,
which was richly laced, and his hat was looped with diamonds, but
slouched over that part of his face which the collar of his cloak did
not hide, so that she could not further describe him than as one of a
haughty and abrupt bearing, and evidently belonging to the higher ranks.

Convinced that Gerald had been the intruder, I hastened up the stairs to
Isora. She received me with a sickly and faint smile, and endeavoured
to conceal the traces of her tears.

"So!" said I, "this insolent persecutor of yours has discovered your
abode, and again insulted or intimidated you. He shall do so no more!
I will seek him to-morrow; and no affinity of blood shall prevent--"

"Morton, dear Morton!" cried Isora, in great alarm, and yet with a
certain determination stamped upon her features, "hear me! It is true
this man has been here; it is true that, fearful and terrible as he is,
he has agitated and alarmed me: but it was only for you, Morton,--by the
Holy Virgin, it was only for you! 'The moment,' said he, and his voice
ran shiveringly through my heart like a dagger, 'the moment Morton
Devereux discovers who is his rival, that moment his death-warrant is
irrevocably sealed!'"

"Arrogant boaster!" I cried, and my blood burned with the intense rage
which a much slighter cause would have kindled from the natural
fierceness of my temper. "Does he think my life is at his bidding, to
allow or to withhold? Unhand me, Isora, unhand me! I tell you I will
seek him this moment, and dare him to do his worst!"

"Do so," said Isora, calmly, and releasing her hold; "do so; but hear me
first: the moment you breathe to him your suspicions you place an
eternal barrier betwixt yourself and me! Pledge me your faith that you
will never, while I live at least, reveal to him--to any one whom you
suspect--your reproach, your defiance, your knowledge--nay, not even
your lightest suspicion--of his identity with my persecutor; promise me
this, Morton Devereux, or I, in my turn, before that crucifix, whose
sanctity we both acknowledge and adore,--that crucifix which has
descended to my race for three unbroken centuries,--which, for my
departed father, in the solemn vow, and in the death-agony, has still
been a witness, a consolation, and a pledge, between the soul and its
Creator,--by that crucifix which my dying mother clasped to her bosom
when she committed me, an infant, to the care of that Heaven which hears
and records forever our lightest word,--I swear that I will never be
yours!"

"Isora!" said I, awed and startled, yet struggling against the
impression her energy had made upon me, "you know not to what you pledge
yourself, nor what you require of me. If I do not seek out this man, if
I do not expose to him my knowledge of his pursuit and unhallowed
persecution of you, if I do not effectually prohibit and prevent their
continuance, think well, what security have I for your future peace of
mind,--nay, even for the safety of your honour or your life? A man thus
bold, daring and unbaffled in his pursuit, thus vigilant and skilful in
his selection of time and occasion,--so that, despite my constant and
anxious endeavour to meet him in your presence, I have never been able
to do so,--from a man, I say, thus pertinacious in resolution, thus
crafty in disguise, what may you not dread when you leave him utterly
fearless by the license of impunity? Think too, again, Isora, that the
mystery dishonours as much as the danger menaces. Is it meet that my
betrothed and my future bride should be subjected to these secret and
terrible visitations,--visitations of a man professing himself her
lover, and evincing the vehemence of his passion by that of his pursuit?
Isora--Isora--you have not weighed these things; you know not what you
demand of me."

"I do!" answered Isora; "I do know all that I demand of you; I demand of
you only to preserve your life."

"How," said I, impatiently, "cannot my hand preserve my life? and is it
for you, the daughter of a line of warriors, to ask your lover and your
husband to shrink from a single foe?"

"No, Morton," answered Isora. "Were you going to battle, I would gird
on your sword myself; were, too, this man other than he is, and you were
about to meet him in open contest, I would not wrong you, nor degrade
your betrothed, by a fear. But I know my persecutor well,--fierce,
unrelenting,--dreadful in his dark and ungovernable passions as he is,
he has not the courage to confront you: I fear not the open foe, but the
lurking and sure assassin. His very earnestness to avoid you, the
precautions he has taken, are alone sufficient to convince you that he
dreads personally to oppose your claim or to vindicate himself."

"Then what have I to fear?"

"Everything! Do you not know that from men, at once fierce, crafty, and
shrinking from bold violence, the stuff for assassins is always made?
And if I wanted surer proof of his designs than inference, his oath--it
rings in my ears now--is sufficient. 'The moment Morton Devereux
discovers who is his rival, that moment his death-warrant is irrevocably
sealed.' Morton, I demand your promise; or, though my heart break, I
will record my own vow."

"Stay--stay," I said, in anger, and in sorrow: "were I to promise this,
and for my own safety hazard yours, what could you deem me?"

"Fear not for me, Morton," answered Isora; "you have no cause. I tell
you that this man, villain as he is, ever leaves me humbled and abased.
Do not think that in all times, and all scenes, I am the foolish and
weak creature you behold me now. Remember that you said rightly I was
the daughter of a line of warriors; and I have that within me which will
not shame my descent."

"But, dearest, your resolution may avail you for a time; but it cannot
forever baffle the hardened nature of a man. I know my own sex, and I
know my own ferocity, were it once aroused."

"But, Morton, you do not know me," said Isora, proudly, and her face, as
she spoke, was set, and even stern: "I am only the coward when I think
of you; a word--a look of mine--can abash this man; or, if it could not,
I am never without a weapon to defend myself, or--or--" Isora's voice,
before firm and collected, now faltered, and a deep blush flowed over
the marble paleness of her face.

"Or what?" said I, anxiously.

"Or thee, Morton!" murmured Isora, tenderly, and withdrawing her eyes
from mine.

The tone, the look that accompanied these words, melted me at once. I
rose,--I clasped Isora to my heart.

"You are a strange compound, my own fairy queen; but these lips, this
cheek, those eyes, are not fit features for a heroine."

"Morton, if I had less determination in my heart, I could not love you
so well."

"But tell me," I whispered, with a smile, "where is this weapon on which
you rely so strongly?"

"Here!" answered Isora, blushingly; and, extricating herself from me,
she showed me a small two-edged dagger, which she wore carefully
concealed between the folds of her dress. I looked over the bright,
keen blade, with surprise, and yet with pleasure, at the latent
resolution of a character seemingly so soft. I say with pleasure, for
it suited well with my own fierce and wild temper. I returned the
weapon to her, with a smile and a jest.

"Ah!" said Isora, shrinking from my kiss, "I should not have been so
bold, if I only feared danger for myself."

But if, for a moment, we forgot, in the gushings of our affection, the
object of our converse and dispute, we soon returned to it again. Isora
was the first to recur to it. She reminded me of the promise she
required; and she spoke with a seriousness and a solemnity which I found
myself scarcely able to resist.

"But," I said, "if he ever molest you hereafter; if again I find that
bright cheek blanched, and those dear eyes dimmed with tears; and I know
that, in my own house, some one has dared thus to insult its queen,--am
I to be still torpid and inactive, lest a dastard and craven hand should
avenge my assertion of your honour and mine?"

"No, Morton; after our marriage, whenever that be, you will have nothing
to apprehend from him on the same ground as before; my fear for you,
too, will not be what it is now; your honour will be bound in mine, and
nothing shall induce me to hazard it,--no, not even your safety. I have
every reason to believe that, after that event, he will subject me no
longer to his insults: how, indeed, can he, under your perpetual
protection? or, for what cause should he attempt it, if he could? I
shall be then yours,--only and ever yours; what hope could, therefore,
then nerve his hardihood or instigate his intrusions? Trust to me at
that time, and suffer me to--nay, I repeat, promise me that I may--trust
in you now!"

What could I do? I still combated her wish and her request; but her
steadiness and rigidity of purpose made me, though reluctantly, yield to
them at last. So sincere, and so stern, indeed, appeared her
resolution, that I feared, by refusal, that she would take the rash oath
that would separate us forever. Added to this, I felt in her that
confidence which, I am apt to believe, is far more akin to the latter
stages of real love than jealousy and mistrust; and I could not believe
that either now, or, still less after our nuptials, she would risk aught
of honour, or the seemings of honour, from a visionary and superstitious
fear. In spite, therefore, of my deep and keen interest in the thorough
discovery of this mysterious persecution; and, still more, in the
prevention of all future designs from his audacity, I constrained myself
to promise her that I would on no account seek out the person I
suspected, or wilfully betray to him by word or deed my belief of his
identity with Barnard.

Though greatly dissatisfied with my self-compulsion, I strove to
reconcile myself to its idea. Indeed, there was much in the peculiar
circumstances of Isora, much in the freshness of her present affliction,
much in the unfriended and utter destitution of her situation, that,
while on the one hand, it called forth her pride, and made stubborn that
temper which was naturally so gentle and so soft; on the other hand,
made me yield even to wishes that I thought unreasonable, and consider
rather the delicacy and deference due to her condition, than insist upon
the sacrifices which, in more fortunate circumstances, I might have
imagined due to myself. Still more indisposed to resist her wish and
expose myself to its penalty was I, when I considered her desire was the
mere excess and caution of her love, and when I felt that she spoke
sincerely when she declared that it was only for me that she was the
coward. Nevertheless, and despite all these considerations, it was with
a secret discontent that I took my leave of her, and departed homeward.

I had just reached the end of the street where the house was situated,
when I saw there, very imperfectly, for the night was extremely dark,
the figure of a man entirely enveloped in a long cloak, such as was
commonly worn by gallants in affairs of secrecy or intrigue; and, in the
pale light of a single lamp near which he stood, something like the
brilliance of gems glittered on the large Spanish hat which overhung his
brow. I immediately recalled the description the woman had given me of
Barnard's dress, and the thought flashed across me that it was he whom I
beheld. "At all events," thought I, "I may confirm my doubts, if I may
not communicate them, and I may watch over her safety if I may not
avenge her injuries." I therefore took advantage of my knowledge of the
neighbourhood, passed the stranger with a quick step, and then, running
rapidly, returned by a circuitous route to the mouth of a narrow and
dark street, which was exactly opposite to Isora's house. Here I
concealed myself by a projecting porch, and I had not waited long before
I saw the dim form of the stranger walk slowly by the house. He passed
it three or four times, and each time I thought--though the darkness
might deceive me--that he looked up to the windows. He made, however,
no attempt at admission, and appeared as if he had no other object than
that of watching by the house. Wearied and impatient at last, I came
from my concealment. "I may _confirm_ my suspicions," I repeated,
recurring to my oath, and I walked straight towards the stranger.

"Sir," I said very calmly, "I am the last person in the world to
interfere with the amusements of any other gentleman; but I humbly opine
that no man can parade by this house upon so very cold a night, without
giving just ground for suspicion to the friends of its inhabitants. I
happen to be among that happy number; and I therefore, with all due
humility and respect, venture to request you to seek some other spot for
your nocturnal perambulations."

I made this speech purposely prolix, in order to have time fully to
reconnoitre the person of the one I addressed. The dusk of the night,
and the loose garb of the stranger, certainly forbade any decided
success to this scrutiny; but methought the figure seemed, despite of my
prepossessions, to want the stately height and grand proportions of
Gerald Devereux. I must own, however, that the necessary inexactitude
of my survey rendered this idea without just foundation, and did not by
any means diminish my firm impression that it was Gerald whom I beheld.
While I spoke, he retreated with a quick step, but made no answer. I
pressed upon him: he backed with a still quicker step; and when I had
ended, he fairly turned round, and made at full speed along the dark
street in which I had fixed my previous post of watch. I fled after
him, with a step as fleet as his own: his cloak encumbered his flight; I
gained upon him sensibly; he turned a sharp corner, threw me out, and
entered into a broad thoroughfare. As I sped after him, Bacchanalian
voices burst upon my ear, and presently a large band of those young men
who, under the name of Mohawks, were wont to scour the town nightly,
and, sword in hand, to exercise their love of riot under the disguise of
party zeal, became visible in the middle of the street. Through them my
fugitive dashed headlong, and, profiting by their surprise, escaped
unmolested. I attempted to follow with equal speed, but was less
successful. "Hallo!" cried the foremost of the group, placing himself
in my way.

"No such haste! Art Whig or Tory? Under which king, Bezonian? speak or
die!"

"Have a care, Sir," said I, fiercely, drawing my sword.

"Treason, treason!" cried the speaker, confronting me with equal
readiness. "Have a care, indeed! have _at thee_."

"Ha!" cried another, "'tis a Tory; 'tis the Secretary's popish friend,
Devereux: pike him, pike him."

I had already run my opponent through the sword arm, and was in hopes
that this act would intimidate the rest, and allow my escape; but at the
sound of my name and political bias, coupled with the drawn blood of
their confederate, the patriots rushed upon me with that amiable fury
generally characteristic of all true lovers of their country. Two
swords passed through my body simultaneously, and I fell bleeding and
insensible to the ground. When I recovered I was in my own apartments,
whither two of the gentler Mohawks had conveyed me: the surgeons were by
my bedside; I groaned audibly when I saw them. If there is a thing in
the world I hate, it is in any shape the disciples of Hermes; they
always remind me of that Indian people (the Padaei, I think) mentioned
by Herodotus, who sustained themselves by devouring the sick. "All is
well," said one, when my groan was heard. "He will not die," said
another. "At least not till we have had more fees," said a third, more
candid than the rest. And thereupon they seized me and began torturing
my wounds anew, till I fainted away with the pain. However, the next
day I was declared out of immediate danger; and the first proof I gave
of my convalescence was to make Desmarais discharge four surgeons out of
five: the remaining one I thought my youth and constitution might enable
me to endure.

That very evening, as I was turning restlessly in my bed, and muttering
with parched lips the name of "Isora," I saw by my side a figure covered
from head to foot in a long veil, and a voice, low, soft, but thrilling
through my heart like a new existence, murmured, "She is here!"

I forgot my wounds; I forgot my pain and my debility; I sprang upwards:
the stranger drew aside the veil from her countenance, and I beheld
Isora!

"Yes!" said she, in her own liquid and honeyed accents, which fell like
balm upon my wound and my spirit, "yes, she whom _you_ have hitherto
tended is come, in her turn, to render some slight but woman's services
to you. She has come to nurse, and to soothe, and to pray for you, and
to be, till you yourself discard her, your hand-maid and your slave!"

I would have answered, but raising her finger to her lips, she arose and
vanished; but from that hour my wound healed, my fever slaked, and
whenever I beheld her flitting round my bed, or watching over me, or
felt her cool fingers wiping the dew from my brow, or took from her hand
my medicine or my food, in those moments, the blood seemed to make a new
struggle through my veins, and I felt palpably within me a fresh and
delicious life--a life full of youth and passion and hope--replace the
vaguer and duller being which I had hitherto borne.

There are some extraordinary incongruities in that very mysterious thing
_sympathy_. One would imagine that, in a description of things most
generally interesting to all men, the most general interest would be
found; nevertheless, I believe few persons would hang breathless over
the progressive history of a sick-bed. Yet those gradual stages from
danger to recovery, how delightfully interesting they are to all who
have crawled from one to the other! and who, at some time or other in
his journey through that land of diseases--civilized life--has not taken
that gentle excursion? "I would be ill any day for the pleasure of
getting well," said Fontenelle to me one morning with his usual
_naivete_; but who would not be ill for the more pleasure of being ill,
if he could be tended by her whom he most loves?

I shall not therefore dwell upon that most delicious period of my
life,--my sick bed, and my recovery from it. I pass on to a certain
evening in which I heard from Isora's lips the whole of her history,
save what related to her knowledge of the real name of one whose
persecution constituted the little of romance which had yet mingled with
her innocent and pure life. That evening--how well I remember it!--we
were alone; still weak and reduced, I lay upon the sofa beside the
window, which was partially open, and the still air of an evening in the
first infancy of spring came fresh, and fraught as it were with a
prediction of the glowing woods and the reviving verdure, to my cheek.
The stars, one by one, kindled, as if born of Heaven and Twilight, into
their nightly being; and, through the vapour and thick ether of the
dense city, streamed their most silent light, holy and pure, and
resembling that which the Divine Mercy sheds upon the gross nature of
mankind. But, shadowy and calm, their rays fell full upon the face of
Isora, as she lay on the ground beside my couch, and with one hand
surrendered to my clasp, looked upward till, as she felt my gaze, she
turned her cheek blushingly away. There was quiet around and above us;
but beneath the window we heard at times the sounds of the common earth,
and then insensibly our hands knit into a closer clasp, and we felt them
thrill more palpably to our hearts; for those sounds reminded us both of
our existence and of our separation from the great herd of our race!

What is love but a division from the world, and a blending of two souls,
two immortalities divested of clay and ashes, into one? it is a severing
of a thousand ties from whatever is harsh and selfish, in order to knit
them into a single and sacred bond! Who loves hath attained the
anchorite's secret; and the hermitage has become dearer than the world.
O respite from the toil and the curse of our social and banded state, a
little interval art thou, suspended between two eternities,--the Past
and the Future,--a star that hovers between the morning and the night,
sending through the vast abyss one solitary ray from heaven, but too far
and faint to illumine, while it hallows the earth!

There was nothing in Isora's tale which the reader has not already
learned or conjectured. She had left her Andalusian home in her early
childhood, but she remembered it well, and lingeringly dwelt over it in
description. It was evident that little, in our colder and less genial
isle, had attracted her sympathy, or wound itself into her affection.
Nevertheless, I conceive that her naturally dreamy and abstracted
character had received from her residence and her trials here much of
the vigour and the heroism which it now possessed. Brought up alone,
music, and books--few, though not ill-chosen, for Shakspeare was one,
and the one which had made upon her the most permanent impression, and
perhaps had coloured her temperament with its latent but rich hues of
poetry--constituted her amusement and her studies.

But who knows not that a woman's heart finds its fullest occupation
within itself? There lies its real study, and within that narrow orbit,
the mirror of enchanted thought reflects the whole range of earth.
Loneliness and meditation nursed the mood which afterwards, with Isora,
became love itself. But I do not wish now so much to describe her
character as to abridge her brief history. The first English stranger
of the male sex whom her father admitted to her acquaintance was
Barnard. This man was, as I had surmised, connected with him in certain
political intrigues, the exact nature of which she did not know. I
continue to call him by a name which Isora acknowledged was fictitious.
He had not, at first, by actual declaration, betrayed to her his
affections: though, accompanied by a sort of fierceness which early
revolted her, they soon became visible. On the evening in which I had
found her stretched insensible in the garden, and had myself made my
first confession of love, I learned that he had divulged to her his
passion and real name; that her rejection had thrown him into a fierce
despair; that he had accompanied his disclosure with the most terrible
threats against me, for whom he supposed himself rejected, and against
the safety of her father, whom he said a word of his could betray; and
her knowledge of his power to injure us--_us_--yes, Isora then loved me,
and then trembled for my safety! had terrified and overcome her; and
that in the very moment in which my horse's hoofs were heard, and as the
alternative of her non-compliance, the rude suitor swore deadly and sore
vengeance against Alvarez and myself, she yielded to the oath he
prescribed to her,--an oath that she would never reveal the secret he
had betrayed to her, or suffer me to know who was my real rival.

This was all that I could gather from her guarded confidence; he heard
the oath and vanished, and she felt no more till she was in my arms;
then it was that she saw in the love and vengeance of my rival a barrier
against our union; and then it was that her generous fear for me
conquered her attachment, and she renounced me. Their departure from
the cottage so shortly afterwards was at her father's choice and at the
instigation of Barnard, for the furtherance of their political projects;
and it was from Barnard that the money came which repaid my loan to
Alvarez. The same person, no doubt, poisoned her father against me, for
henceforth Alvarez never spoke of me with that partiality he had
previously felt. They repaired to London: her father was often absent,
and often engaged with men whom she had never seen before; he was
absorbed and uncommunicative, and she was still ignorant of the nature
of his schemings and designs.

At length, after an absence of several weeks, Barnard reappeared, and
his visits became constant; he renewed his suit to her father as well as
herself. Then commenced that domestic persecution, so common in this
very tyrannical world, which makes us sicken to bear, and which, had
Isora been wholly a Spanish girl, she, in all probability, would never
have resisted: so much of custom is there in the very air of a climate.
But she did resist it, partly because she loved me,--and loved me more
and more for our separation,--and partly because she dreaded and
abhorred the ferocious and malignant passions of my rival, far beyond
any other misery with which fortune could threaten her. "Your father
then shall hang or starve!" said Barnard, one day in uncontrollable
frenzy, and left her. He did not appear again at the house. The
Spaniard's resources, fed, probably, alone by Barnard, failed. From
house to house they removed, till they were reduced to that humble one
in which I had found them. There, Barnard again sought them; there,
backed by the powerful advocate of want, he again pressed his suit, and
at that exact moment her father was struck with the numbing curse of his
disease. "There and then," said Isora, candidly, "I might have yielded
at last, for my poor father's sake, if you had not saved me."

Once only (I have before recorded the time) did Barnard visit her in the
new abode I had provided for her, and the day after our conversation on
that event Isora watched and watched for me, and I did not come. From
the woman of the house she at last learned the cause. "I forgot," she
said timidly,--and in conclusion, "I forgot womanhood, and modesty, and
reserve; I forgot the customs of your country, the decencies of my own;
I forgot everything in this world, but you,--you suffering and in
danger; my very sense of existence seemed to pass from me, and to be
supplied by a breathless, confused, and overwhelming sense of impatient
agony, which ceased not till I was in your chamber, and by your side!
And--now, Morton, do not despise me for not having considered more, and
loved you less."

"Despise you!" I murmured, and I threw my arms around her, and drew her
to my breast. I felt her heart beat against my own: those hearts spoke,
though our lips were silent, and in their language seemed to say, "We
are united now, and we will not part."

The starlight, shining with a mellow and deep stillness, was the only
light by which we beheld each other: it shone, the witness and the
sanction of that internal voice, which we owned, but heard not. Our
lips drew closer and closer together, till they met! and in that kiss
was the type and promise of the after ritual which knit two spirits into
one. Silence fell around us like a curtain, and the eternal Night, with
her fresh dews and unclouded stars, looked alone upon the compact of our
hearts,--an emblem of the eternity, the freshness, and the unearthly
though awful brightness of the love which it hallowed and beheld!



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I.

WHEREIN THE HISTORY MAKES GREAT PROGRESS AND IS MARKED BY ONE IMPORTANT
EVENT IN HUMAN LIFE.

SPINOZA is said to have loved, above all other amusements, to put flies
into a spider's web; and the struggles of the imprisoned insects were
wont to bear, in the eyes of this grave philosopher, so facetious and
hilarious an appearance, that he would stand and laugh thereat until the
tears "coursed one another down his innocent nose." Now it so happened
that Spinoza, despite the general (and, in my most meek opinion, the
just) condemnation of his theoretical tenets,* was, in character and in
nature, according to the voices of all who knew him, an exceedingly
kind, humane, and benevolent biped; and it doth, therefore, seem a
little strange unto us grave, sober members of the unphilosophical Many,
that the struggles and terrors of these little winged creatures should
strike the good subtleist in a point of view so irresistibly ludicrous
and delightful. But, for my part, I believe that that most imaginative
and wild speculator beheld in the entangled flies nothing more than a
living simile--an animated illustration--of his own beloved vision of
Necessity; and that he is no more to be considered cruel for the
complacency with which he gazed upon those agonized types of his system
than is Lucan for dwelling with a poet's pleasure upon the many
ingenious ways with which that Grand Inquisitor of Verse has contrived
to vary the simple operation of dying. To the bard, the butchered
soldier was only an epic ornament; to the philosopher, the murdered fly
was only a metaphysical illustration. For, without being a fatalist, or
a disciple of Baruch de Spinoza, I must confess that I cannot conceive a
greater resemblance to our human and earthly state than the penal
predicament of the devoted flies. Suddenly do we find ourselves plunged
into that Vast Web,--the World; and even as the insect, when he first
undergoeth a similar accident of necessity, standeth amazed and still,
and only by little and little awakeneth to a full sense of his
situation; so also at the first abashed and confounded, we remain on the
mesh we are urged upon, ignorant, as yet, of the toils around us, and
the sly, dark, immitigable foe that lieth in yonder nook, already
feasting her imagination upon our destruction. Presently we revive, we
stir, we flutter; and Fate, that foe--the old arch-spider, that hath no
moderation in her maw--now fixeth one of her many eyes upon us, and
giveth us a partial glimpse of her laidly and grim aspect. We pause in
mute terror; we gaze upon the ugly spectre, so imperfectly beheld; the
net ceases to tremble, and the wily enemy draws gently back into her
nook. Now we begin to breathe again; we sound the strange footing on
which we tread; we move tenderly along it, and again the grisly monster
advances on us; again we pause; the foe retires not, but remains still,
and surveyeth us; we see every step is accompanied with danger; we look
round and above in despair; suddenly we feel within us a new impulse and
a new power! we feel a vague sympathy with _that_ unknown region which
spreads beyond this great net,--_that limitless beyond_ hath a mystic
affinity with a part of our own frame; we unconsciously extend our wings
(for the soul to us is as the wings to the fly!); we attempt to
rise,--to soar above this perilous snare, from which we are unable to
crawl. The old spider watcheth us in self-hugging quiet, and, looking
up to our native air, we think,--now shall we escape thee. Out on it!
We rise not a hair's breadth: we have the _wings_, it is true, but the
_feet_ are fettered. We strive desperately again: the whole web
vibrates with the effort; it will break beneath our strength. Not a jot
of it! we cease; we are more entangled than ever! wings, feet, frame,
the foul slime is over all! where shall we turn? every line of the web
leads to the one den,--we know not,--we care not,--we grow blind,
confused, lost. The eyes of our hideous foe gloat upon us; she whetteth
her insatiate maw; she leapeth towards us; she fixeth her fangs upon us;
and so endeth my parallel!


* One ought, however, to be very cautious before one condemns a
philosopher. The master's opinions are generally pure: it is the
conclusions and corollaries of his disciples that "draw the honey forth
that drives men mad." Schlegel seems to have studied Spinoza _de
fonte_, and vindicates him very earnestly from the charges brought
against him,--atheism, etc.--ED.


But what has this to do with my tale? Ay, Reader, that is thy question;
and I will answer it by one of mine. When thou hearest a man moralize
and preach of Fate, art thou not sure that he is going to tell thee of
some one of his peculiar misfortunes? Sorrow loves a parable as much as
mirth loves a jest. And thus already and from afar, I prepare thee, at
the commencement of this, the third of these portions into which the
history of my various and wild life will be divided, for that event with
which I purpose that the said portion shall be concluded.

It is now three months after my entire recovery from my wounds, and I am
married to Isora!--married,--yes, but _privately_ married, and the
ceremony is as yet closely concealed. I will explain.

The moment Isora's anxiety for me led her across the threshold of my
house it became necessary for her honour that our wedding should take
place immediately on my recovery: so far I was decided on the measure;
now for the method. During my illness, I received a long and most
affectionate letter from Aubrey, who was then at Devereux Court: _so_
affectionate was the heart-breathing spirit of that letter, so steeped
in all our old household remembrances and boyish feelings, that coupled
as it was with a certain gloom when he spoke of himself and of worldly
sins and trials, it brought tears to my eyes whenever I recurred to it;
and many and many a time afterwards, when I thought his affections
seemed estranged from me, I did recur to it to convince myself that I
was mistaken. Shortly afterwards I received also a brief epistle from
my uncle; it was as kind as usual, and it mentioned Aubrey's return to
Devereux Court. "That unhappy boy," said Sir William, "is more than
ever devoted to his religious duties; nor do I believe that any
priest-ridden poor devil in the dark ages ever made such use of the
scourge and the penance."

Now, I have before stated that my uncle would, I knew, be averse to my
intended marriage; and on hearing that Aubrey was then with him, I
resolved, in replying to his letter, to entreat the former to sound Sir
William on the subject I had most at heart, and ascertain the exact
nature and extent of the opposition I should have to encounter in the
step I was resolved to take. By the same post I wrote to the good old
knight in as artful a strain as I was able, dwelling at some length upon
my passion, upon the high birth, as well as the numerous good qualities
of the object, but mentioning not her name; and I added everything that
I thought likely to enlist my uncle's kind and warm feelings on my
behalf. These letters produced the following ones:--


FROM SIR WILLIAM DEVEREUX.

'Sdeath, nephew Morton,--but I won't scold thee, though thou deservest
it. Let me see, thou art now scarce twenty, and thou talkest of
marriage, which is the exclusive business of middle age, as familiarly
as "girls of thirteen do of puppy-dogs." Marry!--go hang thyself
rather. Marriage, my dear boy, is at the best a treacherous proceeding;
and a friend--a true friend--will never counsel another to adopt it
rashly. Look you: I have had experience in these matters; and, I think,
the moment a woman is wedded some terrible revolution happens in her
system; all her former good qualities vanish, _hey presto_! like eggs
out of a conjuror's box; 'tis true they appear on t' other side of the
box, the side turned to other people, but for the poor husband they are
gone forever. Ods fish, Morton, go to! I tell thee again that I have
had experience in these matters which thou never hast had, clever as
thou thinkest thyself. If now it were a good marriage thou wert about
to make; if thou wert going to wed power, and money, and places at
court,--why, something might be said for thee. As it is, there is no
excuse--none. And I am astonished how a boy of thy sense could think of
such nonsense. Birth, Morton, what the devil does that signify so long
as it is birth in another country? A foreign damsel, and a Spanish
girl, too, above all others! 'Sdeath, man, as if there was not
quicksilver enough in the English women for you, you must make a
mercurial exportation from Spain, must you! Why, Morton, Morton, the
ladies in that country are proverbial. I tremble at the very thought of
it. But as for my consent, I never will give it,--never; and though I
threaten thee not with disinheritance and such like, yet I do ask
something in return for the great affection I have always borne thee;
and I make no doubt that thou wilt readily oblige me in such a trifle as
giving up a mere Spanish donna. So think of her no more. If thou
wantest to make love, there are ladies in plenty whom thou needest not
to marry. And for my part, I thought that thou wert all in all with the
Lady Hasselton: Heaven bless her pretty face! Now don't think I want to
scold thee; and don't think thine old uncle harsh,--God knows he is
not,--but my dear, dear boy, this is quite out of the question, and thou
must let me hear no more about it. The gout cripples me so that I must
leave off. Ever thine old uncle,

   WILLIAM DEVEREUX.

P. S. Upon consideration, I think, my dear boy, that thou must want
money, and thou art ever too sparing. Messrs. Child, or my goldsmiths
in Aldersgate, have my orders to pay to thy hand's-writing whatever thou
mayst desire; and I do hope that thou wilt now want nothing to make thee
merry withal. Why dost thou not write a comedy? is it not the mode
still?


LETTER FROM AUBREY DEVEREUX.

I have sounded my uncle, dearest Morton, according to your wishes; and I
grieve to say that I have found him inexorable. He was very much hurt
by your letter to him, and declared he should write to you forthwith
upon the subject. I represented to him all that you have said upon the
virtues of your intended bride; and I also insisted upon your clear
judgment and strong sense upon most points being a sufficient surety for
your prudence upon this. But you know the libertine opinions and the
depreciating judgment of women entertained by my poor uncle; and he
would, I believe, have been less displeased with the heinous crime of an
illicit connection than the amiable weakness of an imprudent marriage--I
might say of any marriage--until it was time to provide heirs to the
estate.


Here Aubrey, in the most affectionate and earnest manner, broke off, to
point out to me the extreme danger to my interests that it would be to
disoblige my uncle; who, despite his general kindness, would, upon a
disagreement on so tender a matter as his sore point, and his most
cherished hobby, consider my disobedience as a personal affront. He
also recalled to me all that my uncle had felt and done for me; and
insisted, at all events, upon the absolute duty of my delaying, even
though I should not break off, the intended measure. Upon these points
he enlarged much and eloquently; and this part of his letter certainly
left no cheering or comfortable impression upon my mind.

Now my good uncle knew as much of love as L. Mummius did of the fine
arts,* and it was impossible to persuade him that if one wanted to
indulge the tender passion, one woman would not do exactly as well as
another, provided she were equally pretty. I knew therefore that he was
incapable, on the one hand, of understanding my love for Isora, or, on
the other, of acknowledging her claims upon me. I had not, of course,
mentioned to him the generous imprudence which, on the news of my wound,
had brought Isora to my house: for if I had done so, my uncle, with the
eye of a courtier of Charles II., would only have seen the advantage to
be derived from the impropriety, not the gratitude due to the devotion;
neither had I mentioned this circumstance to Aubrey,--it seemed to me
too delicate for any written communication; and therefore, in his advice
to delay my marriage, he was unaware of the necessity which rendered the
advice unavailing. Now then was I in this dilemma, either to marry, and
that _instanter_, and so, seemingly, with the most hasty and the most
insolent decorum, incense, wound, and in his interpretation of the act,
contemn one whom I loved as I loved my uncle; or, to delay the marriage,
to separate Isora, and to leave my future wife to the malignant
consequences that would necessarily be drawn from a sojourn of weeks in
my house. This fact there was no chance of concealing; servants have
more tongues than Argus had eyes, and my youthful extravagance had
filled my whole house with those pests of society. The latter measure
was impossible, the former was most painful. Was there no third
way?--there was that of a private marriage. This obviated not every
evil; but it removed many: it satisfied my impatient love; it placed
Isora under a sure protection; it secured and established her honour the
moment the ceremony should be declared; and it avoided the seeming
ingratitude and indelicacy of disobeying my uncle, without an effort of
patience to appease him. I should have time and occasion then, I
thought, for soothing and persuading him, and ultimately winning that
consent which I firmly trusted I should sooner or later extract from his
kindness of heart.


* A Roman consul, who, removing the most celebrated remains of Grecian
antiquity to Rome, assured the persons charged with conveying them that,
if they injured any, they should make others to replace them.


That some objections existed to this mediatory plan was true enough:
those objections related to Isora rather than to myself, and she was the
first, on my hinting at the proposal, to overcome its difficulties. The
leading feature in Isora's character was generosity; and, in truth, I
know not a quality more dangerous either to man or woman. Herself was
invariably the last human being whom she seemed to consider; and no
sooner did she ascertain what measure was the most prudent for me to
adopt, than it immediately became that upon which she insisted. Would
it have been possible for me, man of pleasure and of the world as I was
thought to be,--no, my good uncle, though it went to my heart to wound
thee so secretly, it would _not_ have been possible for me, even if I
had not coined my whole nature into love, even if Isora had not been to
me what one smile of Isora's really was,--it would not have been
possible to have sacrificed so noble and so divine a heart, and made
myself, in that sacrifice, a wretch forever. No, my good uncle. I
could not have made that surrender to thy reason, much less to thy
prejudices. But if I have not done great injustice to the knight's
character, I doubt whether the youngest reader will not forgive him for
a want of sympathy with one feeling, when they consider how susceptible
that charming old man was to all others.

And herewith I could discourse most excellent wisdom upon that
mysterious passion of love. I could show, by tracing its causes, and
its inseparable connection with the imagination, that it is only in
certain states of society, as well as in certain periods of life, that
love--real, pure, high love--can be born. Yea, I could prove, to the
nicety of a very problem, that, in the court of Charles II., it would
have been as impossible for such a feeling to find root, as it would be
for myrtle trees to effloresce from a Duvillier periwig. And we are not
to expect a man, however tender and affectionate he may be, to
sympathize with that sentiment in another, which, from the accidents of
birth and position, nothing short of a miracle could have ever produced
in himself.

We were married then in private by a Catholic priest. St. John, and one
old lady who had been my father's godmother--for I wished for a female
assistant in the ceremony, and this old lady could tell no secrets, for,
being excessively deaf, nobody ever talked to her, and indeed she
scarcely ever went abroad--were the sole witnesses. I took a small
house in the immediate neighbourhood of London; it was surrounded on all
sides with a high wall which defied alike curiosity and attack. This
was, indeed, the sole reason which had induced me to prefer it to many
more gaudy or more graceful dwellings. But within I had furnished it
with every luxury that wealth, the most lavish and unsparing, could
procure. Thither, under an assumed name, I brought my bride, and there
was the greater part of my time spent. The people I had placed in the
house believed I was a rich merchant, and this accounted for my frequent
absences (absences which Prudence rendered necessary), for the wealth
which I lavished, and for the precautions of bolt, bar, and wall, which
they imagined the result of commercial caution.

Oh the intoxication of that sweet Elysium, that Tadmor in life's
desert,--the possession of the one whom we have first loved! It is as
if poetry, and music, and light, and the fresh breath of flowers, were
all blended into one being, and from that being rose our existence! It
is content made rapture,--nothing to wish for, yet everything to feel!
Was that air the air which I had breathed hitherto? that earth the earth
which I had hitherto beheld? No, my heart dwelt in a new world, and all
these motley and restless senses were melted into one sense,--deep,
silent, fathomless delight!

Well, too much of this species of love is not fit for a worldly tale,
and I will turn, for the reader's relief, to worldly affections. From
my first reunion with Isora, I had avoided all the former objects and
acquaintances in which my time had been so charmingly employed.
Tarleton was the first to suffer by my new pursuit. "What has altered
you?" said he; "you drink not, neither do you play. The women say you
are grown duller than a Norfolk parson, and neither the Puppet Show nor
the Water Theatre, the Spring Gardens nor the Ring, Wills's nor the Kit
Cat, the Mulberry Garden nor the New Exchange, witness any longer your
homage and devotion. What has come over you?--speak!"

"Apathy!"

"Ah! I understand,--you are tired of these things; pish, man!--go down
into the country, the green fields will revive thee, and send thee back
to London a new man! One would indeed find the town intolerably dull,
if the country were not, happily, a thousand times duller: go to the
country, Count, or I shall drop your friendship."

"Drop it!" said I, yawning, and Tarleton took pet, and did as I desired
him. Now I had got rid of my friend as easily as I had found him,--a
matter that would not have been so readily accomplished had not Mr.
Tarleton owed me certain moneys, concerning which, from the moment he
had "dropped my friendship," good breeding effectually prevented his
saying a single syllable to me ever after. There is no knowing the
blessings of money until one has learned to manage it properly!

So much, then, for the friend; now for the mistress. Lady Hasselton
had, as Tarleton hinted before, resolved to play me a trick of spite;
the reasons of our rupture really were, as I had stated to Tarleton, the
mighty effects of little things. She lived in a sea of trifles, and she
was desperately angry if her lover was not always sailing a
pleasure-boat in the same ocean. Now this was expecting too much from
me, and, after twisting our silken strings of attachment into all manner
of fantastic forms, we fell fairly out one evening and broke the little
ligatures in two. No sooner had I quarrelled with Tarleton than Lady
Hasselton received him in my place, and a week afterwards I was favoured
with an anonymous letter, informing me of the violent passion which a
certain _dame de la cour_ had conceived for me, and requesting me to
meet her at an appointed place. I looked twice over the letter, and
discovered in one corner of it two _g's_ peculiar to the caligraphy of
Lady Hasselton, though the rest of the letter (bad spelling excepted)
was pretty decently disguised. Mr. Fielding was with me at the time.
"What disturbs you?" said he, adjusting his knee-buckles.

"Read it!" said I, handing him the letter.

"Body of me, you are a lucky dog!" cried the beau. "You will hasten
thither on the wings of love."

"Not a whit of it," said I; "I suspect that it comes from a rich old
widow whom I hate mortally."

"A rich old widow!" repeated Mr. Fielding, to whose eyes there was
something very piquant in a jointure, and who thought consequently that
there were few virginal flowers equal to a widow's weeds. "A rich old
widow: you are right, Count, you are right. Don't go, don't think of
it. I cannot abide those depraved creatures. Widow, indeed,--quite an
affront to your gallantry."

"Very true," said I. "Suppose you supply my place?"

"I'd sooner be shot first," said Mr. Fielding, taking his departure, and
begging me for the letter to wrap some sugar plums in.

Need I add, that Mr. Fielding repaired to the place of assignation,
where he received, in the shape of a hearty drubbing, the kind favours
intended for me? The story was now left for me to tell, not for the
Lady Hasselton; and that makes all the difference in the manner a story
is told,--_me_ narrante, it is de _te_ fabula narratur; _te_ narrante,
and it is de _me_ fabula, etc. Poor Lady Hasselton! to be laughed at,
and have Tarleton for a lover!

I have gone back somewhat in the progress of my history in order to make
the above honourable mention of my friend and my mistress, thinking it
due to their own merits, and thinking it may also be instructive to
young gentlemen who have not yet seen the world to testify the exact
nature and the probable duration of all the loves and friendships they
are likely to find in that Great Monmouth Street of glittering and of
damaged affections! I now resume the order of narration.

I wrote to Aubrey, thanking him for his intercession, but concealing,
till we met, the measure I had adopted. I wrote also to my uncle,
assuring him that I would take an early opportunity of hastening to
Devereux Court, and conversing with him on the subject of his letter.
And after an interval of some weeks, I received the two following
answers from my correspondents; the latter arrived several days after
the former:--


FROM AUBREY DEVEREUX.

I am glad to understand from your letter, unexplanatory as it is, that
you have followed my advice. I will shortly write to you more at large;
at present I am on the eve of my departure for the North of England, and
have merely time to assure you of my affection.

   AUBREY DEVEREUX.

P. S. Gerald is in London; have you seen him? Oh, this world! this
world! how it clings to us, despite our education, our wishes, our
conscience, our knowledge of the Dread Hereafter!


LETTER FROM SIR WILLIAM DEVEREUX.

MY DEAR NEPHEW,--Thank thee for thy letter, and the new plays thou
sentest me down, and that droll new paper, the "Spectator:" it is a
pretty shallow thing enough,--though it is not so racy as Rochester or
little Sid would have made it; but I thank thee for it, because it shows
thou wast not angry with thine old uncle for opposing thee on thy love
whimsies (in which most young men are dreadfully obstinate), since thou
didst provide so kindly for his amusement. Well, but, Morton, I hope
thou hast got that crotchet clear out of thy mind, and prithee now
_don't_ talk of it when thou comest down to see me. I hate
conversations on marriage more than a boy does flogging,--ods fish, I
do. So you must humour me on that point!

Aubrey has left me again, and I am quite alone,--not that I was much
better off when he was here, for he was wont, of late, to shun my poor
room like a "lazar house," and when I spoke to his mother about it, she
muttered something about "example" and "corrupting." 'Sdeath, Morton,
is your old uncle, who loves all living things, down to poor Ponto the
dog, the sort of man whose example corrupts youth? As for thy mother,
she grows more solitary every day; and I don't know how it is, but I am
not so fond of strange faces as I used to be. 'Tis a new thing for me
to be avoided and alone. Why, I remember even little Sid, who had as
much venom as most men, once said it was impossible to--Fie now--see if
I was not going to preach a sermon from a text in favour of myself! But
come, Morton, come, I long for your face again: it is not so soft as
Aubrey's, nor so regular as Gerald's; but it is twice as kind as either.
Come, before it is too late: I feel myself going; and, to tell thee a
secret, the doctors tell me I may not last many months longer. Come,
and laugh once more at the old knight's stories. Come, and show him
that there is still some one not too good to love him. Come, and I will
tell thee a famous thing of old Rowley, which I am too ill and too sad
to tell thee now.

   WM. DEVEREUX.


Need I say that, upon receiving this letter, I resolved, without any
delay, to set out for Devereux Court? I summoned Desmarais to me; he
answered not my call: he was from home,--an unfrequent occurrence with
the necessitarian valet. I waited his return, which was not for some
hours, in order to give him sundry orders for my departure. The
exquisite Desmarais hemmed thrice,--"Will Monsieur be so very kind as to
excuse my accompanying him?" said he, with his usual air and tone of
obsequious respect.

"And why?" The valet explained. A relation of his was in England only
for a few days: the philosopher was most anxious to enjoy his society, a
pleasure which fate might not again allow him.

Though I had grown accustomed to the man's services, and did not like to
lose him even for a time, yet I could not refuse his request; and I
therefore ordered another of my servants to supply his place. This
change, however, determined me to adopt a plan which I had before
meditated; namely, the conveying of my own person to Devereux Court on
horseback, and sending my servant with my luggage in my post-chaise.
The equestrian mode of travelling is, indeed to this day, the one most
pleasing to me; and the reader will find me pursuing it many years
afterwards, and to the same spot.

I might as well observe here that I had never intrusted Desmarais--no,
nor one of my own servants--with the secret of my marriage with, or my
visits to, Isora. I am a very fastidious person on those matters; and
of all confidants, even in the most trifling affairs, I do most eschew
those by whom we have the miserable honour of being served.

In order, then, to avoid having my horse brought me to Isora's house by
any of these menial spies, I took the steed which I had selected for my
journey, and rode to Isora's with the intention of spending the evening
there, and thence commencing my excursion with the morning light.



CHAPTER II.

LOVE; PARTING; A DEATH-BED.--AFTER ALL HUMAN NATURE IS A BEAUTIFUL
FABRIC; AND EVEN ITS IMPERFECTIONS ARE NOT ODIOUS TO HIM WHO HAS STUDIED
THE SCIENCE OF ITS ARCHITECTURE, AND FORMED A REVERENT ESTIMATE OF ITS
CREATOR.

IT is a noticeable thing how much fear increases love. I mean--for the
aphorism requires explanation--how much we love in proportion to our
fear of losing (or even to our fear of injury done to) the beloved
object. 'Tis an instance of the reaction of the feelings: the love
produces the fear, and the fear reproduces the love. This is one
reason, among many, why women love so much more tenderly and anxiously
than we do; and it is also one reason among many why frequent absences
are, in all stages of love, the most keen exciters of the passion. I
never breathed, away from Isora, without trembling for her safety. I
trembled lest this Barnard, if so I should still continue to call her
persecutor, should again discover and again molest her. Whenever (and
that was almost daily) I rode to the quiet and remote dwelling I had
procured her, my heart beat so vehemently, and my agitation was so
intense, that on arriving at the gate I have frequently been unable, for
several minutes, to demand admittance. There was, therefore, in the
mysterious danger which ever seemed to hang over Isora, a perpetual
irritation to a love otherwise but little inclined to slumber; and this
constant excitement took away from the torpor into which domestic
affection too often languishes, and increased my passion even while it
diminished my happiness.

On my arrival now at Isora's, I found her already stationed at the
window, watching for my coming. How her dark eyes lit into lustre when
they saw me! How the rich blood mantled up under the soft cheek which
feeling had refined of late into a paler hue than it was wont, when I
first gazed upon it, to wear! Then how sprang forth her light step to
meet me! How trembled her low voice to welcome me! How spoke, from
every gesture of her graceful form, the anxious, joyful, all-animating
gladness of her heart! It is a melancholy pleasure to the dry, harsh
afterthoughts of later life, to think one has been thus loved; and one
marvels, when one considers what one is now, how it could have ever
been! That love _of ours_ was never made for after years! It could
never have flowed into the common and cold channel of ordinary affairs!
It could never have been mingled with the petty cares and the low
objects with which the loves of all who live long together in this
sordid and most earthly earth are sooner or later blended! We could not
have spared to others an atom of the great wealth of our affection. We
were misers of every coin in that boundless treasury. It would have
pierced me to the soul to have seen Isora smile upon another. I know
not even, had we had children, if I should not have been jealous of my
child! Was this selfish love? yes, it was, intensely, wholly selfish;
but it was a love made so only by its excess; nothing selfish on a
smaller scale polluted it. There was not on earth that which the one
would not have forfeited at the lightest desire of the other. So
utterly were happiness and Isora entwined together that I could form no
idea of the one with which the other was not connected. Was this love
made for the many and miry roads through which man must travel? Was it
made for age, or, worse than age, for those cool, ambitious, scheming
years that we call mature, in which all the luxuriance and verdure of
things are pared into tame shapes that mimic life, but a life that is
estranged from Nature, in which art is the only beauty and regularity
the only grace? No, in my heart of hearts, I feel that our love was not
meant for the stages of life through which I have already passed; it
would have made us miserable to see it fritter itself away, and to
remember what it once was. Better as it is! better to mourn over the
green bough than to look upon the sapless stem. You who now glance over
these pages, are you a mother? If so, answer me one question: Would you
not rather that the child whom you have cherished with your soul's care,
whom you have nurtured at your bosom, whose young joys your eyes have
sparkled to behold, whose lightest grief you have wept to witness as you
would have wept not for your own; over whose pure and unvexed sleep you
have watched and prayed, and, as it lay before you thus still and
unconscious of your vigil, have shaped out, oh, such bright hopes for
its future lot,--would you not rather that while thus young and
innocent, not a care tasted, not a crime incurred, it went down at once
into the dark grave? Would you not rather suffer this grief, bitter
though it be, than watch the predestined victim grow and ripen, and wind
itself more and more around your heart, and when it is of full and
mature age, and you yourself are stricken by years, and can form no new
ties to replace the old that are severed, when woes have already bowed
the darling of your hope, whom woe never was to touch, when sins have
already darkened the bright, seraph, unclouded heart which sin never was
to dim,--behold it sink day by day altered, diseased, decayed, into the
tomb which its childhood had in vain escaped? Answer me: would not the
earlier fate be far gentler than the last? And if you _have_ known and
wept over that early tomb, if you have seen the infant flower fade away
from the green soil of your affections; if you have missed the bounding
step, and the laughing eye, and the winning mirth which made this
sterile world a perpetual holiday,--Mother of the Lost, if you have
known, and you still pine for these, answer me yet again! Is it not a
comfort, even while you mourn, to think of all that that breast, now so
silent, has escaped? The cream, the sparkle, the elixir of life, it had
already quaffed: is it not sweet to think it shunned the wormwood and
the dregs? Answer me, even though the answer be in tears! Mourner,
your child was to you what my early and only love was to me; and could
you pierce down, down through a thousand fathom of ebbing thought, to
the far depths of my heart, you would there behold a sorrow _and a
consolation_ that have something in unison with your own!

When the light of the next morning broke into our room, Isora was still
sleeping. Have you ever observed that the young, seen asleep and by the
morning light, seem much younger even than they are? partly because the
air and the light sleep of dawn bring a fresher bloom to the cheek, and
partly, because the careless negligence and the graceful postures
exclusively appropriated to youth, are forbidden by custom and formality
through the day, and developing themselves unconsciously in sleep, they
strike the eye like the ease and freedom of childhood itself. There, as
I looked upon Isora's tranquil and most youthful beauty, over which
circled and breathed an ineffable innocence,--even as the finer and
subtler air, which was imagined by those dreamy bards who kindled the
soft creations of naiad and of nymph, to float around a goddess,--I
could not believe that aught evil awaited one for whom infancy itself
seemed to linger,--linger as if no elder shape and less delicate hue
were meet to be the garment of so much guilelessness and tenderness of
heart. I felt, indeed, while I bent over her, and her regular and
quiet breath came upon my cheek, that feeling which is exactly the
reverse to a presentiment of ill. I felt as if, secure in her own
purity, she had nothing to dread, so that even the pang of parting was
lost in the confidence which stole over me as I then gazed.

I rose gently, went to the next room, and dressed myself; I heard my
horse neighing beneath, as the servant walked him lazily to and fro. I
re-entered the bed-chamber in order to take leave of Isora; she was
already up. "What!" said I, "it is but three minutes since I left you
asleep, and I stole away as time does when with you."

"Ah!" said Isora, smiling and blushing too, "but for my part, I think
there is an instinct to know, even if all the senses were shut up,
whether the one we love is with us or not. The moment you left me, I
felt it at once, even in sleep, and I woke. But you will not, no, you
will not leave me yet!"

I think I see Isora now, as she stood by the window which she had
opened, with a woman's minute anxiety, to survey even the aspect of the
clouds, and beseech caution against the treachery of the skies. I think
I see her now, as she stood the moment after I had torn myself from her
embrace, and had looked back, as I reached the door, for one parting
glance,--her eyes all tenderness, her lips parted, and quivering with
the attempt to smile, the long, glossy ringlets (through whose raven hue
the _purpureum lumen_ broke like an imprisoned sunbeam) straying in
dishevelled beauty over her transparent neck; the throat bent in mute
despondency; the head drooping; the arms half extended, and dropping
gradually as my steps departed; the sunken, absorbed expression of face,
form, and gesture, so steeped in the very bitterness of dejection,--all
are before me now, sorrowful, and lovely in sorrow, as they were beheld
years ago, by the gray, cold, comfortless light of morning!

"God bless you,--my own, own love," I said; and as my look lingered, I
added, with a full but an assured heart; "and He will!" I tarried no
more: I flung myself on my horse, and rode on as if I were speeding
_to_, and not _from_, my bride.

The noon was far advanced, as, the day after I left Isora, I found
myself entering the park in which Devereux Court is situated. I did not
enter by one of the lodges, but through a private gate. My horse was
thoroughly jaded; for the distance I had come was great, and I had
ridden rapidly; and as I came into the park, I dismounted, and, throwing
the rein over my arm, proceeded slowly on foot. I was passing through a
thick, long plantation, which belted the park and in which several walks
and rides had been cut, when a man crossed the same road which I took,
at a little distance before me. He was looking on the ground, and
appeared wrapt in such earnest meditation that he neither saw nor heard
me. But I had seen enough of him, in that brief space of time, to feel
convinced that it was Montreuil whom I beheld. What brought him hither,
him, whom I believed in London, immersed with Gerald in political
schemes, and for whom these woods were not only interdicted ground, but
to whom they must have also been but a tame field of interest, after his
audiences with ministers and nobles? I did not, however, pause to
consider on his apparition; I rather quickened my pace towards the
house, in the expectation of there ascertaining the cause of his visit.

The great gates of the outer court were open as usual: I rode
unheedingly through them, and was soon at the door of the hall. The
porter, who unfolded to my summons the ponderous door, uttered, when he
saw me, an exclamation that seemed to my ear to have in it more of
sorrow than welcome.

"How is your master?" I asked.

The man shook his head, but did not hasten to answer; and, impressed
with a vague alarm, I hurried on without repeating the question. On the
staircase I met old Nicholls, my uncle's valet; I stopped and questioned
him. My uncle had been seized on the preceding day with gout in the
stomach; medical aid had been procured, but it was feared ineffectually,
and the physicians had declared, about an hour before I arrived, that he
could not, in human probability, outlive the night. Stifling the rising
at my heart, I waited to hear no more: I flew up the stairs; I was at
the door of my uncle's chamber; I stopped there, and listened; all was
still; I opened the door gently; I stole in, and, creeping to the
bedside, knelt down and covered my face with my hands; for I required a
pause for self-possession, before I had courage to look up. When I
raised my eyes, I saw my mother on the opposite side; she sat on a chair
with a draught of medicine in one hand, and a watch in the other. She
caught my eye, but did not speak; she gave me a sign of recognition, and
looked down again upon the watch. My uncle's back was turned to me, and
he lay so still that, for some moments, I thought he was asleep; at
last, however, he moved restlessly.

"It is past noon!" said he to my mother, "is it not?"

"It is three minutes and six seconds after four," replied my mother,
looking closer at the watch.

My uncle sighed. "They have sent an express for the dear boy, Madam?"
said he.

"Exactly at half-past nine last evening," answered my mother, glancing
at me.

"He could scarcely be here by this time," said my uncle, and he moved
again in the bed. "Pish, how the pillow frets one!"

"Is it too high?" said my mother.

"No," said my uncle, faintly, "no--no--the discomfort is not in the
pillow, after all: 'tis a fine day; is it not?"

"Very!" said my mother; "I wish you could go out."

My uncle did not answer: there was a pause. "Ods fish, Madam, are those
carriage wheels?"

"No, Sir William--but--"

"There _are_ sounds in my ear; my senses grow dim," said my uncle,
unheeding her: "would that I might live another day; I should not like
to die without seeing him. 'Sdeath, Madam, I do hear something
behind!--Sobs, as I live!--Who sobs for the old knight?" and my uncle
turned round, and saw me.

"My dear--dear uncle!" I said, and could say no more.

"Ah, Morton," cried the kind old man, putting his hand affectionately
upon mine. "Beshrew me, but I think I have conquered the grim enemy now
that you are come. But what's this, my boy?--tears--tears,--why, little
Sid--no, nor Rochester either, would ever have believed this if I had
sworn it! Cheer up, cheer up."

But, seeing that I wept and sobbed the more, my uncle, after a pause,
continued in the somewhat figurative strain which the reader has
observed he sometimes adopted, and which perhaps his dramatic studies
had taught him.

"Nay, Morton, what do you grieve for?--that Age should throw off its
fardel of aches and pains, and no longer groan along its weary road,
meeting cold looks and unwilling welcomes, as both host and comrade grow
weary of the same face, and the spendthrift heart has no longer quip or
smile wherewith to pay the reckoning? No, no: let the poor pedler
shuffle off his dull pack, and fall asleep. But I am glad you are come:
I would sooner have one of your kind looks at your uncle's stale saws or
jests than all the long faces about me, saving only the presence of your
mother;" and with his characteristic gallantry, my uncle turned
courteously to her.

"Dear Sir William!" said she, "it is time you should take your draught;
and then would it not be better that you should see the chaplain? he
waits without."

"Ods fish," said my uncle, turning again to me, "'tis the way with them
all: when the body is past hope comes the physician, and when the soul
is past mending comes the priest. No, Madam, no, 'tis too late for
either.--Thank ye, Morton, thank ye" (as I started up--took the draught
from my mother's hand, and besought him to drink it), "'tis of no use;
but if it pleases thee, I must,"--and he drank the medicine.

My mother rose, and walked towards the door: it was ajar; and, as my eye
followed her figure, I perceived, through the opening, the black garb of
the chaplain.

"Not yet," said she, quietly; "wait." And then gliding away, seated
herself by the window in silence, and told her beads.

My uncle continued: "They have been at me, Morton, as if I had been a
pagan; and I believe, in their hearts, they are not a little scandalized
that I don't try to win the next world by trembling like an ague. Faith
now, I never could believe that Heaven was so partial to cowards; nor
can I think, Morton, that Salvation is like a soldier's muster-roll, and
that we may play the devil between hours, so that, at the last moment,
we whip in, and answer to our names. Ods fish, Morton, I could tell
thee a tale of that; but 'tis a long one, and we have not time now.
Well, well, for my part, I deem reverently and gratefully of God, and do
not believe He will be very wroth with our past enjoyment of life, if we
have taken care that others should enjoy it too; nor do I think, with
thy good mother, and Aubrey, dear child! that an idle word has the same
weight in the Almighty's scales as a wicked deed."

"Blessed, blessed, are they," I cried through my tears, "on whose souls
there is as little stain as there is on yours!"

"Faith, Morton, that's kindly said; and thou knowest not how strangely
it sounds, after their exhortations to repentance. I know I have had my
faults, and walked on to our common goal in a very irregular line; but I
never wronged the living nor slandered the dead, nor ever shut my heart
to the poor,--'t were a burning sin if I had,--and I have loved all men
and all things, and I never bore ill-will to a creature. Poor Ponto,
Morton, thou wilt take care of poor Ponto, when I'm dead,--nay, nay,
don't grieve so. Go, my child, go: compose thyself while I see the
priest, for 't will please thy poor mother; and though she thinks
harshly of me now, I should not like her to do so _to-morrow_! Go, my
dear boy, go."

I went from the room, and waited by the door, till the office of the
priest was over. My mother then came out, and said Sir William had
composed himself to sleep. While she was yet speaking, Gerald surprised
me by his appearance. I learned that he had been in the house for the
last three days, and when I heard this, I involuntarily accounted for
the appearance of Montreuil. I saluted him distantly, and he returned
my greeting with the like pride. He seemed, however, though in a less
degree, to share in my emotions; and my heart softened to him for it.
Nevertheless we stood apart, and met not as brothers should have met by
the death-bed of a mutual benefactor.

"Will you wait without?" said my mother.

"No," answered I, "I will watch over him." So I stole in, with a light
step, and seated myself by my uncle's bed-side. He was asleep, and his
sleep was as hushed and quiet as an infant's. I looked upon his face,
and saw a change had come over it, and was increasing sensibly: but
there was neither harshness nor darkness in the change, awful as it was.
The soul, so long nurtured on benevolence, could not, in parting, leave
a rude stamp on the kindly clay which had seconded its impulses so well.

The evening had just set in, when my uncle woke; he turned very gently,
and smiled when he saw me.

"It is late," said he, and I observed with a wrung heart, that his voice
was fainter.

"No, Sir, not very," said I.

"Late enough, my child; the warm sun has gone down; and 'tis a good time
to close one's eyes, when all without looks gray and chill: methinks it
is easier to wish thee farewell, Morton, when I see thy face
indistinctly. I am glad I shall not die in the daytime. Give me thy
hand, my child, and tell me that thou art not angry with thine old uncle
for thwarting thee in that love business. I have heard tales of the
girl, too, which made me glad, for thy sake, that it is all off, though
I might not tell thee of them before. 'Tis very dark, Morton. I have
had a pleasant sleep. Ods fish, I do not think a bad man would have
slept so well. The fire burns dim, Morton: it is very cold. Cover me
up; double the counterpane over the legs, Morton. I remember once
walking in the Mall; little Sid said, 'Devereux'--it is colder and
colder, Morton; raise the blankets more over the back; 'Devereux,' said
little Sid--faith, Morton, 'tis ice now--where art thou?--is the fire
out, that I can't see thee? Remember thine old uncle, Morton--and--
and--don't forget poor--Ponto. Bless thee, my child; bless you all!"

And my uncle died!



CHAPTER III.

A GREAT CHANGE OF PROSPECTS.

I SHUT myself up in the apartments prepared for me (they were not those
I had formerly occupied), and refused all participation in my solitude,
till, after an interval of some days, my mother came to summon me to the
opening of the will. She was more moved than I had expected. "It is a
pity," said she, as we descended the stairs, "that Aubrey is not here,
and that we should be so unacquainted with the exact place where he is
likely to be that I fear the letter I sent him may be long delayed, or,
indeed, altogether miscarry."

"Is not the Abbe here?" said I, listlessly.

"No!" answered my mother, "to be sure not."

"He has _been_ here," said I, greatly surprised. "I certainly saw him
on the day of my arrival."

"Impossible!" said my mother, in evident astonishment; and seeing that,
at all events, she was unacquainted with the circumstance, I said no
more.

The will was to be read in the little room where my uncle had been
accustomed to sit. I felt it as a sacrilege to his memory to choose
that spot for such an office, but I said nothing. Gerald and my mother,
the lawyer (a neighbouring attorney, named Oswald), and myself were the
only persons present. Mr. Oswald hemmed thrice, and broke the seal.
After a preliminary, strongly characteristic of the testator, he came to
the disposition of the estates. I had never once, since my poor uncle's
death, thought upon the chances of his will; indeed, knowing myself so
entirely his favourite, I could not, if I had thought upon them, have
entertained a doubt as to their result. What then was my astonishment
when, couched in terms of the strongest affection, the whole bulk of the
property was bequeathed to Gerald; to Aubrey the sum of forty, to myself
that of twenty thousand pounds (a capital considerably less than the
yearly income of my uncle's princely estates), was allotted. Then
followed a list of minor bequests,--to my mother an annuity of three
thousand a year, with the privilege of apartments in the house during
her life; to each of the servants legacies sufficient for independence;
to a few friends, and distant connections of the family, tokens of the
testator's remembrance,--even the horses to his carriage, and the dogs
that fed from his menials' table, were not forgotten, but were to be set
apart from work, and maintained in indolence during their remaining span
of life. The will was concluded: I could not believe my senses; not a
word was said as a reason for giving Gerald the priority.

I rose calmly enough. "Suffer me, Sir," said I to the lawyer, "to
satisfy my own eyes." Mr. Oswald bowed, and placed the will in my
hands. I glanced at Gerald as I took it: his countenance betrayed, or
feigned, an astonishment equal to my own. With a jealous, searching,
scrutinizing eye, I examined the words of the bequest; I examined
especially (for I suspected that the names must have been exchanged) the
place in which my name and Gerald's occurred. In vain: all was smooth
and fair to the eye, not a vestige of possible erasure or alteration was
visible. I looked next at the wording of the will: it was evidently my
uncle's; no one could have feigned or imitated the peculiar turn of his
expressions; and, above all, many parts of the will (the affectionate
and personal parts) were in his own handwriting.

"The date," said I, "is, I perceive, of very recent period; the will is
signed by two witnesses besides yourself. Who and where are they?"

"Robert Lister, the first signature, my clerk; he is since dead, Sir."

"Dead!" said I; "and the other witness, George Davis?"

"Is one of Sir William's tenants, and is below, Sir, in waiting."

"Let him come up," and a middle-sized, stout man, with a blunt, bold,
open countenance, was admitted.

"Did you witness this will?" said I.

"I did, your honour!"

"And this is your handwriting?" pointing to the scarcely legible scrawl.

"Yees, your honour," said the man, scratching his head, "I think it be;
they are my _ees_, and G, and D, sure enough."

"And do you know the purport of the will you signed?"

"Anan!"

"I mean, do you know to whom Sir William--stop, Mr. Oswald, suffer the
man to answer me--to whom Sir William left his property?"

"Noa, to be sure, Sir; the will was a woundy long one, and Maister
Oswald there told me it was no use to read it over to me, but merely to
sign, as a witness to Sir William's handwriting."

"Enough: you may retire;" and George Davis vanished.

"Mr. Oswald," said I, approaching the attorney, "I may wrong you, and if
so, I am sorry for it, but I suspect there has been foul practice in
this deed. I have reason to be convinced that Sir William Devereux
could never have made this devise. I give you warning, Sir, that I
shall bring the business immediately before a court of law, and that if
guilty--ay, tremble, Sir--of what I suspect, you will answer for this
deed at the foot of the gallows."

I turned to Gerald, who rose while I was yet speaking. Before I could
address him, he exclaimed, with evident and extreme agitation,

"You cannot, Morton,--you cannot--you dare not--insinuate that I, your
brother, have been base enough to forge, or to instigate the forgery of,
this will?"

Gerald's agitation made me still less doubtful of his guilt.

"The case, Sir," I answered coldly, "stands thus: my uncle could not
have made this will; it is a devise that must seem incredible to all who
knew aught of our domestic circumstances. Fraud has been practised, how
I know not; by whom I do know."

"Morton, Morton: this is insufferable; I cannot bear such charges, even
from a brother."

"Charges!--your conscience speaks, Sir,--not I; no one benefits by this
fraud but you: pardon me if I draw an inference from a fact."

So saying, I turned on my heel, and abruptly left the apartment. I
ascended the stairs which led to my own: there I found my servant
preparing the paraphernalia in which that very evening I was to attend
my uncle's funeral. I gave him, with a calm and collected voice, the
necessary instructions for following me to town immediately after that
event, and then I passed on to the room where the deceased lay in state.
The room was hung with black: the gorgeous pall, wrought with the proud
heraldry of our line, lay over the coffin; and by the lights which made,
in that old chamber, a more brilliant, yet more ghastly, day, sat the
hired watchers of the dead.

I bade them leave me, and kneeling down beside the coffin, I poured out
the last expressions of my grief. I rose, and was retiring once more to
my room, when I encountered Gerald.

"Morton," said he, "I own to you, I myself am astounded by my uncle's
will. I do not come to make you offers; you would not accept them: I do
not come to vindicate myself, it is beneath me; and we have never been
as brothers, and we know not their language: but I _do_ come to demand
you to retract the dark and causeless suspicions you have vented against
me, and also to assure you that, if you have doubts of the authenticity
of the will, so far from throwing obstacles in your way, I myself will
join in the inquiries you institute and the expenses of the law."

I felt some difficulty in curbing my indignation while Gerald thus
spoke. I saw before me the persecutor of Isora, the fraudulent robber
of my rights, and I heard this enemy speak to me of aiding in the
inquiries which were to convict himself of the basest, if not the
blackest, of human crimes; there was something too in the reserved and
yet insolent tone of his voice which, reminding me as it did of our long
aversion to each other, made my very blood creep with abhorrence. I
turned away, that I might not break my oath to Isora, for I felt
strongly tempted to do so; and said in as calm an accent as I could
command, "The case will, I trust, require no king's evidence; and, at
least, I will not be beholden to the man whom my reason condemns for any
assistance in bringing upon himself the ultimate condemnation of the
law."

Gerald looked at me sternly. "Were you not my brother," said he, in a
low tone, "I would, for a charge so dishonouring my fair name, strike
you dead at my feet."

"It is a wonderful exertion of fraternal love," I rejoined, with a
scornful laugh, but an eye flashing with passions a thousand times more
fierce than scorn, "that prevents your adding that last favour to those
you have already bestowed on me."

Gerald, with a muttered curse, placed his hand upon his sword; my own
rapier was instantly half drawn, when, to save us from the great guilt
of mortal contest against each other, steps were heard, and a number of
the domestics charged with melancholy duties at the approaching rite,
were seen slowly sweeping in black robes along the opposite gallery.
Perhaps that interruption restored both of us to our senses, for we
said, almost in the same breath, and nearly in the same phrase, "This
way of terminating strife is not for us;" and, as Gerald spoke, he
turned slowly away, descended the staircase, and disappeared.

The funeral took place at night: a numerous procession of the tenants
and peasantry attended. My poor uncle! there was not a dry eye for
thee, but those of thine own kindred. Tall, stately, erect in the power
and majesty of his unrivalled form, stood Gerald, already assuming the
dignity and lordship which, to speak frankly, so well became him; my
mother's face was turned from me, but her attitude proclaimed her
utterly absorbed in prayer. As for myself, my heart seemed hardened: I
could not betray to the gaze of a hundred strangers the emotions which I
would have hidden from those whom I loved the most. Wrapped in my
cloak, with arms folded on my breast, and eyes bent to the ground, I
leaned against one of the pillars of the chapel, apart, and apparently
unmoved.

But when they were about to lower the body into the vault, a momentary
weakness came over me. I made an involuntary step forward, a single but
deep groan of anguish broke from me, and then, covering my face with my
mantle, I resumed my former attitude, and all was still. The rite was
over; in many and broken groups the spectators passed from the chapel:
some to speculate on the future lord, some to mourn over the late, and
all to return the next morning to their wonted business, and let the
glad sun teach them to forget the past, until for themselves the sun
should be no more, and the forgetfulness eternal.

The hour was so late that I relinquished my intention of leaving the
house that night; I ordered my horse to be in readiness at daybreak and
before I retired to rest I went to my mother's apartments: she received
me with more feeling than she had ever testified before.

"Believe me, Morton," said she, and she kissed my forehead; "believe me,
I can fully enter into the feelings which you must naturally experience
on an event so contrary to your expectations. I cannot conceal from you
how much I am surprised. Certainly Sir William never gave any of us
cause to suppose that he liked either of your brothers--Gerald less than
Aubrey--so much as yourself; nor, poor man, was he in other things at
all addicted to conceal his opinions."

"It is true, my mother," said I; "it is true. Have you not therefore
some suspicions of the authenticity of the will?"

"Suspicions!" cried my mother. "No!--impossible!--suspicions of whom?
You could not think Gerald so base, and who else had an interest in
deception? Besides, the signature is undoubtedly Sir William's
handwriting, and the will was regularly witnessed; suspicions,
Morton,--no, impossible! Reflect, too, how eccentric and humoursome
your uncle always was: suspicions!--no, impossible!"

"Such things have been, my mother, nor are they uncommon: men will
hazard their souls, ay, and what to some are more precious still, their
lives too, for the vile clay we call money. But enough of this now: the
Law,--that great arbiter,--that eater of the oyster, and divider of its
shells,--the Law will decide between us, and if against me, as I suppose
and fear the decision will be,--why, I must be a suitor to fortune
instead of her commander. Give me your blessing, my dearest mother: I
cannot stay longer in this house; to-morrow I leave you."

And my mother did bless me, and I fell upon her neck and clung to it.
"Ah!" thought I, "this blessing is almost worth my uncle's fortune."

I returned to my room; there I saw on the table the case of the sword
sent me by the French king. I had left it with my uncle, on my
departure to town, and it had been found among his effects and reclaimed
by me. I took out the sword, and drew it from the scabbard. "Come,"
said I, and I kindled with a melancholy yet a deep enthusiasm, as I
looked along the blade, "come, my bright friend, with thee through this
labyrinth which we call the world will I carve my way! Fairest and
speediest of earth's levellers, thou makest the path from the low valley
to the steep hill, and shapest the soldier's axe into the monarch's
sceptre! The laurel and the fasces, and the curule car, and the
emperor's purple,--what are these but thy playthings, alternately thy
scorn and thy reward! Founder of all empires, propagator of all creeds,
thou leddest the Gaul and the Goth, and the gods of Rome and Greece
crumbled upon their altars! Beneath thee the fires of the Gheber waved
pale, and on thy point the badge of the camel-driver blazed like a sun
over the startled East! Eternal arbiter, and unconquerable despot,
while the passions of mankind exist! Most solemn of hypocrites,
--circling blood with glory as with a halo; and consecrating
homicide and massacre with a hollow name, which the parched throat of
thy votary, in the battle and the agony, shouteth out with its last
breath! Star of all human destinies! I kneel before thee, and invoke
from thy bright astrology an omen and a smile."



CHAPTER IV.

AN EPISODE.--THE SON OF THE GREATEST MAN WHO (ONE ONLY EXCEPTED) _EVER
ROSE TO A THRONE_, BUT BY NO MEANS OF THE GREATEST MAN (SAVE ONE) WHO
_EVER EXISTED_.

BEFORE sunrise the next morning I had commenced my return to London. I
had previously intrusted to the _locum tenens_ of the sage Desmarais,
the royal gift, and (singular conjunction!) poor Ponto, my uncle's dog.
Here let me pause, as I shall have no other opportunity to mention him,
to record the fate of the canine bequest. He accompanied me some years
afterwards to France, and he died there in extreme age. I shed tears as
I saw the last relic of my poor uncle expire, and I was not consoled
even though he was buried in the garden of the gallant Villars, and
immortalized by an epitaph from the pen of the courtly Chaulieu.

Leaving my horse to select his own pace, I surrendered myself to
reflection upon the strange alteration that had taken place in my
fortunes. There did not, in my own mind, rest a doubt but that some
villany had been practised with respect to the will. My uncle's
constant and unvarying favour towards me; the unequivocal expressions he
himself from time to time had dropped indicative of his future
intentions on my behalf; the easy and natural manner in which he had
seemed to consider, as a thing of course, my heritage and succession to
his estates; all, coupled with his own frank and kindly character, so
little disposed to raise hopes which he meant to disappoint, might alone
have been sufficient to arouse my suspicions at a devise so contrary to
all past experience of the testator. But when to these were linked the
bold temper and the daring intellect of my brother, joined to his
personal hatred to myself; his close intimacy with Montreuil, whom I
believed capable of the darkest designs; the sudden and evidently
concealed appearance of the latter on the day my uncle died; the
agitation and paleness of the attorney; the enormous advantages accruing
to Gerald, and to no one else, from the terms of the devise: when these
were all united into one focus of evidence, they appeared to me to leave
no doubt of the forgery of the testament and the crime of Gerald. Nor
was there anything in my brother's bearing and manner calculated to
abate my suspicions. His agitation was real; his surprise might have
been feigned; his offer of assistance in investigation was an unmeaning
bravado; his conduct to myself testified his continued ill-will towards
me,--an ill-will which might possibly have instigated him in the fraud
scarcely less than the whispers of interest and cupidity.

But while this was the natural and indelible impression on my mind, I
could not disguise from myself the extreme difficulty I should
experience in resisting my brother's claim. So far as my utter want of
all legal knowledge would allow me to decide, I could perceive nothing
in the will itself which would admit of a lawyer's successful cavil: my
reasons for suspicion, so conclusive to myself, would seem nugatory to a
judge. My uncle was known as a humourist; and prove that a man differs
from others in one thing, and the world will believe that he differs
from them in a thousand. His favour to me would be, in the popular eye,
only an eccentricity, and the unlooked-for disposition of his will only
a caprice. Possession, too, gave Gerald a proverbial vantage-ground,
which my whole life might be wasted in contesting; while his command of
an immense wealth might, more than probably, exhaust my spirit by delay,
and my fortune by expenses. Precious prerogative of law, to reverse the
attribute of the Almighty! to fill the _rich_ with good things, but to
send the poor empty away! _In corruptissima republica plurimoe leges_.
Legislation perplexed is synonymous with crime unpunished,--a
reflection, by the way, I should never have made, if I had never had a
law-suit: sufferers are ever reformers.

Revolving, then, these anxious and unpleasing thoughts, interrupted, at
times, by regrets of a purer and less selfish nature for the friend I
had lost, and wandering, at others, to the brighter anticipations of
rejoining Isora, and drinking from her eyes my comfort for the past and
my hope for the future, I continued and concluded my day's travel.

The next day, on resuming my journey, and on feeling the time approach
that would bring me to Isora, something like joy became the most
prevalent feeling in my mind. So true it is that misfortunes little
affect us so long as we have some ulterior object, which, by arousing
hope, steals us from affliction. Alas! the pang of a moment becomes
intolerable when we know of nothing _beyond_ the moment which it soothes
us to anticipate! Happiness lives in the light of the future: attack
the present; she defies you! darken the future, and you destroy her!

It was a beautiful morning: through the vapours, which rolled slowly
away beneath his beams, the sun broke gloriously forth; and over wood
and hill, and the low plains, which, covered with golden corn, stretched
immediately before me, his smile lay in stillness, but in joy. And ever
from out the brake and the scattered copse, which at frequent intervals
beset the road, the merry birds sent a fitful and glad music to mingle
with the sweets and freshness of the air.

I had accomplished the greater part of my journey, and had entered into
a more wooded and garden-like description of country, when I perceived
an old man, in a kind of low chaise, vainly endeavouring to hold in a
little but spirited horse, which had taken alarm at some object on the
road, and was running away with its driver. The age of the gentleman
and the lightness of the chaise gave me some alarm for the safety of the
driver; so, tying my own horse to a gate, lest the sound of his hoofs
might only increase the speed and fear of the fugitive, I ran with a
swift and noiseless step along the other side of the hedge and, coming
out into the road just before the pony's head, I succeeded in arresting
him, at a rather critical spot and moment. The old gentleman very soon
recovered his alarm; and, returning me many thanks for my interference,
requested me to accompany him to his house, which he said was two or
three miles distant.

Though I had no desire to be delayed in my journey for the mere sake of
seeing an old gentleman's house, I thought my new acquaintance's safety
required me, at least, to offer to act as his charioteer till we reached
his house. To my secret vexation at that time, though I afterwards
thought the petty inconvenience was amply repaid by a conference with a
very singular and once noted character, the offer was accepted.
Surrendering my own steed to the care of a ragged boy, who promised to
lead it with equal judgment and zeal, I entered the little car, and,
keeping a firm hand and constant eye on the reins, brought the offending
quadruped into a very equable and sedate pace.

"Poor Bob," said the old gentleman, apostrophizing his horse; "poor Bob,
like thy betters, thou knowest the weak hand from the strong; and when
thou art not held in by power, thou wilt chafe against love; so that
thou renewest in my mind the remembrance of its favourite maxim, namely,
'The only preventive to rebellion is restraint!'"

"Your observation, Sir," said I, rather struck by this address, "makes
very little in favour of the more generous feelings by which we ought to
be actuated. It is a base mind which always requires the bit and
bridle."

"It is, Sir," answered the old gentleman; "I allow it: but, though I
have some love for human nature, I have no respect for it; and while I
pity its infirmities, I cannot but confess them."

"Methinks, Sir," replied I, "that you have uttered in that short speech
more sound philosophy than I have heard for months. There is wisdom in
not thinking too loftily of human clay, and benevolence in not judging
it too harshly, and something, too, of magnanimity in this moderation;
for we seldom contemn mankind till they have hurt us, and when they have
hurt us, we seldom do anything but detest them for the injury."

"You speak shrewdly; Sir, for one so young," returned the old man,
looking hard at me; "and I will be sworn you have suffered some cares;
for we never begin to think till we are a little afraid to hope."

I sighed as I answered, "There are some men, I fancy, to whom
constitution supplies the office of care; who, naturally melancholy,
become easily addicted to reflection, and reflection is a soil which
soon repays us for whatever trouble we bestow upon its culture."

"True, Sir!" said my companion; and there was a pause. The old
gentleman resumed: "We are not far from my home now (or rather my
temporary residence, for my proper and general home is at Cheshunt, in
Hertfordshire); and, as the day is scarcely half spent, I trust you will
not object to partake of a hermit's fare. Nay, nay, no excuse: I assure
you that I am not a gossip in general, or a liberal dispenser of
invitations; and I think, if you refuse me now, you will hereafter
regret it."

My curiosity was rather excited by this threat; and, reflecting that my
horse required a short rest, I subdued my impatience to return to town,
and accepted the invitation. We came presently to a house of moderate
size, and rather antique fashion. This, the old man informed me, was
his present abode. A servant, almost as old as his master, came to the
door, and, giving his arm to my host, led him, for he was rather lame
and otherwise infirm, across a small hall into a long low apartment. I
followed.

A miniature of Oliver Cromwell, placed over the chimney-piece, forcibly
arrested my attention.

"It is the only portrait of the Protector I ever saw," said I, "which
impresses on me the certainty of a likeness; that resolute gloomy
brow,--that stubborn lip,--that heavy, yet not stolid expression,--all
seem to warrant a resemblance to that singular and fortunate man, to
whom folly appears to have been as great an instrument of success as
wisdom, and who rose to the supreme power perhaps no less from a
pitiable fanaticism than an admirable genius. So true is it that great
men often soar to their height by qualities the least obvious to the
spectator, and (to stoop to a low comparison) resemble that animal* in
which a common ligament supplies the place and possesses the property of
wings."


* The flying squirrel.


The old man smiled very slightly as I made this remark. "If this be
true," said he, with an impressive tone, "though we may wonder less at
the talents of the Protector, we must be more indulgent to his
character, nor condemn him for insincerity when at heart he himself was
deceived."

"It is in that light," said I, "that I have always viewed his conduct.
And though myself, by prejudice, a Cavalier and a Tory, I own that
Cromwell (hypocrite as he is esteemed) appears to me as much to have
exceeded his royal antagonist and victim in the virtue of sincerity, as
he did in the grandeur of his genius and the profound consistency of his
ambition."

"Sir," said my host, with a warmth that astonished me, "you seem to have
known that man, so justly do you judge him. Yes," said he, after a
pause, "yes, perhaps no one ever so varnished to his own breast his
designs; no one, so covetous of glory, was ever so duped by conscience;
no one ever rose to such a height through so few acts that seemed to
himself worthy of remorse."

At this part of our conversation, the servant, entering, announced
dinner. We adjourned to another room, and partook of a homely yet not
uninviting repast. When men are pleased with each other, conversation
soon gets beyond the ordinary surfaces to talk; and an exchange of
deeper opinions was speedily effected by what old Barnes* quaintly
enough terms, "The gentleman-usher of all knowledge,--Sermocination!"


* In the "Gerania."


It was a pretty, though small room, where we dined; and I observed that
in this apartment, as in the other into which I had been at first
ushered, there were several books scattered about, in that confusion and
number which show that they have become to their owner both the choicest
luxury and the least dispensable necessary. So, during dinner-time, we
talked principally upon books, and I observed that those which my host
seemed to know the best were of the elegant and poetical order of
philosophers, who, more fascinating than deep, preach up the blessings
of a solitude which is useless, and a content which, deprived of
passion, excitement, and energy, would, if it could ever exist, only be
a dignified name for vegetation.

"So," said he, "when, the dinner being removed, we were left alone with
that substitute for all society,--wine! "so you are going to town: in
four hours more you will be in that great focus of noise, falsehood,
hollow joy, and real sorrow. Do you know that I have become so wedded
to the country that I cannot but consider all those who leave it for the
turbulent city, in the same light, half wondering, half compassionating,
as that in which the ancients regarded the hardy adventurers who left
the safe land and their happy homes, voluntarily to expose themselves in
a frail vessel to the dangers of an uncertain sea? Here, when I look
out on the green fields and the blue sky, the quiet herds basking in the
sunshine or scattered over the unpolluted plains, I cannot but exclaim
with Pliny, 'This is the true Movoetov!' this is the source whence flow
inspiration to the mind and tranquillity to the heart! And in my love
of Nature--more confiding and constant than ever is the love we bear to
women--I cry with the tender and sweet Tibullus,--


     "'Ego composito securus acervo
   Despiciam dites, despiciamque famem.'"*


* "Satisfied with my little hoard, I can despise wealth, and fear not
hunger."


"These," said I, "are the sentiments we all (perhaps the most restless
of us the most passionately) at times experience. But there is in our
hearts some secret but irresistible principle that impels us, as a
rolling circle, onward, onward, in the great orbit of our destiny; nor
do we find a respite until the wheels on which we move are broken--at
the tomb."

"Yet," said my host, "the internal principle you speak of can be
arrested before the grave,--at least stilled and impeded. You will
smile incredulously, perhaps (for I see you do not know who I am), when
I tell you that I might once have been a monarch, and that obscurity
seemed to me more enviable than empire; I resigned the occasion: the
tide of fortune rolled onward, and left me safe but solitary and
forsaken upon the dry land. If you wonder at my choice, you will wonder
still more when I tell you that I have never repented it."

Greatly surprised, and even startled, I heard my host make this strange
avowal. "Forgive me," said I, "but you have powerfully excited my
interest; dare I inquire from whose experience I am now deriving a
lesson?"

"Not yet," said my host, smiling, "not till our conversation is over,
and you have bid the old anchorite adieu, in all probability forever:
you will then know that you have conversed with a man, perhaps more
universally neglected and contemned than any of his contemporaries.
Yes," he continued, "yes, I resigned power, and I got no praise for my
moderation, but contempt for my folly; no human being would believe that
I could have relinquished that treasure through a disregard for its
possession which others would only have relinquished through an
incapacity to retain it; and that which, had they seen it recorded in an
ancient history, men would have regarded as the height of philosophy,
they despised when acted under their eyes, as the extremest abasement of
imbecility. Yet I compare my lot with that of the great man whom I was
expected to equal in ambition, and to whose grandeur I might have
succeeded; and am convinced that in this retreat I am more to be envied
than he in the plenitude of his power and the height of his renown; yet
is not happiness the aim of wisdom? if my choice is happier than his, is
it not wiser?"

"Alas," thought I, "the wisest men seldom have the loftiest genius, and
perhaps happiness is granted rather to mediocrity of mind than to
mediocrity of circumstance;" but I did not give so uncourteous a reply
to my host an audible utterance; on the contrary, "I do not doubt," said
I, as I rose to depart, "the wisdom of a choice which has brought you
self-gratulation. And it has been said by a man both great and good, a
man to whose mind was open the lore of the closet and the experience of
courts that, in wisdom or in folly, 'the only difference between one man
and another, is whether a man governs his passions or his passions him.'
According to this rule, which indeed is a classic and a golden aphorism,
Alexander, on the throne of Persia, might have been an idiot to Diogenes
in his tub. And now, Sir, in wishing you farewell, let me again crave
your indulgence to my curiosity."

"Not yet, not yet," answered my host; and he led me once more into the
other room. While they were preparing my horse, we renewed our
conversation. To the best of my recollection, we talked about Plato;
but I had now become so impatient to rejoin Isora that I did not accord
to my worthy host the patient attention I had hitherto given him. When
I took leave of him he blessed me, and placed a piece of paper in my
hand; "Do not open this," said he, "till you are at least two miles
hence; your curiosity will then be satisfied. If ever you travel this
road again, or if ever you pass by Cheshunt, pause and see if the old
philosopher is dead. Adieu!"

And so we parted.

You may be sure that I had not passed the appointed distance of two
miles very far, when I opened the paper and read the following words:--


Perhaps, young stranger, at some future period of a life, which I
venture to foretell will be adventurous and eventful, it may afford you
a matter for reflection, or a resting-spot for a moral, to remember that
you have seen, in old age and obscurity, the son of him who shook an
empire, avenged a people, and obtained a throne, only to be the victim
of his own passions and the dupe of his own reason. I repeat now the
question I before put to you,--Was the fate of the great Protector
fairer than that of the despised and forgotten

            RICHARD CROMWELL?


"So," thought I, "it is indeed with the son of the greatest ruler
England, or perhaps, in modern times, Europe has ever produced, that I
have held this conversation upon content! Yes, perhaps your fate is
more to be envied than that of your illustrious father; but who _would_
envy it more? Strange that while we pretend that happiness is the
object of all desire, happiness is the last thing which we covet. Love
and wealth and pleasure and honour,--these are the roads which we take
so long that, accustomed to the mere travel, we forget that it was first
undertaken not for the course but the goal; and in the common
infatuation which pervades all our race, we make the toil the meed, and
in following the means forsake the end."

I never saw my host again; very shortly afterwards he died:* I and Fate,
which had marked with so strong a separation the lives of the father and
the son, united in that death--as its greatest, so its only universal
blessing--the philosopher and the recluse with the warrior and the
chief!


* Richard Cromwell died in 1712--ED.



CHAPTER V.

IN WHICH THE HERO SHOWS DECISION ON MORE POINTS THAN ONE.--MORE OF
ISORA'S CHARACTER IS DEVELOPED.

To use the fine image in the "Arcadia," it was "when the sun, like a
noble heart, began to show his greatest countenance in his lowest
estate," that I arrived at Isora's door. I had written to her once, to
announce my uncle's death and the day of my return: but I had not
mentioned in my letter my reverse of fortunes; I reserved that
communication till it could be softened by our meeting. I saw by the
countenance of the servant who admitted me that all was well: so I asked
no question; I flew up the stairs; I broke into Isora's chamber, and in
an instant she was in my arms. Ah, Love, Love! wherefore art thou so
transitory a pilgrim on the earth,--an evening cloud which hovers on our
horizon, drinking the hues of the sun, that grows ominously brighter as
it verges to the shadow and the night, and which, the moment that sun is
set, wanders on in darkness or descends in tears?

"And now, my bird of Paradise," said I, as we sat alone in the apartment
I had fitted up as the banqueting-room, and on which, though small in
its proportions, I had lavished all the love of luxury and of show which
made one of my most prevailing weaknesses, "and now how has time passed
with you since we parted?"

"Need you ask, Morton? Ah, have you ever noted a poor dog deserted by
its master, or rather not deserted, for that you know is not my case
yet," added Isora, playfully, "but left at home while the master went
abroad? have you noted how restless the poor animal is; how it refuses
all company and all comfort; how it goes a hundred times a day into the
room which its master is wont mostly to inhabit; how it creeps on the
sofa or the chair which the same absent idler was accustomed to press;
how it selects some article of his very clothing, and curls jealously
around it, and hides and watches over it as I have hid and watched over
this glove, Morton? Have you ever noted that humble creature whose
whole happiness is the smile of one being, when the smile was
away,--then, Morton, you can tell how my time has passed during your
absence."

I answered Isora by endearments and by compliments. She turned away
from the latter.

"Never call me those fine names, I implore you," she whispered; "call me
only by those pretty pet words by which I know you will never call any
one else. Bee and bird are my names, and mine only; but beauty and
angel are names you have given or may give to a hundred others! Promise
me, then, to address me only in your own language."

"I promise, and lo, the seal to the promise. But tell me, Isora, do you
not love these rare scents that make an Araby of this unmellowed clime?
Do you not love the profusion of light which reflects so dazzling a
lustre on that soft cheek; and those eyes which the ancient romancer*
must have dreamed of when he wrote so prettily of 'eyes that seemed a
temple where love and beauty were married?' Does not yon fruit take a
more tempting hue, bedded as it is in those golden leaves? Does not
sleep seem to hover with a downier wing over those sofas on which the
limbs of a princess have been laid? In a word, is there not in luxury
and in pomp a spell which no gentler or wiser mind would disdain?"


* Sir Philip Sydney, who, if we may judge from the number of quotations
from his works scattered in this book, seems to have been an especial
favourite with Count Devereux.--ED.


"It may be so!" said Isora, sighing; "but the splendour which surrounds
us chills and almost terrifies me. I think that every proof of your
wealth and rank puts me further from you: then, too, I have some
remembrance of the green sod, and the silver rill, and the trees upon
which the young winds sing and play; and I own that it is with the
country, and not the town, that all my ideas of luxury are wed."

"But the numerous attendants, the long row of liveried hirelings,
through which you may pass, as through a lane, the caparisoned steeds,
the stately equipage, the jewelled tiara, the costly robe which matrons
imitate and envy, the music, which lulls you to sleep, the lighted show,
the gorgeous stage,--all these, the attributes or gifts of wealth, all
these that you have the right to hope you will one day or other command,
you will own are what you could very reluctantly forego."

"Do you think so, Morton? Ah, I wish you were of my humble temper: the
more we limit and concentre happiness, the more certain, I think, we are
of securing it; they who widen the circle encroach upon the boundaries
of danger; and they who freight their wealth upon a hundred vessels are
more liable, Morton, are they not? to the peril of the winds and the
waves than they who venture it only upon one."

"Admirably reasoned, my little sophist; but if the one ship sink?"

"Why, I would embark myself in it as well as my wealth, and should sink
with it."

"Well, well, Isora, your philosophy will, perhaps, soon be put to the
test. I will talk to you to-morrow of business."

"And why not to-night?"

"To-night, when I have just returned! No, to-night I will only talk to
you of love!"

As may be supposed, Isora was readily reconciled to my change of
circumstances; and indeed that sum which seemed poverty to me appeared
positive wealth to her. But perhaps few men are by nature and
inclination more luxurious and costly than myself; always accustomed to
a profuse expenditure at my uncle's, I fell insensibly and _con amore_,
on my _debut_ in London, into all the extravagances of the age. Sir
William, pleased rather than discontented with my habits, especially as
they were attended with some _eclat_, pressed upon me proofs of his
generosity which, since I knew his wealth and considered myself his
heir, I did not scruple to accept, and at the time of my return to
London after his death, I had not only spent to the full the princely
allowance I had received from him, but was above half my whole fortune
in debt. However, I had horses and equipages, jewels and plate, and I
did not long wrestle with my pride before I obtained the victory, and
sent all my valuables to the hammer. They sold pretty well, all things
considered, for I had a certain reputation in the world for taste and
munificence; and when I had received the product and paid my debts, I
found that the whole balance in my favour, including, of course, my
uncle's legacy, was fifteen thousand pounds.

It was no bad younger brother's portion, perhaps, but I was in no humour
to be made a younger brother without a struggle. So I went to the
lawyers; they looked at the will, considered the case, and took their
fees. Then the honestest of them, with the coolest air in the world,
told me to content myself with my legacy, for the cause was hopeless;
the will was sufficient to exclude a wilderness of elder sons. I need
not add that I left this lawyer with a very contemptible opinion of his
understanding. I went to another, he told me the same thing, only in a
different manner, and I thought him as great a fool as his fellow
practitioner. At last I chanced upon a little brisk gentleman, with a
quick eye and a sharp voice, who wore a wig that carried conviction in
every curl; had an independent, upright mien, and such a logical,
emphatic way of expressing himself, that I was quite charmed with him.
This gentleman scarce heard me out before he assured me that I had a
famous case of it, that he liked making quick work, and proceeding with
vigour, that he hated rogues, and delay, which was the sign of a rogue,
but not the necessary sign of law, that I was the most fortunate man
imaginable in coming to him, and, in short that I had nothing to do but
commence proceedings, and leave all the rest to him. I was very soon
talked into this proposal, and very soon embarked in the luxurious ocean
of litigation.

Having settled this business so satisfactorily, I went to receive the
condolence and sympathy of St. John. Notwithstanding the arduous
occupations both of pleasure and of power, in which he was constantly
engaged, he had found time to call upon me very often, and to express by
letter great disappointment that I had neither received nor returned his
visits. Touched by the phenomenon of so much kindness in a statesman, I
paid him in return the only compliment in my power; namely, I asked his
advice, with a view of taking it.

"Politics--politics, my dear Count," said he in answer to that request,
"nothing like it; I will get you a seat in the House by next week,--you
are just of age, I think,--Heavens! a man like you who has learning
enough for a German professor; assurance that would almost abash a
Milesian; a very pretty choice of words, and a pointed way of
consummating a jest,--why, with you by my side, my dear Count, I will
soon--"

"St. John," said I, interrupting him, "you forget I am a Catholic!"

"Ah, I did forget that," replied St. John, slowly. "Heaven help me,
Count, but I am sorry your ancestors were not converted; it was a pity
they should bequeath you their religion without the estate to support
it, for papacy has become a terrible tax to its followers."

"I wonder," said I, "whether the earth will ever be governed by
Christians, not cavillers; by followers of our Saviour, not by
co-operators of the devil; by men who obey the former, and 'love one
another,' not by men who walk about with the latter (that roaring lion),
'seeking whom they may devour.' Intolerance makes us acquainted with
strange nonsense, and folly is never so ludicrous as when associated
with something sacred; it is then like Punch and his wife in Powell's
puppet-show, _dancing in the Ark_. For example, to tell those who
differ from us that they are in a delusion, and yet to persecute them
for that delusion, is to equal the wisdom of our forefathers, who, we
are told, in the 'Daemonologie' of the Scottish Solomon, 'burned a whole
monasterie of nunnes for being misled, not by men, but _dreames_!'"

And being somewhat moved, I ran on for a long time in a very eloquent
strain, upon the disadvantages of intolerance; which, I would have it,
was a policy as familiar to Protestantism now as it had been to Popery
in the dark ages; quite forgetting that it is not the vice of a peculiar
sect, but of a ruling party.

St. John, who thought or affected to think very differently from me on
these subjects, shook his head gently, but, with his usual good
breeding, deemed it rather too sore a subject for discussion.

"I will tell you a discovery I have made," said I.

"And what is it?"

"Listen: that man is wisest who is happiest,--granted. What does
happiness consist in? Power, wealth, popularity, and, above all,
content! Well, then, no man ever obtains so much power, so much money,
so much popularity, and, above all, such thorough self-content as a
fool; a fool, therefore (this is no paradox), is the wisest of men.
Fools govern the world in purple: the wise laugh at them; but they laugh
in rags. Fools thrive at court; fools thrive in state chambers; fools
thrive in boudoirs; fools thrive in rich men's legacies. Who is so
beloved as a fool? Every man seeks him, laughs at him, and hugs him.
Who is so secure in his own opinion, so high in complacency, as a fool?
_sua virtute involvit_. Hark ye, St. John, let us turn fools: they are
the only potentates, the only philosophers of earth. Oh, motley,
'motley's your only wear!'"

"Ha! ha!" laughed St. John; and, rising, he insisted upon carrying me
with him to the rehearsal of a new play, in order, as he said, to dispel
my spleen, and prepare me for ripe decision upon the plans to be adopted
for bettering my fortune.

But, in good truth, nothing calculated to advance so comfortable and
praiseworthy an end seemed to present itself. My religion was an
effectual bar to any hope of rising in the state. Europe now began to
wear an aspect that promised universal peace, and the sword which I had
so poetically apostrophized was not likely to be drawn upon any more
glorious engagement than a brawl with the Mohawks, any incautious noses
appertaining to which fraternity I was fully resolved to slit whenever
they came conveniently in my way. To add to the unpromising state of my
worldly circumstances, my uncle's death had removed the only legitimate
barrier to the acknowledgment of my marriage with Isora, and it became
due to her to proclaim and publish that event. Now, if there be any
time in the world when a man's friends look upon him most coldly; when
they speak of his capacities of rising the most despondingly; when they
are most inclined, in short, to set him down as a silly sort of fellow,
whom it is no use inconveniencing one's self to assist,--it is at that
moment when he has made what the said friends are pleased to term an
imprudent marriage! It was, therefore, no remarkable instance of good
luck that the express time for announcing that I had contracted that
species of marriage was the express time for my wanting the assistance
of those kind-hearted friends. Then, too, by the pleasing sympathies in
worldly opinion, the neglect of one's friends is always so damnably
neighboured by the exultation of one's foes! Never was there a man who,
without being very handsome, very rude, or very much in public life, had
made unto himself more enemies than it had been my lot to make. How the
rascals would all sneer and coin dull jests when they saw me so down in
the world! The very old maids, who, so long as they thought me single,
would have declared that the will was a fraud, would, directly they
heard I was married, ask if Gerald was handsome, and assert, with a wise
look, that my uncle knew well what he was about. Then the joy of the
Lady Hasselton, and the curled lip of the haughty Tarleton! It is a
very odd circumstance, but it is very true, that the people we most
despise have the most influence over our actions; a man never ruins
himself by giving dinners to his father, or turning his house into a
palace in order to feast his bosom friend: on the contrary, 'tis the
poor devil of a friend who fares the worst, and starves on the family
joint, while mine host beggars himself to banquet "that disagreeable Mr.
A., who is such an insufferable ass," and mine hostess sends her husband
to the Fleet by vying with "that odious Mrs. B., who was always her
aversion!"

Just in the same manner, no thought disturbed me, in the step I was
about to take, half so sorely as the recollection of Lady Hasselton the
coquette and Mr. Tarleton the gambler. However, I have said somewhere
or other that nothing selfish on a small scale polluted my love for
Isora,--nor did there. I had resolved to render her speedy and full
justice; and if I sometimes recurred to the disadvantages to myself, I
always had pleasure in thinking that they were _sacrifices_ to her. But
to my great surprise, when I first announced to Isora my intention of
revealing our marriage, I perceived in her countenance, always such a
traitor to her emotions, a very different expression from that which I
had anticipated. A deadly paleness spread over her whole face, and a
shudder seemed to creep through her frame. She attempted, however, to
smile away the alarm she had created in me; nor was I able to penetrate
the cause of an emotion so unlooked for. But I continued to speak of
the public announcement of our union as of a thing decided; and at
length she listened to me while I arranged the method of making it, and
sympathized in the future projects I chalked out for us to adopt.
Still, however, when I proposed a definite time for the re-celebration
of our nuptials, she ever drew back and hinted the wish for a longer
delay.

"Not so soon, dear Morton," she would say tearfully, "not so soon; we
are happy now, and perhaps when you are with me always you will not love
me so well!"

I reasoned against this notion, and this reluctance, but in vain; and
day passed on day, and even week on week, and our marriage was still
undeclared. I now lived, however, almost wholly with Isora, for busy
tongues could no longer carry my secret to my uncle; and, indeed, since
I had lost the fortune which I was expected to inherit, it is
astonishing how little people troubled their heads about my movements or
myself. I lived then almost wholly with Isora; and did familiarity
abate my love? Strange to say, it did not abate even the romance of it.
The reader may possibly remember a conversation with St. John recorded
in the Second Book of this history. "The deadliest foe to love," said
he (he who had known all love,--that of the senses and that also of the
soul!), "is not change, nor misfortune, nor jealousy, not wrath, nor
anything that flows from passion or emanates from fortune. The
deadliest foe to love is CUSTOM!"

Was St. John right? I believe that in most instances he was; and
perhaps the custom was not continued in my case long enough for me to
refute the maxim. But as yet, the very gloss upon the god's wings was
fresh as on the first day when I had acknowledged his power. Still was
Isora to me the light and the music of existence! still did my heart
thrill and leap within me when her silver and fond voice made the air a
blessing! Still would I hang over her, when her beautiful features lay
hushed in sleep, and watch the varying hues of her cheek; and fancy,
while she slept, that in each low, sweet breath that my lips drew from
hers, was a whisper of tenderness and endearment! Still when I was
absent from her, my soul seemed to mourn a separation from its better
and dearer part, and the joyous senses of existence saddened and shrank
into a single want! Still was her presence to my heart as a breathing
atmosphere of poesy which circled and tinted all human things; still was
my being filled with that delicious and vague melancholy which the very
excess of rapture alone produces,--the knowledge we dare not breathe to
ourselves that the treasure in which our heart is stored is not above
the casualties of fate. The sigh that mingles with the kiss; the tear
that glistens in the impassioned and yearning gaze; the deep tide in our
spirit, over which the moon and the stars have power; the chain of
harmony within the thought which has a mysterious link with all that is
fair and pure and bright in Nature, knitting as it were loveliness with
love!--all this, all that I cannot express; all that to the young for
whom the real world has had few spells, and the world of visions has
been a home, who love at last and for the first time,--all that to them
are known were still mine.

In truth, Isora was one well calculated to sustain and to rivet romance.
The cast of her beauty was so dreamlike, and yet so varying: her temper
was so little mingled with the common characteristics of woman; it had
so little of caprice, so little of vanity, so utter an absence of all
jealous and all angry feeling; it was so made up of tenderness and
devotion, and yet so imaginative and fairy-like in its fondness,--that
it was difficult to bear only the sentiments of earth for one who had so
little of earth's clay. She was more like the women whom one imagines
are the creations of poetry, and yet of whom no poetry, save that of
Shakspeare, reminds us; and to this day, when I go into the world, I
never see aught of our own kind which recalls her, or even one of her
features, to my memory. But when I am alone with Nature, methinks a
sweet sound or a new-born flower has something of familiar power over
those stored and deep impressions which do make her image, and it brings
her more vividly before my eyes than any shape or face of her own sex,
however beautiful it may be.

There was also another trait in her character which, though arising in
her weakness, not her virtues, yet perpetuated the more dreamlike and
imaginary qualities of our passion: this was a melancholy superstition,
developing itself in forebodings and omens which interested, because
they were steeped at once in the poetry and in the deep sincerity of her
nature. She was impressed with a strong and uncontrollable feeling that
her fate was predestined to a dark course and an early end; and she drew
from all things around her something to feed the pensive character of
her thoughts. The stillness of noon; the holy and eloquent repose of
twilight, its rosy sky and its soft air, its shadows and its dews,--had
equally for her heart a whisper and a spell. The wan stars, where, from
the eldest time, man has shaped out a chart of the undiscoverable
future; the mysterious moon, to which the great ocean ministers from its
untrodden shrines; the winds, which traverse the vast air, pilgrims from
an eternal home to an unpenetrated bourne; the illimitable heavens, on
which none ever gazed without a vague craving for something that the
earth cannot give, and a vague sense of a former existence in which that
something was enjoyed; the holy night; that solemn and circling sleep,
which seems, in its repose, to image our death, and in its living worlds
to shadow forth the immortal realms which only through that death we can
survey,--all had, for the deep heart of Isora, a language of omen and of
doom. Often would we wander alone, and for hours together, by the quiet
and wild woods and streams that surrounded her retreat, and which we
both loved so well; and often, when the night closed over us, with my
arm around her, and our lips so near that our atmosphere was our mutual
breath, would she utter, in that voice which "made the soul plant itself
in the ears," the predictions which had nursed themselves at her heart.

I remember one evening, in especial. The rich twilight had gathered
over us, and we sat by a slender and soft rivulet, overshadowed by some
stunted yet aged trees. We had both, before she spoke, been silent for
several minutes; and only when, at rare intervals, the birds sent from
the copse that backed us a solitary and vesper note of music, was the
stillness around us broken. Before us, on the opposite bank of the
stream, lay a valley, in which shadow and wood concealed all trace of
man's dwellings, save at one far spot, where, from a single hut, rose a
curling and thin vapour, like a spirit released from earth, and losing
gradually its earthier particles, as it blends itself with the loftier
atmosphere of heaven.

It was then that Isora, clinging closer to me, whispered her forebodings
of death. "You will remember," said she, smiling faintly, "you will
remember me, in the lofty and bright career which yet awaits you; and I
scarcely know whether I would not sooner have that memory--free as it
will be from all recollection of my failings and faults, and all that I
have cost you, than incur the chance of your future coldness or decrease
of love."

And when Isora turned, and saw that the tears stood in my eyes, she
kissed them away, and said, after a pause,--

"It matters not, my own guardian angel, what becomes of me: and now that
I am near you, it is wicked to let my folly cost you a single pang. But
why should you grieve at my forebodings? there is nothing painful or
harsh in them to me, and I interpret them thus: 'If my life passes away
before the common date, perhaps it will be a sacrifice to yours.' And
it will, Morton--it will. The love I bear to you I can but feebly
express now; all of us wish to prove our feelings, and I would give one
proof of mine for you. It seems to me that I was made only for one
purpose--to love you; and I would fain hope that my death may be some
sort of sacrifice to you--some token of the ruling passion and the whole
object of my life."

As Isora said this, the light of the moon, which had just risen, shone
full upon her cheek, flushed as it was with a deeper tint than it
usually wore; and in her eye--her features--her forehead--the lofty
nature of her love seemed to have stamped the divine expression of
itself.

Have I lingered too long on these passages of life? They draw near to a
close, and a more adventurous and stirring period of manhood will
succeed. Ah, little could they, who in after years beheld in me but the
careless yet stern soldier--the wily and callous diplomatist--the
companion alternately so light and so moodily reserved--little could
they tell how soft, and weak, and doting my heart was once!



CHAPTER VI.

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.--CONJECTURE AND ANTICIPATION.

THE day for the public solemnization of our marriage was at length
appointed. In fact, the plan for the future that appeared to me most
promising was to proffer my services to some foreign court, and that of
Russia held out to me the greatest temptation. I was therefore anxious,
as soon as possible, to conclude the rite of a second or public
nuptials, and I purposed leaving the country within a week afterwards.
My little lawyer assured me that my suit would go on quite as well in my
absence, and whenever my presence was necessary he would be sure to
inform me of it. I did not doubt him in the least--it is a charming
thing to have confidence in one's man of business.

Of Montreuil I now saw nothing; but I accidentally heard that he was on
a visit to Gerald, and that the latter had already made the old walls
ring with premature hospitality. As for Aubrey, I was in perfect
ignorance of his movements; and the unsatisfactory shortness of his last
letter, and the wild expressions so breathing of fanaticism in the
postscript, had given me much anxiety and alarm on his account. I
longed above all to see him, to talk with him over old times and our
future plans, and to learn whether no new bias could be given to a
temperament which seemed to lean so strongly towards a self-punishing
superstition. It was about a week before the day fixed for my public
nuptials that I received at last from him the following letter:--


MY DEAREST BROTHER,--I have been long absent from home,--absent on
affairs on which we will talk hereafter. I have not forgotten you,
though I have been silent, and the news of my poor uncle's death has
shocked me greatly. On my arrival here I learned your disappointment
and your recourse to law. I am not so much surprised, though I am as
much grieved as yourself, for I will tell you now what seemed to me
unimportant before. On receiving your letter, requesting consent to
your designed marriage, my uncle seemed greatly displeased as well as
vexed, and afterwards he heard much that displeased him more; from what
quarter came his news I know not, and he only spoke of it in innuendoes
and angry insinuations. As far as I was able I endeavoured to learn his
meaning, but could not, and to my praises of you I thought latterly he
seemed to lend but a cold ear; he told me at last, when I was about to
leave him, that you had acted ungratefully to him, and that he should
alter his will. I scarcely thought of this speech at the time, or
rather I considered it as the threat of a momentary anger. Possibly,
however, it was the prelude to that disposition of property which has so
wounded you: I observe, too, that the will bears date about that period.
I mention this fact to you; you can draw from it what inference you
will: but I do solemnly believe that Gerald is innocent of any fraud
towards you.

I am all anxiety to hear whether your love continues. I beseech you to
write to me instantly and inform me on that head as on all others. We
shall meet soon.

  Your ever affectionate Brother,

     AUBREY DEVEREUX.


There was something in this letter that vexed and displeased me: I
thought it breathed a tone of unkindness and indifference, which my
present circumstances rendered peculiarly inexcusable. So far,
therefore, from answering it immediately, I resolved not to reply to it
till after the solemnization of my marriage. The anecdote of my uncle
startled me a little when I coupled it with the words my uncle had used
towards myself on his death-bed; namely, in hinting that he had heard
some things unfavourable to Isora, unnecessary then to repeat; but still
if my uncle had altered his intentions towards me, would he not have
mentioned the change and its reasons? Would he have written to me with
such kindness, or received me with such affection? I could not believe
that he would; and my opinions of the fraud and the perpetrator were not
a whit changed by Aubrey's epistle. It was clear, however, that he had
joined the party against me; and as my love for him was exceedingly
great, I was much wounded by the idea.

"All leave me," said I, "upon this reverse,--all but Isora!" and I
thought with renewed satisfaction on the step which was about to insure
to her a secure home and an honourable station. My fears lest Isora
should again be molested by her persecutor were now pretty well at rest;
having no doubt in my own mind as to that persecutor's identity, I
imagined that in his new acquisition of wealth and pomp, a boyish and
unreturned love would easily be relinquished; and that, perhaps, he
would scarcely regret my obtaining the prize himself had sought for,
when in my altered fortunes it would be followed by such worldly
depreciation. In short, I looked upon him as possessing a
characteristic common to most bad men, who are never so influenced by
love as they are by hatred; and imagined, therefore, that if he had lost
the object of the love, he could console himself by exulting over any
decline of prosperity in the object of the hate.

As the appointed day drew near, Isora's despondency seemed to vanish,
and she listened, with her usual eagerness in whatever interested me, to
my Continental schemes of enterprise. I resolved that our second
wedding, though public, should be modest and unostentatious, suitable
rather to our fortunes than our birth. St. John, and a few old friends
of the family, constituted all the party I invited, and I requested them
to keep my marriage secret until the very day for celebrating it
arrived. I did this from a desire of avoiding compliments intended as
sarcasms, and visits rather of curiosity than friendship. On flew the
days, and it was now the one preceding my wedding. I was dressing to go
out upon a matter of business connected with the ceremony, and I then,
as I received my hat from Desmarais, for the first time thought it
requisite to acquaint that accomplished gentleman with the rite of the
morrow. Too well bred was Monsieur Desmarais to testify any other
sentiment than pleasure at the news; and he received my orders and
directions for the next day with more than the graceful urbanity which
made one always feel quite honoured by his attentions.

"And how goes on the philosophy?" said I: "faith, since I am about to be
married, I shall be likely to require its consolations."

"Indeed, Monsieur," answered Desmarais, with that expression of
self-conceit which was so curiously interwoven with the obsequiousness
of his address, "indeed, Monsieur, I have been so occupied of late in
preparing a little powder very essential to dress, that I have not had
time for any graver, though not perhaps more important, avocations."

"Powder--and what is it?"

"Will Monsieur condescend to notice its effect?" answered Desmarais,
producing a pair of gloves which were tinted of the most delicate
flesh-colour; the colouring was so nice, that when the gloves were on,
it would have been scarcely possible, at any distance, to distinguish
them from the naked flesh.

"'Tis a rare invention," said I.

"Monsieur is very good, but I flatter myself it is so," rejoined
Desmarais; and he forthwith ran on far more earnestly on the merits of
his powder than I had ever heard him descant on the beauties of
Fatalism. I cut him short in the midst of his harangue: too much
eloquence in any line is displeasing in one's dependant.

I had just concluded my business abroad, and was returning homeward with
downcast eyes and in a very abstracted mood, when I was suddenly
startled by a loud voice that exclaimed in a tone of surprise:
"What!--Count Devereux,--how fortunate!"

I looked up, and saw a little dark man, shabbily dressed; his face did
not seem unfamiliar to me, but I could not at first remember where I had
seen it: my look, I suppose, testified my want of memory, for he said,
with a low bow,--

"You have forgotten me, Count, and I don't wonder at it; so please you,
I am the person who once brought you a letter from France to Devereux
Court."

At this, I recognized the bearer of that epistle which had embroiled me
with the Abbe Montreuil. I was too glad of the meeting to show any
coolness in my reception of the gentleman, and to speak candidly, I
never saw a gentleman less troubled with _mauvaise honte_.

"Sir!" said he, lowering his voice to a whisper, "it is most fortunate
that I should thus have met you; I only came to town this morning, and
for the sole purpose of seeking you out. I am charged with a packet,
which I believe will be of the greatest importance to your interests.
But," he added, looking round, "the streets are no proper place for my
communication; _parbleu_, there are those about who hear whispers
through stone walls: suffer me to call upon you to-morrow."

"To-morrow! it is a day of great business with me, but I can possibly
spare you a few moments, if that will suffice; or, on the day after,
your own pleasure may be the sole limit of our interview."

"_Parbleu_, Monsieur, you are very obliging,--very; but I will tell you
in one word who I am and what is my business. My name is Marie Oswald:
I was born in France, and I am the half-brother of that Oswald who drew
up your uncle's will."

"Good Heavens!" I exclaimed; "is it possible that you know anything of
that affair?"

"Hush--yes, all! my poor brother is just dead; and, in a word, I am
charged with a packet given me by him on his death-bed. Now, will you
see me if I bring it to-morrow?"

"Certainly; can I not see you to-night?"

"To-night?--No, not well; _parbleu_! I want a little consideration as
to the reward due to me for my eminent services to your lordship. No:
let it be to-morrow."

"Well! at what hour? I fear it must be in the evening."

"Seven, _s'il vous plait_, Monsieur."

"Enough! be it so."

And Mr. Marie Oswald, who seemed, during the whole of this short
conference, to have been under some great apprehension of being seen or
overheard, bowed, and vanished in an instant, leaving my mind in a most
motley state of incoherent, unsatisfactory, yet sanguine conjecture.



CHAPTER VII.

THE EVENTS OF A SINGLE NIGHT.--MOMENTS MAKE THE HUES IN WHICH YEARS ARE
COLOURED.

MEN of the old age! what wonder that in the fondness of a dim faith, and
in the vague guesses which, from the frail ark of reason, we send to
hover over a dark and unfathomable abyss,--what wonder that ye should
have wasted hope and life in striving to penetrate the future! What
wonder that ye should have given a language to the stars, and to the
night a spell, and gleaned from the uncomprehended earth an answer to
the enigmas of Fate! We are like the sleepers who, walking under the
influence of a dream, wander by the verge of a precipice, while, in
their own deluded vision, they perchance believe themselves surrounded
by bowers of roses, and accompanied by those they love. Or, rather like
the blind man, who can retrace every step of the path he has _once_
trodden, but who can guess not a single inch of that which he has not
yet travelled, our Reason can re-guide us over the roads of past
experience with a sure and unerring wisdom, even while it recoils,
baffled and bewildered, before the blackness of the very moment whose
boundaries we are about to enter.

The few friends I had invited to my wedding were still with me, when one
of my servants, not Desmarais, informed me that Mr. Oswald waited for
me. I went out to him.

"_Parbleu_!" said he, rubbing his hands, "I perceive it is a joyous time
with you, and I don't wonder you can only spare me a few moments."

The estates of Devereux were not to be risked for a trifle, but I
thought Mr. Marie Oswald exceedingly impertinent. "Sir," said I, very
gravely, "pray be seated; and now to business. In the first place may I
ask to whom I am beholden for sending you with that letter you gave me
at Devereux Court? and, secondly, what that letter contained? for I
never read it."

"Sir," answered the man, "the history of the letter is perfectly
distinct from that of the will, and the former (to discuss the least
important first) is briefly this. You have heard, Sir, of the quarrels
between Jesuit and Jansenist?"

"I have."

"Well--but first, Count, let me speak of myself. There were three young
men of the same age, born in the same village in France, of obscure
birth each, and each desirous of getting on in the world. Two were
deuced clever fellows, the third, nothing particular. One of the two at
present shall be nameless; the third, 'who was nothing particular' (in
his own opinion, at least, though his friends may think differently),
was Marie Oswald. We soon separated: I went to Paris, was employed in
different occupations, and at last became secretary, and (why should I
disavow it?) valet to a lady of quality and a violent politician. She
was a furious Jansenist; of course I adopted her opinions. About this
time, there was much talk among the Jesuits of the great genius and deep
learning of a young member of the order, Julian Montreuil. Though not
residing in the country, he had sent one or two books to France, which
had been published and had created a great sensation. Well, Sir, my
mistress was the greatest _intriguante_ of her party: she was very rich,
and tolerably liberal; and, among other packets of which a messenger
from England was _carefully_ robbed, between Calais and Abbeville (you
understand me, sir, _carefully_ robbed, _parbleu_! I wish I were robbed
in the same manner, every day in my life!), was one from the said Julian
Montreuil to a political friend of his. Among other letters in this
packet--all of importance--was one descriptive of the English family
with whom he resided. It hit them all, I am told, off to a hair; and it
described, in particular, one, the supposed inheritor of the estates, a
certain Morton, Count Devereux. Since you say you did not read the
letter, I spare your blushes, Sir, and I don't dwell upon what he said
of your talent, energy, ambition, etc. I will only tell you that he
dilated far more upon your prospects than your powers; and that he
expressly stated what was his object in staying in your family and
cultivating your friendship,--he expressly stated that L30,000 a year
would be particularly serviceable to a certain political cause which he
had strongly at heart."

"I understand you," said I, "the Chevalier's?"

"Exactly. 'This sponge,' said Montreuil, I remember the very
phrase,--'this sponge will be well filled, and I am handling it softly
now in order to squeeze its juices hereafter according to the uses of
the party we have so strongly at heart.'"

"It was not a metaphor very flattering to my understanding," said I.

"True, Sir. Well, as soon as my mistress learned this she remembered
that your father, the Marshal, had been one of her _plus chers amis_; in
a word, if scandal says true, he had been _the cher ami_. However, she
was instantly resolved to open your eyes, and ruin the _maudit Jesuite_:
she enclosed the letter in an envelope and sent me to England with it.
I came, I gave it you, and I discovered, in that moment, when the Abbe
entered, that this Julian Montreuil was an old acquaintance of my
own,--was one of the two young men who I told you were such deuced
clever fellows. Like many other adventurers, he had changed his name on
entering the world and I had never till now suspected that Julian
Montreuil was Bertrand Collinot. Well, when I saw what I had done, I
was exceedingly sorry, for I had liked my companion well enough not to
wish to hurt him; besides, I was a little afraid of him. I took horse,
and went about some other business I had to execute, nor did I visit
that part of the country again, till a week ago (now I come to the other
business), when I was summoned to the death-bed of my half-brother the
attorney, peace be with him! He suffered much from hypochondria in his
dying moments,--I believe it is the way with people of his
profession,--and he gave me a sealed packet, with a last injunction to
place it in your hands and your hands only. Scarce was he dead--(do not
think I am unfeeling, Sir, I had seen very little of him, and he was
only my half-brother, my father having married, for a second wife, a
foreign lady who kept an inn, by whom he was blessed with
myself)--scarce, I say, was he dead when I hurried up to town.
Providence threw you in my way, and you shall have the document upon two
conditions."

"Which are, first to reward you; secondly, to--"

"To promise you will not open the packet for seven days."

"The devil! and why?"

"I will tell you candidly: one of the papers in the packet I believe to
be my brother's written confession,--nay, I know it is,--and it will
criminate one I have a love for, and who, I am resolved, shall have a
chance of escape."

"Who is that one? Montreuil?"

"No: I do not refer to him; but I cannot tell you more. I require the
promise, Count: it is indispensable. If you don't give it me,
_parbleu_, you shall not have the packet."

There was something so cool, so confident, and so impudent about this
man, that I did not well know whether to give way to laughter or to
indignation. Neither, however, would have been politic in my situation;
and, as I said before, the estates of Devereux were not to be risked for
a trifle.

"Pray," said I, however, with a shrewdness which I think did me
credit,--"pray, Mr. Marie Oswald, do you expect the reward before the
packet is opened?"

"By no means," answered the gentleman who in his own opinion was nothing
particular; "by no means; nor until you and your lawyers are satisfied
that the papers enclosed in the packet are sufficient fully to restore
you to the heritage of Devereux Court and its demesnes."

There was something fair in this; and as the only penalty to me incurred
by the stipulated condition seemed to be the granting escape to the
criminals, I did not think it incumbent upon me to lose my cause from
the desire of a prosecution. Besides, at that time, I felt too happy to
be revengeful; and so, after a moment's consideration, I conceded to the
proposal, and gave my honour as a gentleman--Mr. Oswald obligingly
dispensed with an oath--that I would not open the packet till the end of
the seventh day. Mr. Oswald then drew forth a piece of paper, on which
sundry characters were inscribed, the purport of which was that, if,
through the papers given me by Marie Oswald, my lawyers were convinced
that I could become master of my uncle's property, now enjoyed by Gerald
Devereux, I should bestow on the said Marie L5000: half on obtaining
this legal opinion, half on obtaining possession of the property. I
could not resist a smile when I observed that the word of a gentleman
was enough surety for the safety of the man he had a love for, but that
Mr. Oswald required a written bond for the safety of his reward. One is
ready enough to trust one's friends to the conscience of another, but as
long as a law can be had instead, one is rarely so credulous in respect
to one's money.

"The reward shall be doubled if I succeed," said I, signing the paper;
and Oswald then produced a packet, on which was writ, in a trembling
hand,--"For Count Morton Devereux,--private,--and with haste." As soon
as he had given me this precious charge, and reminded me again of my
promise, Oswald withdrew. I placed the packet in my bosom, and returned
to my guests.

Never had my spirit been so light as it was that evening. Indeed the
good people I had assembled thought matrimony never made a man so little
serious before. They did not however stay long, and the moment they
were gone I hastened to my own sleeping apartment to secure the treasure
I had acquired. A small escritoire stood in this room, and in it I was
accustomed to keep whatever I considered most precious. With many a
wistful look and murmur at my promise, I consigned the packet to one of
the drawers of this escritoire. As I was locking the drawer, the sweet
voice of Desmarais accosted me. Would Monsieur, he asked, suffer him to
visit a friend that evening, in order to celebrate so joyful an event in
Monsieur's destiny? It was not often that he was addicted to vulgar
merriment, but on such an occasion he owned that he was tempted to
transgress his customary habits, and he felt that Monsieur, with his
usual good taste, would feel offended if his servant, within Monsieur's
own house, suffered joy to pass the limits of discretion, and enter the
confines of noise and inebriety, especially as Monsieur had so
positively interdicted all outward sign of extra hilarity. He implored
_mille pardons_ for the presumption of his request.

"It is made with your usual discretion; there are five guineas for you:
go and get drunk with your friend, and be merry instead of wise. But,
tell me, is it not beneath a philosopher to be moved by anything,
especially anything that occurs to another,--much less to get drunk upon
it?"

"Pardon me, Monsieur," answered Desmarais, bowing to the ground: "one
ought to get drunk sometimes, because the next morning one is sure to be
thoughtful; and, moreover, the practical philosopher ought to indulge
every emotion, in order to judge how that emotion would affect another;
at least, this is my opinion."

"Well, go."

"My most grateful thanks be with Monsieur; Monsieur's nightly toilet is
entirely prepared."

And away went Desmarais, with the light, yet slow, step with which he
was accustomed to combine elegance with dignity.

I now passed into the room I had prepared for Isora's _boudoir_. I
found her leaning by the window, and I perceived that she had been in
tears. As I paused to contemplate her figure so touchingly, yet so
unconsciously mournful in its beautiful and still posture, a more joyous
sensation than was wont to mingle with my tenderness for her swelled at
my heart. "Yes," thought I, "you are no longer the solitary exile, or
the persecuted daughter of a noble but ruined race; you are not even the
bride of a man who must seek in foreign climes, through danger and
through hardship, to repair a broken fortune and establish an
adventurer's name! At last the clouds have rolled from the bright star
of your fate: wealth, and pomp, and all that awaits the haughtiest of
England's matrons shall be yours." And at these thoughts Fortune seemed
to me a gift a thousand times more precious than--much as my luxuries
prized it--it had ever seemed to me before.

I drew near and laid my hand upon Isora's shoulder, and kissed her
cheek. She did not turn round, but strove, by bending over my hand and
pressing it to her lips, to conceal that she had been weeping. I
thought it kinder to favour the artifice than to complain of it. I
remained silent for some moments, and I then gave vent to the sanguine
expectations for the future which my new treasure entitled me to form.
I had already narrated to her the adventure of the day before: I now
repeated the purport of my last interview with Oswald; and, growing more
and more elated as I proceeded, I dwelt at last upon the description of
my inheritance, as glowingly as if I had already recovered it. I
painted to her imagination its rich woods and its glassy lake, and the
fitful and wandering brook that, through brake and shade, went bounding
on its wild way; I told her of my early roamings, and dilated with a
boy's rapture upon my favourite haunts. I brought visibly before her
glistening and eager eyes the thick copse where hour after hour, in
vague verses and still vaguer dreams, I had so often whiled away the
day; the old tree which I had climbed to watch the birds in their glad
mirth, or to listen unseen to the melancholy sound of the forest deer;
the antique gallery and the vast hall which, by the dim twilights, I had
paced with a religious awe, and looked upon the pictured forms of my
bold fathers, and mused high and ardently upon my destiny to be; the old
gray tower which I had consecrated to myself, and the unwitnessed path
which led to the yellow beach, and the wide gladness of the solitary
sea; the little arbour which my earliest ambition had reared, that
looked out upon the joyous flowers and the merry fountain, and, through
the ivy and the jessamine, wooed the voice of the bird, and the murmur
of the summer bee; and, when I had exhausted my description, I turned to
Isora, and said in a lower tone, "And I shall visit these once more, and
with you!"

Isora sighed faintly, and it was not till I had pressed her to speak
that she said:--

"I wish I could deceive myself, Morton, but I cannot--I cannot root from
my heart an impression that I shall never again quit this dull city with
its gloomy walls and its heavy air. A voice within me seems to say,
'Behold from this very window the boundaries of your living
wanderings!'"

Isora's words froze all my previous exaltation. "It is in vain," said
I, after chiding her for her despondency, "it is in vain to tell me that
you have for this gloomy notion no other reason than that of a vague
presentiment. It is time now that I should press you to a greater
confidence upon all points consistent with your oath to our mutual enemy
than you have hitherto given me. Speak, dearest, have you not some yet
unrevealed causes for alarm?"

It was but for a moment that Isora hesitated before she answered with
that quick tone which indicates that we force words against the will.

"Yes, Morton, I _will_ tell you now, though I would not before the event
of this day. On the last day that I saw that fearful man, he said, 'I
warn you, Isora d'Alvarez, that my love is far fiercer than hatred; I
warn you that your bridals with Morton Devereux shall be stained with
blood. Become his wife, and you perish! Yea, though I suffer hell's
tortures forever and forever from that hour, my own hand shall strike
you to the heart!' Morton, these words have thrilled through me again
and again, as if again they were breathed in my very ear; and I have
often started at night and thought the very knife glittered at my
breast. So long as our wedding was concealed, and concealed so closely,
I was enabled to quiet my fears till they scarcely seemed to exist. But
when our nuptials were to be made public, when I knew that they were to
reach the ears of that fierce and unaccountable being, I thought I heard
my doom pronounced. This, mine own love, must excuse your Isora, if she
seemed ungrateful for your generous eagerness to announce our union.
And perhaps she would not have acceded to it so easily as she has done
were it not that, in the first place, she felt it was beneath your wife
to suffer any terror so purely selfish to make her shrink from the proud
happiness of being yours in the light of day; and if she had not felt
[here Isora hid her blushing face in my bosom] that she was fated to
give birth to another, and that the announcement of our wedded love had
become necessary to your honour as to mine!"

Though I was in reality awed even to terror by learning from Isora's lip
so just a cause for her forebodings,--though I shuddered with a horror
surpassing even my wrath, when I heard a threat so breathing of deadly
and determined passions,--yet I concealed my emotions, and only thought
of cheering and comforting Isora. I represented to her how guarded and
vigilant should ever henceforth be the protection of her husband; that
nothing should again separate him from her side; that the extreme malice
and fierce persecution of this man were sufficient even to absolve her
conscience from the oath of concealment she had taken; that I would
procure from the sacred head of our Church her own absolution from that
vow; that the moment concealment was over, I could take steps to prevent
the execution of my rival's threats; that, however near to me he might
be in blood, no consequences arising from a dispute between us could be
so dreadful as the least evil to Isora; and moreover, to appease her
fears, that I would solemnly promise he should never sustain personal
assault or harm from my hand; in short, I said all that my anxiety could
dictate, and at last I succeeded in quieting her fears, and she smiled
as brightly as the first time I had seen her in the little cottage of
her father. She seemed, however, averse to an absolution from her oath,
for she was especially scrupulous as to the sanctity of those religious
obligations; but I secretly resolved that her safety absolutely required
it, and that at all events I would procure absolution from my own
promise to her.

At last Isora, turning from that topic, so darkly interesting, pointed
to the heavens, which, with their thousand eyes of light, looked down
upon us. "Tell me, love," said she, playfully, as her arm embraced me
yet more closely, "if, among yonder stars we could choose a home, which
should we select?"

I pointed to one which lay to the left of the moon, and which, though
not larger, seemed to burn with an intenser lustre than the rest. Since
that night it has ever been to me a fountain of deep and passionate
thought, a well wherein fears and hopes are buried, a mirror in which,
in stormy times, I have fancied to read my destiny, and to find some
mysterious omen of my intended deeds, a haven which I believe others
have reached before me, and a home immortal and unchanging, where, when
my wearied and fettered soul is escaped, as a bird, it shall flee away,
and have its rest at last.

"What think you of my choice?" said I. Isora looked upward, but did not
answer; and as I gazed upon her (while the pale light of heaven streamed
quietly upon her face) with her dark eyes, where the tear yet lingered,
though rather to soften than to dim; with her noble, yet tender
features, over which hung a melancholy calm; with her lips apart, and
her rich locks wreathing over her marble brow, and contrasted by a
single white rose (that rose I have now--I would not lose one withered
leaf of it for a kingdom!),--her beauty never seemed to me of so rare an
order, nor did my soul ever yearn towards her with so deep a love.

It was past midnight. All was hushed in our bridal chamber. The single
lamp, which hung above, burned still and clear; and through the
half-closed curtains of the window, the moonlight looked in upon our
couch, quiet and pure and holy, as if it were charged with blessings.

"Hush!" said Isora, gently; "do you not hear a noise below?"

"Not a breath," said I; "I hear not a breath, save yours."

"It was my fancy, then!" said Isora, "and it has ceased now;" and she
clung closer to my breast and fell asleep. I looked on her peaceful and
childish countenance, with that concentrated and full delight with which
we clasp all that the universe holds dear to us, and feel as if the
universe held nought beside,--and thus sleep also crept upon me.

I awoke suddenly; I felt Isora trembling palpably by my side. Before I
could speak to her, I saw standing at a little distance from the bed, a
man wrapped in a long dark cloak and masked; but his eyes shone through
the mask, and they glared full upon me. He stood with his arms folded,
and perfectly motionless; but at the other end of the room, before the
escritoire in which I had locked the important packet, stood another
man, also masked, and wrapped in a disguising cloak of similar hue and
fashion. This man, as if alarmed, turned suddenly, and I perceived then
that the escritoire was already opened, and that the packet was in his
hand. I tore myself from Isora's clasp--I stretched my hand to the
table by my bedside, upon which I had left my sword,--it was gone! No
matter! I was young, strong, fierce, and the stake at hazard was great.
I sprang from the bed, I precipitated myself upon the man who held the
packet. With one hand I grasped at the important document, with the
other I strove to tear the mask from the robber's face. He endeavoured
rather to shake me off than to attack me; and it was not till I had
nearly succeeded in unmasking him that he drew forth a short poniard,
and stabbed me in the side. The blow, which seemed purposely aimed to
save a mortal part, staggered me, but only for an instant. I renewed my
grip at the packet--I tore it from the robber's hand, and collecting my
strength, now fast ebbing away, for one effort, I bore my assailant to
the ground, and fell struggling with him.

But my blood flowed fast from my wound, and my antagonist, if less
sinewy than myself, had greatly the advantage in weight and size. Now
for one moment I was uppermost, but in the next his knee was upon my
chest, and his blade gleamed on high in the pale light of the lamp and
moon. I thought I beheld my death: would to God that I had! With a
piercing cry, Isora sprang from the bed, flung herself before the lifted
blade of the robber, and arrested his arm. This man had, in the whole
contest, acted with a singular forbearance, he did so now: he paused for
a moment and dropped his hand. Hitherto the other man had not stirred
from his mute position; he now moved one step towards us, brandishing a
poniard like his comrade's. Isora raised her hand supplicatingly
towards him, and cried out, "Spare him, spare _him_! Oh, mercy, mercy!"
With one stride the murderer was by my side; he muttered some words
which passion seemed to render inarticulate; and, half pushing aside his
comrade, his raised weapon flashed before my eyes, now dim and reeling.
I made a vain effort to rise: the blade descended; Isora, unable to
arrest it, threw herself before it; her blood, her heart's blood gushed
over me; I saw and felt no more.

When I recovered my senses, my servants were round me; a deep red, wet
stain upon the sofa on which I was laid brought the whole scene I had
witnessed again before me--terrible and distinct. I sprang to my feet
and asked for Isora; a low murmur caught my ear: I turned and beheld a
dark form stretched on the bed, and surrounded, like myself, by gazers
and menials; I tottered towards that bed,--my bridal bed,--with a fierce
gesture motioned the crowd away; I heard my name breathed audibly; the
next moment I was by Isora's side. All pain, all weakness, all
consciousness of my wound, of my very self, were gone: life seemed
curdled into a single agonizing and fearful thought. I fixed my eyes
upon hers; and though _there_ the film was gathering dark and rapidly, I
saw, yet visible and unconquered, the deep love of that faithful and
warm heart which had lavished its life for mine.

I threw my arms around her; I pressed my lips wildly to hers.
"Speak--speak!" I cried, and my blood gushed over her with the effort;
"in mercy speak!"

Even in death and agony, the gentle being who had been as wax unto my
lightest wish struggled to obey me. "Do not grieve for me," she said,
in a tremulous and broken voice: "it is dearer to die for you than to
live!"

Those were her last words. I felt her breath abruptly cease. The
heart, pressed to mine, was still! I started up in dismay; the light
shone full upon her face. O God! that I should live to write that Isora
was--no more!



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.

A RE-ENTRANCE INTO LIFE THROUGH THE EBON GATE, AFFLICTION.

MONTHS passed away before my senses returned to me. I rose from the bed
of suffering and of madness calm, collected, immovable,--altered, but
tranquil. All the vigilance of justice had been employed to discover
the murderers, but in vain. The packet was gone; and directly I, who
alone was able to do so, recovered enough to state the loss of that
document, suspicion naturally rested on Gerald, as on one whom that loss
essentially benefited. He came publicly forward to anticipate inquiry.
He proved that he had not stirred from home during the whole week in
which the event had occurred. That seemed likely enough to others; it
is the tools that work, not the instigator,--the bravo, not the
employer; but I, who saw in him not only the robber, but that fearful
rival who had long threatened Isora that my bridals should be stained
with blood, was somewhat staggered by the undeniable proofs of his
absence from the scene of that night; and I was still more bewildered in
conjecture by remembering that, so far as their disguises and my own
hurried and confused observation could allow me to judge, the person of
neither villain, still less that of Isora's murderer, corresponded with
the proportions and height of Gerald. Still, however, whether mediately
or immediately--whether as the executor or the designer--not a doubt
remained on my mind that against his head was justice due. I directed
inquiry towards Montreuil: he was abroad at the time of my recovery;
but, immediately on his return, he came forward boldly and at once to
meet and even to court the inquiry I had instituted; he did more,--he
demanded on what ground, besides my own word, it rested that this packet
had ever been in my possession; and, to my surprise and perplexity, it
was utterly impossible to produce the smallest trace of Mr. Marie
Oswald. His half-brother, the attorney, had died, it is true, just
before the event of that night; and it was also true that he had seen
Marie on his death-bed; but no other corroboration of my story could be
substantiated, and no other information of the man obtained; and the
partisans of Gerald were not slow in hinting at the great interest I had
in forging a tale respecting a will, about the authenticity of which I
was at law.

The robbers had entered the house by a back-door, which was found open.
No one had perceived their entrance or exit, except Desmarais, who
stated that he heard a cry; that he, having spent the greater part of
the night abroad, had not been in bed above an hour before he heard it;
that he rose and hurried towards my room, whence the cry came; that he
met two men masked on the stairs; that he seized one, who struck him in
the breast with a poniard, dashed him to the ground, and escaped; that
he then immediately alarmed the house, and, the servants accompanying
him, he proceeded, despite his wound, to my apartment, where he found
Isora and myself bleeding and lifeless, with the escritoire broken open.

The only contradiction to this tale was, that the officers of justice
found the escritoire not broken open, but unlocked; and yet the key
which belonged to it was found in a pocketbook in my clothes, where
Desmarais said, rightly, I always kept it. How, then, had the
escritoire been unlocked? it was supposed by the master-keys peculiar to
experienced burglars; this diverted suspicion into a new channel, and it
was suggested that the robbery and the murder had really been committed
by common housebreakers. It was then discovered that a large purse of
gold, and a diamond cross, which the escritoire contained, were gone.
And a few articles of ornamental _bijouterie_ which I had retained from
the wreck of my former profusion in such baubles, and which were kept in
a room below stairs, were also missing. The circumstances immediately
confirmed the opinion of those who threw the guilt upon vulgar and
mercenary villains, and a very probable and plausible supposition was
built on this hypothesis. Might not this Oswald, at best an adventurer
with an indifferent reputation, have forged this story of the packet in
order to obtain admission into the house, and reconnoitre, during the
confusion of a wedding, in what places the most portable articles of
value were stowed? A thousand opportunities, in the opening and
shutting of the house-doors, would have allowed an ingenious villain to
glide in; nay, he might have secreted himself in my own room, and seen
the place where I had put the packet: certain would he then be that I
had selected for the repository of a document I believed so important
that place where all that I most valued was secured; and hence he would
naturally resolve to break open the escritoire, above all other places,
which, to an uninformed robber, might have seemed not only less exposed
to danger, but equally likely to contain articles of value. The same
confusion which enabled him to enter and conceal himself would have also
enabled him to withdraw and introduce his accomplice. This notion was
rendered probable by his insisting so strongly on my not opening the
packet within a certain time; had I opened it immediately, I might have
perceived that a deceit had been practised, and not have hoarded it in
that place of security which it was the villain's object to discover.
Hence, too, in opening the escritoire, he would naturally retake the
packet (which other plunderers might not have cared to steal), as well
as things of more real price,--naturally retake it, in order that his
previous imposition might not be detected, and that suspicion might be
cast upon those who would appear to have an interest in stealing a
packet which I believed to be so inestimably important.

What gave a still greater colour to this supposition was the fact that
none of the servants had seen Oswald leave the house, though many had
seen him enter. And what put his guilt beyond a doubt in the opinion of
many, was his sudden and mysterious disappearance. To my mind, all
these circumstances were not conclusive. Both the men seemed taller
than Oswald; and I knew that that confusion which was so much insisted
upon, had not--thanks to my singular fastidiousness in those
matters--existed. I was also perfectly convinced that Oswald could not
have been hidden in my room while I locked up the packet; and there was
something in the behaviour of the murderer utterly unlike that of a
common robber actuated by common motives.

All these opposing arguments were, however, of a nature to be deemed
nugatory by the world; and on the only one of any importance in their
estimation, namely, the height of Oswald being different from that of
the robbers, it was certainly very probable that, in a scene so
dreadful, so brief, so confused, I should easily be mistaken. Having
therefore once flowed in this direction, public opinion soon settled
into the full conviction that Oswald was the real criminal, and against
Oswald was the whole strength of inquiry ultimately, but still vainly,
bent. Some few, it is true, of that kind class who love family
mysteries, and will not easily forego the notion of a brother's guilt
for that of a mere vulgar housebreaker, still shook their heads and
talked of Gerald; but the suspicion was vague and partial, and it was
only in the close gossip of private circles that it was audibly vented.

I had formed an opinion by no means favourable to the innocence of Mr.
Jean Desmarais; and I took especial care that the Necessitarian, who
would only have thought robbery and murder pieces of ill-luck, should
undergo a most rigorous examination. I remembered that he had seen me
put the packet into the escritoire; and this circumstance was alone
sufficient to arouse my suspicion. Desmarais bared his breast
gracefully to the magistrate. "Would a man, Sir," he said, "a man of my
youth, suffer such a scar as that, if he could help it?" The magistrate
laughed: frivolity is often a rogue's best policy, if he did but know
it. One finds it very difficult to think a coxcomb can commit robbery
and murder. Howbeit Desmarais came off triumphantly; and immediately
after this examination, which had been his second one, and instigated
solely at my desire, he came to me with a blush of virtuous indignation
on his thin cheeks. "He did not presume," he said, with a bow
profounder than ever, "to find fault with Monsieur le Comte; it was his
fate to be the victim of ungrateful suspicion: but philosophical truths
could not always conquer the feelings of the man, and he came to request
his dismissal." I gave it him with pleasure.

I must now state my own feelings on the matter; but I shall do so
briefly. In my own mind, I repeat, I was fully impressed with the
conviction that Gerald was the real and the head criminal; and thrice
did I resolve to repair to Devereux Court, where he still resided, to
lie in wait for him, to reproach him with his guilt, and at the sword's
point in deadly combat to seek its earthly expiation. I spare the
reader a narration of the terrible struggles which nature, conscience,
all scruples and prepossessions of education and of blood, held with
this resolution, the unholiness of which I endeavoured to clothe with
the name of justice to Isora. Suffice it to say that this resolution I
forewent at last; and I did so more from a feeling that, despite my own
conviction of Gerald's guilt, one rational doubt rested upon the
circumstance that the murderer seemed to my eyes of an inferior height
to Gerald, and that the person whom I had pursued on the night I had
received that wound which brought Isora to my bedside, and who, it was
natural to believe, was my rival, appeared to me not only also slighter
and shorter than Gerald, but of a size that seemed to tally with the
murderer's.

This solitary circumstance, which contradicted my other impressions,
was, I say, more effectual in making me dismiss the thought of personal
revenge on Gerald than the motives which virtue and religion should have
dictated. The deep desire of vengeance is the calmest of all the
passions, and it is the one which most demands certainty to the reason,
before it releases its emotions and obeys their dictates. The blow
which was to do justice to Isora I had resolved should not be dealt till
I had obtained the most utter certainty that it fell upon the true
criminal. And thus, though I cherished through all time and through all
change the burning wish for retribution, I was doomed to cherish it in
secret, and not for years and years to behold a hope of attaining it.
Once only I vented my feelings upon Gerald. I could not rest or sleep
or execute the world's objects till I had done so; but when they were
thus once vented, methought I could wait the will of time with a more
settled patience, and I re-entered upon the common career of life more
externally fitted to fulfil its duties and its aims.

That single indulgence of emotion followed immediately after my
resolution of not forcing Gerald into bodily contest. I left my sword,
lest I might be tempted to forget my determination. I rode to Devereux
Court; I entered Gerald's chamber, while my horse stood unstalled at the
gate. I said but few words, but each word was a volume. I told him to
enjoy the fortune he had acquired by fraud, and the conscience he had
stained with murder. "Enjoy them while you may," I said, "but know that
sooner or later shall come a day when the blood that cries from earth
shall be heard in Heaven,--and _your_ blood shall appease it. Know, if
I seem to disobey the voice at my heart, I hear it night and day; and I
only live to fulfil at one time its commands."

I left him stunned and horror-stricken. I flung myself on my horse, and
cast not a look behind as I rode from the towers and domains of which I
had been despoiled. Never from that time would I trust myself to meet
or see the despoiler. Once, directly after I had thus braved him in his
usurped hall, he wrote to me. I returned the letter unopened. Enough
of this: the reader will now perceive what was the real nature of my
feelings of revenge; and will appreciate the reasons which throughout
this history will cause me never or rarely to recur to those feelings
again, until at least he will perceive a just hope of their
consummation.

I went with a quiet air and a set brow into the world. It was a time of
great political excitement. Though my creed forbade me the open senate,
it could not deprive me of the veiled intrigue. St. John found ample
employment for my ambition; and I entered into the toils and objects of
my race with a seeming avidity more eager and engrossing than their own.
In what ensues, you will perceive a great change in the character of my
memoirs. Hitherto, I chiefly portrayed to you _myself_. I bared open
to you my heart and temper,--my passions, and the thoughts which belong
to our passions. I shall now rather bring before you the natures and
the minds of others. The lover and the dreamer are no more! The
satirist and the observer; the derider of human follies, participating
while he derides; the worldly and keen actor in the human drama,--these
are what the district of my history on which you enter will portray me.
From whatever pangs to me the change may have been wrought, you will be
the gainer by that change. The gaudy dissipation of courts; the
vicissitudes and the vanities of those who haunt them; the glittering
jest and the light strain; the passing irony or the close reflection;
the characters of the great; the colloquies of wit,--these are what
delight the temper, and amuse the leisure more than the solemn narrative
of fated love. As the monster of the Nile is found beneath the sunniest
banks and in the most freshening wave, the stream may seem to wander on
in melody and mirth,--the ripple and the beam; but _who_ shall tell what
lurks, dark, and fearful, and ever vigilant, below!



CHAPTER II.

AMBITIOUS PROJECTS.

IT is not my intention to write a political history, instead of a
private biography. No doubt in the next century there will be volumes
enough written in celebration of that era which my contemporaries are
pleased to term the greatest that in modern times has ever existed.
Besides, in the private and more concealed intrigues with which I was
engaged with St. John, there was something which regard for others would
compel me to preserve in silence. I shall therefore briefly state that
in 1712 St. John dignified the peerage by that title which his exile and
his genius have rendered so illustrious.

I was with him on the day this honour was publicly announced. I found
him walking to and fro his room, with his arms folded, and with a very
peculiar compression of his nether lip, which was a custom he had when
anything greatly irritated or disturbed him.

"Well," said he, stopping abruptly as he saw me,--"well, considering the
peacock Harley brought so bright a plume to his own nest, we must admire
the generosity which spared this gay dunghill feather to mine!"

"How?" said I, though I knew the cause of his angry metaphor. St. John
used metaphors in speech scarcely less than in writing.

"How?" cried the new peer, eagerly, and with one of those flashing looks
which made his expression of indignation the most powerful I ever saw;
"how! Was the sacred promise granted to me of my own collateral earldom
to be violated; and while the weight, the toil, the difficulty, the
odium of affairs, from which Harley, the despotic dullard, shrank alike
in imbecility and fear, had been left exclusively to my share, an insult
in the shape of an honour to be left exclusively to my reward? You know
my disposition is not to overrate the mere baubles of ambition; you know
I care little for titles and for orders in themselves: but the most
worthless thing becomes of consequence if made a symbol of what is of
value, or designed as the token of an affront. Listen: a collateral
earldom falls vacant; it is partly promised me. Suddenly I am dragged
from the House of Commons, where I am all powerful; I am given--not this
earldom, which, as belonging to my house, would alone have induced me to
consent to a removal from a sphere where my enemies allow I had greater
influence than any single commoner in the kingdom,--I am given, not
this, but a miserable compromise of distinction, a new and an inferior
rank; given it against my will; thrust into the Upper House to defend
what this pompous driveller, Oxford, is forced to forsake; and not only
exposed to all the obloquy of a most infuriate party opposed to me, but
mortified by an intentional affront from the party which, heart and
soul, I have supported. You know that my birth is to the full as noble
as Harley's; you know that my influence in the Lower House is far
greater; you know that my name in the country, nay, throughout Europe,
is far more popular; you know that the labour allotted to me has been
far more weighty; you know that the late Peace of Utrecht is entirely my
framing, that the foes to the measure direct all their venom against me,
that the friends of the measure heap upon me all the honour: when,
therefore, this exact time is chosen for breaking a promise formerly
made to me; when a pretended honour, known to be most unpalatable to me,
is thrust upon me; when, at this very time, too, six vacant ribbons of
the garter flaunt by me,--one resting on the knee of this Harley, who
was able to obtain an earldom for himself,--the others given to men of
far inferior pretensions, though not inferior rank to my own,--myself
markedly, glaringly passed by: how can I avoid feeling that things
despicable in themselves are become of a vital power, from the evident
intention that they should be insults to me? The insects we despise as
they buzz around us become dangerous when they settle on ourselves and
we feel their sting! But," added Bolingbroke, suddenly relapsing into a
smile, "I have long wanted a nickname: I have now found one for myself.
You know Oxford is called 'The Dragon;' well, henceforth call me 'St.
George;' for, as sure as I live, will I overthrow the Dragon. I say
this in jest, but I mean it in earnest. And now that I have discharged
my bile, let us talk of this wonderful poem, which, though I have read
it a hundred times, I am never wearied of admiring."

"Ah--'The Rape of the Lock'. It is indeed beautiful, but I am not fond
of poetry now. By the way, how is it that all our modern poets speak to
the taste, the mind, the judgment, and never to the _feelings_? Are
they right in doing so?"

"My friend, we are now in a polished age. What have feelings to do with
civilization?"

"Why, more than you will allow. Perhaps the greater our civilization,
the more numerous our feelings. Our animal passions lose in excess, but
our mental gain; and it is to the mental that poetry should speak. Our
English muse, even in this wonderful poem, seems to me to be growing,
like our English beauties, too glitteringly artificial: it wears _rouge_
and a hoop!"

"Ha! ha!--yes, they ornament now, rather than create; cut drapery,
rather than marble. Our poems remind me of the ancient statues.
Phidias made them, and Bubo and Bombax dressed them in purple. But this
does not apply to young Pope, who has shown in this very poem that he
can work the quarry as well as choose the gems. But see, the carriage
awaits us. I have worlds to do; first there is Swift to see; next,
there is some exquisite Burgundy to taste; then, too, there is the new
actress: and, by the by, you must tell me what you think of Bentley's
Horace; we will drive first to my bookseller's to see it; Swift shall
wait; Heavens! how he would rage if he heard me. I was going to say
what a pity it is that that man should have so much littleness of
vanity; but I should have uttered a very foolish sentiment if I had!"

"And why?"

"Because, if he had not so much littleness perhaps he would not be so
great: what but vanity makes a man write and speak, and slave, and
become famous? Alas!" and here St. John's countenance changed from
gayety to thought; "'tis a melancholy thing in human nature that so
little is good and noble, both in itself and in its source! Our very
worst passions will often produce sublimer effects than our best.
Phidias (we will apply to him for another illustration) made the
wonderful statue of Minerva for his country; but, in order to avenge
himself on that country, he eclipsed it in the far more wonderful statue
of the Jupiter Olympius. Thus, from a vicious feeling emanated a
greater glory than from an exalted principle; and the artist was less
celebrated for the monument of his patriotism than for that of his
revenge! But, _allons, mon cher_, we grow wise and dull. Let us go to
choose our Burgundy and our comrades to share it."

However with his characteristic affectation of bounding ambition, and
consequently hope, to no one object in particular, and of mingling
affairs of light importance with those of the most weighty, Lord
Bolingbroke might pretend not to recur to, or to dwell upon, his causes
of resentment, from that time they never ceased to influence him to a
great, and for a statesman an unpardonable, degree. We cannot, however,
blame politicians for their hatred, until, without hating anybody, we
have for a long time been politicians ourselves; strong minds have
strong passions, and men of strong passions must hate as well as love.

The next two years passed, on my part, in perpetual intrigues of
diplomacy, combined with an unceasing though secret endeavour to
penetrate the mystery which hung over the events of that dreadful night.
All, however, was in vain. I know not what the English police may be
hereafter, but, in my time, its officers seem to be chosen, like honest
Dogberry's companions, among "the most senseless and fit men." They
are, however, to the full, as much knaves as fools; and perhaps a wiser
posterity will scarcely believe that, when things of the greatest value
are stolen, the owners, on applying to the chief magistrate, will often
be told that no redress can be given there, while one of the officers
will engage to get back the goods, upon paying the thieves a certain sum
in exchange: if this is refused, your effects are gone forever! A
pretty state of internal government!

It was about a year after the murder that my mother informed me of an
event which tore from my heart its last private tie; namely, the death
of Aubrey. The last letter I had received from him has been placed
before the reader; it was written at Devereux Court, just before he left
it forever. Montreuil had been with him during the illness which proved
fatal, and which occurred in Ireland. He died of consumption; and when
I heard from my mother that Montreuil dwelt most glowingly upon the
devotion he had manifested during the last months of his life, I could
not help fearing that the morbidity of his superstition had done the
work of physical disease. On this fatal news, my mother retired from
Devereux Court to a company of ladies of our faith, who resided
together, and practised the most ascetic rules of a nunnery, though they
gave not to their house that ecclesiastical name. My mother had long
meditated this project, and it was now a melancholy pleasure to put it
into execution. From that period I rarely heard from her, and by little
and little she so shrank from all worldly objects that my visits, and I
believe even those of Gerald, became unwelcome and distasteful.

As to my lawsuit, it went on gloriously, according to the assertions of
my brisk little lawyer, who had declared so emphatically that he liked
making quick work of a suit. And, at last, what with bribery and feeing
and pushing, a day was fixed for the final adjustment of my claim. It
came--the cause was heard and lost! I should have been ruined, but for
one circumstance; the old lady, my father's godmother, who had witnessed
my first and concealed marriage, left me a pretty estate near Epsom. I
turned it into gold, and it was fortunate that I did so soon, as the
reader is about to see.

The queen died; and a cloud already began to look menacing to the eyes
of the Viscount Bolingbroke, and therefore to those of the Count
Devereux. "We will weather out the shower," said Bolingbroke.

"Could not you," said I, "make our friend Oxford the Talapat?"* and
Bolingbroke laughed. All men find wit in the jests broken on their
enemies!


* A thing used by the Siamese for the same purpose as we now use the
umbrella. A work descriptive of Siam, by M. de la Loubere, in which the
Talapat is somewhat minutely described, having been translated into
English, and having excited some curiosity, a few years before Count
Devereux now uses the word, the allusion was probably familiar.--ED.


One morning, however, I received a laconic note from him, which,
notwithstanding its shortness and seeming gayety, I knew well signified
that something not calculated for laughter had occurred. I went, and
found that his new Majesty had deprived him of the seals and secured his
papers. We looked very blank at each other. At last, Bolingbroke
smiled. I must say that, culpable as he was in some points as a
politician,--culpable, not from being ambitious (for I would not give
much for the statesman who is otherwise), but from not having
inseparably linked his ambition to the welfare of his country, rather
than to that of a party; for, despite of what has been said of him, his
ambition was never selfish,--culpable as he was when glory allured him,
he was most admirable when danger assailed him!* and, by the shade of
that Tully whom he so idolized, his philosophy was the most conveniently
worn of any person's I ever met. When it would have been in the way--at
the supper of an actress, in the _levees_ of a court, in the boudoir of
a beauty, in the arena of the senate, in the intrigue of the
cabinet--you would not have observed a seam of the good old garment.
But directly it was wanted--in the hour of pain, in the day of peril, in
the suspense of exile, in (worst of all) the torpor of tranquillity--my
extraordinary friend unfolded it piece by piece, wrapped himself up in
it, sat down, defied the world, and uttered the most beautiful
sentiments upon the comfort and luxury of his raiment, that can possibly
be imagined. It used to remind me, that same philosophy of his, of the
enchanted tent in the Arabian Tale, which one moment lay wrapped in a
nut-shell, and the next covered an army.


* I know well that it has been said otherwise, and that Bolingbroke has
been accused of timidity for not staying in England, and making Mr.
Robert Walpole a present of his head. The elegant author of "De Vere"
has fallen into a very great though a very hackneyed error, in lauding
Oxford's political character, and condemning Bolingbroke's, because the
former awaited a trial and the latter shunned it. A very little
reflection might perhaps have taught the accomplished novelist that
there could be no comparison between the two cases, because there was no
comparison between the relative danger of Oxford and Bolingbroke.
Oxford, as their subsequent impeachment proved, was far more numerously
and powerfully supported than his illustrious enemy: and there is really
no earthly cause for doubting the truth of Bolingbroke's assertion;
namely, that "He had received repeated and certain information that a
resolution was taken, by those who had power to execute it, to pursue
him to the scaffold." There are certain situations in which a brave and
a good man should willingly surrender life--but I humbly opine that
there may sometimes exist a situation in which he should preserve it;
and if ever man was placed in that latter situation, it was Lord
Bolingbroke. To choose unnecessarily to put one's head under the axe,
without benefiting any but one's enemies by the act, is, in my eyes, the
proof of a fool, not a hero; and to attack a man for not placing his
head in that agreeable and most useful predicament--for preferring, in
short, to live for a world, rather than to perish by a faction--appears
to be a mode of arguing that has a wonderful resemblance to nonsense.
When Lord Bolingbroke was impeached, two men only out of those numerous
retainers in the Lower House who had been wont so loudly to applaud the
secretary of state, in his prosecution of those very measures for which
he was now to be condemned,--two men only, General Ross and Mr.
Hungerford, uttered a single syllable in defence of the minister
disgraced.--ED.


Bolingbroke smiled, and quoted Cicero, and after an hour's conversation,
which on his part was by no means like that of a person whose very head
was in no enviable state of safety, he slid at once from a sarcasm upon
Steele into a discussion as to the best measures to be adopted. Let me
be brief on this point. Throughout the whole of that short session, he
behaved in a manner more delicately and profoundly wise than, I think,
the whole of his previous administration can equal. He sustained with
the most unflagging, the most unwearied, dexterity, the sinking spirits
of his associates. Without an act, or the shadow of an act, that could
be called time-serving, he laid himself out to conciliate the king, and
to propitiate Parliament; with a dignified prudence which, while it
seemed above petty pique, was well calculated to remove the appearance
of that disaffection with which he was charged, and discriminated justly
between the king and the new administration, he lent his talents to the
assistance of the monarch by whom his impeachment was already resolved
on, and aided in the settlement of the civil list while he was in full
expectation of a criminal accusation.

The new Parliament met, and all doubt was over. An impeachment of the
late administration was decided upon. I was settling bills with my
little lawyer one morning, when Bolingbroke entered my room. He took a
chair, nodded to me not to dismiss my assistant, joined our
conversation, and when conversation was merged in accounts, he took up a
book of songs, and amused himself with it till my business was over and
my disciple of Coke retired. He then said, very slowly, and with a
slight yawn, "You have never been at Paris, I think?"

"Never: you are enchanted with that gay city."

"Yes, but when I was last there, the good people flattered my vanity
enough to bribe my taste. I shall be able to form a more unbiased and
impartial judgment in a few days."

"A few days!"

"Ay, my dear Count: does it startle you? I wonder whether the pretty De
Tencin will be as kind to me as she was, and whether _tout le monde_
(that most exquisite phrase for five hundred people) will rise now at
the Opera on my entrance. Do you think that a banished minister can
have any, the smallest resemblance to what he was when in power? By
Gumdragon, as our friend Swift so euphoniously and elegantly says, or
swears, by Gumdragon, I think not! What altered Satan so after his
fall? what gave him horns and a tail? Nothing but his disgrace. Oh!
years, and disease, plague, pestilence, and famine never alter a man so
much as the loss of power."

"You say wisely; but what am I to gather from your words? is it all over
with us in real earnest?"

"Us! with _me_ it is indeed all over: _you_ may stay here forever. I
must fly: a packet-boat to Calais, or a room in the Tower, I must choose
between the two. I had some thoughts of remaining and confronting my
trial: but it would be folly; there is a difference between Oxford and
me. He has friends, though out of power: I have none. If they impeach
him, he will escape; if they impeach me, they will either shut me up
like a rat in a cage, for twenty years, till, old and forgotten, I tear
my heart out with my confinement, or they will bring me at once to the
block. No, no: I must keep myself for another day; and, while they
banish me, I will leave the seeds of the true cause to grow up till my
return. Wise and exquisite policy of my foes,--'_Frustra Cassium
amovisti, si gliscere et vigere Brutorum emulos passurus es._'* But I
have no time to lose: farewell, my friend; God bless you; you are saved
from these storms; and even intolerance, which prevented the exercise of
your genius, preserves you now from the danger of having applied that
genius to the welfare of your country. Heaven knows, whatever my
faults, I have sacrificed what I loved better than all things--study and
pleasure--to her cause. In her wars I served even my enemy Marlborough,
in order to serve her; her peace I effected, and I suffer for it. Be it
so, I am


   "'Fidens animi atque in utrumque paratus.'**


"Once more I embrace you; farewell."


* "Vainly have you banished Cassius, if you shall suffer the rivals of
the Brutuses to spread themselves and flourish."


** "Confident of soul and prepared for either fortune."


"Nay," said I, "listen to me; you shall not go alone. France is
already, in reality, my native country: there did I receive my birth; it
is no hardship to return to my _natale solum_; it is an honour to return
in the company of Henry St. John. I will have no refusal: my law case
is over; my papers are few; my money I will manage to transfer.
Remember the anecdote you told me yesterday of Anaxagoras, who, when
asked where his country was, pointed with his finger to heaven. It is
applicable, I hope, as well to me as to yourself: to me, uncelebrated
and obscure; to you, the senator and the statesman."

In vain Bolingbroke endeavoured to dissuade me from this resolution; he
was the only friend fate had left me, and I was resolved that misfortune
should not part us. At last he embraced me tenderly, and consented to
what he could not resist. "But you cannot," he said, "quit England
to-morrow night, as I must."

"Pardon me," I answered, "the briefer the preparation, the greater the
excitement, and what in life is equal to _that_?"

"True," answered Bolingbroke; "to some natures, too restless to be
happy, excitement can compensate for all,--compensate for years wasted,
and hopes scattered,--compensate for bitter regret at talents perverted
and passions unrestrained. But we will talk philosophically when we
have more leisure. You will dine with me to-morrow: we will go to the
play together; I promised poor Lucy that I would see her at the theatre,
and I cannot break my word; and an hour afterwards we will commence our
excursion to Paris. And now I will explain to you the plan I have
arranged for our escape."



CHAPTER III.

THE REAL ACTORS SPECTATORS TO THE FALSE ONES.

IT was a brilliant night at the theatre. The boxes were crowded to
excess. Every eye was directed towards Lord Bolingbroke, who, with his
usual dignified and consummate grace of manner, conversed with the
various loiterers with whom, from time to time, his box was filled.

"Look yonder," said a very young man, of singular personal beauty, "look
yonder, my Lord, what a panoply of smiles the Duchess wears to-night,
and how triumphantly she directs those eyes, which they say were once so
beautiful, to your box."

"Ah," said Bolingbroke, "her Grace does me too much honour: I must not
neglect to acknowledge her courtesy;" and, leaning over the box,
Bolingbroke watched his opportunity till the Duchess of Marlborough, who
sat opposite to him, and who was talking with great and evidently joyous
vivacity to a tall, thin man, beside her, directed her attention, and
that of her whole party, in a fixed and concentrated stare, to the
imperilled minister. With a dignified smile Lord Bolingbroke then put
his hand to his heart, and bowed profoundly; the Duchess looked a little
abashed, but returned the courtesy quickly and slightly, and renewed her
conversation.

"Faith, my Lord," cried the young gentleman who had before spoken, "you
managed that well! No reproach is like that which we clothe in a smile,
and present with a bow."

"I am happy," said Lord Bolingbroke, "that my conduct receives the grave
support of a son of my political opponent."

"_Grave_ support, my Lord! you are mistaken: never apply the epithet
grave to anything belonging to Philip Wharton. But, in sober earnest, I
have sat long enough with you to terrify all my friends, and must now
show my worshipful face in another part of the house. Count Devereux,
will you come with me to the Duchess's?"

"What! the Duchess's immediately after Lord Bolingbroke's!--the Whig
after the Tory: it would be as trying to one's assurance as a change
from the cold bath to the hot to one's constitution."

"Well, and what so delightful as a trial in which one triumphs? and a
change in which one does not lose even one's countenance?"

"Take care, my Lord," said Bolingbroke, laughing; "those are dangerous
sentiments for a man like you, to whom the hopes of two great parties
are directed, to express so openly, even on a trifle and in a jest."

"'Tis for that reason I utter them. I like being the object of hope and
fear to men, since my miserable fortune made me marry at fourteen, and
cease to be aught but a wedded thing to the women. But sup with me at
the Bedford,--you, my Lord, and the Count."

"And you will ask Walpole, Addison, and Steele,* to join us, eh?" said
Bolingbroke. "No, we have other engagements for to-night; but we shall
meet again soon."


* All political opponents of Lord Bolingbroke.


And the eccentric youth nodded his adieu, disappeared, and a minute
afterwards was seated by the side of the Duchess of Marlborough.

"There goes a boy," said Bolingbroke, "who, at the age of fifteen, has
in him the power to be the greatest man of his day, and in all
probability will only be the most singular. An obstinate man is sure of
doing well; a wavering or a whimsical one (which is the same thing) is
as uncertain, even in his elevation, as a shuttlecock. But look to the
box at the right: do you see the beautiful Lady Mary?"

"Yes," said Mr. Trefusis, who was with us, "she has only just come to
town. 'Tis said she and Ned Montagu live like doves."

"How!" said Lord Bolingbroke; "that quick, restless eye seems to have
very little of the dove in it."

"But how beautiful she is!" said Trefusis, admiringly. "What a pity
that those exquisite hands should be so dirty! It reminds me" (Trefusis
loved a coarse anecdote) "of her answer to old Madame de Noailles, who
made exactly the same remark to her. 'Do you call my hands dirty?'
cried Lady Mary, holding them up with the most innocent _naivete_. 'Ah,
Madame, _si vous pouviez voir mes pieds!_'"

"_Fi donc_," said I, turning away; "but who is that very small, deformed
man behind her,--he with the bright black eye?"

"Know you not?" said Bolingbroke; "tell it not in Gath!--'tis a rising
sun, whom I have already learned to worship,--the young author of the
'Essay on Criticism,' and 'The Rape of the Lock.' Egad, the little poet
seems to eclipse us with the women as much as with the men. Do you mark
how eagerly Lady Mary listens to him, even though the tall gentleman in
black, who in vain endeavours to win her attentions, is thought the
handsomest gallant in London? Ah, Genius is paid by smiles from all
females but Fortune; little, methinks, does that young poet, in his
first intoxication of flattery and fame, guess what a lot of contest and
strife is in store for him. The very breath which a literary man
respires is hot with hatred, and the youthful proselyte enters that
career which seems to him so glittering, even as Dame Pliant's brother
in the 'Alchemist' entered town,--not to be fed with luxury, and diet on
pleasure, but 'to learn to quarrel and live by his wits.'"

The play was now nearly over. With great gravity Lord Bolingbroke
summoned one of the principal actors to his box, and bespoke a play for
the next week; leaning then on my arm, he left the theatre. We hastened
to his home, put on our disguises, and, without any adventure worth
recounting, effected our escape and landed safely at Calais.



CHAPTER IV.

PARIS.--A FEMALE POLITICIAN AND AN ECCLESIASTICAL ONE.--SUNDRY OTHER
MATTERS.

THE ex-minister was received both at Calais and at Paris with the most
gratifying honours: he was then entirely the man to captivate the
French. The beauty of his person, the grace of his manner, his
consummate taste in all things, the exceeding variety and sparkling
vivacity of his conversation, enchanted them. In later life he has
grown more reserved and profound, even in habitual intercourse; and
attention is now fixed to the solidity of the diamond, as at that time
one was too dazzled to think of anything but its brilliancy.

While Bolingbroke was receiving visits of state, I busied myself in
inquiring after a certain Madame de Balzac. The reader will remember
that the envelope of that letter which Oswald had brought to me at
Devereux Court was signed by the letters C. de B. Now, when Oswald
disappeared, after that dreadful night to which even now I can scarcely
bring myself to allude, these initials occurred to my remembrance, and
Oswald having said they belonged to a lady formerly intimate with my
father, I inquired of my mother if she could guess to what French lady
such initials would apply. She, with an evident pang of jealousy,
mentioned a Madame de Balzac; and to this lady I now resolved to address
myself, with the faint hope of learning from her some intelligence
respecting Oswald. It was not difficult to find out the abode of one
who in her day had played no inconsiderable role in that 'Comedy of
Errors,'--the Great World. She was still living at Paris: what
Frenchwoman would, if she could help it, live anywhere else? "There are
a hundred gates," said the witty Madame de Choisi to me, "which lead
into Paris, but only two roads out of it,--the convent, or (odious
word!) the grave."

I hastened to Madame Balzac's hotel. I was ushered through three
magnificent apartments into one which to my eyes seemed to contain a
throne: upon a nearer inspection I discovered it was a bed. Upon a
large chair, by a very bad fire--it was in the month of March--sat a
tall, handsome woman, excessively painted, and dressed in a manner which
to my taste, accustomed to English finery, seemed singularly plain. I
had sent in the morning to request permission to wait on her, so that
she was prepared for my visit. She rose, offered me her cheek, kissed
mine, shed several tears, and in short testified a great deal of
kindness towards me. Old ladies who have flirted with our fathers
always seem to claim a sort of property in the sons!

Before she resumed her seat she held me out at arm's length.

"You have a family likeness to your brave father," said she, with a
little disappointment; "but--"

"Madame de Balzac would add," interrupted I, filling up the sentence
which I saw her _bienveillance_ had made her break off, "Madame de
Balzac would add that I am not so good-looking. It is true: the
likeness is transmitted to me within rather than without; and if I have
not my father's privilege to be admired, I have at least his capacities
to admire," and I bowed.

Madame de Balzac took three large pinches of snuff. "That is very well
said," said she, gravely: "very well indeed! not at all like your
father, though, who never paid a compliment in his life. Your clothes,
by the by, are in exquisite taste: I had no idea that English people had
arrived at such perfection in the fine arts. Your face is a little too
long! You admire Racine, of course? How do you like Paris?"

All this was not said gayly or quickly: Madame de Balzac was by no means
a gay or a quick person. She belonged to a peculiar school of
Frenchwomen, who affected a little languor, a great deal of stiffness,
an indifference to forms when forms were to be used by themselves, and
an unrelaxing demand of forms when forms were to be observed to them by
others. Added to this, they talked plainly upon all matters, without
ever entering upon sentiment. This was the school she belonged to; but
she possessed the traits of the individual as well as of the species.
She was keen, ambitious, worldly, not unaffectionate nor unkind; very
proud, a little of the devotee,--because it was the fashion to be
so,--an enthusiastic admirer of military glory, and a most prying,
searching, intriguing schemer of politics without the slightest talent
for the science.

"Like Paris!" said I, answering only the last question, and that not
with the most scrupulous regard to truth. "Can Madame de Balzac think
of Paris, and not conceive the transport which must inspire a person
entering it for the first time? But I had something more endearing than
a stranger's interest to attach me to it: I longed to express to my
father's friend my gratitude for the interest which I venture to believe
she on one occasion manifested towards me."

"Ah! you mean my caution to you against that terrible De Montreuil.
Yes, I trust I was of service to you _there_."

And Madame de Balzac then proceeded to favour me with the whole history
of the manner in which she had obtained the letter she had sent me,
accompanied by a thousand anathemas against those _atroces Jesuites_ and
a thousand eulogies on her own genius and virtues. I brought her from
this subject so interesting to herself, as soon as decorum would allow
me; and I then made inquiry if she knew aught of Oswald or could suggest
any mode of obtaining intelligence respecting him. Madame de Balzac
hated plain, blunt, blank questions, and she always travelled through a
wilderness of parentheses before she answered them. But at last I did
ascertain her answer, and found it utterly unsatisfactory. She had
never seen nor heard anything of Oswald since he had left her charged
with her commission to me. I then questioned her respecting the
character of the man, and found Mr. Marie Oswald had little to plume
himself upon in that respect. He seemed, however, from her account of
him, to be more a rogue than a villain; and from two or three stories of
his cowardice, which Madame de Balzac related, he appeared to me utterly
incapable of a design so daring and systematic as that of which it
pleased all persons who troubled themselves about my affairs to suspect
him.

Finding at last that no further information was to be gained on this
point, I turned the conversation to Montreuil. I found, from Madame de
Balzac's very abuse of him, that he enjoyed a great reputation in the
country and a great favour at court. He had been early befriended by
Father la Chaise, and he was now especially trusted and esteemed by the
successor of that Jesuit Le Tellier,--Le Tellier, that rigid and bigoted
servant of Loyola, the sovereign of the king himself, the destroyer of
the Port Royal, and the mock and terror of the bedevilled and persecuted
Jansenists. Besides this, I learned what has been before pretty clearly
evident; namely, that Montreuil was greatly in the confidence of the
Chevalier, and that he was supposed already to have rendered essential
service to the Stuart cause. His reputation had increased with every
year, and was as great for private sanctity as for political talent.

When this information, given in a very different spirit from that in
which I retail it, was over, Madame de Balzac observed, "Doubtless you
will obtain a private audience with the king?"

"Is it possible, in his present age and infirmities?"

"It ought to be, to the son of the brave Marshal Devereux."

"I shall be happy to receive Madame's instructions how to obtain the
honour: her name would, I feel, be a greater passport to the royal
presence than that of a deceased soldier; and Venus's cestus may obtain
that grace which would never be accorded to the truncheon of Mars!"

Was there ever so natural and so easy a compliment? My Venus of fifty
smiled.

"You are mistaken, Count," said she; "I have no interest at court: the
Jesuits forbid that to a Jansenist, but I will speak this very day to
the Bishop of Frejus; he is related to me, and will obtain so slight a
boon for you with ease. He has just left his bishopric; you know how he
hated it. Nothing could be pleasanter than his signing himself, in a
letter to Cardinal Quirini, 'Fleuri, Eveque de Frejus par l'indignation
divine.' The King does not like him much; but he is a good man on the
whole, though jesuitical; he shall introduce you."

I expressed my gratitude for the favour, and hinted that possibly the
relations of my father's first wife, the haughty and ancient house of La
Tremouille, might save the Bishop of Frejus from the pain of exerting
himself on my behalf.

"You are very much mistaken," answered Madame de Balzac: "priests point
the road to court as well as to Heaven; and warriors and nobles have as
little to do with the former as they have with the latter, the unlucky
Duc de Villars only excepted,--a man whose ill fortune is enough to
destroy all the laurels of France. _Ma foi_! I believe the poor Duke
might rival in luck that Italian poet who said, in a fit of despair,
that if he had been bred a hatter, men would have been born without
heads."

And Madame de Balzac chuckled over this joke, till, seeing that no
further news was to be gleaned from her, I made my adieu and my
departure.

Nothing could exceed the kindness manifested towards me by my father's
early connections. The circumstance of my accompanying Bolingbroke,
joined to my age, and an address which, if not animated nor gay, had not
been acquired without some youthful cultivation of the graces, gave me a
sort of _eclat_ as well as consideration. And Bolingbroke, who was only
jealous of superiors in power, and who had no equals in anything else,
added greatly to my reputation by his panegyrics.

Every one sought me; and the attention of society at Paris would, to
most, be worth a little trouble to repay. Perhaps, if I had liked it, I
might have been the rage; but that vanity was over. I contented myself
with being admitted into society as an observer, without a single wish
to become the observed. When one has once outlived the ambition of
fashion I know not a greater affliction than an over-attention; and the
Spectator did just what I should have done in a similar case, when he
left his lodgings "because he was asked every morning how he had slept."
In the immediate vicinity of the court, the King's devotion, age, and
misfortunes threw a damp over society; but there were still some
sparkling circles, who put the King out of the mode, and declared that
the defeats of his generals made capital subjects for epigrams. What a
delicate and subtle air did hang over those _soirees_, where all that
were bright and lovely, and noble and gay, and witty and wise, were
assembled in one brilliant cluster! Imperfect as my rehearsals must be,
I think the few pages I shall devote to a description of these
glittering conversations must still retain something of that original
piquancy which the _soirees_ of no other capital could rival or
appreciate.

One morning, about a week after my interview with Madame de Balzac, I
received a note from her requesting me to visit her that day, and
appointing the hour.

Accordingly I repaired to the house of the fair politician. I found her
with a man in a clerical garb, and of a benevolent and prepossessing
countenance. She introduced him to me as the Bishop of Frejus; and he
received me with an air very uncommon to his countrymen, namely, with an
ease that seemed to result from real good-nature, rather than artificial
grace.

"I shall feel," said he, quietly, and without the least appearance of
paying a compliment, "very glad to mention your wish to his Majesty; and
I have not the least doubt but that he will admit to his presence one
who has such hereditary claims on his notice. Madame de Maintenon, by
the way, has charged me to present you to her whenever you will give me
the opportunity. She knew your admirable mother well, and for her sake
wishes once to see you. You know perhaps, Monsieur, that the extreme
retirement of her life renders this message from Madame de Maintenon an
unusual and rare honour."

I expressed my thanks; the Bishop received them with a paternal rather
than a courtier-like air, and appointed a day for me to attend him to
the palace. We then conversed a short time upon indifferent matters,
which I observed the good Bishop took especial pains to preserve clear
from French politics. He asked me, however, two or three questions
about the state of parties in England,--about finance and the national
debt, about Ormond and Oxford; and appeared to give the most close
attention to my replies. He smiled once or twice, when his relation,
Madame de Balzac, broke out into sarcasms against the Jesuits, which had
nothing to do with the subjects in question.

"Ah, _ma chere cousine_," said he: "you flatter me by showing that you
like me not as the politician, but the private relation,--not as the
Bishop of Frejus, but as Andre de Fleuri."

Madame de Balzac smiled, and answered by a compliment. She was a
politician for the kingdom, it is true, but she was also a politician
for herself. She was far from exclaiming, with Pindar, "Thy business, O
my city, I prefer willingly to my own." Ah, there is a nice distinction
between politics and policy, and Madame de Balzac knew it. The
distinction is this. Politics is the art of being wise for others:
policy is the art of being wise for one's self.

From Madame de Balzac's I went to Bolingbroke. "I have just been
offered the place of Secretary of State by the English king on this side
of the water," said he; "I do not, however, yet like to commit myself so
fully. And, indeed, I am not unwilling to have a little relaxation of
pleasure, after all these dull and dusty travails of state. What say
you to Boulainvilliers to-night? you are asked?"

"Yes! all the wits are to be there,--Anthony Hamilton, and Fontenelle,
young Arouet, Chaulieu, that charming old man. Let us go, and polish
away the wrinkles of our hearts. What cosmetics are to the face wit is
to the temper; and, after all, there is no wisdom like that which
teaches us to forget."

"Come then," said Bolingbroke, rising, "we will lock up these papers,
and take a melancholy drive, in order that we may enjoy mirth the better
by and by."



CHAPTER V.

A MEETING OF WITS.--CONVERSATION GONE OUT TO SUPPER IN HER DRESS OF
VELVET AND JEWELS.

BOULAINVILLIERS! Comte de St. Saire! What will our great-grandchildren
think of that name? Fame is indeed a riddle! At the time I refer to,
wit, learning, grace--all things that charm and enlighten--were supposed
to centre in one word,-_Boulainvilliers_! The good Count had many
rivals, it is true, but he had that exquisite tact peculiar to his
countrymen, of making the very reputations of those rivals contribute to
his own. And while he assembled them around him, the lustre of their
_bons mots_, though it emanated from themselves, was reflected upon him.

It was a pleasant though not a costly apartment in which we found our
host. The room was sufficiently full of people to allow scope and
variety to one group of talkers, without being full enough to permit
those little knots and _coteries_ which are the destruction of literary
society. An old man of about seventy, of a sharp, shrewd, yet polished
and courtly expression of countenance, of a great gayety of manner,
which was now and then rather displeasingly contrasted by an abrupt
affectation of dignity, that, however, rarely lasted above a minute, and
never withstood the shock of a _bon mot_, was the first person who
accosted us. This old man was the wreck of the once celebrated Anthony
Count Hamilton!

"Well, my Lord," said he to Bolingbroke, "how do you like the weather at
Paris? It is a little better than the merciless air of London; is it
not? 'Slife!--even in June one could not go open breasted in those
regions of cold and catarrh,--a very great misfortune, let me tell you,
my Lord, if one's cambric happened to be of a very delicate and
brilliant texture, and one wished to penetrate the inward folds of a
lady's heart, by developing to the best advantage the exterior folds
that covered his own."

"It is the first time," answered Bolingbroke, "that I ever heard so
accomplished a courtier as Count Hamilton repine, with sincerity, that
he could not bare his bosom to inspection."

"Ah!" cried Boulainvilliers, "but vanity makes a man show much that
discretion would conceal."

"_Au diable_ with your discretion!" said Hamilton, "'tis a vulgar
virtue. Vanity is a truly aristocratic quality, and every way fitted to
a gentleman. Should I ever have been renowned for my exquisite lace and
web-like cambric, if I had not been vain? Never, _mon cher_! I should
have gone into a convent and worn sackcloth, and from _Count Antoine_ I
should have thickened into _Saint Anthony_."

"Nay," cried Lord Bolingbroke, "there is as much scope for vanity in
sackcloth as there is in cambric; for vanity is like the Irish ogling
master in the 'Spectator,' and if it teaches the play-house to ogle by
candle-light, it also teaches the church to ogle by day! But, pardon
me, Monsieur Chaulieu, how well you look! I see that the myrtle sheds
its verdure, not only over your poetry, but the poet. And it is right
that, to the modern Anacreon, who has bequeathed to Time a treasure it
will never forego, Time itself should be gentle in return."

"Milord," answered Chaulieu, an old man who, though considerably past
seventy, was animated, in appearance and manner, with a vivacity and
life that would have done honour to a youth,--"Milord, it was
beautifully said by the Emperor Julian that Justice retained the Graces
in her vestibule. I see, now, that he should have substituted the word
_Wisdom_ for that of Justice."

"Come," cried Anthony Hamilton, "this will never do: compliments are the
dullest things imaginable. For Heaven's sake, let us leave panegyric to
blockheads, and say something bitter to one another, or we shall die of
_ennui_."

"Right," said Boulainvilliers; "let us pick out some poor devil to begin
with. Absent or present?--Decide which."

"Oh, absent," cried Chaulieu, "'tis a thousand times more piquant to
slander than to rally! Let us commence with his Majesty: Count
Devereux, have you seen Madame Maintenon and her devout infant since
your arrival?"

"No! the priest must be petitioned before the miracle is made public."

"What!" cried Chaulieu, "would you insinuate that his Majesty's piety is
really nothing less than a miracle?"

"Impossible!" said Boulainvilliers, gravely,--"piety is as natural to
kings as flattery to their courtiers: are we not told that they are made
in God's own image?"

"If that were true," said Count Hamilton, somewhat profanely,--"if that
were true, I should no longer deny the impossibility of Atheism!"

"Fie, Count Hamilton," said an old gentleman, in whom I recognized the
great Huet, "fie: wit should beware how it uses wings; its province is
earth, not Heaven."

"Nobody can better tell what wit is _not_ than the learned Abbe Huet!"
answered Hamilton, with a mock air of respect.

"Pshaw!" cried Chaulieu, "I thought when we once gave the rein to satire
it would carry us _pele-mele_ against one another. But, in order to
sweeten that drop of lemon-juice for you, my dear Huet, let me turn to
Milord Bolingbroke, and ask him whether England can produce a scholar
equal to Peter Huet, who in twenty years wrote notes to sixty-two
volumes of Classics,* for the sake of a prince who never read a line in
one of them?"


* The Delphin Classics.


"We have some scholars," answered Bolingbroke; "but we certainly have no
Huet. It is strange enough, but learning seems to me like a circle: it
grows weaker the more it spreads. We now see many people capable of
reading commentaries, but very few indeed capable of writing them."

"True," answered Huet; and in his reply he introduced the celebrated
illustration which is at this day mentioned among his most felicitous
_bons mots_. "Scholarship, formerly the most difficult and unaided
enterprise of Genius, has now been made, by the very toils of the first
mariners, but an easy and commonplace voyage of leisure. But who would
compare the great men, whose very difficulties not only proved their
ardour, but brought them the patience and the courage which alone are
the parents of a genuine triumph, to the indolent loiterers of the
present day, who, having little of difficulty to conquer, have nothing
of glory to attain? For my part, there seems to me the same difference
between a scholar of our days and one of the past as there is between
Christopher Columbus and the master of a packet-boat from Calais to
Dover!"

"But," cried Anthony Hamilton, taking a pinch of snuff with the air of a
man about to utter a witty thing, "but what have we--we spirits of the
world, not imps of the closet," and he glanced at Huet--"to do with
scholarship? All the waters of Castaly, which we want to pour into our
brain, are such as will flow the readiest to our tongue."

"In short, then," said I, "you would assert that all a friend cares for
in one's head is the quantity of talk in it?"

"Precisely, my dear Count," said Hamilton, seriously; "and to that maxim
I will add another applicable to the opposite sex. All that a mistress
cares for in one's heart is the quantity of love in it."

"What! are generosity, courage, honour, to go for nothing with our
mistress, then?" cried Chaulieu.

"No: for she will believe, if you are a passionate lover, that you have
all those virtues; and if not, she will never believe that you have
one."

"Ah! it was a pretty court of love in which the friend and biographer of
Count Grammont learned the art!" said Bolingbroke.

"We believed so at the time, my Lord; but there are as many changes in
the fashion of making love as there are in that of making dresses.
Honour me, Count Devereux, by using my snuff-box and then looking at the
lid."

"It is the picture of Charles the Second which adorns it; is it not?"

"No, Count Devereux, it is the diamonds which adorn it. His Majesty's
face I thought very beautiful while he was living; but now, on my
conscience, I consider it the ugliest phiz I ever beheld. But I
directed your notice to the picture because we were talking of love; and
Old Rowley believed that he could make it better than any one else. All
his courtiers had the same opinion of themselves; and I dare say the
_beaux garcons_ of Queen Anne's reign would say that not one of King
Charley's gang knew what love was. Oh! 'tis a strange circle of
revolutions, that love! Like the earth, it always changes, and yet
always has the same materials."

"_L'amour, l'amour, toujours l'amour_, with Count Anthony Hamilton!"
said Boulainvilliers. "He is always on that subject; and, _sacre bleu_!
when he was younger, I am told he was like Cacus, the son of Vulcan, and
breathed nothing but flames."

"You flatter me," said Hamilton. "Solve me now a knotty riddle, my Lord
Bolingbroke. Why does a young man think it the greatest compliment to
be thought wise, while an old man thinks it the greatest compliment to
be told he has been foolish?"

"Is love foolish then?" said Lord Bolingbroke.

"Can you doubt it?" answered Hamilton; "it makes a man think more of
another than himself! I know not a greater proof of folly!"

"Ah! _mon aimable ami_," cried Chaulieu; "you are the wickedest witty
person I know. I cannot help loving your language, while I hate your
sentiments."

"My language is my own; my sentiments are those of all men," answered
Hamilton: "but are we not, by the by, to have young Arouet here
to-night? What a charming person he is!"

"Yes," said Boulainvilliers. "He said he should be late; and I expect
Fontenelle, too, but _he_ will not come before supper. I found
Fontenelle this morning conversing with my cook on the best manner of
dressing asparagus. I asked him the other day what writer, ancient or
modern, had ever given him the most sensible pleasure? After a little
pause, the excelient old man said, 'Daphnus.' 'Daphnus!' repeated I,
'who the devil is he?' 'Why,' answered Fontenelle, with tears of
gratitude in his benevolent eyes, 'I had some hypochondriacal ideas that
suppers were unwholesome; and Daphnus is an ancient physician, who
asserts the contrary; and declares,--think, my friend, what a charming
theory!--that the moon is a great assistant of the digestion!'"

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the Abbe de Chaulieu. "How like Fontenelle! what
an anomalous creature 'tis! He has the most kindness and the least
feeling of any man I ever knew. Let Hamilton find a pithier description
for him if he can!"

Whatever reply the friend of the _preux Grammont_ might have made was
prevented by the entrance of a young man of about twenty-one.

In person he was tall, slight, and very thin. There was a certain
affectation of polite address in his manner and mien which did not quite
become him; and though he was received by the old wits with great
cordiality, and on a footing of perfect equality, yet the inexpressible
air which denotes birth was both pretended to and wanting. This,
perhaps, was however owing to the ordinary inexperience of youth; which,
if not awkwardly bashful, is generally awkward in its assurance.
Whatever its cause, the impression vanished directly he entered into
conversation. I do not think I ever encountered a man so brilliantly,
yet so easily, witty. He had but little of the studied allusion, the
antithetical point, the classic metaphor, which chiefly characterize the
wits of my day. On the contrary, it was an exceeding and naive
simplicity, which gave such unrivalled charm and piquancy to his
conversation. And while I have not scrupled to stamp on my pages some
faint imitation of the peculiar dialogue of other eminent characters, I
must confess myself utterly unable to convey the smallest idea of his
method of making words irresistible. Contenting my efforts, therefore,
with describing his personal appearance,--interesting, because that of
the most striking literary character it has been my lot to meet,--I
shall omit his share in the remainder of the conversation I am
rehearsing, and beg the reader to recall that passage in Tacitus in
which the great historian says that, in the funeral of Junia, "the
images of Brutus and Cassius outshone all the rest, from the very
circumstance of their being the sole ones excluded from the rite."

The countenance, then, of Marie Francois Arouet (since so celebrated
under the name of Voltaire) was plain in feature, but singularly
striking in effect; its vivacity was the very perfection of what Steele
once happily called "physiognomical eloquence." His eyes were blue,
fiery rather than bright, and so restless that they never dwelt in the
same place for a moment:* his mouth was at once the worst and the most
peculiar feature of his face; it betokened humour, it is true; but it
also betrayed malignancy, nor did it ever smile without sarcasm. Though
flattering to those present, his words against the absent, uttered by
that bitter and curling lip, mingled with your pleasure at their wit a
little fear at their causticity. I believe no one, be he as bold, as
callous, or as faultless as human nature can be, could be one hour with
that man and not feel apprehension. Ridicule, so lavish, yet so true to
the mark; so wanton, yet so seemingly just; so bright, that while it
wandered round its target, in apparent though terrible playfulness, it
burned into the spot, and engraved there a brand, and a token indelible
and perpetual,--this no man could witness, when darted towards another,
and feel safe for himself. The very caprice and levity of the jester
seemed more perilous, because less to be calculated upon, than a
systematic principle of bitterness or satire. Bolingbroke compared him,
not unaptly, to a child who has possessed himself of Jupiter's bolts,
and who makes use of those bolts in sport which a god would only have
used in wrath.


* The reader will remember that this is a description of Voltaire as a
very young man. I do not know anywhere a more impressive, almost a more
ghastly, contrast than that which the pictures of Voltaire, grown old,
present to Largilliere's picture of him at the age of twenty-four; and
he was somewhat younger than twenty-four at the time of which the Count
now speaks.--ED.


Arouet's forehead was not remarkable for height, but it was nobly and
grandly formed, and, contradicting that of the mouth, wore a benevolent
expression. Though so young, there was already a wrinkle on the surface
of the front, and a prominence on the eyebrow, which showed that the wit
and the fancy of his conversation were, if not regulated, at least
contrasted, by more thoughtful and lofty characteristics of mind. At
the time I write, this man has obtained a high throne among the powers
of the lettered world. What he may yet be, it is in vain to guess: he
may be all that is great and good, or--the reverse; but I cannot but
believe that his career is only begun. Such men are born monarchs of
the mind; they may be benefactors or tyrants: in either case, they are
greater than the kings of the physical empire, because they defy armies
and laugh at the intrigues of state. From themselves only come the
balance of their power, the laws of their government, and the boundaries
of their realm. We sat down to supper. "Count Hamilton," said
Boulainvilliers, "are we not a merry set for such old fellows? Why,
excepting Arouet, Milord Bolingbroke, and Count Devereux, there is
scarcely one of us under seventy. Where but at Paris would you see
_bons vivans_ of our age? _Vivent la joie, la bagatelle, l'amour_!"

"_Et le vin de Champagne_!" cried Chaulieu, filling his glass; "but what
is there strange in our merriment? Philemon, the comic poet, laughed at
ninety-seven. May we all do the same!"

"You forget," cried Bolingbroke, "that Philemon died of the laughing."

"Yes," said Hamilton; "but if I remember right, it was at seeing an ass
eat figs. Let us vow, therefore, never to keep company with asses!"

"Bravo, Count," said Boulainvilliers, "you have put the true moral on
the story. Let us swear by the ghost of Philemon that we will never
laugh at an ass's jokes,--practical or verbal."

"Then we must always be serious, except when we are with each other,"
cried Chaulieu. "Oh, I would sooner take my chance of dying prematurely
at ninety-seven than consent to such a vow!"

"Fontenelle," cried our host, "you are melancholy. What is the matter?"

"I mourn for the weakness of human nature," answered Fontenelle, with an
air of patriarchal philanthropy. "I told your cook three times about
the asparagus; and now--taste it. I told him not to put too much sugar,
and he has put none. Thus it is with mankind,--ever in extremes, and
consequently ever in error. Thus it was that Luther said, so
felicitously and so truly, that the human mind was like a drunken
peasant on horseback: prop it on one side, and it falls on the other."

"Ha! ha! ha!" cried Chaulieu. "Who would have thought one could have
found so much morality in a plate of asparagus! Taste this _salsifis_."

"Pray, Hamilton," said Huet, "what _jeu de mot_ was that you made
yesterday at Madame d'Epernonville's which gained you such applause?"

"Ah, repeat it, Count," cried Boulainvilliers; "'t was the most
classical thing I have heard for a long time."

"Why," said Hamilton, laying down his knife and fork, and preparing
himself by a large draught of the champagne, "why, Madame d'Epernonville
appeared without her _tour_; you know, Lord Bolingbroke, that _tour_ is
the polite name for false hair. 'Ah, sacre!' cried her brother,
courteously, 'ma soeur, que vous etes laide aujourd'hui: vous n'avez pas
votre tour!' 'Voila pourquoi elle n'est pas si-belle (Cybele),'
answered I."

"Excellent! famous!" cried we all, except Huet, who seemed to regard the
punster with a very disrespectful eye. Hamilton saw it. "You do not
think, Monsieur Huet, that there is wit in these _jeux de mots_: perhaps
you do not admire wit at all?"

"Yes, I admire wit as I do the wind. When it shakes the trees it is
fine; when it cools the wave it is refreshing; when it steals over
flowers it is enchanting: but when, Monsieur Hamilton, it whistles
through the key-hole it is unpleasant."

"The very worst illustration I ever heard," said Hamilton, coolly.
"Keep to your classics, my dear Abbe. When Jupiter edited the work of
Peter Huet, he did with wit as Peter Huet did with Lucan when he edited
the classics: he was afraid it might do mischief, and so left it out
altogether."

"Let us drink!" cried Chaulieu; "let us drink!" and the conversation was
turned again.

"What is that you say of Tacitus, Huet?" said Boulainvilliers.

"That his wisdom arose from his malignancy," answered Huet. "He is a
perfect penetrator* into human vices, but knows nothing of human
virtues. Do you think that a good man would dwell so constantly on what
is evil? Believe me--no. A man cannot write much and well upon virtue
without being virtuous, nor enter minutely and profoundly into the
causes of vice without being vicious himself."


* A remark similar to this the reader will probably remember in the
"Huetiana," and will, I hope, agree with me in thinking it showy and
untrue.--ED.


"It is true," said Hamilton; "and your remark, which affects to be so
deep, is but a natural corollary from the hackneyed maxim that from
experience comes wisdom."

"But, for my part," said Boulainvilliers, "I think Tacitus is not so
invariably the analyzer of vice as you would make him. Look at the
'Agricola' and the 'Germania.'"

"Ah! the 'Germany,' above all things!" cried Hamilton, dropping a
delicious morsel of _sanglier_ in its way from hand to mouth, in his
hurry to speak. "Of course, the historian, Boulainvilliers, advocates
the 'Germany,' from its mention of the origin of the feudal
system,--that incomparable bundle of excellences, which Le Comte de
Boulainvilliers has declared to be _le chef d'oeuvre de l'esprit
humain_; and which the same gentleman regrets, in the most pathetic
terms, no longer exists in order that the seigneur may feed upon _des
gros morceaux de boeuf demi-cru_, may hang up half his peasants _pour
encourager les autres_, and ravish the daughters of the defunct _pour
leur donner quelque consolation._"

"Seriously though," said the old Abbe de Chaulieu, with a twinkling eye,
"the last mentioned evil, my dear Hamilton, was not without a little
alloy of good."

"Yes," said Hamilton, "if it was only the daughters; but perhaps the
seigneur was not too scrupulous with regard to the wives."

"Ah! shocking, shocking!" cried Chaulieu, solemnly. "Adultery is,
indeed, an atrocious crime. I am sure I would most conscientiously cry
out with the honest preacher, 'Adultery, my children, is the blackest of
sins. I do declare that I would rather have _ten_ virgins in love with
me than _one_ married woman!'"

We all laughed at this enthusiastic burst of virtue from the chaste
Chaulieu. And Arouet turned our conversation towards the ecclesiastical
dissensions between Jesuits and Jansenists that then agitated the
kingdom. "Those priests," said Bolingbroke, "remind me of the nurses of
Jupiter: they make a great clamour in order to drown the voice of their
God."

"Bravissimo!" cried Hamilton. "Is it not a pity, Messieurs, that my
Lord Bolingbroke was not a Frenchman? He is almost clever enough to be
one."

"If he would drink a little more, he would be," cried Chaulieu, who was
now setting us all a glorious example.

"What say you, Morton?" exclaimed Bolingbroke; "must we not drink these
gentlemen under the table for the honour of our country?"

"A challenge! a challenge!" cried Chaulieu. "I march first to the
field!"

"Conquest or death!" shouted Bolingbroke. And the rites of Minerva were
forsaken for those of Bacchus.



CHAPTER VI.

A COURT, COURTIERS, AND A KING.

I THINK it was the second day after this "feast of reason" that Lord
Bolingbroke deemed it advisable to retire to Lyons till his plans of
conduct were ripened into decision. We took an affectionate leave of
each other; but before we parted, and after he had discussed his own
projects of ambition, we talked a little upon mine. Although I was a
Catholic and a pupil of Montreuil, although I had fled from England and
had nothing to expect from the House of Hanover, I was by no means
favourably disposed towards the Chevalier and his cause. I wonder if
this avowal will seem odd to Englishmen of the next century! To
Englishmen of the present one, a Roman Catholic and a lover of
priestcraft and tyranny are two words for the same thing; as if we could
not murmur at tithes and taxes, insecurity of property or arbitrary
legislation, just as sourly as any other Christian community. No! I
never loved the cause of the Stuarts,--unfortunate, and therefore
interesting, as the Stuarts were; by a very stupid and yet uneffaceable
confusion of ideas, I confounded it with the cause of Montreuil, and I
hated the latter enough to dislike the former: I fancy all party
principles are formed much in the same manner. I frankly told
Bolingbroke my disinclination to the Chevalier.

"Between ourselves be it spoken," said he, "there is but little to
induce a wise man in _your_ circumstances to join James the Third. I
would advise you rather to take advantage of your father's reputation at
the French court, and enter into the same service he did. Things wear a
dark face in England for you, and a bright one everywhere else."

"I have already," said I, "in my own mind, perceived and weighed the
advantages of entering into the service of Louis. But he is old: he
cannot live long. People now pay court to parties, not to the king.
Which party, think you, is the best,--that of Madame de Maintenon?"

"Nay, I think not; she is a cold friend, and never asks favours of Louis
for any of her family. A bold game might be played by attaching
yourself to the Duchesse d'Orleans (the Duke's mother). She is at
daggers-drawn with Maintenon, it is true, and she is a violent, haughty,
and coarse woman; but she has wit, talent, strength of mind, and will
zealously serve any person of high birth who pays her respect. But she
can do nothing for you till the king's death, and then only on the
chance of her son's power. But--let me see--you say Fleuri, the Bishop
of Frejus, is to introduce you to Madame de Maintenon?"

"Yes; and has appointed the day after to-morrow for that purpose."

"Well, then, make close friends with him: you will not find it
difficult; he has a delightful address, and if you get hold of his weak
points you may win his confidence. Mark me: Fleuri has no
_faux-brillant_, no genius, indeed, of very prominent order; but he is
one of those soft and smooth minds which, in a crisis like the present,
when parties are contending and princes wrangling, always slip silently
and unobtrusively into one of the best places. Keep in with Frejus: you
cannot do wrong by it; although you must remember that at present he is
in ill odour with the king, and you need not go with _him twice_ to
Versailles. But, above all, when you are introduced to Louis, do not
forget that you cannot please him better than by appearing
awe-stricken."

Such was Bolingbroke's parting advice. The Bishop of Frejus carried me
with him (on the morning we had appointed) to Versailles. What a
magnificent work of royal imagination is that palace! I know not in any
epic a grander idea than terming the avenues which lead to it the roads
"to Spain, to Holland," etc. In London, they would have been the roads
to Chelsea and Pentonville!

As we were driving slowly along in the Bishop's carriage, I had ample
time for conversation with that personage, who has since, as the
Cardinal de Fleuri, risen to so high a pitch of power. He certainly has
in him very little of the great man; nor do I know anywhere so striking
an instance of this truth,--that in that game of honours which is played
at courts, we obtain success less by our talents than our tempers. He
laughed, with a graceful turn of _badinage_, at the political
peculiarities of Madame de Balzac; and said that it was not for the
uppermost party to feel resentment at the chafings of the under one.
Sliding from this topic, he then questioned me as to the gayeties I had
witnessed. I gave him a description of the party at Boulainvilliers'.
He seemed much interested in this, and showed more shrewdness than I
should have given him credit for in discussing the various characters of
the _literati_ of the day. After some general conversation on works of
fiction, he artfully glided into treating on those of statistics and
politics, and I then caught a sudden but thorough insight into the
depths of his policy. I saw that, while he affected to be indifferent
to the difficulties and puzzles of state, he lost no opportunity of
gaining every particle of information respecting them; and that he made
conversation, in which he was skilled, a vehicle for acquiring that
knowledge which he had not the force of mind to create from his own
intellect, or to work out from the written labours of others. If this
made him a superficial statesman, it made him a prompt one; and there
was never so lucky a minister with so little trouble to himself.*


* At his death appeared the following pnnning epigram:--

     "_Floruit_ sine fructu;
      _Defloruit_ sine luctu."

"He flowered without fruit, and faded without regret."--ED.


As we approached the end of our destination, we talked of the King. On
this subject he was jealously cautious. But I gleaned from him, despite
of his sagacity, that it was high time to make all use of one's
acquaintance with Madame de Maintenon that one could be enabled to do;
and that it was so difficult to guess the exact places in which power
would rest after the death of the old King that supineness and silence
made at present the most profound policy.

As we alighted from the carriage and I first set my foot within the
palace, I could not but feel involuntarily yet powerfully impressed with
the sense of the spirit of the place. I was in the precincts of that
mighty court which had gathered into one dazzling focus all the rays of
genius which half a century had emitted,--the court at which time had
passed at once from the morn of civilization into its full noon and
glory,--the court of Conde and Turenne, of Villars and of
Tourville,--the court where, over the wit of Grammont, the profusion of
Fouquet, the fatal genius of Louvois (fatal to humanity and to France),
Love, real Love, had not disdained to shed its pathos and its truth, and
to consecrate the hollow pageantries of royal pomp, with the tenderness,
the beauty, and the repentance of La Valliere. Still over that scene
hung the spells of a genius which, if artificial and cold, was also
vast, stately, and magnificent,--a genius which had swelled in the rich
music of Racine, which had raised the nobler spirit and the freer
thought of Pierre Corneille,* which had given edge to the polished
weapon of Boileau, which had lavished over the bright page of
Moliere,--Moliere, more wonderful than all--a knowledge of the humours
and the hearts of men, which no dramatist, save Shakspeare, has
surpassed. Within those walls still glowed, though now waxing faint and
dim, the fame of that monarch who had enjoyed, at least till his later
day, the fortune of Augustus unsullied by the crimes of Octavius. Nine
times, since the sun of that monarch rose, had the Papal Chair received
a new occupant! Six sovereigns had reigned over the Ottoman hordes!
The fourth emperor since the birth of the same era bore sway over
Germany! Five czars, from Michael Romanoff to the Great Peter, had
held, over their enormous territory, the precarious tenure of their iron
power! Six kings had borne the painful cincture of the English crown;**
two of those kings had been fugitives to that court; to the son of the
last it was an asylum at that moment.


* Rigidly speaking, Corneille belongs to a period later than that of
Louis XIV., though he has been included in the era formed by that
reign.--ED.


** Besides Cromwell; namely, Charles I., Charles II., James II., William
and Mary, Anne, George I.


What wonderful changes had passed over the face of Europe during that
single reign! In England only, what a vast leap in the waste of events,
from the reign of the first Charles to that of George the First! I
still lingered, I still gazed, as these thoughts, linked to one another
in an electric chain, flashed over me! I still paused on the threshold
of those stately halls which Nature herself had been conquered to rear!
Where, through the whole earth, could I find so meet a symbol for the
character and the name which that sovereign would leave to posterity as
this palace itself afforded? A gorgeous monument of regal state raised
from a desert; crowded alike with empty pageantries and illustrious
names; a prodigy of elaborate artifice, grand in its whole effect, petty
in its small details; a solitary oblation to a splendid selfishness, and
most remarkable for the revenues which it exhausted and the poverty by
which it is surrounded!

Fleuri, with his usual urbanity--an urbanity that, on a great scale,
would have been benevolence--had hitherto indulged me in my emotions: he
now laid his hand upon my arm, and recalled me to myself. Before I
could apologize for my abstraction, the Bishop was accosted by an old
man of evident rank, but of a countenance more strikingly demonstrative
of the little cares of a mere courtier than any I ever beheld. "What
news, Monsieur le Marquis?" said Fleuri, smiling.

"Oh! the greatest imaginable! the King talks of receiving the Danish
minister on _Thursday_, which, you know, is his day of _domestic
business_! What _can_ this portend? Besides," and here the speaker's
voice lowered into a whisper, "I am told by the Duc de la Rochefoucauld
that the king intends, out of all ordinary rule and practice, to take
physic to-morrow: I can't believe it; no, I positively can't; but don't
let this go further!"

"Heaven forbid!" answered Fleuri, bowing, and the courtier passed on to
whisper his intelligence to others. "Who's that gentleman?" I asked.

"The Marquis de Dangeau," answered Fleuri; "a nobleman of great quality,
who keeps a diary of all the king says and does. It will perhaps be a
posthumous publication, and will show the world of what importance
nothings can be made. I dare say, Count, you have already, in England,
seen enough of a court to know that there are some people who are as
human echoes, and have no existence except in the noise occasioned by
another."

I took care that my answer should not be a witticism, lest Fleuri should
think I was attempting to rival him; and so we passed on in an excellent
humour with each other.

We mounted the grand staircase, and came to an ante-chamber, which,
though costly and rich, was not remarkably conspicuous for splendour.
Here the Bishop requested me to wait for a moment. Accordingly, I
amused myself with looking over some engravings of different saints.
Meanwhile, my companion passed through another door, and I was alone.

After an absence of nearly ten minutes, he returned. "Madame de
Maintenon," said he in a whisper, "is but poorly to-day. However, she
has eagerly consented to see you; follow me!"

So saying, the ecclesiastical courtier passed on, with myself at his
heels. We came to the door of a second chamber, at which Fleuri
_scraped_ gently. We were admitted, and found therein three ladies, one
of whom was reading, a second laughing, and a third yawning, and entered
into another chamber, where, alone and seated by the window in a large
chair, with one foot on a stool, in an attitude that rather reminded me
of my mother, and which seems to me a favourite position with all
devotees, we found an old woman without _rouge_, plainly dressed, with
spectacles on her nose and a large book on a little table before her.
With a most profound salutation, Frejus approached, and taking me by the
hand, said,--

"Will Madame suffer me to present to her the Count Devereux?"

Madame de Maintenon, with an air of great meekness and humility, bowed a
return to the salutation. "The son of Madame la Marechale de Devereux
will always be most welcome to me!" Then, turning towards us, she
pointed to two stools, and, while we were seating ourselves, said,--

"And how did you leave my excellent friend?"

"When, Madame, I last saw my mother, which is now nearly a year ago, she
was in health, and consoling herself for the advance of years by that
tendency to wean the thoughts from this world which (in her own
language) is the divinest comfort of old age!"

"Admirable woman!" said Madame de Maintenon, casting down her eyes;
"such are indeed the sentiments in which I recognize the Marechale. And
how does her beauty wear? Those golden locks, and blue eyes, and that
snowy skin, are not yet, I suppose, wholly changed for an adequate
compensation of the beauties within?"

"Time, Madame, has been gentle with her; and I have often thought,
though never perhaps more strongly than at this moment, that there is in
those divine studies, which bring calm and light to the mind, something
which preserves and embalms, as it were, the beauty of the body."

A faint blush passed over the face of the devotee. No, no,--not even at
eighty years of age is a compliment to a woman's beauty misplaced!
There was a slight pause. I thought that respect forbade me to break
it.

"His Majesty," said the Bishop, in the tone of one who is sensible that
he encroaches a little, and does it with consequent reverence, "his
Majesty, I hope, is well?"

"God be thanked, yes, as well as we can expect. It is now nearly the
hour in which his Majesty awaits your personal inquiries."

Fleuri bowed as he answered,--

"The King, then, will receive us to-day? My young companion is very
desirous to see the greatest monarch, and, consequently, the greatest
man, of the age."

"The desire is natural," said Madame de Maintenon; and then, turning to
me, she asked if I had yet seen King James the Third.

I took care, in my answer, to express that even if I had resolved to
make that stay in Paris which allowed me to pay my respects to him at
all, I should have deemed that both duty and inclination led me, in the
first instance, to offer my homage to one who was both the benefactor of
my father and the monarch whose realms afforded me protection.

"You have not, then," said Madame de Maintenon, "decided on the length
of your stay in France?"

"No," said I,--and my answer was regulated by my desire to see how far I
might rely on the services of one who expressed herself so warm a friend
of that excellent woman, Madame la Marechale,--"no, Madame. France is
the country of my birth, if England is that of my parentage; and could I
hope for some portion of that royal favour which my father enjoyed, I
would rather claim it as the home of my hopes than the refuge of my
exile. But"--and I stopped short purposely.

The old lady looked at me very earnestly through her spectacles for one
moment, and then, hemming twice with a little embarrassment, again
remarked to the Bishop that the time for seeing the King was nearly
arrived. Fleuri, whose policy at that period was very like that of the
concealed Queen, and who was, besides, far from desirous of introducing
any new claimants on Madame de Maintenon's official favour, though he
might not object to introduce them to a private friend, was not slow in
taking the hint. He rose, and I was forced to follow his example.

Madame de Maintenon thought she might safely indulge in a little
cordiality when I was just on the point of leaving her, and accordingly
blessed me, and gave me her hand, which I kissed very devoutly. An
extremely pretty hand it was, too, notwithstanding the good Queen's age.
We then retired, and, repassing the three ladies, who were now all
yawning, repaired to the King's apartments.

"What think you of Madame?" asked Fleuri.

"What can I think of her," said I, cautiously, "but that greatness seems
in her to take its noblest form,--that of simplicity?"

"True," rejoined Fleuri; "never was there so meek a mind joined to so
lowly a carriage! Do you remark any trace of former beauty?"

"Yes, indeed, there is much that is soft in her countenance, and much
that is still regular in her features; but what struck me most was the
pensive and even sad tranquillity that rests upon her face when she is
silent."

"The expression betrays the mind," answered Fleuri; "and the curse of
the great is _ennui_."

"Of the great in station," said I, "but not necessarily of the great in
mind. I have heard that the Bishop of Frejus, notwithstanding his rank
and celebrity, employs every hour to the advantage of others, and
consequently without tedium to himself."

"Aha!" said Fleuri, smiling gently and patting my cheek: "see now if the
air of palaces is not absolutely prolific of pretty speeches." And,
before I could answer, we were in the apartments of the King.

Leaving me a while to cool my heels in a gallery, filled with the
butterflies who bask in the royal sunshine, Frejus then disappeared
among the crowd; he was scarcely gone when I was agreeably surprised by
seeing Count Hamilton approach towards me.

"_Mort diable_!" said he, shaking me by the hand _a l'Anglaise_; "I am
really delighted to see any one here who does not insult my sins with
his superior excellence. Eh, now, look round this apartment for a
moment! Whether would you believe yourself at the court of a great king
or the _levee_ of a Roman cardinal! Whom see you chiefly? Gallant
soldiers, with worn brows and glittering weeds? wise statesmen with ruin
to Austria and defiance to Rome in every wrinkle? gay nobles in costly
robes, and with the bearing that so nicely teaches mirth to be dignified
and dignity to be merry? No! cassock and hat, rosary and gown, decking
sly, demure, hypocritical faces, flit, and stalk, and sadden round us.
It seems to me," continued the witty Count, in a lower whisper, "as if
the old king, having fairly buried his glory at Ramilies and Blenheim,
had summoned all these good gentry to sing psalms over it! But are you
waiting for a private audience?"

"Yes, under the auspices of the Bishop of Frejus."

"You might have chosen a better guide: the King has been too much teased
about him," rejoined Hamilton; "and now that we are talking of him, I
will show you a singular instance of what good manners can do at court
in preference to good abilities. You observe yon quiet, modest-looking
man, with a sensible countenance and a clerical garb; you observe how he
edges away when any one approaches to accost him; and how, from his
extreme disesteem of himself, he seems to inspire every one with the
same sentiment. Well, that man is a namesake of Fleuri, the Prior of
Argenteuil; he has come here, I suppose, for some particular and
temporary purpose, since, in reality, he has left the court. Well, that
worthy priest--do remark his bow; did you ever see anything so
awkward?--is one of the most learned divines that the Church can boast
of; he is as immeasurably superior to the smooth-faced Bishop of Frejus
as Louis the Fourteenth is to my old friend Charles the Second. He has
had equal opportunities with the said Bishop; been preceptor to the
princes of Conti and the Count de Vermandois; and yet I will wager that
he lives and dies a tutor, a bookworm--and a prior; while t' other
Fleuri, without a particle of merit but of the most superficial order,
governs already kings through their mistresses, kingdoms through the
kings, and may, for aught I know, expand into a prime minister and ripen
into a cardinal."

"Nay," said I, smiling, "there is little chance of so exalted a lot for
the worthy Bishop."

"Pardon me," interrupted Hamilton, "I am an old courtier, and look
steadily on the game I no longer play. Suppleness, united with art, may
do anything in a court like this; and the smooth and unelevated craft of
a Fleuri may win even to the same height as the deep wiles of the
glittering Mazarin, or the superb genius of the imperious Richelieu."

"Hist!" said I, "the Bishop has reappeared. Who is that old priest with
a fine countenance and an address that will, at least, please you better
than that of the Prior of Argenteuil, who has just stopped our episcopal
courtier?"

"What! do you not know? It is the most celebrated preacher of the
day,--the great Massillon. It is said that that handsome person goes a
great way towards winning converts among the court ladies; it is
certain, at least, that when Massillon first entered the profession he
was to the soul something like the spear of Achilles to the body; and,
though very efficacious in healing the wounds of conscience, was equally
ready in the first instance to inflict them."

"Ah," said I, "see the malice of wit; and see, above all, how much more
ready one is to mention a man's frailties than to enlarge upon his
virtues."

"To be sure," answered Hamilton, coolly, and patting his snuff-box, "to
be sure, we old people like history better than fiction; and frailty is
certain, while virtue is always doubtful."

"Don't judge of all people," said I, "by your experience among the
courtiers of Charles the Second."

"Right," said Hamilton. "Providence never assembled so many rascals
together before without hanging them. And he would indeed be a bad
judge of human nature who estimated the characters of men in general by
the heroes of Newgate and the victims of Tyburn. But your Bishop
approaches. Adieu!"

"What!" said Fleuri, joining me and saluting Hamilton, who had just
turned to depart, "what, Count Antoine! Does anything but whim bring
you here to-day?"

"No," answered Hamilton; "I am only here for the same purpose as the
poor go to the temples of Caitan,--_to inhale the steam of those good
things which I see the priests devour_."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the good-natured Bishop, not in the least
disconcerted; and Count Hamilton, congratulating himself on his _bon
mot_, turned away.

"I have spoken to his Most Christian Majesty," said the Bishop; "he is
willing, as he before ordained, to admit you to his presence. The Duc
de Maine is with the King, as also some other members of the royal
family; but you will consider this a private audience."

I expressed my gratitude: we moved on; the doors of an apartment were
thrown open; and I saw myself in the presence of Louis XIV.

The room was partially darkened. In the centre of it, on a large sofa,
reclined the King; he was dressed (though this, if I may so speak, I
rather remembered than noted) in a coat of black velvet, slightly
embroidered; his vest was of white satin; he wore no jewels nor orders,
for it was only on grand or gala days that he displayed personal pomp.
At some little distance from him stood three members of the royal
family; them I never regarded: all my attention was bent upon the King.
My temperament is not that on which greatness, or indeed any external
circumstances, make much impression; but as, following at a little
distance the Bishop of Frejus, I approached the royal person, I must
confess that Bolingbroke had scarcely need to have cautioned me not to
appear too self-possessed. Perhaps, had I seen that great monarch in
his _beaux jours_; in the plenitude of his power, his glory, the
dazzling and meridian splendour of his person, his court, and his
renown,--pride might have made me more on my guard against too deep, or
at least too apparent, an impression; but the many reverses of that
magnificent sovereign,--reverses in which he had shown himself more
great than in all his previous triumphs and early successes; his age,
his infirmities, the very clouds round the setting sun, the very howls
of joy at the expiring lion,--all were calculated, in my mind, to deepen
respect into reverence, and tincture reverence itself with awe. I saw
before me not only the majesty of Louis le Grand, but that of
misfortune, of weakness, of infirmity, and of age; and I forgot at once,
in that reflection, what otherwise would have blunted my sentiments of
deference, namely, the crimes of his ministers and the exactions of his
reign. Endeavouring to collect my mind from an embarrassment which
surprised myself, I lifted my eyes towards the King, and saw a
countenance where the trace of the superb beauty for which his manhood
had been celebrated still lingered, broken, not destroyed, and borrowing
a dignity even more imposing from the marks of encroaching years and
from the evident exhaustion of suffering and disease.

Fleuri said, in a low tone, something which my ear did not catch. There
was a pause,--only a moment's pause; and then, in a voice, the music of
which I had hitherto deemed exaggerated, the King spoke; and in that
voice there was something so kind and encouraging that I felt reassured
at once. Perhaps its tone was not the less conciliating from the
evident effect which the royal presence had produced upon me.

"You have given us, Count Devereux," said the King, "a pleasure which we
are glad, in person, to acknowledge to you. And it has seemed to us
fitting that the country in which your brave father acquired his fame
should also be the asylum of his son."

"Sire," answered I, "Sire, it shall not be my fault if that country is
not henceforth my own; and in inheriting my father's name, I inherit
also his gratitude and his ambition."

"It is well said, Sir," said the King; and I once more raised my eyes,
and perceived that his were bent upon me. "It is well said," he
repeated after a short pause; "and in granting to you this audience, we
were not unwilling to hope that you were desirous to attach yourself to
our court. The times do not require" (here I thought the old King's
voice was not so firm as before) "the manifestation of your zeal in the
same career as that in which your father gained laurels to France and to
himself. But we will not neglect to find employment for your abilities,
if not for your sword."

"That sword which was given to me, Sire," said I, "by your Majesty,
shall be ever drawn (against all nations but one) at your command; and,
in being your Majesty's petitioner for future favours, I only seek some
channel through which to evince my gratitude for the past."

"We do not doubt," said Louis, "that whatever be the number of the
ungrateful we may make by testifying our good pleasure on your behalf,
_you_ will not be among the number." The King here made a slight but
courteous inclination and turned round. The observant Bishop of Frejus,
who had retired to a little distance and who knew that the King never
liked talking more than he could help it, gave me a signal. I obeyed,
and backed, with all due deference, out of the royal presence.

So closed my interview with Louis XIV. Although his Majesty did not
indulge in prolixity, I spoke of him for a long time afterwards as the
most eloquent of men. Believe me, there is no orator like a king; one
word from a royal mouth stirs the heart more than Demosthenes could have
done. There was a deep moral in that custom of the ancients, by which
the Goddess of Persuasion was always represented _with a diadem on her
head_.



CHAPTER VII.

REFLECTIONS.--A SOIREE.--THE APPEARANCE OF ONE IMPORTANT IN THE
HISTORY.--A CONVERSATION WITH MADAME DE BALZAC HIGHLY SATISFACTORY AND
CHEERING.--A RENCONTRE WITH A CURIOUS OLD SOLDIER.--THE EXTINCTION OF A
ONCE GREAT LUMINARY.

I HAD now been several weeks at Paris; I had neither eagerly sought nor
sedulously avoided its gayeties. It is not that one violent sorrow
leaves us without power of enjoyment; it only lessens the power, and
deadens the enjoyment: it does not take away from us the objects of
life; it only forestalls the more indifferent calmness of age. The
blood no longer flows in an irregular but delicious course of vivid and
wild emotion; the step no longer spurns the earth; nor does the ambition
wander, insatiable, yet undefined, over the million paths of existence:
but we lose not our old capacities; they are quieted, not extinct. The
heart can never utterly and long be dormant: trifles may not charm it
any more, nor levities delight; but its pulse has not yet ceased to
beat. We survey the scene that moves around, with a gaze no longer
distracted by every hope that flutters by; and it is therefore that we
find ourselves more calculated than before for the graver occupations of
our race. The overflowing temperament is checked to its proper level,
the ambition bounded to its prudent and lawful goal. The earth is no
longer so green, nor the heaven so blue, nor the fancy that stirs within
us so rich in its creations; but we look more narrowly on the living
crowd, and more rationally on the aims of men. The misfortune which has
changed us has only adapted us the better to a climate in which
misfortune is a portion of the air. The grief that has thralled our
spirit to a more narrow and dark cell has also been a change that has
linked us to mankind with a strength of which we dreamed not in the day
of a wilder freedom and more luxuriant aspirings. In later life, a new
spirit, partaking of that which was our earliest, returns to us. The
solitude which delighted us in youth, but which, when the thoughts that
make solitude a fairy land are darkened by affliction, becomes a fearful
and sombre void, resumes its old spell, as the more morbid and urgent
memory of that affliction crumbles away by time. Content is a hermit;
but so also is Apathy. Youth loves the solitary couch, which it
surrounds with dreams. Age, or Experience (which is the mind's age),
loves the same couch for the rest which it affords; but the wide
interval between is that of exertion, of labour, and of labour among
men. The woe which makes our _hearts_ less social, often makes our
_habits_ more so. The thoughts, which in calm would have shunned the
world, are driven upon it by the tempest, even as the birds which
forsake the habitable land can, so long as the wind sleeps and the
thunder rests within its cloud, become the constant and solitary
brooders over the waste sea: but the moment the storm awakes and the
blast pursues them, they fly, by an overpowering instinct, to some
wandering bark, some vestige of human and social life; and exchange,
even for danger from the hands of men, the desert of an angry Heaven and
the solitude of a storm.

I heard no more either of Madame de Maintenon or the King. Meanwhile,
my flight and friendship with Lord Bolingbroke had given me a
consequence in the eyes of the exiled Prince which I should not
otherwise have enjoyed; and I was honoured by very flattering overtures
to enter actively into his service. I have before said that I felt no
enthusiasm in his cause, and I was far from feeling it for his person.
My ambition rather directed its hope towards a career in the service of
France. France was the country of my birth, and the country of my
father's fame. There no withering remembrances awaited me; no private
regrets were associated with its scenes, and no public penalties with
its political institutions. And although I had not yet received any
token of Louis's remembrance, in the ordinary routine of court favours
expectation as yet would have been premature; besides, his royal
fidelity to his word was proverbial; and, sooner or later, I indulged
the hope to profit by the sort of promise he had insinuated to me. I
declined, therefore, with all due respect, the offers of the Chevalier,
and continued to live the life of idleness and expectation, until Lord
Bolingbroke returned to Paris, and accepted the office of secretary of
state in the service of the Chevalier. As he has publicly declared his
reasons in this step, I do not mean to favour the world with his private
conversations on the same subject.

A day or two after his return, I went with him to a party given by a
member of the royal family. The first person by whom we were
accosted--and I rejoiced at it, for we could not have been accosted by a
more amusing one--was Count Anthony Hamilton.

"Ah! my Lord Bolingbroke," said he, sauntering up to us; "how are
you?--delighted to see you again. Do look at Madame la Duchesse
d'Orleans! Saw you ever such a creature? Whither are you moving, my
Lord? Ah! see him, Count, see him, gliding off to that pretty duchess,
of course; well, he has a beautiful bow, it must be owned; why, you are
not going too?--what would the world say if Count Anthony Hamilton were
seen left to himself? No, no, come and sit down by Madame de Cornuel:
she longs to be introduced to you, and is one of the wittiest women in
Europe."

"With all my heart! provided she employs her wit ill-naturedly, and uses
it in ridiculing other people, not praising herself."

"Oh! nobody can be more satirical; indeed, what difference is there
between wit and satire? Come, Count!"

And Hamilton introduced me forthwith to Madame de Cornuel. She received
me very politely; and, turning to two or three people who formed the
circle round her, said, with the greatest composure, "Messieurs, oblige
me by seeking some other object of attraction; I wish to have a private
conference with my new friend."

"I may stay?" said Hamilton.

"Ah! certainly; you are never in the way."

"In that respect, Madame," said Hamilton, taking snuff, and bowing very
low, "in that respect, I must strongly remind you of your excellent
husband."

"Fie!" cried Madame de Cornuel; then, turning to me, she said, "Ah!
Monsieur, if you _could_ have come to Paris some years ago, you would
have been enchanted with us: we are sadly changed. Imagine the fine old
King thinking it wicked not to hear plays, but to hear _players_ act
them, and so making the royal family a company of comedians. _Mon
Dieu!_ how villanously they perform! but do you know why I wished to be
introduced to you?"

"Yes! in order to have a new listener: old listeners must be almost as
tedious as old news."

"Very shrewdly said, and not far from the truth. The fact is, that I
wanted to talk about all these fine people present to some one for whose
ear my anecdotes would have the charm of novelty. Let us begin with
Louis Armand, Prince of Conti; you see him."

"What, that short-sighted, stout, and rather handsome man, with a cast
of countenance somewhat like the pictures of Henri Quatre, who is
laughing so merrily?"

"_O Ciel_! how droll! No! that handsome man is no less a person than
the Duc d'Orleans. You see a little ugly thing like an anatomized
ape,--there, see,--he has just thrown down a chair, and, in stooping to
pick it up, has almost fallen over the Dutch ambassadress,--that is
Louis Armand, Prince of Conti. Do you know what the Duc d'Orleans said
to him the other day? '_Mon bon ami_,' he said, pointing to the
prince's limbs (did you ever see such limbs out of a menagerie, by the
by?) '_mon bon ami_, it is a fine thing for you that the Psalmist has
assured us "that the Lord delighteth not in any man's legs."' Nay,
don't laugh, it is quite true!"

It was now for Count Hamilton to take up the ball of satire; he was not
a whit more merciful than the kind Madame de Cornuel. "The Prince,"
said he, "has so exquisite an awkwardness that, whenever the King hears
a noise, and inquires the cause, the invariable answer is that 'the
Prince of Conti has just tumbled down'! But, tell me, what do you think
of Madame d'Aumont? She is in the English headdress, and looks _triste
a la mort_."

"She is rather pretty, to my taste."

"Yes," cried Madame de Cornuel, interrupting the gentle Antoine (it did
one's heart good to see how strenuously each of them tried to talk more
scandal than the other), "yes, she is thought very pretty; but I think
her very like a _fricandeau_,--white, soft, and insipid. She is always
in tears," added the good-natured Cornuel, "after her prayers, both at
morning and evening. I asked why; and she answered, pretty simpleton,
that she was always forced to pray to be made good, and she feared
Heaven would take her at her word! However, she has many worshippers,
and they call her the evening star."

"They should rather call her the Hyades!" said Hamilton, "if it be true
that she sheds tears every morning and night, and her rising and setting
are thus always attended by rain."

"Bravo, Count Antoine! she shall be so called in future," said Madame de
Cornuel. "But now, Monsieur Devereux, turn your eyes to that hideous
old woman."

"What! the Duchesse d'Orleans?"

"The same. She is in full dress to-night; but in the daytime you
generally see her in a riding habit and a man's wig; she is--"

"Hist!" interrupted Hamilton; "do you not tremble to think what she
would do if she overheard you? she is such a terrible creature at
fighting! You have no conception, Count, what an arm she has. She
knows her ugliness, and laughs at it, as all the rest of the world does.
The King took her hand one day, and said smiling, 'What could Nature
have meant when she gave this hand to a German princess instead of a
Dutch peasant?' 'Sire,' said the Duchesse, very gravely, 'Nature gave
this hand to a German princess for the purpose of boxing the ears of her
ladies in waiting!'"

"Ha! ha! ha!" said Madame de Cornuel, laughing; "one is never at a loss
for jokes upon a woman who eats _salade au lard_, and declares that,
whenever she is unhappy, her only consolation is ham and sausages! Her
son treats her with the greatest respect, and consults her in all his
amours, for which she professes the greatest horror, and which she
retails to her correspondents all over the world, in letters as long as
her pedigree. But you are looking at her son, is he not of a good
mien?"

"Yes, pretty well; but does not exhibit to advantage by the side of Lord
Bolingbroke, with whom he is now talking. Pray, who is the third
personage that has just joined them?"

"Oh, the wretch! it is the Abbe Dubois; a living proof of the folly of
the French proverb, which says that Mercuries should _not_ be made _du
bois_. Never was there a Mercury equal to the Abbe,--but, do look at
that old man to the left,--he is one of the most remarkable persons of
the age."

"What! he with the small features, and comely countenance, considering
his years?"

"The same," said Hamilton; "it is the notorious Choisi. You know that
he is the modern Tiresias, and has been a woman as well as man."

"How do you mean?"

"Ah, you may well ask!" cried Madame de Cornuel. "Why, he lived for
many years in the disguise of a woman, and had all sorts of curious
adventures."

"_Mort Diable_!" cried Hamilton; "it was entering your ranks, Madame, as
a spy. I hear he makes but a sorry report of what he saw there."

"Come, Count Antoine," cried the lively de Cornuel, "we must not turn
our weapons against each other; and when you attack a woman's sex you
attack her individually. But what makes you look so intently, Count
Devereux, at that ugly priest?"

The person thus flatteringly designated was Montreuil; he had just
caught my eye, among a group of men who were conversing eagerly.

"Hush! Madame," said I, "spare me for a moment;" and I rose, and mingled
with the Abbe's companions.

"So, you have only arrived to-day," I heard one of them say to him.

"No, I could not despatch my business before."

"And how are matters in England?"

"Ripe! if the life of his Majesty (of France) be spared a year longer,
we will send the Elector of Hanover back to his principality."

"Hist!" said the companion, and looked towards me. Montreuil ceased
abruptly: our eyes met; his fell. I affected to look among the group as
if I had expected to find there some one I knew, and then, turning away,
I seated myself alone and apart. There, unobserved, I kept my looks on
Montreuil. I remarked that, from time to time, his keen dark eye
glanced towards me, with a look rather expressive of vigilance than
anything else. Soon afterwards his little knot dispersed; I saw him
converse for a few moments with Dubois, who received him I thought
distantly; and then he was engaged in a long conference with the Bishop
of Frejus, whom, till then, I had not perceived among the crowd.

As I was loitering on the staircase, where I saw Montreuil depart with
the Bishop, in the carriage of the latter, Hamilton, accosting me,
insisted on my accompanying him to Chaulieu's, where a late supper
awaited the sons of wine and wit. However, to the good Count's great
astonishment, I preferred solitude and reflection, for that night, to
anything else.

Montreuil's visit to the French capital boded me no good. He possessed
great influence with Fleuri, and was in high esteem with Madame de
Maintenon, and, in effect, very shortly after his return to Paris, the
Bishop of Frejus looked upon me with a most cool sort of benignancy; and
Madame de Maintenon told her friend, the Duchesse de St. Simon, that it
was a great pity a young nobleman of my birth and prepossessing
appearance (ay! my prepossessing appearance would never have occurred to
the devotee, if I had not seemed so sensible of her own) should not only
be addicted to the wildest dissipation, but, worse still, to
Jansenistical tenets. After this there was no hope for me save in the
King's word, which his increasing infirmities, naturally engrossing his
attention, prevented my hoping too sanguinely would dwell very acutely
on his remembrance. I believe, however, so religiously scrupulous was
Louis upon a point of honour that, had he lived, I should have had
nothing to complain of. As it was--but I anticipate! Montreuil
disappeared from Paris, almost as suddenly as he had appeared there.
And, as drowning men catch at a straw, so, finding my affairs at a very
low ebb, I thought I would take advice, even from Madame de Balzac.

I accordingly repaired to her hotel. She was at home, and, fortunately,
alone.

"You are welcome, _mon fils_," said she; "suffer me to give you that
title: you are welcome; it is some days since I saw you."

"I have numbered them, I assure you, Madame," said I, "and they have
crept with a dull pace; but you know that business has claims as well as
pleasure!"

"True!" said Madame de Balzac, pompously: "I myself find the weight of
politics a little insupportable, though so used to it; to your young
brain I can readily imagine how irksome it must be!"

"Would, Madame, that I could obtain your experience by contagion; as it
is, I fear that I have profited little by my visit to his Majesty.
Madame de Maintenon will not see me, and the Bishop of Frejus (excellent
man!) has been seized with a sudden paralysis of memory whenever I
present myself in his way."

"That party will never do,--I thought not," said Madame de Balzae, who
was a wonderful imitator of the fly on the wheel; "_my_ celebrity, and
the knowledge that _I_ loved you for your father's sake, were, I fear,
sufficient to destroy your interest with the Jesuits and their tools.
Well, well, we must repair the mischief we have occasioned you. What
place would suit you best?"

"Why, anything diplomatic. I would rather travel, at my age, than
remain in luxury and indolence even at Paris!"

"Ah, nothing like diplomacy!" said Madame de Balzac, with the air of a
Richelieu, and emptying her snuff-box at a pinch; "but have you, my son,
the requisite qualities for that science, as well as the tastes? Are
you capable of intrigue? Can you say one thing and mean another? Are
you aware of the immense consequence of a look or a bow? Can you live
like a spider, in the centre of an inexplicable net--inexplicable as
well as dangerous--to all but the weaver? That, my son, is the art of
politics; that is to be a diplomatist!"

"Perhaps, to one less penetrating than Madame de Balzac," answered I, "I
might, upon trial, not appear utterly ignorant of the noble art of state
duplicity which she has so eloquently depicted."

"Possibly!" said the good lady; "it must indeed be a profound
dissimulator to deceive _me_."

"But what would you advise me to do in the present crisis? What party
to adopt, what individual to flatter?"

Nothing, I already discovered and have already observed, did the
inestimable Madame de Balzac dislike more than a downright question: she
never answered it.

"Why, really," said she, preparing herself for a long speech, "I am
quite glad you consult me, and I will give you the best advice in my
power. _Ecoutez donc_; you have seen the Duc de Maine?"

"Certainly!"

"Hum! ha! it would be wise to follow him; but--you take me--you
understand. Then, you know, my son, there is the Duc d'Orleans, fond of
pleasure, full of talent; but you know--there is a little--what do you
call it? you understand. As for the Duc de Bourbon, 'tis quite a
simpleton; nevertheless we must consider: nothing like consideration;
believe me, no diplomatist ever hurries. As for Madame de Maintenon,
you know, and I know too, that the Duchesse d'Orleans calls her an old
hag; but then--a word to the wise--eh?--what shall we say to Madame the
Duchess herself?--what a fat woman she is, but excessively clever,--such
a letter writer!--Well--you see, my dear young friend, that it is a
very difficult matter to decide upon,--but you must already be fully
aware what plan I should advise."

"Already, Madame?"

"To be sure! What have I been saying to you all this time?--did you not
hear me? Shall I repeat my advice?"

"Oh, no! I perfectly comprehend you now; you would advise me--in
short--to--to--do--as well as I can."

"You have said it, my son. I thought you would understand me on a
little reflection."

"To be sure,--to be sure," said I.

And three ladies being announced, my conference with Madame de Balzac
ended.

I now resolved to wait a little till the tides of power seemed somewhat
more settled, and I could ascertain in what quarter to point my bark of
enterprise. I gave myself rather more eagerly to society, in proportion
as my political schemes were suffered to remain torpid. My mind could
not remain quiet, without preying on itself; and no evil appeared to me
so great as tranquillity. Thus the spring and earlier summer passed on,
till, in August, the riots preceding the Rebellion broke out in
Scotland. At this time I saw but little of Lord Bolingbroke in private;
though, with his characteristic affectation, he took care that the load
of business with which he was really oppressed should not prevent his
enjoyment of all gayeties in public. And my indifference to the cause
of the Chevalier, in which he was so warmly engaged, threw a natural
restraint upon our conversation, and produced an involuntary coldness in
our intercourse: so impossible is it for men to be private friends who
differ on a public matter.

One evening I was engaged to meet a large party at a country-house about
forty miles from Paris. I went, and stayed some days. My horses had
accompanied me; and, when I left the chateau, I resolved to make the
journey to Paris on horseback. Accordingly, I ordered my carriage to
follow me, and attended by a single groom, commenced my expedition. It
was a beautiful still morning,--the first day of the first month of
autumn. I had proceeded about ten miles, when I fell in with an old
French officer. I remember,--though I never saw him but that once,--I
remember his face as if I had encountered it yesterday. It was thin and
long, and yellow enough to have served as a caricature rather than a
portrait of Don Quixote. He had a hook nose, and a long sharp chin; and
all the lines, wrinkles, curves, and furrows of which the human visage
is capable seemed to have met in his cheeks. Nevertheless, his eye was
bright and keen, his look alert, and his whole bearing firm, gallant,
and soldier-like. He was attired in a sort of military undress; wore a
mustachio, which, though thin and gray, was carefully curled; and at the
summit of a very respectable wig was perched a small cocked hat, adorned
with a black feather. He rode very upright in his saddle; and his
horse, a steady, stalwart quadruped of the Norman breed, with a terribly
long tail and a prodigious breadth of chest, put one stately leg before
another in a kind of trot, which, though it seemed, from its height of
action and the proud look of the steed, a pretension to motion more than
ordinarily brisk, was in fact a little slower than a common walk.

This noble cavalier seemed sufficiently an object of curiosity to my
horse to induce the animal to testify his surprise by shying, very
jealously and very vehemently, in passing him. This ill breeding on his
part was indignantly returned on the part of the Norman charger, who,
uttering a sort of squeak and shaking his long mane and head, commenced
a series of curvets and capers which cost the old Frenchman no little
trouble to appease. In the midst of these equine freaks, the horse came
so near me as to splash my nether garment with a liberality as little
ornamental as it was pleasurable.

The old Frenchman seeing this, took off his cocked hat very politely and
apologized for the accident. I replied with equal courtesy; and, as our
horses slid into quiet, their riders slid into conversation. It was
begun and chiefly sustained by my new comrade; for I am little addicted
to commence unnecessary socialities myself, though I should think very
meanly of my pretensions to the name of a gentleman and a courtier, if I
did not return them when offered, even by a beggar.

"It is a fine horse of yours, Monsieur," said the old Frenchman; "but I
cannot believe--pardon me for saying so--that your slight English steeds
are so well adapted to the purposes of war as our strong chargers,--such
as mine for example."

"It is very possible, Monsieur," said I. "Has the horse you now ride
done service in the field as well as on the road?"

"Ah! _le pauvre petit mignon_,--no!" (_petit_, indeed! this little
darling was seventeen hands high at the very least) "no, Monsieur: it is
but a young creature this; his grandfather served me well!"

"I need not ask you, Monsieur, if you have borne arms: the soldier is
stamped upon you!"

"Sir, you flatter me highly!" said the old gentleman, blushing to the
very tip of his long lean ears, and bowing as low as if I had called him
a Conde. "I have followed the profession of arms for more than fifty
years."

"Fifty years! 'tis a long time."

"A long time," rejoined my companion, "a long time to look back upon
with regret."

"Regret! by Heaven, I should think the remembrance of fifty years'
excitement and glory would be a remembrance of triumph."

The old man turned round on his saddle, and looked at me for some
moments very wistfully. "You are young, Sir," he said, "and at your
years I should have thought with you; but--" (then abruptly changing his
voice, he continued)--"Triumph, did you say? Sir, I have had three
sons: they are dead; they died in battle; I did not weep; I did not shed
a tear, Sir,--not a tear! But I will tell you when I did weep. I came
back, an old man, to the home I had left as a young one. I saw the
country a desert. I saw that the _noblesse_ had become tyrants; the
peasants had become slaves,--such slaves,--savage from despair,--even
when they were most gay, most fearfully gay, from constitution. Sir, I
saw the priest rack and grind, and the seigneur exact and pillage, and
the tax-gatherer squeeze out the little the other oppressors had left;
anger, discontent, wretchedness, famine, a terrible separation between
one order of people and another; an incredible indifference to the
miseries their despotism caused on the part of the aristocracy; a sullen
and vindictive hatred for the perpetration of those miseries on the part
of the people; all places sold--even all honours priced--at the court,
which was become a public market, a province of peasants, of living men
bartered for a few livres, and literally passed from one hand to
another, to be squeezed and drained anew by each new possessor: in a
word, Sir, an abandoned court; an unredeemed _noblesse_,--unredeemed,
Sir, by a single benefit which, in other countries, even the most
feudal, the vassal obtains from the master; a peasantry famished; a
nation loaded with debt which it sought to pay by tears,--these are what
I saw,--these are the consequences of that heartless and miserable
vanity from which arose wars neither useful nor honourable,--these are
the real components of that _triumph_, as you term it, which you wonder
that I regret."

Now, although it was impossible to live at the court of Louis XIV. in
his latter days, and not feel, from the general discontent that
prevailed even there, what a dark truth the old soldier's speech
contained, yet I was somewhat surprised by an enthusiasm so little
military in a person whose bearing and air were so conspicuously
martial.

"You draw a melancholy picture," said I; "and the wretched state of
culture which the lands that we now pass through exhibit is a witness
how little exaggeration there is in your colouring. However, these are
but the ordinary evils of war; and, if your country endures them, do not
forget that she has also inflicted them. Remember what France did to
Holland, and own that it is but a retribution that France should now
find that the injury we do to others is (among nations as well as
individuals) injury to ourselves."

My old Frenchman curled his mustaches with the finger and thumb of his
left hand: this was rather too subtile a distinction for him.

"That may be true enough, Monsieur," said he; "but, _morbleu_! those
_maudits_ Dutchmen deserved what they sustained at our hands. No, Sir,
no: I am not so base as to forget the glory my country acquired, though
I weep for her wounds."

"I do not quite understand you, Sir," said I; "did you not just now
confess that the wars you had witnessed were neither honourable nor
useful? What glory, then, was to be acquired in a war of that
character, even though it was so delightfully animated by cutting the
throats of those _maudits_ Dutchmen?"

"Sir," answered the Frenchman, drawing himself up, "you did _not_
understand me. When we punished Holland, we did rightly. We
_conquered_."

"Whether you conquered or not (for the good folk of Holland are not so
sure of the fact)," answered I, "that war was the most unjust in which
your king was ever engaged; but pray, tell me, Sir, what war it is that
you lament?"

The Frenchman frowned, whistled, put out his under lip, in a sort of
angry embarrassment, and then, spurring his great horse into a curvet,
said,--

"That last war with the English!"

"Faith," said I, "that was the justest of all."

"Just!" cried the Frenchman, halting abruptly and darting at me a glance
of fire, "just! no more, Sir! no more! I was at Blenheim and at
Ramilies!"

As the old warrior said the last words, his voice faltered; and though I
could not help inly smiling at the confusion of ideas by which wars were
just or unjust, according as they were fortunate or not, yet I respected
his feelings enough to turn away my face and remain silent.

"Yes," renewed my comrade, colouring with evident shame and drawing his
cocked hat over his brows, "yes, I received my last wound at Ramilies.
_Then_ my eyes were opened to the horrors of war; _then_ I saw and
cursed the evils of ambition; _then_ I resolved to retire from the
armies of a king who had lost forever his name, his glory, and his
country."

Was there ever a better type of the French nation than this old soldier?
As long as fortune smiles on them, it is "Marchons au diable!" and "Vive
la gloire!" Directly they get beaten, it is "Ma pauvre patrie!" and
"Les calamites affreuses de la guerre!"

"However," said I, "the old King is drawing near the end of his days,
and is said to express his repentance at the evils his ambition has
occasioned."

The old soldier shoved back his hat, and offered me his snuff-box. I
judged by this that he was a little mollified.

"Ah!" he renewed, after a pause, "ah! times are sadly changed since the
year 1667; when the young King--he was young then--took the field in
Flanders, under the great Turenne. _Sacristie_! What a hero he looked
upon his white war-horse! I would have gone--ay, and the meanest and
backwardest soldier in the camp would have gone--into the very mouth of
the cannon for a look from that magnificent countenance, or a word from
that mouth which knew so well what words were! Sir, there was in the
war of '72, when we were at peace with Great Britain, an English
gentleman, then in the army, afterwards a marshal of France: I remember,
as if it were yesterday, how gallantly he behaved. The King sent to
compliment him after some signal proof of courage and conduct, and asked
what reward he would have. 'Sire,' answered the Englishman, 'give me
the white plume you wore this day.' From that moment the Englishman's
fortune was made."

"The flattery went further than the valour!" said I, smiling, as I
recognized in the anecdote the first great step which my father had made
in the ascent of fortune.

"_Sacristie_!" cried the Frenchman, "it was no flattery then. We so
idolized the King that mere truth would have seemed disloyalty; and we
no more thought that praise, however extravagant, was adulation, when
directed to him, than we should have thought there was adulation in the
praise we would have given to our first mistress. But it is all changed
now! Who now cares for the old priest-ridden monarch?"

And upon this the veteran, having conquered the momentary enthusiasm
which the remembrance of the King's earlier glories had excited,
transferred all his genius of description to the opposite side of the
question, and declaimed, with great energy, upon the royal vices and
errors, which were so charming in prosperity, and were now so detestable
in adversity.

While we were thus conversing we approached Versailles. We thought the
vicinity of the town seemed unusually deserted. We entered the main
street: crowds were assembled; a universal murmur was heard; excitement
sat on every countenance. Here an old crone was endeavouring to explain
something, evidently beyond his comprehension, to a child of three years
old, who, with open mouth and fixed eyes, seemed to make up in wonder
for the want of intelligence; there a group of old disbanded soldiers
occupied the way, and seemed, from their muttered conversations, to vent
a sneer and a jest at a priest who, with downward countenance and
melancholy air, was hurrying along.

One young fellow was calling out, "At least, it is a holy-day, and I
shall go to Paris!" and, as a contrast to him, an old withered artisan,
leaning on a gold-headed cane, with sharp avarice eloquent in every line
of his face, muttered out to a fellow-miser, "No business to-day, no
money, John; no money!" One knot of women, of all ages, close by which
my horse passed, was entirely occupied with a single topic, and that so
vehemently that I heard the leading words of the discussion.
"Mourning--becoming--what fashion?--how long?--_O Ciel_!" Thus do
follies weave themselves round the bier of death!

"What is the news, gentlemen?" said I.

"News! what, you have not heard it?--the King is dead!"

"Louis dead! Louis the Great, dead!" cried my companion.

"Louis the Great?" said a sullen-looking man,--"Louis the persecutor!"

"Ah, he's a Huguenot!" cried another with haggard cheeks and hollow
eyes, scowling at the last speaker. "Never mind what he says: the King
was right when he refused protection to the heretics; but was he right
when he levied such taxes on the Catholics?"

"Hush!" said a third--"hush: it may be unsafe to speak; there are spies
about; for my part, I think it was all the fault of the _noblesse_."

"And the Favourites!" cried a soldier, fiercely.

"And the Harlots!" cried a hag of eighty.

"And the Priests!" muttered the Huguenot.

"And the Tax-gatherers!" added the lean Catholic.

We rode slowly on. My comrade was evidently and powerfully affected.

"So, he is dead!" said he. "Dead!--well, well, peace be with him! He
conquered in Holland; he humbled Genoa; he dictated to Spain; he
commanded Conde and Turenne; he--Bah! What is all this!--" then,
turning abruptly to me, my companion cried, "I did not speak against the
King, did I, Sir?"

"Not much."

"I am glad of that,--yes, very glad!" And the old man glared fiercely
round on a troop of boys who were audibly abusing the dead lion.

"I would have bit out my tongue rather than it had joined in the base
joy of these yelping curs. Heavens! when I think what shouts I have
heard when the name of that man, then deemed little less than a god, was
but breathed!--and now--why do you look at me, Sir? My eyes are moist;
I know it, Sir,--I know it. The old battered broken soldier, who made
his first campaigns when that which is now dust was the idol of France
and the pupil of Turenne,--the old soldier's eyes shall not be dry,
though there is not another tear shed in the whole of this great
empire."

"Your three sons?" said I; "you did not weep for them?"

"No, Sir: I loved them when I was old; but I loved Louis _when I was
young_!"

"Your oppressed and pillaged country?" said I, "think of that."

"No, Sir, I will not think of it!" cried the old warrior in a passion.
"I will not think of it--to-day, at least."

"You are right, my brave friend: in the grave let us bury even public
wrongs; but let us not bury their remembrance. May the joy we read in
every face that we pass--joy at the death of one whom idolatry once
almost seemed to deem immortal--be a lesson to future kings!"

My comrade did not immediately answer; but, after a pause and we had
turned our backs upon the town, he said, "Joy, Sir,--you spoke of joy!
Yes, we are Frenchmen: we forgive our rulers easily for private vices
and petty faults; but we never forgive them if they commit the greatest
of faults, and suffer a stain to rest upon--"

"What?" I asked, as my comrade broke off.

"The national glory, Monsieur!" said he.

"You have hit it," said I, smiling at the turgid sentiment which was so
really and deeply felt. "And had you written folios upon the character
of your countrymen, you could not have expressed it better."



CHAPTER VIII.

IN WHICH THERE IS REASON TO FEAR THAT PRINCES ARE NOT INVARIABLY FREE
FROM HUMAN PECCADILLOES.

ON entering Paris, my veteran fellow-traveller took leave of me, and I
proceeded to my hotel. When the first excitement of my thoughts was a
little subsided, and after some feelings of a more public nature, I
began to consider what influence the King's death was likely to have on
my own fortunes. I could not but see at a glance that for the cause of
the Chevalier, and the destiny of his present exertions in Scotland, it
was the most fatal event that could have occurred.

The balance of power in the contending factions of France would, I
foresaw, lie entirely between the Duke of Orleans and the legitimatized
children of the late king: the latter, closely leagued as they were with
Madame de Maintenon, could not be much disposed to consider the welfare
of Count Devereux; and my wishes, therefore, naturally settled on the
former. I was not doomed to a long suspense. Every one knows that the
very next day the Duke of Orleans appeared before Parliament, and was
proclaimed Regent; that the will of the late King was set aside; and
that the Duke of Maine suddenly became as low in power as he had always
been despicable in intellect. A little hubbub ensued: people in general
laughed at the Regent's _finesse_; and the more sagacious admired the
courage and address of which the _finesse_ was composed. The Regent's
mother wrote a letter of sixty-nine pages about it; and the Duchess of
Maine boxed the Duke's ears very heartily for not being as clever as
herself. All Paris teemed with joyous forebodings; and the Regent, whom
every one some time ago had suspected of poisoning his cousins, every
one now declared to be the most perfect prince that could possibly be
imagined, and the very picture of Henri Quatre in goodness as well as
physiognomy. Three days after this event, one happened to myself with
which my public career may be said to commence.

I had spent the evening at a house in a distant part of Paris, and,
invited by the beauty of the night, had dismissed my carriage, and was
walking home alone and on foot. Occupied with my reflections, and not
very well acquainted with the dangerous and dark streets of Paris, in
which it was very rare for those who have carriages to wander on foot, I
insensibly strayed from my proper direction. When I first discovered
this disagreeable fact, I was in a filthy and obscure lane rather than
street, which I did not remember having ever honoured with my presence
before. While I was pausing in the vain hope and anxious endeavour to
shape out some imaginary chart--some "map of the mind," by which to
direct my bewildered course--I heard a confused noise proceed from
another lane at right angles with the one in which I then was. I
listened: the sound became more distinct; I recognized human voices in
loud and angry altercation; a moment more and there was a scream.
Though I did not attach much importance to the circumstance, I thought I
might as well approach nearer to the quarter of noise. I walked to the
door of the house from which the scream proceeded; it was very small and
mean. Just as I neared it, a window was thrown open, and a voice cried,
"Help! help! for God's sake, help!"

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Whoever you are, save us!" cried the voice, "and that instantly, or we
shall be murdered;" and, the moment after, the voice ceased abruptly,
and was succeeded by the clashing of swords.

I beat loudly at the door; I shouted out,--no answer; the scuffle within
seemed to increase. I saw a small blind alley to the left; one of the
unfortunate women to whom such places are homes was standing in it.

"What possibility is there of entering the house?" I asked.

"Oh!" said she, "it does not matter; it is not the first time gentlemen
have cut each other's throats _there_."

"What! is it a house of bad repute?"

"Yes; and where there are bullies who wear knives, and take purses, as
well as ladies who--"

"Good heavens!" cried I, interrupting her, "there is no time to be lost.
Is there no way of entrance but at this door?"

"Yes, if you are bold enough to enter at another!"

"Where?"

"Down this alley."

Immediately I entered the alley; the woman pointed to a small, dark,
narrow flight of stairs; I ascended; the sounds increased in loudness.
I mounted to the second flight; a light streamed from a door; the
clashing of swords was distinctly audible within; I broke open the door,
and found myself a witness and intruder on a scene at once ludicrous and
fearful.

A table, covered with bottles and the remnants of a meal, was in the
centre of the room; several articles of women's dress were scattered
over the floor; two women of unequivocal description were clinging to a
man richly dressed, and who having fortunately got behind an immense
chair, that had been overthrown probably in the scuffle, managed to keep
off with awkward address a fierce-looking fellow, who had less scope for
the ability of his sword-arm, from the circumstance of his attempting to
pull away the chair with his left hand. Whenever he stooped to effect
this object his antagonist thrust at him very vigorously, and had it not
been for the embarrassment his female enemies occasioned him, the latter
would, in all probability, have despatched or disabled his besieger.
This fortified gentleman, being backed by the window, I immediately
concluded to be the person who had called to me for assistance.

At the other corner of the apartment was another cavalier, who used his
sword with singular skill, but who, being hard pressed by two lusty
fellows, was forced to employ that skill rather in defence than attack.
Altogether, the disordered appearance of the room, the broken bottles,
the fumes with which the hot atmosphere teemed, the evident profligacy
of the two women, the half-undressed guise of the cavaliers, and the
ruffian air and collected ferocity of the assailants, plainly denoted
that it was one of those perilous festivals of pleasure in which
imprudent gallants were often, in that day, betrayed by treacherous
Delilahs into the hands of Philistines, who, not contented with
stripping them for the sake of plunder, frequently murdered them for the
sake of secrecy.

Having taken a rapid but satisfactory survey of the scene, I did not
think it necessary to make any preparatory parley. I threw myself upon
the nearest bravo with so hearty a good will that I ran him through the
body before he had recovered his surprise at my appearance. This
somewhat startled the other two; they drew back and demanded quarter.

"Quarter, indeed!" cried the farther cavalier, releasing himself from
his astonished female assailants, and leaping nimbly over his bulwark
into the centre of the room, "quarter, indeed, rascally _ivrognes_! No;
it is our turn now! and, by Joseph of Arimathea! you shall sup with
Pilate to-night." So saying, he pressed his old assailant so fiercely
that, after a short contest, the latter retreated till he had backed
himself to the door; he then suddenly turned round, and vanished in a
twinkling. The third and remaining ruffian was far from thinking
himself a match for three men; he fell on his knees, and implored mercy.
However, the _ci-devant_ sustainer of the besieged chair was but little
disposed to afford him the clemency he demanded, and approached the
crestfallen bravo with so grim an air of truculent delight, brandishing
his sword and uttering the most terrible threats, that there would have
been small doubt of the final catastrophe of the trembling bully, had
not the other gallant thrown himself in the way of his friend.

"Put up thy sword," said he, laughing, and yet with an air of command;
"we must not court crime, and then punish it." Then, turning to the
bully, he said, "Rise, Sir Rascal! the devil spares thee a little
longer, and this gentleman will not disobey _his_ as well as _thy_
master's wishes. Begone!"

The fellow wanted no second invitation: he sprang to his legs, and to
the door. The disappointed cavalier assisted his descent down the
stairs with a kick that would have done the work of the sword to any
flesh not accustomed to similar applications. Putting up his rapier,
the milder gentleman then turned to _the ladies_, who lay huddled
together under shelter of the chair which their intended victim had
deserted.

"Ah, Mesdames," said he, gravely, and with a low bow, "I am sorry for
your disappointment. As long as you contented yourselves with robbery,
it were a shame to have interfered with your innocent amusements; but
cold steel becomes serious. Monsieur D'Argenson will favour you with
some inquiries to-morrow; at present, I recommend you to empty what
remains in the bottle. Adieu! Monsieur, to whom I am so greatly
indebted, honour me with your arm down these stairs. You" (turning to
his friend) "will follow us, and keep a sharp look behind. _Allons!
Vive Henri Quatre_!"

As we descended the dark and rough stairs, my new companion said, "What
an excellent antidote to the effects of the _vin de champagne_ is this
same fighting! I feel as if I had not tasted a drop these six hours.
What fortune brought you hither, Monsieur?" addressing me.

We were now at the foot of the first flight of stairs; a high and small
window admitted the moonlight, and we saw each other's faces clearly.

"That fortune," answered I, looking at my acquaintance steadily, but
with an expression of profound respect,--"that fortune which watches
over kingdoms, and which, I trust, may in no place or circumstance be a
deserter from your Highness."

"Highness!" said my companion, colouring, and darting a glance, first at
his friend and then at me. "Hist, Sir, you know me, then,--speak
low,--you know, then, for whom you have drawn your sword?"

"Yes, so please your Highness. I have drawn it this night for Philip of
Orleans; I trust yet, in another scene and for another cause, to draw it
for the Regent of France!"



CHAPTER IX.

A PRINCE, AN AUDIENCE, AND A SECRET EMBASSY.

THE Regent remained silent for a moment: he then said in an altered and
grave voice, "_C'est bien, Monsieur_! I thank you for the distinction
you have made. It were not amiss" (he added, turning to his comrade)
"that _you_ would now and then deign, henceforward, to make the same
distinction. But this is neither time, nor place for parlance. On,
gentlemen!" We left the house, passed into the street, and moved on
rapidly, and in silence, till the constitutional gayety of the Duke
recovering its ordinary tone, he said with a laugh,--

"Well, now, it is a little hard that a man who has been toiling all day
for the public good should feel ashamed of indulging for an hour or two
at night in his private amusements; but so it is. 'Once grave, always
grave!' is the maxim of the world; eh, Chatran?"

The companion bowed. "'Tis a very good saying, please your Royal
Highness, and is intended to warn us from the sin of _ever_ being
grave!"

"Ha! ha! you have a great turn for morality, my good Chatran!" cried the
Duke, "and would draw a rule for conduct out of the wickedest _bon mot_
of Dubois. Monsieur, pardon me, but I have seen you before: you are the
Count--"

"Devereux, Monseigneur."

"True, true! I have heard much of you: you are intimate with Milord
Bolingbroke. Would that I had fifty friends like _him_."

"Monseigneur would have little trouble in his regency if his wish were
realized," said Chatran.

"_Tant mieux_, so long as I had little odium, as well as little
trouble,--a happiness which, thanks to you and Dubois, I am not likely
to enjoy,--but there is the carriage!"

And the Duke pointed to a dark, plain carriage, which we had suddenly
come upon.

"Count Devereux," said the merry Regent, "you will enter; my duty
requires that, at this seductive hour, I should see a young gentleman of
your dangerous age safely lodged at his hotel!"

We entered, Chatran gave the orders, and we drove off rapidly.

The Regent hummed a tune, and his two companions listened to it in
respectful silence.

"Well, well, Messieurs," said he, bursting out at last into open voice,
"I will ever believe, in future, that the gods _do_ look benignantly on
us worshippers of the Alma Venus! Do you know much of Tibullus,
Monsieur Devereux? And can you assist my memory with the continuation
of the line--


   "'Quisquis amore tenetur, eat--'"


        "'tutusque sacerque
    Qualibet, insidias non timuisse decet,'"*


answered I.


* "Whosoever is possessed by Love may go safe and holy withersoever he
likes. It becomes not him to fear snares."


"_Bon_!" cried the Duke. "I love a gentleman, from my very soul, when
he can both fight well and read Latin! I hate a man who is merely a
winebibber and blade-drawer. By Saint Louis, though it is an excellent
thing to fill the stomach, especially with Tokay, yet there is no reason
in the world why we should not fill the head too. But here we are.
Adieu, Monsieur Devereux: we shall see you at the Palace."

I expressed my thanks briefly at the Regent's condescension, descended
from the carriage (which instantly drove off with renewed celerity), and
once more entered my hotel.

Two or three days after my adventure with the Regent, I thought it
expedient to favour that eccentric prince with a visit. During the
early part of his regency, it is well known how successfully he combated
with his natural indolence, and how devotedly his mornings were
surrendered to the toils of his new office; but when pleasure has grown
habit, it requires a stronger mind than that of Philippe le Debonnaire
to give it a permanent successor in business. Pleasure is, indeed, like
the genius of the fable, the most useful of slaves, while you subdue it;
the most intolerable of tyrants the moment your negligence suffers it to
subdue you.

The hours in which the Prince gave audience to the comrades of his
lighter rather than graver occupations were those immediately before and
after his _levee_. I thought that this would be the best season for me
to present myself. Accordingly, one morning after the _levee_, I
repaired to his palace.

The ante-chamber was already crowded. I sat myself quietly down in one
corner of the room, and looked upon the motley groups around. I smiled
inly as they reminded me of the scenes my own anteroom, in my younger
days of folly and fortune, was wont to exhibit; the same heterogeneous
assemblage (only upon a grander scale) of the ministers to the physical
appetites and the mental tastes. There was the fretting and impudent
mountebank, side by side with the gentle and patient scholar; the
harlot's envoy and the priest's messenger; the agent of the police and
the licensed breaker of its laws; there--but what boots a more prolix
description? What is the anteroom of a great man, who has many wants
and many tastes, but a panorama of the blended disparities of this
compounded world?

While I was moralizing, a gentleman suddenly thrust his head out of a
door, and appeared to reconnoitre us. Instantly the crowd swept up to
him. I thought I might as well follow the general example, and pushing
aside some of my fellow-loiterers, I presented myself and my name to the
gentleman, with the most ingratiating air I could command.

The gentleman, who was tolerably civil for a great man's great man,
promised that my visit should be immediately announced to the Prince;
and then, with the politest bow imaginable, slapped the door in my face.
After I had waited about seven or eight minutes longer, the gentleman
reappeared, singled me from the crowd, and desired me to follow him; I
passed through another room, and was presently in the Regent's presence.

I was rather startled when I saw, by the morning light, and in
deshabille, the person of that royal martyr to dissipation. His
countenance was red, but bloated, and a weakness in his eyes added
considerably to the jaded and haggard expression of his features. A
proportion of stomach rather inclined to corpulency seemed to betray the
taste for the pleasures of the table, which the most radically coarse,
and yet (strange to say) the most generally accomplished and really
good-natured of royal profligates, combined with his other
qualifications. He was yawning very elaborately over a great heap of
papers when I entered. He finished his yawn (as if it were too brief
and too precious a recreation to lose), and then said, "Good morning,
Monsieur Devereux; I am glad that you have found me out _at last_."

"I was afraid, Monseigneur, of appearing an intruder on your presence,
by offering my homage to you before."

"So like my good fortune," said the Regent, turning to a man seated at
another table at some distance, whose wily, astute countenance, piercing
eye, and licentious expression of lip and brow, indicated at once the
ability and vice which composed his character. "So like my good
fortune, is it not, Dubois? If ever I meet with a tolerably pleasant
fellow, who does not disgrace me by his birth or reputation, he is
always so terribly afraid of intruding! and whenever I pick up a
respectable personage without wit, or a wit without respectability, he
attaches himself to me like a burr, and can't live a day without
inquiring after my health."

Dubois smiled, bowed, but did not answer, and I saw that his look was
bent darkly and keenly upon me.

"Well," said the Prince, "what think you of our opera, Count Devereux?
It beats your English one--eh?"

"Ah, certainly, Monseigneur; ours is but a reflection of yours."

"So says your friend, Milord Bolingbroke, a person who knows about
operas almost as much as I do, which, vanity apart, is saying a great
deal. I should like very well to visit England; what should I learn
best there? In Spain (I shall always love Spain) I learned to cook."

"Monseigneur, I fear," answered I, smiling, "could obtain but little
additional knowledge in that art in our barbarous country. A few rude
and imperfect inventions have, indeed, of late years, astonished the
cultivators of the science; but the night of ignorance rests still upon
its main principles and leading truths. Perhaps, what Monseigneur would
find best worth studying in England would be--the women."

"Ah, the women all over the world!" cried the Duke, laughing; "but I
hear your _belles Anglaises_ are sentimental, and love _a
l'Arcadienne_."

"It is true at present; but who shall say how far Monseigneur's example
might enlighten them in a train of thought so erroneous?"

"True. Nothing like example, eh, Dubois? What would Philip of Orleans
have been but for thee?"


   "'L'exemple souvent n'est qu'un miroir trompeur;
    Quelquefois l'un se brise ou l'autre s'est sauve,
    Et par ou l'un perit, un autre est conserve,'"*


answered Dubois, out of "Cinna."


* "Example is often but a deceitful mirror, where sometimes one destroys
himself, while another comes off safe; and where one perishes, another
is preserved."


"Corneille is right," rejoined the Regent. "After all, to do thee
justice, _mon petit Abbe_, example has little to do with corrupting us.
Nature pleads the cause of pleasure as Hyperides pleaded that of Phryne.
She has no need of eloquence: she unveils the bosom of her client, and
the client is acquitted."

"Monseigneur shows at least that he has learned to profit by my humble
instructions in the classics," said Dubois.

The Duke did not answer. I turned my eyes to some drawings on the
table; I expressed my admiration of them. "They are mine," said the
Regent. "Ah! I should have been much more accomplished as a private
gentleman than I fear I ever shall be as a public man of toil and
business. Business--bah! But Necessity is the only real sovereign in
the world, the only despot for whom there is no law. What! are you
going already, Count Devereux?"

"Monseigneur's anteroom is crowded with less fortunate persons than
myself, whose sins of envy and covetousness I am now answerable for."

"Ah--well! I must hear the poor devils; the only pleasure I have is in
seeing how easily I can make them happy. Would to Heaven, Dubois, that
one could govern a great kingdom only by fair words! Count Devereux,
you have seen me to-day as my acquaintance; see me again as my
petitioner. _Bon jour, Monsieur_."

And I retired, very well pleased with my reception; from that time,
indeed, during the rest of my short stay at Paris, the Prince honoured
me with his especial favour. But I have dwelt too long on my sojourn at
the French court. The persons whom I have described, and who alone made
that sojourn memorable, must be my apology.

One day I was honoured by a visit from the Abbe Dubois. After a short
conversation upon indifferent things, he accosted me thus:--

"You are aware, Count Devereux, of the partiality which the Regent has
conceived towards you. Fortunate would it be for the Prince" (here
Dubois elevated his brows with an ironical and arch expression), "so
good by disposition, so injured by example, if his partiality had been
more frequently testified towards gentlemen of your merit. A mission of
considerable importance, and one demanding great personal address, gives
his Royal Highness an opportunity of testifying his esteem for you. He
honoured me with a conference on the subject yesterday, and has now
commissioned me to explain to you the technical objects of this mission,
and to offer to you the honour of undertaking it. Should you accept the
proposals, you will wait upon his Highness before his _levee_
to-morrow."

Dubois then proceeded, in the clear, rapid manner peculiar to him, to
comment on the state of Europe. "For France," said he, in concluding
his sketch, "peace is absolutely necessary. A drained treasury, an
exhausted country, require it. You see, from what I have said, that
Spain and England are the principal quarters from which we are to dread
hostilities. Spain we must guard against; England we must propitiate:
the latter object is easy in England in any case, whether James or
George be uppermost. For whoever is king in England will have quite
enough to do at home to make him agree willingly enough to peace abroad.
The former requires a less simple and a more enlarged policy. I fear
the ambition of the Queen of Spain and the turbulent genius of her
minion Alberoni. We must fortify ourselves by new forms of alliance, at
various courts, which shall at once defend us and intimidate our
enemies. We wish to employ some nobleman of ability and address, on a
secret mission to Russia: will you be that person? Your absence from
Paris will be but short; you will see a very droll country, and a very
droll sovereign; you will return hither, doubly the rage, and with a
just claim to more important employment hereafter. What say you to the
proposal?"

"I must hear more," said I, "before I decide."

The Abbe renewed. It is needless to repeat all the particulars of the
commission that he enumerated. Suffice it that, after a brief
consideration, I accepted the honour proposed to me. The Abbe wished me
joy, relapsed into his ordinary strain of coarse levity for a few
minutes, and then, reminding me that I was to attend the Regent on the
morrow, departed. It was easy to see that in the mind of that subtle
and crafty ecclesiastic, with whose manoeuvres private intrigues were
always blended with public, this offer of employment veiled a desire to
banish me from the immediate vicinity of the good-natured Regent, whose
favour the aspiring Abbe wished at that exact moment exclusively to
monopolize. Mere men of pleasure he knew would not interfere with his
aims upon the Prince; mere men of business still less: but a man who was
thought to combine the capacities of both, and who was moreover
distinguished by the Regent, he deemed a more dangerous rival than the
inestimable person thus suspected really was.

However, I cared little for the honest man's motives. Adventure to me
had always greater charms than dissipation, and it was far more
agreeable to the nature of my ambition, to win distinction by any
honourable method, than by favouritism at a court so hollow, so
unprincipled, and so grossly licentious as that of the Regent. There to
be the most successful courtier was to be the most amusing profligate.
Alas, when the heart is away from its objects, and the taste revolts at
its excess, Pleasure is worse than palling: it is a torture! and the
devil in Jonson's play did not perhaps greatly belie the truth when he
averred "that the pains in his native country were pastimes to the life
of a person of fashion."

The Duke of Orleans received me the next morning with more than his
wonted _bonhomie_. What a pity that so good-natured a prince should
have been so bad a man! He enlarged more easily and carelessly than his
worthy preceptor had done upon the several points to be observed in my
mission; then condescendingly told me he was very sorry to lose me from
his court, and asked me, at all events, before I left Paris, to be a
guest at one of his select suppers. I appreciated this honour at its
just value. To these suppers none were asked but the Prince's chums, or
_roues_,* as he was pleased to call them. As, _entre nous_, these chums
were for the most part the most good-for-nothing people in the kingdom,
I could not but feel highly flattered at being deemed, by so deep a
judge of character as the Regent, worthy to join them. I need not say
that the invitation was eagerly accepted, nor that I left Philippe le
Debonnaire impressed with the idea of his being the most admirable
person in Europe. What a fool a great man is if he does not study to be
affable: weigh a prince's condescension in one scale, and all the
cardinal virtues in the other, and the condescension will outweigh them
all! The Regent of France ruined his country as much as he well could
do, and there was not a dry eye when he died!


* The term _roue_, now so comprehensive, was first given by the Regent
to a select number of his friends; according to them, because they would
be broken on the wheel for his sake, according to himself, because they
deserved to be so broken.--ED.


A day had now effected a change--a great change--in my fate. A new
court, a new theatre of action, a new walk of ambition, were suddenly
opened to me. Nothing could be more promising than my first employment;
nothing could be more pleasing than the anticipation of the change. "I
must force myself to be agreeable to-night," said I, as I dressed for
the Regent's supper. "I must leave behind me the remembrance of a _bon
mot_, or I shall be forgotten."

And I was right. In that whirlpool, the capital of France, everything
sinks but wit: _that_ is always on the surface; and we must cling to it
with a firm grasp, if we would not go down to--"the deep oblivion."



CHAPTER X.

ROYAL EXERTIONS FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE.

WHAT a singular scene was that private supper with the Regent of France
and his _roues_! The party consisted of twenty: nine gentlemen of the
court besides myself; four men of low rank and character, but admirable
buffoons; and six ladies, such ladies as the Duke loved best,--witty,
lively, sarcastic, and good for nothing.

De Chatran accosted me.

"Je suis ravi, mon cher Monsieur Devereux," said he, gravely, "to see
you in such excellent company: you must be a little surprised to find
yourself here!"

"Not at all! every scene is worth one visit. He, my good Monsieur
Chatran, who goes to the House of Correction once is a philosopher: he
who goes twice is a rogue!"

"Thank you, Count, what am I then? I have been _here_ twenty times."

"Why, I will answer you with a story. The soul of a Jesuit one night,
when its body was asleep, wandered down to the lower regions; Satan
caught it, and was about to consign it to some appropriate place; the
soul tried hard to excuse itself: you know what a cunning thing a
Jesuit's soul is! 'Monsieur Satan,' said the spirit; 'no king should
punish a traveller as he would a native. Upon my honour, I am merely
here _en voyageur_.' 'Go then,' said Satan, and the soul flew back to
its body. But the Jesuit died, and came to the lower regions a second
time. He was brought before his Satanic majesty, and made the same
excuse. 'No, no,' cried Beelzebub; 'once here is to be only _le diable
voyageur_; twice here, and you are _le diable tout de bon_.'"

"Ha! ha! ha!" said Chatran, laughing; "I then am the _diable tout de
bon_! 'tis well I _am no worse_; for we reckon the _roues_ a devilish
deal worse than the very worst of the devils,--but see, the Regent
approaches us."

And, leaving a very pretty and gay-looking lady, the Regent sauntered
towards us. It was in walking, by the by, that he lost all the grace of
his mien. I don't know, however, that one wishes a great man to be
graceful, so long as he's familiar.

"Aha, Monsieur Devereux!" said he, "we will give you some lessons in
cooking to-night; we shall show you how to provide for yourself in that
barbarous country which you are about to visit. _Tout voyageur doit
tout savoir!_"

"Avery admirable saying; which leads me to understand that Monseigneur
has been a great traveller," said I.

"Ay, in all things and _all places_; eh, Count?" answered the Regent,
smiling; "but," here he lowered his voice a little, "I have never yet
learned how you came so opportunely to our assistance that night. _Dieu
me damne_! but it reminds me of the old story of the two sisters meeting
at a gallant's house. 'Oh, Sister, how came _you_ here?' said one, in
virtuous amazement. '_Ciel! ma soeur_!' cries the other; 'what brought
_you_?'"*


* The reader will remember a better version of this anecdote in one of
the most popular of the English comedies.--ED.

"Monseigneur is pleasant," said I, laughing; "but a man does now and
then (though I own it is very seldom) do a good action, without having
previously resolved to commit a bad one!"

"I like your parenthesis," cried the Regent; "it reminds me of my friend
St. Simon, who thinks so ill of mankind that I asked him one day whether
it was possible for him to despise anything more than men? 'Yes,' said
he, with a low bow, 'women!'"

"His experience," said I, glancing at the female part of the _coterie_,
"was, I must own, likely to lead him to that opinion."

"None of your sarcasms, Monsieur," cried the Regent.

"'L'amusement est un des besoins de l'homme,' as I hear young Arouet
very pithily said the other day; and we owe gratitude to whomsoever it
may be that supplies that want. Now, you will agree with me that none
supply it like women therefore we owe them gratitude; therefore we must
not hear them abused. Logically proved, I think!"

"Yes, indeed," said I, "it is a pleasure to find they have so able an
advocate; and that your Highness can so well apply to yourself _both_
the assertions in the motto of the great master of fortification,
Vauban,--'I destroy, but I defend.'"

"Enough," said the Duke, gayly, "now to _our fortifzeations_;" and he
moved away towards the women; I followed the royal example, and soon
found myself seated next to a pretty and very small woman. We entered
into conversation; and, when once begun, my fair companion took care
that it should not cease, without a miracle. By the goddess Facundia,
what volumes of words issued from that little mouth! and on all subjects
too! church, state, law, politics, play-houses, lampoons, lace,
liveries, kings, queens, _roturiers_, beggars, you would have thought,
had you heard her, so vast was her confusion of all things, that chaos
had come again. Our royal host did not escape her. "You never before
supped here _en famille_," said she,--"_mon Dieu_! it will do your heart
good to see how much the Regent will eat. He has such an appetite; you
know he never eats any dinner, in order to eat the more at supper. You
see that little dark woman he is talking to?--well, she is Madame de
Parabere: he calls her his little black crow; was there ever such a pet
name? Can you guess why he likes her? Nay, never take the trouble of
thinking: I will tell you at once; simply because she eats and drinks so
much. _Parole d'honneur_, 'tis true. The Regent says he likes sympathy
in all things! is it not droll? What a hideous old man is that Noce:
his face looks as if it had caught the rainbow. That impudent fellow
Dubois scolded him for squeezing so many louis out of the good Regent.
The yellow creature attempted to deny the fact. 'Nay,' cried Dubois,
'you cannot contradict me: I see their very ghosts in your face.'"

While my companion was thus amusing herself, Noce, unconscious of her
panegyric on his personal attractions, joined us.

"Ah! my dear Noce," said the lady, most affectionately, "how well you
are looking! I am delighted to see you."

"I do not doubt it," said Noce "for I have to inform you that your
petition is granted; your husband will have the place."

"Oh, how eternally grateful I am to you!" cried the lady, in an ecstasy;
"my poor, dear husband will be so rejoiced. I wish I had wings to fly
to him!"

The gallant Noce uttered a compliment; I thought myself _de trop_, and
moved away. I again encountered Chatran.

"I overheard your conversation with Madame la Marquise," said he,
smiling: "she has a bitter tongue; has she not?"

"Very! how she abused the poor rogue Noce!"

"Yes, and yet he is her lover!"

"Her lover!--you astonish me: why, she seemed almost fond of her
husband; the tears came in her eyes when she spoke of him."

"She is fond of him!" said Chatran, dryly. "She loves the ground he
treads on: it is precisely for that reason she favours Noce; she is
never happy but when she is procuring something _pour son cher bon
mari_. She goes to spend a week at Noce's country-house, and writes to
her husband, with a pen dipped in her blood, saying, 'My _heart_ is with
thee!'"

"Certainly," said I, "France is the land of enigmas; the sphynx must
have been a _Parisienne_. And when Jupiter made man, he made two
natures utterly distinct from one another. One was _Human nature_, and
the other _French nature_!"

At this moment supper was announced. We all adjourned to another
apartment, where to my great surprise I observed the cloth laid, the
sideboard loaded, the wines ready, but nothing to eat on the table! A
Madame de Savori, who was next me, noted my surprise.

"What astonishes you, Monsieur?"

"_Nothing_, Madame," said I; "that is, the absence of _all_ things."

"What! you expected to see supper?"

"I own my delusion: I did."

"It is not cooked yet!"

"Oh! well, I can wait!"

"And officiate too!" said the lady; "in a word, this is one of the
Regent's cooking nights."

Scarcely had I received this explanation, before there was a general
adjournment to an inner apartment, where all the necessary articles of
cooking were ready to our hand.


     "The Regent led the way,
      To light us to our prey,"


and, with an irresistible gravity and importance of demeanour, entered
upon the duties of _chef_. In a very short time we were all engaged.
Nothing could exceed the zest with which every one seemed to enter into
the rites of the kitchen. You would have imagined they had been born
scullions, they handled the _batterie de cuisine_ so naturally. As for
me, I sought protection with Madame de Savori; and as, fortunately, she
was very deeply skilled in the science, she had occasion to employ me in
many minor avocations which her experience taught her would not be above
my comprehension.

After we had spent a certain time in this dignified occupation, we
returned to the _salle a manger_. The attendants placed the dishes on
the table, and we all fell to. Whether out of self-love to their own
performances, or complaisance to the performances of others, I cannot
exactly say, but certain it is that all the guests acquitted themselves
_a merveille_: you would not have imagined the Regent the only one who
had gone without dinner to eat the more at supper. Even that devoted
wife to her _cher bon mari_, who had so severely dwelt upon the good
Regent's infirmity, occupied herself with an earnestness that would have
seemed almost wolf-like in a famished grenadier.

Very slight indeed was the conversation till the supper was nearly over;
then the effects of the wine became more perceptible. The Regent was
the first person who evinced that he had eaten sufficiently to be able
to talk. Utterly dispensing with the slightest veil of reserve or
royalty, he leaned over the table, and poured forth a whole tide of
jests. The guests then began to think it was indecorous to stuff
themselves any more, and, as well as they were able, they followed their
host's example. But the most amusing personages were the buffoons: they
mimicked and joked, and lampooned and lied, as if by inspiration. As
the bottle circulated, and talk grew louder, the lampooning and the
lying were not, however, confined to the buffoons. On the contrary, the
best born and best bred people seemed to excel the most in those polite
arts. Every person who boasted a fair name or a decent reputation at
court was seized, condemned, and mangled in an instant. And how
elaborately the good folks slandered! It was no hasty word and flippant
repartee which did the business of the absent: there was a precision, a
polish, a labour of malice, which showed that each person had brought so
many reputations already cut up. The good-natured convivialists
differed from all other backbiters that I have ever met, in the same
manner as the toads of Surinam differ from all other toads; namely,
their venomous offspring were not half formed, misshapen tadpoles of
slander, but sprang at once into life,--well shaped and fully developed.

"_Chantons_!" cried the Regent, whose eyes, winking and rolling, gave
token of his approaching state which equals the beggar to the king; "let
us have a song. Noce, lift up thy voice, and let us hear what the Tokay
has put into thy head!"

Noce obeyed, and sang as men half drunk generally do sing.

"_O Ciel_!" whispered the malicious Savori, "what a hideous screech: one
would think he had _turned his face into a voice!_"

"_Bravissimo_!" cried the Duke, when his guest had ceased,--"what happy
people we are! Our doors are locked; not a soul can disturb us: we have
plenty of wine; we are going to get drunk; and we have all Paris to
abuse! what were you saying of Marshal Villars, my little Parabere?"

And pounce went the little Parabere upon the unfortunate marshal. At
last slander had a respite: nonsense began its reign; the full
inspiration descended upon the orgies; the good people lost the use of
their faculties. Noise, clamour, uproar, broken bottles, falling
chairs, and (I grieve to say) their occupants falling too,--conclude the
scene of the royal supper. Let us drop the curtain.



CHAPTER XI.

AN INTERVIEW.

I WENT a little out of my way, on departing from Paris, to visit Lord
Bolingbroke, who at that time was in the country. There are some men
whom one never really sees in capitals; one sees their masks, not
themselves: Bolingbroke was one. It was in retirement, however brief it
might be, that his true nature expanded itself; and, weary of being
admired, he allowed one to love, and, even in the wildest course of his
earlier excesses, to respect him. My visit was limited to a few hours,
but it made an indelible impression on me.

"Once more," I said, as we walked to and fro in the garden of his
temporary retreat, "once more you are in your element; minister and
statesman of a prince, and chief supporter of the great plans which are
to restore him to his throne."

A slight shade passed over Bolingbroke's fine brow. "To you, my
constant friend," said he, "to you,--who of all my friends alone
remained true in exile, and unshaken by misfortune,--to you I will
confide a secret that I would intrust to no other. I repent me already
of having espoused this cause. I did so while yet the disgrace of an
unmerited attainder tingled in my veins; while I was in the full tide of
those violent and warm passions which have so often misled me. Myself
attainted; the best beloved of my associates in danger; my party
deserted, and seemingly lost but for some bold measure such as then
offered,--these were all that I saw. I listened eagerly to
representations I now find untrue; and I accepted that rank and power
from one prince which were so rudely and gallingly torn from me by
another. I perceive that I have acted imprudently; but what is done, is
done: no private scruples, no private interest, shall make me waver in a
cause that I have once pledged myself to serve; and if I _can_ do aught
to make a weak cause powerful, and a divided party successful, I will;
but, Devereux, you are wrong,--this is _not_ my element. Ever in the
paths of strife, I have sighed for quiet; and, while most eager in
pursuit of ambition, I have languished the most fondly for content. The
littleness of intrigue disgusts me, and while _the branches_ of my power
soared the highest, and spread with the most luxuriance, it galled me to
think of the miry soil in which that power was condemned to strike _the
roots_,* upon which it stood, and by which it must be nourished."


* "Occasional Writer," No. 1. The Editor has, throughout this work,
usually, but not invariably, noted the passages in Bolingbroke's
writings, in which there occur similes, illustrations, or striking
thoughts, correspondent with those in the text.


I answered Bolingbroke as men are wont to answer statesmen who complain
of their calling,--half in compliment, half in contradiction; but he
replied with unusual seriousness,

"Do not think I affect to speak thus: you know how eagerly I snatch any
respite from state, and how unmovedly I have borne the loss of
prosperity and of power. You are now about to enter those perilous
paths which I have trod for years. Your passions, like mine, are
strong! Beware, oh, beware, how you indulge them without restraint!
They are the fires which should warm: let them not be the fires which
destroy."

Bolingbroke paused in evident and great agitation; he resumed: "I speak
strongly, for I speak in bitterness; I was thrown early into the world;
my whole education had been framed to make me ambitious; it succeeded in
its end. I was ambitious, and of all success,--success in pleasure,
success in fame. To wean me from the former, my friends persuaded me to
marry; they chose my wife for her connections and her fortune, and I
gained those advantages at the expense of what was better than
either,--happiness! You know how unfortunate has been that marriage,
and how young I was when it was contracted. Can you wonder that it
failed in the desired effect? Every one courted me; every temptation
assailed me: pleasure even became more alluring abroad, when at home I
had no longer the hope of peace; the indulgence of one passion begat the
indulgence of another; and, though my better sense _prompted_ all my
actions, it never _restrained_ them to a proper limit. Thus the
commencement of my actions has been generally prudent, and their
_continuation_ has deviated into rashness, or plunged into excess.
Devereux, I have paid the forfeit of my errors with a terrible interest:
when my motives have been pure, men have seen a fault in the conduct,
and calumniated the motives; when my conduct has been blameless, men
have remembered its former errors, and asserted that its present
goodness only arose from some sinister intention: thus I have been
termed crafty, when I was in reality rash, and that was called the
inconsistency of interest which in reality was the inconsistency of
passion.* I have reason, therefore, to warn you how you suffer your
subjects to become your tyrants; and believe me no experience is so deep
as that of one who has committed faults, and who has discovered their
causes."


* This I do believe to be the real (though perhaps it is a new) light in
which Lord Bolingbroke's life and character are to be viewed. The same
writers who tell us of his ungovernable passions, always prefix to his
name the epithets "designing, cunning, crafty," etc. Now I will venture
to tell these historians that, if they had studied human nature instead
of party pamphlets, they would have discovered that there are certain
incompatible qualities which can never be united in one character,--that
no man can have violent passions _to which he is in the habit of
yielding_, and be systematically crafty and designing. No man can be
all heat, and at the same time all coolness; but opposite causes not
unoften produce like effects. Passion usually makes men changeable, so
sometimes does craft: hence the mistake of the uninquiring or the
shallow; and hence while------writes, and------compiles, will the
characters of great men be transmitted to posterity misstated and
belied.--ED.


"Apply, my dear Lord, that experience to your future career. You
remember what the most sagacious of all pedants,* even though he was an
emperor, has so happily expressed,--'Repentance is a goddess, and the
preserver of those who have erred.'"


* The Emperor Julian. The original expression is paraphrased in the
text.


"May I _find_ her so!" answered Bolingbroke; "but as Montaigne or
Charron would say,* 'Every man is at once his own sharper and his own
bubble.' We make vast promises to ourselves; and a passion, an example,
sweeps even the remembrance of those promises from our minds. One is
too apt to believe men hypocrites, if their conduct squares not with
their sentiments; but perhaps no vice is more rare, for no task is more
difficult, than systematic hypocrisy; and the same susceptibility which
exposes men to be easily impressed by the allurements of vice renders
them at heart most struck by the loveliness of virtue. Thus, their
language and their hearts worship the divinity of the latter, while
their conduct strays the most erringly towards the false shrines over
which the former presides. Yes! I have never been blind to the
surpassing excellence of GOOD. The still, sweet whispers of virtue have
been heard, even when the storm has been loudest, and the bark of Reason
been driven the most impetuously over the waves: and, at this moment, I
am impressed with a foreboding that, sooner or later, the whispers will
not only be heard, but their suggestion be obeyed; and that, far from
courts and intrigue, from dissipation and ambition, I shall learn, in
retirement, the true principles of wisdom, and the real objects of
life."


* "Spirit of Patriotism."


Thus did Bolingbroke converse, and thus did I listen, till it was time
to depart. I left him impressed with a melancholy that was rather
soothing than distasteful. Whatever were the faults of that most
extraordinary and most dazzling genius, no one was ever more candid* in
confessing his errors. A systematically bad man either ridicules what
is good or disbelieves in its existence; but no man can be hardened in
vice whose heart is still sensible of the excellence and the glory of
virtue.


* It is impossible to read the letter to Sir W. Windham without being
remarkably struck with the dignified and yet open candour which it
displays. The same candour is equally visible in whatever relates _to
himself_, in all Lord Bolingbroke's writings and correspondence; and yet
candour is the last attribute usually conceded to him. But never was
there a writer whom people have talked of more and read less; and I do
not know a greater proof of this than the ever-repeated assertion
(echoed from a most incompetent authority) of the said letter to Sir W.
Windham being the finest of all Lord Bolingbroke's writings. It is an
article of great value to the history of the times; but, as to all the
higher graces and qualities of composition, it is one of the least
striking (and on the other hand it is one of the most verbally
incorrect) which he has bequeathed to us (the posthumous works always
excepted). I am not sure whether the most brilliant passages, the most
noble illustrations, the most profound reflections, and most useful
truths, to be found in all his writings, are not to be gathered from the
least popular of them,--such as that volume entitled "Political
Tracts."--ED.



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I.

A PORTRAIT.

MYSTERIOUS impulse at the heart, which never suffers us to be at rest,
which urges us onward as by an unseen yet irresistible law--human
planets in a petty orbit, hurried forever and forever, till our course
is run and our light is quenched--through the circle of a dark and
impenetrable destiny! art thou not some faint forecast and type of our
wanderings hereafter; of the unslumbering nature of the soul; of the
everlasting progress which we are predoomed to make through the
countless steps and realms and harmonies in the infinite creation? Oh,
often in my rovings have I dared to dream so,--often have I soared on
the wild wings of thought above the "smoke and stir" of this dim earth,
and wrought, from the restless visions of my mind, a chart of the
glories and the wonders which the released spirit may hereafter visit
and behold!

What a glad awakening from self,--what a sparkling and fresh draught
from a new source of being,--what a wheel within wheel, animating,
impelling, arousing all the rest of this animal machine, is the first
excitement of Travel! the first free escape from the bonds of the linked
and tame life of cities and social vices,--the jaded pleasure and the
hollow love, the monotonous round of sordid objects and dull
desires,--the eternal chain that binds us to things and beings,
mockeries of ourselves,--alike, but oh, how different! the shock that
brings us nearer to men only to make us strive against them, and learn,
from the harsh contest of veiled deceit and open force, that the more we
share the aims of others, the more deeply and basely rooted we grow to
the littleness of self!

I passed more lingeringly through France than I did through the other
portions of my route. I had dwelt long enough in the capital to be
anxious to survey the country. It was then that the last scale which
the magic of Louis Quatorze and the memory of his gorgeous court had
left upon the mortal eye fell off, and I saw the real essence of that
monarch's greatness and the true relics of his reign. I saw the poor,
and the degraded, and the racked, and the priest-ridden, tillers and
peoplers of the soil, which made the substance beneath the glittering
and false surface,--the body of that vast empire, of which I had
hitherto beheld only the face, and THAT darkly, and for the most part
covered by a mask!

No man can look upon France, beautiful France,--her rich soil, her
temperate yet maturing clime, the gallant and bold spirits which she
produces, her boundaries so indicated and protected by Nature itself,
her advantages of ocean and land, of commerce and agriculture,--and not
wonder that her prosperity should be so bloated, and her real state so
wretched and diseased.

Let England draw the moral, and beware not only of wars which exhaust,
but of governments which impoverish. A waste of the public wealth is
the most lasting of public afflictions; and "the treasury which is
drained by extravagance must be refilled by crime."*


* Tacitus.


I remember one beautiful evening an accident to my carriage occasioned
my sojourn for a whole afternoon in a small village. The Cure honoured
me with a visit; and we strolled, after a slight repast, into the
hamlet. The priest was complaisant, quiet in manner, and not ill
informed for his obscure station and scanty opportunities of knowledge;
he did not seem, however, to possess the vivacity of his countrymen, but
was rather melancholy and pensive, not only in his expression of
countenance, but his cast of thought.

"You have a charming scene here: I almost feel as if it were a sin to
leave it so soon."

We were, indeed, in a pleasant and alluring spot at the time I addressed
this observation to the good Cure. A little rivulet emerged from the
copse to the left, and ran sparkling and dimpling beneath our feet, to
deck with a more living verdure the village green, which it intersected
with a winding nor unmelodious stream. We had paused, and I was leaning
against an old and solitary chestnut-tree, which commanded the whole
scene. The village was a little in the rear, and the smoke from its few
chimneys rose slowly to the silent and deep skies, not wholly unlike the
human wishes, which, though they spring from the grossness and the fumes
of earth, purify themselves as they ascend to heaven. And from the
village (when other sounds, which I shall note presently, were for an
instant still) came the whoop of children, mellowed by distance into a
confused yet thrilling sound, which fell upon the heart like the voice
of our gone childhood itself. Before, in the far expanse, stretched a
chain of hills on which the autumn sun sank slowly, pouring its yellow
beams over groups of peasantry, which, on the opposite side of the
rivulet and at some interval from us, were scattered, partly over the
green, and partly gathered beneath the shade of a little grove. The
former were of the young, and those to whom youth's sports are dear, and
were dancing to the merry music, which (ever and anon blended with the
laugh and the tone of a louder jest) floated joyously on our ears. The
fathers and matrons of the hamlet were inhaling a more quiet joy beneath
the trees, and I involuntarily gave a tenderer interest to their
converse by supposing them to sanction to each other the rustic loves
which they might survey among their children.

"Will not Monsieur draw nearer to the dancers?" said the Cure; "there is
a plank thrown over the rivulet a little lower down."

"No!" said I, "perhaps they are seen to better advantage where we are:
what mirth will bear too close an inspection?"

"True, Sir," remarked the priest, and he sighed.

"Yet," I resumed musingly, and I spoke rather to myself than to my
companion, "yet, how happy do they seem! what a revival of our Arcadian
dreams are the flute and the dance, the glossy trees all glowing in the
autumn sunset, the green sod, and the murmuring rill, and the buoyant
laugh, startling the satyr in his leafy haunts; and the rural loves
which will grow sweeter still when the sun has set, and the twilight has
made the sigh more tender and the blush of a mellower hue! Ah, why is
it only the revival of a dream? why must it be only an interval of
labour and woe, the brief saturnalia of slaves, the green resting-spot
in a dreary and long road of travail and toil?"

"You are the first stranger I have met," said the Cure, "who seems to
pierce beneath the thin veil of our Gallic gayety; the first to whom the
scene we now survey is fraught with other feelings than a belief in the
happiness of our peasantry, and an envy at its imagined exuberance. But
as it is not the happiest individuals, so I fear it is not the happiest
nations, that are the gayest."

I looked at the Cure with some surprise. "Your remark is deeper than
the ordinary wisdom of your tribe, my Father," said I.

"I have travelled over three parts of the globe," answered the Cure: "I
was not always intended for what I am;" and the priest's mild eyes
flashed with a sudden light that as suddenly died away. "Yes, I have
travelled over the greater part of the known world," he repeated, in a
more quiet tone; "and I have noted that where a man has many comforts to
guard, and many rights to defend, he necessarily shares the thought and
the seriousness of those who feel the value of a treasure which they
possess, and whose most earnest meditations are intent upon providing
against its loss. I have noted, too, that the joy produced by a
momentary suspense of labour is naturally great in proportion to the
toil; hence it is that no European mirth is so wild as that of the
Indian slave, when a brief holiday releases him from his task. Alas!
that very mirth is the strongest evidence of the weight of the previous
chains; even as, in ourselves, we find the happiest moment we enjoy is
that immediately succeeding the cessation of deep sorrow to the mind or
violent torture to the body."*


* This reflection, if true, may console us for the loss of those village
dances and pleasant holidays for which "merry England" was once
celebrated. The loss of them has been ascribed to the gloomy influence
of the Puritans; but it has never occurred to the good poets, who have
so mourned over that loss, that it is also to be ascribed to the
_liberty_ which those Puritans _generalized_, if they did not
introduce.--ED.


I was struck by this observation of the priest.

"I see now," said I, "that as an Englishman I have no reason to repine
at the proverbial gravity of my countrymen, or to envy the lighter
spirit of the sons of Italy and France."

"No," said the Cure; "the happiest nations are those in whose people you
witness the least sensible reverses from gayety to dejection; and that
_thought_, which is the noblest characteristic of the isolated man, is
also that of a people. Freemen are serious; they have objects at their
heart worthy to engross attention. It is reserved for slaves to indulge
in groans at one moment and laughter at another."

"At that rate," said I, "the best sign for France will be when the
gayety of her sons is no longer a just proverb, and the laughing lip is
succeeded by the thoughtful brow."

We remained silent for several minutes; our conversation had shed a
gloom over the light scene before us, and the voice of the flute no
longer sounded musically on my ear. I proposed to the Cure to return to
my inn. As we walked slowly in that direction, I surveyed my companion
more attentively than I had hitherto done. He was a model of masculine
vigour and grace of form; and, had I not looked earnestly upon his
cheek, I should have thought him likely to outlive the very oaks around
the hamlet church where he presided. But the cheek was worn and hectic,
and seemed to indicate that the keen fire which burns at the deep heart,
unseen, but unslaking, would consume the mortal fuel, long before Time
should even have commenced his gradual decay.

"You have travelled, then, much, Sir?" said I, and the tone of my voice
was that of curiosity.

The good Cure penetrated into my desire to hear something of his
adventures; and few are the recluses who are not gratified by the
interest of others, or who are unwilling to reward it by recalling those
portions of life most cherished by themselves. Before we parted that
night, he told me his little history. He had been educated for the
army; before he entered the profession he had seen the daughter of a
neighbour, loved her, and the old story,--she loved him again, and died
before the love passed the ordeal of marriage. He had no longer a
desire for glory, but he had for excitement. He sold his little
property and travelled, as he had said, for nearly fourteen years,
equally over the polished lands of Europe and the far climates where
Truth seems fable and Fiction finds her own legends realized or
excelled.

He returned home poor in pocket and wearied in spirit. He became what I
beheld him. "My lot is fixed now," said he, in conclusion; "but I find
there is all the difference between quiet and content: my heart eats
itself away here; it is the moth fretting the garment laid by, more than
the storm or the fray would have worn it."

I said something, commonplace enough, about solitude, and the blessings
of competence, and the country. The Cure shook his head gently, but
made no answer; perhaps he did wisely in thinking the feelings are ever
beyond the reach of a stranger's reasoning. We parted more
affectionately than acquaintances of so short a date usually do; and
when I returned from Russia, I stopped at the village on purpose to
inquire after him. A few months had done the work: the moth had already
fretted away the human garment; and I walked to his lowly and nameless
grave, and felt that it contained the only quiet in which monotony is
not blended with regret!



CHAPTER II.

THE ENTRANCE INTO PETERSBURG.--A RENCONTRE WITH AN INQUISITIVE AND
MYSTERIOUS STRANGER.--NOTHING LIKE TRAVEL.

IT was certainly like entering a new world when I had the frigid
felicity of entering Russia. I expected to have found Petersburg
a wonderful city, and I was disappointed; it was a wonderful
beginning of a city, and that was all I ought to leave expected.
But never, I believe, was there a place which there was so much
difficulty in arriving at: such winds, such climate, such police
arrangements,--arranged, too, by such fellows! six feet high, with
nothing human about them but their uncleanness and ferocity! Such
vexatious delays, difficulties, ordeals, through which it was necessary
to pass, and to pass, too, with an air of the most perfect satisfaction
and content. By the Lord! one would have imagined, at all events, it
must be an earthly paradise, to be so arduous of access, instead of a
Dutch-looking town, with comfortless canals, and the most terrible
climate in which a civilized creature was ever frozen to death. "It is
just the city a nation of bears would build, if bears ever became
architects," said I to myself, as I entered the northern capital, with
my teeth chattering and my limbs in a state of perfect insensibility.

My vehicle stopped, at last, at an hotel to which I had been directed.
It was a circumstance, I believe, peculiar to Petersburg, that, at the
time I speak of, none of its streets had a name; and if one wanted to
find out a house, one was forced to do so by oral description. A
pleasant thing it was, too, to stop in the middle of a street, to listen
to such description at full length, and find one's self rapidly becoming
ice as the detail progressed. After I was lodged, thawed, and fed, I
fell fast asleep, and slept for eighteen hours, without waking once; to
my mind, it was a miracle that I ever woke again.

I then dressed myself, and taking my interpreter,--who was a Livonian, a
great rascal, but clever, who washed twice a week, and did not wear a
beard above eight inches long,--I put myself into my carriage, and went
to deliver my letters of introduction. I had one in particular to the
Admiral Apraxin; and it was with him that I was directed to confer,
previous to seeking an interview with the Emperor. Accordingly I
repaired to his hotel, which was situated on a sort of quay, and was
really, for Petersburg, very magnificent. In this quarter, then or a
little later, lived about thirty other officers of the court, General
Jagoyinsky, General Cyernichoff, etc.; and, appropriately enough, the
most remarkable public building in the vicinity is the great
slaughter-house,--a fine specimen that of practical satire!

On endeavouring to pass through the Admiral's hall I had the
mortification of finding myself rejected by his domestics. As two men
in military attire were instantly admitted, I thought this a little hard
upon a man who had travelled so far to see his admiralship, and,
accordingly, hinted my indignation to Mr. Muscotofsky, my interpreter.

"You are not so richly dressed as those gentlemen," said he.

"That is the reason, is it?"

"If it so please Saint Nicholas, it is; and, besides, those gentlemen
have two men running before them to cry, 'Clear the way!'"

"I had better, then, dress myself better, and take two _avant
couriers_."

"If it so please Saint Nicholas." Upon this I returned, robed myself in
scarlet and gold, took a couple of lacqueys, returned to Admiral
Apraxin's, and was admitted in an instant. Who would have thought these
savages so like us? Appearances, you see, produce realities all over
the world!

The Admiral, who was a very great man at court--though he narrowly
escaped Siberia, or the knout, some time after--was civil enough to me:
but I soon saw that, favourite as he was with the Czar, that great man
left but petty moves in the grand chessboard of politics to be played by
any but himself; and my proper plan in this court appeared evidently to
be unlike that pursued in most others, where it is better to win the
favourite than the prince. Accordingly, I lost no time in seeking an
interview with the Czar himself, and readily obtained an appointment to
that effect.

On the day before the interview took place, I amused myself with walking
over the city, gazing upon its growing grandeur, and casting, in
especial, a wistful eye upon the fortress or citadel, which is situated
in an island, surrounded by the city, and upon the building of which
more than one hundred thousand men are supposed to have perished. So
great a sacrifice does it require to conquer Nature!

While I was thus amusing myself, I observed a man in a small chaise with
one horse pass me twice, and look at me very earnestly. Like most of my
countrymen, I do not love to be stared at; however, I thought it better
in that unknown country to change my intended frown for a good-natured
expression of countenance, and turned away. A singular sight now struck
my attention: a couple of men with beards that would have hidden a
cassowary, were walking slowly along in their curious long garments, and
certainly (I say it reverently) disgracing the semblance of humanity,
when, just as they came by a gate, two other men of astonishing height
started forth, each armed with a pair of shears. Before a second was
over, off went the beards of the first two passengers; and before
another second expired, off went the skirts of their garments too: I
never saw excrescences so expeditiously lopped. The two operators, who
preserved a profound silence during this brief affair, then retired a
little, and the mutilated wanderers pursued their way with an air of
extreme discomfiture.

"Nothing like travel, certainly!" said I, unconsciously aloud.

"True!" said a voice in English behind me. I turned, and saw the man
who had noticed me so earnestly in the one horse chaise. He was a tall,
robust man, dressed very plainly, and even shabbily, in a green uniform,
with a narrow tarnished gold lace; and I judged him to be a foreigner,
like myself, though his accent and pronunciation evidently showed that
he was not a native of the country in the language of which he accosted
me.

"It is very true," said he again; "there is nothing like travel!"

"And travel," I rejoined courteously, "in those places where travel
seldom extends. I have only been six days at Petersburg, and till I
came hither, I knew nothing of the variety of human nature or the power
of human genius. But will you allow me to ask the meaning of the very
singular occurrence we have just witnessed?"

"Oh, nothing," rejoined the man, with a broad strong smile, "nothing but
an attempt to make men out of brutes. This custom of shaving is not,
thank Heaven, much wanted now: some years ago it was requisite to have
several stations for barbers and tailors to perform their duties in.
Now this is very seldom necessary; those gentlemen were especially
marked out for the operation. By------" (and here the man swore a
hearty English and somewhat seafaring oath, which a little astonished me
in the streets of Petersburg), "I wish it were as easy to lop off all
old customs! that it were as easy to clip the _beard of the mind_, Sir!
Ha! ha!"

"But the Czar must have found a little difficulty in effecting even this
outward amendment; and to say truth, I see so many beards about still
that I think the reform has been more partial than universal."

"Ah, those are the beards of the common people: the Czar leaves those
for the present. Have you seen the docks yet?"

"No, I am not sufficiently a sailor to take much interest in them."

"Humph! humph! you are a soldier, perhaps?"

"I hope to be so one day or other: I am not yet!"

"Not yet! humph! there are opportunities in plenty for those who wish
it; what is your profession, then, and what do you know best?"

I was certainly not charmed with the honest inquisitiveness of the
stranger. "Sir," said I, "Sir, my profession is to answer no questions;
and what I know best is--to hold my tongue!"

The stranger laughed out. "Well, well, that is what all Englishmen know
best!" said he; "but don't be offended: if you will come home with me I
will give you a glass of brandy!"

"I am very much obliged for the offer, but business obliges me to
decline it; good morning, Sir."

"Good morning!" answered the man, slightly moving his hat, in answer to
my salutation.

We separated, as I thought; but I was mistaken. As ill-luck would have
it, I lost my way in endeavouring to return home. While I was
interrogating a French artisan, who seemed in a prodigious hurry, up
comes my inquisitive friend in green again. "Ha! you have lost your
way: I can put you into it better than any man in Petersburg!"

I thought it right to accept the offer; and we moved on side by side. I
now looked pretty attentively at my gentleman. I have said that he was
tall and stout; he was also remarkably well-built, and had a kind of
seaman's ease and freedom of gait and manner. His countenance was very
peculiar; short, firm, and strongly marked; a small, but thick mustachio
covered his upper lip; the rest of his face was shaved. His mouth was
wide, but closed, when silent, with that expression of iron resolution
which no feature _but_ the mouth can convey. His eyes were large,
well-opened, and rather stern; and when, which was often in the course
of conversation, he pushed back his hat from his forehead, the motion
developed two strong deep wrinkles between the eyebrows, which might be
indicative either of thought or of irascibility,--perhaps of both. He
spoke quickly, and with a little occasional embarrassment of voice,
which, however, never communicated itself to his manner. He seemed,
indeed, to have a perfect acquaintance with the mazes of the growing
city; and, every now and then, stopped to say when such a house was
built, whither such a street was to lead, etc. As each of these details
betrayed some great triumph over natural obstacles and sometimes over
national prejudice, I could not help dropping a few enthusiastic
expressions in praise of the genius of the Czar. The man's eyes
sparkled as he heard them.

"It is easy to see," said I, "that you sympathize with me, and that the
admiration of this great man is not confined to Englishmen. How little
in comparison seem all other monarchs!--they ruin kingdoms; the Czar
creates one. The whole history of the world does not afford an instance
of triumphs so vast, so important, so glorious as his have been. How
his subjects should adore him!"

"No," said the stranger, with an altered and thoughtful manner, "it is
not his subjects, but _their posterity_, that will appreciate his
motives, and forgive him for wishing Russia to be an empire of MEN. The
present generation may sometimes be laughed, sometimes forced, out of
their more barbarous habits and brute-like customs, but they cannot be
reasoned out of them; and they don't love the man who attempts to do it.
Why, Sir, I question whether Ivan IV., who used to butcher the dogs
between prayers for an occupation, and between meals for an appetite, I
question whether his memory is not to the full as much loved as the
living Czar. I know, at least, that whenever the latter attempts a
reform, the good Muscovites shrug up their shoulders, and mutter, 'We
did not do these things in the good old days of Ivan IV.'"

"Ah! the people of all nations are wonderfully attached to their ancient
customs; and it is not unfrequently that the most stubborn enemies to
living men are their own ancestors."

"Ha! ha!--true--good!" cried the stranger; and then, after a short
pause, he said in a tone of deep feeling which had not hitherto seemed
at all a part of his character, "We should do that which is good to the
human race, from some principle within, and should not therefore abate
our efforts for the opposition, the rancour, or the ingratitude that we
experience without. It will be enough reward for Peter I., if
hereafter, when (in that circulation of knowledge throughout the world
which I can compare to nothing better than the circulation of the blood
in the human body) the glory of Russia shall rest, not upon the extent
of her dominions, but that of her civilization,--not upon the number of
inhabitants, embruted and besotted, but the number of enlightened,
prosperous, and free men; it will be enough for him, if he be considered
to have laid the first stone of that great change,--if his labours be
fairly weighed against the obstacles which opposed them,--if, for his
honest and unceasing endeavour to improve millions, he be not too
severely judged for offences in a more limited circle,--and if, in
consideration of having fought the great battle against custom,
circumstances, and opposing nature, he be sometimes forgiven for not
having invariably conquered himself."

As the stranger broke off abruptly, I could not but feel a little
impressed by his words and the energy with which they were spoken. We
were now in sight of my lodging. I asked my guide to enter it; but the
change in our conversation seemed to have unfitted him a little for my
companionship.

"No," said he, "I have business now; we shall meet again; what's your
name?"

"Certainly," thought I, "no man ever scrupled so little to ask plain
questions:" however, I answered him truly and freely.

"Devereux!" said he, as if surprised. "Ha!--well--we shall meet again.
Good day."



CHAPTER III.

THE CZAR.--THE CZARINA.--A FEAST AT A RUSSIAN NOBLEMAN'S.

THE next day I dressed myself in my richest attire; and, according to my
appointment, went with as much state as I could command to the Czar's
palace (if an exceedingly humble abode can deserve so proud an
appellation). Although my mission was private, I was a little surprised
by the extreme simplicity and absence from pomp which the royal
residence presented. I was ushered for a few moments into a paltry
ante-chamber, in which were several models of ships, cannon, and houses;
two or three indifferent portraits,--one of King William III., another
of Lord Caermarthen. I was then at once admitted into the royal
presence.

There were only two persons in the room,--one a female, the other a man;
no officers, no courtiers, no attendants, none of the insignia nor the
witnesses of majesty. The female was Catherine, the Czarina; the man
was the stranger I had met the day before--and Peter the Great. I was a
little startled at the identity of the Czar with my inquisitive
acquaintance. However, I put on as assured a countenance as I could.
Indeed, I had spoken sufficiently well of the royal person to feel very
little apprehension at having unconsciously paid so slight a respect to
the royal dignity.

"Ho! ho!" cried the Czar, as I reverently approached him; "I told you we
should meet soon!" and turning round, he presented me to her Majesty.
That extraordinary woman received me very graciously: and, though I had
been a spectator of the most artificial and magnificent court in Europe,
I must confess that I could detect nothing in the Czarina's air
calculated to betray her having been the servant of a Lutheran minister
and the wife of a Swedish dragoon; whether it was that greatness was
natural to her, or whether (which was more probable) she was an instance
of the truth of Suckling's hackneyed thought, in "Brennoralt,"--"Success
is a rare paint,--hides all the ugliness."

While I was making my salutations, the Czarina rose very quietly, and
presently, to my no small astonishment, brought me with her own hand a
tolerably large glass of raw brandy. There is nothing in the world I
hate so much as brandy; however, I swallowed the potation as if it had
been nectar, and made some fine speech about it, which the good Czarina
did not seem perfectly to understand. I then, after a few preliminary
observations, entered upon my main business with the Czar. Her Majesty
sat at a little distance, but evidently listened very attentively to the
conversation. I could not but be struck with the singularly bold and
strong sense of my royal host. There was no hope of deluding or
misleading him by diplomatic subterfuge. The only way by which that
wonderful man was ever misled was through his passions. His reason
conquered all errors but those of temperament. I turned the
conversation as artfully as I could upon Sweden and Charles XII.
"Hatred to one power," thought I, "may produce love to another; and if
it does, the child will spring from a very vigorous parent." While I
was on this subject, I observed a most fearful convulsion come over the
face of the Czar,--one so fearful that I involuntarily looked away.
Fortunate was it that I did so. Nothing ever enraged him more than
being observed in those constitutional contortions of countenance to
which from his youth he had been subjected.

After I had conversed with the Czar as long as I thought decorum
permitted, I rose to depart. He dismissed me very complaisantly. I
re-entered my fine equipage, and took the best of my way home.

Two or three days afterwards, the Czar ordered me to be invited to a
grand dinner at Apraxin's. I went there, and so found myself in
conversation with a droll little man, a Dutch Minister, and a great
favourite with the Czar. The Admiral and his wife, before we sat down
to eat, handed round to each of their company a glass of brandy on a
plate.

"What an odious custom!" whispered the little Dutch Minister, smacking
his lips, however, with an air of tolerable content.

"Why," said I, prudently, "all countries have their customs. Some
centuries ago, a French traveller thought it horrible in us Englishmen
to eat raw oysters. But the English were in the right to eat oysters;
and perhaps, by and by, so much does civilization increase, we shall
think the Russians in the right to drink brandy. But really [we had now
sat down to the entertainment], I am agreeably surprised here. All the
guests are dressed like my own countrymen; a great decorum reigns
around. If it were a little less cold, I might fancy myself in London
or in Paris."

"Wait," quoth the little Dutchman, with his mouth full of jelly broth,
"wait till you hear them talk. What think you, now, that lady next me
is saying?"

"I cannot guess: but she has the prettiest smile in the world; and there
is something at once so kind and so respectful in her manner that I
should say she was either asking some great favour, or returning thanks
for one."

"Right," cried the little Minister, "I will interpret for you. She is
saying to that old gentleman, 'Sir, I am extremely grateful--and may
Saint Nicholas bless you for it--for your very great kindness in having,
the day before yesterday, at your sumptuous entertainment, made me so
deliciously--drunk!'"

"You are witty, Monsieur," said I, smiling. "_Se non e vero e ben
trovato_."

"By my soul, it is true," cried the Dutchman; "but, hush!--see, they are
going to cut up that great pie."

I turned my eyes to the centre of the table, which was ornamented with a
huge pasty. Presently it was cut open, and out--walked a hideous little
dwarf.

"Are they going to eat him?" said I.

"Ha! ha!" laughed the Dutchman. "No! this is a fashion of the Czar's,
which the Admiral thinks it good policy to follow. See, it tickles the
hebete Russians. They are quite merry on it."

"To be sure," said I; "practical jokes are the only witticisms savages
understand."

"Ay, and if it were not for such jokes now and then, the Czar would be
odious beyond measure; but dwarf pies and mock processions make his
subjects almost forgive him for having shortened their clothes and
clipped their beards."

"The Czar is very fond of those mock processions?"

"Fond!" and the little man sank his voice into a whisper; "he is the
sublimest buffoon that ever existed. I will tell you an instance--Do
you like these Hungary wines, by the by?--On the 9th of last June, the
Czar carried me, and half-a-dozen more of the foreign ministers, to his
pleasure-house (Peterhoff). Dinner, as usual, all drunk with Tokay, and
finished by a quart of brandy each, from her Majesty's own hand.
Carried off to sleep,--some in the garden, some in the wood. Woke at
four, still in the clouds. Carried back to the pleasure-house, found
the Czar there, made us a low bow, and gave us a hatchet apiece, with
orders to follow him. Off we trudged, rolling about like ships in the
Zuyder Zee, entered a wood, and were immediately set to work at cutting
a road through it. Nice work for us of the _corps diplomatique_! And,
by my soul, Sir, you see that I am by no means a thin man! We had three
hours of it, were carried back, made drunk again, sent to bed, roused
again in an hour, made drunk a third time; and, because we _could not_
be waked again, left in peace till eight the next morning. Invited to
court to breakfast; such headaches we had; longed for coffee; found
nothing but brandy; forced to drink; sick as dogs; sent to take an
airing upon the most damnable little horses, not worth a guilder, no
bridles nor saddles; bump--bump--bump we go, up and down before the
Czar's window,--he and the Czarina looking at us. I do assure you I
lost two stone by that ride,--two stone, Sir!--taken to dinner; drunk
again, by the Lord, all bundled on board a _torrenschute_; devil of a
storm came on; Czar took the rudder; Czarina on high benches in the
cabin, which was full of water; waves beating; winds blowing; certain of
being drowned; charming prospect!--tossed about for seven hours; driven
into the port of Cronsflot. Czar leaves us, saying, 'Too much of a
jest, eh, gentlemen?' All got ashore wet as dog-fishes, made a fire,
stripped stark naked (a Dutch ambassador stark naked,--think of it,
Sir!), crept into some covers of sledges, and rose next morning with the
ague,--positive fact, Sir! Had the ague for two months. Saw the Czar
in August; 'A charming excursion to my pleasure-house,' said his
Majesty; 'we must make another party there soon.'"

As the Dutchman delivered himself of the little history he was by no
means forgetful of the Hungary wines; and as Bacchus and Venus have old
affinity, he now began to grow eloquent on the women.

"What think you of them yourself?" said he; "they have a rolling look,
eh?"

"They have so," I answered: "but they all have black teeth; what's the
reason?"

"They think it a beauty, and say white teeth are the sign of a
blackamoor."

Here the Dutchman was accosted by some one else, and there was a pause.
Dinner at last ceased; the guests did not sit long after dinner, and for
a very good reason: the brandy bowl is a great enforcer of a prostrate
position! I had the satisfaction of seeing the company safely under the
table. The Dutchman went first, and, having dexterously manoeuvred an
escape from utter oblivion for myself, I managed to find my way home,
more edified than delighted by the character of a Russian entertainment.



CHAPTER IV.

CONVERSATIONS WITH THE CZAR.--IF CROMWELL WAS THE GREATEST MAN (CAESAR
EXCEPTED) WHO EVER _ROSE_ TO THE SUPREME POWER, PETER WAS THE GREATEST
MAN EVER _BORN_ TO IT.

IT was singular enough that my introduction to the notice of Peter the
Great and Philip le Debonnaire should have taken place under
circumstances so far similar that both those illustrious personages were
playing the part rather of subjects than of princes. I cannot, however,
conceive a greater mark of the contrast between their characters than
the different motives and manners of the incognitos severally assumed.

Philip, in a scene of low riot and debauch, hiding the Jupiter under the
Silenus,--wearing the mask only for the licentiousness it veiled, and
foregoing the prerogative of power, solely for indulgence in the
grossest immunities of vice.

Peter, on the contrary, parting with the selfishness of state in order
to watch the more keenly over the interests of his people, only omitting
to preside in order to examine, and affecting the subject only to learn
the better the duties of the prince. Had I leisure, I might here pause
to point out a notable contrast, not between the Czar and the Regent,
but between Peter the Great and Louis le Grand: both creators of a new
era,--both associated with a vast change in the condition of two mighty
empires. There ceases the likeness and begins the contrast: the blunt
simplicity of Peter, the gorgeous magnificence of Louis; the sternness
of a legislator for barbarians, the clemency of an idol of courtiers.
One the victorious defender of his country,--a victory solid, durable,
and just; the other the conquering devastator of a neighbouring
people,--a victory, glittering, evanescent, and dishonourable. The one,
in peace, rejecting parade, pomp, individual honours, and transforming a
wilderness into an empire: the other involved in ceremony, and throned
on pomp; and exhausting the produce of millions to pamper the bloated
vanity of an individual. The one a fire that burns, without
enlightening beyond a most narrow circle, and whose lustre is tracked by
what it ruins, and fed by what it consumes; the other a luminary, whose
light, not so dazzling in its rays, spreads over a world, and is noted,
not for what it destroys, but for what it vivifies and creates.

I cannot say that it was much to my credit that, while I thought the
Regent's condescension towards me natural enough, I was a little
surprised by the favour shown me by the Czar. At Paris, I had _seemed_
to be the man of pleasure: that alone was enough to charm Philip of
Orleans. But in Russia, what could I seem in any way calculated to
charm the Czar? I could neither make ships nor could sail them when
they were made; I neither knew, nor, what was worse, cared to know, the
stern from the rudder. Mechanics were a mystery to me; road-making was
an incomprehensible science. Brandy I could not endure; a blunt bearing
and familiar manner I could not assume. What was it, then, that made
the Czar call upon me, at least twice a week in private, shut himself up
with me by the hour together, and endeavour to make me drunk with Tokay,
in order (as he very incautiously let out one night), "to learn the
secrets of my heart"? I thought, at first, that the nature of my
mission was enough to solve the riddle: but we talked so little about it
that, with all my diplomatic vanities fresh about me, I could not help
feeling I owed the honour I received less to my qualities as a minister
than to those as an individual.

At last, however, I found that the secret attraction was what the Czar
termed the philosophical channel into which our conferences flowed. I
never saw a man so partial to moral problems and metaphysical inquiries,
especially to those connected with what ought to be the beginning or the
end of all moral sciences,--politics. Sometimes we would wander out in
disguise, and select some object from the customs or things around us,
as the theme of reflection and discussion; nor in these moments would
the Czar ever allow me to yield to his rank what I might not feel
disposed to concede to his arguments. One day, I remember that he
arrested me in the streets, and made me accompany him to look upon two
men undergoing the fearful punishment of the battaog;* one was a German,
the other a Russian: the former shrieked violently, struggled in the
hands of his punishers, and, with the utmost difficulty, was subjected
to his penalty; the latter bore it patiently and in silence; he only
spoke once, and it was to say, "God bless the Czar!"


* A terrible kind of flogging, but less severe than the knout.


"Can your Majesty hear the man," said I, warmly, when the Czar
interpreted these words to me, "and not pardon him?" Peter frowned, but
I was not silenced. "You don't know the Russians!" said he, sharply,
and turned aside. The punishment was now over. "Ask the German," said
the Czar to an officer, "what was his offence?" The German, who was
writhing and howling horribly, uttered some violent words against the
disgrace of the punishment, and the pettiness of his fault; what the
fault was I forget.

"Now ask the Russian," said Peter. "My punishment was just!" said the
Russian, coolly, putting on his clothes as if nothing had happened; "God
and the Czar were angry with me!"

"Come away, Count," said the Czar; "and now solve me a problem. I know
both those men, and the German, in a battle, would be the braver of the
two. How comes it that he weeps and writhes like a girl, while the
Russian bears the same pain without a murmur?"

"Will your Majesty forgive me," said I, "but I cannot help wishing that
the Russian had complained more bitterly; insensibility to punishment is
the sign of a brute, not a hero. Do you not see that the German felt
the indignity, the Russian did not? and do you not see that that very
pride which betrays agony under the disgrace of the battaog is exactly
the very feeling that would have produced courage in the glory of the
battle? A sense of honour makes better soldiers and better men than
indifference to pain."

"But had I ordered the Russian to death, he would have gone with the
same apathy and the same speech, 'It is just! I have offended God and
the Czar!'"

"Dare I observe, Sire, that that fact would be a strong proof of the
dangerous falsity of the old maxims which extol indifference to death as
a virtue? In some individuals it may be a sign of virtue, I allow; but,
as a _national trait_, it is the strongest sign of national misery.
Look round the great globe. What countries are those where the
inhabitants bear death with cheerfulness, or, at least, with apathy?
Are they the most civilized, the most free, the most prosperous? Pardon
me; no! They are the half-starved, half-clothed, half-human sons of the
forest and the waste; or, when gathered in states, they are slaves
without enjoyment or sense beyond the hour; and the reason that they do
not recoil from the pangs of death is because they have never known the
real pleasures or the true objects of life."

"Yet," said the Czar, musingly, "the contempt of death was the great
characteristic of the Spartans."

"And, therefore," said I, "the great token that the Spartans were a
miserable horde. Your Majesty admires England and the English; you
have, beyond doubt, witnessed an execution in that country; you have
noted, even where the criminal is consoled by religion, how he trembles,
and shrinks,--how dejected, how prostrate of heart he is before the doom
is completed. Take now the vilest slave, either of the Emperor of
Morocco or the great Czar of Russia. He changes neither tint nor
muscle; he requires no consolation; he shrinks from no torture. What is
the inference? _That slaves dread death less than the free_. And it
should be so. The end of legislation is not to make _death_, but
_life_, a blessing."

"You have put the matter in a new light," said the Czar; "but you allow
that, in individuals, contempt of death is sometimes a virtue."

"Yes, when it springs from mental reasonings, not physical indifference.
But your Majesty has already put in action one vast spring of a system
which will ultimately open to your subjects so many paths of existence
that they will preserve contempt for its proper objects, and not lavish
it solely, as they do now, on the degradation which sullies life and the
axe that ends it. You have already begun the conquest of another and a
most vital error in the philosophy of the ancients,--that philosophy
taught that man should have few wants, and made it a crime to increase
and a virtue to reduce them. A legislator should teach, on the
contrary, that man should have many wants: for wants are not only the
sources of enjoyment,--they are the sources of improvement; and that
nation will be the most enlightened among whose populace they are found
the most numerous. You, Sire, by circulating the arts, the graces,
create a vast herd of moral wants hitherto unknown, and in those wants
will hereafter be found the prosperity of your people, the fountain of
your resources, and the strength of your empire."

In conversation on these topics we often passed hours together, and from
such conferences the Czar passed only to those on other topics more
immediately useful to him. No man, perhaps, had a larger share of the
mere human frailties than Peter the Great; yet I do confess that when I
saw the nobleness of mind with which he flung aside his rank as a robe,
and repaired from man to man, the humblest or the highest, the artisan
or the prince,--the prosperity of his subjects his only object, and the
acquisition of knowledge his only means to obtain it,--I do confess that
my mental sight refused even to perceive his frailties, and that I could
almost have bent the knee in worship to a being whose benevolence was so
pervading a spirit, and whose power was so glorious a minister to
utility.

Towards the end of January, I completed my mission, and took my leave of
the court of Russia.

"Tell the Regent," said Peter, "that I shall visit him in France soon,
and shall expect to see his drawings if I show him my models."

In effect, the next month (February 16), the Czar commenced his second
course of travels. He was pleased to testify some regard for me on my
departure. "If ever you quit the service of the French court, and your
own does not require you, I implore you to come to me; I will give you
_carte blanche_ as to the nature and appointments of your office."

I need not say that I expressed my gratitude for the royal
condescension; nor that, in leaving Russia, I brought, from the example
of its sovereign, a greater desire to be useful to mankind than I had
known before. Pattern and Teacher of kings, if each country in each
century had produced one such ruler as you, either all mankind would
_now_ be contented with despotism or all mankind would be _free_! Oh!
when kings have only to be good, to be kept forever in our hearts and
souls as the gods and benefactors of the earth, by what monstrous
fatality have they been so blind to their fame? When we remember the
millions, the generations, they can degrade, destroy, elevate, or save,
we might almost think (even if the other riddles of the present
existence did not require a future existence to solve them), we might
almost think a hereafter _necessary_, were it but for the sole purpose
of requiting the virtues of princes,--or their SINS!*


* Upon his death-bed Peter is reported to have said, "God, I dare trust,
will look mercifully upon my faults in consideration of the good I have
done my country." These are worthy to be the last words of a king!
Rarely has there been a monarch who more required the forgiveness of the
Creator; yet seldom perhaps has there been a human being who more
deserved it.--ED.



CHAPTER V.

RETURN TO PARIS.--INTERVIEW WITH BOLINGBROKE.--A GALLANT
ADVENTURE.--AFFAIR WITH DUBOIS.--PUBLIC LIFE IS A DRAMA, IN WHICH
PRIVATE VICES GENERALLY PLAY THE PART OF THE SCENE-SHIFTERS.

IT is a strange feeling we experience on entering a great city by
night,--a strange mixture of social and solitary impressions. I say by
night, because at that time we are most inclined to feel; and the mind,
less distracted than in the day by external objects, dwells the more
intensely upon its own hopes and thoughts, remembrances and
associations, and sheds over them, from that one feeling which it
cherishes the most, a blending and a mellowing hue.

It was at night that I re-entered Paris. I did not tarry long at my
hotel, before (though it was near upon midnight) I conveyed myself to
Lord Bolingbroke's lodgings. Knowing his engagements at St. Germains,
where the Chevalier (who had but a very few weeks before returned to
France, after the crude and unfortunate affair of 1715), chiefly
resided, I was not very sanguine in my hopes of finding him at Paris. I
was, however, agreeably surprised. His servant would have ushered me
into his study, but I was willing to introduce myself. I withheld the
servant, and entered the room alone. The door was ajar, and Bolingbroke
neither heard nor saw me. There was something in his attitude and
aspect which made me pause to survey him, before I made myself known.
He was sitting by a table covered with books. A large folio (it was the
Casaubon edition of Polybius) was lying open before him. I recognized
the work at once: it was a favourite book with Bolingbroke, and we had
often discussed the merits of its author. I smiled as I saw that that
book, which has to statesmen so peculiar an attraction, made still the
study from which the busy, restless, ardent, and exalted spirit of the
statesman before me drew its intellectual food. But at the moment in
which I entered his eye was absent from the page, and turned
abstractedly in an opposite though still downcast direction. His
countenance was extremely pale, his lips were tightly compressed, and an
air of deep thought, mingled as it seemed to me with sadness, made the
ruling expression of his lordly and noble features. "It is the torpor
of ambition after one of its storms," said I, inly; and I approached,
and laid my hand on his shoulder.

After our mutual greetings, I said, "Have the dead so strong an
attraction that at this hour they detain the courted and courtly
Bolingbroke from the admiration and converse of the living?"

The statesman looked at me earnestly: "Have you heard the news of the
day?" said he.

"How is it possible? I have but just arrived at Paris."

"You do not know, then, that I have resigned my office under the
Chevalier!"

"Resigned your office!"

"Resigned is a wrong word: I received a dismissal. Immediately on his
return the Chevalier sent for me, embraced me, desired me to prepare to
follow him to Lorraine; and three days afterwards came the Duke of
Ormond to me, to ask me to deliver up the seals and papers. I put the
latter very carefully in a little letter-case, and behold an end to the
administration of Lord Bolingbroke! The Jacobites abuse me terribly;
their king accuses me of neglect, incapacity, and treachery; and Fortune
pulls down the fabric she has built for me, in order to pelt me with the
stones!"*


* Letter to Sir W. Windham.--ED.


"My dear, dear friend, I am indeed grieved for you; but I am more
incensed at the infatuation of the Chevalier. Surely, surely he must
already have seen his error, and solicited your return?"

"Return!" cried Bolingbroke, and his eyes flashed fire,--"return!--Hear
what I said to the Queen-Mother who came to attempt a reconciliation:
'Madam,' said I, in a tone as calm as I could command, 'if ever this
hand draws the sword, or employs the pen, in behalf of that prince, may
it rot!' Return! not if my head were the price of refusal! Yet,
Devereux,"--and here Bolingbroke's voice and manner changed,--"yet it is
not at these tricks of fate that a wise man will repine. We do right to
cultivate honours; they are sources of gratification to ourselves: they
are more; they are incentives to the conduct which works benefits to
others; but we do wrong to afflict ourselves at their loss. 'Nec
quaerere nec spernere honores oportet.'* It is good to enjoy the
blessings of fortune: it is better to submit without a pang to their
loss. You remember, when you left me, I was preparing myself for this
stroke: believe me, I am now prepared."


* "It becomes us neither to court nor to despise honours."


And in truth Bolingbroke bore the ingratitude of the Chevalier well.
Soon afterwards he carried his long cherished wishes for retirement into
effect; and Fate, who delights in reversing her disk, leaving in
darkness what she had just illumined, and illumining what she had
hitherto left in obscurity and gloom, for a long interval separated us
from each other, no less by his seclusion than by the publicity to which
she condemned myself.

Lord Bolingbroke's dismissal was not the only event affecting me that
had occurred during my absence from France. Among the most active
partisans of the Chevalier, in the expedition of Lord Mar, had been
Montreuil. So great, indeed, had been either his services or the idea
entertained of their value, that a reward of extraordinary amount was
offered for his head. Hitherto he had escaped, and was supposed to be
still in Scotland.

But what affected me more nearly was the condition of Gerald's
circumstances. On the breaking out of the rebellion he had been
suddenly seized, and detained in prison; and it was only upon the escape
of the Chevalier that he was released: apparently, however, nothing had
been proved against him; and my absence from the head-quarters of
intelligence left me in ignorance both of the grounds of his
imprisonment and the circumstances of his release.

I heard, however, from Bolingbroke, who seemed to possess some of that
information which the ecclesiastical intriguants of the day so curiously
transmitted from court to court and corner to corner, that Gerald had
retired to Devereux Court in great disgust at his confinement. However,
when I considered his bold character, his close intimacy with Montreuil,
and the genius for intrigue which that priest so eminently possessed, I
was not much inclined to censure the government for unnecessary
precaution in his imprisonment.

There was another circumstance connected with the rebellion which
possessed for me an individual and deep interest. A man of the name of
Barnard had been executed in England for seditious and treasonable
practices. I took especial pains to ascertain every particular
respecting him. I learned that he was young, of inconsiderable note,
but esteemed clever; and had, long previously to the death of the Queen,
been secretly employed by the friends of the Chevalier. This
circumstance occasioned me much internal emotion, though there could be
no doubt that the Barnard whom I had such cause to execrate had only
borrowed from this minion the disguise of his name.

The Regent received me with all the graciousness and complaisance for
which he was so remarkable. To say the truth, my mission had been
extremely fortunate in its results; the only cause in which the Regent
was concerned the interests of which Peter the Great appeared to
disregard was that of the Chevalier; but I had been fully instructed on
that head anterior to my legation.

There appears very often to be a sort of moral fitness between the
beginning and the end of certain alliances or acquaintances. This
sentiment is not very clearly expressed. I am about to illustrate it by
an important event in my political life. During my absence Dubois had
made rapid steps towards being a great man. He was daily growing into
power, and those courtiers who were neither too haughty nor too honest
to bend the knee to so vicious yet able a minion had already singled him
out as a fit person to flatter and to rise by. For me, I neither sought
nor avoided him: but he was as civil towards me as his _brusque_ temper
permitted him to be towards most persons; and as our careers were not
likely to cross one another, I thought I might reckon on his neutrality,
if not on his friendship. Chance turned the scale against me.

One day I received an anonymous letter, requesting me to be, at such an
hour, at a certain house in the Rue------. It occurred to me as no
improbable supposition that the appointment might relate to my
individual circumstances, whether domestic or political, and I certainly
had not at the moment any ideas of gallantry in my brain. At the hour
prescribed I appeared at the place of assignation. My mind misgave me
when I saw a female conduct me into a little chamber hung with tapestry
descriptive of the loves of Mars and Venus. After I had cooled my heels
in this apartment about a quarter of an hour, in sailed a tall woman, of
a complexion almost Moorish. I bowed; the lady sighed. An
_eclaircissement_ ensued; and I found that I had the good fortune to be
the object of a _caprice_ in the favourite mistress of the Abbe Dubois.
Nothing was further from my wishes! What a pity it is that one cannot
always tell a woman one's mind!

I attempted a flourish about friendship, honour, and the respect due to
the _amante_ of the most intimate _ami_ I had in the world.

"Pooh!" said the tawny Calypso, a little pettishly, "pooh! one does not
talk of those things here."

"Madame," said I, very energetically, "I implore you to refrain. Do not
excite too severe a contest between passion and duty! I feel that I
must fly you: you are already too bewitching."

Just as I rose to depart in rushes the _femme de chambre_, and
announces, not Monsieur the Abbe, but Monseigneur the Regent. Of course
(the old resort in such cases) I was thrust in a closet; in marches his
Royal Highness, and is received very cavalierly. It is quite
astonishing to me what airs those women give themselves when they have
princes to manage! However, my confinement was not long: the closet had
another door; the _femme de chambre_ slips round, opens it, and I
congratulate myself on my escape.

When a Frenchwoman is piqued, she passes all understanding. The next
day I am very quietly employed at breakfast, when my valet ushers in a
masked personage, and behold my gentlewoman again! Human endurance will
not go too far, and this was a case which required one to be in a
passion one way or the other; so I feigned anger, and talked with
exceeding dignity about the predicament I had been placed in the day
before.

"Such must always be the case," said I, "when one is weak enough to form
an attachment to a lady who encourages so many others!"

"For your sake," said the tender dame, "for your sake, then, I will
discard them all!"

There was something grand in this it might have elicited a few strokes
of pathos, when--never was there anything so strangely provoking--the
Abbe Dubois himself was heard in my anteroom. I thought this chance,
but it was more; the good Abbe, I afterwards found, had traced cause for
suspicion, and had come to pay me a visit of amatory police. I opened
my dressing-room door, and thrust in the lady. "There," said I, "are
the back-stairs, and at the bottom of the back-stairs is a door."

Would not any one have thought this hint enough? By no means; this very
tall lady stooped to the littleness of listening, and, instead of
departing, stationed herself by the keyhole.

I never exactly learned whether Dubois suspected the visit his mistress
had paid me, or whether he merely surmised, from his spies or her
escritoire, that she harboured an inclination towards me; in either case
his policy was natural, and like himself. He sat himself down, talked
of the Regent, of pleasure, of women, and, at last, of this very tall
lady in question.

"_La pauvre diablesse_," said he, contemptuously, "I had once compassion
on her; I have repented it ever since. You have no idea what a terrible
creature she is; has such a wen in her neck, quite a _goitre_. _Mort
diable_!" (and the Abbe spat in his handkerchief), "I would sooner have
a _liaison_ with the witch of Endor!"

Not content with this, he went on in his usual gross and displeasing
manner to enumerate or to forge those various particulars of her
personal charms which he thought most likely to steel me against her
attractions. "Thank Heaven, at least," thought I, "that she has gone!"

Scarcely had this pious gratulation flowed from my heart, before the
door was burst open, and, pale, trembling, eyes on fire, hands clenched,
forth stalked the lady in question. A wonderful proof how much sooner a
woman would lose her character than allow it to be called not worth the
losing! She entered, and had all the furies of Hades lent her their
tongues, she could not have been more eloquent. It would have been a
very pleasant scene if one had not been a partner in it. The old Abbe,
with his keen, astute marked face, struggling between surprise, fear,
the sense of the ridiculous, and the certainty of losing his mistress;
the lady, foaming at the mouth, and shaking her clenched hand most
menacingly at her traducer; myself endeavouring to pacify, and acting,
as one does at such moments, mechanically, though one flatters one's
self afterwards that one acted solely from wisdom.

But the Abbe's mistress was by no means content with vindicating
herself: she retaliated, and gave so minute a description of the Abbe's
own qualities and graces, coupled with so any pleasing illustrations,
that in a very little time his coolness forsook him, and he grew in as
great a rage as herself. At last she flew out of the room. The Abbe,
trembling with passion, shook me most cordially by the hand, grinned
from ear to ear, said it was a capital joke, wished me good-by as if he
loved me better than his eyes, and left the house my most irreconcilable
and bitter foe!

How could it be otherwise? The rivalship the Abbe might have forgiven;
such things happened every day to him: but the having been made so
egregiously ridiculous the Abbe could not forgive; and the Abbe's was a
critical age for jesting on these matters, sixty or so. And then such
unpalatable sarcasms on his appearance! "'Tis all over in that
quarter," said I to myself, "but we may find another," and I drove out
that very day to pay my respects to the Regent.

What a pity it is that one's pride should so often be the bane of one's
wisdom. Ah! that one could be as good a man of the world in practice as
one is in theory! my master-stroke of policy at that moment would
evidently have been this: I should have gone to the Regent and made out
a story similar to the real one, but with this difference, all the
ridicule of the situation should have fallen upon me, and the little
Dubois should have been elevated on a pinnacle of respectable
appearances! This, as the Regent told the Abbe everything, would have
saved me. I saw the plan; but was too proud to adopt it; I followed
another course in my game: I threw away the knave, and played with the
king, _i.e._, with the Regent. After a little preliminary conversation,
I turned the conversation on the Abbe.

"Ah! the _scelerat_!" said Philip, smiling, "'tis a sad dog, but very
clever and _loves me_, he would be incomparable, if he were but decently
honest."

"At least," said I, "he is no hypocrite, and that is some praise."

"Hem!" ejaculated the Duke, very slowly, and then, after a pause, he
said, "Count, I have a real kindness for you, and I will therefore give
you a piece of advice: think as well of Dubois as you can, and address
him as if he were all you endeavoured to fancy him."

After this hint, which in the mouth of any prince but Philip of Orleans
would have been not a little remarkable for its want of dignity, my
prospects did not seem much brighter; however, I was not discouraged.

"The Abbe," said I, respectfully, "is a choleric man: one _may_
displease him; but dare I hope that so long as I preserve inviolate my
zeal and my attachment to the interests and the person of your Highness,
no--"

The Regent interrupted me. "You mean nobody shall successfully
misrepresent you to me? No, Count" (and here the Regent spoke with the
earnestness and dignity, which, when he did assume, few wore with a
nobler grace)--"no, Count, I make a distinction between those who
minister to the state and those who minister to me. I consider your
services too valuable to the former to put them at the mercy of the
latter. And now that the conversation has turned upon business I wish
to speak to you about this scheme of Gortz."

After a prolonged conference with the Regent upon matters of business,
in which his deep penetration into human nature not a little surprised
me, I went away thoroughly satisfied with my visit. I should not have
been so had I added to my other accomplishments the gift of prophecy.
Above five days after this interview, I thought it would be but prudent
to pay the Abbe Dubois one of those visits of homage which it was
already become policy to pay him. "If I go," thought I, "it will seem
as if nothing had happened; if I stay away, it will seem as if I
attached importance to a scene I should appear to have forgotten."

It so happened that the Abbe had a very unusual visitor that morning, in
the person of the austere but admirable Duc de St. Simon. There was a
singular and almost invariable distinction in the Regent's mind between
one kind of regard and another. His regard for one order of persons
always arose either out of his vices or his indolence; his regard for
another, out of his good qualities and his strong sense. The Duc de St.
Simon held the same place in the latter species of affection that Dubois
did in the former. The Duc was just coming out of the Abbe's closet as
I entered the anteroom. He paused to speak to me, while Dubois, who had
followed the Duc out, stopped for one moment, and surveyed me with a
look like a thundercloud. I did not appear to notice it, but St. Simon
did.

"That look," said he, as Dubois, beckoning to a gentleman to accompany
him to his closet, once more disappeared, "that look bodes you no good,
Count."

Pride is an elevation which is a spring-board at one time and a
stumbling-block at another. It was with me more often the
stumbling-block than the spring-board. "Monseigneur le Duc," said I,
haughtily enough, and rather in too loud a tone considering the chamber
was pretty full, "in no court to which Morton Devereux proffers his
services shall his fortune depend upon the looks of a low-born insolent
or a profligate priest."

St. Simon smiled sardonically. "Monsieur le Comte," said he, rather
civilly, "I honour your sentiments, and I wish you success in the
world--and a lower voice."

I was going to say something by way of retort, for I was in a very bad
humour, but I checked myself: "I need not," thought I, "make two
enemies, if I can help it."

"I shall never," I replied gravely, "I shall never despair, so long as
the Duc de St. Simon lives, of winning by the same arts the favour of
princes and the esteem of good men."

The Duc was flattered, and replied suitably, but he very soon afterwards
went away. I was resolved that I would not go till I had fairly seen
what sort of reception the Abbe would give me. I did not wait long, he
came out of his closet, and standing in his usual rude manner with his
back to the fireplace, received the addresses and compliments of his
visitors. I was not in a hurry to present myself, but I did so at last
with a familiar yet rather respectful air. Dubois looked at me from
head to foot, and abruptly turning his back upon me, said with an oath,
to a courtier who stood next to him,--"The plagues of Pharaoh are come
again; only instead of Egyptian frogs in our chambers, we have the still
more troublesome guests,--English adventurers!"

Somehow or other my compliments rarely tell; I am lavish enough of them,
but they generally have the air of sarcasms; thank Heaven, however, no
one can accuse me of ever wanting a rude answer to a rude speech. "Ha!
ha! ha!" said I now, in answer to Dubois, with a courteous laugh, "you
have an excellent wit, Abbe. _A propos_ of adventures, I met a Monsieur
St. Laurent, Principal of the Institution of St. Michael, the other day.
'Count,' said he, hearing I was going to Paris, 'you can do me an
especial favour!' 'What is it?' said I. 'Why, a cast-off valet of mine
is living at Paris; he would have gone long since to the galleys, if he
had not taken sanctuary in the Church: if ever you meet him, give him a
good horsewhipping on my account; his name is William Dubois.' 'Depend
upon it,' answered I to Monsieur St. Laurent, 'that if he is servant to
any one not belonging to the royal family, I will fulfil your errand,
and horsewhip him soundly; if _in_ the service of the royal family, why,
respect for his masters must oblige me to content myself with putting
all persons on their guard against a little rascal, who retains, in all
situations, the manners of the apothecary's son and the roguery of the
director's valet.'"

All the time I was relating this charming little anecdote, it would have
been amusing to the last degree to note the horrified countenances of
the surrounding gentlemen. Dubois was too confounded, too aghast, to
interrupt me, and I left the room before a single syllable was uttered.
Had Dubois at that time been, what he was afterwards, cardinal and prime
minister, I should in all probability have had permanent lodgings in the
Bastile in return for my story. Even as it was, the Abbe was not so
grateful as he ought to have been for my taking so much pains to amuse
him! In spite of my anger on leaving the favourite, I did not forget my
prudence, and accordingly I hastened to the Prince. When the Regent
admitted me, I flung myself on my knee, and told him, _verbatim_, all
that had happened. The Regent, who seems to have had very little real
liking for Dubois, could not help laughing when I ludicrously described
to him the universal consternation my anecdote had excited.*


* On the death of Dubois, the Regent wrote to the Count de Noce, whom he
had banished for an indiscreet expression against the favourite, uttered
at one of his private suppers: "With the beast dies the venom: I expect
you to-night to supper at the Palais Royal."


"Courage, my dear Count," said he, kindly, "you have nothing to fear;
return home and count upon an embassy!"

I relied on the royal word, returned to my lodgings, and spent the
evening with Chaulieu and Fontenelle. The next day the Duc de St. Simon
paid me a visit. After a little preliminary conversation, he unburdened
the secret with which he was charged. I was desired to leave Paris in
forty-eight hours.

"Believe me," said St. Simon, "that this message was not intrusted to me
by the Regent without great reluctance. He sends you many condescending
and kind messages; says he shall always both esteem and like you, and
hopes to see you again, some time or other, at the Palais Royal.
Moreover, he desires the message to be private, and has intrusted it to
me in especial, because hearing that I had a kindness for you, and
knowing I had a hatred for Dubois, he thought I should be the least
unwelcome messenger of such disagreeable tidings. 'To tell you the
truth, St. Simon,' said the Regent, laughing, 'I only consent to have
him banished, from a firm conviction that if I do not Dubois will take
some opportunity of having him beheaded.'"

"Pray," said I, smiling with a tolerably good grace, "pray give my most
grateful and humble thanks to his Highness, for his very considerate and
kind foresight. I could not have chosen better for myself than his
Highness has chosen for me: my only regret on quitting France is at
leaving a prince so affable as Philip and a courtier so virtuous as St.
Simon."

Though the good Duc went every year to the Abbey de la Trappe for the
purpose of mortifying his sins and preserving his religion in so impious
an atmosphere as the Palais Royal, he was not above flattery; and he
expressed himself towards me with particular kindness after my speech.

At court, one becomes a sort of human ant-bear, and learns to catch
one's prey by one's tongue.

After we had eased ourselves a little by abusing Dubois, the Duc took
his leave in order to allow me time to prepare for my "journey," as he
politely called it. Before he left, he, however, asked me whither my
course would be bent? I told him that I should take my chance with the
Czar Peter, and see if his czarship thought the same esteem was due to
the disgraced courtier as to the favoured diplomatist.

That night I received a letter from St. Simon, enclosing one addressed
with all due form to the Czar. "You will consider the enclosed," wrote
St. Simon, "a fresh proof of the Regent's kindness to you; it is a most
flattering testimonial in your favour, and cannot fail to make the Czar
anxious to secure your services."

I was not a little touched by a kindness so unusual in princes to their
discarded courtiers, and this entirely reconciled me to a change of
scene which, indeed, under any other circumstances, my somewhat morbid
love for action and variety would have induced me rather to relish than
dislike.

Within thirty-six hours from the time of dismissal, I had turned my back
upon the French capital.



CHAPTER VI.

A LONG INTERVAL OF YEARS.--A CHANGE OF MIND AND ITS CAUSES.

THE last accounts received of the Czar reported him to be at Dantzic.
He had, however, quitted that place when I arrived there. I lost no
time in following him, and presented myself to his Majesty one day after
his dinner, when he was sitting with one leg in the Czarina's lap and a
bottle of the best _eau de vie_ before him. I had chosen my time well;
he received me most graciously, read my letter from the Regent--about
which, remembering the fate of Bellerophon, I had had certain
apprehensions, but which proved to be in the highest degree
complimentary--and then declared himself extremely happy to see me
again. However parsimonious Peter generally was towards foreigners, I
never had ground for personal complaint on that score. The very next
day I was appointed to a post of honour and profit about the royal
person; from this I was transferred to a military station, in which I
rose with great rapidity; and I was only occasionally called from my
warlike duties to be intrusted with diplomatic missions of the highest
confidence and importance.

It is this portion of my life--a portion of nine years to the time of
the Czar's death--that I shall, in this history, the most concentrate
and condense. In truth, were I to dwell upon it at length, I should
make little more than a mere record of political events; differing, in
some respects, it is true, from the received histories of the time, but
containing nothing to compensate in utility for the want of interest.
That this was the exact age for adventurers, Alberoni and Dubois are
sufficient proofs. Never was there a more stirring, active, restless
period; never one in which the genius of intrigue was so pervadingly at
work. I was not less fortunate than my brethren. Although scarcely
four and twenty when I entered the Czar's service, my habits of intimacy
with men much older; my customary gravity, reserve, and thought; my
freedom, since Isora's death, from youthful levity or excess; my early
entrance into the world; and a countenance prematurely marked with the
lines of reflection and sobered by its hue,--made me appear considerably
older than I was. I kept my own counsel, and affected to be so: youth
is a great enemy to one's success; and more esteem is often bestowed
upon a wrinkled brow than a plodding brain.

All the private intelligence which during this space of time I had
received from England was far from voluminous. My mother still enjoyed
the quiet of her religious retreat. A fire, arising from the negligence
of a servant, had consumed nearly the whole of Devereux Court (the fine
old house! till _that_ went, I thought even England held one friend).
Upon this accident, Gerald had gone to London; and, though there was now
no doubt of his having been concerned in the Rebellion of 1715, he had
been favourably received at court, and was already renowned throughout
London for his pleasures, his excesses, and his munificent profusion.

Montreuil, whose lot seemed to be always to lose by intrigue what he
gained by the real solidity of his genius, had embarked very largely in
the rash but gigantic schemes of Gortz and Alberoni; schemes which, had
they succeeded, would not only have placed a new king upon the English
throne, but wrought an utter change over the whole face of Europe. With
Alberoni and with Gortz fell Montreuil. He was banished France and
Spain; the penalty of death awaited him in Britain; and he was supposed
to have thrown himself into some convent in Italy, where his name and
his character were unknown. In this brief intelligence was condensed
all my information of the actors in my first scenes of life. I return
to that scene on which I had now entered.

At the age of thirty-three I had acquired a reputation sufficient to
content my ambition; my fortune was larger than my wants; I was a
favourite in courts; I had been successful in camps; I had already
obtained all that would have rewarded the whole lives of many men
superior to myself in merit, more ardent than myself in desires. I was
still young; my appearance, though greatly altered, manhood had rather
improved than impaired. I had not forestalled my constitution by
excesses, nor worn dry the sources of pleasure by too large a demand
upon their capacities; why was it then, at that golden age, in the very
prime and glory of manhood, in the very zenith and summer of success,
that a deep, dark, pervading melancholy fell upon me? a melancholy so
gloomy that it seemed to me as a thick and impenetrable curtain drawn
gradually between myself and the blessed light of human enjoyment. A
torpor crept upon me; an indolent, heavy, clinging languor gathered over
my whole frame, the physical and the mental: I sat for hours without
book, paper, object, thought, gazing on vacancy, stirring not, feeling
not,--yes, feeling, but feeling only one sensation, a sick, sad,
drooping despondency, a sinking in of the heart, a sort of gnawing
within as if something living were twisted round my vitals, and, finding
no other food, preyed, though with a sickly and dull maw, upon _them_.
This disease came upon me slowly: it was not till the beginning of the
second year, from its obvious and palpable commencement, that it grew to
the height that I have described. It began with a distaste to all that
I had been accustomed to enjoy or to pursue. Music, which I had always
passionately loved, though from some defect in the organs of hearing, I
was incapable of attaining the smallest knowledge of the science, music
lost all its diviner spells, all its properties of creating a new
existence, a life of dreaming and vain luxuries, within the mind: it
became only a monotonous sound, less grateful to the languor of my
faculties than an utter and dead stillness. I had never been what is
generally termed a boon companion; but I had had the social vanities, if
not the social tastes; I had insensibly loved the board which echoed
with applause at my sallies, and the comrades who, while they deprecated
my satire, had been complaisant enough to hail it as wit. One of my
weaknesses is a love of show, and I had gratified a feeling not the less
cherished because it arose from a petty source, in obtaining for my
equipages, my mansion, my banquets, the celebrity which is given no less
to magnificence than to fame: now I grew indifferent alike to the signs
of pomp, and to the baubles of taste; praise fell upon a listless ear,
and (rare pitch of satiety!) the pleasures that are the offspring of our
foibles delighted me no more. I had early learned from Bolingbroke a
love for the converse of men, eminent, whether for wisdom or for wit:
the graceful _badinage,_ or the keen critique; the sparkling flight of
the winged words which circled and rebounded from lip to lip, or the
deep speculation upon the mysterious and unravelled wonders of man, of
Nature, and the world; the light maxim upon manners, or the sage inquiry
into the mines of learning, all and each had possessed a link to bind my
temper and my tastes to the graces and fascination of social life. Now
a new spirit entered within me: the smile faded from my lip, and the
jest departed from my tongue; memory seemed no less treacherous than
fancy, and deserted me the instant I attempted to enter into those
contests of knowledge in which I had been not undistinguished before. I
grew confused and embarrassed in speech; my words expressed a sense
utterly different to that which I had intended to convey; and at last,
as my apathy increased, I sat at my own board, silent and lifeless,
freezing into ice the very powers and streams of converse which I had
once been the foremost to circulate and to warm.

At the time I refer to, I was Minister at one of the small Continental
courts, where life is a round of unmeaning etiquette and wearisome
ceremonials, a daily labour of trifles, a ceaseless pageantry of
nothings. I had been sent there upon one important event; the business
resulting from it had soon ceased, and all the duties that remained for
me to discharge were of a negative and passive nature. Nothing that
could arouse, nothing that could occupy faculties that had for years
been so perpetually wound up to a restless excitement, was left for me
in this terrible reservoir of _ennui_. I had come thither at once from
the skirmishing and wild warfare of a Tartar foe; a war in which, though
the glory was obscure, the action was perpetual and exciting. I had
come thither, and the change was as if I had passed from a mountain
stream to a stagnant pool. Society at this court reminded me of a state
funeral: everything was pompous and lugubrious, even to the
drapery--even to the feathers--which, in other scenes, would have been
consecrated to associations of levity or of grace; the hourly pageant
swept on slow, tedious, mournful, and the object of the attendants was
only to entomb the Pleasure which they affected celebrate. What a
change for the wild, the strange, the novel, the intriguing, the varying
life, which, whether in courts or camps, I had hitherto led! The
internal change that came over myself is scarcely to be wondered at; the
winds stood still, and the straw they had blown from quarter to quarter,
whether in anger or in sport, began to moulder upon the spot where they
had left it.

From this cessation of the aims, hopes, and thoughts of life I was
awakened by the spreading, as it were, of another disease: the dead,
dull, aching pain at my heart was succeeded by one acute and intense;
the absence of thought gave way to one thought more terrible, more dark,
more despairing than any which had haunted me since the first year of
Isora's death; and from a numbness and pause, as it were, of existence,
existence became too keen and intolerable a sense. I will enter into an
explanation.

At the court of------, there was an Italian, not uncelebrated for his
wisdom, nor unbeloved for an innocence and integrity of life rarely
indeed to be met with among his countrymen. The acquaintance of this
man, who was about fifty years of age, and who was devoted almost
exclusively to the pursuit of philosophical science, I had sedulously
cultivated. His conversation pleased me; his wisdom improved; and his
benevolence, which reminded me of the traits of La Fontaine, it was so
infantine, made me incline to love him. Upon the growth of the fearful
malady of mind which seized me, I had discontinued my visits and my
invitations to the Italian; and Bezoni (so was he called) felt a little
offended by my neglect. As soon, however, as he discovered my state of
mind, the good man's resentment left him. He forced himself upon my
solitude, and would sit by me whole evenings,--sometimes without
exchanging a word, sometimes with vain attempts to interest, to arouse,
or to amuse me.

At last, one evening--it was the era of a fearful suffering to me--our
conversation turned upon those subjects which are at once the most
important and the most rarely discussed. We spoke of _religion_. We
first talked upon the theology of revealed religion. As Bezoni warmed
into candour, I perceived that his doctrines differed from my own, and
that he inly disbelieved that divine creed which Christians profess to
adore. From a dispute on the ground of faith, we came to one upon the
more debatable ground of reason. We turned from the subject of revealed
to that of natural religion; and we entered long and earnestly into that
grandest of all earthly speculations,--the metaphysical proofs of the
immortality of the soul. Again the sentiments of Bezoni were opposed to
mine. He was a believer in the dark doctrine which teaches that man is
dust and that all things are forgotten in the grave. He expressed his
opinions with a clearness and precision the more impressive because
totally devoid of cavil and of rhetoric. I listened in silence, but
with a deep and most chilling dismay. Even now I think I see the man as
he sat before me, the light of the lamp falling on his high forehead and
dark features; even now I think I hear his calm, low voice--the silver
voice of his country--stealing to my heart, and withering the only pure
and unsullied hope which I yet cherished there.

Bezoni left me, unconscious of the anguish he bequeathed me, to think
over all he had said. I did not sleep nor even retire to bed. I laid
my head upon my hands, and surrendered myself to turbulent yet intense
reflection. Every man who has lived much in the world, and conversed
with its various tribes, has, I fear, met with many who, on this
momentous subject, profess the same tenets as Bezoni. But he was the
first person I had met of that sect who had evidently thought long and
deeply upon the creed he had embraced. He was not a voluptuary nor a
boaster nor a wit. He had not been misled by the delusions either of
vanity or of the senses. He was a man pure, innocent, modest, full of
all tender charities and meek dispositions towards mankind: it was
evidently his interest to believe in a future state; he could have had
nothing to fear from it. Not a single passion did he cherish which the
laws of another world would have condemned. Add to this, what I have
observed before, that he was not a man fond of the display of intellect,
nor one that brought to the discussions of wisdom the artillery of wit.
He was grave, humble, and self-diffident, beyond all beings. I would
have given a kingdom to have found something in the advocate by which I
could have condemned the cause: I could not, and I was wretched.

I spent the whole of the next week among my books. I ransacked whatever
in my scanty library the theologians had written or the philosophers had
bequeathed upon that mighty secret. I arranged their arguments in my
mind. I armed myself with their weapons. I felt my heart spring
joyously within me as I felt the strength I had acquired, and I sent to
the philosopher to visit me, that I might conquer and confute him. He
came; but he spoke with pain and reluctance. He saw that I had taken
the matter far more deeply to heart than he could have supposed it
possible in a courtier and a man of fortune and the world. Little did
he know of me or my secret soul. I broke down his reserve at last. I
unrolled my arguments. I answered his, and we spent the whole night in
controversy. He left me, and I was more bewildered than ever.

To speak truth, he had devoted years to the subject: I had devoted only
a week. He had come to his conclusions step by step; he had reached the
great ultimatum with slowness, with care, and, he confessed, with
anguish and with reluctance. What a match was I, who brought a hasty
temper, and a limited reflection on that subject to a reasoner like
this? His candour staggered and chilled me even more than his logic.
Arguments that occurred not to me, upon my side of the question, _he_
stated at length and with force; I heard, and, till he replied to them,
I deemed they were unanswerable: the reply came, and I had no
counter-word. A meeting of this nature was often repeated; and when he
left me, tears crept into my wild eyes, my heart melted within me, and I
wept!

I must now enter more precisely than I have yet done into my state of
mind upon religious matters at the time this dispute with the Italian
occurred. To speak candidly, I had been far less shocked with his
opposition to me upon matters of doctrinal faith than with that upon
matters of abstract reasoning. Bred a Roman Catholic, though pride,
consistency, custom, made me externally adhere to the Papal Church, I
inly perceived its errors and smiled at its superstitions. And in the
busy world, where so little but present objects or _human_ anticipations
of the future engross the attention, I had never given the subject that
consideration which would have enabled me (as it has since) to separate
the dogmas of the priest from the precepts of the Saviour, and thus
confirmed my belief as the Christian by the very means which would have
loosened it as the Sectarian. So that at the time Bezoni knew me a
certain indifference to--perhaps arising from an ignorance of--doctrinal
points, rendered me little hurt by arguments against opinions which I
embraced indeed, but with a lukewarm and imperfect affection. But it
was far otherwise upon abstract points of reasoning, far otherwise, when
the hope of surviving this frail and most unhallowed being was to be
destroyed: I might have been indifferent to cavil upon _what_ was the
word of God, but never to question of the justice of God Himself. In
the whole world there was not a more ardent believer in our imperishable
nature, nor one more deeply interested in the belief. Do not let it be
supposed that because I have not often recurred to Isora's death (or
because I have continued my history in a jesting and light tone) that
that event ever passed from the memory which it had turned to bitterness
and gall. Never in the masses of intrigue, in the festivals of
pleasure, in the tumults of ambition, in the blaze of a licentious
court, or by the rude tents of a barbarous host,--never, my buried love,
had I forgotten thee! That remembrance, had no other cause existed,
would have led me to God. Every night, in whatever toils or whatever
objects, whatever failures or triumphs, the day had been consumed; every
night before I laid my head upon my widowed and lonely pillow,--I had
knelt down and lifted my heart to Heaven, blending the hopes of that
Heaven with the memory and the vision of Isora. Prayer had seemed to me
a commune not only with the living God, but with the dead by whom His
dwelling is surrounded. Pleasant and soft was it to turn to one
thought, to which all the holiest portions of my nature clung between
the wearying acts of this hard and harsh drama of existence. Even the
bitterness of Isora's early and unavenged death passed away when I
thought of the heaven to which she was gone, and in which, though I
journeyed now through sin and travail and recked little if the paths of
others differed from my own, I yet trusted with a solemn trust that I
should meet her at last. There was I to merit her with a love as
undying, and at length as pure, as her own. It was this that at the
stated hour in which, after my prayer for our reunion, I surrendered my
spirit to the bright and wild visions of her far, but _not impassable_
home,--it was this which for that single hour made all around me a
paradise of delighted thoughts! It was not the little earth, nor the
cold sky, nor the changing wave, nor the perishable turf,--no, nor the
dead wall and the narrow chamber,--which were around me then! No
dreamer ever was so far from the localities of flesh and life as I was
in that enchanted hour: a light seemed to settle upon all things around
me; her voice murmured on my ear, her kisses melted on my brow; I shut
my eyes, and I fancied that I beheld her.

Wherefore was this comfort? Whence came the spell which admitted me to
this fairy land? What was the source of the hope and the rapture and
the delusion? Was it not the deep certainty that _Isora yet existed_;
that her spirit, her nature, her love were preserved, were inviolate,
were the same? That they watched over me yet, that she knew that in
that hour I was with her, that she felt my prayer, that even then she
anticipated the moment when my soul should burst the human prison-house
and be once more blended with her own?

What! and was this to be no more? Were those mystic and sweet
revealings to be mute to me forever? Were my thoughts of Isora to be
henceforth bounded to the charnel-house and the worm? Was she indeed
_no more_? _No more_, oh, intolerable despair! Why, there was not a
thing I had once known, not a dog that I had caressed, not a book that I
had read, which I could know that I should see _no more_, and, knowing,
not feel something of regret. No more! were we, indeed, parted forever
and forever? Had she gone in her young years, with her warm affections,
her new hopes, all green and unwithered at her heart, at once into dust,
stillness, ice? And had I known her only for one year, one little year,
to see her torn from me by a violent and bloody death, and to be left a
mourner in this vast and eternal charnel, without a solitary consolation
or a gleam of hope? Was the earth to be henceforth a mere mass conjured
from the bones and fattened by the clay of our dead sires? Were the
stars and the moon to be mere atoms and specks of a chill light, no
longer worlds, which the ardent spirit might hereafter reach and be
fitted to enjoy? Was the heaven--the tender, blue, loving heaven, in
whose far regions I had dreamed was Isora's home, and had, therefore,
grown better and happier when I gazed upon it--to be nothing but cloud
and air? and had the love which had seemed so immortal, and so
springing from that which had not blent itself with mortality, been but
a gross lamp fed only by the properties of a brute nature, and placed in
a dark cell of clay, to glimmer, to burn, and to expire with the frail
walls which it had illumined? Dust, death, worms,--were these the
heritage of love and hope, of thought, of passion, of all that breathed
and kindled and exalted and _created_ within?

Could I contemplate this idea; could I believe it possible? _I could
not_. But against the abstract, the logical arguments for this idea,
had I a reply? I shudder as I write that at that time I had not! I
endeavoured to fix my whole thoughts to the study of those subtle
reasonings which I had hitherto so imperfectly conned: but my mind was
jarring, irresolute, bewildered, confused; my stake seemed too vast to
allow me coolness for the game.

Whoever has had cause for some refined and deep study in the midst of
the noisy and loud world may perhaps readily comprehend that feeling
which now possessed me; a feeling that it was utterly impossible to
abstract and concentrate one's thoughts, while at the mercy of every
intruder, and fevered and fretful by every disturbance. Men early and
long accustomed to mingle such reflections with the avocations of courts
and cities have grown callous to these interruptions, and it has been in
the very heart of the multitude that the profoundest speculations have
been cherished and produced; but I was not of this mould. The world,
which before had been distasteful, now grew insufferable; I longed for
some seclusion, some utter solitude, some quiet and unpenetrated nook,
that I might give my undivided mind to the knowledge of these things,
and build the tower of divine reasonings by which I might ascend to
heaven. It was at this time, and in the midst of my fiercest internal
conflict, that the great Czar died, and I was suddenly recalled to
Russia.

"Now," I said, when I heard of my release, "now shall my wishes be
fulfilled!"

I sent to Bezoni. He came, but he refused, as indeed he had for some
time done, to speak to me further upon the question which so wildly
engrossed me. "I forgive you," said I, when we parted, "I forgive you
for all that you have cost me: I feel that the moment is now at hand
when my faith shall frame a weapon wherewith to triumph over yours!"

Father in Heaven! thanks be to Thee that my doubts were at last removed,
and the cloud rolled away from my soul.

Bezoni embraced me, and wept over me. "All good men," said he, "have a
mighty interest in your success; for me there is nothing dark, even in
the mute grave, if it covers the ashes of one who has loved and served
his brethren, and done, with a wilful heart, no living creature wrong."

Soon afterwards the Italian lost his life in attending the victims of a
fearful and contagious disease, whom even the regular practitioners of
the healing art hesitated to visit.

At this moment I am, in the strictest acceptation of the words, a
believer and a Christian. I have neither anxiety nor doubt upon the
noblest and the most comforting of all creeds, and I am grateful, among
the other blessings which faith has brought me,--I am grateful that it
has brought me CHARITY! Dark to all human beings was Bezoni's
doctrine,--dark, above all, to those who have mourned on earth; so
withering to all the hopes which cling the most enduringly to the heart
was his unhappy creed that he who knows how inseparably, though
insensibly, our moral legislation is woven with our supposed
self-interest will scarcely marvel at, even while he condemns, the
unwise and unholy persecution which that creed universally sustains!
Many a most wretched hour, many a pang of agony and despair, did those
doctrines inflict upon myself; but I know that the intention of Bezoni
was benevolence and that the practice of his life was virtue: and while
my reason tells me that God will not punish the reluctant and
involuntary error of one to whom all God's creatures were so dear, my
religion bids me hope that I shall meet him in that world where no error
_is_, and where the Great Spirit to whom all human passions are unknown
avenges the momentary doubt of His justice by a proof of the infinity of
His mercy.



BOOK VI.



CHAPTER I.

THE RETREAT.

I ARRIVED at St. Petersburg, and found the Czarina, whose conjugal
perfidy was more than suspected, tolerably resigned to the extinction of
that dazzling life whose incalculable and god-like utility it is
reserved for posterity to appreciate! I have observed, by the way, that
in general men are the less mourned by their families in proportion as
they are the more mourned by the community. The great are seldom
amiable; and those who are the least lenient to our errors are
invariably our relations!

Many circumstances at that time conspired to make my request to quit the
imperial service appear natural and appropriate. The death of the Czar,
joined to a growing jealousy and suspicion between the English monarch
and Russia, which, though long existing, was now become more evident and
notorious than heretofore, gave me full opportunity to observe that my
pardon had been obtained from King George three years since, and that
private as well as national ties rendered my return to England a measure
not only of expediency but necessity. The imperial Catherine granted me
my dismissal in the most flattering terms, and added the high
distinction of the Order founded in honour of the memorable feat by
which she had saved her royal consort and the Russian army to the Order
of St. Andrew, which I had already received.

I transferred my wealth, now immense, to England, and, with the pomp
which became the rank and reputation Fortune had bestowed upon me, I
commenced the long land-journey I had chalked out to myself. Although I
had alleged my wish to revisit England as the main reason of my
retirement from Russia, I had also expressed an intention of visiting
Italy previous to my return to England. The physicians, indeed, had
recommended to me that delicious climate as an antidote to the ills my
constitution had sustained in the freezing skies of the north; and in my
own heart I had secretly appointed some more solitary part of the Divine
Land for the scene of my purposed hermitage and seclusion. It is indeed
astonishing how those who have lived much in cold climates yearn for
lands of mellow light and summer luxuriance; and I felt for a southern
sky the same resistless longing which sailors, in the midst of the vast
ocean, have felt for the green fields and various landscape of the
shore.

I traversed, then, the immense tracts of Russia, passed through Hungary,
entered Turkey, which I had wished to visit, where I remained a short
time; and, crossing the Adriatic, hailed, for the first time, the
Ausonian shore. It was the month of May--that month, of whose lustrous
beauty none in a northern clime can dream--that I entered Italy. It may
serve as an instance of the power with which a thought that, however
important, is generally deemed of too abstract and metaphysical a nature
deeply to engross the mind, possessed me then, that I--no cold nor
unenthusiastic votary of the classic Muse--made no pilgrimage to city or
ruin, but, after a brief sojourn at Ravenna, where I dismissed all my
train, set out alone to find the solitary cell for which I now sickened
with a hermit's love.

It was at a small village at the foot of the Apennines that I found the
object of my search. Strangely enough, there blended with my
philosophical ardour a deep mixture of my old romance. Nature, to whose
voice the dweller in cities and struggler with mankind had been so long
obtuse, now pleaded audibly at my heart, and called me to her embraces,
as a mother calls unto her wearied child. My eye, as with a new vision,
became open to the mute yet eloquent loveliness of this most fairy
earth; and hill and valley, the mirror of silent waters, the sunny
stillness of woods, and the old haunts of satyr and nymph, revived in me
the fountains of past poetry, and became the receptacles of a thousand
spells, mightier than the charms of any enchanter save Love, which was
departed,--Youth, which was nearly gone,--and Nature, which (more
vividly than ever) existed for me still.

I chose, then, my retreat. As I was fastidious in its choice, I cannot
refrain from the luxury of describing it. Ah, little did I dream that I
had come thither, not only to find a divine comfort but the sources of a
human and most passionate woe! Mightiest of the Roman bards! in whom
tenderness and reason were so entwined, and who didst sanctify even
thine unholy errors with so beautiful and rare a genius! what an
invariable truth one line of thine has expressed: "Even in the fairest
fountain of delight there is a secret and evil spring eternally bubbling
up and scattering its bitter waters over the very flowers which surround
its margin!"

In the midst of a lovely and tranquil vale was a small cottage; that was
my home. The good people there performed for me all the hospitable
offices I required. At a neighbouring monastery I had taken the
precaution to make myself known to the superior. Not all Italians--no,
nor all monks--belong to either of the two great tribes into which they
are generally divided,--knaves or fools. The Abbot Anselmo was a man of
rather a liberal and enlarged mind; he not only kept my secret, which
was necessary to my peace, but he took my part, which was perhaps
necessary to my safety. A philosopher, who desires only to convince
himself, and upon one subject, does not require many books. Truth lies
in a small compass; and for my part, in considering any speculative
subject, I would sooner have with me one book of Euclid as a model than
all the library of the Vatican as authorities. But then I am not fond
of drawing upon any resources but those of reason for reasonings: wiser
men than I am are not so strict. The few books that I did require were,
however, of a nature very illicit in Italy; the good Father passed them
to me from Ravenna, under his own protection. "I was a holy man," he
said, "who wished to render the Catholic Church a great service, by
writing a vast book against certain atrocious opinions; and the works I
read were, for the most part, works that I was about to confute." This
report gained me protection and respect; and, after I had ordered my
agent at Ravenna to forward to the excellent Abbot a piece of plate, and
a huge cargo of a rare Hungary wine, it was not the Abbot's fault if I
was not the most popular person in the neighbourhood.

But to my description: my home was a cottage; the valley in which it lay
was divided by a mountain stream, which came from the forest Apennine, a
sparkling and wild stranger, and softened into quiet and calm as it
proceeded through its green margin in the vale. And that margin, how
dazzlingly green it was! At the distance of about a mile from my hut,
the stream was broken into a slight waterfall, whose sound was heard
distinct and deep in that still place; and often I paused, from my
midnight thoughts, to listen to its enchanted and wild melody. The fall
was unseen by the ordinary wanderer, for, there, the stream passed
through a thick copse; and even when you pierced the grove, and gained
the water-side, dark trees hung over the turbulent wave, and the silver
spray was thrown upward through the leaves, and fell in diamonds upon
the deep green sod.

This was a most favoured haunt with me: the sun glancing through the
idle leaves; the music of the water; the solemn absence of all other
sounds, except the songs of birds, to which the ear grew accustomed,
and, at last, in the abstraction of thought, scarcely distinguished from
the silence; the fragrant herbs; and the unnumbered and nameless flowers
which formed my couch,--were all calculated to make me pursue
uninterruptedly the thread of contemplation which I had, in the less
voluptuous and harsher solitude of the closet, first woven from the web
of austerest thought. I say pursue, for it was too luxurious and
sensual a retirement for the conception of a rigid and severe train of
reflection; at least it would have been so to me. But when the thought
_is once born_, such scenes seem to me the most fit to cradle and to
rear it. The torpor of the physical appears to leave to the mental
frame a full scope and power; the absence of human cares, sounds, and
intrusions, becomes the best nurse to contemplation; and even that
delicious and vague sense of enjoyment which would seem, at first, more
genial to the fancy than the mind, preserves the thought undisturbed
because contented; so that all but the scheming mind becomes lapped in
sleep, and the mind itself lives distinct and active as a dream,--a
dream, not vague nor confused nor unsatisfying, but endowed with more
than the clearness, the precision, the vigour, of waking life.

A little way from this waterfall was a fountain, a remnant of a classic
and golden age. Never did Naiad gaze on a more glassy mirror, or dwell
in a more divine retreat. Through a crevice in an overhanging mound of
the emerald earth, the father stream of the fountain crept out, born,
like Love, among flowers, and in the most sunny smiles; it then fell,
broadening and glowing, into a marble basin, at whose bottom, in the
shining noon, you might see a soil which mocked the very hues of gold,
and the water insects, in their quaint shapes and unknown sports,
grouping or gliding in the mid-most wave. A small temple of the
lightest architecture stood before the fountain, and in a niche therein
a mutilated statue,--possibly of the Spirit of the place. By this
fountain my evening walk would linger till the short twilight melted
away and the silver wave trembled in the light of the western star. Oh,
then what feelings gathered over me as I turned slowly homeward! the air
still, breathless, shining; the stars gleaming over the woods of the far
Apennine; the hills growing huger in the shade; the small insects
humming on the wing; and, ever and anon, the swift bat, wheeling round
and amidst them; the music of the waterfall deepening on the ear; and
the light and hour lending even a mysterious charm to the cry of the
weird owl, flitting after its prey,--all this had a harmony in my
thoughts and a food for the meditations in which my days and nights were
consumed. The World moulders away the fabric of our early nature, and
Solitude rebuilds it on a firmer base.



CHAPTER II.

THE VICTORY.

O EARTH! Reservoir of life, over whose deep bosom brood the wings of
the Universal Spirit, shaking upon thee a blessing and a power,--a
blessing and a power to produce and reproduce the living from the dead,
so that our flesh is woven from the same atoms which were once the atoms
of our sires, and the inexhaustible nutriment of Existence is Decay! O
eldest and most solemn Earth, blending even thy loveliness and joy with
a terror and an awe! thy sunshine is girt with clouds and circled with
storm and tempest; thy day cometh from the womb of darkness, and
returneth unto darkness, as man returns unto thy bosom. The green herb
that laughs in the valley, the water that sings merrily along the wood;
the many-winged and all-searching air, which garners life as a harvest
and scatters it as a seed,--all are pregnant with corruption and carry
the cradled death within them, as an oak banqueteth the destroying worm.
But who that looks upon thee, and loves thee, and inhales thy blessings
will ever mingle too deep a moral with his joy? Let us not ask whence
come the garlands that we wreathe around our altars or shower upon our
feasts: will they not bloom as brightly, and breathe with as rich a
fragrance, whether they be plucked from the garden or the grave? O
Earth, my Mother Earth! dark Sepulchre that closes upon all which the
Flesh bears, but Vestibule of the vast regions which the Soul shall
pass, how leaped my heart within me when I first fathomed thy real
spell!

Yes! never shall I forget the rapture with which I hailed the light that
dawned upon me at last! Never shall I forget the suffocating, the full,
the ecstatic joy with which I saw the mightiest of all human hopes
accomplished; and felt, as if an angel spoke, that there is a life
beyond the grave! Tell me not of the pride of ambition; tell me not of
the triumphs of science: never had ambition so lofty an end as the
search after immortality! never had science so sublime a triumph as the
conviction that immortality will be gained! I had been at my task the
whole night,--pale alchymist, seeking from meaner truths to extract the
greatest of all! At the first hour of day, lo! the gold was there: the
labour for which I would have relinquished life was accomplished; the
dove descended upon the waters of my soul. I fled from the house. I
was possessed as with a spirit. I ascended a hill, which looked for
leagues over the sleeping valley. A gray mist hung around me like a
veil; I paused, and the great sun broke slowly forth; I gazed upon its
majesty, and my heart swelled. "So rises the soul," I said, "from the
vapours of this dull being; but the soul waneth not, neither setteth it,
nor knoweth it any night, save that from which it dawneth!" The mists
rolled gradually away, the sunshine deepened, and the face of Nature lay
in smiles, yet silently, before me. It lay before me, a scene that I
had often witnessed and hailed and worshipped: _but it was not the
same_; a glory had passed over it; it was steeped in a beauty and a
holiness, in which neither youth nor poetry nor even love had ever robed
it before! The change which the earth had undergone was like that of
some being we have loved, when death is passed, and from a mortal it
becomes an angel!

I uttered a cry of joy, and was then as silent as all around me. I felt
as if henceforth there was a new compact between Nature and myself. I
felt as if every tree and blade of grass were henceforth to be eloquent
with a voice and instinct with a spell. I felt as if a religion had
entered into the earth, and made oracles of all that the earth bears;
the old fables of Dodona were to become realized, and _the very leaves_
to be hallowed by a sanctity and to murmur with a truth. I was no
longer only a part of that which withers and decays; I was no longer a
machine of clay, moved by a spring, and to be trodden into the mire
which I had trod; I was no longer tied to humanity by links which could
never be broken, and which, if broken, would avail me not. I was
become, as if by a miracle, a part of a vast though unseen spirit. It
was not to the matter, but to the essences, of things that I bore
kindred and alliance; the stars and the heavens resumed over me their
ancient influence; and, as I looked along the far hills and the silent
landscape, a voice seemed to swell from the stillness, and to say, "I am
the life of these things, a spirit distinct from the things themselves.
It is to me that you belong forever and forever: separate, but equally
indissoluble; apart, but equally eternal!"

I spent the day upon the hills. It was evening when I returned. I
lingered by the old fountain, and saw the stars rise, and tremble, one
by one, upon the wave. The hour was that which Isora had loved the
best, and that which the love of her had consecrated the most to me.
And never, oh, never, did it sink into my heart with a deeper sweetness,
or a more soothing balm. I had once more knit my soul to Isora's: I
could once more look from the toiling and the dim earth, and forget that
Isora had left me, in dreaming of our reunion. Blame me not, you who
indulge in a religious hope more severe and more sublime; you who miss
no footsteps from the earth, nor pine for a voice that your human
wanderings can hear no more,--blame me not, you whose pulses beat not
for the wild love of the created, but whose spirit languishes only for a
nearer commune with the Creator,--blame me not too harshly for my mortal
wishes, nor think that my faith was the less sincere because it was
tinted in the most unchanging dyes of the human heart, and indissolubly
woven with the memory of the dead! Often from our weaknesses our
strongest principles of conduct are born; and from the acorn which a
breeze has wafted springs the oak which defies the storm.

The first intoxication and rapture consequent upon the reward of my
labour passed away; but, unlike other excitement, it was followed not by
languor or a sated and torpid calm: a soothing and delicious sensation
possessed me; my turbulent senses slept; and Memory, recalling the
world, rejoiced at the retreat which Hope had acquired.

I now surrendered myself to a nobler philosophy than in crowds and
cities I had hitherto known. I no longer satirized; I inquired: I no
longer derided; I examined. I looked from the natural proofs of
immortality to the written promise of our Father; I sought not to baffle
men, but to worship Truth; I applied myself more to the knowledge of
good and evil; I bowed my soul before the loveliness of Virtue; and
though scenes of wrath and passion yet lowered in the future, and I was
again speedily called forth to act, to madden, to contend, perchance to
sin, the Image is still unbroken, and the Votary has still an offering
for its Altar!



CHAPTER III.

THE HERMIT OF THE WELL.

THE thorough and deep investigation of those principles from which we
learn the immortality of the soul, and the nature of its proper ends,
leads the mind through such a course of reflection and of study; it is
attended with so many exalting, purifying, and, if I may so say,
etherealizing thoughts,--that I do believe no man has ever pursued it,
and not gone back to the world a better and a nobler man than he was
before. Nay, so deeply must these elevating and refining studies be
conned, so largely and sensibly must they enter the intellectual system,
that I firmly think that even a sensualist who has only considered the
subject with a view to convince himself that he is clay, and has
therefore an excuse to the curious conscience for his grosser desires;
nay, should he come to his wished-for yet desolate conclusion, from
which the abhorrent nature shrinks and recoils, I do nevertheless firmly
think, should the study have been long and deep, that he would wonder to
find his desires had lost their poignancy and his objects their charm.
He would descend from the Alp he had climbed to the low level on which
he formerly deemed it a bliss to dwell, with the feeling of one who,
having long drawn in high places an empyreal air, has become unable to
inhale the smoke and the thick vapour he inhaled of yore. His soul once
aroused would stir within him, though he felt it not, and though he grew
not a believer, he would cease to be only the voluptuary.

I meant at one time to have here stated the arguments which had
perplexed me on one side, and those which afterwards convinced me on the
other. I do not do so for many reasons, one of which will suffice;
namely, the evident and palpable circumstance that a dissertation of
that nature would, in a biography like the present, be utterly out of
place and season. Perhaps, however, at a later period of life, I may
collect my own opinions on the subject into a separate work, and
bequeath that work to future generations, upon the same conditions as
the present memoir.

One day I was favoured by a visit from one of the monks at the
neighbouring abbey. After some general conversation he asked me if I
had yet encountered the Hermit of the Well?

"No," said I, and I was going to add, that I had not even heard of him,
"but I now remember that the good people of the house have more than
once spoken to me of him as a rigid and self-mortifying recluse."

"Yes," said the holy friar; "Heaven forbid that I should say aught
against the practice of the saints and pious men to deny unto themselves
the lusts of the flesh, but such penances may be carried too far.
However, it is an excellent custom, and the Hermit of the Well is an
excellent creature. _Santa Maria!_ what delicious stuff is that Hungary
wine your scholarship was pleased to bestow upon our father Abbot. He
suffered me to taste it the eve before last. I had been suffering with
a pain in the reins, and the wine acted powerfully upon me as an
efficacious and inestimable medicine. Do you find, my Son, that it bore
the journey to your lodging here as well as to the convent cellars?"

"Why, really, my Father, I have none of it here; but the people of the
house have a few flasks of a better wine than ordinary, if you will
deign to taste it in lieu of the Hungary wine."

"Oh--oh!" said the monk, groaning, "my reins trouble me much: perhaps
the wine may comfort me!" and the wine was brought.

"It is not of so rare a flavour as that which you sent to our reverend
father," said the monk, wiping his mouth with his long sleeve. "Hungary
must be a charming place; is it far from hence? It joins the
heretical,--I pray your pardon, it joins the continent of England, I
believe?"

"Not exactly, Father; but whatever its topography, it is a rare
country--for those who like it! But tell me of this Hermit of the Well.
How long has he lived here? and how came he by his appellation? Of what
country is he? and of what birth?"

"You ask me too many questions at once, my Son. The country of the holy
man is a mystery to us all. He speaks the Tuscan dialect well, but with
a foreign accent. Nevertheless, though the wine is not of Hungary, it
has a pleasant flavour. I wonder how the rogues kept it so snugly from
the knowledge and comfort of their pious brethren of the monastery!"

"And how long has the Hermit lived in your vicinity?"

"Nearly eight years, my Son. It was one winter's evening that he came
to our convent in the dress of a worldly traveller, to seek our
hospitality, and a shelter for the night, which was inclement and
stormy. He stayed with us a few days, and held some conversation with
our father Abbot; and one morning, after roaming in the neighbourhood to
look at the old stones and ruins, which is the custom of travellers, he
returned, put into our box some alms, and two days afterwards he
appeared in the place he now inhabits and in the dress he assumes."

"And of what nature, my Father, is the place, and of what fashion the
dress?"

"Holy Saint Francis!" exclaimed the Father, with a surprise so great
that I thought at first it related to the wine, "Holy Saint Francis!
have you not seen the well yet?"

"No, Father, unless you speak of the fountain about a mile and a quarter
distant."

"Tusk--tusk!" said the good man, "what ignoramuses you travellers are!
You affect to know what kind of slippers Prester John wears and to have
been admitted to the bed-chamber of _the Pagoda of China_; and yet, when
one comes to sound you, you are as ignorant of everything a man of real
learning knows as an Englishman is of his missal. Why, I thought that
every fool in every country had heard of the Holy Well of St. Francis,
situated exactly two miles from our famous convent, and that every fool
in the neighbourhood had seen it."

"What the fools, my Father, whether in this neighbourhood or any other,
may have heard or seen, I, who profess not ostensibly to belong to so
goodly an order, cannot pretend to know; but be assured that the Holy
Well of St. Francis is as unfamiliar to me as the Pagoda of
China--Heaven bless _him_--is to you."

Upon this the learned monk, after expressing due astonishment, offered
to show it to me; and as I thought I might by acquiescence get rid of
him the sooner, and as, moreover, I wished to see the Abbot, to whom
some books for me had been lately sent, I agreed to the offer.

The well, said the monk, lay not above a mile out of the customary way
to the monastery; and after _we_ had finished the flask of wine, we
sallied out on our excursion,--the monk upon a stately and strong ass,
myself on foot.

The Abbot, on granting me his friendship and protection, had observed
that I was not the only stranger and recluse on whom his favour was
bestowed. He had then mentioned the Hermit of the Well, as an eccentric
and strange being, who lived an existence of rigid penance, harmless to
others, painful only to himself. This story had been confirmed in the
few conversations I had ever interchanged with my host and hostess, who
seemed to take a peculiar pleasure in talking of the Solitary; and from
them I had heard also many anecdotes of his charity towards the poor and
his attention to the sick. All these circumstances came into my mind as
the good monk indulged his loquacity upon the subject, and my curiosity
became at last somewhat excited respecting my fellow recluse.

I now learned from the monk that the post of Hermit of the Well was an
office of which the present anchorite was by no means the first tenant.
The well was one of those springs, frequent in Catholic countries, to
which a legend and a sanctity are attached; and twice a year--once in
the spring, once in the autumn--the neighbouring peasants flocked
together, on a stated day, to drink, and lose their diseases. As the
spring most probably did possess some medicinal qualities, a few
extraordinary cures had occurred, especially among those pious persons
who took not biennial, but constant draughts; and to doubt its holiness
was downright heresy.

Now, hard by this well was a cavern, which, whether first formed by
nature or art, was now, upon the whole, constructed into a very
commodious abode; and here, for years beyond the memory of man, some
solitary person had fixed his abode to dispense and to bless the water,
to be exceedingly well fed by the surrounding peasants, to wear a long
gown of serge or sackcloth, and to be called the Hermit of the Well. So
fast as each succeeding anchorite died there were enough candidates
eager to supply his place; for it was no bad _metier_ to some penniless
imposter to become the quack and patentee of a holy specific. The
choice of these candidates always rested with the superior of the
neighbouring monastery; and it is not impossible that he made an
indifferently good percentage upon the annual advantages of his
protection and choice.

At the time the traveller appeared, the former hermit had just departed
this life, and it was, therefore, to the vacancy thus occasioned that he
had procured himself to be elected. The incumbent appeared quite of a
different mould from the former occupants of the hermitage. He
accepted, it is true, the gifts laid at regular periods upon a huge
stone between the hermitage and the well, but he distributed among the
donors alms far more profitable than their gifts. He entered no
village, borne upon an ass laden with twin sacks, for the purpose of
sanctimoniously robbing the inhabitants; no profane songs were ever
heard resounding from his dwelling by the peasant incautiously lingering
at a late hour too near its vicinity; my guide, the monk, complained
bitterly of his unsociability, and no scandalous legend of nymph-like
comforters and damsel visitants haunting the sacred dwelling escaped
from the garrulous friar's well-loaded budget.

"Does he study much?" said I, with the interest of a student.

"I fear me not," quoth the monk. "I have had occasion often to enter
his abode, and I have examined all things with a close eye,--for,
praised be the Lord, I have faculties more than ordinarily clear and
observant,--but I have seen no books therein, excepting a missal, and a
Latin or Greek Testament, I know not well which; nay, so incurious or
unlearned is the holy man that he rejected even a loan of the 'Life of
Saint Francis,' notwithstanding it has many and rare pictures, to say
nothing of its most interesting and amazing tales."

More might the monk have said, had we not now suddenly entered a thick
and sombre wood. A path cut through it was narrow, and only capable of
admitting a traveller on foot or horseback; and the boughs overhead were
so darkly interlaced that the light scarcely, and only in broken and
erratic glimmerings, pierced the canopy.

"It is the wood," said the monk, crossing himself, "wherein the
wonderful adventure happened to Saint Francis, which I will one day
narrate at length to you."

"And we are near the well, I suppose?" said I.

"It is close at hand," answered the monk.

In effect we had not proceeded above fifty yards before the path brought
us into a circular space of green sod, in the midst of which was a small
square stone building, of plain but not inelegant shape, and evidently
of great antiquity. At one side of this building was an iron handle,
for the purpose of raising water, that cast itself into a stone basin,
to which was affixed by a strong chain an iron cup. An inscription in
monkish Latin was engraved over the basin, requesting the traveller to
pause and drink, and importing that what that water was to the body,
faith was to the soul; near the cistern was a rude seat, formed by the
trunk of a tree. The door of the well-house was of iron, and secured by
a chain and lock; perhaps the pump was so contrived that only a certain
quantum of the sanctified beverage could be drawn up at a time, without
application to some mechanism within; and wayfarers were thereby
prevented from helping themselves _ad libitum_, and thus depriving the
anchorite of the profit and the necessity of his office.

It was certainly a strange, lonely, and wild place; and the green sward,
round as a fairy ring, in the midst of trees, which, black, close, and
huge, circled it like a wall; and the solitary gray building in the
centre, gaunt and cold, startled the eye with the abruptness of its
appearance, and the strong contrast made by its wan hues to the dark
verdure and forest gloom around it.

I took a draught of the water, which was very cold and tasteless, and
reminded the monk of his disorder in the reins, to which a similar
potation might possibly be efficacious. To this suggestion the monk
answered that he would certainly try the water some other time; but that
at present the wine he had drunk might pollute its divine properties.
So saying, he turned off the conversation by inviting me to follow him
to the hermitage.

In our way thither he pointed out a large fragment of stone, and
observed that the water would do me evil instead of good if I forgot to
remunerate its guardian. I took the hint, and laid a piece of silver on
the fragment.

A short journey through the wood brought us to the foot of a hill
covered with trees, and having at its base a strong stone door, the
entrance to the excavated home of the anchorite. The monk gently tapped
thrice at this door, but no answer came. "The holy man is from home,"
said he, "let us return."

We did so; and the monk, keeping behind me, managed, as he thought
unseen, to leave the stone as naked as we had found it! We now struck
through another path in the wood, and were soon at the convent. I did
not lose the opportunity to question the Abbot respecting his tenant: I
learned from him little more than the particulars I have already
narrated, save that in concluding his details, he said:--

"I can scarcely doubt but that the Hermit is, like yourself, a person of
rank; his bearing and his mien appear to denote it. He has given, and
gives yearly, large sums to the uses of the convent: and, though he
takes the customary gifts of the pious villagers, it is only by my
advice and for the purpose of avoiding suspicion. Should he be
considered rich, it might attract cupidity; and there are enough bold
hands and sharp knives in the country to place the wealthy and the
unguarded in some peril. Whoever he may be--for he has not confided his
secret to me--I do not doubt but that he is doing penance for some great
crime; and, whatever be the crime, I suspect that its earthly punishment
is nearly over. The Hermit is naturally of a delicate and weak frame,
and year after year I have marked him sensibly wearing away; so that
when I last saw him, three days since, I was shocked at the visible
ravages which disease or penance had engraven upon him. If ever Death
wrote legibly, its characters are in that brow and cheek."

"Poor man! Know you not even whom to apprise of his decease when he is
no more?"

"I do not yet; but the last time I saw him he told me that he found
himself drawing near his end, and that he should not quit life without
troubling me with one request."

After this the Abbot spoke of other matters, and my visit expired.

Interested in the recluse more deeply than I acknowledged to myself, I
found my steps insensibly leading me homeward by the more circuitous
road which wound first by the holy well. I did not resist the impulse,
but walked musingly onward by the waning twilight, for the day was now
over, until I came to the well. As I emerged from the wood, I started
involuntarily and drew back. A figure, robed from head to foot in a
long sable robe, sat upon the rude seat beside the well; sat so still,
so motionless, that coming upon it abruptly in that strange place, the
heart beat irregularly at an apparition so dark in hue and so death-like
in its repose. The hat, large, broad, and overhanging, which suited the
costume, was lying on the ground; and the face, which inclined upward,
seemed to woo the gentle air of the quiet and soft skies. I approached
a few steps, and saw the profile of the countenance more distinctly than
I had done before. It was of a marble whiteness; the features, though
sharpened and attenuated by disease, were of surpassing beauty; the hair
was exceedingly, almost effeminately, long, and hung in waves of perfect
jet on either side; the mouth was closed firmly, and deep lines or
rather furrows were traced from its corners to either nostril. The
stranger's beard, of a hue equally black as the hair, was dishevelled
and neglected, but not very long; and one hand, which lay on the sable
robe, was so thin and wan you might have deemed the very starlight could
have shone through it. I did not doubt that it was the recluse whom I
saw; I drew near and accosted him.

"Your blessing, holy Father, and your permission to taste the healing of
your well."

Sudden as was my appearance, and abrupt my voice, the Hermit evinced by
no startled gesture a token of surprise. He turned very slowly round,
cast upon me an indifferent glance, and said, in a sweet and very low
tone,--

"You have my blessing, Stranger: there is water in the cistern; drink,
and be healed."

I dipped the bowl in the basin, and took sparingly of the water. In the
accent and tone of the stranger, my ear, accustomed to the dialects of
many nations, recognized something English; I resolved, therefore, to
address him in my native tongue, rather than the indifferent Italian in
which I had first accosted him.

"The water is fresh and cooling: would, holy Father, that it could
penetrate to a deeper malady than the ills of flesh; that it could
assuage the fever of the heart, or lave from the wearied mind the dust
which it gathers from the mire and travail of the world."

Now the Hermit testified surprise; but it was slight and momentary. He
gazed upon me more attentively than he had done before, and said, after
a pause,--

"My countryman! and in this spot! It is not often that the English
penetrate into places where no ostentatious celebrity dwells to sate
curiosity and flatter pride. My countryman: it is well, and perhaps
fortunate. Yes," he said, after a second pause, "yes; it were indeed a
boon, had the earth a fountain for the wounds which fester and the
disease which consumes the heart."

"The earth has oblivion, Father, if not a cure."

"It is false!" cried the Hermit, passionately, and starting wildly from
his seat; "the earth has _no_ oblivion. The grave,--is _that_
forgetfulness? No, no: _there is no grave for the soul_! The deeds
pass; the flesh corrupts: but the memory passes not, and withers not.
From age to age, from world to world, through eternity, throughout
creation, it is perpetuated; and immortality,--a curse,--_a hell_!"

Surprised by the vehemence of the Hermit, I was still more startled by
the agonizing and ghastly expression of his face.

"My Father," said I, "pardon me if I have pressed upon a sore. I also
have that within which, did a stranger touch it, would thrill my whole
frame with torture, and I would fain ask from your holy, soothing, and
pious comfort, something of alleviation or of fortitude."

The Hermit drew near to me; he laid his thin hand upon my arm, and
looked long and wistfully in my face. It was then that a suspicion
crept through me which after observation proved to be true, that the
wanderings of those dark eyes and the meaning of that blanched brow were
tinctured with insanity.

"Brother and fellow man," said he, mournfully, "hast thou in truth
suffered? and dost thou still smart at the remembrance? We are friends
then. If thou hast suffered as much as I have, I will fall down and do
homage to thee as a superior; for pain has its ranks, and I think at
times that none ever climbed the height that I have done. Yet you look
not like one who has had nights of delirium, and days in which the heart
lay in the breast, as a corpse endowed with consciousness might lie in
the grave, feeling the worm gnaw it, and the decay corrupt, and yet
incapable of resistance or of motion. Your cheek is thin, but firm;
your eye is haughty and bright; you have the air of one who has lived
with men, and struggled and not been vanquished in the struggle.
Suffered! No, man, no,--_you_ have not suffered!"

"My Father, it is not in the countenance that Fate graves her records.
I have, it is true, contended with my fellows; and if wealth and honour
be the premium, not in vain: but I have not contended against Sorrow
with a like success; and I stand before you, a being who, if passion be
a tormentor and the death of the loved a loss, has borne that which the
most wretched will not envy."

Again a fearful change came over the face of the recluse: he grasped my
arm more vehemently, "You speak my own sorrows; you utter my own curse;
I will see you again; you may do my last will better than yon monks.
Can I trust you? If you have in truth known misfortune, I will! I will!
yea, even to the outpouring--merciful, merciful God, what would I
say,--what would I reveal!"

Suddenly changing his voice, he released me, and said, touching his
forehead with a meaning gesture and a quiet smile, "You say you are my
rival in pain. Have you ever known the rage and despair of the heart
mount _here_? It is a wonderful thing to be calm as I am now, when that
rising makes itself felt in fire and torture!"

"If there be aught, Father, which a man who cares not what country he
visit, or what deed--so it be not of guilt or shame--he commit, can do
towards the quiet of your soul, say it, and I will attempt your will."

"You are kind, my Son," said the Hermit, resuming his first melancholy
and dignified composure of mien and bearing; "and there is something in
your voice which seems to me like a tone that I have heard in youth. Do
you live near at hand?"

"In the valley, about four miles hence; I am, like yourself, a fugitive
from the world."

"Come to me then to-morrow at eve; to-morrow! No, that is a holy eve,
and I must keep it with scourge and prayer. The next at sunset. I shall
be collected then, and I would fain know more of you than I do. Bless
you, my Son; adieu."

"Yet stay, Father, may I not conduct you home?"

"No; my limbs are weak, but I trust they can carry me to that home, till
I be borne thence to my last. Farewell! the night grows, and man fills
even these shades with peril. The eve after next, at sunset, we meet
again."

So saying, the hermit waved his hand, and I stood apart, watching his
receding figure, until the trees cloaked the last glimpse from my view.
I then turned homeward, and reached my cottage in safety, despite of the
hermit's caution. But I did not retire to rest: a powerful foreboding,
rather than suspicion, that, in the worn and wasted form which I had
beheld, there was identity with one whom I had not met for years, and
whom I had believed to be no more, thrillingly possessed me.

"Can--can it be?" thought I. "Can grief have a desolation, or
remembrance an agony, sufficient to create so awful a change? And of
all human beings, for that one to be singled out; that one in whom
passion and sin were, if they existed, nipped in their earliest germ,
and seemingly rendered barren of all fruit! If too, almost against the
evidence of sight and sense, an innate feeling has marked in that most
altered form the traces of a dread recognition, would not his memory
have been yet more vigilant than mine? Am I so changed that he should
have looked me in the face so wistfully, and found there naught save the
lineaments of a stranger?" And, actuated by this thought, I placed the
light by the small mirror which graced my chamber. I recalled, as I
gazed, my features as they had been in earliest youth. "No," I said,
with a sigh, "there is nothing here that he should recognize."

And I said aright: my features, originally small and delicate, had grown
enlarged and prominent. The long locks of my youth (for only upon state
occasions did my early vanity consent to the fashion of the day) were
succeeded by curls, short and crisped; the hues, alternately pale and
hectic, that the dreams of romance had once spread over my cheek, had
settled into the unchanging bronze of manhood; the smooth lip and
unshaven chin were clothed with a thick hair; the once unfurrowed brow
was habitually knit in thought; and the ardent, restless expression that
boyhood wore had yielded to the quiet unmoved countenance of one in whom
long custom has subdued all outward sign of emotion, and many and
various events left no prevalent token of the mind save that of an
habitual but latent resolution. My frame, too, once scarcely less
slight than a woman's, was become knit and muscular; and nothing was
left by which, in the foreign air, the quiet brow, and the athletic
form, my very mother could have recognized the slender figure and
changeable face of the boy she had last beheld. The very sarcasm of the
eye was gone; and I had learned the world's easy lesson,--the
dissimulation of composure.

I have noted one thing in others, and it was particularly noticeable in
me; namely, that few who mix very largely with men, and with the
courtier's or the citizen's design, ever retain the key and tone of
their original voice. The voice of a young man is as yet modulated by
nature, and expresses the passion of the moment; that of the matured
pupil of art expresses rather the customary occupation of his life.
Whether he aims at persuading, convincing, or commanding others, his
voice irrevocably settles into the key he ordinarily employs; and, as
persuasion is the means men chiefly employ in their commerce with each
other, especially in the regions of a court, so a tone of artificial
blandness and subdued insinuation is chiefly that in which the accents
of worldly men are clothed; the artificial intonation, long continued,
grows into nature, and the very pith and basis of the original sound
fritter themselves away. The change was great in me, for at that time
which I brought in comparison with the present my age was one in which
the voice is yet confused and undecided, struggling between the accents
of youth and boyhood; so that even this most powerful and unchanging of
all claims upon the memory was in a great measure absent in me; and
nothing but an occasional and rare tone could have produced even that
faint and unconscious recognition which the Hermit had confessed.

I must be pardoned these egotisms, which the nature of my story renders
necessary.

With what eager impatience did I watch the hours to the appointed
interview with the Hermit languish themselves away! However, before
that time arrived and towards the evening of the next day, I was
surprised by the rare honour of a visit from Anselmo himself. He came
attended by two of the mendicant friars of his order, and they carried
between them a basket of tolerable size, which, as mine hostess
afterwards informed me, with many a tear, went back somewhat heavier
than it came, from the load of certain _receptacula_ of that rarer wine
which she had had the evening before the indiscreet hospitality to
produce.

The Abbot came to inform me that the Hermit had been with him that
morning, making many inquiries respecting me. "I told him," said he,
"that I was acquainted with your name and birth, but that I was under a
solemn promise not to reveal them, without your consent; and I am now
here, my Son, to learn from you whether that consent may be obtained?"

"Assuredly not, holy Father!" said I, hastily; nor was I contented until
I had obtained a renewal of his promise to that effect. This seemed to
give the Abbot some little chagrin: perhaps the Hermit had offered a
reward for my discovery. However, I knew that Anselmo, though a griping
was a trustworthy man, and I felt safe in his renewed promise. I saw
him depart with great satisfaction, and gave myself once more to
conjectures respecting the strange recluse.

As the next evening I prepared to depart towards the hermitage, I took
peculiar pains to give my person a foreign and disguised appearance. A
loose dress, of rude and simple material, and a high cap of fur, were
pretty successful in accomplishing this purpose. And, as I gave the
last look at the glass before I left the house, I said inly, "If there
be any truth in my wild and improbable conjecture respecting the
identity of the anchorite, I think time and this dress are sufficient
wizards to secure me from a chance of discovery. I will keep a guard
upon my words and tones, until, if my thought be verified, a moment fit
for unmasking myself arrives. But would to God that the thought be
groundless! In such circumstances, and after such an absence, to meet
_him_! No; and yet--Well, this meeting will decide."



CHAPTER IV.

THE SOLUTION OF MANY MYSTERIES.--A DARK VIEW OF THE LIFE AND NATURE OF
MAN.

POWERFUL, though not clearly developed in my own mind, was the motive
which made me so strongly desire to preserve the _incognito_ during my
interview with the Hermit. I have before said that I could not resist a
vague but intense belief that he was a person whom I had long believed
in the grave; and I had more than once struggled against a dark but
passing suspicion that that person was in some measure--mediately,
though not directly--connected with the mysteries of my former life. If
both these conjectures were true, I thought it possible that the
communication the Hermit wished to make might be made yet more willingly
to me as a stranger than if he knew who was in reality his confidant.
And, at all events, if I could curb the impetuous gushings of my own
heart, which yearned for immediate disclosure, I might by hint and
prelude ascertain the advantages and disadvantages of revealing myself.

I arrived at the well: the Hermit was already at the place of
rendezvous, seated in the same posture in which I had before seen him.
I made my reverence and accosted him.

"I have not failed you, Father."

"That is rarely a true boast with men," said the Hermit, smiling
mournfully, but without sarcasm; "and were the promise of greater avail,
it might not have been so rigidly kept."

"The promise, Father, seemed to me of greater weight than you would
intimate," answered I.

"How mean you?" said the Hermit, hastily.

"Why, that we may perhaps serve each other by our meeting: you, Father,
may comfort me by your counsels; I you by my readiness to obey your
request."

The Hermit looked at me for some moments, and, as well as I could, I
turned away my face from his gaze. I might have spared myself the
effort. He seemed to recognize nothing familiar in my countenance;
perhaps his mental malady assisted my own alteration.

"I have inquired respecting you," he said, after a pause, "and I hear
that you are a learned and wise man, who has seen much of the world, and
played the part both of soldier and of scholar in its various theatres:
is my information true?"

"Not true with the respect to the learning, Father, but true with regard
to the experience. I have been a pilgrim in many countries of Europe."

"Indeed!" said the Hermit, eagerly. "Come with me to my home, and tell
me of the wonders you have seen."

I assisted the Hermit to rise, and he walked slowly towards the cavern,
leaning upon my arm. Ob, how that light touch thrilled through my
frame! How I longed to cry, "Are you not the one whom I have loved, and
mourned, and believed buried in the tomb?" But I checked myself. We
moved on in silence. The Hermit's hand was on the door of the cavern,
when he said, in a calm tone, but with evident effort, and turning his
face from me while he spoke:--

"And did your wanderings ever carry you into the farther regions of the
north? Did the fame of the great Czar ever lead you to the city he has
founded?"

"I am right! I am right!" thought I, as I answered, "In truth, holy
Father, I spent not a long time at Petersburg; but I am not a stranger
either to its wonders or its inhabitants."

"Possibly, then, you may have met with the English favourite of the Czar
of whom I hear in my retreat that men have lately spoken somewhat
largely?" The Hermit paused again. We were now in a long, low passage,
almost in darkness. I scarcely saw him, yet I heard a convulsed
movement in his throat before he uttered the remainder of the sentence.
"He is called the Count Devereux."

"Father," said I, calmly, "I have both seen and known the man."

"Ha!" said the Hermit, and he leaned for a moment against the wall;
"known him--and--how--how--I mean, where is he at this present time?"

"That, Father, is a difficult question respecting one who has led so
active a life. He was ambassador at the court of------just before I
left it."

We had now passed the passage and gained a room of tolerable size; an
iron lamp burned within, and afforded a sufficient but somewhat dim
light. The Hermit, as I concluded my reply, sank down on a long stone
bench, beside a table of the same substance, and leaning his face on his
hand, so that the long, large sleeve he wore perfectly concealed his
features, said, "Pardon me; my breath is short, and my frame weak; I am
quite exhausted, but will speak to you more anon."

I uttered a short answer, and drew a small wooden stool within a few
feet of the Hermit's seat. After a brief silence he rose, placed wine,
bread, and preserved fruits before me and bade me eat. I seemed to
comply with his request, and the apparent diversion of my attention from
himself somewhat relieved the embarrassment under which he evidently
laboured.

"May I hope," he said, "that were my commission to this--to the Count
Devereux--you would execute it faithfully and with speed? Yet stay: you
have a high mien, as of one above fortune, but your garb is rude and
poor; and if aught of gold could compensate your trouble, the Hermit has
other treasuries besides this cell."

"I will do your bidding, Father, without robbing the poor. You wish,
then, that I should seek Morton Devereux; you wish that I should summon
him hither; you wish to see and to confer with him?"

"God of mercy forbid!" cried the Hermit, and with such a vehemence that
I was startled from the design of revealing myself, which I was on the
point of executing. "I would rather that these walls would crush me
into dust, or that this solid stone would crumble beneath my feet,--ay,
even into a bottomless pit, than meet the glance of Morton Devereux!"

"Is it even so?" said I, stooping over the wine-cup; "ye have been foes
then, I suspect. Well, it matters not: tell me your errand, and it
shall be done."

"Done!" cried the Hermit, and a new and certainly a most natural
suspicion darted within him, "done! and--fool that I am!--who or what
are you that I should believe you take so keen an interest in the wishes
of a man utterly unknown to you? I tell you that my wish is that you
should cross seas and traverse lands until you find the man I have named
to you. Will a stranger do this, and without hire? No--no--I was a
fool, and will trust the monks, and give gold, and then my errand will
be sped."

"Father, or rather brother," said I, with a slow and firm voice, "for
you are of mine own age, and you have the passion and the infirmity
which make brethren of all mankind, I am one to whom all places are
alike: it matters not whether I visit a northern or a southern clime; I
have wealth, which is sufficient to smooth toil; I have leisure, which
makes occupation an enjoyment. More than this, I am one who in his
gayest and wildest moments has ever loved mankind, and would have
renounced at any time his own pleasure for the advantage of another.
But at this time, above all others, I am most disposed to forget myself,
and there is a passion in your words which leads me to hope that it may
be a great benefit which I can confer upon you."

"You speak well," said the Hermit, musingly, "and I may trust you; I
will consider yet a little longer, and to-morrow at this hour you shall
have my final answer. If you execute the charge I entrust to you, may
the blessing of a dying and most wretched man cleave to you forever!
But hush; the clock strikes: it is my hour of prayer."

And, pointing to a huge black clock that hung opposite the door, and
indicated the hour of nine (according to our English mode of numbering
the hours), the Hermit fell on his knees, and, clasping his hands
tightly, bent his face over them in the attitude of humiliation and
devotion. I followed his example. After a few minutes he rose: "Once
in every three hours," said he, with a ghastly expression, "for the last
twelve years have I bowed my soul in anguish before God, and risen to
feel that it was in vain: I am cursed without and within!"

"My Father, my Father, is this your faith in the mercies of the Redeemer
who died for man?"

"Talk not to me of faith!" cried the Hermit, wildly. "Ye laymen and
worldlings know nothing of its mysteries and its powers. But begone!
the dread hour is upon me, when my tongue is loosed and my brain
darkened, and I know not my words and shudder at my own thoughts.
Begone! no human being shall witness those moments: they are only for
Heaven and my own soul."

So saying, this unhappy and strange being seized me by the arm and
dragged me towards the passage we had entered. I was in doubt whether
to yield to or contend with him; but there was a glare in his eye and a
flush upon his brow, which, while it betrayed the dreadful disease of
his mind, made me fear that resistance to his wishes might operate
dangerously upon a frame so feeble and reduced. I therefore
mechanically obeyed him. He opened again the entrance to his rugged
home, and the moonlight streamed wanly over his dark robes and spectral
figure.

"Go," said he, more mildly than before, "go, and forgive the vehemence
of one whose mind and heart alike are broken within him. Go, but return
to-morrow at sunset. Your air disposes me to trust you."

So saying, he closed the door upon me, and I stood without the cavern
alone.

But did I return home? Did I hasten to press my couch in sleep and
sweet forgetfulness, while he was in that gloomy sepulture of the
living, a prey to anguish, and torn by the fangs of madness and a fierce
disease? No: on the damp grass, beneath the silent skies, I passed a
night which could scarcely have been less wretched than his own. My
conjecture was now and in full confirmed. Heavens! how I loved that
man! how, from my youngest years, had my soul's fondest affections
interlaced themselves with him! with what anguish had I wept his
imagined death! and now to know that he lay within those walls, smitten
from brain to heart with so fearful and mysterious a curse,--to know,
too, that he dreaded the sight of me,--of me who would have laid down my
life for his! the grave, which I imagined his home, had been a mercy to
a doom like this.

"He fears," I murmured, and I wept as I said it, "to look on one who
would watch over, and soothe, and bear with him, with more than a
woman's love! By what awful fate has this calamity fallen on one so
holy and so pure? or by what preordered destiny did I come to these
solitudes, to find at the same time a new charm for the earth and a
spell to change it again into a desert and a place of woe?"

All night I kept vigil by the cave, and listened if I could catch moan
or sound; but everything was silent: the thick walls of the rock kept
even the voice of despair from my ear. The day dawned, and I retired
among the trees, lest the Hermit might come out unawares and see me. At
sunrise I saw him appear for a few moments and again retire, and I then
hastened home, exhausted and wearied by the internal conflicts of the
night, to gather coolness and composure for the ensuing interview, which
I contemplated at once with eagerness and dread.

At the appointed hour I repaired to the cavern: the door was partially
closed; I opened it, hearing no answer to my knock, and walked gently
along the passage; but I now heard shrieks and groans and wild laughter
as I neared the rude chamber. I paused for a moment, and then in terror
and dismay entered the apartment. It was empty, but I saw near the
clock a small door, from within which the sounds that alarmed me
proceeded. I had no scruple in opening it, and found myself in the
Hermit's sleeping chamber,--a small dark room, where, upon a straw
pallet, lay the wretched occupant in a state of frantic delirium. I
stood mute and horror-struck, while his exclamations of frenzy burst
upon my ear.

"There--there!" he cried, "I have struck thee to the heart, and now
I will kneel, and kiss those white lips, and bathe my hands in that
blood! Ha!--do I hate thee?--hate--ay--hate,--abhor, detest! Have
you the beads there?--let me tell them. Yes, I will go to the
confessional--confess?--No, no--all the priests in the world could
not lift up a soul so heavy with guilt. Help--help--help! I am
falling--falling--there is the pit, and the fire, and the devils!
Do you hear them laugh?--I can laugh too!--ha! ha! ha! Hush, I have
written it all out, in a fair hand; he shall read it; and then, O God!
what curses he will heap upon my head! Blessed Saint Francis, hear me!
Lazarus, Lazarus, speak for me!"

Thus did the Hermit rave, while my flesh crept to hear him. I stood by
his bedside, and called on him, but he neither heard nor saw me. Upon
the ground, by the bed's head, as if it had dropped from under the
pillow, was a packet seated and directed to myself. I knew the
handwriting at a glance, even though the letters were blotted and
irregular, and possibly traced in the first moment that his present
curse fell upon the writer. I placed the packet in my bosom; the Hermit
saw not the motion; he lay back on the bed, seemingly in utter
exhaustion. I turned away, and hastened to the monastery for
assistance. As I hurried through the passage, the Hermit's shrieks
again broke upon me, with a fiercer vehemence than before. I flew from
them, as if they were sounds from the abyss of Hades. I flew till,
breathless, and half-senseless myself, I fell down exhausted by the gate
of the monastery.

The two most skilled in physic of the brethren were immediately
summoned, and they lost not a moment in accompanying me to the cavern.
All that evening, until midnight, the frenzy of the maniac seemed rather
to increase than abate. But at that hour, exactly indeed as the clock
struck twelve, he fell all at once into a deep sleep.

Then for the first time, but not till the weary brethren had at this
favourable symptom permitted themselves to return for a brief interval
to the monastery, to seek refreshment for themselves and to bring down
new medicines for the patient,--then, for the first time, I rose from
the Hermit's couch by which I had hitherto kept watch, and repairing to
the outer chamber, took forth the packet superscribed with my name.

There, alone in that gray vault, and by the sepulchral light of the
single lamp, I read what follows:--


THE HERMIT'S MANUSCRIPT.

Morton Devereux, if ever this reach you, read it, shudder, and, whatever
your afflictions, bless God that you are not as I am. Do you remember
my prevailing characteristic as a boy? No, you do not. You will say
"devotion!" It was not! "Gentleness." It was not: it was JEALOUSY!
Now does the truth flash on you? Yes, that was the disease that was in
my blood, and in my heart, and through whose ghastly medium every living
object was beheld. Did I love you? Yes, I loved you,--ay, almost with
a love equal to your own. I loved my mother; I loved Gerald; I loved
Montreuil. It was a part of my nature to love, and I did not resist the
impulse. You I loved better than all; but I was jealous of each. If my
mother caressed you or Gerald, if you opened your heart to either, it
stung me to the quick. I it was who said to my mother, "Caress him not,
or I shall think you love him better than me." I it was who widened,
from my veriest childhood, the breach between Gerald and yourself. I it
was who gave to the childish reproach a venom, and to the childish
quarrel a barb. Was this love? Yes, it was love; but I could not
endure that ye should love one another as ye loved me. It delighted me
when one confided to my ear a complaint against the other, and said,
"Aubrey, this blow could not have come from thee!"

Montreuil early perceived my bias of temper: he might have corrected it
and with ease. I was not evil in disposition; I was insensible of my
own vice. Had its malignity been revealed to me, I should have recoiled
in horror. Montreuil had a vast power over me; he could mould me at his
will. Montreuil, I repeat, might have saved me, and thyself, and a
third being, better and purer than either of us was, even in our
cradles. Montreuil did not: he had an object to serve, and he
sacrificed our whole house to it. He found me one day weeping over a
dog that I had killed. "Why did you destroy it?" he said; and I
answered, "Because it loved Morton better than me!" And the priest
said, "Thou didst right, Aubrey!" Yes, from that time he took advantage
of my infirmity, and could rouse or calm all my passions in proportion
as he irritated or soothed it.

You know this man's object during the latter period of his residence
with us: it was the restoration of the House of Stuart. He was
alternately the spy and the agitator in that cause. Among more
comprehensive plans for effecting this object, was that of securing the
heirs to the great wealth and popular name of Sir William Devereux.
This was only a minor mesh in the intricate web of his schemes; but it
is the character of the man to take exactly the same pains, and pursue
the same laborious intrigues, for a small object as for a great one.
His first impression, on entering our house, was in favour of Gerald;
and I believe he really likes him to this day better than either of us.
Partly your sarcasms, partly Gerald's disputes with you, partly my
representations,--for I was jealous even of the love of
Montreuil,--prepossessed him against you. He thought, too, that Gerald
had more talent to serve his purposes than yourself and more facility in
being moulded to them; and he believed our uncle's partiality to you far
from being unalienable. I have said that, at the latter period of his
residence with us, he was an agent of the exiled cause. At the time I
_now_ speak of, he had not entered into the great political scheme which
engrossed him afterwards. He was merely a restless and aspiring priest,
whose whole hope, object, ambition, was the advancement of his order.
He knew that whoever inherited, or whoever shared, my uncle's wealth,
could, under legitimate regulation, promote _any_ end which the heads of
that order might select; and he wished therefore to gain the mastery
over us all. Intrigue was essentially woven with his genius, and by
intrigue only did he ever seek to arrive at _any_ end he had in view.*
He soon obtained a mysterious and pervading power over Gerald and
myself. Your temper at once irritated him, and made him despair of
obtaining an ascendant over one who, though he testified in childhood
none of the talents for which he has since been noted, testified,
nevertheless, a shrewd, penetrating, and sarcastic power of observation
and detection. You, therefore, he resolved to leave to the
irregularities of your own nature, confident that they would yield him
the opportunity of detaching your uncle from you and ultimately securing
to Gerald his estates.


* It will be observed that Aubrey frequently repeats former assertions;
this is one of the most customary traits of insanity.--ED.


The trial at school first altered his intentions. He imagined that he
then saw in you powers which might be rendered availing to him: he
conquered his pride--a great feature in his character--and he resolved
to seek your affection. Your subsequent regularity of habits and
success in study confirmed him in his resolution; and when he learned
from my uncle's own lips that the Devereux estates would devolve on you,
he thought that it would be easier to secure your affection to him than
to divert that affection which my uncle had conceived for you. At this
time, I repeat, he had no particular object in view; none, at least,
beyond that of obtaining for the interest of his order the direction of
great wealth and some political influence. Some time after--I know not
exactly when, but before we returned to take our permanent abode at
Devereux Court--a share in the grand political intrigue which was then
in so many branches carried on throughout England, and even Europe, was
confided to Montreuil.

In this I believe he was the servant of his order, rather than
immediately of the exiled House; and I have since heard that even at
that day he had acquired a great reputation among the professors of the
former. You, Morton, he decoyed not into this scheme before he left
England: he had not acquired a sufficient influence over you to trust
you with the disclosure. To Gerald and myself he was more confidential.
Gerald eagerly embraced his projects through a spirit of enterprise; I
through a spirit of awe and of religion. RELIGION! Yes,--then,--long
after,--now,--when my heart was and is the home of all withering and
evil passions, Religion reigned,--reigns, over me a despot and a tyrant.
Its terrors haunt me at this hour; they people the earth and the air
with shapes of ghastly menace! They--Heaven pardon me! what would my
madness utter? Madness?--madness? Ay, _that_ is the real scourge, the
real fire, the real torture, the real hell, of this fair earth!

Montreuil, then, by different pleas, won over Gerald and myself. He
left us, but engaged us in constant correspondence. "Aubrey," he said,
before he departed, and when he saw that I was wounded by his apparent
cordiality towards you and Gerald--"Aubrey," he said, soothing me on
this point, "think not that I trust Gerald or the arrogant Morton as I
trust you. _You_ have my real heart and my real trust. It is necessary
to the execution of this project, so important to the interests of
religion and so agreeable to the will of Heaven, that we should secure
all co-operators: but they, your brothers, Aubrey, are the tools of that
mighty design; you are its friend." Thus it was that, at all times when
he irritated too sorely the vice of my nature, he flattered it into
seconding his views; and thus, instead of conquering my evil passions,
he conquered by them. Curses--No, no, no!--I _will_ be calm.

We returned to Devereux Court, and we grew from boyhood into youth. I
loved you then, Morton. Ah! what would I not give now for one pure
feeling, such as I felt in your love? Do you remember the day on which
you had extorted from my uncle his consent to your leaving us for the
pleasures and pomps of London? Do you remember the evening of that day,
when I came to seek you, and we sat down on a little mound, and talked
over your projects, and you spoke then to me of my devotion and my purer
and colder feelings? Morton, at that very moment my veins burned with
passion!--at that very moment my heart was feeding the vulture fated to
live and prey within it forever! Thrice did I resolve to confide in
you, as we then sat together, and thrice did my evil genius forbid it.
You seemed, even in your affection to me, so wholly engrossed with your
own hopes; you seemed so little to regret leaving me; you stung, so
often and so deeply, in our short conference, that feeling which made me
desire to monopolize all things in those I loved, that I said
inly,--"Why should I bare my heart to one who can so little understand
it?" And so we turned home, and you dreamed not of that which was then
within me, and which was destined to be your curse and mine.

Not many weeks previous to that night, I had seen one whom to see was to
love! Love!--I tell you, Morton, that _that_ word is expressive of soft
and fond emotion, and there should be another expressive of all that is
fierce and dark and unrelenting in the human heart!--all that seems most
like the deadliest and the blackest hate, and yet is not hate! I saw
this being, and from that moment my real nature, which had slept
hitherto, awoke! I remember well it was one evening in the beginning of
summer that I first saw her. She sat alore in the little garden beside
the cottage door, and I paused, and, unseen, looked over the slight
fence that separated us, and fed my eyes with a loveliness that I
thought till then only twilight or the stars could wear! From that
evening I came, night after night, to watch her from the same spot; and
every time I beheld her the poison entered deeper and deeper into my
system. At length I had an opportunity of being known to her, of
speaking to her, of hearing her speak, of touching the ground she had
hallowed, of entering the home where she dwelt!

I must explain: I said that both Gerald and myself corresponded
privately with Montreuil; we were both bound over to secrecy with regard
to you; and this, my temper and Gerald's coolness with you rendered an
easy obligation to both;--I say my temper, for I loved to think I had a
secret not known to another; and I carried this reserve even to the
degree of concealing from Gerald himself the greater part of the
correspondence between me and the Abbe. In his correspondence with each
of us, Montreuil acted with his usual skill; to Gerald, as the elder in
years, the more prone to enterprise, and the manlier in aspect and in
character, was allotted whatever object was of real trust or importance.
Gerald it was who, under pretence of pursuing his accustomed sports,
conferred with the various agents of intrigue who from time to time
visited our coast; and to me the Abbe gave words of endearment and
affected the language of more entire trust. "Whatever," he would say,
"in our present half mellowed projects, is exposed to danger, but does
not promise reward, I entrust to Gerald; hereafter, far higher
employment, under far safer and surer auspices, will be yours. We are
the heads: be ours the nobler occupation to plan; and let us leave to
inferior natures the vain and perilous triumph to execute what we
design."

All this I readily assented to; for, despite my acquiescence in
Montreuil's wishes, I loved not enterprise, or rather I hated whatever
roused me from the dreamy and abstracted indolence which was most dear
to my temperament. Sometimes, however, with a great show of confidence,
Montreuil would request me to execute some quiet and unimportant
commission; and of this nature was one I received while I was thus,
unknown even to the object, steeping my soul in the first intoxication
of love. The plots then carried on by certain ecclesiastics I need not
say extended, in one linked chain, over the greater part of the
Continent. Spain, in especial, was the theatre of these intrigues; and
among the tools employed in executing them were some who, though
banished from that country, still, by the rank they had held in it,
carried a certain importance in their very names. Foremost of these was
the father of the woman I loved; and foremost, in whatever promised
occupation to a restless mind, he was always certain to be.

Montreuil now commissioned me to seek out a certain Barnard (an
underling in those secret practices or services, for which he afterwards
suffered, and who was then in that part of the country), and to
communicate to him some messages of which he was to be the bearer to
this Spaniard. A thought flashed upon me--Montreuil's letter mentioned,
accidentally, that the Spaniard had never hitherto seen Barnard: could I
not personate the latter, deliver the messages myself, and thus win that
introduction to the daughter which I so burningly desired, and which,
from the close reserve of the father's habits, I might not otherwise
effect? The plan was open to two objections: one, that I was known
personally in the town in the environs of which the Spaniard lived, and
he might therefore very soon discover who I really was; the other that I
was not in possession of all the information which Barnard might
possess, and which the Spaniard might wish to learn; but these
objections had not much weight with me. To the first, I said inly, "I
will oppose the most constant caution; I will go always on foot and
alone; I will never be seen in the town itself; and even should the
Spaniard, who seems rarely to stir abroad, and who, possibly, does not
speak our language,--even should he learn by accident that Barnard is
only another name for Aubrey Devereux, it will not be before I have
gained my object; nor, perhaps, before the time when I myself may wish
to acknowledge my identity." To the second objection I saw a yet more
ready answer. "I will acquaint Montreuil at once," I said, "with my
intention; I will claim his connivance as a proof of his confidence, and
as an essay of my own genius of intrigue." I did so; the priest,
perhaps delighted to involve me so deeply, and to find me so ardent in
his project, consented. Fortunately, as I before said, Barnard was an
underling,--young, unknown, and obscure. My youth, therefore, was not
so great a foe to my assumed disguise as it might otherwise have been.
Montreuil supplied all requisite information. I tried (for the first
time, with a beating heart and a tremulous voice) the imposition! it
succeeded; I continued it. Yes, Morton, yes!--pour forth upon me your
bitterest execration, in me, in your brother, in the brother so dear to
you,--in the brother whom you imagined so passionless, so pure; so
sinless,--behold that Barnard, the lover, the idolatrous lover--the foe,
the deadly foe,--of Isora d'Alvarez!


Here the manuscript was defaced for some pages by incoherent and
meaningless ravings. It seemed as if one of his dark fits of frenzy had
at that time come over the writer. At length, in a more firm and clear
character than that immediately preceding it, the manuscript continued
as follows:--


I loved her, but even then it was with a fierce and ominous love
(ominous of what it became). Often in the still evenings, when we stood
together watching the sun set; when my tongue trembled, but did not dare
to speak; when all soft and sweet thoughts filled the heart and
glistened in the eye of that most sensitive and fairy being; when my own
brow perhaps seemed to reflect the same emotions,--feelings which I even
shuddered to conceive raged within me. Had we stood together in those
moments upon the brink of a precipice, I could have wound my arms around
her and leaped with her into the abyss. Everything but one nursed my
passion; nature, solitude, early dreams, all kindled and fed that fire:
Religion only combated it; I knew it was a crime to love any of earth's
creatures as I loved. I used the scourge and the fast;* I wept hot,
burning tears; I prayed, and the intensity of my prayer appalled even
myself, as it rose from my maddened heart, in the depth and stillness of
the lone night: but the flame burned higher and more scorchingly from
the opposition; nay, it was the very knowledge that my love was criminal
that made it assume so fearful and dark a shape. "Thou art the cause of
my downfall from Heaven!" I muttered, when I looked upon Isora's calm
face: "thou feelest it not, and I could destroy thee and myself,--myself
the criminal, thee the cause of the crime!"


* I need not point out to the novel-reader how completely the character
of Aubrey has been stolen in a certain celebrated French romance. But
the writer I allude to is not so unmerciful as M. de Balzac, who has
pillaged scenes in "The Disowned" with a most gratifying politeness.


It must have been that my eyes betrayed my feelings that Isora loved me
not, that she shrank from me even at the first: why else should I not
have called forth the same sentiments which she gave to you? Was not my
form cast in a mould as fair as yours? did not my voice whisper in as
sweet a tone? did I not love her with as wild a love? Why should she
not have loved me? I was the first whom she behold: she would--ay,
perhaps she would have loved me, if you had not come and marred all.
Curse yourself, then, that you were my rival! curse yourself that you
made my heart as a furnace, and smote my brain with frenzy; curse--O
sweet Virgin, forgive me!--I know not,--I know not what my tongue utters
or my hand traces!

You came, then, Morton, you came; you knew her; you loved her; she loved
you. I learned that you had gained admittance to the cottage, and the
moment I learned it, I looked on Isora, and felt my fate, as by
intuition: I saw at once that she was prepared to love you; I saw the
very moment when that love kindled from conception into form; I saw--and
at that moment my eyes reeled and my ears rang as with the sound of a
rushing sea, and I thought I felt a cord snap within my brain, which has
never been united again.

Once only, after your introduction to the cottage, did I think of
confiding to you my love and rivalship; you remember one night when we
met by the castle cave, and when your kindness touched and softened me
despite of myself. The day after that night I sought you, with the
intention of communicating to you all; and while I was yet struggling
with my embarrassment and the suffocating tide of my emotions, you
premeditated me by giving me _your_ confidence. Engrossed by your own
feelings, you were not observant of mine; and as you dwelt and dilated
upon your love for Isora, all emotions, save those of agony and of fury,
vanished from my breast. I did not answer you then at any length, for I
was too agitated to trust to prolix speech; but by the next day I had
recovered myself, and I resolved, as far as I was able, to play the
hypocrite, "he cannot love her as I do!" I said; "perhaps I may,
without disclosure of my rivalship and without sin in the attempt,
detach him from her by reason." Fraught with this idea, I collected
myself, sought you, remonstrated with you, represented the worldly folly
of your love, and uttered all that prudence preaches--in vain, when it
preaches against passion!

Let me be brief. I saw that I made no impression on you; I stifled my
wrath; I continued to visit and watch Isora. I timed my opportunities
well: my constant knowledge of your motions allowed me to do that;
besides, I represented to the Spaniard the necessity, through political
motives, of concealing myself from you; hence, we never encountered each
other. One evening, Alvarez had gone out to meet one of his countrymen
and confederates. I found Isora alone, in the most sequestered part of
the garden; her loveliness, and her exceeding gentleness of manner,
melted me. For the first time audibly my heart spoke out, and I told
her of my idolatry. Idolatry! ay, _that_ is the only word, since it
signifies both worship and guilt! She heard me timidly, gently, coldly.
She spoke; and I found confirmed from her own lips what my reason had
before told me,--that there was no hope for me. The iron that entered
also roused my heart. "Enough!" I cried fiercely, "you love this
Morton Devereux, and for him I am scorned." Isora blushed and trembled,
and all my senses fled from me. I scarcely know in what words my rage
and my despair clothed themselves: but I know that I divulged myself to
her; I know that I told her I was the brother, the rival, the enemy of
the man she loved,--I know that I uttered the fiercest and the wildest
menaces and execrations,--I know that my vehemence so overpowered and
terrified her that her mind was scarcely less clouded--less lost,
rather--than my own. At that moment the sound of your horse's hoofs was
heard. Isora's eyes brightened and her mien grew firm. "He comes," she
said, "and he will protect me!" "Hark!" I said, sinking my voice, and,
as my drawn sword flashed in one hand, the other grasped her arm with a
savage force,--"hark, woman!" I said,--and an oath of the blackest fury
accompanied my threats,--"swear that you will never divulge to Morton
Devereux who is his real rival, that you will never declare to him nor
to any one else that the false Barnard and the true Aubrey Devereux are
the same,--swear this, or I swear [and I repeated, with a solemn
vehemence, that dread oath] that I will stay here; that I will confront
my rival; that, the moment he beholds me, I will plunge this sword in
his bosom; and that, before I perish myself, I will hasten to the town,
and will utter there a secret which will send your father to the
gallows: now, your choice?"

Morton, you have often praised, my uncle has often jested at, the
womanish softness of my face. There have been moments when I have seen
that face in the glass, and known it not, but started in wild affright,
and fancied that I beheld a demon; perhaps in that moment this change
was over it. Slowly Isora gazed upon me; slowly blanched into the hues
of death grew her cheek and lip; slowly that lip uttered the oath I
enjoined. I released my gripe, and she fell to the earth suddenly, and
stunned as if struck by lightning. I stayed not to look on what I had
done; I heard your step advance; I fled by a path that led from the
garden to the beach; and I reached my home without retaining a single
recollection of the space I had traversed to attain it.

Despite the night I passed--a night which I will leave you to imagine--I
rose the next morning with a burning interest to learn from you what had
passed after my flight, and with a power, peculiar to the stormiest
passions, of an outward composure while I listened to the recital. I
saw that I was safe; and I heard, with a joy so rapturous that I
question whether even Isora's assent to my love would have given me an
equal transport, that she had rejected you. I uttered some advice to
you commonplace enough: it displeased you, and we separated.

That evening, to my surprise, I was privately visited by Montreuil. He
had some designs in hand which brought him from France into the
neighbourhood, but which made him desirous of concealment. He soon drew
from me my secret; it is marvellous, indeed, what power he had of
penetrating, ruling, moulding, my feelings and my thoughts. He wished,
at that time, a communication to be made and a letter to be given to
Alvarez. I could not execute this commission personally; for you had
informed me of your intention of watching if you could not discover or
meet with Barnard, and I knew you were absent from home on that very
purpose. Nor was Montreuil himself desirous of incurring the risk of
being seen by you,--you over whom, sooner or later, he then trusted to
obtain a power equal to that which he held over your brothers. Gerald
then was chosen to execute the commission. He did so; he met Alvarez
for the first and only time on the beach, by the town of------. You
saw him, and imagined you beheld the real Barnard.

But I anticipate; for you did not inform me of that occurrence, nor the
inference you drew from it, till afterwards. You returned, however,
after witnessing that meeting, and for two days your passions (passions
which, intense and fierce as mine, show that, under similar
circumstances, you might have been equally guilty) terminated in fever.
You were confined to your bed for three or four days; meanwhile I took
advantage of the event. Montreuil suggested a plan which I readily
embraced. I sought the Spaniard, and told him in confidence that you
were a suitor--but a suitor upon the most dishonourable terms--to his
daughter. I told him, moreover, that you had detected his schemes, and,
in order to deprive Isora of protection and abate any obstacles arising
from her pride, meant to betray him to the Government. I told him that
his best and most prudent, nay, his only chance of safety for Isora and
himself was to leave his present home and take refuge in the vast mazes
of the metropolis. I told him not to betray to you his knowledge of
your criminal intentions, lest it might needlessly exasperate you. I
furnished him wherewithal to repay you the sum which you had lent him,
and by which you had commenced his acquaintance; and I dictated to him
the very terms of the note in which the sum was to be inclosed. After
this I felt happy. You were separated from Isora: she might forget you;
you might forget her. I was possessed of the secret of her father's
present retreat: I might seek it at my pleasure, and ultimately--so hope
whispered--prosper in my love.

Some time afterwards you mentioned your suspicions of Gerald; I did not
corroborate, but I did not seek to destroy them. "They already hate
each other," I said; "can the hate be greater? meanwhile, let it divert
suspicion from me!" Gerald knew of the agency of the real Barnard,
though he did not know that I had assumed the name of that person. When
you taxed him with his knowledge of the man, he was naturally confused.
You interpreted that confusion into the fact of being your rival, while
in truth it arose from his belief that you had possessed yourself of his
political schemes. Montreuil, who had lurked chiefly in the islet
opposite "the Castle Cave," had returned to France on the same day that
Alvarez repaired to London. Previous to this, we had held some
conferences together upon my love. At first he had opposed and reasoned
with it; but, startled and astonished by the intensity with which it
possessed me, he gave way to my vehemence at last.

I have said that I had adopted his advice in one instance. The fact of
having received his advice,--the advice of one so pious, so free from
human passion, so devoted to one object, which appeared to him the cause
of Religion; advice, too, in a love so fiery and overwhelming, that fact
made me think myself less criminal than I had done before. He advised
me yet further. "Do not seek Isora," he said, "till some time has
elapsed; till her new-born love for your brother has died away; till the
impression of fear you have caused in her is somewhat effaced; till time
and absence, too, have done their work in the mind of Morton, and you
will no longer have for your rival one who is not only a brother, but a
man of a fierce, resolute, and unrelenting temper."

I yielded to this advice: partly because it promised so fair; partly
because I was not systematically vicious, and I wished, if possible, to
do away with our rivalship; and principally, because I knew, in the
meanwhile, that if I was deprived of her presence, so also were you; and
jealousy with me was a far more intolerable and engrossing passion than
the very love from which it sprang. So time passed on: you affected to
have conquered your attachment; you affected to take pleasure in levity
and the idlest pursuits of worldly men. I saw deeper into your heart;
for the moment I entertained the passion of love in my own breast, my
eyes became gifted with a second vision to penetrate the most mysterious
and hoarded secrets in the love of others.

Two circumstances of importance happened before you left Devereux Court
for London; the one was the introduction to your service of Jean
Desmarais, the second was your breach with Montreuil. I speak now of
the first. A very early friend did the priest possess, born in the same
village as himself and in the same rank of life; he had received a good
education and possessed natural genius. At a time when, from some fraud
in a situation of trust which he had held in a French nobleman's family,
he was in destitute and desperate circumstances, it occurred to
Montreuil to provide for him by placing him in our family. Some
accidental and frivolous remark of yours which I had repeated in my
correspondence with Montreuil as illustrative of your manner, and your
affected pursuits at that time, presented an opportunity to a plan
before conceived. Desmarais came to England in a smuggler's vessel,
presented himself to you as a servant, and was accepted. In this plan
Montreuil had two views: first, that of securing Desmarais a place in
England, tolerably profitable to himself and convenient for any plot or
scheme which Montreuil might require of him in this country; secondly,
that of setting a perpetual and most adroit spy upon all your motions.

As to the second occurrence to which I have referred; namely, your
breach with Montreuil--


Here Aubrey, with the same terrible distinctness which had characterized
his previous details and which shed a double horror over the contrast of
the darker and more frantic passages in the manuscript, related what the
reader will remember Oswald had narrated before, respecting the letter
he had brought from Madame de Balzac. It seems that Montreuil's abrupt
appearance in the hall had been caused by Desmarais, who had recognized
Oswald, on his dismounting at the gate, and had previously known that he
was in the employment of the Jansenistical _intriguante_ Madame de
Balzac.

Aubrey proceeded then to say that Montreuil, invested with far more
direct authority and power than he had been hitherto in the projects of
that wise order whose doctrines he had so darkly perverted, repaired to
London; and that, soon after my departure for the same place, Gerald and
Aubrey left Devereux Court in company with each other; but Gerald, whom
very trifling things diverted from any project, however important,
returned to Devereux Court to accomplish the prosecution of some rustic
_amour_, without even reaching London. Aubrey, on the contrary, had
proceeded to the metropolis, sought the suburb in which Alvarez lived,
procured, in order to avoid any probable chance of meeting me, a lodging
in the same obscure quarter, and had renewed his suit to Isora. The
reader is already in possession of the ill success which attended it.
Aubrey had at last confessed his real name to the father. The Spaniard
was dazzled by the prospect of so honourable an alliance for his
daughter. From both came Isora's persecution, but in both was it
resisted. Passing over passages in the manuscript of the most stormy
incoherence and the most gloomy passion, I come to what follows--


I learned then from Desmarais that you had taken away her and the dying
father, that you had placed them in a safe and honourable home. That
man, so implicitly the creature of Montreuil, or rather of his own
interest, with which Montreuil was identified, was easily induced to
betray you also to me,--me whom he imagined, moreover, utterly the tool
of the priest, and of whose torturing interest in this peculiar
disclosure he was not at that time aware. I visited Isora in her new
abode, and again and again she trembled beneath my rage. Then, for the
second time, I attempted force. Ha! ha! Morton, I think I see you
now!--I think I hear your muttered curse! Curse on! When you read this
I shall be beyond your vengeance, beyond human power. And yet I think
if I were mere clay; if I were the mere senseless heap of ashes that the
grave covers; if I were not the thing that must live forever and
forever, far away in unimagined worlds, where nought that has earth's
life can come,--I should tremble beneath the sod as your foot pressed
and your execration rang over it. A second time I attempted force; a
second time I was repulsed by the same means,--by a woman's hand and a
woman's dagger. But I knew that I had one hold over Isora from which,
while she loved you, I could never be driven: I knew that by threatening
your _life_, I could command her will and terrify her into compliance
with my own. I made her reiterate her vow of concealment; and I
discovered, by some words dropping from her fear, that she believed you
already suspected me, and had been withheld by her entreaties from
seeking me out. I questioned her more, and soon perceived that it was
(as indeed I knew before) Gerald whom you suspected, not me; but I did
not tell this to Isora. I suffered her to cherish a mistake profitable
to my disguise; but I saw at once that it might betray me, if you ever
met and conferred at length with Gerald upon this point, and I exacted
from Isora a pledge that she would effectually and forever bind you not
to breathe a single suspicion to him. When I had left the room, I
returned once more to warn her against uniting herself with you.
Wretch, selfish, accursed wretch that you were, why did you suffer her
to transgress that warning?

I fled from the house, as a fiend flies from a being whom he has
possessed. I returned at night to look up at the window, and linger by
the door, and keep watch beside the home which held Isora. Such, in her
former abode, had been my nightly wont. I had no evil thought nor foul
intent in this customary vigil,--no, not one! Strangely enough, with
the tempestuous and overwhelming emotions which constituted the greater
part of my love was mingled--though subdued and latent--a stream of the
softest, yea, I might add almost of the holiest tenderness. Often after
one of those outpourings of rage and menace and despair, I would fly to
some quiet spot and weep till all the hardness of my heart was wept
away. And often in those nightly vigils I would pause by the door and
murmur, "This shelter, denied not to the beggar and the beggar's child,
this would you deny to me if you could dream that I was so near you.
And yet, had you loved me, instead of lavishing upon me all your hatred
and your contempt,--had you loved me, I would have served and worshipped
you as man knows not worship or service. You shudder at my vehemence
now: I could not then have breathed a whisper to wound you. You tremble
now at the fierceness of my breast: you would then rather have marvelled
at its softness."

I was already at my old watch when you encountered me: you addressed me;
I answered not; you approached me, and I fled. Fled there--there was
the shame, and the sting of my sentiments towards you. I am not
naturally afraid of danger, though my nerves are sometimes weak and have
sometimes shrunk from it. I have known something of peril in late years
when my frame has been bowed and broken--perils by storms at sea, and
the knives of robbers upon land--and I have looked upon it with a quiet
eye. But you, Morton Devereux, you I always feared. I had seen from
your childhood others whose nature was far stronger than mine yield and
recoil at yours; I had seen the giant and bold strength of Gerald quail
before your bent brow; I had seen even the hardy pride of Montreuil
baffled by your curled lip and the stern sarcasm of your glance; I had
seen you, too, in your wild moments of ungoverned rage, and I knew that
if earth held one whose passions were fiercer than my own it was you.
But your passions were sustained even in their fiercest excess; your
passions were the mere weapons of your mind: my passions were the
torturers and the tyrants of mine. Your passions seconded your will;
mine blinded and overwhelmed it. From my infancy, even while I loved
you most, you awed me; and years, in deepening the impression, had made
it indelible. I could not confront the thought of your knowing all, and
of meeting you after that knowledge. And this fear, while it unnerved
me at some moments, at others only maddened my ferocity the more by the
stings of shame and self-contempt.

I fled from you: you pursued; you gained upon me; you remember how I was
preserved. I dashed through the inebriated revellers who obstructed
your path, and reached my own lodging, which was close at hand; for the
same day on which I learned Isora's change of residence I changed my own
in order to be near it. Did I feel joy for my escape? No: I could have
gnawed the very flesh from my bones in the agony of my shame. "I could
brave," I said, "I could threat, I could offer violence to the woman who
rejected me, and yet I could not face the rival for whom I am scorned!"
At that moment a resolution flashed across my mind, exactly as if a
train of living fire had been driven before it. Morton, I resolved to
murder you, and in that very hour! A pistol lay on my table; I took it,
concealed it about my person, and repaired to the shelter of a large
portico, beside which I knew that you must pass to your own home in the
same street. Scarcely three minutes had elapsed between the reaching my
house and the leaving it on this errand. I knew, for I had heard swords
clash, that you would be detained some time in the street by the
rioters; I thought it probable also that you might still continue the
search for me; and I knew even that, had you hastened at once to your
home, you could scarcely have reached it before I reached my shelter. I
hurried on; I arrived at the spot; I screened myself and awaited your
coming. You came, borne in the arms of two men; others followed in the
rear; I saw your face destitute of the hue and aspect of life, and your
clothes streaming with blood. I was horror-stricken. I joined the
crowd; I learned that you had been stabbed, and it was feared mortally.

I did not return home: no, I went into the fields, and lay out all
night, and lifted up my heart to God, and wept aloud, and peace fell
upon me,--at least, what was peace compared to the tempestuous darkness
which had before reigned in my breast. The sight of you, bleeding and
insensible,--you, against whom I had harboured a fratricide's
purpose,--had stricken, as it were, the weapon from my hand and the
madness from my mind. I shuddered at what I had escaped; I blessed God
for my deliverance; and with the gratitude and the awe came repentance;
and repentance brought a resolution to fly, since I could not wrestle
with my mighty and dread temptation: the moment that resolution was
formed, it was as if an incubus were taken from my breast. Even the
next morning I did not return home: my anxiety for you was such that I
forgot all caution; I went to your house myself; I saw one of your
servants to whom I was personally unknown. I inquired respecting you,
and learned that your wound had not been mortal, and that the servant
had overheard one of the medical attendants say you were not even in
danger.

At this news I felt the serpent stir again within me, but I resolved to
crush it at the first: I would not even expose myself to the temptation
of passing by Isora's house; I went straight in search of my horse; I
mounted, and fled resolutely from the scene of my soul's peril. "I will
go," I said, "to the home of our childhood; I will surround myself by
the mute tokens of the early love which my brother bore me; I will
think,--while penance and prayer cleanse my soul from its black
guilt,--I will think that I am also making a sacrifice to that brother."

I returned then to Devereux Court, and I resolved to forego all
hope--all persecution--of Isora! My brother--my brother, my heart
yearns to you at this moment, even though years and distance, and, above
all, my own crimes, place a gulf between us which I may never pass; it
yearns to you when I think of those quiet shades, and the scenes where,
pure and unsullied, we wandered together, when life was all verdure and
freshness, and we dreamed not of what was to come! If even now my heart
yearns to you, Morton, when I think of that home and those days, believe
that it had some softness and some mercy for you then. Yes, I repeat, I
resolved to subdue my own emotions, and interpose no longer between
Isora and yourself. Full of this determination, and utterly melted
towards you, I wrote you a long letter; such as we would have written to
each other in our first youth. Two days after that letter all my new
purposes were swept away, and the whole soil of evil thoughts which they
had covered, not destroyed, rose again as the tide flowed from it, black
and rugged as before.

The very night on which I had writ that letter, came Montreuil secretly
to my chamber. He had been accustomed to visit Gerald by stealth and at
sudden moments; and there was something almost supernatural in the
manner in which he seemed to pass from place to place, unmolested and
unseen. He had now conceived a villanous project; and he had visited
Devereux Court in order to ascertain the likelihood of its success; he
there found that it was necessary to involve me in his scheme. My
uncle's physician had said privately that Sir William could not live
many months longer. Either from Gerald or my mother Montreuil learned
this fact; and he was resolved, if possible, that, the family estates
should not glide from all chance of his influence over them into your
possession. Montreuil was literally as poor as the rigid law of his
order enjoins its disciples to be; all his schemes required the disposal
of large sums, and in no private source could he hope for such pecuniary
power as he was likely to find in the coffers of any member of our
family, yourself only excepted. It was this man's boast to want, and
yet to command, all things; and he was now determined that if any craft,
resolution, or guilt could occasion the transfer of my uncle's wealth
from you to Gerald or to myself, it should not be wanting.

Now, then, he found the advantage of the dissensions with each other
which he had either sown or mellowed in our breasts. He came to turn
those wrathful thoughts which when he last saw me I had expressed
towards you to the favor and success of his design. He found my mind
strangely altered, but he affected to applaud the change. He questioned
me respecting my uncle's health, and I told him what had really
occurred; namely, that my uncle had on the preceding day read over to me
some part of a will which he had just made, and in which the vast bulk
of his property was bequeathed to you. At this news Montreuil must have
perceived at once the necessity of winning my consent to his project;
for, since I had seen the actual testament, no fraudulent transfer of
the property therein bequeathed could take place without my knowledge
that some fraud had been recurred to. Montreuil knew me well; he knew
that avarice, that pleasure, that ambition, were powerless words with
me, producing no effect and affording no temptation: but he knew that
passion, jealousy, spiritual terrors, were the springs that moved every
part and nerve of my moral being. The two former, then, he now put into
action; the last he held back in reserve. He spoke to me no further
upon the subject he had then at heart; not a word further on the
disposition of the estates: he spoke to me only of Isora and of you; he
aroused, by hint and insinuation, the new sleep into which all those
emotions--the furies of the heart--had been for a moment lulled. He
told me he had lately seen Isora; he dwelt glowingly on her beauty; he
commended my heroism in resigning her to a brother whose love for her
was little in comparison to mine, who had, in reality, never loved
_me_,--whose jests and irony had been levelled no less at myself than at
others. He painted your person and your mind, in contrast to my own, in
colors so covertly depreciating as to irritate more and more that vanity
with which jealousy is so woven, and from which, perhaps (a Titan son of
so feeble a parent), it is born. He hung lingeringly over all the
treasure that you would enjoy and that I--I, the first discoverer, had
so nobly and so generously relinquished.

"Relinquished!" I cried, "no, I was driven from it; I left it not while
a hope of possessing it remained." The priest affected astonishment.
"How! was I sure of that? I had, it is true, wooed Isora; but would
she, even if she had felt no preference for Morton, would she have
surrendered the heir to a princely wealth for the humble love of the
younger son? I did not know women: with them all love was either
wantonness, custom, or pride; it was the last principle that swayed
Isora. Had I sought to enlist it on my side? Not at all. Again, I had
only striven to detach Isora from Morton; had I ever attempted the much
easier task of detaching Morton from Isora? No, never;" and Montreuil
repeated his panegyric on my generous surrender of my rights. I
interrupted him; I had not surrendered: I never would surrender while a
hope remained. But, where was that hope, and how was it to be
realized? After much artful prelude, the priest explained. He
proposed to use every means to array against your union with Isora all
motives of ambition, interest, and aggrandizement. "I know Morton's
character," said he, "to its very depths. His chief virtue is honour;
his chief principle is ambition. He will not attempt to win this girl
otherwise than by marriage; for the very reasons that would induce most
men to attempt it, namely, her unfriended state, her poverty, her
confidence in him, and her love, or that semblance of love which he
believes to be the passion itself. This virtue,--I call it so, though
it is none, for there is no virtue out of religion,--this virtue, then,
will place before him only two plans of conduct, either to marry her or
to forsake her. Now, then, if we can bring his ambition, that great
lever of his conduct, in opposition to the first alternative, only the
last remains: I say that we _can_ employ that engine in your behalf;
leave it to me, and I will do so. Then, Aubrey, in the moment of her
pique, her resentment, her outraged vanity, at being thus left, you
shall appear; not as you have hitherto done in menace and terror, but
soft, subdued, with looks all love, with vows all penitence; vindicating
all your past vehemence by the excess of your passion, and promising all
future tenderness by the influence of the same motive, the motive which
to a woman pardons every error and hallows every crime. Then will she
contrast your love with your brother's: then will the scale fall from
her eyes; then will she see what hitherto she has been blinded to, that
your brother, to yourself, is a satyr to Hyperion; then will she blush
and falter, and hide her cheek in your bosom." "Hold, hold!" I cried
"do with me what you will; counsel, and I will act!"


Here again the manuscript was defaced by a sudden burst of execration
upon Montreuil, followed by ravings that gradually blackened into the
most gloomy and incoherent outpourings of madness; at length the history
proceeded.


"You wrote to ask me to sound our uncle on the subject of your intended
marriage. Montreuil drew up my answer; and I constrained myself,
despite my revived hatred to you, to transcribe its expressions of
affection. My uncle wrote to you also; and we strengthened his dislike
to the step you had proposed, by hints from myself disrespectful to
Isora, and an anonymous communication dated from London and to the same
purport. All this while I knew not that Isora had been in your house;
your answer to my letter seemed to imply that you would not disobey my
uncle. Montreuil, who was still lurking in the neighbourhood and who at
night privately met or sought me, affected exultation at the incipient
success of his advice. He pretended to receive perpetual intelligence
of your motions and conduct, and he informed me now that Isora had come
to your house on hearing of your wound; that you had not (agreeably,
Montreuil added to his view of your character) taken advantage of her
indiscretion; that immediately on receiving your uncle's and my own
letters, you had separated yourself from her; and, that though you still
visited her, it was apparently with a view of breaking off all
connection by gradual and gentle steps; at all events, you had taken no
measures towards marriage.

"Now, then," said Montreuil, "for one finishing stroke, and the prize is
yours. Your uncle cannot, you find, live long: could he but be persuaded
to leave his property to Gerald or to you, with only a trifling legacy
(comparatively speaking) to Morton, that worldly-minded and enterprising
person would be utterly prevented from marrying a penniless and unknown
foreigner. Nothing but his own high prospects, so utterly above the
necessity of fortune in a wife, can excuse such a measure now, even to
his own mind; if therefore, we can effect this transfer of property, and
in the meanwhile prevent Morton from marrying, your rival is gone
forever, and with his brilliant advantages of wealth will also vanish
his merits in the eyes of Isora. Do not be startled at this thought:
there is no crime in it; I, your confessor, your tutor, the servant of
the Church, am the last person to counsel, to hint even, at what is
criminal; but the end sanctifies all means. By transferring this vast
property, you do not only insure your object, but you advance the great
cause of Kings, the Church, and of the Religion which presides over
both. Wealth, in Morton's possession, will be useless to this cause,
perhaps pernicious: in your hands or in Gerald's, it will be of
inestimable service. Wealth produced from the public should be applied
to the uses of the public, yea, even though a petty injury to one
individual be the price."

Thus, and in this manner, did Montreuil prepare my mind for the step he
meditated; but I was not yet ripe for it. So inconsistent is guilt,
that I could commit murder, wrong, almost all villany that passion
dictated, but I was struck aghast by the thought of fraud. Montreuil
perceived that I was not yet wholly his, and his next plan was to remove
me from a spot where I might check his measures. He persuaded me to
travel for a few weeks. "On your return," said he, "consider Isora
yours; meanwhile, let change of scene beguile suspense." I was passive
in his hands, and I went whither he directed.

Let me be brief here on the black fraud that ensued. Among the other
arts of Jean Desmarais, was that of copying exactly any handwriting. He
was then in London, in your service. Montrenil sent for him to come to
the neighbourhood of Devereux Court. Meanwhile, the priest had procured
from the notary who had drawn up, and who now possessed, the will of my
unsuspecting uncle, that document. The notary had been long known to,
and sometimes politically employed by, Montreuil, for he was
half-brother to that Oswald, whom I have before mentioned as the early
comrade of the priest and Desmarais. This circumstance, it is probable,
first induced Montreuil to contemplate the plan of a substituted will.
Before Desmarais arrived, in order to copy those parts of the will which
my uncle's humour had led him to write in his own hand, you, alarmed by
a letter from my uncle, came to the Court, and on the same day Sir
William (taken ill the preceding evening) died. Between that day and
the one on which the funeral occurred the will was copied by Desmarais;
only Gerald's name was substituted for yours, and the forty thousand
pounds left to him--a sum equal to that bestowed on myself--was cut down
into a legacy of twenty thousand pounds to you. Less than this
Montreuil dared not insert as the bequest to you: and it is possible
that the same regard to probabilities prevented all mention of himself
in the substituted will. This was all the alteration made. My uncle's
writing was copied exactly; and, save the departure from his apparent
intentions in your favour, I believe not a particle in the effected
fraud was calculated to excite suspicion. Immediately on the reading of
the will, Montreuil repaired to me and confessed what had taken place.

"Aubrey," he said, "I have done this for your sake partly; but I have
had a much higher end in view than even your happiness or my
affectionate wishes to promote it. I live solely for one object,--the
aggrandizement of that holy order to which I belong; the schemes of that
order are devoted only to the interests of Heaven, and by serving them I
serve Heaven itself. Aubrey, child of my adoption and of my earthly
hopes, those schemes require carnal instruments, and work, even through
Mammon, unto the goal of righteousness. What I have done is just before
God and man. I have wrested a weapon from the hand of an enemy, and
placed it in the hand of an ally. I have not touched one atom of this
wealth, though, with the same ease with which I have transferred it from
Morton to Gerald, I might have made my own private fortune. I have not
touched one atom of it; nor for you, whom I love more than any living
being, have I done what my heart dictated. I might have caused the
inheritance to pass to you. I have not done so. Why? Because then I
should have consulted a selfish desire at the expense of the interests
of mankind. Gerald is fitter to be the tool those interests require
than you are. Gerald I have made that tool. You, too, I have spared
the pangs which your conscience, so peculiarly, so morbidly acute, might
suffer at being selected as the instrument of a seeming wrong to Morton.
All required of you is silence. If your wants ever ask more than your
legacy, you have, as I have, a claim to that wealth which your pleasure
allows Gerald to possess. Meanwhile, let us secure to you that treasure
dearer to you than gold."

If Montreuil did not quite blind me by speeches of this nature, my
engrossing, absorbing passion required little to make it cling to any
hope of its fruition. I assented, therefore, though not without many
previous struggles, to Montreuil's project, or rather to its
concealment; nay, I wrote some time after, at his desire and his
dictation, a letter to you, stating feigned reasons for my uncle's
alteration of former intentions, and exonerating Gerald from all
connivance in that alteration, or abetment in the fraud you professed
that it was your open belief had been committed. This was due to
Gerald; for at that time, and for aught I know, at the present, he was
perfectly unconscious by what means he had attained his fortune: he
believed that your love for Isora had given my uncle offence, and hence
your disinheritance; and Montreuil took effectual care to exasperate him
against you, by dwelling on the malice which your suspicions and your
proceedings against him so glaringly testified. Whether Montreuil
really thought you would give over all intention of marrying Isora upon
your reverse of fortune, which is likely enough from his estimate of
your character; or whether he only wished by any means to obtain my
acquiescence in a measure important to his views, I know not, but he
never left me, nor ever ceased to sustain my fevered and unhallowed
hopes, from the hour in which he first communicated to me the fraudulent
substitution of the will till we repaired together to London. This we
did not do so long as he could detain me in the country by assurances
that I should ruin all by appearing before Isora until you had entirely
deserted her.

Morton, hitherto I have written as if my veins were filled with water,
instead of the raging fire that flows through them until it reaches my
brain, and there it stops, and eats away all things,--even memory, that
once seemed eternal! Now I feel as I approach the consummation
of--ha--of what--ay, of what? Brother, did you ever, when you thought
yourself quite alone, at night, not a breath stirring,--did you ever
raise your eyes, and see exactly opposite to you a devil?--a dread
thing, that moves not, speaks not, but glares upon you with a fixed,
dead, unrelenting eye?--that thing is before me now and witnesses every
word I write. But it deters me not! no, nor terrifies me. I have said
that I would fulfil this task, and I have nearly done it; though at
times the gray cavern yawned, and I saw its rugged walls
stretch--stretch away, on either side, until they reached hell; and
there I beheld--but I will not tell you till we meet there! Now I am
calm again: read on.

We could not discover Isora nor her home: perhaps the priest took care
that it should be so; for, at that time, what with his devilish whispers
and my own heart, I often scarcely knew what I was or what I desired;
and I sat for hours and gazed upon the air, and it seemed so soft and
still that I longed to make an opening in my forehead that it might
enter there, and so cool and quiet the dull, throbbing, scorching
anguish that lay like molten lead in my brain; at length we found the
house. "To-morrow," said the Abbe, and he shed tears over me,--for
there were times when that hard man did feel,--"to-morrow, my child,
thou shalt see her; but be soft and calm." To-morrow came; but
Montreuil was pale, paler than I had ever seen him, and he gazed upon me
and said, "Not to-day, Son, not to-day; she has gone out, and will not
return till nightfall." My brother, the evening came, and with it came
Desmarais; he came in terror and alarm. "The villain Oswald," he said,
"has betrayed all; he drew me aside and told me so. 'Hark ye, Jean,' he
whispered, 'hark ye: your master has my brother's written confession and
the real will; but I have provided for your safety, and if he pleases
it, for Montreuil's. The packet is not to be opened till the seventh
day; fly before then. But I know," added Desmarais, "where the packet
is placed;" and he took Montreuil aside, and for a while I heard not
what they said; but I did overhear Desmarais at last, and I learned that
it was your _bridal night_.

What felt I then? The same tempestuous fury,--the same whirlwind and
storm of heart that I had felt before, at the mere anticipation of such
an event? No; I felt a bright ray of joy flash through me. Yes, joy;
but it was that joy which a conqueror feels when he knows his mortal foe
is in his power and when he dooms that enemy to death. "They shall
perish, and on this night," I said inly. "I have sworn it; I swore to
Isora that the bridal couch should be stained with blood, and I will
keep the oath!" I approached the pair; they were discussing the means
for obtaining the packet. Montreuil urged Desmarais to purloin it from
the place where you had deposited it, and then to abscond; but to this
plan Desmarais was vehemently opposed. He insisted that there would be
no possible chance of his escape from a search so scrutinizing as that
which would necessarily ensue, and he evidently resolved not _alone_ to
incur the danger of the theft. "The Count," said he, "saw that I was
present when he put away the packet. Suspicion will fall solely on me.
Whither should I fly? No: I will serve you with my talents, but not
with my life." "Wretch," said Montreuil, "if that packet is opened, thy
life is already gone." "Yes," said Desmarais; "but we may yet purloin
the papers, and throw the guilt upon some other quarter. What if I
admit you when the Count is abroad? What if you steal the packet, and
carry away other articles of more seeming value? What, too, if you
wound me in the arm or the breast, and I coin some terrible tale of
robbers, and of my resistance, could we not manage then to throw
suspicion upon common housebreakers,--nay, could we not throw it upon
Oswald himself? Let us silence that traitor by death, and who shall
contradict our tale? No danger shall attend this plan. I will give you
the key of the escritoire: the theft will not be the work of a moment."
Montreuil at first demurred to this proposal, but Desmarais was, I
repeat, resolved not to incur the danger of the theft alone; the stake
was great, and it was not in Montreuil's nature to shrink from peril,
when once it became necessary to confront it. "Be it so," he said, at
last, "though the scheme is full of difficulty and of danger: be it so.
We have not a day to lose. To-morrow the Count will place the document
in some place of greater safety, and unknown to us: the deed shall be
done to-night. Procure the key of the escritoire; admit me this night;
I will steal disguised into the chamber; I will commit the act from
which you, who alone could commit it with safety, shrink. Instruct me
exactly as to the place where the articles you speak of are placed. I
will abstract them also. See that if the Count wake, he has no weapon
at hand. Wound yourself, as you say, in some place not dangerous to
life, and to-morrow, or within an hour after my escape, tell what tale
you will. I will go, meanwhile, at once to Oswald; I will either bribe
his silence--ay, and his immediate absence from England--or he shall
die. A death that secures our own self-preservation is excusable in the
reading of all law, divine or human." I heard, but they deemed me
insensible: they had already begun to grow unheeding of my presence.
Montreuil saw me, and his countenance grew soft. "I know all," I said,
as I caught his eye which looked on me in pity, "I know all: they are
married. Enough!--with my hope ceases my love: care not for me."

Montreuil embraced and spoke to me in kindness and in praise. He
assured me that you had kept your wedding so close a secret that he knew
it not, nor did even Desmarais, till the evening before,--till after he
had proposed that I should visit Isora that very day. I know not, I
care not, whether he was sincere in this. In whatever way one line in
the dread scroll of his conduct be read, the scroll was written in
guile, and in blood was it sealed. I appeared not to notice Montreuil
or his accomplice any more. The latter left the house first. Montreuil
stole forth, as he thought, unobserved; he was masked, and in complete
disguise. I, too, went forth. I hastened to a shop where such things
were procured; I purchased a mask and cloak similar to the priest's. I
had heard Montreuil agree with Desmarais that the door of the house
should be left ajar, in order to give greater facility to the escape of
the former; I repaired to the house in time to see Montreuil enter it.
A strange, sharp sort of cunning, which I had never known before, ran
through the dark confusion of my mind. I waited for a minute, till it
was likely that Montreuil had gained your chamber; I then pushed open
the door, and ascended the stairs. I met no one; the moonlight fell
around me, and its rays seemed to me like ghosts, pale and shrouded, and
gazing upon me with wan and lustreless eyes. I know not how I found
your chamber, but it was the only one I entered. I stood in the same
room with Isora and yourself: ye lay in sleep; Isora's face--O God! I
know no more--no more of that night of horror--save that I fled from the
house reeking with blood,--a murderer,--and the murderer of Isora!

Then came a long, long dream. I was in a sea of blood,--blood-red was
the sky, and one still, solitary star that gleamed far away with a
sickly and wan light was the only spot, above and around, which was not
of the same intolerable dye. And I thought my eyelids were cut off, as
those of the Roman consul are said to have been, and I had nothing to
shield my eyes from that crimson light, and the rolling waters of that
unnatural sea. And the red air burned through my eyes into my brain,
and then that also, methought, became blood; and all memory,--all images
of memory,--all idea,--wore a material shape and a material colour, and
were blood too. Everything was unutterably silent, except when my own
shrieks rang over the shoreless ocean, as I drifted on. At last I fixed
my eyes--the eyes which I might never close--upon that pale and single
star; and after I had gazed a little while, the star seemed to change
slowly--slowly--until it grew like the pale face of that murdered girl,
and then it vanished utterly, and _all_ was blood!

This vision was sometimes broken, sometimes varied by others, but it
always returned; and when at last I completely woke from it, I was in
Italy, in a convent. Montreuil had lost no time in removing me from
England. But once, shortly after my recovery, for I was mad for many
months, he visited me, and he saw what a wreck I had become. He pitied
me; and when I told him I longed above all things for liberty--for the
green earth and the fresh air, and a removal from that gloomy abode--he
opened the convent gates and blessed me, and bade me go forth. "All I
require of you," said he, "is a promise. If it be understood that you
live, you will be persecuted by inquiries and questions which will
terminate in a conviction of your crime: let it therefore be reported in
England that you are dead. Consent to the report, and promise never to
quit Italy nor to see Morton Devereux."

I promised; and that promise I have kept: but I promised not that I
would never reveal to you, in writing, the black tale which I have now
recorded. May it reach you! There is one in this vicinity who has
undertaken to bear it to you: he says he has known misery; and when he
said so, his voice sounded in my ear like yours; and I looked upon him,
and thought his features were cast somewhat in the same mould as your
own; so I have trusted him. I have now told all. I have wrenched the
secret from my heart in agony and with fear. I have told all: though
things which I believe are fiends have started forth from the grim walls
around to forbid it; though dark wings have swept by me, and talons, as
of a bird, have attempted to tear away the paper on which I write;
though eyes, whose light was never drunk from earth, have glared on me;
and mocking voices and horrible laughter have made my flesh creep, and
thrilled through the marrow of my bones,--I have told all; I have
finished my last labour in this world, and I will now lie down and die.

     AUBREY DEVEREUX.


The paper dropped from my hands. Whatever I had felt in reading it, I
had not flinched once from the task. From the first word even to the
last, I had gone through the dreadful tale, nor uttered a syllable, nor
moved a limb. And now as I rose, though I had found the being who to me
had withered this world into one impassable desert; though I had found
the unrelenting foe and the escaped murderer of Isora, the object of the
execration and vindictiveness of years,--not one single throb of wrath,
not one single sentiment of vengeance, was in my breast. I passed at
once to the bedside of my brother: he was awake, but still and
calm,--the calm and stillness of exhausted nature. I knelt down quietly
beside him. I took his hand, and I shrank not from the touch, though by
that hand the only woman I ever loved had perished.

"Look up, Aubrey!" said I, struggling with tears which, despite of my
most earnest effort, came over me; "look up: all is forgiven. Who on
earth shall withhold pardon from a crime which on earth has been so
awfully punished? Look up, Aubrey; I am your brother, and I forgive
you. You are right: my childhood was harsh and fierce; and had you
feared me less you might have confided in me, and you would not have
sinned and suffered as you have done now. Fear me no longer. Look up,
Aubrey, it is Morton who calls you. Why do you not speak? My brother,
my brother,--a word, a single word, I implore you."

For one moment did Aubrey raise his eyes, one moment did he meet mine.
His lips quivered wildly: I heard the death-rattle; he sank back, and
his hand dropped from my clasp. My words had snapped asunder the last
chord of life. Merciful Heaven! I thank Thee that those words were the
words of pardon!



CHAPTER V.

IN WHICH THE HISTORY MAKES A GREAT STRIDE TOWARDS THE FINAL
CATASTROPHE.--THE RETURN TO ENGLAND, AND THE VISIT TO A DEVOTEE.

AT night, and in the thrilling forms of the Catholic ritual, was Aubrey
Devereux consigned to earth. After that ceremony I could linger no
longer in the vicinity of the hermitage. I took leave of the Abbot and
richly endowed his convent in return for the protection it had afforded
to the anchorite, and the Masses which had been said for his soul.
Before I left Anselmo, I questioned him if any friend to the Hermit had
ever, during his seclusion, held any communication with the Abbot
respecting him. Anselmo, after a little hesitation, confessed that a
man, a Frenchman, seemingly of no high rank, had several times visited
the convent, as if to scrutinize the habits and life of the anchorite;
he had declared himself commissioned by the Hermit's relations to make
inquiry of him from time to time; but he had given the Abbot no clew to
discover himself, though Anselmo had especially hinted at the expediency
of being acquainted with some quarter to which he could direct any
information of change in the Hermit's habits or health. This man had
been last at the convent about two months before the present date; but
one of the brothers declared that he had seen him in the vicinity of the
well on the very day on which the Hermit died. The description of this
stranger was essentially different from that which would have been given
of Montreuil, but I imagined that if not the Abbe himself, the stranger
was one in his confidence or his employ.

I now repaired to Rome, where I made the most extensive though guarded
inquiries after Montreuil, and at length I learned that he was lying
concealed, or rather unnoticed, in England, under a disguised name;
having, by friends or by money, obtained therein a tacit connivance,
though not an open pardon. No sooner did I learn this intelligence,
than I resolved forthwith to depart to that country. I crossed the
Alps, traversed France, and took ship at Calais for Dover.

Behold me, then, upon the swift seas bent upon a double
purpose,--reconciliation with a brother whom I had wronged, and
vengeance,--no, not vengeance, but _justice_ against the criminal I had
discovered. No! it was not revenge: it was no infuriate, no unholy
desire of inflicting punishment upon a personal foe which possessed me;
it was a steady, calm, unwavering resolution, to obtain justice against
the profound and systematized guilt of a villain who had been the bane
of all who had come within his contact, that nerved my arm and engrossed
my heart. Bear witness, Heaven, I am not a vindictive man! I have, it
is true, been extreme in hatred as in love; but I have ever had the
power to control myself from yielding to its impulse. When the full
persuasion of Gerald's crime reigned within me, I had thralled my
emotion; I had curbed it within the circle of my own heart, though
there, thus pent and self-consuming, it was an agony and a torture; I
had resisted the voice of that blood which cried from the earth against
a murderer, and which had consigned the solemn charge of justice to my
hands. Year after year I had nursed an unappeased desire; nor ever when
it stung the most, suffered it to become an actual revenge. I had knelt
in tears and in softness by Aubrey's bed; I had poured forth my pardon
over him; I had felt, while I did so,--no, not so much sternness as
would have slain a worm. By his hand had the murderous stroke been
dealt; on his soul was the crimson stain of that blood which had flowed
through the veins of the gentlest and the most innocent of God's
creatures; and yet the blow was unavenged and the crime forgiven. For
him there was a palliative, or even a gloomy but an unanswerable excuse.
In the confession which had so terribly solved the mystery of my life,
the seeds of that curse, which had grown at last into MADNESS, might be
discovered even in the first dawn of Aubrey's existence. The latent
poison might be detected in the morbid fever of his young devotion, in
his jealous cravings of affection, in the first flush of his ill-omened
love,--even before rivalship and wrath began. Then, too, his guilt had
not been regularly organized into one cold and deliberate system: it
broke forth in impetuous starts, in frantic paroxysms; it was often
wrestled with, though by a feeble mind; it was often conquered by a
tender though a fitful temper; it might not have rushed into the last
and most awful crime, but for the damning instigation and the atrocious
craft of one, who (Aubrey rightly said) could wield and mould the
unhappy victim at his will. Might not, did I say? Nay, but for
Montreuil's accursed influence, had I not Aubrey's own word that that
crime never _would have_ been committed? He had resolved to stifle his
love,--his heart had already melted to Isora and to me,--he had already
tasted the sweets of a virtuous resolution, and conquered the first
bitterness of opposition to his passion. Why should not the resolution
thus auspiciously begun have been mellowed into effect? Why should not
the grateful and awful remembrance of the crime he had escaped continue
to preserve him from meditating crime anew? And (oh, thought, which,
while I now write, steals over me and brings with it an unutterable
horde of emotions!) but for that all-tainting, all-withering influence,
Aubrey's soul might at this moment have been pure from murder and
Isora--the living Isora--by my side!

What wonder, as these thoughts came over me, that sense, feeling,
reason, gradually shrank and hardened into one stern resolve? I looked
as from a height over the whole conduct of Montreuil. I saw him in our
early infancy with no definite motive (beyond the general policy of
intrigue), no fixed design, which might somewhat have lessened the
callousness of the crime, not only fomenting dissensions in the hearts
of brothers; not only turning the season of warm affections, and yet of
unopened passion, into strife and rancour, but seizing upon the inherent
and reigning vice of our bosoms, which he should have seized to crush,
in order only by that master-vice to weave our characters, and sway our
conduct to his will, whenever a cool-blooded and merciless policy
required us to be of that will the minions and the tools. Thus had he
taken hold of the diseased jealousy of Aubrey, and by that handle,
joined to the latent spring of superstition, guided him on his wretched
course of misery and guilt. Thus, by a moral irresolution in Gerald had
he bowed him also to his purposes, and by an infantine animosity between
that brother and myself, held us both in a state of mutual hatred which
I shuddered to recall. Readily could I now perceive that my charges or
my suspicions against Gerald, which, in ordinary circumstances, he might
have dispassionately come forward to disprove, had been represented to
him by Montreuil in the light of groundless and wilful insults; and thus
he had been led to scorn that full and cool explanation which, if it had
not elucidated the mystery of my afflictions, would have removed the
false suspicion of guilt from himself and the real guilt of wrath and
animosity from me.

The crime of the forged will, and the outrage to the dead and to myself,
was a link in his woven guilt which I regarded the least. I looked
rather to the black and the consummate craft by which Aubrey had been
implicated in that sin; and my indignation became mixed with horror when
I saw Montreuil working to that end of fraud by the instigation not only
of a guilty and unlawful passion, but of the yet more unnatural and
terrific engine of _frenzy_,--of a maniac's despair. Over the peace,
the happiness, the honour, the virtue of a whole family, through fraud
and through blood, this priest had marched onward to the goal of his icy
and heartless ambition, unrelenting and unrepenting; "but not," I said,
as I clenched my hand till the nails met in the flesh, "not forever
unchecked and unrequited!"

But in what manner was justice to be obtained? A public court of law?
What! drag forward the deep dishonour of my house, the gloomy and
convulsive history of my departed brother, his crime and his insanity?
What! bring that history, connected as it was with the fate of Isora,
before the curious and the insolent gaze of the babbling world? Bare
that awful record to the jests, to the scrutiny, the marvel and the
pity, of that most coarse of all tribunals,--an English court of law?
and that most torturing of all exposures,--the vulgar comments of an
English public? Could I do this? Yea, in the sternness of my soul, I
felt that I could submit even to that humiliation, if no other way
presented itself by which I could arrive at justice. _Was_ there no
other way?--at that question conjecture paused: I formed no scheme, or
rather, I formed a hundred and rejected them all; my mind settled, at
last, into an indistinct, unquestioned, but prophetic resolution, that,
whenever my path crossed Montreuil's, it should be to his destruction.
I asked not how, nor when, the blow was to be dealt; I felt only a
solemn and exultant certainty that, whether it borrowed the sword of the
law, or the weapon of private justice, _mine_ should be the hand which
brought retribution to the ashes of the dead and the agony of the
survivor.

So soon as my mind had subsided into this determination, I suffered my
thoughts to dwell upon subjects less sternly agitating. Fondly did I
look forward to a meeting with Gerald, and a reconciliation of all our
early and most frivolous disputes. As an atonement for the injustice my
suspicions had done him, I resolved not to reclaim my inheritance. My
fortune was already ample; and all that I cared to possess of the
hereditary estates were the ruins of the old house and the copses of the
surrounding park: these Gerald would in all likelihood easily yield to
me; and with the natural sanguineness of my temperament, I already
planned the reconstruction of the ancient building, and the method of
that solitary life in which I resolved that the remainder of my years
should be spent.

Turning from this train of thought, I recurred to the mysterious and
sudden disappearance of Oswald: _that_ I was now easily able to account
for. There could be no doubt but that Montreuil had (immediately after
the murder), as he declared he would, induced Oswald to quit England,
and preserve silence, either by bribery or by threats. And when I
recalled the impression which the man had made upon me,--an impression
certainly not favourable to the elevation or the rigid honesty of his
mind,--I could not but imagine that one or the other of these means
Montreuil found far from difficult of success. The delirious fever into
which the wounds and the scene of that night had thrown me, and the long
interval that consequently elapsed before inquiry was directed to
Oswald, gave him every opportunity and indulgence in absenting himself
from the country, and it was not improbable that he had accompanied
Aubrey to Italy.

Here I paused, in deep acknowledgment of the truth of Aubrey's
assertion, that "under similar circumstances I might perhaps have been
equally guilty." My passions had indeed been "intense and fierce as his
own;" and there was a dread coincidence in the state of mind into which
each of us had been thrown by the event of that night, which made the
epoch of a desolated existence to both of us; if mine had been but a
passing delirium, and his a confirmed and lasting disease of the
intellect, the causes of our malady had been widely different. He had
been the criminal; I, only the sufferer.

Thus, as I leaned over the deck and the waves bore me homeward, after so
many years and vicissitudes, did the shadows of thought and memory flit
across me. How seemingly apart, yet how closely linked, had been the
great events in my wandering and wild life! My early acquaintance with
Bolingbroke, whom for more than nine years I had not seen, and who, at a
superficial glance, would seem to have exercised influence over my
public rather than my private life,--how secretly, yet how powerfully,
had that circumstance led even to the very thoughts which now possessed
me, and to the very object on which I was now bound. But for that
circumstance I might not have learned of the retreat of Don Diego
d'Alvarez in his last illness; I might never have renewed my love to
Isora; and whatever had been her fate, destitution and poverty would
have been a less misfortune than her union with me. But for my
friendship for Bolingbroke, I might not have visited France, nor gained
the favour of the Regent, nor the ill offices of Dubois, nor the
protection and kindness of the Czar. I might never have been ambassador
at the court of------, nor met with Bezoni, nor sought an asylum for a
spirit sated with pomp and thirsting for truth, at the foot of the
Apennines, nor read that history (which, indeed, might then never have
occurred) that now rankled at my heart, urging my movements and
colouring my desires. Thus, by the finest but the strongest meshes had
the thread of my political honours been woven with that of my private
afflictions. And thus, even at the licentious festivals of the Regent
of France, or the lifeless parade of the court of------, the dark
stream of events had flowed onward beneath my feet, bearing me
insensibly to that very spot of time from which I now surveyed the past
and looked upon the mist and shadows of the future.

Adverse winds made the little voyage across the Channel a business of
four days. On the evening of the last we landed at Dover. Within
thirty miles of that town was my mother's retreat; and I resolved,
before I sought a reconciliation with Gerald or justice against
Montreuil, to visit her seclusion. Accordingly, the next day I repaired
to her abode.

What a contrast is there between the lives of human beings! Considering
the beginning and the end of all mortal careers are the same, how
wonderfully is the interval varied! Some, the weeds of the world,
dashed from shore to shore,--all vicissitude, enterprise, strife,
disquiet; others, the world's lichen, rooted to some peaceful rock,
growing, flourishing, withering on the same spot,--scarce a feeling
expressed, scarce a sentiment called forth, scarce a tithe of the
properties of their very nature expanded into action.

There was an air of quiet and stillness in the red quadrangular
building, as my carriage stopped at its porch, which struck upon me,
like a breathing reproach to those who sought the abode of peace with
feelings opposed to the spirit of the place. A small projecting porch
was covered with ivy, and thence issued an aged portress in answer to my
summons.

"The Countess Devereux," said she, "is now the superior of this society
[convent they called it not], and rarely admits any stranger."

I gave in my claim to admission, and was ushered into a small parlour:
all there, too, was still,--the brown oak wainscoting, the huge chairs,
the few antique portraits, the _uninhabited_ aspect of the chamber,--all
were silently eloquent of quietude, but a quietude comfortless and
sombre. At length my mother appeared. I sprang forward: my childhood
was before me,--years, care, change were forgotten,--I was a boy
again,--I sprang forward, and was in my mother's embrace! It was long
before, recovering myself, I noted how lifeless and chill was that
embrace, but I did so at last, and my enthusiasm withered at once.

We sat down together, and conversed long and uninterruptedly, but our
conversation was like that of acquaintances, not the fondest and closest
of all relations (for I need scarcely add that I told her not of my
meeting with Aubrey, nor undeceived her with respect to the date of his
death). Every monastic recluse that I had hitherto seen, even in the
most seeming content with retirement, had loved to converse of the
exterior world, and had betrayed an interest in its events: for my
mother only, worldly objects and interests seemed utterly dead. She
expressed little surprise to see me,--little surprise at my alteration;
she only said that my mien was improved, and that I reminded her of my
father: she testified no anxiety to hear of my travels or my adventures;
she testified even no willingness to speak of herself; she described to
me the life of one day, and then said that the history of ten years was
told. A close cap confined all the locks for whose rich luxuriance and
golden hue she had once been noted,--for here they were not the victim
of a vow, as in a nunnery they would have been,--and her dress was
plain, simple, and unadorned. Save these alterations of attire, none
were visible in her exterior: the torpor of her life seemed to have
paralyzed even time; the bloom yet dwelt in her unwrinkled cheek; the
mouth had not fallen; the faultless features were faultless still. But
there was a deeper stillness than ever breathing through this frame: it
was as if the soul had been lulled to sleep; her mien was lifeless; her
voice was lifeless; her gesture was lifeless; the impression she
produced was like that of entering some chamber which has not been
entered before for a century. She consented to my request to stay with
her all the day: a bed was prepared for me; and at sunrise the next
morning I was folded once more in the chilling mechanism of her embrace,
and dismissed on my journey to the metropolis.



CHAPTER VI.

THE RETREAT OF A CELEBRATED MAN, AND A VISIT TO A GREAT POET.

I ARRIVED in town, and drove at once to Gerald's house. It was not
difficult to find it, for in my young day it had been the residence of
the Duke of------; and wealthy as I knew was the owner of the Devereux
lands, I was somewhat startled at the extent and the magnificence of his
palace. To my inexpressible disappointment, I found that Gerald had
left London a day or two before my arrival on a visit to a nobleman
nearly connected with our family, and residing in the same county as
that in which Devereux Court was situated. Since the fire, which had
destroyed all of the old house but the one tower which I had considered
as peculiarly my own, Gerald, I heard, had always, in visiting his
estates, taken up his abode at the mansion of one or other of his
neighbours; and to Lord ------'s house I now resolved to repair. My
journey was delayed for a day or two, by accidentally seeing at the door
of the hotel, to which I drove from Gerald's house, the favourite
servant of Lord Bolingbroke.

This circumstance revived in me, at once, all my attachment to that
personage, and hearing he was at his country house, within a few miles
from town, I resolved the next morning to visit him. It was not only
that I contemplated with an eager yet a melancholy interest an interview
with one whose blazing career I had long watched, and whose letters (for
during the years we had been parted he wrote to me often) seemed to
testify the same satiety of the triumphs and gauds of ambition which had
brought something of wisdom to myself; it was not only that I wished to
commune with that Bolingbroke in retirement whom I had known the oracle
of statesmen and the pride of courts; nor even that I loved the man, and
was eager once more to embrace him. A fiercer and more active motive
urged me to visit one whose knowledge of all men and application of
their various utilities were so remarkable, and who even in his present
peace and retirement would not improbably be acquainted with the abode
of that unquiet and plotting ecclesiastic whom I now panted to discover,
and whom Bolingbroke had of old often guided or employed.

When my carriage stopped at the statesman's door, I was informed that
Lord Bolingbroke was at his farm. Farm! how oddly did that word sound
in my ear, coupled as it was with the name of one so brilliant and so
restless!

I asked the servant to direct me where I should find him, and, following
the directions, I proceeded to the search alone. It was a day towards
the close of autumn, bright, soft, clear, and calm as the decline of a
vigorous and genial age. I walked slowly through a field robbed of its
golden grain, and as I entered another I saw the object of my search.
He had seemingly just given orders to a person in a labourer's dress,
who was quitting him, and with downcast eyes he was approaching towards
me. I noted how slow and even was the pace which, once stately, yet
rapid and irregular, had betrayed the haughty but wild character of his
mind. He paused often, as if in thought, and I observed that once he
stopped longer than usual, and seemed to gaze wistfully on the ground.
Afterwards (when I had joined him) we passed that spot, and I remarked,
with a secret smile, that it contained one of those little mounds in
which that busy and herded tribe of the insect race, which have been
held out to man's social state at once as a mockery and a model, held
their populous home. There seemed a latent moral in the pause and watch
of the disappointed statesman by that mound, which afforded a clew to
the nature of his reflections.

He did not see me till I was close before him, and had called him by his
name, nor did he at first recognize me, for my garb was foreign, and my
upper lip unshaven; and, as I said before, years had strangely altered
me; but when he did, he testified all the cordiality I had anticipated.
I linked my arm in his, and we walked to and fro for hours, talking of
all that had passed since and before our parting, and feeling our hearts
warm to each other as we talked.

"The last time I saw you," said he, "how widely did our hopes and
objects differ! Yours from my own: you seemingly had the
vantage-ground, but it was an artificial eminence, and my level state,
though it appeared less tempting, was more secure. I had just been
disgraced by a misguided and ungrateful prince. I had already gone into
a retirement where my only honours were proportioned to my fortitude in
bearing condemnation, and my only flatterer was the hope of finding a
companion and a Mentor in myself. You, my friend, parted with life
before you; and you only relinquished the pursuit of Fortune at one
court, to meet her advances at another. Nearly ten years have flown
since that time: my situation is but little changed; I am returned, it
is true, to my native soil, but not to a soil more indulgent to ambition
and exertion than the scene of my exile. My sphere of action is still
shut from me: _my mind is still banished_.* You return young in years,
but full of successes. Have they brought you happiness, Devereux? or
have you yet a temper to envy my content?"


* I need scarcely remind the reader that Lord Bolingbroke, though he had
received a full pardon, was forbidden to resume his seat in the House of
Lords.--ED.


"Alas!" said I, "who can bear too close a search beneath the mask and
robe? Talk not of me now. It is ungracious for the fortunate to
repine; and I reserve whatever may disquiet me within for your future
consolation and advice. At present speak to me of yourself: you are
happy, then?"

"I am!" said Bolingbroke, emphatically. "Life seems to me to possess
two treasures: one glittering and precarious; the other of less rich a
show, but of a more solid value. The one is Power, the other Virtue;
and there is this main difference between the two,--Power is intrusted
to us as a loan ever required again, and with a terrible arrear of
interest; Virtue obtained by us as a _boon_ which we can only lose
through our own folly, when once it is acquired. In my youth I was
caught by the former; hence my errors and my misfortunes! In my
declining years I have sought the latter; hence my palliatives and my
consolation. But you have not seen my home, and _all_ its attractions,"
added Bolingbroke, with a smile which reminded me of his former self.
"I will show them to you." And we turned our steps to the house.

As we walked thither I wondered to find how little melancholy was the
change Bolingbroke had undergone. Ten years, which bring man from his
prime to his decay, had indeed left their trace upon his stately form,
and the still unrivalled beauty of his noble features; but the manner
gained all that the form had lost. In his days of more noisy greatness,
there had been something artificial and unquiet in the sparkling
alternations he had loved to adopt. He had been too fond of changing
wisdom by a quick turn into wit,--too fond of the affectation of
bordering the serious with the gay, business with pleasure. If this had
not taken from the polish of his manner, it had diminished its dignity
and given it the air of being assumed and insincere. Now all was quiet,
earnest, and impressive; there was tenderness even in what was
melancholy: and if there yet lingered the affectation of blending the
classic character with his own, the character was more noble and the
affectation more unseen. But this manner was only the faint mirror of a
mind which, retaining much of its former mould, had been embellished and
exalted by adversity, and which if it banished not its former faculties,
had acquired a thousand new virtues to redeem them.

"You see," said my companion, pointing to the walls of the hall, which
we had now entered, "the subject which at present occupies the greater
part of my attention. I am meditating how to make the hall most
illustrative of its owner's pursuits. You see the desire of improving,
of creating, and of associating the improvement and the creation with
ourselves, follows us banished men even to our seclusion. I think of
having those walls painted with the implements of husbandry, and through
pictures of spades and ploughshares to express my employments and
testify my content in them."

"Cincinnatus is a better model than Aristippus: confess it," said I,
smiling. "But if the senators come hither to summon you to power, will
you resemble the Roman, not only in being found at your plough, but in
your reluctance to leave it, and your eagerness to return?"

"What shall I say to you?" replied Bolingbroke. "Will you play the
cynic if I answer _no_? We _should not_ boast of despising power, when
of use to others, but of being contented to live without it. This is
the end of my philosophy! But let me present you to one whom I value
more now than I valued power at any time."

As he said this, Bolingbroke threw open the door of an apartment, and
introduced me to a lady with whom he had found that domestic happiness
denied him in his first marriage. The niece of Madame de Maintenon,
this most charming woman possessed all her aunt's wit, and far more than
all her aunt's beauty.* She was in weak health; but her vivacity was
extreme, and her conversation just what should be the conversation of a
woman who shines without striving for it.


* T am not ashamed to say to you that I admire her more every hour of my
life.--Letter from Lord Bolingbroke to Swift.

Bolingbroke loved her to the last; and perhaps it is just to a man so
celebrated for his gallantries to add that this beautiful and
accomplished woman seems to have admired and esteemed as much as she
loved him.--ED.


The business on which I was bound only allowed me to stay two days with
Bolingbroke, and this I stated at first, lest he should have dragged me
over his farm.

"Well," said my host, after vainly endeavouring to induce me to promise
a longer stay, "if you can only give us two days, I must write and
excuse myself to a great man with whom I was to dine to-day. Yet, if it
were not so inhospitable, I should like much to carry you with me to his
house; for I own that I wish you to see my companions, and to learn that
if I still consult the oracles, they are less for the predictions of
fortune than as the inspirations of the god."

"Ah!" said Lady Bolingbroke, who spoke in French, "I know whom you
allude to. Give him my homage, and assure him, when he next visits us,
we will appoint six _dames du palais_ to receive and pet him."

Upon this I insisted upon accompanying Bolingbroke to the house of so
fortunate a being, and he consented to my wish with feigned reluctance,
but evident pleasure.

"And who," said I to Lady Bolingbroke, "is the happy object of so much
respect?"

Lady Bolingbroke answered, laughing, that nothing was so pleasant as
suspense, and that it would be cruel in her to deprive me of it; and we
conversed with so much zest that it was not till Bolingbroke had left
the room for some moments that I observed he was not present. I took
the opportunity to remark that I was rejoiced to find him so happy and
with such just cause for happiness.

"He is happy, though at times he is restless. How, chained to this oar,
can he be otherwise?" answered Lady Bolingbroke, with a sigh; "but his
friends," she added, "who most enjoy his retirement, must yet lament it.
His genius is not wasted here, it is true: where could it be wasted?
But who does not feel that it is employed in too confined a sphere? And
yet--" and I saw a tear start to her eye--"I, at least, ought not to
repine. I should lose the best part of my happiness if there was
nothing I could console him for."

"Believe me," said I, "I have known Bolingbroke in the zenith of his
success; but never knew him so worthy of congratulation as now!"

"Is that flattery to him or to me?" said Lady Bolingbroke, smiling
archly, for her smiles were quick successors to her tears.

"_Detur digniori_!" answered I; "but you must allow that, though it is a
fine thing to have all that the world can give, it is still better to
gain something that the world cannot take away?"

"Are you also a philosopher?" cried Lady Bolingbroke, gayly. "Ah, poor
me! In my youth, my portion was the cloister;* in my later years I am
banished to _the porch_! You have no conception, Monsieur Devereux,
what wise faces and profound maxims we have here, especially as all who
come to visit my lord think it necessary to quote Tully, and talk of
solitude as if it were a heaven! _Les pauvres bons gens_! they seem a
little surprised when Henry receives them smilingly, begs them to
construe the Latin, gives them good wine, and sends them back to London
with faces half the length they were on their arrival. _Mais voici,
Monsieur, le fermier philosophe!_"


* She was brought up at St. Cyr.--ED.


And Bolingbroke entering, I took my leave of this lively and interesting
lady and entered his carriage.

As soon as we were seated, he pressed me for my reasons for refusing to
prolong my visit. As I thought they would be more opportune after the
excursion of the day was over, and as, in truth, I was not eager to
relate them, I begged to defer the narration till our return to his
house at night, and then I directed the conversation into a new channel.

"My chief companion," said Bolingbroke, after describing to me his
course of life, "is the man you are about to visit. He has his
frailties and infirmities,--and in saying that, I only imply that he is
human,--but he is wise, reflective, generous, and affectionate; add
these qualities to a dazzling wit, and a genius deep, if not sublime,
and what wonder that we forget something of vanity and something of
fretfulness,--effects rather of the frame than of the mind. The wonder
only is that, with a body the victim to every disease, crippled and
imbecile from the cradle, his frailties should not be more numerous, and
his care, his thoughts, and attentions not wholly limited to his own
complaints. For the sickly are almost of necessity selfish; and that
mind must have a vast share of benevolence which can always retain the
softness of charity and love for others, when pain and disease
constitute the morbid links that perpetually bind it to self. If this
great character is my chief companion, my chief correspondent is not
less distinguished; in a word, no longer to keep you in suspense, Pope
is my companion and Swift my correspondent."

"You are fortunate, but so also are they. Your letter informed me of
Swift's honourable exile in Ireland: how does he bear it?"

"Too feelingly: his disappointments turn his blood to acid. He said,
characteristically enough, in one of his letters, that in fishing once
when he was a little boy, he felt a great fish at the end of his line,
which he drew up almost to the ground, but it dropped in, and the
disappointment, he adds, vexes him to this day, and he believes it to be
the type of all his future disappointments:* it is wonderful how
reluctantly a very active mind sinks into rest."


* In this letter Swift adds, "I should be ashamed to say this if you
[Lord Bolingbroke] had not a spirit fitter to bear your own misfortunes
than I have to think of them;" and this is true. Nothing can be more
striking, or more honourable to Lord Bolingbroke, than the contrast
between Swift's letters and that nobleman's upon the subject of their
mutual disappointments. I especially note the contrast, because it has
been so grievously the cant of Lord Bolingbroke's decriers to represent
his affection for retirement as hollow, and his resignation in adversity
as a boast rather than a fact. Now I will challenge any one
_thoroughly_ and dispassionately to examine what is left to us of the
life of this great man, and after having done so, to select from all
modern history an example of one who, in the prime of life and height of
ambition, ever passed from a very active and exciting career into
retirement and disgrace, and bore the change--long, bitter, and
permanent as it was--with a greater and more thoroughly sustained
magnanimity than did Lord Bolingbroke. He has been reproached for
taking part in political contests in the midst of his praises and
"affected enjoyment" of retirement; and this, made matter of reproach,
is exactly the subject on which he seems to me the _most_ worthy of
praise. For, putting aside all motives for action, on the purity of
which men are generally incredulous, as a hatred to ill government (an
antipathy wonderfully strong in wise men, and wonderfully weak in
fools), the honest impulse of the citizen, and the better and higher
sentiment, to which Bolingbroke appeared peculiarly alive, of affection
to mankind,--putting these utterly aside,--it must be owned that
resignation is the more noble in proportion as it is the less passive;
that retirement is only a morbid selfishness if it prohibit exertions
for others; that it is only really dignified and noble when it is the
shade whence issue the oracles that are to instruct mankind; and that
retirement of this nature is the sole seclusion which a good and wise
man will covet or commend. The very philosophy which makes such a man
seek the _quiet_, makes him eschew the _inutility_ of the hermitage.
Very little praiseworthy to me would have seemed Lord Bolingbroke among
his haymakers and ploughmen, if among haymakers and ploughmen he had
looked with an indifferent eye upon a profligate Minister and a venal
parliament; very little interest in my eyes would have attached itself
to his beans and vetches, had beans and vetches caused him to forget
that if he was happier in a farm, he could be more useful in a senate,
and made him forego, in the sphere of a bailiff, all care for
re-entering that of a legislator.--ED.


"Yet why should retirement be rest? Do you recollect in the first
conversation we ever had together, we talked of Cowley? Do you
recollect how justly, and even sublimely, he has said, 'Cogitation is
that which distinguishes the solitude of a God from that of a wild
beast'?"

"It is finely said," answered Bolingbroke; "but Swift was born not for
cogitation but action; for turbulent times, not for calm. He ceases to
be great directly he is still; and his bitterness at every vexation is
so great that I have often thought, in listening to him, of the Abbe de
Cyran, who, attempting to throw nutshells out of the bars of his window,
and constantly failing in the attempt, exclaimed in a paroxysm of rage,
'Thus does Providence delight in frustrating my designs!'"

"But you are fallen from a far greater height of hope than Swift could
ever have attained: you bear this change well, but not _I hope_ without
a struggle."

"You are right,--_not_ without a struggle; while corruption thrives, I
will not be silent; while bad men govern, I will not be still."

In conversation of this sort passed the time, till we arrived at Pope's
villa.

We found the poet in his study,--indued, as some of his pictures
represent him, in a long gown and a velvet cap. He received Bolingbroke
with great tenderness, and being, as he said, in robuster health than he
had enjoyed for months, he insisted on carrying us to his grotto. I
know nothing more common to poets than a pride in what belongs to their
houses; and perhaps to a man not ill-natured, there are few things more
pleasant than indulging the little weaknesses of those we admire. We
sat down in a small temple made entirely of shells; and whether it was
that the Creative Genius gave an undue charm to the place, I know not:
but as the murmur of a rill, glassy as the Blandusian fountain, was
caught, and re-given from side to side by a perpetual echo, and through
an arcade of trees, whose leaves, ever and anon, fell startingly to the
ground beneath the light touch of the autumn air; as you saw the sails
on the river pass and vanish, like the cares which breathe over the
smooth glass of wisdom, but may not linger to dim it, it was not
difficult to invest the place, humble as it was, with a classic
interest, or to recall the loved retreats of the Roman bards, without
smiling too fastidiously at the contrast.


   "Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen,
    Within thy airy shell,
   By slow Meander's margin green,
    Or by the violet embroidered vale
   Where the lovelorn nightingale
   Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
    Sweet Echo, dost thou shun those haunts of yore,
    And in the dim caves of a northern shore
     Delight to dwell!"


"Let the compliment to you, Pope," said Bolingbroke, "atone for the
profanation of weaving three wretched lines of mine with those most
musical notes of Milton."

"Ah!" said Pope, "would that you could give me a fitting inscription for
my fount and grotto! The only one I can remember is hackneyed, and yet
it has spoilt me, I fear, for all others.


   "'Hujus Nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis
     Dormio dum blandae sentio murmur aquae;
    Parce meum, quisquis tanges cava marmora, somnum
     Rumpere; sive bibas, sive lavere, tace.'"*


* Thus very inadequately translated by Pope (see his Letter to Edward
Blount, Esq., descriptive of his grotto):--

   "Nymph of the grot, these sacred springs I keep,
   And to the murmur of these waters sleep:
   Ah, spare my slumbers; gently tread the cave,
   And drink in silence, or in silence lave."

It is, however, quite impossible to convey to an unlearned reader the
exquisite and spirit-like beauty of the Latin verses.--ED.


"We cannot hope to match it," said Bolingbroke, "though you know I value
myself on these things. But tell me your news of Gay: is he growing
wiser?"

"Not a whit; he is forever a dupe to the _spes credula_; always talking
of buying an annuity, that he may be independent, and always spending as
fast as he earns, that he may appear munificent."

"Poor Gay! but he is a common example of the improvidence of his tribe,
while you are an exception. Yet mark, Devereux, the inconsistency of
Pope's thrift and carelessness: he sends a parcel of fruit to some
ladies with this note, 'Take care of the papers that wrap the apples,
and return them safely; they are the only copies I have of one part of
the Iliad.' Thus, you see, our economist saves his paper, and hazards
his epic!"

Pope, who is always flattered by an allusion to his negligence of fame,
smiled slightly and answered, "What man, alas, ever profits by the
lessons of his friends? How many exact rules has our good Dean of St.
Patrick laid down for both of us; how angrily still does he chide us for
our want of prudence and our love of good living! I intend, in answer
to his charges on the latter score, though I vouch, as I well may, for
our temperance, to give him the reply of the sage to the foolish
courtier--"

"What was that?" asked Bolingbroke.

"Why, the courtier saw the sage picking out the best dishes at table.
'How,' said he with a sneer, 'are sages such epicures?'--'Do you think,
Sir,' replied the wise man, reaching over the table to help himself, 'do
you think, Sir, that the Creator made the good things of this world only
for fools?'"

"How the Dean will pish and pull his wig when he reads your
illustration," said Bolingbroke, laughing. "We shall never agree in our
reasonings on that part of philosophy. Swift loves to go out of his way
to find privation or distress, and has no notion of Epicurean wisdom;
for my part, I think the use of knowledge is to make us happier. I
would compare the mind to the beautiful statue of Love by Praxiteles.
When its eyes were bandaged the countenance seemed grave and sad, but
the moment you removed the bandage the most serene and enchanting smile
diffused itself over the whole face."

So passed the morning till the hour of dinner, and this repast was
served with an elegance and luxury which the sons of Apollo seldom
command.* As the evening closed, our conversation fell upon friendship,
and the increasing disposition towards it which comes with increasing
years. "Whilst my mind," said Bolingbroke, "shrinks more and more from
the world, and feels in its independence less yearning to external
objects, the ideas of friendship return oftener,--they busy me, they
warm me more. Is it that we grow more tender as the moment of our great
separation approaches? or is it that they who are to live together in
another state (for friendship exists not but for the good) begin to feel
more strongly that divine sympathy which is to be the great bond of
their future society?"**


* Pope seems to have been rather capricious in this respect; but in
general he must be considered open to the sarcasm of displaying the
bounteous host to those who did not want a dinner, and the niggard to
those who did.--ED.


** This beautiful sentiment is to be found, with very slight alteration,
in a letter from Bolingbroke to Swift.--ED.


While Bolingbroke was thus speaking, and Pope listened with all the love
and reverence which he evidently bore to his friend stamped upon his
worn but expressive countenance, I inly said, "Surely, the love between
minds like these should live and last without the changes that ordinary
affections feel! Who would not mourn for the strength of all human
ties, if hereafter these are broken, and asperity succeed to friendship,
or aversion to esteem? _I_, a wanderer, without heir to my memory and
wealth, shall pass away, and my hasty and unmellowed fame will moulder
with my clay; but will the names of those whom I now behold ever fall
languidly on the ears of a future race, and will there not forever be
some sympathy with their friendship, softer and warmer than admiration
for their fame?"

We left our celebrated host about two hours before midnight, and
returned to Dawley.

On our road thither I questioned Bolingbroke respecting Montreuil, and I
found that, as I had surmised, he was able to give me some information
of that arch-schemer. Gerald's money and hereditary influence had
procured tacit connivance at the Jesuit's residence in England, and
Montreuil had for some years led a quiet and unoffending life in close
retirement. "Lately, however," said Bolingbroke, "I have learned that
the old spirit has revived, and I accidentally heard three days ago,
when conversing with one well informed on state matters, that this most
pure administration has discovered some plot or plots with which
Montreuil is connected; I believe he will be apprehended in a few days."

"And where lurks he?"

"He was, I heard, last seen in the neighbourhood of your brother's
property at Devereux Court, and I imagine it probable that he is still
in that neighbourhood."

This intelligence made me resolve to leave Dawley even earlier than I
had intended, and I signified to Lord Bolingbroke my intention of
quitting him by sunrise the next morning. He endeavoured in vain to
combat my resolution. I was too fearful lest Montreuil, hearing of his
danger from the state, might baffle my vengeance by seeking some
impenetrable asylum, to wish to subject my meeting with him and with
Gerald, whose co-operation I desired, to any unnecessary delay. I took
leave of my host therefore that night, and ordered my carriage to be in
readiness by the first dawn of morning.



CHAPTER VII.

THE PLOT APPROACHES ITS DENOUEMENT.

ALTHOUGH the details of my last chapter have somewhat retarded the
progress of that _denouement_ with which this volume is destined to
close, yet I do not think the destined reader will regret lingering over
a scene in which, after years of restless enterprise and exile, he
beholds the asylum which fortune had prepared for the most extraordinary
character with which I have adorned these pages.

It was before daybreak that I commenced my journey. The shutters of the
house were as yet closed; the gray mists rising slowly from the earth,
and the cattle couched beneath the trees, the cold but breezeless
freshness of the morning, the silence of the unawakened birds, all gave
an inexpressible stillness and quiet to the scene. The horses slowly
ascended a little eminence, and I looked from the window of the carriage
on the peaceful retreat I had left. I sighed as I did so, and a sick
sensation, coupled with the thought of Isora, came chill upon my heart.
No man happily placed in this social world can guess the feelings of
envy with which a wanderer like me, without tie or home, and for whom
the roving eagerness of youth is over, surveys those sheltered spots in
which the breast garners up all domestic bonds, its household and
holiest delights; the companioned hearth, the smile of infancy, and,
dearer than all, the eye that glasses our purest, our tenderest, our
most secret thoughts; these--oh, none who enjoy them know how they for
whom they are not have pined and mourned for them!

I had not travelled many hours, when, upon the loneliest part of the
road, my carriage, which had borne me without an accident from Rome to
London, broke down. The postilions said there was a small inn about a
mile from the spot; thither I repaired: a blacksmith was sent for, and I
found the accident to the carriage would require several hours to
repair. No solitary chaise did the inn afford; but the landlord, who
was a freeholder and a huntsman, boasted one valuable and swift horse,
which he declared was fit for an emperor or a highwayman. I was too
impatient of delay not to grasp at this intelligence. I gave mine host
whatever he demanded for the loan of his steed, transferred my pistols
to an immense pair of holsters, which adorned a high demi-pique saddle,
wherewith he obliged me, and, within an hour from the date of the
accident, recommenced my journey.

The evening closed, as I became aware of the presence of a
fellow-traveller. He was, like myself, on horseback. He wore a short,
dark gray cloak, a long wig of a raven hue, and a large hat, which,
flapping over his face, conspired, with the increasing darkness, to
allow me a very imperfect survey of his features. Twice or thrice he
had passed me, and always with some salutation, indicative of a desire
for further acquaintance; but my mood is not naturally too much inclined
to miscellaneous society, and I was at that time peculiarly covetous of
my own companionship. I had, therefore, given but a brief answer to the
horseman's courtesy, and had ridden away from him with a very
unceremonious abruptness. At length, when he had come up to me for the
fourth time, and for the fourth time had accosted me, my ear caught
something in the tones of his voice which did not seem to me wholly
unfamiliar. I regarded him with more attention than I had as yet done,
and replied to him more civilly and at length. Apparently encouraged by
this relaxation from my reserve, the man speedily resumed.

"Your horse, Sir," said he, "is a fine animal, but he seems jaded: you
have ridden far to-day, I'll venture to guess."

"I have, Sir; but the town where I shall pass the night is not above
four miles distant, I believe."

"Hum--ha!--you sleep at D-----, then?" said the horseman, inquisitively.

A suspicion came across me; we were then entering a very lonely road,
and one notoriously infested with highwaymen. My fellow equestrian's
company might have some sinister meaning in it. I looked to my
holsters, and leisurely taking out one of my pistols, saw to its
priming, and returned it to its depository. The horseman noted the
motion, and he moved his horse rather uneasily, and I thought timidly,
to the other side of the road.

"You travel well armed, Sir," said he, after a pause.

"It is a necessary precaution, Sir," answered I, composedly, "in a road
one is not familiar with, and with companions one has never had the
happiness to meet before."

"Ahem!--ahem!--_Parbleu_, Monsieur le Comte, you allude to me; but I
warrant this is not the first time we have met."

"Ha!" said I, riding closer to my fellow traveller, "you know me, then,
and we _have_ met before. I thought I recognized your voice, but I
cannot remember when or where I last heard it."

"Oh, Count, I believe it was only by accident that we commenced
acquaintanceship, and only by accident, you see, do we now resume it.
But I perceive that I intrude on your solitude. Farewell, Count, and a
pleasant night at your inn."

"Not so fast, Sir," said I, laying firm hand on my companion's shoulder,
"I know you now, and I thank Providence that I have found you. Marie
Oswald, it is not lightly that I will part with you!"

"With all my heart, Sir, with all my heart. But, _morbleu_! Monsieur
le Comte, do take your hand from my shoulder: I am a nervous man, and
your pistols are loaded, and perhaps you are choleric and hasty. I
assure you I am far from wishing to part with you abruptly, for I have
watched you for the last two days in order to enjoy the honour of this
interview."

"Indeed! your wish will save both of us a world of trouble. I believe
you may serve me effectually; if so, you will find me more desirous and
more able than ever to show my gratitude."

"Sir, you are too good," quoth Mr. Oswald, with an air far more
respectful than he had yet shown me. "Let us make to your inn, and
there I shall be most happy to receive your commands." So saying, Marie
pushed on his horse, and I urged my own to the same expedition.

"But tell me," said I, as we rode on, "why you have wished to meet
me?--me whom you so cruelly deserted and forsook?"

"Oh, _parbleu_, spare me there! it was not I who deserted you: I was
compelled to fly; death, murder, on one side; safety, money, and a snug
place in Italy, as a lay-brother of the Institute on the other! What
could I do?--you were ill in bed, not likely to recover, not able to
protect me in my present peril, in a state that in all probability never
would require my services for the future. Oh, Monsieur le Comte, it was
not desertion,--that is a cruel word,--it was self-preservation and
common prudence."

"Well," said I, complaisantly, "you apply words better than I applied
them. And how long have you been returned to England?"

"Some few weeks, Count, not more. I was in London when you arrived; I
heard of that event; I immediately repaired to your hotel; you were gone
to my Lord Bolingbroke's; I followed you thither; you had left Dawley
when I arrived there; I learned your route and followed you. _Parbleu_
and _morbleu_! I find you, and you take me for a highwayman!"

"Pardon my mistake: the clearest-sighted men are subject to commit such
errors, and the most innocent to suffer by them. So Montreuil
_persuaded_ you to leave England; did he also persuade you to return?"

"No: I was charged by the Institute with messages to him and others.
But we are near the town, Count, let us defer our conversation till
then."

We entered D-----, put up our horses, called for an apartment,--to which
summons Oswald added another for wine,--and then the virtuous Marie
commenced his explanations. I was deeply anxious to ascertain whether
Gerald had ever been made acquainted with the fraud by which he had
obtained possession of the estates of Devereux; and I found that, from
Desmarais, Oswald had learned all that had occurred to Gerald since
Marie had left England. From Oswald's prolix communication, I
ascertained that Gerald was, during the whole of the interval between my
uncle's death and my departure from England, utterly unacquainted with
the fraud of the will. He readily believed that my uncle had found good
reason for altering his intentions with respect to me; and my law
proceedings, and violent conduct towards himself, only excited his
indignation, not aroused his suspicions. During this time he lived
entirely in the country, indulging the rural hospitality and the rustic
sports which he especially affected, and secretly but deeply involved
with Montreuil in political intrigues. All this time the Abbe made no
further use of him than to borrow whatever sums he required for his
purposes. Isora's death, and the confused story of the document given
me by Oswald, Montreuil had interpreted to Gerald according to the
interpretation of the world; namely, he had thrown the suspicion upon
Oswald, as a common villain, who had taken advantage of my credulity
about the will, introduced himself into the house on that pretence,
attempted the robbery of the most valuable articles therein,--which,
indeed, he had succeeded in abstracting, and who, on my awaking and
contesting with him and his accomplice, had, in self-defence, inflicted
the wounds which had ended in my delirium and Isora's death. This part
of my tale Montreuil never contradicted, and Gerald believed it to the
present day. The affair of 1715 occurred; the government, aware of
Gerald's practices, had anticipated his design of joining the rebels; he
was imprisoned; no act of overt guilt on his part was proved, or at
least brought forward; and the government not being willing, perhaps, to
proceed to violent measures against a very young man, and the head of a
very powerful house, connected with more than thirty branches of the
English hereditary nobility, he received his acquittal just before Sir
William Wyndham and some other suspected Tories received their own.

Prior to the breaking out of that rebellion, and on the eve of
Montreuil's departure for Scotland, the priest summoned Desmarais, whom,
it will be remembered, I had previously dismissed, and whom Montreuil
had since employed in various errands, and informed him that he had
obtained for his services the same post under Gerald which the Fatalist
had filled under me. Soon after the failure of the rebellion, Devereux
Court was destroyed by accidental fire; and Montreuil, who had come over
in disguise, in order to renew his attacks on my brother's coffers
(attacks to which Gerald yielded very sullenly, and with many assurances
that he would no more incur the danger of political and seditious
projects), now advised Gerald to go up to London, and, in order to avoid
the suspicion of the government, to mix freely in the gayeties of the
court. Gerald readily consented; for, though internally convinced that
the charms of the metropolis were not equal to those of the country, yet
he liked change, and Devereux Court being destroyed, he shuddered a
little at the idea of rebuilding so enormous a pile. Before Gerald left
the old tower (_my tower_) which was alone spared by the flames, and at
which he had resided, though without his household, rather than quit a
place where there was such "excellent shooting," Montreuil said to
Desmarais, "This ungrateful _seigneur de village_ already shows himself
the niggard; he must know what _we_ know,--that is our only sure hold of
him,--but he must not know it yet;" and he proceeded to observe that it
was for the hotbeds of courtly luxury to mellow and hasten an
opportunity for the disclosure. He instructed Desmarais to see that
Gerald (whom even a valet, at least one so artful as Desmarais, might
easily influence) partook to excess of every pleasure,--at least of
every pleasure which a gentleman might without derogation to his dignity
enjoy. Gerald went to town, and very soon became all that Montreuil
desired.

Montreuil came again to England; his great project, Alberoni's project,
had failed. Banished France and Spain, and excluded Italy, he was
desirous of obtaining an asylum in England, until he could negotiate a
return to Paris. For the first of these purposes (the asylum) interest
was requisite; for the latter (the negotiation) money was desirable. He
came to seek both these necessaries in Gerald Devereux. Gerald had
already arrived at that prosperous state when money is not lightly given
away. A dispute arose; and Montreuil raised the veil, and showed the
heir on what terms his estates were held.

Rightly Montreuil had read the human heart! So long as Gerald lived in
the country, and tasted not the full enjoyments of his great wealth, it
would have been highly perilous to have made this disclosure; for,
though Gerald had no great love for me, and was bold enough to run any
danger, yet he was neither a Desmarais nor a Montreuil. He was that
most capricious thing, a man of honour; and at that day he would
instantly have given up the estate to me, and Montreuil and the
philosopher to the hangman. But, after two or three years of every
luxury that wealth could purchase; after living in those circles, too,
where wealth is the highest possible merit, and public opinion,
therefore, only honours the rich, fortune became far more valuable and
the conscience far less nice. Living at Devereux Court, Gerald had only
L30,000 a year; living in London, he had all that L30,000 a year can
purchase: a very great difference this indeed! Honour is a fine bulwark
against a small force; but, unbacked by other principle, it is seldom
well manned enough to resist a large one. When, therefore, Montreuil
showed Gerald that he could lose his estate in an instant; that the
world would never give him credit for innocence, when guilt would have
conferred on him such advantages; that he would therefore part with all
those _et eoetera_ which, now in the very prime of life, made his whole
idea of human enjoyments; that he would no longer be the rich, the
powerful, the honoured, the magnificent, the envied, the idolized lord
of thousands, but would sink at once into a younger brother, dependent
on the man he most hated for his very subsistence,--since his debts
would greatly exceed his portion,--and an object through life of
contemptuous pity or of covert suspicion; that all this change could
happen at a word of Montreuil's, what wonder that he should be
staggered,--should hesitate and yield? Montreuil obtained, then,
whatever sums he required; and through Gerald's influence, pecuniary and
political, procured from the minister a tacit permission for him to
remain in England, under an assumed name and in close retirement. Since
then, Montreuil (though secretly involved in treasonable practices) had
appeared to busy himself solely in negotiating a pardon at Paris.
Gerald had lived the life of a man who, if he has parted with peace of
conscience, will make the best of the bargain by procuring every kind of
pleasure in exchange; and _le petit_ Jean Desmarais, useful to both
priest and spendthrift, had passed his time very agreeably,--laughing at
his employers, studying philosophy, and filling his pockets; for I need
scarcely add that Gerald forgave him without much difficulty for his
share in the forgery. A man, as Oswald shrewdly observed, is seldom
inexorable to those crimes by which he has profited. "And where lurks
Montreuil now?" I asked; "in the neighbourhood of Devereux Court?"

Oswald looked at me with some surprise. "How learned you that, Sir? It
is true. He lives quietly and privately in that vicinity. The woods
around the house, the caves in the beach, and the little isle opposite
the castle, afford him in turn an asylum; and the convenience with which
correspondence with France can be there carried on makes the scene of
his retirement peculiarly adapted to his purpose."

I now began to question Oswald respecting himself; for I was not warmly
inclined to place implicit trust in the services of a man who had before
shown himself at once mercenary and timid. There was little cant or
disguise about that gentleman; he made few pretences to virtues which he
did not possess; and he seemed now, both by wine and familiarity,
peculiarly disposed to be frank. It was he who in Italy (among various
other and less private commissions) had been appointed by Montreuil to
watch over Aubrey; on my brother's death he had hastened to England, not
only to apprise Montreuil of that event, but charged with some especial
orders to him from certain members of the Institute. He had found
Montreuil busy, restless, intriguing, even in seclusion, and cheered by
a recent promise, from Fleuri himself, that he should speedily obtain
pardon and recall. It was, at this part of Oswald's story, easy to
perceive the causes of his renewed confidence in me. Montreuil, engaged
in new plans and schemes, at once complicated and vast, paid but a
slight attention to the wrecks of his past projects. Aubrey dead,
myself abroad, Gerald at his command,--he perceived, in our house, no
cause for caution or alarm. This, apparently, rendered him less careful
of retaining the venal services of Oswald than his knowledge of
character should have made him; and when that gentleman, then in London,
accidentally heard of my sudden arrival in this country, he at once
perceived how much more to his interest it would be to serve me than to
maintain an ill-remunerated fidelity to Montreuil. In fact, as I have
since learned, the priest's discretion was less to blame than I then
imagined; for Oswald was of a remarkably impudent, profligate, and
spendthrift turn; and his demands for money were considerably greater
than the value of his services; or perhaps, as Montreuil thought, when
Aubrey no longer lived, than the consequence of his silence. When,
therefore, I spoke seriously to my new ally of my desire of wreaking
ultimate justice on the crimes of Montreuil, I found that his zeal was
far from being chilled by my determination,--nay, the very cowardice of
the man made him ferocious; and the moment he resolved to betray
Montreuil, his fears for the priest's vengeance made him eager to
destroy where he betrayed. I am not addicted to unnecessary
procrastination. Of the unexpected evidence I had found I was most
eager to avail myself. I saw at once how considerably Oswald's
testimony would lessen any difficulty I might have in an explanation
with Gerald, as well as in bringing Montreuil to justice: and the former
measure seemed to me necessary to insure, or at least to expedite, the
latter. I proposed, therefore, to Oswald, that he should immediately
accompany me to the house in which Gerald was then a visitor; the honest
Marie, conditioning only for another bottle, which he termed a
travelling comforter, readily acceded to my wish. I immediately
procured a chaise and horses; and in less than two hours from the time
we entered the inn we were on the road to Gerald. What an impulse to
the wheel of destiny had the event of that one day given!

At another time, I might have gleaned amusement from the shrewd roguery
of my companion, but he found me then but a dull listener. I served
him, in truth, as men of his stamp are ordinarily served: so soon as I
had extracted from him whatever was meet for present use, I favoured him
with little further attention. He had exhausted all the communications
it was necessary for me to know; so, in the midst of a long story about
Italy, Jesuits, and the wisdom of Marie Oswald, I affected to fall
asleep; my companion soon followed my example in earnest, and left me to
meditate, undisturbed, over all that I had heard, and over the schemes
now the most promising of success. I soon taught myself to look with a
lenient eye on Gerald's after-connivance in Montreuil's forgery; and I
felt that I owed to my surviving brother so large an arrear of affection
for the long injustice I had rendered him that I was almost pleased to
find something set upon the opposite score. All men, perhaps, would
rather forgive than be forgiven. I resolved, therefore, to affect
ignorance of Gerald's knowledge of the forgery; and, even should he
confess it, to exert all my art to steal from the confession its shame.
From this train of reflection my mind soon directed itself to one far
fiercer and more intense; and I felt my heart pause, as if congealing
into marble, when I thought of Montreuil and anticipated justice.

It was nearly noon on the following day when we arrived at Lord------'s
house. We found that Gerald had left it the day before, for the
enjoyment of the field-sports at Devereux Court, and thither we
instantly proceeded.

It has often seemed to me that if there be, as certain ancient
philosophers fabled, one certain figure pervading all nature, human and
universal, it is _the circle_. Round, in one vast monotony, one eternal
gyration, roll the orbs of space. Thus moves the spirit of creative
life, kindling, progressing, maturing, decaying, perishing, reviving and
rolling again, and so onward forever through the same course; and thus
even would seem to revolve the mysterious mechanism of human events and
actions. Age, ere it returns to "the second childishness, the mere
oblivion" from which it passes to the grave, returns also to the
memories and the thoughts of youth: its buried loves arise; its past
friendships rekindle. The wheels of the tired machine are past the
meridian, and the arch through which they now decline has a
correspondent likeness to the opposing segment through which they had
borne upward in eagerness and triumph. Thus it is, too, that we bear
within us an irresistible attraction to our earliest home. Thus it is
that we say, "It matters not where our midcourse is run, but we will
_die_ in the place where we were born,--in the point of space whence
_began_ the circle, there also shall _it end_!" This is the grand orbit
through which Mortality passes only once; but the same figure may
pervade all through which it moves on its journey to the grave. Thus,
one peculiar day of the round year has been to some an era, always
colouring life with an event. Thus, to others, some peculiar place has
been the theatre of strange action, influencing all existence, whenever,
in the recurrence of destiny, that place has been revisited. Thus was
it said by an arch-sorcerer of old, whose labours yet exist,--though
perhaps, at the moment I write, there are not three living beings who
know of their existence,--that there breathes not that man who would not
find, did he minutely investigate the events of life, that, in some
fixed and distinct spot or hour or person, there lived, though shrouded
and obscure, the pervading demon of his fate; and whenever, in their
several paths, the two circles of being touched, that moment made the
unnoticed epoch of coming prosperity or evil. I remember well that
this bewildering yet not unsolemn reflection, or rather fancy, was in my
mind, as, after the absence of many years, I saw myself hastening to the
home of my boyhood, and cherishing the fiery hope of there avenging the
doom of that love which I had there conceived. Deeply, and in silence,
did I brood over the dark shapes which my thoughts engendered; and I
woke not from my revery, till, as the gray of the evening closed around
us, we entered the domains of Devereux Court. The road was rough and
stony, and the horses moved slowly on. How familiar was everything
before me! The old pollards which lay scattered in dense groups on
either side, and which had lived on from heir to heir, secure in the
little temptation they afforded to cupidity, seemed to greet me with a
silent but intelligible welcome. Their leaves fell around us in the
autumn air, and the branches as they waved towards me seemed to say,
"Thou art returned, and thy change is like our own: the green leaves of
_thy_ heart have fallen from thee one by one; like us thou survivest,
but thou art desolate!" The hoarse cry of the rooks, gathering to their
rest, came fraught with the music of young associations on my ear. Many
a time in the laughing spring had I lain in these groves, watching, in
the young brood of those citizens of air, a mark for my childish skill
and careless disregard of life. We acquire mercy as we acquire thought:
I would not _now_ have harmed one of those sable creatures for a king's
ransom!

As we cleared the more wooded belt of the park, and entered the smooth
space, on which the trees stood alone and at rarer intervals, while the
red clouds, still tinged with the hues of the departed sun, hovered on
the far and upland landscape,--like Hope flushing over Futurity,--a
mellowed yet rapid murmur, distinct from the more distant dashing of the
sea, broke abruptly upon my ear. It was the voice of that brook whose
banks had been the dearest haunt of my childhood; and now, as it burst
thus suddenly upon me, I longed to be alone, that I might have bowed
down my head and wept as if it had been the welcome of a living thing!
At once, and as by a word, the hardened lava, the congealed stream of
the soul's Etna, was uplifted from my memory, and the bowers and palaces
of old, the world of a gone day, lay before me! With how wild an
enthusiasm had I apostrophized that stream on the day in which I first
resolved to leave its tranquil regions and fragrant margin for the
tempest and tumult of the world. On that same eve, too, had Aubrey and
I taken sweet counsel together; on that same eve had we sworn to
protect, to love, and to cherish one another!--AND NOW!--I saw the very
mound on which we had sat,--a solitary deer made it his couch, and, as
the carriage approached, the deer rose, and then I saw that he had been
wounded, perhaps in some contest with his tribe, and that he could
scarcely stir from the spot. I turned my face away, and the remains of
my ancestral house rose gradually in view. That house was indeed
changed; a wide and black heap of ruins spread around; the vast hall,
with its oaken rafters and huge hearth, was no more,--I missed _that_,
and I cared not for the rest. The long galleries, the superb chambers,
the scenes of revelry or of pomp, were like the court companions who
amuse, yet attach us not; but the hall, the old hall,--the old,
hospitable hall,--had been as a friend in all seasons, and to all
comers, and its mirth had been as open to all as the heart of its last
owner! My eyes wandered from the place where it had been, and the tall,
lone, gray tower, consecrated to my ill-fated namesake, and in which my
own apartments had been situated, rose like the last of a warrior band,
stern, gaunt, and solitary, over the ruins around.

The carriage now passed more rapidly over the neglected road, and wound
where the ruins, cleared on either side, permitted access to the tower.
In two minutes more I was in the same chamber with my only surviving
brother. Oh, why--why can I not dwell upon that scene, that embrace,
that reconciliation?--alas! the wound is not yet scarred over.

I found Gerald, at first, haughty and sullen; he expected my reproaches
and defiance,--against them he was hardened; he was not prepared for my
prayers for our future friendship, and my grief for our past enmity, and
he melted at once!

But let me hasten over this. I had well-nigh forgot that, at the close
of my history, I should find one remembrance so endearing, and one pang
so keen. Rapidly I sketched to Gerald the ill fate of Aubrey; but
lingeringly did I dwell upon Montreuil's organized and most baneful
influence over him, and over us all; and I endeavoured to arouse in
Gerald some sympathy with my own deep indignation against that villain.
I succeeded so far as to make him declare that he was scarcely less
desirous of justice than myself; but there was an embarrassment in his
tone of which I was at no loss to perceive the cause. To accuse
Montreuil publicly of his forgery might ultimately bring to light
Gerald's latter knowledge of the fraud. I hastened to say that there
was now no necessity to submit to a court of justice a scrutiny into our
private, gloomy, and eventful records. No, from Oswald's communications
I had learned enough to prove that Bolingbroke had been truly informed,
and that Montreuil had still, and within the few last weeks, been deeply
involved in schemes of treason, full proof of which could be adduced,
far more than sufficient to insure his death by the public executioner.
Upon this charge I proposed at the nearest town (the memorable seaport
of------) to accuse him, and to obtain a warrant for his immediate
apprehension; upon this charge I proposed alone to proceed against him,
and by it alone to take justice upon his more domestic crimes.

My brother yielded at last his consent to my suggestions. "I
understand," said I, "that Montreuil lurks in the neighbourhood of these
ruins, or in the opposite islet. Know you if he has made his asylum in
either at this present time?"

"No, my brother," answered Gerald, "but I have reason to believe that he
is in our immediate vicinity, for I received a letter from him three
days ago, when at Lord------'s, urging a request that I would give him
a meeting here, at my earliest leisure, previous to his leaving
England."

"Has he really then obtained permission to return to France?"

"Yes," replied Gerald, "he informed me in this letter that he had just
received intelligence of his pardon."

"May it fit him the better," said I, with a stern smile, "for a more
lasting condemnation. But if this be true we have not a moment to lose:
a man so habitually vigilant and astute will speedily learn my visit
hither, and forfeit even his appointment with you, should he, which is
likely enough, entertain any suspicion of our reconciliation with each
other; moreover, he may hear that the government have discovered his
designs, and may instantly secure the means of flight. Let me,
therefore, immediately repair to------, and obtain a warrant against
him, as well as officers to assist our search. In the meanwhile you
shall remain here, and detain him, should he visit you; but where is the
accomplice?--let us seize _him_ instantly, for I conclude he is with
you."

"What, Desmarais?" rejoined Gerald. "Yes, he is the only servant,
besides the old portress, which these poor ruins will allow me to
entertain in the same dwelling with myself; the rest of my suite are
left behind at Lord------'s. But Desmarais is not now within; he went
out about two hours ago."

"Ha!" said I, "in all likelihood to meet the priest; shall we wait his
return, and extort some information of Montreuil's lurking-hole?"

Before Gerald could answer, we heard a noise without, and presently I
distinguished the bland tones of the hypocritical Fatalist, in soft
expostulation with the triumphant voice of Mr. Marie Oswald. I hastened
out, and discovered that the lay-brother, whom I left in the chaise,
having caught a glimpse of the valet gliding among the ruins, had
recognized, seized, and by the help of the postilions, dragged him to
the door of the tower. The moment Desmarais saw me he ceased to
struggle: he met my eye with a steady but not disrespectful firmness; he
changed not even the habitual hue of his countenance,--he remained
perfectly still in the hands of his arresters; and if there was any
vestige of his mind discoverable in his sallow features and glittering
eye, it was not the sign of fear, or confusion, or even surprise; but a
ready promptness to meet danger, coupled, perhaps, with a little doubt
whether to defy or to seek first to diminish it.

Long did I gaze upon him,--struggling with internal rage and loathing,
the mingled contempt and desire of destruction with which we gaze upon
the erect aspect of some small but venomous and courageous
reptile,--long did I gaze upon him before I calmed and collected my
voice to speak:

"So I have _thee_ at last! First comes the base tool, and that will I
first break, before I lop off the guiding hand."

"So please Monsieur my Lord the Count," answered Desmarais, bowing to
the ground, "the tool is a file, and it would be useless to bite against
it."

"We will see that," said I, drawing my sword; "prepare to die!" and I
pointed the blade to his throat with so sudden and menacing a gesture
that his eyes closed involuntarily, and the blood left his thin cheek as
white as ashes: but he shrank not.

"If Monsieur," said he, with a sort of smile, "will kill his poor, old,
faithful servant, let him strike. Fate is not to be resisted; and
prayers are useless!"

"Oswald," said I, "release your prisoner; wait here, and keep strict
watch. Jean Desmarais, follow me!"

I ascended the stairs, and Desmarais followed. "Now," I said, when he
was alone with Gerald and myself, "your days are numbered: you will
fall; not by my hand, but by that of the executioner. Not only your
forgery, but your robbery, your abetment of murder, are known to me;
your present lord, with an indignation equal to my own, surrenders you
to justice. Have you aught to urge, not in defence--for to that I will
not listen--but in atonement? _Can_ you now commit any act which will
cause me to forego justice on those which you _have_ committed?"
Desmarais hesitated. "Speak," said I. He raised his eyes to mine with
an inquisitive and wistful look.

"Monsieur," said the wretch, with his obsequious smile, "Monsieur has
travelled, has shone, has succeeded; Monsieur must have made enemies:
let him name them, and his poor, old, _faithful_ servant will do his
best to become the humble instrument of their _fate_!"

Gerald drew himself aside, and shuddered. Perhaps till then he had not
been fully aware how slyly murder, as well as fraud, can lurk beneath
urbane tones and laced ruffles.

"I have no enemy," said I, "but one; and the hangman will do my office
upon him; but point out to me the exact spot where at this moment he is
concealed, and you shall have full leave to quit this country forever.
That enemy is Julian Montreuil!"

"Ah, ah!" said Desmarais, musingly, and in a tone very different from
that in which he usually spoke; "must it be so, indeed? For twenty
years of youth and manhood I have clung to that man, and woven my
destiny with his, because I believed him born under the star which
shines on statesmen and pontiffs. Does dread Necessity now impel me to
betray him?--him, the only man I ever loved. So--so--so! Count
Devereux, strike me to the core: I will _not_ betray Bertrand Collinot!"

"Mysterious heart of man!" I exclaimed inly, as I gazed upon the low
brow, the malignant eye, the crafty lip of this wretch, who still
retained one generous and noble sentiment at the bottom of so base a
breast. But if it sprang there, it only sprang to wither!

"As thou wilt," said I; "remember, death is the alternative. By thy
birth-star, Jean Desmarais, I should question whether perfidy be not
_better luck_ than hanging: but time speeds; farewell; I shall meet thee
on thy day of trial."

I turned to the door to summon Oswald to his prisoner. Desmarais roused
himself from the revery in which he appeared to have sunk.

"Why do I doubt?" said he, slowly. "Were the alternative his, would he
not hang me as he would hang his dog if it went mad and menaced danger?
My very noble and merciful master," continued the Fatalist, turning to
me, and relapsing into his customary manner, "it is enough! I can
refuse nothing to a gentleman who has such insinuating manners.
Montreuil _may be_ in your power this night; but that rests solely with
me. If I speak not, a few hours will place him irrevocably beyond your
reach. If I betray him to you, will Monsieur swear that I shall have my
pardon for past _errors_?"

"On condition of leaving England," I answered, for slight was my
comparative desire of justice against Desmarais; and since I had agreed
with Gerald not to bring our domestic records to the glare of day,
justice against Desmarais was not easy of attainment; while, on the
other hand, so precarious seemed the chance of discovering Montreuil
before he left England, without certain intelligence of his movements,
that I was willing to forego any less ardent feeling, for the speedy
gratification of that which made the sole surviving passion of my
existence.

"Be it so," rejoined Desmarais; "there is better wine in France! And
Monsieur my present master, Monsieur Gerald, will you too pardon your
poor Desmarais for his proof of the great attachment he always bore to
you?"

"Away, wretch!" cried Gerald, shrinking back; "your villany taints the
very air!"

Desmarais lifted his eyes to heaven, with a look of appealing innocence;
but I was wearied with this odious farce.

"The condition is made," said I: "remember, it only holds good if
Montreuil's person is placed in our power. Now explain."

"This night, then," answered Desmarais, "Montreuil proposes to leave
England by means of a French privateer, or pirate, if that word please
you better. Exactly at the hour of twelve, he will meet some of the
sailors upon the seashore, by the Castle Cave; thence they proceed in
boats to the islet, off which the pirate's vessel awaits them. If you
would seize Montreuil, you must provide a force adequate to conquer the
companions he will meet. The rest is with you; my part is fulfilled."

"Remember! I repeat if this be one of thy inventions, thou wilt hang."

"I have said what is true," said Desmarais, bitterly; "and were not life
so very pleasant to me, I would sooner have met the rack."

I made no reply; but, summoning Oswald, surrendered Desmarais to his
charge. I then held a hasty consultation with Gerald, whose mind,
however, obscured by feelings of gloomy humiliation, and stunned perhaps
by the sudden and close following order of events, gave me but little
assistance in my projects. I observed his feelings with great pain; but
that was no moment for wrestling with them. I saw that I could not
depend upon his vigorous co-operation; and that even if Montreuil sought
him, he might want the presence of mind and the energy to detain my
enemy. I changed therefore the arrangement we had first proposed.

"I will remain here," said I, "and I will instruct the old portress to
admit to me any one who seeks audience with you. Meanwhile, Oswald and
yourself, if you will forgive, and grant my request to that purport,
will repair to------, and informing the magistrate of our intelligence,
procure such armed assistance as may give battle to the pirates, should
that be necessary, and succeed in securing Montreuil; the assistance may
be indispensable; at all events, it will be prudent to secure it:
perhaps for Oswald alone, the magistrates would not use that zeal and
expedition which a word _of yours_ can command."

"Of mine?" said Gerald, "say rather of yours; you are the lord of these
broad lands!"

"Never, my dearest brother, shall they pass to me from their present
owner: but let us hasten now to execute justice; we will talk afterwards
of friendship."

I then sought Oswald, who, if a physical coward, was morally a ready,
bustling, and prompt man; and I felt that I could rely more upon him
than I could at that moment upon Gerald. I released him therefore of
his charge, and made Desmarais a close prisoner in the inner apartment
of the tower. I then gave Oswald the most earnest injunctions to
procure the assistance we might require, and to return with it as
expeditiously as possible; and cheered by the warmth and decision of his
answer, I saw him depart with Gerald, and felt my heart beat high with
the anticipation of midnight and retribution.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE CATASTROPHE.

IT happened unfortunately that the mission to------was indispensable.
The slender accommodation of the tower forbade Gerald the use of his
customary attendants, and the neighbouring villagers were too few in
number, and too ill provided with weapons, to encounter men cradled in
the very lap of danger; moreover, it was requisite, above all things,
that no rumour or suspicion of our intended project should obtain wind,
and, by reaching Montreuil's ears, give him some safer opportunity of
escape. I had no doubt of the sincerity of the Fatalist's
communications, and if I had, the subsequent conversation I held with
him, when Gerald and Oswald were gone, would have been sufficient to
remove it. He was evidently deeply stung by the reflection of his own
treachery, and, singularly enough, with Montreuil seemed to perish all
his worldly hopes and aspirations. Desmarais, I found, was a man of
much higher ambition than I had imagined; and he had linked himself
closely to Montreuil, because, from the genius and the resolution of the
priest, he had drawn the most sanguine auguries of his future power. As
the night advanced, he grew visibly anxious; and, having fully satisfied
myself that I might count indisputably upon his intelligence, I once
more left him to his meditations, and, alone in the outer chamber, I
collected myself for the coming event. I had fully hoped that Montreuil
would have repaired to the tower in search of Gerald, and this was the
strongest reason which had induced me to remain behind: but time waned;
he came not, and at length it grew so late that I began to tremble lest
the assistance from------should not arrive in time.

It struck the first quarter after eleven: in less than an hour my enemy
would be either in my power or beyond its reach; still Gerald and our
allies came not; my suspense grew intolerable, my pulse raged with
fever; I could not stay for two seconds in the same spot; a hundred
times had I drawn my sword, and looked eagerly along its bright blade.
"Once," thought I, as I looked, "thou didst cross the blade of my mortal
foe, and to my danger rather than victory; years have brought skill to
the hand which then guided thee, and in the red path of battle thou hast
never waved in vain. Be stained but once more with human blood, and I
will prize every drop of that blood beyond all the triumphs thou hast
brought me!" Yes, it had been with a fiery and intense delight that I
had learned that Montreuil would have companions to his flight in
lawless and hardened men, who would never yield him a prisoner without
striking for his rescue; and I knew enough of the courageous and proud
temper of my purposed victim to feel assured that, priest as he was, he
would not hesitate to avail himself of the weapons of his confederates
or to aid them with his own. Then would it be lawful to oppose violence
to his resistance, and with my own hand to deal the death-blow of
retribution. Still as these thoughts flashed over me my heart grew
harder, and my blood rolled more burningly through my veins. "They come
not; Gerald returns not," I said, as my eye dwelt on the clock, and saw
the minutes creep one after the other: "it matters not; HE at least
shall not escape!--were he girt by a million, I would single him from
the herd; one stroke of this right hand is all that I ask of life, then
let them avenge him if they will." Thus resolved, and despairing at
last of the return of Gerald, I left the tower, locked the outer door,
as a still further security against my prisoner's escape, and repaired
with silent but swift strides to the beach by the Castle Cave. It
wanted about half an hour to midnight: the night was still and
breathless; a dim mist spread from sea to sky, through which the stars
gleamed forth heavily, and at distant intervals. The moon was abroad,
but the vapours that surrounded her gave a watery and sicklied dulness
to her light, and whereever in the niches and hollows of the cliff the
shadows fell, all was utterly dark and unbroken by the smallest ray;
only along the near waves of the sea and the whiter parts of the level
sand were objects easily discernible. I strode to and fro for a few
minutes before the Castle Cave; I saw no one, and I seated myself in
stern vigilance upon a stone, in a worn recess of the rock, and close by
the mouth of the Castle Cave. The spot where I sat was wrapped in total
darkness, and I felt assured that I might wait my own time for
disclosing myself. I had not been many minutes at my place of watch
before I saw the figure of a man approach from the left; he moved with
rapid steps, and once when he passed along a place where the wan light
of the skies was less obscured I saw enough of his form and air to
recognize Montreuil. He neared the cave; he paused; he was within a few
paces of me; I was about to rise, when another figure suddenly glided
from the mouth of the cave itself.

"Ha!" cried the latter, "it is Bertrand Collinot: Fate be lauded!"

Had a voice from the grave struck my ear, it would have scarcely amazed
me more than that which I now heard. Could I believe my senses? the
voice was that of Desmarais, whom I had left locked within the inner
chamber of the tower! "Fly," he resumed, "fly instantly; you have not a
moment to lose: already the stern Morton waits thee; already the hounds
of justice are on thy track; tarry not for the pirates, but begone at
once."

"You rave, man! What mean you? the boats will be here immediately.
While you yet speak methinks I can descry them on the sea. Something of
this I dreaded when, some hours ago, I caught a glimpse of Gerald on the
road to------. I saw not the face of his companion; but I would not
trust myself in the tower: yet I must await the boats; flight is indeed
requisite, but _they_ make the only means by which flight is safe!"

"Pray, then, thou who believest, pray that they may come soon, or thou
diest and I with thee! Morton is returned,--is reconciled to his weak
brother. Gerald and Oswald are away to------for men to seize and drag
thee to a public death. I was arrested,--threatened; but one way to
avoid prison and cord was shown me. Curse me, Bertrand, for I embraced
it. I told them thou wouldst fly to-night, and with whom. They locked
me in the inner chamber of the tower; Morton kept guard without. At
length I heard him leave the room; I heard him descend the stairs, and
lock the gate of the tower. Ha! ha! little dreamed he of the wit of
Jean Desmarais! _Thy_ friend must scorn bolt and bar, Bertrand
Collinot. They had not searched me: I used my instruments; thou knowest
that with those instruments I could glide through stone walls!--I opened
the door; I was in the outer room; I lifted the trap door which old Sir
William had had boarded over, and which thou hadst so artfully and
imperceptibly replaced, when thou wantedst secret intercourse with thy
pupils; I sped along the passage, came to the iron door, touched the
spring thou hadst inserted in the plate which the old knight had placed
over the key-hole, and have come to repair my coward treachery, to save
and to fly with thee. But while I speak we tread on a precipice.
Morton has left the house, and is even now perhaps in search of thee."

"Ha! I care not if he be," said Montreuil, in a low but haughty tone.
"Priest though I am, I have not assumed the garb, without assuming also
the weapon, of the layman. Even now I have my hand upon the same sword
which shone under the banners of Mar; and which once, but for my foolish
mercy, would have rid me forever of this private foe."

"Unsheath it now, Julian Montreuil!" said I, coming from my retreat, and
confronting the pair.

Montreuil recoiled several paces. At that instant a shot boomed along
the waters.

"Haste, haste!" cried Desmarais, hurrying to the waves, as a boat, now
winding the cliff, became darkly visible: "haste, Bertrand, here are
Bonjean and his men; but they are pursued!"

Once did Montreuil turn, as if to fly; but my sword was at his breast,
and, stamping fiercely on the ground, he drew his rapier and parried and
returned my assault; but he retreated rapidly towards the water while he
struck; and wild and loud came the voices from the boat, which now
touched the shore.

"Come--come--come--the officers are upon us; we can wait not a moment!"
and Montreuil, as he heard the cries, mingled with oaths and curses, yet
quickened his pace towards the quarter whence they came. His steps were
tracked by his blood: twice had my sword passed through his flesh; but
twice had it failed my vengeance, and avoided a mortal part. A second
boat, filled also with the pirates, followed the first; but then another
and a larger vessel bore black and fast over the water; the rush and cry
of men were heard on land; again and nearer a shot broke over the heavy
air,--another and another,--a continued fire. The strand was now
crowded with the officers of justice. The vessel beyond forbade escape
to the opposite islet. There was no hope for the pirates but in
contest, or in dispersion among the cliffs or woods on the shore. They
formed their resolution at once, and stood prepared and firm, partly on
their boats, partly on the beach around them. Though the officers were
far more numerous, the strife--fierce, desperate, and hand to hand
seemed equally sustained. Montreuil, as he retreated before me, bore
back into the general _melee_, and, as the press thickened, we were for
some moments separated. It was at this time that I caught a glimpse of
Gerald; _he_ seemed also then to espy me, and made eagerly towards me.
Suddenly he was snatched from my view. The fray relaxed; the officers,
evidently worsted, retreated towards the land, and the pirates appeared
once more to entertain the hope of making their escape by water.
Probably they thought that the darkness of the night might enable them
to baffle the pursuit of the adverse vessel, which now lay expectant and
passive on the wave. However this be, they made simultaneously to their
boats, and among their numbers I descried Montreuil. I set my teeth
with a calm and prophetic wrath. But three strokes did my good blade
make through that throng before I was by his side; he had at that
instant his hold upon the boat's edge, and he stood knee-deep in the
dashing waters. I laid my grasp upon his shoulder, and my cheek touched
his own as I hissed in his ear, "I am with thee yet!" He turned
fiercely; he strove in vain to shake off my grasp. The boat pushed
away, and his last hope of escape was over. At this moment the moon
broke away from the mist, and we saw each other plainly, and face to
face. There was a ghastly but set despair in Montreuil's lofty and
proud countenance, which changed gradually to a fiercer aspect, as he
met my gaze. Once more, foot to foot and hand to hand, we engaged; the
increased light of the skies rendered the contest more that of skill
than it had hitherto been, and Montreuil seemed to collect all his
energies, and to fight with a steadier and a cooler determination.
Nevertheless the combat was short. Once my antagonist had the
imprudence to raise his arm and expose his body to my thrust: his sword
grazed my cheek,--I shall bear the scar to my grave,--mine passed twice
through his breast, and he fell, bathed in his blood, at my feet.

"Lift him!" I said, to the men who now crowded round. They did so, and
he unclosed his eyes, and glared upon me as the death-pang convulsed his
features, and gathered in foam to his lips. But his thoughts were not
upon his destroyer, nor upon the wrongs he had committed, nor upon any
solitary being in the linked society which he had injured.

"Order of Jesus," he muttered, "had I but lived three months longer,
I--"

So died Julian Montreuil.



CONCLUSION.

MONTREUIL was not the only victim in the brief combat of that night;
several of the pirates and their pursuers perished, and among the bodies
we found Gerald. He had been pierced, by a shot, through the brain, and
was perfectly lifeless when his body was discovered. By a sort of
retribution, it seems that my unhappy brother received his death-wound
from a shot, fired (probably at random) by Desmarais; and thus the
instrument of the fraud he had tacitly subscribed to became the minister
of his death. Nay, the retribution seemed even to extend to the very
method by which Desmarais had escaped; and, as the reader has perceived,
the subterranean communication which had been secretly reopened to
deceive my uncle made the path which had guided Gerald's murderer to the
scene which afterwards ensued. The delay of the officers had been owing
to private intelligence, previously received by the magistrate to whom
Gerald had applied, of the number and force of the pirates, and his
waiting in consequence for a military reinforcement to the party to be
despatched against them. Those of the pirates who escaped the conflict
escaped also the pursuit of the hostile vessel; they reached the islet,
and gained their captain's ship. A few shots between the two vessels
were idly exchanged, and the illicit adventurers reached the French
shore in safety. With them escaped Desmarais, and of him, from that
hour to this, I have heard nothing: so capriciously plays Time with
villains!

Marie Oswald has lately taken unto himself a noted inn on the North
Road, a place eminently calculated for the display of his various
talents; he has also taken unto himself a WIFE, of whose tongue and
temper he has been known already to complain with no Socratic meekness;
and we may therefore opine that his misdeeds have not altogether escaped
their fitting share of condemnation.

Succeeding at once, by the death of my poor brother, to the DEVEREUX
estates, I am still employed in rebuilding, on a yet more costly scale,
my ancestral mansion. So eager and impatient is my desire for the
completion of my undertaking that I allow rest neither by night nor day,
and half of the work will be done by torchlight. With the success of
this project terminates my last scheme of Ambition.

Here, then, at the age of thirty-four, I conclude the history of my
life. Whether in the star which, as I now write, shines in upon me, and
which a romance, still unsubdued, has often dreamed to be the bright
prophet of my fate, something of future adventure, suffering, or
excitement is yet predestined to me; or whether life will muse itself
away in the solitudes which surround the home of my past childhood and
the scene of my present retreat,--creates within me but slight food for
anticipation or conjecture. I have exhausted the sources of those
feelings which flow, whether through the channels of anxiety or of hope,
towards the future; and the restlessness of my manhood, having attained
its last object, has done the labour of time, and bequeathed to me the
indifference of age.

If love exists for me no longer, I know well that the memory of that
which has been is to me far more than a living love is to others; and
perhaps there is no passion so full of tender, of soft, and of hallowing
associations as the love which is stamped by death. If I have borne
much, and my spirit has worked out its earthly end in travail and in
tears, yet I would not forego the lessons which my life has bequeathed
me, even though they be deeply blended with sadness and regret. No!
were I asked what best dignifies the present and consecrates the past;
what enables us alone to draw a just moral from the tale of life; what
sheds the purest light upon our reason; what gives the firmest strength
to our religion; and, whether our remaining years pass in seclusion or
in action, is best fitted to soften the heart of man, and to elevate the
soul to God,--I would answer, with Lassus, "it is EXPERIENCE!"





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