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Title: Diary And Notes Of Horace Templeton, Esq. - Volume I (of II)
Author: Lever, Charles James, 1806-1872
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diary And Notes Of Horace Templeton, Esq. - Volume I (of II)" ***

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DIARY AND NOTES OF HORACE TEMPLETON, Esq.

VOL. I.


DIARY AND NOTES HORACE TEMPLETON, Esq.

LATE SECRETARY OF LEGATION AT-----.

By Charles James Lever,

Author Of "Harry Lorrequer," "Knight Of Gwynne," Etc. Etc.

In Two Volumes. Vol. I.

Second Edition.

London: Chapman And Hall, 186 Strand.



HORACE TEMPLETON.



CHAPTER I.

_Hôtel des Princes, Paris_.

It is a strange thing to begin a "Log" when the voyage is nigh ended!
A voyage without chart or compass has it been: and now is land in
sight--the land of the weary and heart-tired!

Here am I, at the Hôtel des Princes, _en route_ for Italy, whither my
doctors have sentenced me! What a sad record would be preserved to the
world if travellers were but to fill up, with good faith, the police
formula at each stage of the journey, which asks, "the object of the
tour!" How terribly often should we read the two short words--"To Die."
With what sorrowful interest would one gaze at the letters formed by a
trembling hand; and yet how many would have to write them! Truly, the
old Italian adage, "_Vedere Napole es poi morire_" has gained a new
signification; and, unhappily, a far more real one.

This same practice of physicians, of sending their patients to linger
out the last hours of life in a foreign land, is, to my thinking, by
no means so reprehensible as the generality of people make out. It is
a theme, however, on which so many commonplaces can be strung, that
common-place people, who, above all others, love their own eloquence,
never weary of it. Away from his children--from his favourite
haunts--from the doctors that understood his case--from his comfortable
house--from the family apothecary,--such are the changes they ring; and
if dying were to be done often, there would be much reason in all this.
But it is not so; this same change occurs but once, and its approach
brings with it a new train of thoughts and feelings from all that we
have ever felt before. In that twilight hour of life, objects that have
escaped our vision in the blaze of noon-day become clear and distinct;
and, even to the least reflecting of minds, an increased power of
perception and judgment is accorded--the _viaticum_ for the coming
journey!

I remember being greatly affected by the stories in the "Diary of a
Physician," when first I read them: they were powerfully written--and
_so real!_ Now this is the very quality they want: they are altogether
unreal.

Terrific and heart-stirring as the death-bed scenes are, they are not
true to nature: the vice and the virtue are alike exaggerated. Few, very
few persons can bring themselves by an effort to believe that they are
dying--easy as it seems, often as we talk of it, frequent as the very
expression becomes in a colloquialism, it is still a most difficult
process; but once thoroughly felt, there is an engrossing power, in the
thought that excludes all others.'

At times, indeed, Hope will triumph for a brief interval, and "tell of
bright days to come." Hope! the glorious phantom that we follow up the
Rhine--through the deep glens of the Tyrol, and over the Alps!--Only
content to die when we have lost it!

There are men to whom the truth, however shocking, is always
revealed--to whom the Lawyer says, "You have no case," and the Physician
confesses, "You have no constitution." Happily or unhappily--I will not
deny it may be both--I am one of these. Of the three doctors summoned
to consult on my health, one spoke confidently and cheeringly; he even
assumed that kind of professional jocularity that would imply, "the
patient is making too much of it." The second, more reserved from
temperament, and graver, counselled caution and great care--hinted at
the danger of the malady--coupling his fears with the hopes he derived
from the prospect of climate. The third (he was younger than either of
the others, and of inferior repute,) closed the door after them, and
resumed his seat.

I waited for some time expecting him to speak, but he sat in silence,
and seemingly in deep thought. "And you, my dear doctor," said I at
length, "are you equally confident as your learned colleagues? Will the
air of Italy----?" He lifted up his eyes as I got so far, and their
expression I shall not readily forget--so softly tender, so full of
compassionate pity, did they beam. Never did a look convey more of
sorrowing regret, nor more of blank despair. I hesitated---on _his_
account I feared to finish what I had begun; but, as if replying to the
expression of his glance, I added, "But still you advise me to go? You
counsel the journey, at least?"

He blushed deeply before he could answer. He felt ashamed that he had
failed in one great requisite of his art. I hastened to relieve him, by
saying with a joyous air, "Well, I will go. I like the notion myself;
it is at least a truce with physic. It is like drawing a game before one
has completely lost it."

And so here I am--somewhat wearied and fevered by the unaccustomed
exertion, but less so than I expected.

I sincerely hope it is only the fastidiousness of a sick man, and not
that most insufferable of all affectations--exclusiveness; but I will
own I never disliked the mixed company of a steam-boat so much before.
It is always an unpleasant part of our English travelling-experience,
that little steam trip from our own coast to the French or Belgian
shore. The pleasuring Cockney, only sufferable when sick--the runaway
Bank clerk--the Hamburg Jew--the young lady going to Paris for spring
fashions--the newly-married barrister, with his bit of tawdry finery
from Norwood, silly, simpering, and fidgetty--the Irish landlord, sulky
and familiar by turns; all, even to the _Danseuse_, who, too refined for
such association, sits in her carriage on deck, have a terrible sameness
when seen, as I have done them, something like fifty times; nor can I
suppose their united attractions greatly heightened by the figure of
the pale gentleman, who coughs so incessantly, and whose wan cheek and
colourless eye are seen to such formidable contrast with the bronzed and
resolute face of the courier beside him.

Yet I would far rather think this want of due tolerance for my
travelling companions was a symptom of my malady, than of that truly
English disease--self-importance, I know of nothing that tracks our
steps on the Continent so invariably, nor is there any quality which
earns for us so much ill-will.

It is quite a mistake to suppose that these airs of superiority are only
assumed by persons of a certain rank and fortune--far from it. Every
denizen of Cheapside and the Minories that travels abroad, deems himself
immeasurably above "the foreigner." Strong in his City estimation, and
charged with the leader in "The Times," he struts about like an upstart
visiting the servants' hall, and expecting every possible demonstration
of respect in return for his condescension. Hence the unhappy disparity
between the situation of an Englishman and that of any other native
abroad. Instead of rejoicing at any casualty which presents to him a
chance-meeting with a countryman, he instinctively shrinks from it. He
sees the Frenchman, the Italian, the German, overjoyed at recognition
with some stranger from his own land, while _he_ acknowledges, in such a
contingency, only another reason for guardedness and caution. It is
not that our land is wanting in those sterling qualities which make men
respected and venerated--it is not that we are not, from principle and
practice, both more exacting in all the requisites of good faith, and
more tenacious of truth, than any people of the Continent;--it is simply
that we are the least tolerant to every thing that differs from what we
have at home, that we unscrupulously condemn whatever is un-English;
and, not satisfied with this, we expect foreigners to respect and admire
us for the very censure we pass upon their institutions.

There is, therefore, nothing so compromising to an Englishman abroad as
a countryman; except--_hélas_ that I should say so!--a countrywoman!

Paris is very beautiful in spring. There is something radiant and
gorgeous in the commingled splendour of a great city, with the calmer
beauties of leafy foliage and the sparkling eddies of the bright river.
Better, however, not to dwell longer on this theme, lest my gloomy
thoughts should stray into the dark and crime-trodden alleys of the Bois
de Boulogne, or the still more terrible filets de St. Cloud! How sad
is it when one's temperament should, as if instinctively, suggest the
mournful view of each object! Rather let me jot down a little incident
of this morning--an event which has set my heart throbbing, and my pulse
fluttering, at a rate that all the Prussic acid I have learned to take
cannot calm down again.

There come now and then moments to the sick man, when to be well and
vigorous he would consent to be poor, unfriended in the world--taking
health alone for his heritage. I felt that half an hour ago--but it is
gone again. And now to my adventure, for, in my unbroken dream of daily
life, it seems such.

I have said I am lodged at the Hôtel des Princes. How different are my
quarters from those I inhabited when first I saw this city! This would
entail a confession, however, and I shall make it some other day. My
salon is No. 21, the first drawing-room to the right as you turn from
the grand staircase, and opening by the three spacious windows on a
balcony overlooking the Rue de Richlieu. It is, indeed, a very splendid
apartment, as much so as immense mirrors, gilding, bronze, and or moulu
can make it. There are soft couches and chairs, and ottomans too, that
would inspire rest, save when the soul itself was restless.

Well. I lounged out after breakfast for a short stroll along the
Boulevards, where the shade of the trees and the well-watered path were
most inviting. Soon wearied--I cannot walk in a crowd--I returned to the
hôtel; slowly toiled up-stairs, waking the echoes with my teasing cough;
and, instead of turning to the right, I went left, taking the wrong
road, as I have so often done in life; and then, mistaking the numerals,
I entered No. 12 instead of No. 21. Who would credit it, that the
misplacement of a unit could prove so singular.

There was one change alone which struck me. I could not find the book
I was reading--a little volume of Auerbach's village stories of the
Schwartz-Walders. There was, however, another in its place, one
that told of humble life in the provinces--not less truthful and
heart-appealing--but how very unlike! It was Balzac's story of "Eugénie
Grandet," the most touching tale I have ever read in any language. I
have read it a hundred times, and ever with renewed delight. Little
troubling myself to think how it came there--for, like an old and valued
friend, its familiar features were always welcome--I began again to read
it.

Whether the result of some peculiar organisation, or the mere
consequence of ill health, I know not, but I have long remarked, that
when a book has taken a strong hold upon me--fascinating my attention
and engaging all my sympathies, I cannot long continue its perusal.
I grow dreary and speculative; losing the thread of the narrative, I
create one for myself, imagining a variety of incidents and scenes quite
foreign to the intention of the writer, and identifying myself usually
with some one personage or other of the story--till the upshot of all
is, I drop off asleep, to awake an hour or so afterwards with a very
tired brain, and a very confused sense of the reality or unreality of my
last waking sensations.

It is, therefore, rather a relief to me, when, as in the present case,
the catastrophe is known to me, and all speculation on the future
denied. Poor Eugénie, how I felt for all your sorrows!--wondrous
spectacle of a heart that could transmute its one absorbing passion into
another, and from love, the fondest and most confiding, beget a pure and
disinterested friendship!

At last the book glided unnoticed from my hand, and I slept. The sofa
where I lay stood in a part of the room where a deep shadow fell from
the closed _jalousies_ of a window, so that any person might easily have
entered or traversed the apartment without noticing me. I slept calmly
and without a stir--my dreaming thoughts full of that poor girl's love.
How little does any first passion depend upon the excellence of the
object that creates it! How ideal, purely ideal, are those first
emotions of the heart! I knew something of this, too; for, when
young--very young, and very impressionable, with a strong dash of
romance in my nature, that lent its Claude Lorraine tint to all I looked
at, I fell in love. Never was the phrase more fitting. It was no gradual
or even imperceptible declension, but a headlong, reckless plunge; such
as some confident and hardy swimmer, or very often a bold bather, makes
into the water, that all may be quickly over.

I had been appointed _attaché_ at Vienna, where Lord Newington was then
ambassador--a widower with an only daughter. I was very young, fresh
from Woolwich, where I had been studying for the Artillery service, when
the death of a distant relative, who but a year before had refused to
see me, put me in possession of a very large fortune. My guardian, Lord
Elderton, an old _diplomate_, at once removed me from Woolwich, and,
after a short sojourn at his house near Windsor, I was introduced into
what Foreign-office people technically denominate "The Line," and what
they stoutly uphold as the only career for a gentleman.

I must some day or other jot down a few recollections of my life at
Gortham, Lord Elderton's seat, where, with Grotius and Puffendorf of a
morning, and old Sir Robert Adams and Lord Hailiebury of an evening, I
was believed to be inhaling the very atmosphere of learned diplomacy.
Tiresome old gentlemen, whose thoughts stood fast at the time of Fox and
Pitt, and, like a clock that went down in the night, steadily pointed to
an hour long bygone. How wearied I was of discussions as to whether the
King of Prussia would declare war, or the Emperor of Austria make peace!
whether we should give up Malta, and lose Hanover! Pitt must, indeed,
have been a man of "dark counsels," for, whether he wished for an
alliance with France or not was a nightly topic of debate, without a
chance of agreement.

All these discussions, far from tending to excite my ardour for the
career, served to make me dread it, as the most tiresome of all possible
pursuits. The light gossip, too, over which they regaled themselves with
such excellent relish, was insupportably dull. Who could care for the
pointless repartees of defunct Grand Dukes, or the meaningless caprices
of long-buried Archduchesses?

If, then, I was glad to escape from Gortham and its weary company, I had
formed no very sanguine expectations of pleasure at Vienna.

I saw very little of the Continent in this my first journey. I was
consigned to the charge of a cabinet messenger, who had orders to
deliver me "safe" at Vienna. Poor M'Kaye, slight as I was, he left me
very little of the small _coupé_ we travelled in. He weighed something
more than twenty stone, a heaving mass of fat and fretting: the great
misery of his life being that Washington Irving had held him up to
European ridicule, for he was the original "Stout Gentleman" whose heavy
perambulations overhead suggested that inimitable sketch.

We arrived at Vienna some hours after dark, and after speedily
traversing the narrow and winding streets of the capital, drew up within
the _porte-cochère_ of the English embassy. There was a grand ball
at the embassy--a sovereign's birth-day, or a coronation, I forget
which--but I can well remember the dazzling splendour of the grand
staircase, a blaze of wax-lights, and glittering with the brilliant
lustre of jewelled dresses and gorgeous uniforms; but, perhaps, even
more struck by the frequent announcement of names which were familiar
to me as almost historical personages--the Ester-hazies, the
Schwarzenbergs, and the Lichtensteins, when suddenly, with almost
a shock, I heard my own untitled name called aloud, "Mr. Horace
Templeton." It is, I believe, a very old gentry name, and has maintained
a fair repute for some half-dozen centuries; but, I own, it clinked
somewhat meagre on the ear amid the high-sounding syllables of Austrian
nobility.

I stood within the doorway of the grand salon, almost stunned by the
sudden transition from the dark monotony of a night-journey to the
noonday blaze of splendour before me, when a gentle tap from a bouquet
on my arm aroused me, and a very silvery voice, in accents every one of
which sank into my heart, bade me welcome to Vienna. It was Lady Blanche
Newington that spoke--the most lovely creature that ever beauty and
station combined to form. Fascinations like hers were new to me: she
mingled gentleness of manner with a spiritual liveliness, that seemed
ever ready to say the right thing at the right moment. The ease with
which, in different languages, she addressed the various individuals
of the company, employing all the little delicate forms of those
conventionalities French and Italian so abound in, and through all, an
unobtrusive solicitude to please, that was most captivating.

My whole occupation that night was to steal after her unobserved, and
gaze with delight at traits of manner that my ardent imagination had
already elevated into graces of mind. I was very much in love--so much
so that, ere a few weeks went over, iny brother attachés saw it, and
tormented me unceasingly on the subject. Nay, they went further: they
actually told Lady Blanche herself, so that I dreaded to meet her, not
knowing how she might treat my presumption. I fancied all manner of
changes in her bearing towards me--reserve, coldness, perhaps disdain.
Nothing of the kind! She was only more familiar and cordial than ever.
Had I known more of the world, or of the feminine part of it, I should
have read this differently: as it was, it overwhelmed me with delight.
There was a frankness in her tone towards me, too; for, now, she
discussed the temper and character of our mutual acquaintances, and with
a shrewdness of criticism strange in one so young. At last we came
to talk of a certain Count de Favancourt, the secretary of the French
embassy; and as I mentioned his name she said, somewhat abruptly,

"I half suspect you don't like the Count?"

"Who could?" replied I, eagerly; "is he not a '_Fat?_'"--using that
precious monosyllable by which his countrymen designate a certain class
of pretenders.

She laughed, and I went on, not sorry to have an opportunity of
severity on one for whom I had conceived an especial hatred--indeed,
not altogether without cause, since he had, on more than one occasion,
marked the difference of our official rank in a manner sufficiently
pointed to be offensive;

and yet, the rigid etiquette observable to another embassy forbade all
notice of whatever could be passed over.

Like a very young man, I did not bound my criticism on the Count by
what I saw and observed in his manner, but extended it to every possible
deduction I could draw from his air and bearing; winding up all by a
very broadly-hinted doubt that those ferocious whiskers and that deep
baritone were any thing but a lion's skin over a very craven heart.

The last words were scarcely uttered, when a servant announced the Count
de Favancourt. There is something, to a young person at least--I fancy I
should not mind it now--so overwhelming on the sudden appearance of any
one on whom the conversation has taken a turn of severity, that I arose
confused and uneasy--I believe I blushed; at all events, I perceived
that Lady Blanche remarked my discomfiture, and her eyes glanced on
me with an expression I never observed before. As for the Count, he
advanced and made his deep reverence without ever noticing me, nor, even
while taking his seat, once shewed any consciousness of my presence.

Burning with indignation that I could scarce repress, I turned towards
a table, and affected to occupy myself tossing over the prints and
drawings that lay about--my maddened thoughts rendered still more
insufferable from fancying that Lady Blanche and the Count seemed on far
better and more intimate footing than I had ever known them before.

Some other visitors being announced, I took the occasion to retire
unobserved, and had just reached the landing of the stairs when I heard
a foot behind me. I turned--it was Favancourt. For the first time in my
life, I perceived a smile upon his countenance--an expression, I own,
that became it even less than his habitual stern scowl.

"You have done me the honour, sir," said he, "to make some observations
on my manner, which, I regret to learn, has not acquired your favourable
opinion. Now, I have a strong sense of the _inconvenance_ of any thing
like a rupture of amicable relations between the embassy I have the
honour to serve and that to which you belong. It is, then, exceedingly
unpleasant for me to notice your remarks--it is impossible for me to let
them pass unnoticed."

He made a pause at these words, and so long that I felt bound to speak,
and, in a voice that passion had rendered slightly tremulous, said,

"Am I to receive this, sir, in the light of a rebuke? because, as yet,
I only perceive it conveys the expression of your own regret that you
cannot demand an explanation I am most ready to afford you.

"My demand is somewhat different, sir, but, I trust, will be as readily
accorded. It is this: that you resign your position as _attaché_ to
this embassy, and leave Vienna at once. There is no necessity that any
unfavourable notice of this affair should follow you to another mission,
or to England."

"Stop, sir, I beg of you: I cannot be answerable for my temper, if you
persist to outrage it. While you may press me to acknowledge that,
while half an hour ago I only deemed you a 'Fat,' I now account you an
imbecile.'"

"Enough!" said the Count, passing down the stairs before me.

When I reached my lodgings, I found a "friend" from him, who arranged
a speedy meeting. We fought that same evening, behind the Prater, and I
received his ball in my shoulder--mine, pierced his hat. I was recalled
before my wound permitted me to leave my bed. The day I left Vienna,
Lady Blanche was married to Count Favancourt!

Some fourteen years had elapsed since that event and the time in which
I now lay sleeping on the sofa; and yet, after all that long
interval--with all its scenes of varied interests, its stormy passions,
its hopes, its failures, its successes--the image of Blanche was before
my mind's eye, as brightly, joyously fair, as on the evening I first
beheld her. I had forgotten all, that time and worldly knowledge had
taught me, that, of all her attractions, her beauty only was real--that
the graceful elegance of her bearing was only manner--that her
gentleness was manner--her winning softness and delicacy mere
manner--that all the fair endowments that seemed the rich promise of
a gifted mind, united to a nature so bounteously endowed, were mere
manner. She was _spirituelle_, lively, animated, and brilliant--all,
from nothing but manner. To this knowledge I did not come without many a
severe lesson. The teaching has been perfect, however, and made me
what I am! Alas! how is it that mere gilding can look so like solid
gold--nay, be made to cover more graceful tracery, and forms more purely
elegant, than the real metal?

I have said that I slept; and, as I lay, dreams came over me--dreams of
that long-past time, when the few shadows that fell over my path in life
were rather spots where, like the traveller on a sunny road, one halts
to breathe awhile, and taste in the cool shade the balmy influence of
repose. I thought of Blanche, too, as first I had seen her, and when
first she taught my heart to feel the ecstasy of loving, breathing into
my nature high hopes and longings, and making of life itself an ideal of
delight and happiness. And, as I dreamed, there stole over my senses
a faint, thrilling memory of that young joy my heart had known, and a
feeling like that of health and ardent buoyancy, which for years long I
had not experienced. _Her_ voice, tremulous with feeling, vibrating
in all the passionate expression of an Italian song, was in my ears--I
could hear the words--my very heart throbbed to their soft syllables as
she sung the lines of Metastasio,--

     "E tu, qui sa si te
     Ti sovrerai  di  me."

I started--there she was before me, bending over the harp, whose cords
still trembled with the dying sounds; the same Blanche I had known and
loved, but slightly changed indeed: more beautiful perhaps in womanhood
than as a girl. Her long and silky hair fell over her white wrist and
taper hand in loose and careless tresses, for she had taken off her
bonnet, which lay on the floor beside her; her attitude was that of
weariness--nay, there was a sigh! Good Heavens! is she weeping? My book
fell to the ground; she started up, and, in a voice not louder than a
whisper, exclaimed, "Mr. Templeton!"

"Blanche!--Lady Blanche!" cried I, as my head swam round in a strange
confusion, and a dim and misty vapour danced before my eyes.

"Is this a visit, Mr. Templeton?" said she, with that soft smile I had
loved so well; "am I to take this surprise for a visit?"

"I really--I cannot understand--I thought--I was certain that I was in
my own apartment. I believed I was in Paris, in the Hôtel des Princes."

"Yes, and most correct were all your imaginings; only that at this
moment you are _chez moi_--this is our apartment, No. 12."

"Oh, forgive me, I beg, Lady Blanche!--the similarity of the rooms, the
inattentive habit of an invalid, has led to this mistake."

"I heard you had been ill," said she, in an accent full of melting
tenderness; while taking a seat on a sofa, by a look rather than an
actual gesture she motioned me to sit beside her: "you are much paler
than you used to be."

"I have been ill," said I, struggling to repress emotion and a fit of
coughing together.

"It is that dreadful life of England, depend upon it," said she eagerly;
"that fearful career of high excitement and dissipation combined--the
fatigues of parliament--the cares and anxieties of party--the tremendous
exertions for success--the torturing dread of failure. Why didn't you
remain in diplomacy?"

"It looked so very like idling," said I, laughingly, and endeavouring to
assume something of her own easy tone.

"So it is. But what better can one have, after all?" said she, with a
faint sigh.

"When they are happy," added I, stealing a glance at her beneath my
eyelids. She turned away, however, before I had succeeded, and I could
merely mark that her breathing was quick and hurried.

"I hope you have no grudge towards Favancourt?" said she hastily, and
with a manner that shewed how difficult it was to disguise agitation.
"He would be delighted to see you again! He is always talking of your
success in the House, and often prophesies the most brilliant
advancement for you."

"I have outlived resentment," said I, in a low whisper: "would that I
could add, other feelings were as easily forgotten."

Not at once catching my meaning, she turned her full and lustrous eyes
upon me, and then suddenly aware of my words, or reading the explanation
in my own looks, she blushed deeply, and after a pause said,

"And what are your plans now? do you remain here some time?"

"No, I am trying to reach Italy. It has become as classic to die there
nowadays, as once it was to live in that fair land."

"Italy!" interrupted she, blushing still deeper. "Favancourt is now
asking for a mission there--Naples is vacant."

This time I succeeded in catching her eyes, but she hastily withdrew
them, and we were both silent.

"Have you been to the Opera yet?" said she, with a voice full of all its
habitual softness.

"You forget," said I, smiling, "that I am an invalid: besides, I only
arrived here last night."

"Oh, I am sure that much will not fatigue you. The Duc de Blancard has
given us his box while we stay here, and we shall always have a place
for you; and I pray you to come; if not for the music, for my sake," she
added hastily: "for I own nothing can be possibly more stupid than
our nightly visitors. I hear of nothing but ministerial intrigue, the
tactics of the _centre droit_ and the opposition, with a little very
tiresome gossip of the Tuileries; and Favancourt thinks himself
political, when he is only prosy. Now, I long for a little real
chit-chat about London and our own people. _Apropos_, what became of
Lady Frances Gunnington? did she really marry the young cornet of
dragoons and sail for India?"

"The saddest is to be told: he was killed in the Punjaub, and she is now
coming home a widow."

"How very sad!--was she as pretty as they said?--handsomer than Lucy Fox
I have heard!"

"I almost think so."

"That is great praise from you, if there be any truth in _on dits_. Had
not you a kind of tenderness in that quarter?"

"Me!"

"Nay, don't affect surprise: we heard the story at Florence, and a very
funny story it was: that Lucy insisted upon it, if you didn't propose
for her, that she would for you, since she was determined to be
mistress of a certain black Arabian that you had; and that you, fearing
consequences, sent her the horse, and so compromised the affair."

"How very absurd!"

"But is it not true? Can you deny having made a present of the steed?"

"She did me the honour to accept of a pony, but the attenuating
circumstances are all purely imaginary."

"_Si non vero e ben trovato_.--It was exactly what she would do!"

"An unfair inference, which I feel bound to enter a protest against. If
we were only to charge our acquaintances with what we deem them capable
of----"

"Well, finish, I pray you."

"I was only about to add, what would become of ourselves?"

"Meaning you and me, for instance?"

I bowed an assent.

"'_Qui s'excuse, s'accuse_,' says the adage," rejoined she gaily: "I
neither do one nor the other. At the same time, let me confess to one
thing of which I am capable, which is, of detesting any one who in this
age of the world affects to give a tone of moralizing to a conversation.
Now I presume you don't wish this. I will even take it for granted, that
you would rather we were good friends, as we used to be long ago.--Oh
dear, don't sigh that way!"

"It was you that sighed!"

"Well, I am very sorry for it. It was wrong of _me_, and very wrong of
_you_ to tell me of it. But dear me! is it so late? can it really be
three o'clock?"

"I am a quarter past; but I think we must both be fast. You are going
out?"

"A mere drive in the Champs Elysées, where I shall pay a few visits and
be back to dinner. Will you dine with us?"

"I pray you to excuse me--don't forget I am a sick man."

"Well, then, we shall see you at the Opera?"

"I fear not. If I might ask a favour, it would be to take the volume of
Balzac away with me."

"Oh, to be sure! But we have some others, much newer. You know 'Le
Recherche de l'Absolu', already?"

"Yes; but I like 'Eugénie' still better. It was an old taste of mine,
and as you quoted a proverb a few moments ago, let me give you another
as trite and as true,--

     'On revient toujours.'"

     "'A ses premières amours,'"

said she, finishing; while with a smile, half playful, half sad, she
turned toward the window, and I retired noiselessly, and without an
adieu.

Heigho! how nervous and irritable I feel! The very sight of that
handsome barouche that has driven from the hôtel, with its beautiful
occupant lying listlessly back among the cushions, has set my heart
a-beating far far too hurriedly. How is it that the laws that govern
material nature are so inoperative in ours, and that a heart that never
felt can make another feel? Heaven knows! It is not love; even my first
passion, perhaps, little merited the name: but now, reading her as
worldliness as taught roe to do-seeing how little relation exists
between attractions and fascinations of the very highest order and any
real sentiment, any true feeling--knowing how "Life" is her idol, how in
that one idea is comprised all that vanity, self-love, false pride, and
passion can form,--how is it that she, whom I recognise thus, that _she_
can move me? There is nothing so like a battle as a sham fight in a
review.



CHAPTER II.

I must leave Paris at once. The weather is intolerably hot; the leaves
that were green ten days ago already are shewing symptoms of the sear
and yellow. Is it in compliment to the august inhabitant of the
palace that the garden is so _empressé_ to turn its coat? Shame on my
ingratitude to say so! for I find that his Majesty has sent me a card
of invitation to dine on Friday next. Another reason for a hurried
departure! Of all moderate endurances, I know of none to compare with a
dinner at the Tuileries. "Stay!--halt!" cries Memory; "I'll tell you of
one worse again--a dinner at Neuilly!"

The former is sure to include a certain number of distinguished and
remarkable men, who, even under the chill and restraint of a royal
entertainment, venture now and then on some few words that supply the
void where conversation should be. At Neuilly it is strictly a family
party, where, whatever ease may be felt by the illustrious hosts, the
guests have none of it. Juvenal quaintly asks, If that can be a battle
where you strike and I am beaten? so one is tempted to inquire, If that
can be called society where a royal personage talks rapidly for hours,
and the listener must not even look dissent? The King of the French is
unquestionably a great man, but not greater in any thing than in the
complete mystification in which he has succeeded in enveloping his real
character, mingling up together elements so strange, so incongruous,
and seemingly inconsistent, that the actual direction or object of any
political move he has ever made, will always bear a double appreciation.
The haughty monarch is the citizen king; the wily and secret politician,
the most free-spoken and candid of men: the most cautious in an
intrigue, the very rashest in action. How is it possible to divine the
meaning, or guess the wishes, of one whose nature seems so Protean?

His foreign policy is, however, the master-stroke of his genius,--the
cunning game by which he has conciliated the party of popular
institutions and beguiled the friends of absolutism, delighting Tom
Buncombe and winning praise from Nicholas. Like all clever men who are
vain of their cleverness, he has always been fond of employing agents of
inferior capacity, but of unquestionable devotion to his interests. What
small intelligences--to use a phrase more French than English--were
the greater number of the French ministers and secretaries I have met
accredited to foreign courts! I remember Talleyrand's observation, on
the remark being made, was, "His Majesty always keeps the trumps in
his own hand." Though, to be sure, he himself was an evidence to the
contrary--a "trump" led boldly out, the first card played!

So well did that subtle politician comprehend the future turn events
must take, that on hearing, at two o'clock in the morning, that his
Royal Highness the Duc d'Orléans had consented to assume the crown, he
exclaimed, "And I am now ambassador at St. James's!" It must have been
what the Londoners call "good fun" to have lived in the days of the
Empire, when all manner of rapid elevations occurred on every hand. The
_commis_ of yesterday, the special envoy to-day; a week ago a corporal,
and now gazetted an officer, with the cross of the Legion--on the
_grande route_, to become a general. A General, why not a Marshal of
France--ay, or a King?

We have seen something of this kind in Belgium within a few years
back--on a small scale, it is true. What strange ingredients did the
Revolution throw up to the surface! what a mass of noisy, turbulent,
self-opinionated incapables, who, because they had led a rabble at the
Porte de Flandre, thought they could conduct the march of an army!
And the statesmen!--good lack! the miserable penny-a-liners of the
"Indépendant" and the "Lion Beige," that admirable symbol of the land,
who carries his tail between his legs. The really able, and, I believe,
honest men, were soon overwhelmed by the influence of the priest
party--the vultures who watched the fight from afar, and at last
descended to take all the spoils of the victory.

Wandeweyer and Nothomb are both men of ability, the latter a kind of
Brummagen Thiers, with the same taste for intrigue, the same subtle
subserviency to the head of the state, and, in his heart, the same
cordial antipathy to England. But why dwell on these people? they will
scarce occupy a foot-note in the old "Almanach."

The diplomatic history of our day, if it ever be written, will present
no very striking displays of high-reaching intellect or devoted
patriotism; the men who were even greatest before the world were really
smallest behind "the fact." We deemed that Lord Aberdeen and Lord
Palmerston, and Messrs. Guizot and Thiers, and a few more, were either
hurrying us on to war or maintaining an admirable peace. But the whole
thing resolves itself into the work of one man and one mind; neither
very conspicuous, but so intently occupied, so devotedly persevering,
that persistance has actually elevated itself to genius; and falling
happily upon times when mediocrity is sublime, he has contrived to
make his influence felt in every state of Europe. I speak not of Louis
Philippe, but of his son-in-law, King Leopold.

"Let me make the ballads of a nation, and I care not who makes its
laws," said the great statesman; and in something of the same spirit his
Majesty of Belgium may have said, "Let me make the royal marriages of
Europe, and any one who pleases may choose the ministry."

_Apropos_ of the Roi Leopold, is it not difficult to understand a
Princess Charlotte falling in love with his good looks? There is no
disputing on this point. The most eminently successful man I ever knew
in ladies' society was Jack Beauclerc--"Caucasian Jack" we used to call
him at Brookes's. Everybody knows Jack was no beauty. Heavy beetling
brows, a dark, saturnine, ill-omened expression, was ever on his
features. Nor did his face light up at times, as one occasionally sees
with such men; he was always the same sail misanthropic-looking fellow.
Neither could one call him agreeable--at least I, meeting him very
often, never found him so. But he was of a determined, resolute nature;
one of those men that appear never to turn from any object on which they
have set a strong will. This may have gone very far with ladies, who
very often conceive a kind of esteem for whatever they fear. He said
himself that his secret was, "always using them ill;" and certainly, if
facts could bear out such a theory, one might believe him. Probably no
man ever cultivated these tastes with such assiduity--these, I say, for
play and duelling were also passions with him.

He was _attaché_ to our mission at Naples before he was sixteen, and had
the honour of wounding the old Marquis d'Espagna with the small sword
at the same precocious era. The duel originated after a truly Italian
manner; and as there are at Naples many incorrect reports of it, I
will take the trouble to give the real one. The Marquis was an old man,
married to one of the most beautiful women in Italy. She was a Venetian,
and if my memory serves me right, a Guillardini by birth. She married
him at eighteen to escape a convent, he being the richest noble under
the rank of the blood royal at Naples. Very unlike the majority of
Italian husbands, the Marquis was excessively jealous, would not permit
the most innocent freedoms of his young and lovely wife, and eventually
secluded himself and--worse still--her from all society, and never
appeared except at a court ball, or some such festivity that there were
no means of avoiding. It was at one of these festivities that the King,
who liked to see his ball-room put forth its fairest aspect, bantered
the Marquis on the rumour that had even reached the ears of royalty,
as to his inordinate jealousy. The Marquis, whose old spirit of
courtiership predominated even as strongly as his jealousy, assured his
Majesty that the worthy people of Naples did him great injustice,
and that, although conscious of the Marquesa's great beauty and
attractiveness, he had yet too high a sense of the distinguished place
he and his family had always held in the esteem of his sovereign to feel
jealous of any man's pretension; adding, "If I have not admitted the
conventional addition of a _cavalière servente_ to my household, I would
beg your Majesty to believe it is simply because I have seen no one as
yet worthy to hand la Mar-quesa to her carriage or fold her shawl."

"Admirably spoken, Marquis!" said the King; "the sentiment is quite
worthy of one who has the best blood of Sicily in his veins. But
remember what an artificial state of society we live in; think of our
conventional usages, and what a shock it gives to public opinion when
one, placed in so exalted a position as you are, so palpably affronts
universal and admitted custom; recollect that your reserve involves a
censure on others, less suspicious, and, we would hope, not less rigidly
honourable men, than yourself."

"But what would your Majesty counsel?"

"Select a _cavalière_ yourself, as little likely to excite your jealousy
as you please; as little agreeable as possible, if you prefer it: but,
comply at least so far with the world's prescription, and do not shock
our worthy Neapolitans by appearing to reflect upon them. There, what
say you to that boy yonder? he is only a boy--he has just joined the
English mission here. I'm sure he has formed no tender engagements to
prevent you adopting him, and you will at least seem to conform with the
usages of your neighbours."

"If your Majesty commands----"

"Nay, Marquis, I but advise."

"Your Majesty's wish is always a command. I feel proud to obey."

"Then, I am very happy to say I wish it," said the King, who turned
away, dying to tell the court-party how miserable he had made the old
Marquis.

Such are _débauché_ Kings; the glorious prerogative of power becomes the
mere agent of perverted ingenuity to work mischief and do wrong!

The poor Marquis lost no time to follow out the royal commands, and at
once made acquaintance with Beauclerc--only too happy to be noticed in
such a quarter. I know not whether the lady was much gratified by the
result of this kingly interposition in her favour: some said, Yes, and
that the youth was really gifted and _spirituel_, with a vein of
quiet, caustic humour, most amusing; others--and I half incline to
this notion--pronounced him dull and uninteresting. At all events, the
Marquesa enjoyed the liberty of appearing often in public, and seeing
more of the world than heretofore. She usually visited the San Carlos,
too, twice a week; a great improvement in her daily life, as previously
the Opera was denied her.

Immediately over the Marquesa's box was the large box, or rather
_salon_, belonging to the club of the Italian _nobili_, who frequented
the theatre far less for the pleasures of the opera and the ballet
than for the more exciting delights of _faro_ and _écarté_; and here,
nightly, were assembled all the most dissipated and spendthrift youth
of a capital, whose very gravest and most exemplary citizens would be
reckoned "light company" any where else.

High play, with all its consequences of passionate outbreaks, ruin,
and duelling, were the pastimes of this ill-fated _loge_; and,
notwithstanding the attractions the box underneath contained, Jack
Beauclerc was far oftener in the second tier than the first. He was,
indeed, a most inveterate gambler; and the few moments which he devoted
to attending the Marquesa to her box, or her carriage, were so many
instants of pregnant impatience till he was back at the play-table.

It was on one evening, when, having lost a very heavy sum, that his turn
came to deal; and, with the superstitious feeling that only a play-man
can understand, he resolved to stake a very large amount upon the
game. The attention of the bystanders--never very deeply engaged by the
_scène_--was now entirely engrossed by the play-table, where Beauclerc
and his adversary were seated at _écarté_. It was that critical moment
when the cards were dealt, but the trump not yet turned, and Beauclerc
sat enjoying, with a gambler's "malign" delight, the eager anxiety in
the other player's countenance, when suddenly a voice said,--

"Ha, Beauclerc! the Marquesa is rising--she is about to leave the
theatre."

"Impossible!" said he; "it is only the second act."

"It is quite true, though," rejoined another; "she is putting on her
mantle."

"Never mind our party, then," cried Beauclerc's antagonist; "I will hold
myself ready to play the match out whenever you please."

"I please it now, then!" said he, with a degree of energy that heavy
losses had, in spite of him, rendered uncontrollable.

"Il Signor Beauclerc!" said a servant, approaching, "the Marquis
d'Espagna desires to see you."

"Tell him I am engaged--I can't come," said Beauclerc, turning up the
trump-card, which he held out triumphantly before his adversary, saying,
"The king!"

At the same instant the old Marquis entered, and, approaching the table,
whispered a few words in his ear. If an adder had pierced him with its
sting, Beauclerc could not have started with a more agonised expression;
and he sprang from the chair and rushed out of the theatre, not by the
door, however, where the Marquesa's carriage was yet standing, but by a
private passage, which led more easily towards his lodgings.

"What is this piece of news, that all are so amused by?" said the King,
the next morning, as he was rising.

"Your majesty alludes to the Marquis d'Es-pagna, no doubt," said Count
Villafranca. "He challenged the young English _attaché_ last night, at
the theatre, and they have been out this morning; and, strange to say,
that the Marquis, the very best swordsman we have ever had here, was
disarmed and run through the side by his antagonist."

"Is the wound dangerous?" said the King, coolly.

"I believe not, your Majesty. Beauclerc has behaved very well since it
happened; he has not left the Marquis for a moment, and has, they say,
asked pardon most humbly for his offence, which was, indeed, a very
gross neglect of the Marchesa no husband could pardon."

"So I heard," said the King, yawning. "The Marquis is very tiresome, and
a great bore: but, for all that, he is a man of spirit; and I am glad
he has shewn this young foreigner that Italian honour cannot be outraged
with impunity!"

Such is the true version; and, let people smile as they like at the
theory, I can assure them it is no laughing matter. It is, doubtless,
somewhat strange to our northern ideas of domestic happiness that a
husband should feel called on to punish a want of sufficient attention
to his wife, from the man whom the world regards as her lover. We have
our own ideas on the subject; and, however sensitive we may feel on this
subject, I sincerely hope we shall never push punctilio so far as the
Neapolitans.

Such, without the slightest exaggeration, are the pictures Italy
presents, for more impressive on the minds of our travelling youth than
all that Correggio has touched or Raphael rendered immortal. Will their
contemplation injure us? Shall we become by habit more lenient to vice,
and less averse to its shame? or shall we, as some say, be only more
charitable to others, and less hypocritical ourselves? I sadly fear
that, in losing what many call "our affected prudery," we lose the best
safeguard of virtue. It was, at the least, the "livery of honour," and
we shewed ourselves not ashamed to wear it. And yet there are those who
will talk to you--ay, and talk courageously--of the domestic LIFE OP
ITALY!

The remark has been so often made, that by the mere force of repetition
it has become like an acknowledged truth, that, although strangers
are rarely admitted within its precincts, there exists in Italy and
in Italian cities a state of domestic enjoyment to which our boasted
home-life in England must yield the palm. Never was there any more
absurd assertion less propped by fact--never was the "_ignotum_" so
easily taken "_pro beatifico_."

The domestic life of England has no parallel in any part of Europe,
save, perhaps, in some of the French provinces, where the old "_vie du
château_" presents something similar; but, even there, it rather lingers
like the spirit of a departed time, the relic of bygone associations,
than in the full reign of a strong national taste. In Germany,
notwithstanding the general impression to the contrary, there is
still less of it: the passion for household duties by the woman, the
irresistible charms of beer and tobacco to the men, suggest different
paths; and while she indulges her native fondness for cookery and
counting napkins at home, he, in some wine-garden, dreams away life
in smoke-inspired visions of German regeneration and German unity. In
Italy, however, the points of contact between the members of a family
are still fewer again: the meal-times, that summon around the board the
various individuals of a house, are here unknown; each rises when
he pleases, and takes his cup of coffee or chocolate in solitary
independence--unseen, unknown, and, worse still, unwashed!

The drawing-room, that paradise of English home-existence, has no place
in the life of Italy. The lady of the house is never seen of a morning;
not that the cares of family, the duties of a household, engross
her--not that she is busied with advancing the education of her
children, or improving her own. No: she is simply _en deshabille_. That
is, to be sure, a courteous expression for a toilet that has cost scarce
five minutes to accomplish, and would require more than the indulgence
one concedes to the enervation of climate to forgive.

The master of the family repairs to the café: his whole existence
revolves around certain little tables, with lemonade, sorbets, and
dominoes; his physical wants are, indeed, few, but his intellectual
ones even fewer; he cares little for politics--less for literature; his
thoughts have but one theme--intrigue; and his whole conversation is a
sort of _chronique scandaleuse_ on the city he lives in.

There is a tone of seeming good-nature--an easy, mock charity, in the
way he treats his neighbours' backslidings--that have often suggested to
strangers favourable impressions as to the kindliness of the people; but
this is as great an error as can be: the real explanation of the fact is
the levity of national feeling, and the little impression that breaches
of morality make upon a society dead to all the higher and better
dictates of virtue--such offences being not capital crimes, but mere
misdemeanours.

The dinner-hour occasionally, but not always, assembles the family to
a meal that in no respect resembles that in more civilised communities.
The periodical return of a certain set of forms--those _convenances_
which inspire, at the same time, regard for others and self-respect--the
admixture of courtesy with cordial enjoyment--have no representatives
around a board where the party assemble, some dusty and heated, others
wrapped up in dressing-gowns--all negligent, inattentive to each other,
and weary of themselves--tired of the long, unbroken morning, which
no occupation lightens, no care beguiles, no duty elevates. The Siesta
follows, evening draws near, and at last the life of Italy dawns--dawns
when the sun is setting! It is the hour of the theatre--the Theatre, the
sole great passion of the nation, the one rallying point for every grade
and class. Thither, now, all repair; and for a brief interval the
silent streets of the city bustle with the life and movement of the
inhabitants, as, on foot or in carriages, they hasten past.

The "business of the _scène_" is the very least among the attractions of
a theatre in Italy. The opera-box is the drawing-room, the only one of
an Italian lady; it is the club-room of the men. Whist and faro,
ombre and piquet, dispute the interest with the _prima donna_ or the
_danseuse_ in one box; while in another the fair occupant turns from the
ardent devotion of stage-passion to listen to the not less impassioned,
but as unreal, protestation of her admirer beside her.

That the drama, as such, is not the attraction, it is sufficient to
say that the same piece is often played forty, fifty, sometimes seventy
nights in succession, and yet the boxes lose few, if any, of their
occupants. Night after night the same faces reappear, as regularly as
the actors; the same groupings are formed, the selfsame smiles go round;
and were it not that no trait of _ennui_ is discernible, you would say
that levity had met its own punishment in the dreariness of monotony.
These boxes seldom pass out of the same family; from generation to
generation they descend with the family mansion, and are as much a
part of the domestic property of a house as the rooms of the residence.
Furnished and lighted up according to the taste and at the discretion
of the owner, they present to eyes only habituated to our theatres the
strangest variety, and even discordance, of aspect: some, brilliant in
wax-light and gorgeous in decoration, glitter with the jewelled dresses
of the gay company; others, mysteriously sombre, shew the shadowy
outlines of an almost shrouded group, dimly visible in the distance.

The theatre is the very spirit and essence of life in Italy. To the
merchant it is the Bourse; it is the club to the gambler, the _café_ to
the lounger, the drawing-room and the boudoir to the lady. But where is
the domestic life?



CHAPTER III.

Another note from Favancourt, asking me to dine and meet Alfred de
Vigny, whose "Cinque Mars" I praised so highly. Be it so; I am curious
to see a Frenchman who has preferred the high esteem of the best critics
of his country, to the noisy popularity such men as Sue and Dumas write
for.

De Vigny is a French Washington Irving, with more genius, higher taste,
but not that heartfelt appreciation of tranquil, peaceful life, that the
American possesses. As episode, his little'tale, the "Canne de Jonc," is
one of the most affecting I ever read. From the outset you feel that the
catastrophe must be sad, yet there is nothing harassing or wearying in
the suspense. The cloud of evil, not bigger than a man's hand at first,
spreads gradually till it spans the heavens from east to west, and night
falls solemn and dark, but without storm or hurricane.

I scarcely anticipate that such a writer can be a brilliant converser.
The best gauge I have ever found of an authors agreeability, is in the
amount of dialogue he throws into his books. Wherever narrative, pure
narrative, predominates, and the reflective tone prevails, the author
will be, perhaps necessarily, more disposed to silence. But he who
writes dialogue well, must be himself a talker. Take Scott, for
instance; the very character of his dialogue scenes was the type of his
own social powers: a strong and nervous common sense; a high chivalry,
that brooked nothing low or mean; a profound veneration for antiquity;
an innate sense of the humorous, ran through his manner in the world, as
they display themselves in his works.

See Sheridan, too, he talked the School for Scandal all his life;
whereas Goldsmith was a dull man in company. Taking this criterion,
Alfred de Vigny will be quiet, reserved, and thoughtful; pointed,
perhaps, but not brilliant. _Apropos_ of this talking talent, what has
become of it? French _causerie_, of which one hears so much, was no more
to be compared to the racy flow of English table-talk, some forty
years back, than a group of artificial flowers is fit to compete with
a bouquet of richly scented dew-spangled buds, freshly plucked from the
garden.

Lord Brougham is our best man now, the readiest--a great quality--and,
strange as it may sound to those who know him not, the best-natured,
with anecdote enough to point a moral, but no storyteller; using his
wit as a skilful cook does lemon-juice--to flavour but not to sour the
_plat_.

Painters and anglers, I have remarked, are always silent, thoughtful
men. Of course I would not include under this judgment such as portrait
and miniature painters, who are about, as a class, the most tiresome and
loquacious twaddlers that our unhappy globe suffers under. Wilkie must
have been a real blessing to any man sentenced to sit for his picture:
he never asked questions, seldom indeed did he answer them; he had
nothing of that vulgar trick of calling up an expression in his sitter;
provided the man staid awake, he was able always to catch the traits of
feature, and, when he needed it, evoke the _prevailing_ character of
the individual's expression by a chance word or two. Lawrence was really
agreeable--so, at least, I have always heard, for he was before my day;
but I suspect it was that officious agreeability of the artist, the
smartness that lies in wait for a smile or the sparkle of the eye, that
he may transmit it to the panel.

The great miniature painter of our day is really a specimen of a
miniature intelligence--the most incessant little driveller of worse
than nothings: the small gossip that is swept down the back-stairs of a
palace, the flat commonplaces of great people, are his stock-in-trade:
the only value of such contributions to history is, that they must be
true. None but kings could be so tiresome! I remember once sitting to
this gentleman, when only just recovering from an illness, and when
possibly I endured his forced and forty-horse power of small talk with
less than ordinary patience. He had painted nearly every crowned head
in Europe--kings, kaisers, archdukes, and grand-duchesses in every
principality, from the boundless tracts of the Czar's possessions, to
those states which emulate the small green turf deposited in a bird's
cage. Dear me! how wearisome it was to hear him recount the ordinary
traits that marked the life of great people, as if the greatest Tory of
us all ever thought Kings and Queens were anything but men and women!

I listened, as though in a long distressing dream, to narratives of how
the Prince de Joinville, so terribly eager to burn our dockyards and
destroy our marine, could be playful as a lamb in his nursery with the
children. How Louis Philippe held the little Count de Paris fast in
his chair till his portrait was taken. (Will he be able to seat him so
securely on the throne of France?) How the Emperor of Austria, with
a simplicity of a great mind and a very large head, always thought he
could sit behind the artist and watch the progress of his own picture!
I listened, I say, till my ears tingled and my head swam, and in that
moment there was not a "bounty man" from Kentucky or Ohio that held
royalty more cheaply than myself. Just at this very nick my servant
came to whisper me, that an agent for Messrs. Lorch, Rath; et Co., the
wine-merchants of Frankfort, had called, by my desire, to take an order
for some hock. Delighted at the interruption, I ordered he should be
admitted, and the next moment a very tall pretentious-looking German,
with a tremendously frogged and Brandenburged coat, and the most
extensive beard and moustaches, entered, and with all the ceremonial of
his native land saluted us both, three times over.

I received him with the most impressive and respectable politeness, and
seemed, at least, only to resume my seat after his expressed permission.
The artist, who understood nothing of German, watched all our
proceedings with a "miniature eye," and at last whispered gently, "Who
is he?"

"Heavens!" said I, in a low tone, "don't you know?--he is the Crown
Prince of Hanover!"

The words were not uttered when my little friend let fall his palette
and sprang off his chair, shocked at the very thought of his being
seated in such presence. The German turned towards him one of those
profoundly austere glances that only a foreign bagman or an American
tragedian can compass, and took no further notice of him.

The interview over, I accompanied him to the antechamber, and then took
my leave, to the horror of Sir C-----, who asked me at least twenty
times, "why I did not go down to the door?"

"Oh, we are old friends," said I; "I knew him at Gottingen a dozen years
ago, and we never stand on any ceremony together." My fiction, miserable
as it was, served me from further anecdotes of royalty, since what
private history of kings could astonish the man on such terms of
familiarity with the Crown Prince of Hanover?

Talking of Hanover, and _apropos_ of "humbugs," reminds me of a
circumstance that amused me at the time it occurred. Soon after the
present King of Hanover ascended the throne, the Orangemen of Ireland,
who had long been vain of their princely Grand Master, had sufficient
influence on the old corporation of Dublin to carry a motion that a
deputation should be despatched to Hanover, to convey to the foot of the
throne the sincere and respectful gratulations of the mayor, aldermen,
and livery of Dublin on the auspicious advent of his Majesty to the
crown of that kingdom. The debate was a warm one, but the majority which
carried the measure large; and, now, nothing remained but to name the
happy individuals who should form the deputation, and then ascertain in
what part of the globe Hanover lay, and how it should be come at.

Nothing but the cares of state and the important considerations of duty,
could prevent the mayor himself accepting this proud task: the sheriffs,
however, were free. Their office was a sinecure, and they accordingly
were appointed, with a sufficient suite, fully capable of representing
to advantage, abroad, the wealth, splendour, and intelligence of the
"ancient and loyal corporation."

One of the sheriffs, and the chief member of the mission, was, if I
remember aright, a Mr. Timothy Brien; the name of the "lesser bear" I
have forgotten. Tim was, however, the spokesman, whenever speaking was
available; and when it was not, it was he that made the most significant
signs.

I was at the period a very young _attaché_ of the mission at Hanover;
our secretary, Melmond, being _chargé d'affaires_ in the absence of our
chief, Melmond was confined to bed by a feverish attack, and the duties
of the mission, limited to signing a passport or two once a-month, or
some such form, were performed by me. Despatches were never sent. The
Foreign Office told us, if we had any thing to say, to wait for the
Russian courier passing through, but not to worry them about anything.
I therefore had an easy post, and enjoyed all the dignities of office
without its cares. If I had only had the pay, I could have asked nothing
better.

It was, then, of a fine morning in May that Count Beulwitz, the Minister
for Foreign Affairs, was announced, and the same moment entered my
apartment. I was, I own it, not a little fluttered and flattered by this
mark of recognition on the part of a minister, and resolved to play my
part as deputy assistant _chargé d'affaires_ to my very utmost.

"I come, Mr. Templeton," said the minister, in a voice not quite free
from agitation, "to ask your counsel on a question of considerable
nicety; and as Mr. Melmond is still unable to attend to duty, you must
excuse me if I ask you to bestow the very gravest attention upon the
point."

I assumed the most Talleyrand of looks, and he went on.

"This morning there has arrived here in four carriages, with great
pomp and state, a special mission, sent from Ireland to convey the
congratulations of the government on his Majesty's accession to the
throne. Now we have always believed and understood that Ireland was a
part of the British empire, living under the same monarchy and the same
laws. If so, how can this mission be accredited? It would be a very
serious thing for us to recognise the partition of the British empire,
or the separation of an integral portion, without due thought and
consideration.

"It would be also a very bold step to refuse the advances of a state that
deputes such a mission as this appears to be. Do your despatches
from England give any clue by which we may guide our steps in this
difficulty? have you heard latterly what are the exact relations
existing between England and Ireland? You are aware that his Majesty is
at Berlin, and Barring and Von der Decken, who know England so well, are
both with him?"

I nodded assent, and, after a second's silence, a strong temptation to
quiz the Minister crossed my mind; and without even a guess at what
this mysterious deputation might mean, I gravely hinted that our last
accounts from Ireland were of the most serious nature. It was certainly
true that kingdom had been conquered by the English and subjected to the
crown of England, but there were the most well-founded reasons to fear
that the arrangement had not the element of a permanence. The descendant
of the ancient sovereigns of the land was a man of bold and energetic
and adventurous character; he was a prince of the house of O'Connell,
of which, doubtless, his Excellency had heard. There was no saying what
events might have occurred to favour his ambitious views, and whether
England might not have found the advantage of restoring a troublesome
land to its ancient dynasty.

"How does the present mission present itself--how accredited?"

"From the court of Dublin, with the great seal, so far as I can
understand the representation, for none of the embassy speak French."

"That sounds very formal and regular," said I, with deep gravity.

"So I think it, too," said his Excellency, who really was impressed by
the state-coach of Sheriff Timothy and three footmen in bag-wigs.
"At any rate," said he, "we must decide at once, and there can be no
hesitation about the matter. I suppose we must give them an audience of
the Crown Prince, and then let all rest till his Majesty returns, which
he will do on Friday next."

Without compromising myself by any assent, I looked as if he had spoken
very wisely, and his Excellency departed.

That same afternoon two state-carriages of the court, with servants
in dress livery, drew up at the Hof von London, the hôtel where the
deputation had taken up their quarters, and a _Maréchal de Cour_
alighted to inform the "Irish ambassador" that his Royal Highness the
Crown Prince would receive their homage in the absence of the King.
The intimation, more conveyed by pantomime than oral intelligence, was
replied to by an equivalent telegraph; but the sheriffs, in all their
gala, soon took their places in the carriage and set out for the palace.

Their reception was most flattering; enough to say, they had the honour
to address and be replied to by one of the most courteous princes of
Europe. An invitation to dinner, the usual civility to a newly arrived
mission, ensued, and the Irish embassy, overwhelmed with the brilliant
success of their journey, returned to the hôtel in a state of exaltation
that bordered on ecstasy.

Their corporation address, formidable by its portentous parchment and
official seal, had puzzled the Foreign Office in no ordinary way, and
was actually under their weighty consideration the following day, when
the King most unexpectedly made his _entreé_ into the capital. King
Ernest heard with some amazement, not unmingled by disbelief, that an
Irish diplomatic body had actually arrived at his court, and immediately
demanded to see their credentials. There is no need to recount the
terrible outbreak of temper which his Majesty displayed on discovering
the mistake of his ministers. The chances are, indeed, that, had he
called himself Pacha instead of King, he would have sentenced the Irish
ambassador and his whole following to be hanged like onions on the one
string. As it was, he could scarcely control his passion; and whatever
the triumphant pleasures of the day before, when a dinner-card for the
palace was conveyed by an aide-de-camp to the hotel, the "second Epistle
to Timothy" was a very awful contrast to its predecessor. The hapless
deputation, however, got leave to return unmolested, and betook
themselves to their homeward journey, the chief of the mission by
no means so well satisfied of his success in the part of the "Irish
Ambassador."

Now to dress for dinner. I wish I had said "No" to this same invitation.

Nothing is pleasanter when one is in health and spirits than a _petit
diner_; nothing is more distressing when one is weak, low, and dejected.
At a large party there is always a means of lying _perdu_, and neither
taking any share in the cookery or the conversation. At a small table
one must eat, drink, and be merry, though the _plat_ be your doom and
the talk be your destruction. There is no help for it; there is no
playing "supernumerary" in farce with four characters.

Is it yet too late to send an apology?--it still wants a quarter of
six, and six is the hour. I really cannot endure the fatigue and the
exhaustion.

Holland, besides, told me that any excitement would be prejudicial. Here
goes, then, for my excuse.... So! I'm glad I've done it. I feel myself
once more free to lie at ease on this ottoman and dream away the hours
undisturbed.

"Holloa! what's this, Legrelle?" "De la part de Madame la Comtesse, sir.
How provoking!--how monstrously provoking! She writes me, 'You really
must come. I will not order dinner till I see you.--Yours, &c. B.
de F------.' What a bore! and what an absurd way to incur an attack of
illness! There's nothing for it, however, but submission; and to-morrow,
if I'm able, I'll leave Paris.

"Legrelle, don't forget to order horses for tomorrow at twelve."

"What route does monsieur take?"

"Avignon--no, Strasbourg--Couilly, I think, is the first post. I should
like to see Munich once more, or, at least, its gallery. The city is
a poor thing, worthy of its people, and, I was going to say--no matter
what! Germany, in any case, for the summer, as I am sentenced to die
in Italy. I feel I am taking what the Irish call 'a long day' in not
crossing the Alps till late in autumn!"

How many places there are which one has been near enough to have visited
and somehow always neglected to see! and what a longing, craving wish to
behold them comes over the heart at such a time as this? What, then, is
"this time," that I speak it thus?

*****

How late it is! De Vigny was very agreeable, combining in his manner
a great deal of the refinement of a highly cultivated mind, with
the shrewd perception of a keen observer of the world. He is a
_Légitimiste_, I take it, without any hope of his party. This, after
all, is the sad political creed of all who adhere to the "elder branch."
Their devotion is indeed great, for it wars against conviction. But
where can an honest man find footing in France nowadays? Has not Louis
Philippe violated in succession every pledge by which he had bound
himself? Can such an example of falsehood so highly placed be without
its influence on the nation? Can men cry "Shame!" on the Minister, when
they witness the turpitude of the Monarch?

But what hope does any other party offer?--None. Henri Cinque, a Bourbon
of the _vieille roche_, gentle, soft-hearted, sensual, and selfish, who,
if he returned to France to-morrow, would never believe that the long
interval since the Three Days had been any thing but an accident; and
would not bring himself to credit the possibility that the succession
had been ever endangered.

I believe, after all, one should be as lenient in their judgment of
men's change of fealty in France as they are indulgent to the capricious
fancies of a spoiled beauty. The nation, like a coquette, had every
thing its own way. The cold austerities of principle had yielded to the
changeful fortunes of success for so many years, that men very naturally
began to feel that instability and uncertainty were the normal state
of things, and that to hold fast one set of opinions was like casting
anchor in a stream when we desired to be carried along by the current.
Who are they who have risen in France since the time of the Great
Revolution? Are they the consistent politicians, the men of one
unvarying, unaltered faith? or are they the expediency makers, the men
of emergencies and crises, yielding, as they would phrase it, to "the
enlightened temper of the times"--the Talleyrands, the Soults, the
Guizots of the day?--not to speak of one higher than them all, but not
more conspicuous for his elevation than for the subserviency that has
placed him there.

Poor Chateaubriand! the man who never varied, the man that was humblest
before his rightful sovereign, and prouder than the proudest Marshal in
presence of the Emperor, how completely forgotten is he--standing like
some ruined sign-post to point the way over a road no longer travelled!
A more complete revolution was never worked in the social condition of
a great kingdom than has taken place in France since the time of the
Emperor. The glorious career of conquering armies had invested the
soldier's life with a species of chivalry, that brought back the old
days of feudalism again. Now, it is the _bourgeoisie_ are uppermost.
Trade and money-getting, railroads and mines, have seized hold of the
nation's heart; and where the _bâton_ of a Maréchal was once the most
coveted of all earthly distinctions, a good bargain on the Bourse, or a
successful transaction in scrip, are now the highest triumphs. The very
telegraph, whose giant limbs only swayed to speak of victories, now
beckons to an expectant crowd the rates of exchange from London to
Livorno, and with a far greater certainty of stirring the spirits it
addresses.

I fell into all this moody reflection from thinking of an incident--I
might almost call it story--I remembered hearing from an old cuirassier
officer some years ago. I was passing through the north of France,
and stopped to dine at Sedan, where a French cavalry regiment, three
thousand strong, were quartered. Some repairs that were necessary to
my carriage detained me till the next day; and as I strolled along
the shady boulevards in the evening, I met an old soldier-like person,
beside whom I dined at the table-d'hôte. He was the very type of a
_chef-d'escadron_ of the Empire, and such he really proved to be.

After a short preamble of the ordinary commonplaces, we began to talk
of the service in which he lived, and I confess it was with a feeling of
surprise I heard him say that the old soldiers of the Empire had met but
little favour from the new dynasty; and I could not help observing
that this was not the impression made upon us in England, but that we
inclined to think it was the especial policy of the present reign to
conciliate the affections of the nation by a graceful acknowledgment of
those so instrumental to its glory.

"Is not Soult as high, or rather, is he not far higher, in the favour of
his sovereign, Louis Philippe, than ever he was in that of the Emperor?
Is not Moncey a man nobly pensioned as Captain of the Invalides?"

"All true! But where are the hundreds--I had almost said thousands, but
that death has been so busy in these tranquil times with those it had
spared in more eventful days--where are they, the old soldiers, who
served in inferior grades, the men whose promotions for the hard
fighting at Montereau and Chalons needed but a few days more of
prosperity to have confirmed, but who saw their best hopes decline as
the sun of the Emperor's glory descended?

"What rewards were given even to many of the more distinguished, but
whose principles were known to be little in accordance with the new
order of things? What of Pajol, who captured a Dutch fleet with his
cavalry squadrons;--ay! charged the three-deckers as they lay ice-locked
in the Scheldt, dismounted half of his force and boarded them, as in a
sea-fight? Poor Pajol! he died the other day, at eighty-three or four,
followed to the grave by the comrades he had fought and marched beside,
but with no honours to his memory from the King or his government. No,
sir, believe me, the present people never liked the Buonapartists; the
sad contrasts presented by all their attempts at military renown with
those glorious spectacles of the Empire were little flattering to them."

"Then you evidently think Soult and some others owe their present
favour, less to the eminence of their services than to the plasticity of
their principles?"

"Who ever thought Soult a great general?" said he, abruptly answering my
question by this transition. "A great military organizer, certainly--the
best head for the administration of an army, or the Emperor's staff--but
nothing more. His capacity as a tactician was always third rate."

I could not help acknowledging that such was the opinion of our own
great captain, who has avowed that he regarded Massena as the most
accomplished and scientific general to whom he was ever opposed.

"And Massena's daughter," cried the veteran indignantly, "lives now
in the humblest poverty--the wife of a very poor man, who cultivates a
little garden near Brussels, where _femmes de chambre_ are sent to buy
bouquets for their mistresses! The daughter of a _Maréchal de France_,
a title once that Kings loved to add to their royalty, as men love to
ennoble station by evidences of high personal desert!"

"How little fidelity, however, did these men shew to him who had made
them thus great! how numerous were the desertions!--how rapid too!"

"Yes, there was an epidemic of treason at that time in France, just as
you have seen at different epochs, here, other epidemics prevail: in
the Revolution the passion was for the guillotine; then came the lust of
military glory--that suited us best, and lasted longest; we indulged
in it for twenty years: then succeeded that terrible revulsion, and
men hastened to prove how false-hearted they could be. Then came the
Restoration--and the passion was to be Catholic; and now we have another
order of things, whose worst feature is, that there is no prevailing
creed. Men live for the day and the hour. The King's health--the state
of Spain--a bad harvest--an awkward dispute between the commander of
our squadron in the Pacific with some of your admirals,--anything may
overturn the balance, and our whole political and social condition may
have to be built up once more."

"The great remedy against this uncertainty is out of your power," said
I: "you abolished the claims of Sovereignty on the permanent affection
of the people, and now you begin to feel the want of 'Loyalty.'"

"Our kings had ceased to merit the respect of the nation when they lost
it."

"Say, rather, you revenged upon them the faults and vices of their more
depraved, but bolder, ancestors. You made the timid Louis XVI. pay for
the hardy Louis XIV. Had that unhappy monarch but been like the Emperor,
his court might have displayed all the excesses of the regency twice
told, and you had never declared against them."

"That may be true; but you evidently do not--I doubt, indeed, if any
but a Frenchman and a soldier can--feel the nature of our attachment
to the Emperor. It was something in which personal interest partook a
large part, and the hope of future advancement, _through him_, bore its
share. The army regarded him thus, and never forgave him perfectly,
for preferring to be an Emperor rather than a General. Now, the very
desertions you have lately alluded to, would probably never have
occurred if the leader had not merged into the monarch.

"There was a fascination, a spirit of infatuating ecstasy, in serving
one whose steps had so often led to glory, that filled a man's
entire heart. One learned to feel, that the rays of his own splendid
achievements shed a lustre on all around him and each had his portion
of undying fame. This feeling, as it became general, grew into a kind
of superstition, and even to a man's own conscience it served to excuse
many grave errors, and some direct breaches of true faith."

"Then, probably, you regard Ney's conduct in this light?" said I.

"I know it was of this nature," replied he, vehemently. "Ney, like many
others, meant to be faithful to the Bourbons when he took the command.
He had no thought of treachery in his mind; he believed he was marching
against an enemy until he actually saw the Emperor, and then----"

"I find this somewhat difficult to understand," said I, dubiously.
"Ney's new allegiance was no hasty step, but one maturely and well
considered. He had weighed in his mind various eventualities, and
doubtless among the number the possibility of the Emperor's return. That
the mere sight of that low cocked-hat and the _redingote gris_ could
have at once served to overturn a sworn fealty and a plighted word---"

"Have you time to listen to a short story?" interrupted the old dragoon,
with a degree of emotion in his manner that bespoke a deeper interest
than I suspected in the subject of our conversation.

"Willingly," said I. "Will you come and sup with me at my hôtel, and we
can continue a theme in which I feel much interest?"

"Nay; with your permission, we will sit down here--on the ramparts.
I never sup: like an old campaigner, I only make one meal a-day, and
mention the circumstance to excuse my performance at the table d'hôte:
and here, if you do not dislike it, we will take our places under this
lime-tree."

I at once acceded to this proposal, and he began thus:--



CHAPTER IV.

You are, perhaps, aware, that in no part of France was the cause of
the exiled family sustained with more perseverance and courage than
Auvergne. The nobles, who, from generation to generation, had lived
as seigneurs on their estates, equally remote from the attractions and
advantages of a court, still preserved their devotion to the Bourbons
as a part of religious faith; nor ever did the evening mass of a château
conclude without its heartfelt prayer for the repose of that "Saint
Roi" Louis XVI., and for the blessing of heaven on him, his rightful
successor, now a wanderer and an exile.

In one of these antique châteaux, whose dilapidated battlements and
shattered walls shewed that other enemies than mere time had been
employed against it, lived an old Count de Vitry: so old was he, that
he could remember the time he had been a page at the court of Louis XV.,
and could tell many strange tales of the Regency, and the characters who
flourished at that time.

His family consisted of two grandchildren, both of them orphans of
his two sons. One had fallen in La Vendée; the other, sentenced to
banishment by the Directory, had died on the passage out to Guadaloupe.
The children were nearly of the same age--the boy a few months older
than the girl--and regarded each other as brother and sister.

It is little to be wondered at if these children imbibed from the very
cradle a horror of that system and of those men which had left them
fatherless and almost friendless, destitute of rank, station, and
fortune, and a proportionate attachment to those who, if they had been
suffered to reign, would have preserved them in the enjoyment of all
their time-honoured privileges and possessions.

If the members of the executive government were then remembered among
the catalogue of persons accursed and to be hated, the names of the
royal family were repeated among those saintly personages to whom honour
and praise were rendered. The venerable Père Duclos, to whom their
education was confided, certainly neglected no available means of
instilling these two opposite principles of belief; and if Alfred de
Vitry and Blanche were not impressed with this truth, it could not
be laid to the charge of this single-hearted teacher; every trait and
feature that could deform and disgrace humanity being attributed to one,
and all the graces and ennobling virtues of the race associated with the
name of the other. The more striking and impressive to make the lesson,
the Père was accustomed to read a comment on the various events then
occurring at Paris, and on the campaigns of the Republican army in
Italy; dwelling, with pardonable condemnation, on the insults offered to
the Church and all who adhered to its holy cause.

These appeals were made with peculiar force to Alfred, who was destined
for an ecclesiastic, that being the only career which the old Count and
his chaplain could satisfy themselves as offering any hope of safety;
and now that the family possessions were all confiscated, and a
mere remnant of the estate remaining, there was no use in hoping to
perpetuate a name which must sink into poverty and obscurity. Blanche
was also to become a member of a religious order in Italy, if, happily,
even in that sacred land, the privileges of the Church were destined to
escape.

The good Père, whose intentions were unalloyed by one thought unworthy
of an angel, made the mistake that great zeal not unfrequently
commits--he proved too much; he painted the Revolutionary party in
colours so terrible, that no possible reality could sustain the truth of
the portraiture. It is true, the early days of the Revolution warranted
all he did or could say; but the party had changed greatly since that,
or, rather, a new and a very differently minded class had succeeded.
Marat, Danton, and Robespierre had no resemblance with Sieyes, Carnot,
and Buonaparte. The simple-minded priest, however, recognised no
distinction: he thought that, as the stream issued from a tainted
source, the current could never become purer by flowing; and he
delighted, with all the enthusiasm of a _dévote_, to exaggerate the
evil traits of those whose exploits of heroism might have dazzled and
fascinated unthinking understandings.

Alfred was about sixteen, when one evening, nigh sunset, a peasant
approached the Château in eager haste to say that a party of soldiers
were coming up the little road which led towards the house, instead of
turning off, as they usually did, to the village of Puy de Dôme, half a
league further down the valley.

Père Duclos, who assumed absolute authority over the household since
the old Count had fallen into a state of childlike dotage, hastened to
provide himself with the writ of exemption from billet the Directory had
conferred on the château--an _amende_ for the terrible misfortunes of
the ruined family--and advanced to meet the party, the leading files of
which were already in sight.

Nothing could less have suggested the lawless depredators of
the Republic than the little column that now drew near. Four
chasseurs-à-pied led the van, their clothes ragged and torn, their shoes
actually in ribbons; one had his arm in a sling, and another carried
his shako on his back, as his head was bound up in a handkerchief, whose
blood-stained folds shewed the marks of a severe sabre-cut. Behind them
came a litter, or, rather, a cart with a canvass awning, in which lay
the wounded body of their officer; the rear consisting of about fourteen
others, under the command of a sergeant.

They halted and formed as the old Père approached them, and the
sergeant, stepping to the front, carried his hand to his cap in military
salute; and then, without waiting for the priest to speak, he began
a very civil, almost an humble, apology, for the liberty of their
intrusion.

"We are," said he, "an invalid party, _en route_ for Paris, with an
officer who was severely wounded at the bridge of Lodi." And here
he lowered his voice to a whisper: "The poor lieutenant's case being
hopeless, and his constant wish--his prayer,--being to see his mother
before he dies, we are pushing on for her Château, which is near St.
Jean de Luc, I hear."

Perhaps the mention of the word Château--the claim of one whose rank was
even thus vaguely hinted at--had nearly an equal influence on the Père
with the duties of humanity. Certain is it he laid less stress than
he might have done on the writ of exemption, and blandly said that the
out-offices of the Château should be at their disposal for the night;
apologising if late events had not left its inhabitants in better
circumstances to succour the unfortunate.

"We ask very little, Père," said the sergeant, respectfully--"some
straw to sleep on, some rye-bread and a little water for supper; and
to-morrow, ere sunrise, you shall see the last of us."

The humility of the request, rendered even more humble by the manner in
which it was conveyed, did not fail to strike the Père Duclos, who
began to wonder what reverses had overtaken the "Blues" (the name
the Republicans were called), that they were become thus civil and
respectful; nor could he be brought to believe the account the sergeant
gave of a glorious victory at the Ada, nor credit a syllable of the
bulletin which, in letters half-a-foot long, proclaimed the splendid
achievement.

A little pavilion in the garden was devoted to the reception of the
wounded lieutenant, and the soldiers bivouacked in the farm-buildings,
and some even in the open air, for it was the vintage-time, and
the weather delightful. There was nothing of outrage or disturbance
committed by the men; not even any unusual noise disturbed the peaceful
quiet of the old Château; and, except that a lamp burned all night in
the garden-pavilion, nothing denoted the presence of strangers.

Before day broke the men were mustered in the court of the Château; and
the sergeant, having seen that his party were all regularly equipped for
the march, demanded to speak a few words to the Père Duclos. The Père,
who was from his window watching these signs of approaching departure
with some anxiety, hastily descended on hearing the request.

"We are about to march, reverend father," said the sergeant, saluting,
"all of us, save one--our poor lieutenant; his next billet will be for
another, and, we hope, a better place."

"Is he dead?" asked the Père, eagerly.

"Not yet, father; but the event cannot now be far off. He raved all
through the night, and this morning the fever has left him, but without
strength, and evidently going fast. To take him along with us would be
inhuman, were it even possible--to delay would be against my orders; so
that nothing else is to be done than leave him among those who would be
kind to his last hours, and minister to the wants of a death-bed."

The Père, albeit very far from gratified by his charge, promised to do
all in his power; and the sergeant, having commanded a "present arms" to
the Château, wheeled right-about and departed.

For some days the prediction of the sergeant seemed to threaten its
accomplishment at every hour. The sick man, reduced to the very lowest
stage of debility, appeared at moments as if struggling for a last
breath; but by degrees these paroxysms grew less frequent and less
violent: he slept, too, at intervals, and awoke seemingly refreshed; and
thus between the benefits derived from tranquillity and rest, a mild and
genial air, and his own youth, his recovery became at length assured,
accompanied, however, by a degree of feebleness that made the least
effort impossible, and even the utterance of a few words a matter of
great pain and difficulty.

If, during the most sad and distressing periods of the sick bed, the
Père indirectly endeavoured to inspire Alfred's mind with a horror of a
soldier's life--depicting, by the force of the terrible example before
him, the wretchedness of one who fell a victim to its ambition--so did
he take especial care, as convalescence began to dawn, to forbid the
youth from ever approaching the pavilion, or holding any intercourse
with its occupant. That part of the garden was strictly interdicted to
him, and the very mention of the lieutenant at last forbidden, or only
alluded to when invoking a Christian blessing upon enemies.

In this way matters continued till the end of autumn, when the Père, who
had long been anxiously awaiting the hour when the sick man should take
his leave, had one morning set off for the town to make arrangements for
his departure, and order post-horses to be ready on the following day.

It was a calm and mellow day of autumn, and Alfred, who had at first
determined to set out on a fishing excursion, without any reason,
changed his mind, and sauntered into the garden. Loitering listlessly
for some time, from walk to walk, he was at length returning to the
Château, when he beheld, seated under the shade of a walnut-tree, a
young man, whose pale and languid look at once bespoke the invalid, even
had not the fact been proclaimed by his dress, the uniform of a _Lander
rouge_.

Mindful of the Father's precept, and fully impressed with an obedience
never violated, the youth was turning hastily away, when the wounded man
slowly arose from his seat, and removing his cap, made a salute of deep
and most respectful meaning.

Alfred returned it, and stood irresolute. The eyes of the sick man, full
of an expression of mild and thankful beaming, were on him. What should
he do? to retire without speaking would be a rudeness, even a cruelty:
beside, what possible harm could there be in a few words of friendly
greeting with one so long their guest? Ere he could resolve the point,
the wounded officer was slowly advancing towards him, still uncovered,
and in an attitude betokening a most respectful gratitude.

"I pray you will permit me, Mons. le Comte," said he, "to express my
heartfelt thanks for the hospitality and kindness of your treatment.
I feared that I should leave this without the occasion of saying how
grateful I feel for the remnant of life your care has been the means of
preserving."

Alfred tried to answer: but a dread of his disobedience and its
consequences, and a strange sense of admiration for the stranger, whose
manner and appearance had deeply impressed him, made him silent.

"I see," said the lieutenant smiling, "that you are indisposed to
receive an acknowledgment for what you set such small store by--a
kindness to a mere 'soldier of the Republic;' but when you wear a sword
yourself, Mons. le Comte, as you will doubtless one of these days----"

"No," said Alfred, hastily interrupting him, "never! I shall never wear
one."

"How, never! What can you mean?"

"That I shall never be a soldier," said Alfred. "I am to be a priest."

"A priest! You, Mons. le Comte de Vitry, of the best blood of
Auvergne--you, a monk!"

"I did not say a monk," said Alfred, proudly; "there are other ranks
among churchmen. I have heard tell of Prince-bishops and Cardinals."

"And if one were to begin life at the age they usually take leave of it,
such a career might not be held so cheaply; but for a young man of good
birth and blood, with a heart to feel proudly, and a hand to wield a
weapon--no, no, this were a shame not to be thought of."

Stung alike by the severity of the sarcasm, and animated by the old
spirit of the Père's teaching, Alfred hastily answered:--

"And if men of rank and station no longer carry arms as their
forefathers did, with whom lies the blame? Why do they now bend to adopt
a path that in former days was only trodden by the weak-hearted and the
timid? Because they would not draw the sword in a cause they abhor,
and for a faction they despised; neither would they shed their blood to
assure the triumph of a rabble."

"Nor would I," interposed the lieutenant, while a slight flush coloured
his cheek. "The cause in which I perilled life was that of France, my
country. You may safely trust, that the nation capable of such conquests
will neither be disgraced by bad rulers, nor dishonoured by cowardly
ones."

"I have no faith in Republicans," said Alfred, scornfully.

"Because they were not born to a title, perhaps! But do you know how
many of those who now carry victory into foreign lands belong to this
same class that includes all your sympathy?--prouder, far prouder, that
they sustain the honour of France against her enemies than that
they carry the blazon of a marquis or the coronet of a duke on their
escutcheon? You look incredulous! Nay, I speak no more than what I well
know: for instance, the humble lieutenant who now addresses you can
claim rank as high and ancient as your own. You have heard of the
Liancourts?"

"Le Duc de Liancourt?"

"Yes; I am, or rather I was, the Duc de Liancourt," said the lieutenant,
with an almost imperceptible struggle: "my present rank is
Sous-Lieutenant of the Third Lancers. Now listen to me calmly for a few
moments, and I hope to shew you, that in a country where a dreadful
social earthquake has uprooted every foundation of rank, and strewed the
ground with the ruins of every thing like prescription, it is nobler and
better to shew that nobility could enter the lists, unaided by its
prestige, and win the palm, among those who vainly boasted themselves
better and braver. This we have done, not by assuming the monk's cowl
and the friar's cord, but by carrying the knapsack and the musket; not
by shirking the struggle, but by confronting it. Where is the taunt now
against the nobility of France? whose names figure oftenest in the lists
of killed and wounded? whose lot is it most frequently to mount first to
the assault or the breach? No, no, take to the alb and the surplice if
your vocation prompt it, but do not assume to say that no other road is
open to a Frenchman because his heart is warmed by noble blood."

If Alfred was at first shocked by hearing assertions so opposed to all
the precepts of his venerated tutor, he was soon ashamed of offering
opposition to one so far more capable than himself of forming a just
judgment on the question, while he felt, inwardly, the inequality of the
cause for which he would do battle against--that glorious and triumphant
one of which the young officer assumed the championship.

Besides, De Liancourt's history was his own; he had been bred up with
convictions precisely like his, and might, had he followed out the path
intended for him, been a priest at the very hour that he led a charge at
Lodi.

"I was saved by an accident," said he. "In the march of Berthault's
division through Chalons, a little drummer-boy fell off a waggon when
asleep, and was wounded by a wheel passing over him: they brought him to
our château, where we nursed and tended him till he grew well. The Curé,
wishing to snatch him as a brand saved from the burning, adopted him,
and made him an acolyte; and so he remained till one Sunday morning,
when the 'Chasseurs gris' marched through the town during mass. Pierre
stole out to see the soldiers; he heard a march he had often listened to
before; he saw the little drummers stepping out gaily in front; worse,
too, _they_ saw him, and one called out to his comrades, 'Regarde donc
le Prêtre; ce petit drôle là--c'est un Prêtre.'

"'Du tout,' cried he; tearing off his white robe, and throwing it behind
him, 'Je suis tambour comme toi,' and snatching the drum, he beat his
'Ran tap-plan' so vigorously and so well, that the drum-major patted him
on the head and cheek, and away marched Pierre at the head of the troop,
leaving Chalons, and Curé, and all behind him, without a thought or a
pang.

"I saw it all from the window of the church; and suddenly, as my eyes
turned from the grand spectacle of the moving column, with its banners
flying and bayonets glistening, to the dim, half-lighted aisles of
the old church, with smoky tapers burning faintly, amid which an old
decrepid priest was moving slowly, a voice within me cried,--'Better a
_tambour_, than this!' I stole out, and reached the street just as the
last files were passing: I mingled with the crowd that followed, my
heart beating time to the quick march. I tracked them out of the town,
further and further, till we reached the wide open country.

"'Will you not come back, Pierre?' said I, pulling him by the sleeve,
as, at last, I reached the leading files, where the little fellow
marched, proud as the tambour-major.

"'_I_ go back, and the regiment marching against the enemy!' exclaimed
he, indignantly; and a roar of laughter and applause from the soldiers
greeted his words.

"'Nor I either!' cried I. And thus I became a soldier, never to regret
the day I belted on the knapsack. But here comes the Père Duclos: I hope
he may not be displeased at your having kept me company. I know well he
loves not such companionship for his pupil--perhaps he has reason."

Alfred did not wait for the priest's arrival, but darted from the spot
and hastened to his room, where, bolting the door, he threw himself upon
his bed and wept bitterly. Who knows if these tears decided not all his
path in life?

That same evening the lieutenant left the château; and in about two
months after came a letter, expressing his gratitude for all the
kindness of his host, and withal a present of a gun and a chasseur's
accoutrement for Alfred.. They were very handsome and costly, and he was
never weary of trying them on his shoulder and looking how they became
him; when, in examining one of the pockets for the twentieth time, he
discovered a folded paper: he opened it, and found it was an appointment
for a cadet in the military school of St. Cyr. Alfred de Vitry was
written in pencil where the name should be inscribed, but very faintly,
and so that it required sharp looking to detect the letters. It was
enough, however, for him who read the words: he packed up a little
parcel of clothes, and, with a few francs in his pocket, he set out that
night for Chalons, where he took the _malle_. The third day, when he was
tracked by the Père, he was already enrolled a cadet, and not all the
interest in France could have removed him against his consent.

I will not dwell on a career which was in no respect different from
that of hundreds of others. Alfred joined the army in the second Italian
campaign--was part of Dessaix's division at Marengo--was wounded at
Aspern, and finally accompanied the Emperor in his terrible march to
Moscow. He saw more service than his promotion seemed to imply, however;
for, after Leipsig, Dresden, Bautzen, he was carried on a litter, with
some other dying comrades, into a little village of Alsace--a lieutenant
of hussars, nothing more.

An hospital, hastily constructed of planks, had been fitted up outside
the village--there were many such, on the road between Strasbourg and
Nancy; and here poor Alfred lay, with many more, their sad fate rendered
still sadder by the daily tidings, which told them that the cause for
which they had shed their blood was hourly becoming more hopeless.

The army that never knew defeat now counted nothing but disasters.
Before Alfred had recovered from his wound, the allies bivouacked in the
Place Carrousel, and Napoleon was at Elba!

When little dreaming that he could take any part in that general joy by
which France, in one of her least-thinking moments, welcomed back the
Bourbons, Alfred was loitering listlessly along one of the quays of
Paris, wondering within himself by what process of arithmetic he could
multiply seven sous--they were all he had--into the price of a supper
and a bed; and while his eyes often dwelt with lingering fondness on the
windows of the _restaurants_, they turned, too, with a dreadful instinct
towards the Seine, whose eddies had closed over many a sorrow and crime.

As he wandered thus, a cry arose for help: an unfortunate creature--one
whose woes were greater, or whose courage to bear them less, than his
own--had thrown herself from the Pont-Neuf into the river, and her body
was seen to rise and sink several times in the current of the rapid
stream, It was from no prompting of humanity--it was something like a
mere instinct, and no more--mayhap, too, his recklessness of life had
some share in the act;--whatever the reason, he sprung into the river,
and, after a long and vigorous struggle, he brought her out alive; and
then, forcing through the crowd that welcomed him, he drew his miserable
and dripping hat over his eyes. He continued his road--Heaven knows he
had little purpose or object to warrant the persistence!

He had not gone far when a number of voices were heard behind him,
calling out,--

"That is he!--there he is!" and at the same instant an officer rode up
beside him, and, saluting him politely, said that her royal highness the
Duchess of Berri desired to speak to him;--her carriage was just by.

Alfred was in that humour when, so indifferent is every object in life,
that he would have turned at the bidding of the humblest _gamin_ of the
streets; and, wet and weary, he stood beside the door of the splendid
equipage.

"It was _thou_ that saved the woman?" said the Duchess, addressing him,
and using the conventional "Du," as suitable to his mean appearance.

"Madame," said Alfred, removing his tattered hat, "I am a gentleman!
These rags were once--the uniform of the Guard."

"My God!--my cousin!" cried a voice beside the Duchess; and, at the same
instant, a young girl held out her hands towards him, and exclaimed,--

"Knowest thou not me, Alfred? I am Alice--Alice de Vitry--thy cousin and
thy sister!"

It would little interest you to dwell on the steps that followed, and
which, in a few weeks, made of a wretched outcast--without a home or a
meal--an officer of the _Guard du Corps_, with the order of St. Louis at
his breast.

Time sped on, and his promotion with it; and at length his Majesty,
graciously desiring to see the old nobility resume their place and
grade, consented to the union of Alfred with his cousin. There was no
violent love on either side, but there was sincere esteem and devoted
friendship; and if they neither of them felt that degree of attachment
which becomes a passion, they regarded each other with true affection.

Alice was a devoted Royalist: all that she had suffered for the cause
had endeared it to her; and she could forgive, but not forget, that her
future husband had shed his blood for the Usurper.

Alfred was what every one, and with reason, called a most fortunate
fellow: a colonel at twenty-eight--a promotion that, under the Empire,
nothing but the most distinguished services could have gained--and yet
he was far from happy. He remembered with higher enthusiasm his first
grade of "corporal," won at Aspern, and his epaulettes that he gained
at Wilna. His soldiering had been learned in another school than in the
parade-ground at Versailles, or the avenue of the Champs Elysées.

"Come, _mon ami!_" said Alice, gaily, to him one morning, about ten days
before the time appointed for their marriage; "thou art about to have
some occasion for thy long-rusting sword: the Usurper has landed at
Cannes."

"The Emperor at Cannes!"

"The Emperor, if thou wilt--but without an Empire."

"No matter. Is he without an army?" said Alfred.

"Alone--with some half-dozen followers, at most. Ney has received orders
to march against him, and thou art to command a brigade."

"This is good news!" said Alfred; for the very name of war had set his
heart a-throbbing; and as he issued forth into the streets, the stirring
sounds of excitement and rapid motion of troops increased his ardour.

Wondering groups were gathered in every street, some, discussing the
intelligence, others, reading the great placards, which, in letters of
portentous size, announced that "the Monster" had once more polluted by
his presence the soil of France.

Whatever the enthusiasm of the old Royalists to the Bourbon cause, there
seemed an activity and determination on the part of the Buonapartists
who had taken service with the King to exhibit their loyalty to the new
sovereign; and Ney rode from one quarter of Paris to the other, with
a cockade of most conspicuous size, followed by a staff equally
remarkable.

That same day Alfred left Paris for Lyons, where his regiment lay, with
orders to move to the south, by forced marches, and arrest the advance
of the small party which formed the band of the invader. It was Alice
herself fastened the knot of white ribbon in his shako, and bade him
adieu with a fondness of affection he had never witnessed before.

From Paris to Lyons, and to Grenoble, Alfred hastened with promptitude.
At Lesseim, at last, he halted for orders.

His position was a small village, three leagues in advance of Lesseim,
called Dulaure, where, at nightfall on the 18th of March, Alfred arrived
with two companies of his regiment, his orders being to reconnoitre the
valley towards Lesseim, and report if the enemy should present himself
in that quarter.

After an anxious night on the alert, Alfred lay down to sleep towards
morning, when he was awoke by the sharp report of a musket, followed
immediately after by the roll of the drum and the call for the guard to
"turn out." He rushed out, and hastened towards the advanced picket. All
was in confusion: some were in retreat; others stood at a distance from
their post, looking intently towards it; and at the picket itself were
others, again, with piled arms, standing in a close group. What could
this mean? Alfred called out, but no answer was returned. The men stared
in stupid amazement, and each seemed waiting for the other to reply.

"Where is your officer?" cried De Vitry, in an angry voice.

"He is here!" said a pale, calm-featured man, who, buttoned up in a grey
surtout, and with a low _chapeau_ on his head, advanced towards him.

"You the officer!" replied Alfred, angrily: "you are not of our
regiment, sir."

"Pardon me, Colonel," rejoined the other; "I led the twenty-second at
Rovigo, and they were with me at Wagram."

"_Grand Dieu!_" said Alfred, trembling; "who are you, then?"

"Your Emperor, Colonel de Vitry!"

Alfred stepped back at the words. The order to arrest and make him
prisoner was almost on his lips. He turned towards his men, who
instinctively had resumed their formation; his head was maddened by the
conflict within it; his eyes turned again towards Napoleon--the struggle
was over-he knelt and presented his sword.

"Take mine in exchange, _General_ de Vitry," said the Emperor; "I know
you will wear it with honour."

And thus, in a moment, was all forgotten--plighted love and sworn
faith--for who could resist the Emperor?

The story is now soon told. Waterloo came, and once more the day of
defeat descended, never to dawn upon another victory. Alfred, rejected
and scorned, lived years in poverty and obscurity. When the fortunes of
the Revolution brought up once more the old soldiers of the Empire, he
fought at the Quai Voltaire and was wounded severely. The Three Days
over, he was appointed to a sous-lieutenancy in the dragoons. He is
now _chef-d'escadron_, the last of his race, weary of a world whose
vicissitudes have crushed his hopes and made him broken-hearted.

The relator of this tale was Alfred de Vitry himself, who, under the
name of his maternal grandfather, St. Amand, served in the second
regiment of Carabiniers.



CHAPTER V.

12 o'clock, Tuesday night, May 31st, 184-.

"Que bella cosa" to be a king! Here am I now, returned from Neuilly,
whither I dreaded so much to venture, actually enchanted with the
admirable manner of his Majesty Louis Philippe, adding one more to the
long list of those who, beginning with Madame de Genlis and Johnson,
have delighted to extol the qualities whose pleasing properties have
been expended on themselves.

There is, however, something wonderfully interesting in the picture of
a royal family living _en bourgeois_--a King sitting with his spectacles
on his forehead and his newspaper on his knee, playfully alluding to
observations whose fallacy he alone can demonstrate; a Queen busily
engaged amid the toils of the work-table, around which Princesses of
every European royalty are seated, gaily chatting over their embroidery,
or listening while an amusing book is read out by a husband or a
brother: even an American would be struck by such a view of monarchy.

The Duc de Nemours is the least prepossessing of the princes; his
deafness, too, assists the impression of his coldness and austerity:
while the too-studied courtesy of the Prince de Joinville towards
Englishmen is the reverse of an amicable demonstration.

I could not help feeling surprised at the freedom with which his
Majesty canvassed our leading political characters; for his intimate
acquaintance with them all, I was well prepared. One remark he made
worth remembering,--"The Duke of Wellington should always be your
Minister of Foreign Affairs, no matter what the changes of party. It is
not that his great opportunities of knowing the Continent, assisted by
his unquestionable ability, alone distinguish him, but that his name
and the weight of his opinion on any disputed question exert a greater
influence than any other man's over the various sovereignties of Europe.
After the Emperor himself, he was the greatest actor in the grand drama
of the early part of the century; he made himself conspicuous in every
council, even less by the accuracy of his views than by their unerring,
unswerving rectitude. The desperate struggle in which he had taken part
had left no traces of ungenerous feeling or animosity behind, and the
pride of conquest had never disturbed the equanimity of the negotiator."

What other statesman in England had dared to ratify the Belgian
revolution, and, by his simple acknowledgment, place the fact beyond
appeal? It is with statesmen as with soldiers; the men who have been
conversant with great events maintain the prestige of their ascendancy
over all who "never smelt powder;" and Metternich wields much of his
great influence on such a tenure.

_Apropos_ of Metternich; the King told a trait of him which I have not
heard before. In one of those many stormy interviews which took place
between him and the Emperor, Napoleon, irritated at the tone of freedom
assumed by the Austrian envoy, endeavoured by an artifice to recall him
to what he deemed a recollection of their relative stations, and then,
as it were, inadvertently let fall his hat for the Prince to take it up;
instead of which Metternich moved back and bowed, leaving the Emperor to
lift it from the ground himself.

Napoleon, it would seem, was ever on the watch to detect and punish the
slightest infraction of that respect which "doth hedge a king," even
in cases when the offender had nothing further from his mind than the
intention to transgress: a rather absurd illustration was mentioned by
the King. The Emperor was one day seeking for a book in the library
at Malmaison, and at last discovered it on a shelf somewhat above his
reach. Marshal Moocey, one of the tallest men in the army, who was
present, immediately stepped forward, saying, "Permettez, Sire. Je suis
plus grand que votre Majesté!" "Vous voulez dire plus long, Maréchal,"
said the Emperor, with a frown that made the reproof actually a
severity.

From the tone of his Majesty's observations on our nobility, and the
security such an order necessarily creates, I thought I could mark a
degree of regret at the extinction of the class in France. How natural
such a feeling! For how, after all, can a monarchy long subsist with
such a long interval between the crown and the people? The gradations
of rank are the best guarantees against any assault on its privileges;
a House of Lords is the best floating breakwater against the storms of a
people in revolt.

With a marked condescension, his Majesty inquired after my health and
the object of my journey; and when I mentioned Naples, hastily remarked,
"Ah, well! I can promise you a very agreeable house to pass your
evenings in: we are going to send Favancourt there as envoy, and Madame
la Comtesse is your countrywoman. This, however, is a secret which even
Favancourt himself is ignorant of."

I am not casuist enough to say if this intimation of the King is binding
on me as to secrecy; but, possibly, I need not risk the point, as I
shall not be likely to see Favancourt or Madame de Favancourt before I
start to-morrow.

I am already impatient for the hour to go; I want to be away--afar--from
the gorgeous glitter of this splendid capital. Something nigh to
misanthropy creeps over me at the sight of pleasures in which I am no
more to take a part, and I would not that a feeling thus ungenerous
should be my travelling companion. I do not experience the inordinate
love of life which, we are told, ever accompanies my malady. If I have
a wish to live, it is to frame a different kind of existence from what I
have hitherto followed, and I believe most sick people's love of life is
the desire of dwelling longer amid the pursuits they have followed. And
now for the map, to see how I may trace a route, and see--shame that I
must say so!--fewest of my countrymen. Well, then, from Strasbourg to
Fribourg, and through the Hohlen-Thal.

So far, so good! This is all new to me. Thence to Munich, or direct to
Inspruck, as I may decide later on. This, at least, avoids Switzerland,
and all its radicalism and roguery, not to speak of the "Perkinses," who
are "out" by this time, touring it to Lausanne and Chamouni.

What a tremendous noise a carriage makes coming through these
_portes-cochères!_ Truly, the luxury is heavily paid for by all the
inhabitants of a house. Is that a tap at my door?

*****

A few lines before I lie down to sleep! It is already daybreak. What
would poor Dr. S---- say if he knew I had been sitting up to this hour,
and at a _petit souper_ too, with some half-dozen of the wealthiest
people in Paris, not to speak of the prettiest? Madame de F------
would take no refusal, however, and averred she had made the party
expressly for me; that V------ H------ had declined another engagement
to come; and, in fact--no matter what little flatteries--I went; and
here I am, with my cheek flushed and my head on fire, my brain whirling
with mad excitement, laughter still ringing in my ears, and all the
exaltation he feels who, drinking water while others sip champagne, is
yet the only one whose faculties are intoxicated.

What a brilliant scene in a comedy would that little supper have been,
just as it really was; scenery, decorations, people all unchanged! the
dimly lighted boudoir, where all the luxury of modern requirement was
seen through a chiaroscuro, that made it seem half unreal; and then, the
splendid brilliancy of the supper-room beyond, where, amid the gorgeous
dis-play of _vaisselle_ and flowers, shone still more brightly the blaze
of beauty and the fire of genius.

How often have I remarked in these little "jousts of the table," where
each man puts forth his sharpest weapons of wit and pleasantry, that
the conqueror, like an Ivanhoe, is an unknown knight, and with a blank
shield.

So was it, I remember once, where we had a sprinkling of every class of
celebrity, from the Chamber of Deputies to the Théâtre Français; and yet
the heart of all was taken by a young Spaniard, whom nobody seemed to
know whence or how he came,--a handsome, dark-eyed fellow, with a short
upper lip that seemed alive with energy, combining in his nature the
stern dignity of the Castilian and the hot blood of Andalusia. It was
the Marquis de Brabançon brought him, presenting him to the lady of the
house in a half whisper.

There are men it would be utter ruin to place in positions of staid and
tranquil respectability, and yet who make great names. They are born
to be adventurers. I remained the last, on purpose to hear who he was,
feeling no common curiosity, even though--as so often happens--the name,
when heard, conveys nothing to the ear, and leaves as little for the
memory.

I could not avoid remarking that he bore, in the mild and thoughtful
character of his brow, a strong resemblance to the portraits of
Claverhouse.

"Alike in more than looks," said the hostess: "they have many traits in
common, and shew that the proud Dundee was no exceptional instance of
humanity, uniting the softness of a girl with a courage even verging
upon ferocity."

The stranger was the Spanish General Cabrebra!

"And now that you have seen him, let me tell you a short anecdote
of him, only worth remembering as so admirably in colouring with his
appearance on entering.

"Last year, at the head of a division of the army, the Bishop of
Grenada, accompanied by all his clergy, received him in a grand
procession, and safely escorted him to the episcopal palace, where a
splendid collation was prepared. The soldierlike air and manly beauty
of the young General were even less the theme of admiration than
his respectful reception of the Bishop, to whom he knelt in devout
reverence, and kissed the hand with deep humility, walking at his side
with an air of almost bashful deference.

"At table, too, his manner was even more marked by respect. As the meal
proceeded, the Bishop could not fail remarking that his guest seemed
deeply possessed by some secret care, which made him frequently sigh, in
a manner betokening heavy affliction. After some pressing, it came out;
the source of the grief was, the inability of the General to pay his
troops, for the military chest was quite empty, and daily desertions
were occurring. The sum required was a large one, 20,000 contos, and the
venerable Bishop hastened to assure him, with unfeigned sorrow, that
the poor and suffering city could not command one-fourth of the amount.
Cabrebra rose, and paced the room in great excitement, ever throwing,
as he passed, a glance into the court-yard, where a party of grenadiers
stood under arms, and then, resuming his place at the table, he seemed
endeavouring, but vainly, to join in the festivity around him.

"'It is evident to me, my son,' said the Bishop, 'that some heavier
sorrow is lying at your heart; tell it, and let me, if it may be, give
you comfort and support.' Cabrebra hesitated; and at last avowed that
such was the case. Considerable entreaty, however, was necessary to
wring the mystery from him: when at last he said, in a voice broken and
agitated, 'You know me, Holy Father, for a good and faithful son of the
Church--for one who reveres its ordinances, and those who dispense
them» Think, then, of my deep misery when---- but I cannot--I am
utterly unable to proceed.' After much pressing he resumed, with sudden
energy--'Yes--I know I shall never feel peace and happiness more, for
although I have done many a hard and cruel deed, I never, till now, had
the dreadful duty to order a Bishop to be shot! This is what is breaking
my heart--this is my secret misery.'

"It is scarcely necessary to say, that he was speedily recovered from
so dreadful an embarrassment, for the Bishop was too good a Christian to
see a devout soldier reduced to such extremity. The money was paid, and
the Bishop ransomed."

Our celebrity of to-night was of less mark--indeed, nominally, of
none--but he has but to escape "rope and gun." and he will make a name
for himself.

He is a young Frenchman, one who, beginning at the lowest rung of
the ladder, may still climb high. Strange paths are open to eminence
nowadays, and there is no reason why a man may not begin life as a
"Vaudevilliste," and end it "Pair de France."

Jules de Russigny--whence the "de" came from we must not inquire--like
most of the smart men of the day, is a Provençal; he was educated at a
_Séminaire_, and destined for the priesthood. Some slight irregularity
caused his dismissal, and he came to Paris on foot to seek his fortune.
When toiling up a steep ascent of the road at St Maurice, he saw before
him on the way a heavily laden travelling carriage, which, with the
aid of his struggling post-horses, was also labouring up the hill; an
elderly gentleman had descended to walk, and was plodding wearily after
his lumbering equipage. As Jules reached the crest of the ridge, all
were gone, and nothing but a deep column of dust announced the course
of the departed carriage: at his feet, however, he discovered a paper,
which, closely written, and, by its numerous corrections, appeared as
closely studied, must have fallen from the pocket of the traveller.

Jules sat down to inspect it, and found to his surprise it was a species
of memorandum on the subject of the educationary establishments of
France, with much statistic detail, and a great amount of information,
evidently the result of considerable labour and research. There were
many points, of course, perfectly new to him, but there were others with
which he was well acquainted, and some on which he was so well informed
as to be able to detect mistakes and fallacies in the memorandum.
Conning the theme over, he reached a little way-side inn, and inquiring
who the traveller was that passed, he heard, to his surprise, it was the
Minister of Public Instruction.

When Jules reached Paris, it was about a fortnight before the opening
of the Chambers, and the newspapers were all in full cry discussing
the various systems of education, and with every variety of opinion
pronouncing for and against the supposed views of the Government. Most
men, in his situation, would have sought out the Minister's residence,
and, restoring to him the lost paper, retired well satisfied with a very
modest recompense for a service that cost so little.

Not so Jules; he established himself in a cheap corner of the Pays
Latin, and spent his days conning over the various journals of Paris,
until, by dint of acute study and penetration, he had possessed himself
of every shade and hue of political opinion professed by each. At last
he discovered that the "Siècle" was the most decidedly obnoxious to the
Government, and the "Moniteur" most favourable to the newly projected
system. To each he sent an article: in one, setting forth a dim, but
suggestive idea, of what the Minister might possibly attempt, with a
terrific denunciation annexed to it; in the other, a half defence of the
plan, supported by statistic detail, and based on the information of the
manuscript.

These two papers both appeared, as assertion and rejoinder; and so did
the polemic continue for above a week, increasing each day in interest,
and gradually swelling in the number of the facts adduced, and the
reasons for which the opinion was entertained. Considerable interest was
created to know the writer, but although he was then dining each day,
and that his only meal, for four sous in the "Ilee St. Louis," he
preserved his _incognito_ unbroken, and never divulged to any one his
secret. At last came an announcement in the "Siècle," at the close of
one of the articles, that on the next day would appear a full disclosure
of the whole government measure, with the mechanism by which its views
were to be strengthened, and the whole plan of conception on which it
was based. That same evening a young man, pale, and sickly looking,
stood at the _porte-cochere_ of a splendid mansion in the Rue St.
George, and asked to see the owner. The rude repulse of the porter did
not abash him, nor did the insolent glance bestowed on his ragged shoes
and threadbare coat cost him a pang of displeasure: he felt that he
could bide his time, for it would come at last.

"His Excellency is at the Council!" at last said the porter, somewhat
moved by a pertinacity that had nothing of rudeness in it.

With a calm resolve he sat down on a stone bench, and fell a-thinking
to himself. It was full three hours later when the Minister's carriage
rolled in, and the Minister, hastily descending, proceeded to mount the
stairs.

"One word, your Excellency," cried Jules, in a voice collected and firm,
but still of an almost imploring sound.

"Not now--at another time," said the Minister, as he took some papers
from his secretary.

"But one word, Sir--I crave no more," repeated Jules.

"See to that man, Delpierre," said the Minister to his secretary;
but Jules, passing hastily forward, came close to the Minister, and
whispered in his ear, "_M. le Ministre, je suis Octave_," the name under
which the "Siècle" articles appeared. A few words followed, and Jules
was ordered to follow the Minister to his cabinet. The article of the
"Siècle" did appear the next day, but miserably inefficient in point of
ability; and so false in fact-, that the refutation was overwhelming.
The "Moniteur" had a complete triumph, only to be exceeded by that
of the Minister's own in the Chamber. The Council of Ministers was in
ecstasy, and Jules de Russigny, who arrived in Paris by the mail from
Orleans--for thither he was despatched, to make a more suitable entry
into the great world--was installed as a clerk in the office of the
Finance Minister, with very reasonable hopes of future advancement. Such
was the fortune of him who was one, and, I repeat it, the pleasantest of
our _convives_.

This is the age of smart men--not of high intelligences. The race is
not for the thoroughbred, but the clever hackney, always "ready for his
work," and if seldom pre-eminent, never a dead failure.

Of my own brief experience, all the first-rate men, without exception,
have broke down. All the moderates--the "clever fellows"--have carried
the day. Now I could pick out from my contemporaries, at school and
university, some half-dozen brilliant, really great capacities, quite
lost--some, shipwrecked on the first venture in life--some, disheartened
and disgusted, have retired early from the contest, to live unheard
of and die brokenhearted. But the smart men! What crowds of them come
before my mind in high employ--some at home, some abroad, some waxing
rich by tens of thousands, some running high up the ambitious road of
honours and titles! There is something in inordinate self-esteem that
buoys up this kind of man. It is the only enthusiasm he is capable of
feeling---but it serves as well as the "real article."

For the mere adventurer, the man of ready wit and a fearless
temperament, politics offer the best road to fortune. The abilities that
would have secured a mere mediocrity of position in some profession
will here win their way upwards. The desultory character of reading and
acquirements, so fatal to men chained to a single pursuit, is eminently
favourable to him who must talk about every thing, with, at least, the
appearance of knowledge; while the very scantiness of his store suggests
a recklessness that has great success in the world.

In England we have but one high road to eminence--Parliament.
Literature, whose rewards are so great in France, with us only leads
to intimacy with the "Trade" and a name in "the Row." It is true,
Parliamentary reputation is of slow growth, and dependent on many
circumstances totally remote from the capacity and attainments of
him who seeks it. Are you the son of a great name in the Lords, the
representative of an immense estate, or of great commercial wealth? are
you high in the esteem of Corn men or Cotton men? are you a magnate of
Railroads, or is your word law in the City? then your way is open
and your path easy. Without these, or some one of them, you must be a
segment of some leading man's party'.

My own little experience of Parliament--about the very briefest any man
can recall--presents little pleasurable in the retrospect. Lord Collyton
was one of my Christchurch acquaintances, and at his invitation I spent
the autumn of 18-- at his father, the Duke of Wrexington's.

The house was full of company, and, like an English house in such
circumstances, the most delightful _séjour_ imaginable. Every second day
or so brought a relay of new arrivals, either from town or some other
country-house full of the small-talk of the last visit,--all that
strange but most amusing farrago which we designate by the humble title
of "gossip," but which, so far as I can judge, is worth ten thousand
times more than the boasted _causerie_ of France, and the perpetual
effort at smartness so much aimed at by our polite neighbours.

The guests were numerous, and presented specimens of almost every
peculiarity observable in Englishmen of a certain class. We had great
lords and high court functionaries, deep in the mysteries of Buckingham
House and Windsor; a sprinkling of distinguished foreigners; ministers,
and secretaries of embassy; some parliamentary leaders, men great on the
Treasury benches or strong on the Opposition. Beauties there were too,
past, present, and some, coming; a fair share of the notorieties of
fashion, and the last winner of the Derby, with--let me not forget
him--a Quarterly Reviewer. This last gentleman came with the Marquis
of Deepdene, and was, with the exception of a certain pertinacity of
manner, a very agreeable person.

Although previously unknown to the host, he had come down "special"
under the protection of his friend Lord Deepdene, hoping to secure his
grace's interest in the borough of Collyton, at that time vacant. He was
a man of very high attainments, had been an _optime_ at Cambridge, was
a distinguished essayist, and his party had conceived the very greatest
expectations of his success in Parliament. Of the world, or at least
that portion of it that moves upon Tournay carpets, amid Vandykes and
Velasquez, with sideboards of gold and lamps of silver, he had not
seen much, and learned still less; and it was plain to see that, in
the confidence of his own strong head, he was proof against either
the seductions of fashion or the sneers of those who might attempt to
criticise his breeding.

Before he was twenty-four hours in the house he had corrected his grace
in an historical statement, caught up the B---- of D---- in a blunder
of prosody, detected a sapphire in Lady Dollington's suite of yellow
diamonds, and exposed an error of Lord Sloperton's in his pedigree
of Brown Menelaus. It is needless to say he was almost universally
detested, for of those he had suffered to pass free, none knew how soon
his own time might arrive. His patron was miserable; he saw nothing but
failure where he looked for triumph. The very acquirements he had built
upon for success were become a terror to every one, and "the odious Mr.
Kitely" became a proverb. His political opponents chuckled over the "bad
tone" of such men in general; the stupid ones gloried over the fall of
a clever man; and the malignant part of the household threw out broad
hints that he was a mere adventurer, and they should not wonder if
actually---- an Irishman! Indeed, he had been heard to say "entirely"
twice upon the same evening in conversation, and suspicion had almost
become a certainty.

It was towards the end of my first week, as I was one day dressing for
dinner, Lord Collyton came hastily into my room, exclaiming, "By Jove,
Templeton! Mr. Kitely has done the thing at last, as he would say
himself, entirely."

"How do you mean? what has he done?" "You know my father is excessively
vain of his landscape-gardening, and the prodigious improvements which
he has made in this same demesne around us. Well, compassionating some
one whom Kitely was mangling, 'more suo' in an argument, he took
that gentleman out for a walk, and, with a conscious pride in his own
achievements, led him towards the Swiss cottage beside the waterfall.

"Kitely was pleased with every thing; the timber is really well grown,
and he praised it; the view is fine, and he said so. Even of the
_chalet_ he condescended a few words of approval, as a feature in the
scene. The waterfall, however, he would not praise; it might foam, and
splash, and whirl as it would; in vain it threw its tiny spray aloft,
and hissed beneath the rocks below; he never wasted even a word upon it.

"You'd scarce fancy, Mr. Kitely," said my father, whose patience was
sorely tried; "you'd scarce fancy that river you see there was only a
mill-stream."

"I'd scarcely think of calling that mill-stream a river, my lord," was
the reply.

"Hence the borough of Collyton is still open, and I have come, by his
grace's request, to say that if you desire to enter Parliament it is
very much at your service."

This was my introduction to the House.

My parliamentary life was, as I have said, a brief one, but not without
its triumphs. I was long enough a member to have excited the ardent
hopes of my friends, and make my name a thing quoted in the lists of
party.

Had I remained, I was to have spoken second to the address on the
opening of the new session. There was, I own, a most intoxicating sense
of pleasure in the first success. The moment in which, fatigued and
almost overpowered, I sank into a chair at Bellamy's, with some twenty
around me, congratulating, praising, flattering, and foretelling, was
worth living for; and yet, perhaps, in that same instant of triumph were
sown the seeds of my malady. I was greatly heated; I had excited myself
beyond my strength, and spoken for two hours--to myself it seemed
scarce twenty minutes; and then, with open cravat and vest, I sat in the
current of air between a door and window, drinking in delicious draughts
of iced water and flattery. I went home with a slight cough, and
something strange, like an obstruction to full breathing, in my chest.
Brodie, who saw me next day, I suppose, guessed the whole mischief;
for these men look far a-head, and, like sailors, they see storm and
hurricane in the cloud not bigger than a man's hand.

I often regret--I shall continue to do, perhaps, still oftener--that I
did not die in the harness. To quit the field for sake of life, and not
secure it after all, was paltry policy. But what could I do? a severe
and contested election would have killed me, and for Collyton it was
impossible I could continue to sit.

Irish politics would seem the rock a-head of every man in the House.
On these unhappy questions all are shipwrecked: the Premier loses
party--Party loses confidence--members displease constituents, and
_protégés_ offend their patrons. Such was my own case: the Duke who
owned the borough of Collyton, resolved on making a great stand and show
of his influence in both Houses. All his followers, myself among the
number, were summoned to a conference, when the tactic of attack should
be adopted, and each assigned his fitting part. To me was allotted the
office of replying to the first speaker of the Treasury Bench--a post of
honour and of danger, and only distasteful because impossible: the fact
was, that my own opinions were completely with the Government on the
subject in dispute, and consequently at open variance with those of
my own friends. This I declared at once, endeavouring to shew why
my judgment had so inclined, and what arguments I believed to be
unanswerable.

Instead of replying to my reasons, or convincing me of their
inefficiency, my colleagues only ap-pealed to the "necessity of
union"--the imperative call of party--and "the impossibility," as they
termed it, "of betraying the Duke."

I immediately resolved to resign my seat, and accept the Chiltern
Hundreds. To this there was a unanimous cry of dissent, one and all
pronouncing that such a step would damage them more even than my
fiercest opposition. The Duke sat still and said nothing. Somewhat
offended at this, I made a personal appeal to him resolving by the tone
of his reply to guide my future conduct. He was too old a politician
to give me any clue to his sentiments, shrouding his meaning in vague
phrases of compliment to my talents, and his perfect confidence that,
however my judgment inclined, I should be able to shew sufficient
reasons for my opinion. I went home baffled, worried, and ill. I sent
for Brodie. "You cannot speak on the coming question," said he; "there
is a great threat of haemorrhage from the lungs--you must have rest and
quiet. Keep beyond the reach of excitement for a few weeks--don't even
read the newspapers. Go over to Spa--there you can be quite alone."

I took the advice, and without one word of adieu to any one--without
even leaving any clue to my hiding-place, I left London. Spa was as
quiet and retired as Brodie described it. A little valley shut in
among hills, that a Cockney would have called mountains; a clear little
trout-stream, and some shady alleys to stroll among, being all I wanted.
Would that I could have brought there the tranquil spirit to enjoy them!
But my mind was far from at ease. The conflict between a sense of duty
and a direct obligation, raged continually within me. What I owed to
my own conscience, and what I owed to my patron, were at variance, and
never did the sturdiest Radical detest the system of Nomination Boroughs
as I did at this moment. Each day, too, I regretted that I had not done
this or that--taken some line different from what I adopted, and at
least openly braved the criticism that I felt I had fled from.

To deny me all access to newspapers was a measure but ill calculated to
allay the fever of my mind. Expectation and imagination were at work,
speculating on every possible turn of events, and every likely and
unlikely version of my own conduct. The first two days over, all my
impatience returned, and I would have given life itself to be once again
back "in my place," to assert my opinions, and stand or fall by my own
defence of my motives.

About a week after my arrival I was sitting under the shade of some
trees, at the end of the long avenue that forms the approach to the
town, when I became suddenly aware that, at a short distance off, an
Englishman was reading aloud to his friend the report of the last debate
on the "Irish Question." My attention was fettered at once; spell bound,
I sat listening to the words of one of the speakers on the ministerial
side, using the very arguments I had myself discovered, and calling down
the cheers of the House as he proceeded. A sarcastic allusion to my own
absence, and a hackneyed quotation from Horace as to my desertion, were
interrupted by loud laughter, and the reader laying down the newspaper,
said,--

"Can this be the Duke of Wrexington's Templeton that is here alluded
to?"

"Yes. He wrote a paper on this subject in the last 'Quarterly,' but the
Duke would not permit of his taking the same side in the House, and so
he affected illness they say, and came abroad."

"The usual fortune of your _protégé_ members--they have the pleasant
alternative of inconsistency or ingratitude. Why didn't he resign his
seat?"

"It is mere coquetry with Peel. They told me at Brookes's that he
wanted a mission abroad, and would 'throw over' the Duke at the first
opportunity. Now Peel gives nothing for nothing. For open apostasy
he will pay, and pay liberally; but for mere defalcation, he'll give
nothing."

"Templeton has outwitted himself, then; besides that, he has no standing
in the House to play the game alone."

"A smart fellow, too, but no guidance. If he had been deep, he must have
seen that old Wrexington only gave him the borough till Collyton was of
age to come in. It was meant for Kitely, but he refused the conditions.
'I cannot be a tenant-at-will, my lord,' said he; and so they took
Templeton."

I could bear no more. How I reached my inn I cannot remember. A severe
fit of coughing overtook me as I ascended the stairs, and a small vessel
gave way--a bad symptom, I believed; but the doctor of the place, whom
my servant soon brought to my bedside, applied leeches, and I was better
a few hours after.

The first use I made of strength was to write a brief note to the Duke,
resigning the borough. The next post brought me his reply, full of
compliment and assurance of esteem, accepting my resignation, and
acknowledging his full concurrence in the reasons I had given for my
step. The division was against him; and he half-jestingly remarked, it
might have been otherwise if I had fought on his side.

The letter was civil throughout, but in that style that shews a tone of
careless ease had been adopted to simulate frankness. I had had enough
of his Grace, and of politics too!



CHAPTER VI.

So, all is settled!--I leave Paris to-morrow. I hate leave-takings, even
where common acquaintanceship only is concerned. I shall just write a
few lines to the Favancourts, with the volume of Balzac--happily I know
no one else here--and then for the road!

Why this haste to set out, I cannot even tell to myself. I know, I feel,
I shall never pass this way again; I have that sense of regret a last
look at even indifferent objects suggests, and yet I would be "en route"
There are places and scenes I wish to see before I go hence, and I feel
that my hours are numbered.

And now for a moonlight stroll through Paris! Already the din and tumult
is subsiding--the many-voiced multitude that throngs the streets long
after the roll of equipage and the clattering hoofs of horses have
ceased. How peacefully the long shadows are sleeping in the garden of
the Tuileries! and how clearly sounds the measured tread of the sentinel
beneath the deep arch of the palace!

Not a light twinkles along that vast façade, save in that distant
pavilion, where a single star seems glistening--it is the apartment of
the King, "The cares of Agamemnon never sleep;" and royalty is scarce
more fortunate now than in the days of Homer.

Louis Philippe has a task not less arduous than had Napoleon to found a
dynasty. There is little prestige any longer in the name of Bourbon; and
the members of his family, brave and high-spirited though they be, are
scarcely of the stuff to stand the storm that is brewing for them.

As for the Emperor, the incapacity of his brothers was a weight upon his
shoulders all through life. His family contributed more to his fall than
is generally believed: it was a never-ending struggle he had to
maintain against the childish vanity and extravagance of Josephine,
the wrongheadedness of Joseph, the simple credulity of Louis, and
the fatuous insufficiency of Jerome and Lucien. All, more good than
otherwise, were manifestly unsuited to the places they occupied in life,
and were continually mingling up the associations and habits of their
small identities with the great requirements of newly acquired station.

Napoleon created the Empire--the vast drama was his own. However he
might please to represent royalty, however he might like to ally the
splendours of a throne with the glories of a great captain, it was
all his own doing. But how miserably deficient were the others in that
faculty of adaptation that made him "de pair" with every dynasty of
Europe!

Into these thoughts I was led by finding myself standing in the Rue
Taibout, opposite the house which was once celebrated as the _Café du
Roi_--a name which it bore for many years under the Empire, and, in
consequence, was held in high esteem by certain worthy _Légitimistes_,
who little knew that the "King" was only a pretender, and, so far from
being his sainted majesty Louis Dix-huit, was merely Jerome Buonaparte,
king of Westphalia.

The name originated thus:--One warm evening in autumn, a young man,
somewhat over-dressed in the then "_mode_" with a very considerable
border of pinkish silk stocking seen above the margin of his low boots
"_à revers_" and a most inordinate amount of coat-collar, lounged along
the Boulevard Italiens, occasionally ogling the passers-by, but, oftener
still, throwing an admiring glance at himself, as the splendid windows
of plate-glass reflected back his figure. His whole air and mien
exhibited the careless _insouciance_ of one with whom the world went
easily, asking little from him of exertion, less still of forethought.

He had just reached the angle of the Rue Vi-vienne, and was about to
turn, when two persons advanced towards him, whose very different style
of dress and appearance bespoke very different treatment at the hands of
Fortune. They were both young, and, although palpably men of a certain
rank and condition, were equally what is called out-at-elbows; hats that
exhibited long intimacy with rain and wind, shoes of very questionable
colour, coats suspiciously buttoned about the throat, being all signs of
circumstances that were far from flourishing.

"Ah, Chopard, is't thou?" said the fashionably dressed man, advancing
with open hand to each, and speaking in the "tu" of intimate friendship,
"And thou, too, Brissole, how goes it? What an age since we have met!
Art long in Paris?"

"About two hours," said the first. "Just as I stepped out of the Place
des Victoires I met our old friend here; and, strange enough, now
we have come upon _you_; three old schoolfellows thus assembled at a
hazard!"

"A minute later, and we should have missed each other," said Brissole.
"I was about to take my place in the _malle_ for Nancy."

"To leave Paris?" exclaimed both the others.

"Even so--to leave Paris! I've had enough of it."

"Come, what do you mean by this?" said Cho-pard; "it sounds very like
discouragement to me, who have come up here with all manner of notions
of fortune, wealth, and honours."

"So much the worse for you," said Brissole, gaily; "I've tried it for
five years, and will try it no longer. I was vaudevillist, journalist,
novelist, feuilletonist--I was the glory of the Odéon--the prop of the
'Moniteur'--the hope of the 'Siècle'--and look at me----"

"And thou?" said the fashionable, addressing him called Chopard.

"I have just had a little opera damned at Lyons, and have come up to try
what can be done here."

"Poor devil!" exclaimed Brissole, shrugging his shoulders; then, turning
abruptly towards the other, he said, "And what is thy luck? for, so far
as externals go, thou seemest to have done better."

"Ay, Jerome," chimed in Chopard, "tell us, how hast thou fared?--thou
wert ever a fortunate fellow."

"Pretty well," said he, laughing. "I've just come from St.
Cloud--they've made me King of Westphalia!"

"The devil they have!" exclaimed Chopard; "and dost know, _par hazard_,
where thy kingdom lies on the map?"

"Why should he torment himself about that?" said Brissole. "It's enough
to know they have capital hams there."

"What if we sup together," said Jerome, "and taste one? I am most
anxious to baptize my new Royalty in a glass of wine. Here we are in the
Rue Taibout--this is Villaret's. Come in, gentlemen--I'm the host. Make
your minds easy about the future: you, Brissole, I appoint to the office
of my Private Secretary. Chopard, you shall be _Maître de Chapelle_."

"Agreed," cried the others gaily; and with a hearty shake of hands was
the contract ratified.

Supper was quickly prepared, and, in its splendour and profusion,
pronounced, by both the guests, worthy of a king. Villaret could
do these things handsomely, and as he was told expense was of no
consequence, the entertainment was really magnificent. Nor was the
spirit of the guests inferior to the feast. They were brilliant in wit,
and overflowing in candour; concealing nothing of their past lives that
would amuse or interest, each vied with the other in good stories
and ludicrous adventures--all their bygone vicissitudes so pleasantly
contrasting with the brilliant future they now saw opening before them.
They drank long life and reign to the King of Westphalia in bumpers of
foaming champagne.

The pleasant hours flew rapidly past--bright visions of the time to come
lending their charm to the happiness, and making their enjoyment seem
but the forerunner of many days and nights of festive delight. At last
came day-break, and, even by the flickering of reason left, they saw it
was time to separate.

"Bring the bill," said Jerome to the exhausted-looking waiter, who
speedily appeared with a small slip of paper ominously marked "eight
hundred francs."

"_Diable!_" exclaimed Jerome; "that is smart, and I have no money about
me. Come, Brissole, this falls among your duties--pay the fellow."

"_Parbleu_, then--it comes somewhat too soon. I am not yet installed,
and have not got the key of our treasury."

"No matter--pay it out of thine own funds."

"But I have none--save this;" and he produced two francs, and some sous
in copper.

"Well, then, Chopard must do it."

"I have not as much as himself," said Chopard.

"Send the landlord here," said Jerome; but indeed the command was
unnecessary, as that functionary had been an anxious listener at the
door to the very singular debate.

"We have forgotten our purses, Villaret," said Jerome, in the easy tone
his last ten hours of royalty suggested; "but we will send your money
when we reach home."

"I have no doubt of it, gentlemen," said the host, obsequiously; "but it
would please me still better to receive it now--particularly as I have
not the honour of knowing the distinguished company."

"The distinguished company is perfectly satisfied to know you: the
_cuisine_ was excellent," hiccupped Brissole.

"And the wine unexceptionable."

"The champagne might have been a little more _frappé_," said Brissole;
"the only improvement I could suggest."

"Perhaps there was a _nuance_, only a _nuance_, too much citron in the
_rognons à la broche_, but the _filets de sole_ were perfect."

"If I had the happiness of knowing '_Messieurs_,'" said Villaret, "I
should hope, that at another time I might be more fortunate in pleasing
them."

"Nothing easier," said Chopard. "I am _Maître de Chapelle_ to the King
of Westphalia."

Villaret bowed low.

"And I am the Private Secretary and Privy Purse of his majesty."

Villaret bowed again--a slight smile of very peculiar omen flitting
across his cunning features, while, turning hastily, he whispered a word
in the ear of the waiter. "And this gentleman here?" said he, looking at
Jerome, who, with his legs resting on a chair, was coolly awaiting the
termination of the explanation. "And this gentleman, if I might make so
bold, what office does he hold in his Majesty's service?"

"I am the King of Westphalia!" said Jerome.

"Just as I suspected. François," said the landlord insolently, "go fetch
the gendarmes."

"No, no, _parbleu!_" said Jerome, springing up in alarm; "no gendarmes,
no police. Here, take my watch--that is surely worth more than your
bill? When I reach home I'll send the money."

The landlord, more than ever convinced that his suspicions were well
grounded, took the watch, which was a very handsome one, and suffered
them to depart in peace.

They had not been gone many minutes when, on examining the watch, the
landlord perceived that it bore the emblematic "N" of the Emperor within
the case, and at once suspecting that it had been stolen from
some member of the imperial household, he hurried off in terror to
communicate his fears to the commissary of police. This functionary
no sooner saw it that he hastened to Fouché, the minister, who, making
himself acquainted with the whole details, immediately hurried off to
the Tuileries and laid it all before the Emperor. The watch had been a
present from Napoleon to Jerome; but this was but a small part of the
cause of indignation. The derogation from dignity, the sacrifice of the
regard due to his station, were crimes of a very different order; and,
summoned to the imperial presence, the new-made king was made to hear,
in terms of reproachful sarcasm, a lesson in his craft that few could
impart with such cutting severity.

As for the _Maître de Chapelle_ and the Secretary, an agent of
the police waited on each before they were well awake, with strict
injunctions to them to maintain a perfect secrecy on the whole affair;
and while guaranteeing them an annual pension in their new offices,
assuring them that the slightest indiscretion as to the mystery would
involve their ruin and their exile from France for ever.

It was years before the landlord learned the real secret of the
adventure, and, in commemoration of it, called his house "Le Café
du Roi," a circumstance which the Government never noticed, for the
campaign of Russia and the events of 1812-13 left little time to attend
to matters of this calibre.

The Café du Roi is now a shop where artificial flowers are sold; as
nearly like nature perhaps, or more so, than poor Jerome's royalty
resembled the real article.



CHAPTER VII.

Baden-Baden. It is like a dream to me now to think of that long, dusty
road from Paris, with its rattling pavement, its noisy postilions,
shouting ostlers, bowing landlords, dirty waiters, garlic diet, and hard
beds; and here I sit by my open window, with a bright river beneath
my feet, the song of birds on every side, a richly wooded mountain
in front, and at the foot a winding road, which ever and anon gives
glimpses of some passing equipage, bright in all the butterfly glitter
of female dress, or, mayhap, resounding with merry laughter and
sweet-voiced mirth. How brilliant is every thing!--the cloudless sky,
the sparkling water, the emerald grass, the foliage in every tint
of beauty, the orange-trees and the cactus along the terraces, where
lounging parties come and go; and then the measured step of princely
equipages, in all the panoply of tasteful wealth! Truly, Vice wears its
holiday suit in Baden, and the fairness of this lovely valley seems to
throw a softened light over a scene where, as in a sea, the stormy waves
of every bad passion are warring.

When, in all the buoyant glow of youth and health, I remembered feeling
shocked, as I strolled through the promenade at Carlsbad, at the sight
of so many painful objects of sickness and suffering; the eager, almost
agonising, expressions of hoping convalescence; the lustreless stare of
those past hope; the changeful looks of accompanying friends, who seemed
to read the fate of some dear one in the compassionate pity of those who
passed, were all sights that threw a chill, like death, over the warm
current of my blood. Yet never did this feeling convey the same intense
horror and disgust that I felt last night as I walked through the
Cursaal.

To pass from the mellow moonlight, dappling the pathway among the trees
and kissing the rippling stream, from the calm, mild air of a summer's
night, when every leaf lay sleeping and none save the nightingale kept
watch, into the glare and glitter of a gilded saloon, is somewhat trying
to the jarred nerves of sickness. But what was it to the sight of
that dense crowd around the play-table, where avarice, greed of gain,
recklessness, and despair are mingled, giving, even to faces of manly
vigour and openness, expressions of low cunning and vulgar meaning?
There is a terrible sameness in the gambler's look, a blending of
slavish terror with a resolution to brave the worst, almost demoniacal
in its fierceness. I knew most of the persons present; I need not
say, not personally, but from having seen them before at various other
similar places. Many were professed gamblers, men who starved and
suffered for the enjoyment of that one passion, living on the smallest
gain, and never venturing a stake beyond what daily life demanded;
haggard, sad, wretched-looking creatures they were, the abject poverty
of their dress and appearance vouching that this _métier_ was not a
prosperous one. Others farmed out their talents, and played for those
who were novices. These men have a singular existence; they exact a
mere per-centage on the winning, and are in great request among
elderly ladies, whose passion for play is modified by the fears of its
vicissitudes. Then there were the usual sprinkling of young men, not
habitually gamblers, but always glad to have the opportunity of tempting
Fortune, with here and there some old votary of the "table" satisfied to
witness the changeful temper of the game without risking a stake.

Into many vices men are led by observing the apparent happiness and
pleasure of others who indulge in them. Not so with regard to play.
No man ever became a gambler from this delusion, there being no such
terrible warning against the passion as the very looks of its votaries.

But it is not in such a low _tripot_ of vice I care to linger. It was
a ball-night, and I turned with a sense of relief from the aspect of
sordid, vulgar iniquity, to gaze on its more polished brother (_quore_,
sister?) in the _salle de danse_.

Here there was a large--I might almost call it a brilliant--company
assembled: a less exclusive assemblage cannot be conceived; five francs
and clean gloves being the only qualification needed. The guests were
as varied, too, in nation as in rank. About equal numbers of German and
French, several Russians, and a large proportion of English, with, here
and there, a bilious-looking American, or a very dubious Marquis from
beyond the Alps. Many of the men I knew to be swindlers and blacklegs
of the very lowest stamp; some others I recognised as persons of the
highest station in my own country. Of the lady part of the company the
disparities were even greater.

There was, it is true, a species of sifting process discernible, by
which the various individuals fell among those of their own order; but
though this was practicable enough where conversation and grouping were
concerned, it was scarcely attainable in other circumstances, and thus,
the Mazurka and the Polka assembled ingredients that should never have
been placed in close propinquity.

The demoralising influence of such _reunions_ upon the daughters of our
own land need not be insisted upon. Purity of mind and simplicity
of character are no safeguard against the scenes which, in all the
propriety of decorum, are ever occurring. And how terribly rapid are the
downward steps when the first bloom and blush of modesty have faded! It
demands but a very indifferent power of observation to distinguish the
English girl for the first time abroad from her who has made repeated
visits to foreign watering-places; while even among those who have been
habituated to the great world at home, and passed the ordeal of
London seasons, there is yet much to learn in the way of cool and
self-possessed effrontery, from the habits of Baden and its brethren.

I was dreadfully shocked last night by meeting one I had not seen
for many years before. How changed from what I knew her once!--what a
terrible change! When first I saw her, it was during a visit I made
to her mother's house in Wales; her brother was an Oxford friend, and
brought me down with him for the shooting season to Merionethshire.
Poor fellow! he died of consumption at two-and-twenty, and left all he
possessed--a handsome estate--to his only sister. Hence all her misery!
Had she remained comparatively portionless, rich only in her beauty and
the graces of a manner that was fascination itself, she might now have
been the happy wife of some worthy Englishman--one whose station is a
trust held on the tenure of his rectitude and honour; for such is public
feeling in our country, and such is it never elsewhere.

She was then about eighteen or nineteen, and the very ideal of what an
English girl at that age should be. On a mind highly stored and amply
cultivated, no unworthy or depreciating influence had yet descended;
freedom of thought, freshness almost childish, had given her an
animation and buoyancy only subdued by the chastening modesty of coming
womanhood. Enthusiastic in all her pursuits, for they were graceful
and elevating, her mind had all the simplicity of the child with the
refinement of the highest culture; and, like those who are brought up
in narrow circles, her affections for a few spread themselves out in
the varied forms that are often scattered and diffused over the wider
surface of the world. Thus her brother was not merely the great object
of her affection and pride, but he was the companion of her rides and
walks, the confidant of all her secret feelings, the store in which she
laid up her newly acquired knowledge, or drew, at will, for more. With
him she read and studied; delighted by the same pursuits, their natures
blended into one harmonious _corde_, which no variance or dissonance
ever troubled.

His death, although long and gradually anticipated, nearly brought her
to the grave. The terrible nature of the malady, so often inherent in
the same family, gave cause for the most anxious fears on her account,
and her mother, herself almost brokenhearted, took her abroad, hoping
by the mildness of a southern climate and change of scene to arrest the
progress of the fell disease.

In this she was successful; bodily health was indeed secured. But might
it not have been better that she had wasted slowly away, to sleep at
last beneath the yews of her own ancient churchyard, than live and
become what she has done?

Some years after this event I was, although at the time only an
_attaché_ of the mission, acting as _Charge d'affaires_ at Naples,
during the absence of the minister and the secretary. I was sitting one
morning reading in my garden, when my servant announced the visit of an
Italian gentleman, il Signor Salvatori. The name was familiar to me, as
belonging to a man who had long been employed as a Spy of the Austrian
government, and, indeed, was formerly entrusted in a secret capacity
by Lord W. Bentinck in Sicily--a clever, designing, daring rascal, who
obtained his information no one knew how; and although we had always
our suspicions that he might be "selling" us, as well as the French,
we never actually traced any distinct act of treachery to his door. He
possessed a considerable skill in languages, was very highly informed
on many popular topics, and, I have been told, was a musician of no mean
powers of performance. These and similar social qualities were, however,
never displayed by him in any part of his intercourse with us, although
we had often heard of their existence.

As I never felt any peculiar pleasure in the relations which office
compels with men of his stamp, I received him somewhat coldly, and
asked, without much circumlocution, the reason of his visit.

He replied, with his habitual smile of self-possession, that his present
duty at "the Mission" was not a business-call, but concerned a matter
purely personal;--in fact, "with his Excellency's permission, he desired
to get married."

Not stopping him on the score of his investing me with a title to which,
no one knew better than himself, I had no pretensions, I quietly
assured him that his relation with "the Mission" did not, in any way,
necessitate his asking for such a permission--that, however secret and
mysterious the nature of his communications, they were still beyond the
pale of affairs personally private.

He suffered me to continue my explanation, somewhat scornful as it was,
to the end, and then calmly said,--

"Your Excellency will pardon my intrusion, when I inform you that the
marriage should take place here, at 'the Mission,' as the lady is an
English woman."

Whether it was the fact itself, or his manner of delivering it, that
outraged me, I cannot now remember; but I do recollect giving expression
to a sentiment of surprise and anger not exactly suitable.

He merely smiled, and said nothing.

"Very well, M. Salvatori," said I, corrected by the quietude of his
manner; "what is your day?"

"Wednesday, if your Excellency pleases."

"Wednesday be it, and at eight o'clock."

"As your Excellency desires," said he, bowing and retiring.

It had never occurred to me to ask for any information about the happy
fair one; indeed, if I had given a thought at all to the matter, it
would have been that she was of the rank of a _femme-de-chambre_, or, at
least, some unhappy children's governess, glad to exchange one mode of
tyranny for another. As he was leaving the room, however, some sense of
remorse, perhaps, at the _brusquerie_ I had shewn towards him, suggested
the question, "Who might the lady be?"

"Mademoiselle Graham."

"Ah! a very good name, indeed," said I; and so, with a word or two of
common-place, I bade him good-by.

The Wednesday morning arrived, and two carriages drove into the court
of "the Mission:" out of one sprung Signor Salvatori and a very bearded
gentleman, who accompanied him as his friend; from the other alighted,
first, an elderly lady, whose dress was a mixture of wedding finery and
widow's mourning; then came a very elegant-looking girl, veiled from
head to foot, followed by her maid; and, lastly, the chaplain to "the
Mission."

They were some minutes too early, and I equally behind my time; but I
dressed hastily, and descended to the salon, where M. Salvatori received
me with a very gracious expression of his self-satisfaction. Passing
him by, I advanced to address a few words to the old lady, who had risen
from her seat; when, stepping back, I exclaimed,

"Mrs. Graham--my old friend, Mrs. Graham! Is this possible?"

"Oh, Caroline, it is Mr. Templeton!" said she; while her daughter,
drawing her veil still closer over her face, trembled dreadfully.
Meanwhile Mrs. Graham had seized my hand with cordial warmth, and
pressed it in all the earnestness of friendship. Her joy--and it was
very evident it was such--was little participated in by her son-in-law
elect, who stood, pale and conscience-stricken, in a distant part of the
room.

"I must entreat these gentlemen's permission to speak a few words here
alone, as these ladies are very old friends I have not seen for some
years."

"I would humbly suggest to your Excellency that, as the ceremony still
waits----"

"I wish it, Marquis," said Mrs. Graham, in a tone half-command,
half-entreaty; and, with a deep bow of submission, Salvatori and his
friend withdrew, accompanied by the chaplain.

"The title by which you have just addressed that person, Mrs. Graham,"
said I, in a voice trembling from agitation, "shews me how you have been
duped and deceived by him, and in what total ignorance you are as to his
real character."

"Oh, Mr. Templeton!" broke in her daughter, now speaking for the
first time, and in accents I shall never forget, such was their
heart-thrilling earnestness,--"Oh, sir, this does indeed exceed the
license of even old friendship! We are well aware how the Marquis of
Salvatori has suffered from persecution; but we little expected to have
found _you_ among the number of his enemies."

"You do me great wrong, Miss Graham," said I, eagerly; "in nothing
greater than supposing me capable of being the enemy of such a man
as this. Unworthy as the sentiment is, it at least implies a sense of
equality. Now, are you certain of what this person is? are you aware
in what capacity he has been employed by our government, and by that of
other countries?"

"We know that the Marquis has been engaged in secret missions," said
Miss Graham, proudly.

"Your reply, brief as it is, conveys two errors, Miss Graham. He is not
a Marquis; little as the title often implies in Italy, he has no right
to it. He asked Lord William Bentinck to let him call himself Marquis,
and so to address him, as a means of frequenting circles where important
information was accessible. Lord William said, 'Call yourself what
you please--Grand Duke, if you like it--I am no dispenser of such
designations.' The gentleman was modest;--he stopped at Marquis. As
to his diplomatic functions, we have a short and expressive word for
them;--he was and is, a Spy!"

Not heeding the scornful reception of the daughter, I turned towards
Mrs. Graham, and, with all the power I possessed, urged her, at least,
to defer this fatal step;--that she was about to bestow her child upon a
man of notoriously degraded character, and one whose assumption of rank
and position was disregarded and despised in the very humblest circles.
The mother wept bitterly; at one moment, turning to dissuade her
daughter from her rashness, at the next, appealing to me against
what she called my unjust prejudices against the Marquis. Miss Graham
scornfully refused to vouchsafe me even a word.

I confess more than once my temper prompted me to abandon the
enterprise, and suffer wilfulness to reap its own bitter harvest; but
then, my better feelings prevailed, and old memories of my poor friend
Graham again enlisted me in defence of his sister.

Of no avail was it that I followed these worthier promptings. It seemed
as if the man had thrown a spell over these two unhappy women, one,
being perfectly enthralled, the other, nearly so, by the artful
fascinations of his manner; and yet he was neither young, handsome,
rich, nor of high lineage. On the contrary, the man was at least
fifty-three or four, a perfect monster of ugliness, with an ex-pression
of sardonic sycophancy actually demoniac.

If I were not relating "a fact"--one of which I can answer, that many
now living can entirely corroborate--I would hesitate about dwelling on
a case where improbabilities are so strong, and where I have nothing to
offer like an explanation of them. Wilkes has long since convinced the
world how little good looks are concerned in winning a woman's
heart, and how, indeed, a very considerable share of ugliness can be
counterbalanced by captivations of manner and personal agreeability.
But, judging from the portraits--even Hogarth's fearful sketch--Wilkes
was handsome compared to Salvatori; and in point of reputation, low as
it was, the Libeller and the Satirist was still better than the Spy.

To go back again: I argued, I entreated, begged, threatened, and
denounced. I went further;--I actually transgressed the limits of
official authority, and refused to sanction the ceremony--a threat
which, I soon remembered, I dare not sustain. But, do what, say what, I
would, they were equally resolute and determined; and nothing was left
for me but to recall M. Salvatori and his friend, and suffer the affair
to proceed.

I do not remember, among the varied incidents of my life, one
whose effect weighed more heavily upon me. Although acquitted by my
conscience, I felt at moments horror-struck at even my share in this
infamy, and would have given any thing that it had never occurred. It
may be believed I was happy to hear that they all left Naples the same
day.

Years rolled over, and I never even heard of them, till one morning,
when waiting along with a diplomatic friend for an interview with the
French Minister for Foreign Affairs, a person hastily passed through the
room, saluting us as he went.

"I have seen that face before," said I to my friend; "do you know him?"

"To be sure!" said he, smiling; "one must be young in diplomacy not to
know the Mephistophiles of the craft; and I guess why he is here, too:
that fellow is in the pay of the Prince de Capua, but has sold him to
Louis Philippe. The reconciliation with Naples would have been long
since effected but for the King of the French."

"And his name--this man's name--what is it?"

"Salvatori."

"What! the same who married an English girl at Naples?"

"And sold her to the Marquis Brandini for ten thousand sequini. The very
man. But here comes the messenger to say his Excellency will receive
us."

My friend quitted Paris the moment his interview ended, and I heard no
more.

Last night I saw her in the Cursaal--beautiful, perhaps more beautiful
than ever! At least there was a lofty elegance and a splendour about her
that I never remember in her girlish days; nor was it till she smiled
that I could now believe that the queen-like beauty before me was the
timid, delicate girl I first saw tripping along the narrow path of a
Welsh mountain.

Even from the gossip of Baden I could learn no more about her than that
she was a Sicilian Countess of great wealth, and a widow; that she was
intimately received into the very highest circles--even of royalty--and
constantly was seen driving in the carriage of the Archduchess. It was,
then, possible that I might be mistaken, after all! Great people are not
accessible so easily.

I tried in various quarters to get presented to her--for she shewed not
the slightest sign of having ever met me--but failed every where: they
who knew her did not do so intimately enough to introduce me.

The reminiscences I have just jotted down have made me miserably
feverish and ill; for although I now begin to doubt that I ever saw this
Countess before, the sad story of Caroline Graham is ever present to my
mind--a terrible type of the fortune of many a fair English girl left to
the merciless caprice of a foreign husband!

I am not bigot enough to fancy that happy, eminently happy, marriages do
not exist abroad as well as with us; but I am fully minded to say that
the individuals should be of the same nation, reared in the midst of the
same traditions, imbued with feelings that a common country, language,
and religion bestow.

I know of nothing that presents so pitiable a picture of unhappy
destiny, as a fair and delicately minded English girl the wife of a
foreigner! How I wish to resolve my doubts in this case! for although I
began this memorandum fully persuaded it was Caroline Graham that I had
seen, every line I write increases my uncertainty.



CHAPTER VIII.

It was with a rare audacity that the devil pitched his tent in Baden!
Perhaps, on the whole continent, another spot could not be found so
fully combining, in a small circuit, as many charms of picturesque
scenery; and it was a bold conception to set down vice, in all its
varieties, in the very midst of--in open contrast as it were to--a scene
of peaceful loveliness and beauty.

I do confess myself one of those who like living figures in a landscape.
I like not only those groupings which artists seem to stereotype, so
nearly alike they all are, of seated foreground figures, dark-shadowed
observers of a setting sun, or coolly watering cattle beneath a gushing
fountain. I like not merely the red-kirtled peasant knee-deep in the
river, or the patient fisherman upon his rock; but I have a strong
regard--I mean here, where the scene is Nature's own, and not on
canvass--a strong regard for those flitting glimpses of the gayer world,
which, in the brightest tints that Fashion sanctions, are caught now,
in some deep dell of the Tyrol, now, on some snow-peaked eminence of a
Swiss glacier, beside the fast-rolling Danube or the sluggish Nile.

I have no sympathy for those who exclaim against the incongruity of pink
parasols and blue reticules in scenes of mild and impressive grandeur.
Methinks it bespeaks but scanty store of self-resources in those who
thus complain, not knowing any thing of the feelings that have prompted
their presence there. No one holds cheaper than I do the traveller who,
under the guidance of his John Murray, sees what is set down for him
through the eyes of the "Hand-book"--mingling up in his addled brain
crude notions of history and antiquarianism with the names of inns and
post-houses--counsels against damp sheets--cheating landlords--scraps
of geology, and a verse of "Childe Harold." This is detestable: but for
otherwise is the meeting with those whose dress and demeanour tell of
the world of fashion--the intertwined life of dissipation and excess in
solitary unfrequented places. Far from being struck by their inaptitude
and unfitness for such scenes, I willingly fall back upon the thought of
how such people must be impressed by objects so far beyond the range of
daily experience, of objects, whose wondrous meaning speaks to hearts
the most cloyed and jaded, "as never man spoke." I can luxuriate in
fancying how long-forgotten feelings, old memories of the past, long
buried beneath the load of daily cares, come back fresh and bright under
the influence of associations that recall parer, happier hours. I can
dwell in imagination on the sudden spring made from the stern ordinances
of a world of forms and conventionalities, to that more beautiful and
grander world, whose incense is the odour of wild flowers and whose
music is the falling cataract.

I love to speculate how the statesman, the wily man of forecasting
thought and deep devices, must feel in presence of agencies which make
those of mere man's contrivance seem poor and contemptible; and how the
fine lady, whose foot knows no harder surface than a velvet carpet, and
whose artificial existence palls by its own voluptuousness, contemplates
a picture of grand and stern sublimity. Disguise it how they will, feign
indifference how they may, such scenes always are felt, and deeply felt!
The most accomplished lounger of St. James's Street does not puff his
cigar so coolly as he affects to do, nor is that heart all unmoved that
throbs beneath the graceful folds of a rich Cashmere. Now and then some
Brummagem spirit intrudes, who sees in the felling torrent but a wasted
"water-power:" but even he has his own far-reaching thoughts imbued with
a poetry of their own. He sees in these solitudes new cities arise, the
busy haunts of acting heads and hands; he hears in imagination the heavy
bang of the iron hammer, the roar of the furnace, the rush of steam, the
many-voiced multitude called by active labour to new activity of mind;
and perhaps he soars away, in thought, to those far-off wilds of the
new world, whose people, clothed by these looms, are brought thus into
brotherhood with their kindred men.

I, myself, have few sympathies in common with these; but I respect the
feelings that I do not fathom. "_Nihil humani a me alienum puto_."

What has suggested these thoughts? A little excursion that I made this
evening from the village of Lichtenthal towards the Waterfall, a winding
glen, narrowing as you advance; wilder too, but not less peopled; every
sheltered spot having its own dwelling-place--the picturesque _chalet_,
with its far-stretching eave, and its quaint galleries of carved
wood, its brightly shining windows sparkling between the clustering
vine-leaves, and its frieze of Indian corn hung up beneath the roof to
dry. Leaving the carriage, I followed the bank of the stream--just
such a river as in my boyish days I loved to linger by, and fancy I was
fishing. It was no more than fancy: for although my rod and landing-net
were in most fitting perfection, my hackles and orange bodies, my green
drakes and may-flies, all that could be wished, I was too dreamy and
_destrait_ for "the gentle craft;" and liked Walton better in his
rambling discursions than in his more practical teaching. What a
glorious day for scenery, too! Not one of those scorching, blue sky,
cloudless days, when a general hardness prevails, but a mingled light of
sun and cloud shadow, with misty distances, and dark, deep foregrounds
on the still water, where ever and anon a heavy plash, breaking in
widening circles, told of the speckled trout: save that, no other sound
was heard. All was calm and noiseless, as in some far-off valley of the
Mississippi, a little surging of the water on the rocky shore--a faint
melancholy plash--scarce heard even in the stillness.

I sat thinking, not sadly, but seriously, of the past, and of that
present time that was so soon to add itself to the Past; for the Future,
I felt, by sensations that never deceive, it must be brief! My malady
gained rapidly on me; symptoms, I was told to guard against, had already
shewn themselves, and I knew that the battle was fought and lost.

"It is sad to die at thirty," saith Balzac, somewhere; and to the
Frenchman of Paris, who feels that death is the cessation of a round of
pleasures and dissipations, whose hold is hourly stronger; who thinks
that life and self-indulgence are synonymous; whose ideal is the
ceaseless round of exciting sensations that spring from every form of
human passion nurtured to excess;--to him, the sleep of the grave is the
solitude and not the repose of the tomb.

To me, almost alone in the world, to die suggests few sorrows or
regrets; without family, without friends, save those the world's
complaisance calls such; with no direct object for exertion, nothing for
hope or fear to cling to; no ambition that I could nourish, no dream
of greatness or distinction to elevate me above the thought of daily
suffering; life is a mere monotony--and the monotony of _waiting_.

While watching the progress of my malady, seeing day by day the
advancing steps of the disease that never sleeps, I recognise in myself
a strange adaptation in my mind and feelings to the more developed
condition of my illness. At first, my cough irritated and fevered me.
It awoke me if I slept--it worried me as I read; my fast and hurried
breathing, too, exciting the heart's action, rendered me impatient and
discontented. Now, both these symptoms are in excess, and yet, by habit
and some acquired power of conforming to them, I am scarcely aware of
their existence. I have learned to look on them as my normal, natural
condition. My cough on awaking in the morning--my hectic as night
falls--only tell of the day's dawn and decline. I fancy that this dreamy
calm, this spirit of submissive waiting that I feel, is dependent on my
infirmity; for how otherwise could I, if strong in mind and body,
endure the thraldom of my present life? The watchful egotism of sickness
demands the mind of sickness.

In the whole phenomena of malady, nothing is more striking than the
accommodation of the mind to the condition of suffering. I remember
once--I was then in all the strength and confidence of youth and
health--discussing this point with a friend, a physician of skill and
eminence, now no more, and was greatly struck by a theory which was
new, at least to me. He regarded every species of disease, from the most
simple to the most complicated, as a sanatory process, an effort--not
always successful, of course--on the part of Nature to restore the
system to its condition of health. He instanced maladies the most
formidable, some of them attended by symptoms of terrible suffering; but
in every case he assumed to shew that they were efforts to oppose the
march of some other species of disorganisation. So far from there being
any taint of Materialism in these views, he deduced from them a most
devout and conscientious belief in a Supreme Power; and instead of
resting upon Contrivance and Design as the great attributes of the
Deity, he went further, and made the Forethought, the Providence of God
for his creatures, the great object of his wonderment and praise. His
argument, if I dare trust my memory, was briefly this: The presence of
a superintending guardian spirit, ever watchful to avert evil from its
charge, is the essential difference which separates every object of
God's creation from the mere work of man's hand. The ingenuity that
contrived the mechanism of a steam-engine or a clock, was yet unable to
endow the machinery with latent powers of reparation; secret resources
against accident or decay, treasured up for the hour of necessity, and
not even detectable, if existent, before the emergency that evoked them.
Not so with the objects of creation. _They_ are each and all, according
to various laws, provided with such powers; their operations, whether
from deficient energy or misdirection, constituting what we call
disease. What is dropsy, for instance, save the resolution of an
inflammatory action that would almost inevitably prove fatal? Formidable
as the malady is, it yet affords time for treatment; its march is
comparatively slow and uniform, whereas the disease that originated
it would have caused death, if effusion of fluid had not arrested the
violence of the inflammation.

Take the most simple case--a wounded bloodvessel, a cut finger: by all
the laws of hydraulics, the blood must escape from this small vessel,
and the individual bleed to death as certainly, though not so speedily,
as from the largest artery. But what ensues? after a slight loss
of blood, the vessel contracts--a coagulum forms--the bleeding is
arrested--the coagulum solidifies and forms a cicatrix; and the whole of
these varied processes--a series of strange and wonderful results--will
follow, without any interference of the Will, far less any aid from
the individual himself, being powers inherent in the organisation, and
providentially stored up for emergency.

The blood poured out upon the brain from an apoplectic stroke, must, and
does, prove fatal, save when the _vis medicatrix_ is able to interpose
in time, by encircling the fluid, enclosing it with a _sac_, and
subsequently by absorption removing the extraneous pressure. All these
are vital processes, over which the sufferer has no control--of which he
is not even conscious.

The approach of an abscess to the surface of the body, by a law similar
to that which determines the approach of a plant to the surface of
the earth--the reparation of a fractured bone, by the creation and
disposition of elements not then existing in the body--and many similar
cases, warranted him in assuming that all these processes were exactly
analogous to what we call disease, being disturbances of the animal
economy accompanied by pain; and that disease of every kind was only
a curative effort, occasionally failing from sufficient
energy--occasionally, from the presence of antagonistic agency,--and
occasionally, from our ignorance of its tendency and object.

I feel I have been a lame expositor of my friend's theory. I have
omitted many of his proofs--some of them the best and strongest. I
have, besides, not adverted to objections which he foresaw and refuted.
Indeed, I fell into the digression without even knowing it, and I leave
it here in the same fashion. I fancy a kind of comfort in the notion
that my malady is, at least, an attempt at restoration. The idea of
decay--of declining slowly away, leaf by leaf, branch by branch--is very
sad; and even this "conceit" is not without its consolation.

And now to wander homewards. How houseless the man is who calls his inn
his home! It was all very well for "Sir John" to say, "I like to take
mine ease in mine inn;" and in his day the thing was practicable. The
little parlour, with its wainscot of walnut-wood and its bright tiles,
all shining in the tempered light through the diamond-paned window; the
neatly spread table, where smoked the pasty of high-seasoned venison,
beside the tall cup of sack or canary; and the buxom landlady herself,
redolent of health, good spirits, and broad jest;--these were all
accessories to that abandonment to repose and quiet so delightful to the
weary-minded. But think of some "Cour de Russie," some "Angelo d' Oro,"
or some "Schwarzen Adler," all alive with dusty arrivals and frogged
couriers--the very hall a fair, with fifty bells, all ringing; postboys
blowing--whips cracking--champagne corks flying--and a Bable of every
tongue in Europe, making a thorough-bass din that would sour a saint's
temper!...

I'll leave at once--I'll find some quiet little gasthaus in the Tyrol
for a few weeks, till the weather moderates, and it becomes cool enough
to cross the Alps--and die!



CHAPTER IX.

These watering-place doctors have less tact than their _confrères_
elsewhere: their theory is, "the Wells and Amusement;" they never
strain their faculties to comprehend any class but that of hard-worked,
exhausted, men of the world, to whom the regularity of a Bad-ort, and
the simple pleasures it affords, are quite sufficient to relieve the
load of over-taxed minds and bodies. The "distractions" of these places
suit such people well; the freedom of intercourse, which even among our
strait-laced countrymen prevails, is pleasant. My Lord refreshes in
the society of a clever barrister, or an amusing essayist of the
"Quarterly." The latter puts forth all his agreeability for the
delectation of a grander audience than he ever had at home. But to one
who has seen all these ranks and conditions of men--who finds nothing
new in the _morgue_ of the Marquis, or the last _mot_ of the Bench--it
is somewhat too bad to be told that such intercourse is a part of your
treatment.

My worthy friend Dr. Guckhardt has mistaken me; he fancies my weariness
is the result of solitude, and that my exhaustion is but _ennui_; and,
in consequence, has he gone about on the high roads and public places
inquiring if any one knows Horace Templeton, who is "sick and ill." And
here is the fruit: a table covered with visiting cards and scented notes
of inquiry. My Lord Tollington--a Lord of the Bedchamber, a dissolute
old fop--very amusing to very young men, but intolerable to all who have
seen anything themselves. Sir Harvey Clifford, a Yorkshire Jesuit,
who travels with a _socius_ from Oscot and a whole library of tracts
controversial. Reginald St. John, a "levanter" from the Oaks. Colonel
Morgan O'Shea, absent without leave for having shot his father-in-law.
Such are among the first I find. But whose writing is this?... I know
the hand well.... Frank Burton, that I knew so well at Oxford! Poor
devil! he joined the 9th Lancers when he came of age, and ran through
every thing he had in the world in three years. He married a Lady Mary
somebody, and lives now on her family. What is his note about?


     "Dear Tempy,

     "I have just heard of your being here, and would have gone
     over to see you, but have sprained my ancle in a hopping-
     match with Kubetskoi--walked into him for two hundred,
     nevertheless. Come and dine with us to-day at the France,
     and we'll shew you some of the folk here. That old bore,
     Lady Bellingham Blakely, is with us, and gives a pic-nic on
     Saturday at the Waterfall--rare fun for you, who like a
     field-day of regular quizzes! Don't fail--sharp seven--and
     believe me,

     "Yours,

     "F. B."


This requires but brief deliberation; and so, my dear Frank, you must
excuse my company, both at dinner and pic-nic. What an ass he must be to
suppose that a man of thirty has got no farther insight into the world,
and knows no more of its inhabitants, than a boy of eighteen! These
"quizzes," doubtless, had been very amusing to me once--just as I used
to laugh at the "School for Scandal" the first fifty times I saw it;
but now that I have _épuisé les ridicules_--have seen every manner
of absurdity the law of Chancery leaves at large--why hammer out the
impression by repetition?

What is here by way of postscript?

     "Lady B. has made the acquaintance of a certain Sicilian
     Countess, the handsomest woman here, and has engaged her for
     Saturday. If you be the man you used to be, you'll not fail
     to come."

*****

     "Dear F----

     "I cannot dine out. I can neither eat, drink, nor talk, nor
     can I support the heat or 'confaz' of a dinner; but, if
     permitted, will join your party on Saturday for half an
     hour.

     "Yours truly,

     "H. Templeton."


Now has curiosity--I have no worthier name to bestow on it--got the
better of all my scruples and dislikes to such an agglomeration as a
pic-nic! Socially I know nothing so bad: the liberty is license, and the
license is an intolerable freedom, where only the underbred are at
ease. _N'importe_--I'll go; for while I now suspect that I was wrong
in believing the Countess to have been my old acquaintance, Caroline
Graham, I have a strange interest, at least, in seeing how one so like
her, externally, may resemble her in traits of mind and manner. And then
I'll leave Baden.

I am really impatient to get away. I feel--I suppose there is nothing
unusual in the feeling--that, as I meet acquaintances, I can read in
their looks those expressions of compassion and pity by which the sick
are admonished of their hopeless state; and for the very reason that
I can dare to look it steadily in the face myself, I have a strong
repugnance to its being forcibly placed before me. My greatest wish
to live--if it ever deserved the name of wish--is to see the upshot of
certain changes that time inevitably will bring out. I have watched
the game in some cases so closely, I should like to know who rises the
winner.

What will become of France under a regency? How will the new government
turn the attention of the _mauvaises têtes_, and where will they carry
their arms? What will Austria do, when the Pope shall have given the
taste for free institutions, and the Italians fancy that they are strong
enough for self-government? What America, when the government of her
newly acquired territory must be a military dictation, with a standing
army of great strength? What Ireland, when the landlords, depressed by
an increasing poor-rate, have brought down the gentry to a condition of
mere subsistence, with Romanism hourly assuming a bolder, higher tone,
dictating its terms with the Minister, and treating the Government _de
pair?_

What Prussia, when democracy grows quicker when Constitutional Liberty,
and Freedom of the Press get ahead of the Censor?

For Belgium and Switzerland I have little interest. Priest-ridden and
mob-ridden, they may indulge their taste for domestic quarrel so long as
a general war is remote; let _that_ come, and their small voices will be
lost in the louder din of far different elements.

As for the Peninsula, Spain and Portugal are in as miserable a plight as
free institutions combined with Popery can make them. If Romanism is
to be the religion of the State, let it be allied with Absolutism. The
right to think, read, and speak, are incompatible with the dictates of
a Church that forbids all three. Rome is the type. It is a grand and a
stupendous tyranny. _Gare!_ to those who try to make it a popular rule!

So... I find that all Baden is full of our great picnic! Ours, I say,
for here lies Lady B---- B----'s respectful compliments, &c, and my own
replication is already delivered. It seems that we have taken the true
way to create popular interest, by trespassing on popular enjoyment. We
have engaged M. Gougon, the _chef_ of the Cursaal; engaged the band who
usually perform before the promenade; engaged all the saddle-horses, and
most of the carriages--in fact, we have enlisted every thing save the
Genius Loci, the hump-backed croupier of the roulette table.

Why we should travel twelve miles or so, out of our way, to bring Baden
with us I cannot so clearly see. Why we cannot be satisfied with vice
without a change of venue I do not understand. But with this I have
nothing to do. Like the Irishman, "I am but a lodger." Indeed, I believe
my own poor presence was less desired at this _fête_ than that of my
London phaeton and my two black ponies, which, I am told, are very
much admired here--a certain sign that they are not in the most correct
taste. However, I have my revenge. As Hussars, when invited to dine out
at questionable places, always appear in plain clothes, so shall I
come to the rendezvous in a _fiacre_; though, I own, it is very like
obtaining a dinner under false pretences.

Already the little town is a-stir; servants are hastening to and fro;
ominous-looking baskets and hampers are seen to pass and repass;
strange quadrupeds are led by as saddle-horses, their gay headstalls and
splendid saddle-cloths scarce diverting the eye from "groggy" fore-legs
and drawn-up quarters; curiously dressed young gentlemen, queer
combinations of Jockeyism with an Arcadian simplicity, stand in groups
about; and, now and then, a carriage rolls by, and disappears up some
steep street in search of its company.

Ah! there go the Tollingtons! and in a conveniency, too, they'd
scarcely like to be seen with in Hyde Park. What a droll old
rattle-trap! and what a pair of wretched hacks to draw it! After all,
one cannot help avowing that these people, seated there in that most
miserable equipage, where poverty exhibits its most ludicrous of
aspects, even there, they preserve as decisive an air of class and rank
as--as--yes, I have found the exact equivalent--as almost every
foreigner seated in a handsome carriage does of the opposite. Prejudice,
bigotry, narrow-mindedness, or any thing else of the same kind it may
be; but, after a great part of a life spent abroad, my testimony is,
that for one person of either sex, whose appearance unmistakeably
pronounces condition, met, abroad--I care not where--at least one
hundred are to be seen in England. So much for the nation of
shopkeepers!

Ah! a tandem, by Jove! and rather well got up. Of course it could be no
other than Burton--"the ruling passion strong in 'debt!'" Well, he may
have forgotten his creditors, but he has not forgotten how to hold the
ribbons.

What's this heavy old coach with a cabriolet over the rumble?--the
Russian minister, Kataffsky! Lord bless us! from all the strong braces
and bars of wood and iron, one would say that it was built to stand
a journey to Siberia. Who knows, but it may travel that road yet!...
Pretty woman the Princess, but with all the characteristic knavery of
her race in the eyes. Paulwas right when he refused to license Jews in
Russia, because he knew his subjects would cheat _them!_

"_Bon jour, Marquis_." Monsieur de Tavanne, very absurd but a chivalrous
Frenchman of the old school. They say that, meeting the late Duc
d'Orléans at Lady Grenville's, he took a very abrupt leave, expressing
as his reason that he did not know her Ladyship received "_des gens
comme cela_."

A Vienna _Coupé_, with a Vienna Coachman, and a Vienna Countess inside,
are very distinctive in their way. The Grafin von Lowenhaufen, one of
those pretty _intriguantes_ of modern political warfare who frequent
watering-places and act as the tirailleurs for Metternich and Guizot.
Talleyrand avowed the great advantage of such assistance, which he said
was impossible for an English minister, for "les Anglaises" always fell
in love and blabbed!

Here comes a showy affair!--a real landau with four horses, as fine as
bouquets and worsted tassels can make them! No mistaking it--_Erin go
Brag!_ Sir Roger M'Causland and my lady, and the four Misses and the
Master M'Causland. They are the invincibles of modern travel; they have
stormed every court in Europe, and are the terror of Grand Maréchals
from Naples to the Pole. Heaven help the English minister in whose city
they squat for a winter! He would have less trouble with a new tariff
or a new boundary than in arranging their squabbles with court
functionaries and the police. Sir Roger _must_ know the King and his
Ministers, and expound to them his own notions of the government, with
divers hints about free trade and other like matters. My Lady _must_
be invited to all court balls and concerts, and a fair proportion of
dinners; and this, "_de droit_," because "the M'Causland" was a King of
Ballyshandera in the year 4, and my Lady herself being an O'Dowde, also
of blood royal. People may laugh at these absurd, shameless pretensions,
but "_il rit le mieux, qui rit le dernier_," says the proverb; and if
the sentiment be one the M'Causlands' dignity permit, they have the
right to laugh heartily. Boredom, actual boredom--a perseverance that
is dead to all shame--a persistance that no modesty rebukes--a steady
resolve to push forward, wins its way socially as well as strategically;
and even the folding-doors of court saloons fly open before its magic
sésame.

And who are these gay equestrians with prancing hackneys, flowing
plumes, and flaunting habits?--The Fothergills; four handsome, dashing,
_effronté_ girls, who, under the mock protection of a small schoolboy
brother, are, really, escorted by a group of moustached heroes, more
than one of whom I already recognise as scarcely fit company for the
daughters of an English church dignitary. _Mais que voulez-vous?_ They
would not visit the curate's wife and sister in Durham, but they will
ride out at Baden with blacklegs and swindlers! The Count yonder,
Monsieur de Mallenville, is a noted character in Paris, and is always
attended, when there, by an emissary of the police, who, with what
Alphonse Karr calls an _empressement de bonne compagnie_, never leaves
him for a moment.

And here we have the "dons" of the entertainment, la Princesse de
Rubetzki, as pretty a piece of devilry as ever Poland manufactured to
sow treason and disaffection, accompanied by her devoted admirer the
Austrian general, Count Cohary. Poor fellow! all his efforts to appear
young and _volage_ are as nothing to the difficulties he endures in
steering between the fair Princess's politics and her affection. An
Austrian of the "_vieille roche_" he is shocked by the Liberalism of his
lady-love; and yet, with Spielberg before him, he cannot tear himself
away.

They who are not acquainted with the world of the Continent may think
it strange that society, even in a watering-place, should assemble
individuals so different in rank and social position; but a very little
experience will always shew that intercourse is really as much denied
between such parties as though they were in different hemispheres. As
the Rhone rolls its muddy current through the blue waters of the Lake of
Geneva, and never mingles its turbid stream with the clear waves
beside it, so these people are seen pouring their flood through every
assemblage, and never disturbing the placid surface in their course.
To effect this, two requisites are indispensable to the company,--a very
rigid good-breeding and a very lax morality. No one can deny that both
are abundant.

And here, if I mistake not, comes my own _cher-à-banc_. Truly, my
excellent valet has followed my directions to the letter. I said,
"Something of the commonest," and he has brought me a _fiacre_ that
seems as moribund and creaky as myself. No matter, I am ready. And now
to be off!



CHAPTER X.

Now has there happened to me one of the strangest adventures of my
strange life, and before I sleep I have determined to note it down, for
no other reason than this: that my waking thoughts to-morrow will refuse
to credit mere memory, without some such corroboration. Nay, I have
another witness--this glove!

Were it not for this, I should have chronicled our _féte_ which really
was far more successful than such things usually are. Not only was there
no _contretemps_, but all went off well and pleasantly. The men were
witty and good-tempered; the women--albeit many of them handsome--were
_aimable_, and disposed to be pleased; the weather and the champagne
were perfect. They who could eat--which I couldn't--say, that Gougon
was admirable; and the band played some of Donizetti's pieces with great
precision and effect. _Ainsi_, the elements were all favourable; each
instrument filled its part; and the _ensemble_ was good--rather a rare
event where people come out expressly bent on enjoyment, and determined
to take pleasure by storm. Premeditated happiness, like marriage for
love, is often too much premeditated. Here, however, "the gods were
propitious." Unlike most picnics, there neither was rain nor rancour;
and considering that we had specimens of at least half-a-dozen different
nationalities, and frequently as many different languages going at
once, there was much amusing conversation, and a great deal of pleasant,
gossip-ping anecdote: not that regular story-telling which depends upon
its stage-effect of voice and manner, but that far more agreeable kind
of narrative that claims interest from being about people and places
that we know beforehand, conveying traits of character and mind of
well-known persons, always amusing and interesting.

There was a French secretary of legation for Berne, a most pleasant
_convive_; and the Austrian general was equally amusing. Some of his
anecdotes of the campaign of 1805 were admirable: by the way, he felt
dreadfully shocked at his own confession that he remembered Wagram. The
Countess Giordani came late. We were returning from our ramble among
rocks and cliffs when she appeared.

I did not wish to be presented; I preferred rather the part of observing
her, which acquaintance would have prevented. But old Lady B---- did not
give me the choice: she took my arm, and, after a little tour through
the company, came directly in front of the Countess, saying, with a
bluntness all her own,--

"Madame la Comtesse, let me present a friend whose long residence in
your country gives him almost the claim of a countryman:--M, Templeton."

If I was not unmoved by the suddenness of this introduction--appealing
as it did, to me at least, to old memories--the Countess was composure
itself: a faint smile in acknowledgment of the speech, a gentle
expression of easy satisfaction on meeting one who had visited her
country, were all that even my prying curiosity could detect.

"What part of Sicily have you seen?" said she to me.

"My friend Lady B----," said I, "has made me a greater traveller than I
can pretend to be: I have been no further south than Naples."

"Oh! I am not Neapolitan," said she, hastily, and with an air like
disappointment.

I watched her closely as she spoke, and at once said to myself, "No!
this is not, this cannot be, Caroline Graham."

We conversed but little during dinner. She evidently did not speak
French willingly, and my Italian had been too long in rust for fluency.
Of English she shewed not the least knowledge. There were stories told
in her hearing, at some of which to avoid laughter would have been
scarcely possible, and still she never smiled once. If I wanted any
additional evidence that she was not of English origin, chance presented
one, as she was referred to by the Russian for the name of a certain
Sicilian family where a "vendetta" had been preserved for two entire
centuries; and the Countess replied, with a slight blush, "The Marquis
of Bianconetti--my uncle."

I own that, while it was with a sense of relief I learned to believe
that the Countess was not the sister of my poor friend, I still could
not help feeling something akin to disappointment at the discovery. I
felt as though I had been heaping up a store of care and anxiety around
me for one I had never seen before, and for whom I could really take
no deep interest. One husbands their affections as they grow older.
The spendthrift habit of caring for people without even knowing why, or
asking wherefore, which is one of the pastimes--and sometimes a right
pleasant one, too--of youth, becomes rarer as we go further on in life,
till at last we grow to be as grudging of our esteem as of our gold, and
lend neither, save on good interest and the best security. Bad health
has done for me the work of time, and I am already oppressed and weary
of the evils of age.

Something, perhaps, of this kind--some chagrin, too, that the Countess
was not my old acquaintance» though, Heaven knows, it had grieved me
far more to know she had been--some discontent with myself for being
discontented--or "any other reason why,"--but so was it, I felt what in
fashionable slang is called "put out," and, in consequence, resolved
to leave the party and make my way homeward at the first favourable
opportunity. Before setting out I had determined, as the night would be
moonlit, to make a slight _détour_, and thus avoid all the _fracas_ and
tumult of driving home in a mob; and, with this intention, had ordered
my phaeton to meet me in the Mourg-Thal, at a small inn, whither I
should repair on foot, and then make my tour back by the Castle of
Eberstein.

A move of the company to take coffee on a rock beside the Waterfall gave
me the opportunity I desired, and I sauntered along a little path
which in a few moments led me into the Pine Forest, and which, from the
directions I had received, I well knew conducted over the mountain, and
descended by a series of steep zigzags into the valley of the Mourg.

Although I had quitted the party long before sunset, the moon was
high and bright ere I reached the spot where my carriage awaited me.
Exhilarated by the unwonted exertion--half-gratified, too, by the
consciousness of supporting a degree of fatigue I had been pronounced
incapable of,--I took my seat in good spirits, to drive back to Baden.
As I ascended the steep road towards Eberstein, I observed that lights
were gleaming from the windows of the large salon of the castle, that
looks towards the glen. I knew that the Grand Ducal family were at
Carlsruhe, and was therefore somewhat surprised to see these signs of
habitation in one of the state apartments of the château.

Alternately catching glimpses of and again losing these bright lights,
I slowly toiled up the steep acclivity, which, to relieve my ponies,
I ascended on foot. We were near the top, the carriage had preceded me
some fifty yards or so, and I, alone, had reached a deeply-shaded spot,
over which an ancient outwork of the castle threw a broad shadow, when
suddenly I was startled by the sound of voices, so close beside me that
I actually turned to see if the speakers were not following me; nor was
it till they again spoke that I could believe that they were standing on
the terrace above me. If mere surprise at the unexpected sound of voices
was my first sensation, what was it to that which followed, as I heard a
man's voice say,--

"But how comes this M. Templeton to be of any consequence in the matter?
It is true he was a witness, but he has no interest in troubling himself
with the affair. He is an invalid besides--some say, dying."

"Would he were dead!" interrupted a lower voice; but, although the
accents were uttered with an unusual force, I knew them--at once I
recognised them. It was the Countess spoke.

"Why so, if he never recognised you?"

"How am I certain of this?" said she again. "How shall I satisfy my own
fears, that at every instant are ready to betray me? I dread his reserve
more than all."

"If he be so very inconvenient," interposed the man, in a half-careless
tone, "there may surely be found means to induce him to leave this.
Invalids are often superstitious. Might not a civil intimation that his
health was suffering from his _séjour_ incline him to depart?"

The Countess made no reply: possibly the bantering tone assumed by her
companion displeased her. After a brief silence, he resumed,--

"Does the man play? does he frequent the Saal? There surely are a
hundred ways to force a quarrel on him."

"Easier than terminate it with advantage," said she, bitterly.

I heard no more; for, although they still continued to speak, they had
descended from the terrace and entered the garden. I was alone. Before
me, at the turn of the road, stood my servant, waiting with the horses.
All was still as the grave. Was this I had heard real? were the words
truly spoken, or were they merely some trick of an overwrought, sickly
imagination! I moved into the middle of the road, so as to have a better
view of the old "Schloss;" but, except a single light in a remote tower,
all was shrouded in darkness: the salon, I believed to have been lit
up, lay in deepest shadow. There was nothing I had not given, at that
instant, to be able to resolve my doubts.

I walked hurriedly on, eager to question my servant both as to the
voices and the lights; and as I went my eye fell upon an object before
me in the road. I took it up--it was a glove--a lady's glove! How came
it there, if it had not fallen from the terrace?

With increased speed I moved forward, my convictions now strengthened by
this new testimony.

My servant had neither seen nor heard any thing; indeed his replies
to me were conveyed in a tone that shewed in what light he regarded my
questioning. It was scarcely possible that he could not have been struck
with the bright glare that illuminated a portion of the castle, yet he
had not seen it; and as to voices, he stoutly averred that, although he
could distinctly note the clatter of the mill in the valley below us, he
had heard no human sound since we left the little inn.

It was to no purpose that I questioned and cross-questioned. I soon
saw that my eagerness was mistaken by him for evidence of wandering
faculties; and I perceived, in his anxiety that I should return, a fear,
that my malady had taken some new turn. So far, too, was he right. My
head was, indeed, troubled--strange fancies and shadowy fears crossing
my excited mind as I went; so that, ere I reached my inn, I really was
unable to collect my faculties, and separate the dream-land from the
actual territory of fact. And now it is with painful effort I write
these lines, each moment doubting whether I should not erase this, or
insert that. Were it not for this glove, that lies on my paper before
me, I should believe all to be mere illusion. What a painful struggle
this is, and how impossible to allay the fears of self-deception! At
one moment I am half resolved to order a saddle-horse and return to
Eberstein--for what?--with what hope of unravelling the mystery? At the
next I am determined to repair to the Countess's villa near the town,
and ask if she has returned; but how shall I venture on such a liberty?
If my ears had not deceived me, she is and must be Caroline Graham; and
yet would I not rather believe that my weary brain had wandered, than
that this were so?

But what are these sounds of voices in the antechamber? I hear
Guckhardt's voice!

Yes: my servant had thought it prudent to fetch the doctor, and he
has been here and felt my pulse, and ordered cold to my temples, and
a calming draught. It is clear, then, that I have been ill, and I must
write no more!



CHAPTER XI.

Gasthaus, Zum Bär, Dallas, Tyrol.

It is exactly seven weeks this day since I last opened my journal. I
promised Guckhardt not to look into it for a month, and so I have
well kept my word! It would seem, indeed, a small privation in most
circumstances to abstain from chronicling the ebbing hours of a life;
but Egotism is next of kin to Sickness, and I can vent mine more
harmlessly here than if spent in exhausting the patience of my friends.
Some listener must be found to the dreamy querulousness of the invalid,
and why not his own heart?

Even to those nearest and dearest to our affections, there is always
a sense of shame attendant on the confessions of our weakness, more so
than of our actual vices. But what a merciful judge is Self! how
gentle to rebuke! how reluctant to punish! how sanguine to hope for
reformation! Hence is it that I find a comfort in jotting down these
"mems" of the past; but from a friend, what shaking of the head, what
regretful sorrowings, should I meet with! How should I hear of faculties
and fortune--life itself--wasted without one object, even a wish,
compassed! When I reflect upon the position in life attainable by one
who starts with moderate abilities, a large fortune, reasonable habits
of industry, and a fair share of well-wishers, and then think of what
I now am, I might easily be discontented and dispirited; but if I had
really reached the goal, can I say that I should be happy? can I say,
that all the success within my reach could have stilled within me the
tone of peaceful solitude I have ever cherished as the greatest of
blessings? But why speculate on this? I never could have been highly
successful. I have not the temper, had I the talent, that climbs high. I
must always have done my best _at once_; put forth my whole strength on
each occasion--husbanded nothing, and consequently gained nothing.

Here I am at Dallas, in the Tyrol, a wild and lonely glen, with a deep
and rushing river foaming through it. The mountain in front of me is
speckled with wooden _chalets_, some of them perched on lofty cliffs,
not distinct from realms of never-melting snow.

All is poverty on every side; even in the little church, where Piety
would deck its shrine at any sacrifice, the altar is bare of ornament.
The Cure's house, too, is humble enough for him who is working yonder in
his garden, an old and white-haired man, too feeble and frail for such
labour; and already the sun has set, and now he ceases from his toil:
for the "Angelus" is ringing, and soon the village will be kneeling in
prayer. Already the bell has ceased, and through the stilly air rises
the murmur of many voices.

There was somewhat of compassionate pity in the look of the old man who
has just passed the window; he stopped a moment to gaze at me--at the
only one whose unbended knee and closed lips had no brotherhood in the
devotion. He seemed very poor, and old, and feeble, and yet he could
look with a sense of pity upon me, as an outcast from the faith. So did
I feel his steady stare at least; for, at that instant, the wish was
nearest to my heart that I, too, could have knelt and prayed with the
rest. And why could |I not? was it that my spirit was too stubborn, too
proud, to mingle with the humble throng? did I feel myself better, or
nobler, or greater than the meanest there, when uttering the same words
of thankfulness or hope? No, far from it; a very different, but not less
powerful barrier interposed. Education, habits of thought, prejudices,
convictions, even party spirit, had all combined to represent Romanism
to my mind, in all the glaring colours of its superstitions, its
cruelties, and its deceptions. Then arose before me a kind of vision of
its tyranny over mankind,--its inquisitions, its persecutions, its mock
miracles, and its real bloodshed; and I could not turn from the horrible
picture, even to the sight of those humble worshippers who knelt in all
the sincerity of belief.

I actually dreaded the sway of the devotional influence, lest, when my
heart had yielded to it, some chance interruption of ceremonial, some
of those fantastic forms of the Church, should turn my feelings of trust
and worship to one of infidelity and scorn.

There, all is over now, and the villagers are returning homewards--some,
to the little hamlet--others, are wending their way upwards, to homes
high amid the mountains--and here I sit alone, in my little whitewashed
room, watching the shadows as they deepen over the glen, and gazing on
that mountain peak that glows like a carbuncle in the setting sun.

It is like a dream to me how I have come to sojourn in this peaceful
valley. The last entry I made was in Baden, the night of that party at
the Waterfall. The next day I awoke ill--fevered from a restless
night. Guckhardt came early, and thinking I was asleep, retired without
speaking to me. He laid his hand on my temples, and seemed to feel that
I required rest and quiet, for he cautioned my servant not to suffer the
least disturbance near me.

I conclude I must have been sleeping, for the sudden noise of voices and
the tramp of many feet aroused me. There was evidently something strange
and unexpected going forward in the town. What could it mean? My servant
seemed most unwilling to tell me, and only yielded to my positive
commands to speak.. Even now I tremble to recall the tidings--a murder
had been committed! One of the guests at our late _féte_, a young
Englishman named Lockwood, had been discovered dead on the side of
the road about two miles from the Waterfall; his watch, and purse with
several gold pieces, were found on his person, so that no robbery had
been the reason of the crime. I remember his having come on foot, and
hearing that I should not require my _char-à-banc_ to return, he engaged
it. The driver's story is, that the stranger always got out to walk at
the hills, usually lingering slowly in his ascent of them; and that at
last, at the top of the highest, he had waited for a considerable time
without his appearing, and growing weary of expectancy he returned,
and at the foot of the hill discovered something dark, lying motionless
beside the pathway; he came closer, and saw it was the stranger quite
dead. Three wounds, which from their depth and direction seemed to have
been given by a dagger, were found in the chest; one, entered from the
back between the shoulders; the fingers of the right hand were also cut
nearly through, as though he had grasped a sharp weapon in his struggle.
Death must have been immediate, as the heart was twice wounded; probably
he expired almost at once. The direction and the position of the wounds
refuted every idea of a suicide--and yet how account for the crime of
murder? The stranger was scarcely a week in Baden, not known to any
one before his arrival here, and since had merely formed those chance
acquaintanceships of watering-places. There was not, so far as one could
see, the slightest ground to suspect any malice or hatred towards him..
The few particulars I have here set down were all that my servant could
tell me. But what from the terrible nature of the tidings themselves,
my own excitable state when hearing them, but, more than either, the
remembrance of the dialogue I had overheard the night before--all
combined and increased my fever to that degree that ere noon I became
half wild with delirium. What I said, or how my wandering faculties
turned, I cannot--nor would I willingly--remember. There was enough of
illness in my ravings, and of method in them too, to bring Guckhardt
again to my bedside, accompanied by a high agent of the police. The
attempt to examine a man in such a state relative to the circumstances
of a dreadful crime could only have entered the head of a _Préfet de
Police_ or a _Juge d'Instruction_. What my revelations were I know
not; but it is clear they assumed a character of independent fancy that
balked the scrutiny of the official, for he left me to the unmixed cares
of my doctor.

By his counsel I was speedily removed from Baden, under the impression
that the scene would be prejudicial to my recovery. I was indifferent
where, or in what way, they disposed of me; and when I was told I was to
try the air of the Lake of Constance, I heard it with the apathy of
one sunk in a trance. Nor do I yet know by what means the police, so
indefatigable in tormenting the innocent, abandoned their persecution of
me. They must have had their own sufficient reasons for it; so much is
certain.

And now, once more, I ask myself, Is all that I have here set down the
mere wanderings of a broken and disjointed brain? have these incidents
no other foundation than a morbid fancy? I would most willingly accept
even this sad alternative, and have it so; but here is evidence too
strong to disbelieve. Here before me lies an English newspaper, with a
paragraph alluding to the mysterious murder of an English gentleman at
Baden. The dates, circumstances, all tally in the minutest particulars.
Shall I discredit these proofs?

The Countess is married to the Marquis de Courcelles; a distant relative
of the Archduchess, it is said. Let me dismiss the theme for ever--that
is, if I can. And now for one whose interest to me is scarcely less sad,
but of a very different shade of sadness.

This is my birthday, the 31st August. "Why had the month more than
thirty days?" is a question I have been tempted to hazard more than
once. Nor is it from ingratitude that I say this. I have long enjoyed
the easy path in life; I have tasted far more of the bright, and seen
less of the shady side of this world's high-road than falls to the share
of most men. With fortune more than sufficient to supply all that I
could care for, I have had, without any pretension to high talent,
that kind of readiness that is often mistaken for ability; and, what
is probably even more successful with the world, I have had a keen
appreciation of talent in other men--a thorough value for their superior
attainments; and this--no great gift, to be sure--has always procured me
acceptance in circles where my own pretensions would have proved feeble
supporters. And then, this delicacy of health--what many would have
called my heaviest calamity--has often carried me triumphantly through
difficulties where I must have succumbed. Even in "the House" have I
heard the prognostications of what I might have been, "if my health
permitted;" so that my weak point ministered to me what strength had
denied me.

Then, I have the most intense relish for the life of idleness I have
been leading; the lounging "do-nothingism" that would kill most men with
_ennui_, is to me inexpressibly delightful. All those castle-buildings
which, in the real world, are failures, succeed admirably in
imagination. I overcome competitors, I convince opponents, I conciliate
enemies at will, so long as they are all of my own making; and so far
from falling back disappointed from the vision, to the fact, I revel in
the conviction that I can go to work again at new fancies; and that, in
such struggles, there is neither weariness nor defeat. A small world for
ambition to range in! but I value it as Touchstone did his mistress,--"a
poor thing, but it was mine own."

It would be a strange record if a man were to chronicle his birthdays,
keeping faithful note of his changed and changing nature as years stole
on. For myself I have always regarded them somewhat like post-stations
in a journey, ever expecting to find better horses and smoother roads
next stage, and constantly promising myself to be more equable in
temperament and more disposed to enjoy my tour. But the journey of life,
like all other journeys, puts to flight the most matured philosophy, and
the accidents of the way are always ready to divert the mind from its
firmest resolves.

Tuesday Morning, When I had written so far last night, the arrival of
a travelling carriage and four, with a Courier preceding, caused such
a commotion in the little inn that, notwithstanding all my assumed
indifference, I could not entirely escape the contagion, and, at last,
was fain to open my window and stare at the new arrival with all the
hardihood that becomes him already in possession of an apartment. "I
took little by my motion." All I saw was a portly travelling carriage,
heavily laden with its appurtenances and imperials, well-corded springs,
rope-lashed pole, and double drag-chains,--evidences of caution and
signs of long-projected travel.

I might have readily forgotten the new comer--indeed, I had almost done
so ere I closed the window--had not his memory been preserved for me
by a process peculiar to small and unfrequented inns,--a species of
absorption by which the traveller of higher pretensions invariably
draws in all the stray articles of comfort scattered through the
establishment. First my table took flight, and in its place a small
and ricketty thing of white deal had arrived; next followed a
dressing-glass; then waddled forth a fat, unwieldy, old arm-chair,
that seemed by its difficulty of removal to have strong objections to
locomotion; and lastly, a chest of drawers set out on its travels, but
so stoutly did it resist, that it was not captured without the loss
of two legs, while every drawer was thrown out upon the floor, to the
manifest detriment of the waiter's shins and ankles. These "distraints"
I bore well and equably, and it was only a summary demand to surrender a
little sofa on which I lay that at length roused me from my apathy, and
I positively demurred, asking, I suppose, querulously enough, who it
was that required the whole accommodation of the inn, and could spare
nothing for another traveller? An "English Prince" was the answer;
at which I could not help laughing, well knowing that the title is
tolerably indiscriminate in its application. Indeed, I once heard
Colonel Sibthorp called such.

It is all very well to affect indifference and apathy, to pretend that
you care nothing who or what your neighbour in an inn may be. This is
very practicable where his identity takes no more corporeal shape than
No. 42 or 53 in some great overgrown hôtel. But imagine yourself in some
small secluded spot, some little nook, of which you had half fancied you
were the first discoverer--conceiving yourself a kind of new Pérouse;
fancy, then, when in the very ecstasy of your adventure, the arrival
of a travelling carriage and four, with a belted Courier and a bearded
Valet; not only are your visions routed, but your own identity begins to
dissolve away with them. You are neither a hero to yourself nor to "mine
host." His best smiles, his deepest reverence, are now for the last
comer, for whose accommodation a general tribute is levied. Do what you
will, say what you will, there is no remaining deaf to the incessant
turmoil that bespeaks the great man's wants. There is a perpetual
hurry-scurry to seek this and fetch that; soda-water--tea--champagne--a
fire--hot water--are continually echoing along the corridor, and "the
Prince" seems like some vast "Maelstrom" that all the larder and the
cellar contain can never satiate. Such, certainly, the least exacting of
men appear when under the auspices of a Courier and the host of a small
inn.

The poverty of the establishment makes the commonest requirements seem
the demand of a Sybarite indulgence, and every-day wants are luxuries
where cleanliness is the highest of virtues.

I was--I own it--worried and vexed by the clamour and movement, that not
even coming night calmed down. The repose and quiet I had been so fully
enjoying were gone, and, in their place, the vulgar noises and tumult of
a little inn. All these interruptions, intimately associated in my mind
with the traveller, invested him, to me, with a character perfectly
detestable, so that there was somewhat of open defiance in my refusal to
yield up my sofa.

A pause followed. What was to come next? I listened and waited in half
anxiety, wondering what new aggression might ensue; but all was still:
nay, there was a clattering of knives and forks, and then went the pop
of a cork--"the Prince" was eating. "Well," thought I, "there is some
vengeance here, for the _cuisine_ is detestable." "His Highness" thought
so too, for more than one _plat_ was dismissed, accompanied by a running
commentary of abuse on the part of the Courier.

At last came a really tranquil moment. The cheese had been sent away as
uneatable, and the Courier had followed it, cursing manfully, if I might
pronounce from the odour wafted to my own chamber, not unreasonably. "Mi
Lor le Prince" was probably composing himself to a siesta; there was
a stealthy quietude in the step of his servant along the corridor that
said so much. I had scarcely made the reflection when a tap came to my
door. "The Prince" wished for an English newspaper, and the host had
seen two on my table. The "Post" and the "Chronicle" were both before
me, and I sent them, half wondering which best might suit his Highness's
politics.

Another tap at the door! Really this is intolerable. Has he not had my
table, my arm-chair, my newspapers--what will he ask for next? "Come
in," said I, now trying English, after in vain shouting "Entrez" and
"Herein" three times over.

An English servant entered, and in that peculiarly low, demure tone, so
distinctive of his caste, said,--

"Sir Robert Chawuth presents his compliments, and begs to know if he may
pay his respects to Mr. Templeton?"

"Is Sir Robert here? is that his carriage?" said I, hastily.

"Yes, sir; he came about an hour ago."

"Oh, very well. Say, I shall feel great pleasure in seeing him. Is he
disengaged at present?"

"Yes, sir, he is quite alone."

"Shew me his apartment, then."

"So," thought I, as I arose to seek the chamber, "this time they were
nearer right than usual; for, if not an 'English Prince,' he has wielded
more substantial power, and exerted a much wider sway over the destinies
of the world, than ever a 'foreign Prince' from the Baltic to the
Bosphorus."

Strange enough, our last meeting was at Downing Street; he was then
Minister. I waited upon him by appointment, as I was leaving England for
the Prussian mission, and _he_ desired to give me his own instructions
before I sailed; and now, I visit him in a little Tyrol "Gasthaus," he,
destitute of power, and myself----

*****

It would be presumptuous in one so humbly placed to hazard an opinion on
the subject; but if I were to dare it, I should say that the statesmen
of England possess a range of knowledge and a wider intimacy with the
actual condition of the world as it is than any other class, in any
country. I was greatly struck with this last evening. The topics
wandered far a-field, varying from the Poor Laws to Hong Kong, from
the Health of Towns to the state of the Peninsula: Austria, Ireland,
Switzerland, the Navigation Laws, the policy of Louis Philippe, and the
rot in the potatoes; and on each of these themes he not only spoke
well, but he spoke with a degree of knowledge that smacked of a special
study. "How comes it," I asked myself, "that this man, with the weighty
cares of a mighty empire on his brain, has time to hear and memory to
retain little traits of various people in remote quarters of the world?
How, for instance, did he hear, or why remember, these anecdotes of the
present Landamman of Switzerland, Ochsenbein?" And yet there were good
reasons perhaps, to remember them. The man who has personally shewn the
white feather will scarcely be courageous as the head of a government,
though there is great reason to suspect that he may exhibit all the
rashness of cowardice--its worst, because its most dangerous, quality.

I had often suspected, but I never knew before, how completely this
Minister had usurped every department of the Cabinet, and concentrated
in himself the Home, the Foreign, and the Colonial Governments. The very
patronage, too, he had assumed; so that, in fact, his colleagues were
comparatively without influence or occupation. I confess that, on
hearing him talk so unconcernedly of mighty events and portentous
changes, of great interests and powerful states, that my heart beat
strongly with an ambitious ardour, and a feverish throbbing of my
temples suggested to me that the longing for rank, and station, and
power, had not yet died away within me. Was it with serious intention
that he spoke to me of again entering Parliament and taking office in
some future arrangement, or was it merely from a sense of compassion
that he ministered this meed of encouragement to the hopes of a sick
man? Whatever the motive, the result has been an increased buoyancy,
more of vitality about me, than I have known for some time--a secret
wishing for life and strength to "do something" ere I die.

He rather appeared pleased with a suggestion I threw out for augmenting
the elective franchise in Ireland, by making the qualification "an
intellectual one," and extending the right of voting to all who should
take a certain degree or diploma in either the University of Dublin
or any of the provincial colleges, all admitted as members of learned
bodies, and all licentiates of law and physic. This would particularly
suit the condition of Ireland, where property is a most inadequate
and limited test, and at the same time, by an infusion of educated and
thinking men into the mass, serve to counterbalance and even guide the
opinions of those less capable of forming judgments. We are becoming
more democratic every day. Let our trust be in well-informed,
clearsighted democracy, and let the transition be from the aristocracy
to the cultivated middle classes, and not to the rule of Feargus
O'Connor and his Chartists.

And now, to wander down this lonely glen, and forget, if I may, these
jarring questions, where men's passions and ambitions have more at stake
than human happiness. Do what I will, think of what I will, the image
of--Caroline Graham--yes, I must call her so, rises before me at
every step. It is a sad condition of the nervous system when slight
impressions cut deep. Like the diseased state of the mucous membrane,
when tastes and odours cling and adhere to it for days long, I suppose
that the prevalence of such images in the brain would at last lead to
insanity, or, at least, that form of it called Monomania. Let no man
suppose that this is so very rare a malady. Let us rather ask, Who is
quite free from some feature of the affection? The mild cases are the
passionate ardour we see exhibited by men in the various and peculiar
pursuits in life; the bad ones, only greater in degree, are shut up in
asylums.

The most singular instance that ever occurred within my own knowledge
was one I met several years back in Germany; and as "thereby hangs a
tale," I will set it down in the words of the relator. This is his own
recital--in his own handwriting too!

There are moments in the life of almost every man which seem like years.
The mind, suddenly calling up the memory of bygone days, lives over
the early hours of childhood--the bright visions of youth, when all was
promise and anticipation--and traverses with a bound the ripe years of
manhood, with all their struggles, and cares, and disappointments; and
even throws a glance into the dark vista of the future, computing the
"to come" from the past; and, at such times as these, one feels that he
is already old, and that years have gone over him.

Such were to me the few brief moments in which I stood upon the Meissner
hill that overhangs my native city. Dresden, the home of my childhood,
of my earliest and my dearest friends, lay bathed in the soft moonlight
of a summer's eve. There, rose the ample dome of the cathedral in all
the majesty of its splendid arch, the golden tracery glittering with
the night dew; here, wound the placid Elbe, its thousand eddies through
purple and blushing vineyards, its fair surface flashing into momentary
brilliancy, as the ripples broke upon the buttresses of that graceful
bridge, long accounted the most beautiful in Europe; while from the
boat that lay sleeping upon its shadow came the rich tones of some manly
voices, bearing to my ear the evening hymn of my fatherland! Oh, how
strong within the heart of the wanderer in distant lands is the love of
country!--how deeply rooted amid all the feelings which the cares and
trials of after-life scatter to the wind! It lives on, bringing to our
old age the only touch and trace of the bright and verdant feelings of
our youth. And oh, how doubly strong this love, when it comes teeming
with a flood of long-forgotten scenes--the memory of our first, best
friends--the haunts of our boyhood--the feats of youthful daring--and,
far more than all, the recollection of that happy home, around whose
hearth we met with but looks of kindness and affection, where our
sorrows were soothed, our joys shared in! For me, 'tis true, there
remained nought of this. The parents who loved me had gone to their dark
homes--the friends of my childhood had doubtless forgotten me. Years of
absence had left me but the scenes of past happiness--the actors were
gone. And thus it was as I looked down upon the city of my native land.
The hour which in solitude and lowness of heart I had longed and prayed
for had at length arrived--that hour which I believed in my heart would
repay me for all the struggles, the cares, the miseries of fourteen
years of exile; and now I stood upon that self-same spot where I had
turned to take a farewell look of my native city, which I was leaving
poor, unfriended, and unknown, to seek in Italy those opportunities my
forlorn condition had denied to me at home. Years of toil and anxiety
had followed; the evils of poverty had fallen on me; one by one the
cheerful thoughts and bright fancies of youth deserted me; yet still I
struggled on, unshaken in courage. The thought of one day returning
to my loved Saxon land, rich in reputation, crowned with success, had
sustained and upheld me. And now that hour was come--my earliest hopes
more than realised--my fondest aspirations accomplished. Triumphant over
all the difficulties of my hard lot, I returned, bearing with me the
well-won spoils of labour and exertion. But, alas! where were they who
should rejoice with me, and share my happiness? The very home of my
infancy was tenanted by strangers; they knew me not in my poverty, they
could not sympathise in my elevation. My heart sickened within me as I
thought of my lone and desolate condition; and as the tears coursed fast
and faster down my cheeks, how gladly would I have given all the proud
triumph of success for one short and sunny hour of boyhood's bright
anticipation, shared in by those who loved me!

Oh! how well were it for us if the bright visions of happiness our
imaginations picture forth should ever recede as we advance, and,
mirage-like, evade us as we follow! and that we might go down to the
grave still thinking that the "morrow" would accomplish the hopes of
to-day--as the Indian follows the phantom-bark, ever pursuing, never
reaching. The misery of hope deferred never equalled the anguish of
expectation gratified, only to ascertain how vain was our prospect of
happiness from the long-cherished desire, and how far short reality ever
falls of the bright colouring hope lends to our imaginings. In such
a frame of deep despondency I re-entered my native city--no friend to
greet, no voice to welcome me.

Happily, however, I was not long left to the indulgence of such regrets;
for no sooner was my arrival made known in the city, than my brother
artists waited on me with congratulations; and I learned, for the first
time, that the reputation of my successes had reached Saxony, and that
my very best picture was at that moment being exhibited in the Dresden
Gallery. I was now invited to the houses of the great, and even
distinguished by marks of my sovereign's favour. If I walked the
streets, I heard my name whispered as I passed; if I appeared in public,
some burst of approbation greeted me. In a word, and that ere many days
had elapsed, I became the reigning favourite of a city in which the love
of "art" is an inheritance: for, possessed of a gallery second to
none in Europe, the Dresdeners have long enjoyed and profited by the
opportunity of contemplating all that is excellent in painting; and, in
their enthusiastic admiration of the fine arts, thought no praise too
exalted to bestow on one who had asserted the claim of a Saxon painter
among the schools of Italy.

To the full and unmeasured intoxication of the flattery that beset me
on every side, I now abandoned myself. At first, indeed, I did so as a
relief from the sorrowful and depressing feelings my unfriended solitude
suggested; and at last, as the passion crept in upon and grasped my very
heart-strings, the love of praise took entire possession of my being,
and in a short time the desire for admiration had so completely
supplanted every other emotion, that I only lived with enjoyment when
surrounded by flattery; and those praises which before I heard with
diffidence and distrust, I now looked for as my desert, and claimed
as my right. The "spoiled child of fortune," my life was one round of
gaiety and excitement, For _me_, and for my amusement, _fêtes_ were
given, parties contrived, and entertainments planned, and the charmed
circle of royalty was even deserted to frequent the places at which I
was expected.

From these circumstances it may readily be believed how completely I was
beset by the temptations of flattery, and how recklessly I hurried along
that career of good fortune which, in my mad infatuation, t deemed
would last for ever. I saw my name enrolled among the great ones of my
art--myself the friend of the exalted in rank and great in wealth--my
very praise, patronage. Little knew I that such sudden popularity is
often as fleeting as it is captivating, that the mass of those who
admire and are ever loudest in their praises are alike indifferent to,
and ignorant of, art. Led along by fashion alone, they seemed delighted,
because it was the rage to appear so. They visited, because my society
was courted by others; and if their knowledge was less their plaudits
were louder than those of the discriminating few, whose caution and
reserve seemed to me the offspring of jealousy and envy.

It is well known to almost all, how, in the society of large cities,
some new source of interest or excitement is eagerly sought after to
enliven the dull routine of nightly dissipation, and awaken the palled
and jaded appetite of pleasure to some new thrill of amusement!--how
one succeeds another, and how short-lived are all! The idol of to-day is
forgotten to-morrow; and whether the object of momentary attraction be
a benefactor of mankind, or some monster of moral deformity, it
matters but little, so that for the hour he furnish an article for the
fashionable journalist, and a subject of conversation to the _coterie_;
the end and aim of his being seems to be perfectly accomplished, and
all interest for him as readily transferred to his successor, who or
whatever he may be, as though his existence had been as unreal as the
spectre of a magic lantern.

Little did I suppose when, in the full blaze of my popularity, that to
such an ordinance of fashion alone I was indebted for the proud eminence
I occupied. I was not long destined to enjoy the deception.

It chanced that about three months after my arrival in Dresden,
circumstances required my absence from the city for a few days. The
occasion which called me detained me beyond the time I had calculated
on, and it was not till after a fortnight I reached my home. I had
travelled that day from sunrise till late in the evening, being anxious,
if possible, to redeem a promise I had made to my friend and patron,
Count Lowenstein, to be present at a _fête_ in honour of his sister's
birthday. The weather had been unusually hot and sultry, even for the
season; and although I felt much fatigued and jaded, I lost not a moment
on my arrival to dress for the _fête_, over which, calculating on my
late career, I deemed my absence would throw a gloom. Besides that, I
longed once more to drink of that Circean cup of flattery, for which
my short absence from the city had given me new zest; and it was with
a high-beating heart and fevered brain I hung upon my breast the many
crosses and decorations I had been gifted with in my hours of brilliant
success.

Lights gleamed brightly from the ample windows of the Lowenstéin palace.
Numerous equipages stood at the portico. I followed the chasseur up
the spacious marble steps which led to the ante-chamber. I stopped one
moment before a large mirror, and almost startled at the brilliancy of
my dress, which, a present from my sovereign, I now wore for the first
time. With a high-swelling heart and bounding step--for all fatigue
was long since forgotten--I approached the door; and oh! the throb with
which I heard my name now, for the first time, announced with the
title of "Baron," which his Majesty had conferred upon me the day of my
departure! That name, which alone had, talisman-like, opened for me the
doors of all who were illustrious and exalted in rank--that name, which
heard, silenced the hum of voices, to break forth the moment after in
accents of praise and welcome! Again it rung through the crowded salon,
and I stood within the door. Formerly, when appearing in society,
the moment I made my _entrée_ I found myself the centre of a group of
friends and admirers, all eagerly pressing forward to pay their homage
to the star of fashion. Now, what was my amazement to mark no thrill
of pleasure, as of old, animate that vast assembly!--not even surprise!
group after group passed by me, as though I were unknown, and had no
claim to their attention. It is true, I heard some friendly voices
and kind inquiries; but I could neither distinguish the words nor the
speaker. My brain was in a whirl; for, alas! long since had I learned to
care less for the language of affection than the voice of the flatterer.
I stood thunderstruck and amazed; and it was some minutes before I
could, with any appearance of composure, reply to the salutations I met
with. Something must have occurred in my absence to weaken the interest
my appearance ever excited;--but what could that be? And the assembly,
too! had my own baffled hopes lent their gloomy colouring to all
around? I certainly thought it far less brilliant than usual; a sad
and depressing influence seemed to pervade all the guests, which
they appeared vainly to struggle against. Tortured with doubt and
disappointment, I hastened through the crowd to where the Count was
standing, surrounded by his suite. His quick eye instantly perceived me,
and, familiarly kissing his hand to me, he continued to converse
with those about him. Up to this moment I had borne all the chilling
indifference of manner I met with, from the secret satisfaction that
told me in my heart that he, my protector, my friend, would soon
vindicate my claim to notice and distinction, and that, in the sunshine
of his favour, I should soon receive the attention my heart thirsted
for. But now that hope deserted me, the cold distance of his manner
chilled me to the very heart's core* Not one word of kind inquiry, no
friendly chiding for protracted absence, no warm welcome for my coming!
I looked around on every side for some clue to this strange mystery;
I felt as if all eyes were upon me, and thought for a moment I could
perceive the sneer of gratified malice at my downfall. But no: I was
unnoticed and unobserved; and even this hurt me still more. Alas! alas!
the few moments of heart-cutting, humbling misery I then endured, too
dearly paid for all the selfish gratification I reaped from being the
idol of fashion. While I remained thus the Count approached me, and,
with something like his usual tone of familiarity, said,--

"Ah, Carl!--you here? You have, of course, heard of our sad
disappointment?"

"No, my lord," I replied, with some bitterness of tone, "I have scarcely
had time, for I have not been yet an hour in Dresden."

Without noticing either the manner of my answer or the allusion to my
absence, the Count continued,--

"This evening we were to have had the happiness to have amongst us one
who seems to be gifted with some magic power of diffusing delight and
ecstasy on every side where she appears. Those whose hearts were cold to
beauty in all others, have yielded to the fascination of hers; and the
soul that never before was touched by melody has thrilled with transport
at her heavenly voice. Divine La Mercia! the paragon of beauty and the
soul of song! There, there stands her harp, and here you see her music;
but she is absent. Alas! we have only the wand of the magician--the
spell is not there."

In an instant the veil was lifted from my eyes; the whole truth burst on
me like a lightning flash--the course of my popularity was run, the sun
of my favour had set for ever.

The fatigue of my journey, the heat of the salon, the confusion of my
mind, and the bitter conflict of my feelings, all conspired to unman
me, and I sank upon a sofa. As I sat thus unnoticed (for the tone of the
Count's manner had divested the few who were previously attentive of all
interest for me), I overheard the conversation of those around me. But
one name was mentioned, but one person seemed to engross every tongue or
heart--that was La Mercia.

From what I could collect it appeared that she, a most beautiful and
interesting girl, had appeared at the Opera a few evenings since, and by
the charms of her surpassing beauty, as well as the surprising richness
and clearness of her voice, had captivated the whole city, from the
palace to the cottage. The enthusiastic repetition of her praises
gradually led to regrets for her absence, and surmises as to the cause,
while a young nobleman, who had just joined the circle, said,--

"Trust me, La Mercia would have come if _she_ alone were consulted;
but I fear that ill-tempered looking old fellow, whom she calls her
'Dottore,' has had much to say to this refusal."

"Yes," said another; "so late as yesterday evening, at the palace,
when she was surrounded by several members of the royal family, eagerly
pressing her to repeat a song she had just sung,--just as she consented,
a look from the 'Dottore' shot across the room and met her eyes;
she immediately hesitated, begged to be permitted not to sing, and
immediately afterwards withdrew."

"How strange!" said the nobleman who spoke before, "how very strange! It
was but a few nights since, at the Opera, I witnessed the deference and
submission with which she addressed him, and the cold indifference with
which he met looks and heard tones that, would have made another's heart
beat beyond his bosom. It must, indeed, be a strange mystery that unites
two beings so every way unlike;--one all beauty and loveliness, and
the other the most sarcastic, treacherous-looking wretch, ever my eyes
beheld."

The deep interest with which I listened to those particulars of my
rival--for such I now felt her to be--gradually yielded to a sense of
my own sunken and degraded condition; and envy, the most baleful and
pernicious passion that can agitate the bosom, took entire possession of
me: envy of one whose very existence one hour before I was ignorant of.
I felt that _she--she_ had injured me,--robbed me of all for which life
and existence was dear. But for _her_, I should still be the centre
of this gay and brilliant assembly, by whom I am already forgotten and
neglected: and, with a fiendish malignity, I thought how soon this new
idol of a fickle and ungrateful people would fall from the pinnacle from
which she had displaced me, and suffer in her own heart the cruel pangs
I was then enduring.

I arose from where I had been sitting, my brain maddened with my sudden
reverse of fortune, and fled from the salon to my home* In an agony of
grief I threw myself upon my bed, and that night was to me like years of
sorrowing and affliction.

When morning broke, my first resolve was to leave Dresden for ever; my
next to remain, until, by applying all my energies to the task, I had
accomplished something beyond all my former efforts; and then, spurning
the praise and flattery my success would inspire, take a proud farewell
of my fickle and ungrateful countrymen. The longer I thought upon,
the more was I pleased with, this latter resolution, and panted with
eagerness for the moment of contemptuous disdain, in which, flinging
off the caresses of false friends, I should carry to other lands those
talents which my own was unworthy to possess. It was but a few days
before this the Prior of the Augustine monastery had called upon me, to
beg I would paint an altar-piece for their chapel: they wished to have
a kneeling figure of Mary, to whom the shrine was dedicated; but the
subject, being a favourite one of Titian's, had at that time deterred
me. Its difficulty was now its charm; and as I pondered over in my mind
the features I wished to transfer to my canvass, I suddenly remembered
a painting which I had had for some years in my possession, and which,
from the surpassing loveliness of the countenance it represented, as
well as the beauty of its execution, had long fascinated me. I now
reverted to it at once, and opening a secret drawer in my cabinet,
took out the picture and placed it before me. It was a small and most
beautifully painted enamel, representing two figures--one that of an old
and stern-visaged man, upon whose harsh and severe features there played
a scowl of deadly hate and scorn: he stood, drawn up to his full height,
his hands and arms widely extended before him, as if in the act of
performing some mystic or sacred rite over the lovely being who knelt
at his feet in an attitude of the deepest and most reverential
supplication. This was a lovely girl, her age scarcely eighteen years:
her forehead, fair as alabaster, was shaded by two braids of dark brown
hair, which hung back in heavy locks upon her neck and shoulders. Her
eyes, of the deepest blue, were upraised and tearful, and the parted
lips seemed almost to utter a murmured prayer, as her heaving bosom told
some inward anguish; her hands were firmly clasped, but the arms hung
powerless before her, and the whole figure conveyed the most perfect
abandonment to grief it was possible to conceive. Here were the
features, here the very attitude, I desired. Could I only succeed in
imparting to my Madonna the lovely and sorrow-struck countenance before
me, my triumph were certain. I had walked every gallery of Europe, from
one end to the other; I had visited every private collection where a
good picture was to be found, yet never had I beheld the same magic
power of conveying, in one single scene, so much of storied interest as
this small picture displayed. The features of that beautiful girl,
too, bad the semblance of being copied from the life. There are certain
slight and indescribable traits by which a painter will, in almost every
case, distinguish when nature and when only fancy have lent the subject;
and here, every thing tended to make me believe it to be a portrait. The
manner in which I became possessed of it, also, contributed to invest
it with a more than common interest in my eyes. The circumstances were
these:--When a very young man, and only a short time settled at Rome,
whither I had gone to prosecute my studies as a painter, the slender
state of my purse had compelled me to take up my residence in one of the
less known suburbs of the city. In the same humble dwelling in which
I took up my abode there lived an old and paralytic man, whom age and
infirmity had rendered bed-ridden for years. At first, my occupation
being entirely without doors, left me but little opportunity to see or
know much of him; but when winter closed in, and confined me whole days
to the house, my acquaintance with him gradually increased, and, to my
great surprise, I discovered in this poverty-struck and decrepid old man
one who possessed the most intimate and critical knowledge of art; every
gallery was familiar to him--he knew the history of each celebrated
picture, and distinguished originals from their copies by such traits
of discernment as evinced the most consummate intimacy with the deepest
secrets of colouring, and, in a word, shewed himself to be, what
I afterwards learned he was, a most accomplished artist: but the
circumstances which threw him into his present mean and wretched
condition ever remained a mystery. Various little acts of kindness and
attention, which I had in my power to bestow, seemed to make a great
impression on him, while my own friendless and solitary situation
drew me into closer intimacy with one who seemed to have fewer of this
world's comforts than myself. To him, therefore, I confided all the
circumstances which led me to Rome--my ardent desire for distinction--my
longing for eminence in art: while he, by his advice and counsel, which
he was well qualified to afford, directed my studies and encouraged my
efforts.

Our acquaintance thus formed, rapidly ripened into friendship, and it
was with pleasure I hurried from my gayer and more volatile companions
to the poor and humble abode, where my old and feeble friend awaited me
with impatience.

As the winter advanced, the infirmities of the old painter rapidly
gained ground; he became daily weaker, and, by degrees, the calm
serenity of his mind, which was his most remarkable trait, yielded
to fits of impatience, in which, sometimes, his very reason seemed to
struggle for empire: and at such times as these he would drop hints, and
give vent to thoughts, that were awful and appalling to listen to.
It appeared to me that he regarded his present afflicted state as the
dreadful retribution of some real or imaginary crime; for, in addition
to the unceasing depression which seized him, his fears of death were
incessant, and great beyond measure* Sometimes, the thought that there
was no future state would shoot across his mind, and a species of
reckless gaiety would follow; but in a moment after, the strong and full
conviction of his self-deception would visit him--and then his agony was
frightful to witness. In the sad alternation of these states of hope and
fear, in which the former was, if possible, more affecting to witness,
weeks rolled on. One night when recovering from a nervous attack, which,
by its duration and severity seemed to threaten more fatally than usual,
he called me to him, and desired me to bring, from a concealed drawer in
his trunk, a small ebony box clasped with silver. I did so. He took it
with trembling hands, and placed it beside him on the pillow, while,
with a voice scarcely audible from agitation, he whispered:--

"Leave me, Carl--leave me to myself! There is in this box what may
meet no other eye than mine. And oh! would to Heaven that its bright
lightnings had struck and blighted me, rather than I should ever have
looked upon it."

The energy with which these words were spoken seemed to weary and
overcome him, and he was barely able to say:--

"Leave me now, my friend. But stay: ere you go, promise me--swear to me,
as you hope--ay, as you hope your death-bed may be not like mine--swear,
when all is at rest within this torn and afflicted heart, that you will,
with your own hands, place this box within my coffin,--swear to place
it there unopened: better far you had not enjoyed the blessed gift
of sight, than look upon what it contains. I grow weaker,--promise me
this."

"I do," I replied hurriedly. "I promise."

"Swear it," he said; while the large drops of sweat stood upon his brow,
and his bloodshot eyes glared upon me like a maniac.

"I swear," said I, anxious to relieve the terrific convulsion which his
eagerness brought on; "I swear." And as he lay back slowly upon the bed,
I left the room.

When again, after a considerable time, I entered the chamber, he had
turned his face towards the wall--his head buried between both his
hands; while sobs, which he appeared struggling to control, burst from
him at intervals. The casket lay locked beside him. I took it up, and
placed it within my portmanteau; and, not daring to interfere with the
course of that sorrow, the cause of which he had not confided to me, I
stole noiselessly from the room.

When next I saw him he appeared to be somewhat better; but the feeble
powers of life had received a severe shock, and his haggard and broken
look shewed how much a few hours had hastened the approach of death.
That evening he never once alluded to the subject which had agitated
him, and bade me "Good night" earlier than usual, wishing to relieve his
fatigue by sleep.--I never saw him after.

I had scarcely composed myself to sleep, my mind full of the events of
the day, when an express arrived from an English nobleman, who had been
my most influential and steadiest friend, requiring me immediately to
set out for Naples, to make a picture of his only daughter ere her body
was committed to the earth. She had died of the malaria, and her funeral
could not be long delayed. I immediately set out, taking with me the
portmanteau that contained the casket, and such requisites for painting
as I could hurriedly collect. With all my anxiety to return to my old
companion, I was unable to leave Naples before the tenth day; I then
turned my face homewards, with a heart beating with anxiety, lest his
death should have taken place in my absence. The diligence in which
I travelled was attacked near Calvi by Banditti. Several of the
passengers, being well armed, made resistance, and a dreadful conflict
took place. Severely wounded in the side with a stiletto, I remained for
dead upon the ground, and lost all remembrance of every thing till the
moment I discovered myself a patient in the public hospital of Naples.

Several weeks of fever and delirium had passed over me, and I lay now
weak and powerless. By degrees my strength was restored, and as I lay,
one day, meditating a speedy departure from the hospital, the intendant
of the police came to inform me that several articles of value,
contained in a portmanteau bearing my initials, had been discovered near
the scene of the late encounter, where they had probably been dropped
by the robbers in their flight, and that, on my identifying and claiming
them as mine they should be restored to me. Among other things he
mentioned the ebony casket.

I dared not ask if it were opened, lest my agitation might occasion
surprise or suspicion, and promised to inspect them the following
morning, and identify such as were my property.

The next day I appeared at the bureau of the police. The portmanteau was
produced and unlocked, and the very first thing I set my eyes upon
was the picture. The case had been rudely torn open, and it lay there
exposed to all. My promise--my solemnly pledged oath, came instantly to
my mind, and all the awful denunciations the old man had spoken of, as
in store for him who should look upon that picture! I was horror-struck
and speechless, and only remembered where I was, as the _Commissaire_,
who stood behind me and looked at it, asked if I were the painter? I
replied not.

"The likeness is, indeed, wonderful," said he.

I started; but immediately recovering myself, said:--

"You must be under some mistake. You could scarcely have seen the person
for whom this was intended?" I said this because, from the attentive
consideration I had given it, as well as the initials in the corner of
the drapery, I perceived it to be one of the most beautifully executed
enamels of Julio Romano, and must, at least, have been nearly two
centuries old.

"Impossible I can be mistaken!" said he: "that is not only the Comtess
d'Alvini herself, but there, and even more like, stands her uncle, 'Il
Dottore Albretto,' as he was called. Why, I remember as well as
though it were but yesterday, though I was only a boy at the time, her
marriage--with one of your own profession, too. How can I forget his
name!--ah, I have it--Antonio Gioventa! By the by, they said, too, the
union was none of the happiest, and that they separated soon after. But
of that I know nothing myself, for they never appeared in Naples after
the morning they were married."

How I longed to make one or two inquiries! but fear prevented me;--fear
lest my own ignorance concerning the history of the picture might be
discovered, and I confess, too, something like dread; for, the evident
age of the picture tallied but ill with the account the _Commissaire_
gave of the characters represented; and I longed for the moment I should
put into execution, at least, so much of my promise as was yet in
my power: putting it up, therefore, with such of my effects as I
recognised, I returned to my hôtel.

The entire evening I could think of nothing but the story of the
_Commissaire_. The artist could have been none other than my old friend
Nichola Calertio--for by this name I had known him,--and that lovely
creature must have been his wife! And what was her fate? and what could
have been the awful mystery that wrapt their history? These thoughts
dwelt in my mind, and, framing ten thousand solutions of the secret, I
at last sunk into sleep.

The following day I took my departure for Rome. On my arrival, what was
my horror to discover that Nichola had died the day after my
departure from Naples, and that he had been buried in the strangers'
burial-ground; but in what spot, no one knew--nor had he one left who
could point out his grave. Again my oath came to my mind, and I could
not divest myself of the thought, that in the series of events which
prevented its accomplishment chance had nothing to do; and that the hand
of a guiding Providence had worked these apparent accidents for His own
wise ends.

From that hour I guarded, how closely I cannot say, this picture from
all human eye; but if I did so, the very impulse which drove me to
conceal it from all others led me to look upon it myself. Like the miser
who possesses a hidden treasure, ten thousand times dearer that it
is known to him alone, I have sat, hour by hour, in the silent
contemplation of it in my chamber; I have studied the features one by
one, till I almost thought the figure lived and breathed before me;
and often have I left the crowded and brilliant salon to seek, in the
stillness of my own home, the delicious calm and dreamy tranquillity
that painting ever inspired me with.

And so it had been my custom, when first I returned to Dresden, to sit
for days long with that picture open before me. As a work of art, it
possessed undoubted excellence; but I could not help feeling that its
mysterious history had invested it with an interest altogether deeper
and more powerful than the beauty of the execution could alone account
for. This habit had been first broken in upon by the numerous and varied
occupations my newly-arisen popularity brought upon me; and amid
the labours of the painting-room, and the gay hours of fashionable
dissipation, I had been now some weeks without once having seen it, when
the events I have just detailed, and my determination to copy from it,
brought it again fully to my mind.

The day which followed that long night of misery passed I know not how.
When I awoke from the deep musing my thoughts had fallen into, it was
already evening: the sun had set, and a soft twilight was sleeping on
all around. I opened my window, and let the cool breeze of the evening
blow upon my heated and fevered brain; and as I sat thus, lost in
reverie, the last traces of daylight gradually faded away, and a thin,
crescent-like moon, shewed itself over the hill of the Meissner. The
city lay in deep shadow, and almost in silence; the mournful plashing of
the river being plainly heard above all other sounds. There is something
sad, and almost awful, in the sight of a large and populous city bathed
in the silence and sleep of night; its busy voice hushed, its streets
untrodden, or echoing to the tread of a solitary passer-by. To me this
was now most welcome. The dreamy melancholy of my mind felt pleasure
in the death-like stillness about me, and I wandered forth to enjoy the
free air and balmy breeze upon the bank of the Elbe. After some time I
crossed the bridge, and continued my walk through the suburb, intending
to return by a beautiful garden which lies on that side of the river. As
I approached the Elbe I was struck by the bright glare of light which,
proceeding from some building near, illuminated the river nearly the
whole way across, displaying upon its glassy surface several boats, in
which the people sat resting on their oars, and scarcely moving in
the gentle tide of the stream. I remembered for a moment, and then it
occurred to me that the brilliant glare of light proceeded from the
villa of Count Lowenstein, which stood upon a small promontory of
land, about two miles from Dresden, this being the night of a private
_soiree_, to which only his nearest and most intimate friends were ever
invited. Report had spoken loudly of the singular beauty of the villa
itself, the splendour of its decorations, the richness and taste of its
furniture; and, indeed, around the whole character of the place, and the
nature of the entertainments held there, the difficulty of _entrée_,
and the secrecy observed by the initiated, had thrown an air of the most
romantic interest. To these _soirées_ although honoured by marks of the
greatest distinction, and even admitted to the closest intimacy, the
Count never invited me, and in the days of my prosperity it had ever
been with a sense of pique I called to mind the circumstance. Thither I
now inadvertently bent my steps, and it was only when the narrowness
of the path which lay between the hedge of the garden and the river
required my caution in walking, that I remembered I must have entered
the grounds, and was then actually within a few paces of the villa.
While I stood for a moment, uncertain whether to retreat or advance,
I was struck by observing that the boats had gradually and noiselessly
approached the bank, a short way from where I was, and, by the attitudes
of the figures I could perceive that they were listening most eagerly
and attentively. I approached a few steps, till, at the sudden turning
of the walk, I found myself beneath the terrace of a splendid salon,
brilliantly lighted, and crowded by numerous and full-dressed guests.
The rarest plants and most beautiful exotics stood in jars along the
balustrade, diffusing their perfume around, and the cheerful hum of
voices was heard in the still night air as parties walked to and fro
upon the balcony. Suddenly the din of voices was hushed, those that
were walking stood still, as if spell-bound,--a few seconds of the most
perfect silence followed--then two or three chords of a harp, lightly
but tastefully struck,--and then flowed forth a burst of melody,
so full, so rich, so swelling, in the recitative of Rossini, "Oh,
Patria!--oh, dolce ingrata Patria!"--that it filled my heart with
transport, and my eyes with tears; and to my wounded and broken spirit
there came a holy and delicious calm, as if by some magic spell another
had divined my inward sorrow, and, in giving it expression, had given it
relief.

The recitative over, oh with what triumphant gladness came the brilliant
_aria_, diffusing joy and happiness through every fibre of my frame!
and, as one delicious cadence succeeded another, I felt my heart beat
strong and stronger against my side. My sorrow--my deep, depressing
sorrow--was forgotten; a very heaven of brilliant hopes was opened
before me, and peace flowed in upon my soul once more. The singer
paused; then came a melting cadence, followed by a thrilling shake--so
low, so plaintive, and so clear, I felt as if the last emotion of
happiness fled with it. A silence of a moment followed, and then a
thunder of applause flowed in on every side; and the words, "_Divine La
Mercia!_" burst from every voice around.

I stood amazed and thunderstruck. The quick transition of my feelings
had completely overpowered me, and I was only aroused by hearing a
voice so near me as to startle me. It was the Count who spoke: he
stood directly above me, leaning against a pillar of the portico, and
supported upon his arm a lady, but, from her position, I could not catch
her features. From his soft, low, and earnest tone of voice, it was
plain the nature of his suit was one of heartfelt interest; while the
few words she spoke in answer, from their soft tones and foreign accent,
left me no doubt they came from La Mercia. I crept nearer the balcony,
and, concealed behind the balustrades, waited anxiously to catch a
glance at her as she passed. The light fell strongly from an open
window upon this part of the terrace; and I could perceive, as she came
forward, that, disengaging herself from the Count's arm, she assumed
a more gay and lively manner. She was now within a few feet of where I
stood eagerly waiting for the moment she would turn to enter the salon.
She curtsied deeply to some persons in the crowd; and ere I could
recover from the effect of the graceful and beautiful attitude she
assumed, she turned. Merciful Heaven! could it be true? I almost
screamed aloud, and, but for the hold I took of the balcony, should have
fallen. The picture was La Mercia: the same calm brow, the same melting
look, that beautiful outline of neck and throat, and, above all, that
lovely contour of head, to see which once was never to forget. She was
gone! the guests disappeared one by one from the terrace, the salon
became again crowded, and the windows were closed against the now
chilling night air; and yet so suddenly all seemed to happen, I could
scarcely believe but that still that lovely voice and beauteous form
were before me; and I could not help thinking, as I left the spot, that
to an excited brain and fevered imagination the likeness of the picture
to La Mercia must have been owing, as with slow steps I retraced my way
homeward.

The next morning early I left Dresden for the Augustine monastery at
Tetchen, and ardently commenced the intended altar-piece; but, fearing
lest the likeness to La Mercia might have been real, I did not copy from
the painting as I had resolved. For three months I laboured unceasingly;
and, whether from the perfect occupation of my time, or that the
peaceful and tranquil life of the holy men with whom I lived had its
influence, I know not, but my mind once more regained its calmness and
serenity, and I felt almost happy again.

In this frame of mind I was, when, one morning, one of the fathers,
entering my apartment, informed me that my old friend and patron, Count
Lowenstein, was about to be married. I started, and hurriedly asked to
whom, while the deep blush which suffused my cheek told too plainly the
interest I took in the answer.

"I know not," said the monk; "but report speaks of her as eminently
beautiful."

"Would you recognise the name if you heard it?" I asked.

"I have heard it but once, but think I might remember it again," said
he.

"Then it is La Mercia," I replied.

"The same--La Mercia was the name; and they say a more splendid wedding
Dresden has never witnessed than this will be."

I cannot explain why, but never did I feel, at any period of my life, so
completely overcome as when I listened to this report. Never before had
I confessed to myself how I had felt towards La Mercia, nor even now
could I tell: it was not love; I had never seen her but for a few brief
seconds, and yet in my heart she lived, the guiding-star of all my
thoughts and aspirations; and though my most sanguine dreams never
anticipated my calling her mine, yet I could not bear the thought that
she was to belong to another. I resolved at once to set out for Dresden,
and, if possible, see her once before the wedding would take place. I
thought it would he a balm to my feelings should I look upon her, before
she was lost to me for ever, and I longed ardently to trace, with what
calmness I was able, how far the likeness with the picture was real or
imaginary. With these intentions I left the monastery that evening, and
returned to Dresden.

When I reached home I learned that the Count had been married, and found
upon my table a most pressing invitation from him to his _soirée_ at
the villa that evening. At first I resolved not to accept it. The
full measure of my loneliness had never so pressed on me before; for
although, in reality, La Mercia was not, nor could ever have been, aught
to me, yet I felt as if my fate and happiness were, by some inexplicable
ties, wound up with hers; and now that tie was to be broken. I had begun
to believe that the extraordinary impression she had made upon my mind
had entirely suggested the resemblance with the picture, which some
chance trait of likeness might have contributed to, and I longed
ardently to see her;--but then, to see her the bride of another! These
conflicting thoughts agitated me during the entire day, and I knew not
what to decide on.

When evening came I embarked upon the Elbe, and, after a half-hour's
rowing, reached the villa of the Count. Lights gleamed from every
window, and delicious music was borne on the night wind, that blew
gently along the river. Numerous servants, in gorgeous liveries, passed
and repassed along the spacious veranda, which ran the entire length of
the building, carrying fruit, wine, and ices to those who preferred the
balmy air and starry sky without, to the heat and glitter of the crowded
salon within.

With difficulty I made my way through the dense mass that filled the
antechamber, and at length reached one of the reception-rooms, scarcely
less crowded. On every side I beheld some of the highest persons of the
city: groups of officers in splendid uniforms, ambassadors glittering
in orders and crosses, distinguished foreigners, artists, authors, were
all mingled together in thick profusion, enjoying the magnificence
and splendour which unbounded wealth, guided and directed by the
most cultivated taste, could create. Standing in mute admiration of
a beautiful figure of Psyche, which seemed fresh from the chisel of
Canova, I was roused by a voice addressing me, while at the same moment
my shoulder was gently tapped. I turned;--it was the Count himself.

"Ah, Monsieur le Baron," said he, "'_Enfin après un an!_' as Racine has
it. Where have you buried yourself and all your agreeability these
ages past? But come, I shall not tax your invention for excuses and
apologies; follow me--the Countess has heard me frequently speak of you,
and longs to make your acquaintance. This way--after me as well as you
can."

The friendly tone of the Count, as well as its being almost the first
time of my being addressed by my new title, brought a deep blush to my
cheek, which fortunately was unobserved as I followed him in the crowd.
He passed through this room to one still larger, filled with parties
playing at several small tables, and thence into an oval salon, where
waltzing was going on. With great difficulty we got through this, and
arrived at a curtain of white cloth, fringed at the bottom with deep
and massive silver lace; this he drew gently aside, and we entered the
boudoir. Upon a small ottoman, over which was thrown a rich Persian
shawl, sat the Countess.

"Isadora," said the Count, as he approached--"Isadora, '_carissima
mia_,' this is my friend, Carl Stelling."

She lifted her head from the picture she was shewing to a lady beside
her, and as her eye beamed fully upon me and her lips parted to address
me, I fell fainting to the ground.

"It is!--it is!" I muttered, as the last ray of consciousness was
leaving my whirling brain.

When I recovered, the Count was standing over me bathing my temples. I
looked wildly around. I saw we were still in the boudoir, although all
but one or two had departed; and from the window, now opened, there
came a cool and refreshing breeze. I looked anxiously around for the
Countess: she stood at a table, her cheek deadly pale, and I thought
her appearance evinced great agitation. I heard her, in a low whisper,
ask,--

"What can this mean?"

I immediately recovered myself sufficiently to say, that, overcome by
the heat of the salon, in my then weak state, that I felt completely
overpowered. But I saw my explanation seemed incomplete, and that some
words must have fallen from me which I did not remember.

The Count, at the same instant, putting his lips to my ear, said,--

"Carl, this must be explained at another and more fitting moment."

This increased my agitation, for I now perceived that my merely being
taken suddenly ill could never have given rise to such a feeling as all
around seemed to labour under. Before, then, I could at all determine
how to act, the Countess approached me, and, in her softest and kindest
manner, asked if I were better.

In a moment all my agitation was forgotten; and, indeed, every one of
the party seemed to participate, as if by magic, in the balmy influence
her few words shed around. Conversation soon resumed its course. For
some time the Count's manner was constrained and uncertain, but that
soon wore away, as the joyous tone and sparkling gaiety of his lovely
bride seemed to have their effect upon every one about her; and even
I--torn, as I was, by feelings I could neither trace nor divine--felt
under the mystic spell that so much beauty and grace diffused on every
side. With a wonderful tact she alluded at once to such subjects that
compelled me, as an artist, to speak, and speak warmly; and, seemingly,
catching the enthusiasm from me that she herself had created, she spoke
of Venice--its thousand recollections--its treasures of art--its rich
historical associations--its ancient glory; and then, taking up her
guitar, played with such tenderness and feeling one of the well-known
gondolier _canzonette_, as made the very tears stand in my eyes.

The victory was complete: I forgot the past--I knew no longer where I
was. A bright Elysium of bliss had opened before me; and even now, after
years of such misery as few have known, I could say that one hour of
such intoxicating happiness would be, almost, cheaply bought by even
such affliction.

I started from my trance of pleasure on observing that the guests were
taking leave. I at once arose, and, as she extended her hand to me, I
felt the blood rush to my face and forehead. I barely dared to touch it
with my lips, and retired. I hurried from the villa, and, springing into
my boat, was soon landed at the bridge of Dresden.

From that time my visits at the villa were frequent; seldom a week
elapsed without my receiving one or two invitations from the Count; and,
at last, to such an extent did my intimacy proceed, and so superior in
attraction was the society there, that for it I deserted all other, and
only felt happy when with my kind patrons. During this, by far the most
delightful period of my life, I was not entirely free from unhappiness.
Sometimes the likeness of the Countess to the picture would appear to
me so striking as not to be mistaken: one day particularly, when some
sudden intelligence was brought to her that caused momentary alarm
for the Count's safety, her pale cheek and quivering lip brought the
portrait so perfectly before me, that I was unable to speak or offer her
advice when she asked my opinion; and then, vague and horrid doubts,
and a dread of some unknown and unforeseen calamity, would flash upon my
mind; and those who have experienced how deeply they can be impressed
by a presentiment of evil, can tell how little it is in their power to
rally their spirits against terrors which take every or any shape. And
while I reasoned with myself against what might be mere groundless fear,
yet I never could look upon the picture and call to mind the death-bed
sorrow of the old artist, without feeling that some dreadful fate was
connected with its history, in which, as its mere possessor, I might be
involved. Sometimes to such a degree did this anxiety prevail upon
me, that I had fully determined to shew it to the Countess, and either
endeavour to trace its history from her, or at once rid myself of all
apprehension concerning it, if she disclaimed all knowledge of it;
but then, if she really were connected with its story--if, as it was
possible, a mother's fate (for the resemblance could warrant such a
relationship) were wound up' with the story,--what right had I, or how
could I answer to myself, for the mere satisfaction of my own doubts, to
renew the sorrows, and, perhaps, even be the means of publishing to the
world the sad detail of forgotten crime or misfortune? Perhaps, however,
the picture was not, as I supposed, an antique: it might be an admirable
copy. But this idea was relinquished at once: the more I examined, the
more fully did it corroborate my opinion of its being the work of a
master. Such thoughts as these--and they grew upon me daily more and
more--embittered the happiest moments of my intercourse with my friends;
and often, when the merry laugh and the joyous glee which pervaded our
parties at the villa were at the highest, I thought of that picture,
and my heart sank at the recollection, and I would hasten to my home
to conceal from every eye the terror and anguish these thoughts ever
inspired me with.

One evening when dressing for the Count's villa I received a _billet_,
written in pencil and evidently in haste; it came from himself, and
informed me that the Countess, who had that morning made a short
excursion upon the river, had returned home so ill that the
entertainment was deferred. I was, however, requested to call the
following morning, to take some sketches of Pirna from the villa,
which I had long since promised to make for them. So completely had I
withdrawn myself from all other society during my great intimacy with
Count Lowenstein, that I now felt the _billet_ I received left me unable
to say where or how I should pass my evening.

In this uncertainty I wandered forth, and without thinking whither my
steps led me, it was only on hearing the boatman ask if I were ready,
that I perceived I had strolled to the steps beside the bridge, where I
usually took my departure for the villa. Lost in reverie and led captive
by habit, I had walked to this spot unconsciously to myself.

I was about to dismiss the boatmen for the night, when a whim seized me
to drop on board and visit those small and wooded islands that lie about
a league up the river. It was a calm and beautiful night; and in the
wild and untrodden solitude of these romantic islands I remained till
near midnight.

As we passed the grounds of the Count, I or-dered the boatmen to land me
at a spot remote from the house, whence I could proceed on foot, wishing
to make some inquiry for the Countess before I returned home. They
accordingly put me on shore at a small flight of steps which descended
to the water's edge, from a terraced path that ran a considerable
distance through the park, and was concealed in its entire length by
tall hedges of beech, completely overgrown with flowering creeping
shrubs, and so impenetrable, that, even in noon-day, it was
impossible for those without, to see persons walking within, while the
closely-shaven sod effectually prevented footsteps being heard. The
moon was up, and nearly at the full, and all beneath me in the
richly-ornamented flower-garden was bathed in a sea of mellow light. The
marble statues that adorned the walks threw their lengthened shadows
at their bases, while their own whiteness seemed purer and fairer than
ever. The villa itself, half obscured by trees, seemed, in its tranquil
beauty, the very emblem of peace; and as the pillars of the portico
threw a deeper shadow, gave a broadness to the effect which struck me
as wonderfully beautiful. I gazed around me with momentarily increasing
admiration. The gentle murmuring of the leaves agitated by the breeze,
and the plash of the river, made the silence around me even more
striking. I stood lost in the enjoyment of the delicious repose of
the whole scene, when a slight noise upon the gravel walk attracted my
attention; I listened, and now distinctly heard footsteps approaching,
and also the voices of persons whispering in a low and much-suppressed
tone. They came nearer, and were now only concealed from my view by
the tall hedge, beneath which they walked; and soon the shadow of two
figures were cast along the broad walk in the bright moonlight. For a
moment they stopped speaking, and then I heard a laugh, in a low and
under tone--but such a laugh! My very blood ran chilled back upon my
heart as I heard it. Oh, if the fiend himself had given that dreadful
and heart-appalling laugh, it could not be more awful! It scarcely died
away in the faint echo, ere I heard the sobs, deep and low, of another
and far different voice. At this instant the figures emerged from the
darkness and stood in the bright moonlight. They stood beside an old
and broken pillar, which had once supported a sun-dial, and around whose
shaft the clustering ivy had wound itself. They were entirely concealed
by large cloaks which enveloped their entire figures, but still I could
perceive that one was much larger and more robust than the other. This
latter taking a small lamp, which was concealed beneath the folds of his
cloak, placed it upon the pillar, while at the same instant the other
figure, throwing off the cloak, knelt at his feet. Oh, that reason had
left me, or that life itself had parted from me, ere I should look
upon that scene! She--she who knelt and held her suppliant hands was La
Mercia; and he who, now divested of his mantle, stood over her, was the
dark and awful-looking man of the picture! There they stood. The dresses
of both were copied to the life; their looks--oh, Heaven! their very
looks were pictured as they stood. She spoke: and as she did so, her
arms fell powerless before her; he scowled the same horrid scowl of hate
and scorn. My brain was turning; I tried to scream out, my voice failed
me--I was mute and powerless; my knees rocked and smote each other;
convulsive tremor shook me to the centre, and with a groan of agony I
sank fainting to the earth.

The day was breaking ere I came to myself; I arose, all was quiet around
me. I walked to the boat--the boatmen were sleeping; I awoke them, and
we returned to Dresden. I threw myself upon my bed--my brain seemed
stupified and exhausted--I fell into a profound sleep, and woke not
till late the following evening. A messenger had brought a note from the
Count--"The Countess is worse." The note detailed briefly that she had
passed a feverish and disturbed night, and that the medical attendants
had never left the villa. Was it then but a dream, my dreadful vision of
the past night? and had my mind, sorrowing for the affliction of my best
friend, conjured up the awful scenes I believed to have witnessed? How
could it be otherwise? The _billet_ I received told most distinctly that
she was confined to her bed, severely, dangerously ill; and of course
watched with all the care and attention the most sedulous anxiety
could confer. I opened the picture, and then conviction flashed with
lightning's rapidity upon me, that it was not delusion--that no dream
had brought these images before my mind. "Ah," I cried, "my friend, my
patron, how have I betrayed thee? Why did I not earlier communicate
the dreadful story of the picture, and thus guard you against the
machinations by which the fiend himself has surrounded you? But then,
what had I to tell? how embody the vague and shadowy doubts that took,
even in my own mind, no palpable shape or form?"

That entire day was passed in alternate resolution and abandonment;
now, determined to hasten to the villa, and disclose to the Count
every circumstance I had seen, and then thinking how little such mere
suspicion would gain credence, and how unfit the present moment to
obtrude upon his breaking and distracted heart the horrid dread that
haunted mine. Towards evening a messenger arrived, breathless with
haste. He brought no note, but merely bade me hasten to the villa, as
the Count wished to see me with all possible despatch. I mounted the
servant's horse, and in a few minutes reached the place. Servants were
running hither and thither distractedly. I asked, eagerly, How was the
Countess? No one could tell, but all seemed to imply that there was
no hope of recovery. I entered the large spacious and hall, and threw
myself upon a sofa; and as I looked around upon the splendid hangings,
the gilded cornices, and marbled pillars, and thought upon that sorrow
such splendour surrounded, my heart sickened. A shadow fell upon the
brightly polished floor. I looked up--a figure stood at the window of
the hall, and stared me steadily in the face. The eyes glared wildly,
and the dark, malignant features were lit up with a scornful scowl of
more than human hate and triumph. It was the incarnation of the Evil
One exulting over a fallen and lost spirit. A loud shriek rent the air
behind me. I dared not turn my eyes from the horrid sight before me.
"Oh, Heavens! it is true!--he is, he is the Tutore!" I cried, as the
features, convulsed for an instant with fiendish triumph, resumed their
cold and even more appalling aspect. A threatening gesture from his hand
arrested me, as I was about to call aloud. My voice came not, though
my lips moved. I could not rise from the seat--a dreadful scream rang
through the building--another, and another followed--the figure was
gone. At the same moment the Count rushed forward--his dress disordered,
his hair falling loosely upon his shoulders--madness, wild insanity,
in his look. He turned and saw me; and bursting into a torrent of
hysterical laughter, cried out,--

"Ha, ha, Carl!--welcome to our abode of pleasure; here, all is gaiety
and happiness. What sorrow ever crosses this threshold?" and then, with
a sudden revulsion, he stared me fixedly, and said in a low sepulchral
voice, "She is dead--dead! But the time is passing--a few minutes more,
and 'twill be too late. This, Carl, will explain all. Take this, and
this--these papers must be your care--promise me to observe them to the
letter; they were her--her last wishes, and you knew her. Oh, is this
a dream? it is too, too horrible to be real. Ah!" said he, after a
moment's pause; "I am ready!" and springing from me wildly, rushed
through the door towards the inner apartments.

I started up and followed him--I knew not which way he took in the
corridor; and as I stood uncertain, a loud report of fire-arms crashed
on my ear. I flew to the sick chamber--servants stood gasping and
trembling without, I tore open the door; there, lay the Count upon the
floor, his head rent asunder by the bullets from the pistol his hand
still grasped. He had endeavoured to reach the bed, and fell half upon
a chair. In the bed lay the still warm corpse of the Countess, beautiful
as in life. I looked from one to the other; my seared and stony heart,
turned to apathy by the horrors I had witnessed, gave no relief to its
feeling in tears, and I spoke not as I slowly left the room.

For two days I spoke not to any one. A dreamy unconsciousness seemed to
wrap my faculties, and I felt not the time passing. On the third day I
rallied sufficiently to open the papers the Count had entrusted to me.
One contained an affectionate farewell to myself, from the Count, with
a dying bequest; the other, was in a lady's hand--it bore the Countess's
signature; and here I discovered with surprise and horror, that to
the performance of the rash act, by which the Count had terminated his
existence, he was bound by a solemn oath. I ready and re-read, to assure
myself of the fact. It was true! Such was the terrible promise she
extorted from the wretched lover, under the delusive hope of their
meeting in another and happier life. Then followed the directions for
the funeral, which were minute to a degree. The bodies of both, when
coffined, were to be placed in a small temple in the garden, near the
river; the key of which was to be sent to a Dominican monk, who lived in
an obscure part of the city. By him were the coffins to be closed, which
it was strictly enjoined should be done by him, alone and unaccompanied,
the night before the burial.

All was done as the wish of the deceased enjoined, and the key
despatched by a trusty servant of my own to the friar, who appeared to
be in expectation of it, and knew its import.

I sat in the lonely and desolate room, which had formerly been mine, in
the villa of the Count; that long and dreary night the wind poured its
mournful wailing through the pine-trees in dirgeful memory of him who
was no more. From the window of the temple a bright light gleamed
till near morning, when it gradually faded away. Thither I repaired at
day-break, with the household. All was still--the door lay open--the
coffins were closed and screwed down. The friar was gone; we afterwards
found that he had not returned to his lodgings in the city, nor was he
ever after seen in Dresden. The bodies were committed to the earth, and
I returned to my home alone in the world.

It was several years after this--the awful death of my earliest, best
friend--that I arrived in Paris to exhibit, in the gallery of the
Luxembourg, an historical picture, upon which I had laboured for
years. I must be brief--my picture was exhibited, and my most sanguine
expectations surpassed by its success; and in a few short days the whole
scene of my early triumph was re-enacted. Praise and flattery poured in
upon me; and as in Dresden before, so now in Paris, I became the fashion
and the rage. But how changed was I! No longer exulting in my success,
and buoyant with hopes, I received all the adulation I met with, with
cold indifference and apathy.

Among the many attentions which my popularity had conferred upon me,
was an invitation to the Hôtel de Rohan. The Duke, a most distinguished
connoisseur in painting, having seen and applauded my picture, waited
on me. Thus bound in duty, I went; and fatigued by the round of soulless
gaiety, in what I could no longer feel happy, or even forgetful, I was
retiring early, when the Duke met me and said,--

"Ah, monsieur, I have been looking for you. The Comtesse de Julliart has
desired me to present you to her; and when I tell you that she is the
most beautiful woman in Paris, I need not say how much you must prize
the honour among all the distinctions your talents have earned. Come
this way."

I followed mechanically--my heart took no interest in the scene--and I
only longed to be once more alone and unobserved. As I walked after
the Duke, he gave me a short account of the beautiful Countess, whom he
mentioned as the last descendant of an old and honoured family, supposed
to have been long since extinct, when she, a few months before, appeared
in Paris, and laid claim to the title. As she possessed unbounded
wealth, and had no great favours to ask any where, the Court were
charmed with her beauty, and readily admitted her claims, which some
were ill-natured enough to say were, perhaps, merely assumed without
foundation.

I took little interest in the story. My thoughts were far away, as they
ever were for many years, from every thing of the present; and 'twas
only as I heard the Duke announce my name, among a group who stood near
a sofa, that I remembered why I was there.

The Countess sat with her back to us, but rose immediately on hearing
my name. I bowed deeply as she stood up; and recovering myself from
my obeisance, looked up. Oh, merciful Heaven, with what horror I
looked!--It was no other than La Mercia! With one loud cry of "Tis she!
'tis she!" I fell fainting to the floor.

Weeks of wild raving and delirium followed. I left Paris!--I returned
to Dresden. There, all reminded me of the past. I fled from my home; and
now, after years of wandering in solitary and distant lands, I feel deep
in my heart the heavy curse that has followed upon my broken oath, and
which has made me an outcast and a broken-hearted wanderer in the world
for ever.



THE PASS OF THE ARLBERG.

Before leaving the Vorarlberg, and while now on its very frontier,
I would wish to keep some record of two very different but yet very
characteristic actions, of which this place was the scene. As you begin
the ascent of the Arlberg from the westward the road makes two very
abrupt zigzags, being carried along the edge of a deep precipice. On
looking down over the low battlements that guard the side of the way,
you discover, immediately under you, the spire and roofs of a small
village several hundred feet below. The churchyard, the little gardens,
the narrow streets, and the open "Platz," where stands a fountain, are
all mapped out distinctly. This is the village of Steuben. A strange
spot you would deem it for any to have chosen as a dwelling-place,
hemmed in between lofty mountains, on whose bleak sides the snow is
seen in the very midsummer; surrounded by wild crags and yawning clefts,
without even pasturage for any thing save a goat: but your surprise will
increase on learning that twice within the last century has this village
been swept away by falling avalanches. The first time, the snow meeting
in its descent from the mountains on either side actually formed a
bridge over a portion of the village; and the houses thus saved were
long regarded as under the special favour of the Virgin, with whose
image they were most bounteously decorated. The next calamity, however,
destroyed the prestige, for they were mingled in the common destruction.

It would be difficult for "Gentlemen of England, who live at home
in ease," to fancy any reason for this unaccountable selection of a
residence which adds the highest amount of peril to all the woes of
poverty. But every traveller has seen many such instances. In every
mountain land they are to be met with, and in each of the Alpine passes
little groups of houses--they can scarcely be called villages--can
be detected in spots where access is most difficult, where no
feature around indicates any means of supporting life, and where the
precautions--simple and ineffectual enough--against avalanches, shew
that danger to be among their calculations. How explain this? By
what associations have these dreary spots become hallowed into homes?
Possibly the isolated lives of these little families of men give them
the same distaste to mixing with their brethren of the great world, that
is felt by a solitary recluse to entering into society. Mayhap, too,
the sense of peril itself has its share in the attraction. There is
no saying how far this feeling may go, so strange and wayward are the
caprices of human nature.

If you enter any of these villages, the narratives of snow storms, of
falling precipices, and "Lavines," as avalanches are called, meet you
at every step. They are the great topics of these communities, as the
movements of Politics or the vacillations of the Bourse are elsewhere.
Scarcely one who has reached the middle term of life has not been, at
least once, in the most imminent peril; and these things are talked of
as the common accidents of existence, the natural risks of humanity!
Very strange does it sound to us who discuss so eagerly the perils of a
wooden pavement in our thoroughfares!

It is curious, too, to hear, as one may, most authentically, the length
of time life can be preserved beneath the snow. Individuals have been
buried so long as three entire days, and yet taken out alive. The
cold, of which it would be supposed they had suffered dreadfully, seems
scarcely very great; and the porous nature of the snow, and possibly the
chinks and crevices left between falling masses, have usually left air
sufficient for respiration. That individuals in such circumstances
of peril are not, always at least, devoid of their exercise of the
faculties, I remember one instance which is sufficiently convincing.
It was in the Via Mala, about five miles from the village of Splügen,
where, in the year 1829, the little cabriolet that conveyed the mail was
swept away by an avalanche. The calamity was not known for full seven
or eight hours afterwards, when some travellers from Andeer reaching the
spot, found the road blocked up by snow, and perceived a portion of the
wooden rail of the road, and a fragment of a horse-harness adhering
to it, half-way down the precipice. The guides of the party, well
accustomed to reason from such sad premises, at once saw what had
happened. Conceiving, however, that the driver had been carried down
over the cliff, and consequently to certain death, they directed their
sole care to clearing a passage for the travellers. In so doing, they
proceeded with long poles to sound the snow, and ascertain to what depth
it lay unhardened. It was in one of these "explorations," and when the
pole had sunk above ten feet deep into a mass of soft unfrozen snow,
that the man who held it found himself unable to withdraw the staff, and
called his comrades to aid him. They soon perceived, however, that the
resistance gradually yielded, and from the instinct peculiar to the
"hand"--another illustration for Sir Charles Bell--they recognised that
it must be the grip of human fingers which held the other end of the
pole. They immediately began to excavate on the spot, and in half an
hour liberated the poor postilion of the mail car, who, although hearing
the shouts and cries of the party for nearly an hour over his head,
could not succeed in making his own voice heard, and but for the
fortunate accident of the pole must have perished.

Many curious escapes were told to me, but this appeared most singular
of all; and now I come back to Steuben, or rather to the wild mountain
above it, over which, by a succession of windings, the road leads
which joins the Vorarlberg to the Tyrol. About one third of the ascent
accomplished, you come upon an abrupt turning of the way, in rounding
which a wide carriage can scarcely escape grating on the rock on one
side, while from the window on the opposite, the traveller looks down
upon * gorge actually yawning at his feet; the low barrier of wall,
which does not rise above the nave of the wheel, is a very frail and
insignificant protection ok such a spot, but when hid from view, as
it is to those seated in a carriage, the effect of the gulf is really
enough to shake common nerves. A little inscription upon a stone in
this wall records the name of the engineer--Donegani, if I remember
aright--who, deeming this spot the triumph of his skill, has selected it
whereon to inscribe his achievement. There is another meaning connected
with the place, but unrecorded; it could not, indeed, have been
transmitted like that of the Engineer, for when the event of which it
treats occurred, there was neither wall nor railing, and the road passed
some twelve feet higher up, over a ledge of rock, and actually seemed
to jut out above the precipice. There is, indeed, a memorial of the
transaction to which I allude, but it stands about twelve hundred feet
down in the gorge below,--a small wooden cross of rudest workmanship,
with the equally rudely inscribed words, "Der Vorspann's Grab."

Now for the story, which happily is short.

It was late on a severe evening of winter, as a _calèche_ drawn by two
horses drew up to the door of the post-house at Steuben; for then, as
now, Steuben was the last post-station before commencing the ascent of
the Arlberg. The travellers, two in number, wore military cloaks and
foraging caps; but what the precise rank, or to what arm of the service
they belonged, not even the prying observations of the host could
fathom. Their orders were for fresh horses immediately to cross the
mountain, and although the snow-drift was falling fast, and the night
dark as pitch, they peremptorily insisted on proceeding. The post
regulations of those days were not very stringent and arbitrary; as a
post-master may seem nowadays, he was nothing to the autocrat that once
ruled the comings and goings of unhappy travellers.

When he averred that his horses had done enough--that it was a
saint's-day--that the weather was too bad or his postilions too weary,
the case was hopeless, and the traveller was consigned, without appeal,
to the consolations of his own philosophy.

It chanced that on this occasion the whole disposable cavalry of the
Post consisted of two blind mares, which were both too old and weak to
tempt the cravings of the Commissary, who a few days before had seized
on all the draught-cattle to convey stores to Feldkirch, at that time
menaced by a French force under Massena.

The officers, however, were urgent in their demand; it was of the last
importance that they should reach Inspruck by the following evening. At
last, half by menace, half by entreaty, it was arranged that the two old
mares should be harnessed to the carriage, the host remonstrating all
the while on the inability of the expedient, and averring that, without
a Vorspann, a relay of horses, to lead at the steepest parts of the
mountain, the attempt would be fruitless. "Nay," added he, "if you
doubt me, ask the boy who is sleeping yonder, and has been driving the
Vorspann for years over the Arlberg." The travellers turned and beheld
on a heap of straw, in the corner of the kitchen, a poor little boy,
whose ragged uniform of postilion had evidently reached him at third or
fourth hand, so large and loosely did it hang around his slender figure.
He was sleeping soundly, as well he might, for he had twice crossed the
mountain to St. Cristoph on that same day.

"And this book," said one of the travellers, taking a very tattered and
well-thumbed volume which had dropped from the sleeper's fingers, "has
this poor little fellow time to read?"

"He contrives to do it somehow," said the host, laughing; "nay, more, as
you may see there, he has begun to teach himself French. Since he heard
that the French army was about to invade us, he has never ceased his
studies, sitting up half the night working at that old grammar there,
for which he gave all his month's earnings."

"And what maybe his reason for this?" said the elder traveller,
evidently interested in the recital.

"He has got the notion, that if the French succeed in forcing the pass
of Feldkirch and enter the Tyrol, that, as he will be constantly engaged
as Vorspann on the mountain, his knowledge of French would enable him
to discover many secrets of the enemy, as no one would ever suspect a
poor creature like him of having learned a foreign language.

"And his motive was then purely a patriotic one?"

"Purely; he is poor as you see, and an orphan, but his Tyrol blood runs
warm and thick in his veins."

"And what progress has he made?"

"That I cannot answer you, mein Herr; for no one hereabouts knows any
thing of French--nor, I suppose, had he ever the opportunity of testing
the acquirement himself. They are driven back, I am told."

"For the present," said the elder stranger, gravely; "but we shall need
all the reserves at Inspruck to hold our ground whenever they renew the
attack."

The sleeper was now aroused to take the saddle; for in the absence of
the regular postilion the Vorspann was obliged to take his place.

Still but half awake, the little fellow stood up, and mechanically
buttoning up his worn jacket, he took down his whip and prepared for the
road.

The travellers were soon ready, and ere many minutes elapsed the
_calèche_ had left the village, and, with the best pace the old mares
could accomplish, was breasting the snow-drift and the first rise of
the mountain. After about an hour's driving, during which Joseph had
exhibited his utmost skill in taking advantage of every available bit
of trotting ground, they came at length to the commencement of the
steep ascent; and there, hanging his whip on the saddle-peak, the little
fellow got down, to relieve his cattle as they toiled up the precipitous
ascent. He had not gone far, when, happening to drop behind beside the
_calèche_, what did he hear but the sounds of that very language upon
which all his day and night dreams were set! All that he had remarked
of the two travellers was, that they wore cloaks of military cut and
foraging caps, and now he heard them conversing in French. The whole
train of events on which his mind so long had been dwelling came now
forcibly before him. "Feldkirch had been forced, the French were already
masters of the pass; in a few days they would be over the Arlberg and in
possession of all Tyrol!" Such was the terrible series of events a
few words of French revealed to his excited imagination. With this
conviction he drew nearer and nearer the door, till he could hear the
very words they spoke. Now he returned to accomplish the great purpose
he had planned.

This "Zuflucht-Haus" or Hospice of Heinrich "Findelkind"--for he was
named the "Foundling," having none to claim or acknowledge him--has been
superseded by a more commodious and better endowed edifice under the
auspices of the Imperial Government, who have gracefully preserved the
memory of the first founder; thus shewing themselves not ashamed to be
reminded of their own _devoirs_ by a poor orphan.

And now from the heights of St. Christopher I look down upon the winding
glens and bold mountains of Tyrol! The great cross yonder on the rock
marks the boundary. And now, adieu! the square fur caps of the Bregenzer
Walderin; the huge silver filigree leaves, which look like peacocks'
tails of frosted silver, fastened to the back of the head; the
short-waisted dresses, gaily embroidered with the wearer's initials
upon the stomacher; and the stockings, so piously adorned with saintly
emblems; and last, but not least, the peaceful quietude of a primitive
people--to have lived among whom is to carry away for life-long a
pleasant memory of a simple-minded, kindly peasantry.

On descending the Arlberg by the eastward, or the Tyrol side, there is a
little low ruin not far from the road. It stands nestled in a small nook
between the hills, and shews the stunted and cattle-cropped remains of
a few fruit-trees around. This was an ancient shrine where four monks
formerly lived, devoting their lives to aiding the travellers of
the pass; and some say that its foundation dates from that of the
establishment of St. Gallen in Switzerland, and that both owe their
origin to the same pious hand--an Irish monk. So is it incontestably
true that the great monastery of St. Gall, and the spacious convents
of Mehrer-Au and Loch-Au on the borders of the Lake of Constance, were
founded by an Irishman. What a destiny, that the nation whose mission
should have been the spread of Christianity in the earliest centuries,
should present such a spectacle of crime and God-forgetfulness in our
own!



CHAPTER XII.

I wish my travelling countrymen--and what land tarns ont such myriads
of wanderers?--would betake themselves, in their summer rambles, to the
Tyrol, rather than Switzerland. If the use of German be not as frequent
with us as French, still very little suffices for the every-day
necessities of the road; and while, in point of picturesque beauty,
the tour is little, if any thing, inferior to Switzerland in all
that regards the people, the superiority of the Tyrolese is without a
question.

Switzerland--save in some few remote spots of the German cantons, and
these not generally worth the visiting--is a land of extortion and
knavery. The whole country is laid out pretty much as St. Paul's in
London used to be, some years back--so much for the Aisle, so much for
the Whispering Gallery, so much for the Ball, &c. Each mountain, each
glen, every glacier and snow-peak, has its corps of guides, farming out
by a tariff the wild regions of the roe and the chamois, and vulgarising
the features of nature to the level of the Colosseum in London, and its
pasteboard avalanches.

This may be all very delightful for those junket-ting parties who steam
up the Rhine on a three weeks' excursion, and want to "do Switzerland"
before they reach home--jogging to Chamouni in an omnibus, and riding up
the Rigi in an ass-pannier. But to enjoy mountains--to taste really of
the exquisite sense of impressive solemnity a wild mountain-scene
can suggest,--give me the Tyrol--give me the land where the crashing
cataract is heard in the midst of unbroken stillness--where, in the deep
valleys, the tinkling bell of the herd sounds for miles afar--where,
better than all, the peasant is not degraded from his self-respect
to become a hanger-on of each stranger that he sees, but is still a
peasant, stout of heart and limb, ready to do the honours of his humble
_châlet_ if you cross his threshold, but not bartering his native
hospitality for gold! What a fine national character is made up of that
sturdy independence--that almost American pride of equality--with the
devoted loyalty to their sovereign! How admirably does the sense of
personal freedom blend with obedience to the Kaiser! How intimately is
love of country bound up with fealty to the country's king! O
Austria! if all thy subjects were like these, how little need you fear
revolutionary Poles or reforming Popes! The sounds of the national sign,
"_Gott erhalte unser Kaiser!_" would drown the wildest cry that ever
Anarchy shouted.

The gifted advocates of Progress and Enlightenment, who write in Penny
Magazines and People's Journals, may sneer at the simple faith of a
people who recognise a father in their monarch--who are grateful for
a system of government that secures to them the peaceful enjoyment
of their homes and properties, with scarcely the slightest burden of
taxation.

Such travellers as Inglis may record conversations with individuals
disposed to grumble at the few opportunities for social convulsion
and change; but, taking the mass of the people, judging from what is
palpable to every sojourner in the land, where does one see less of
poverty--where so much contentment, so much of enjoyment of life, such
a general feeling of brotherhood in every rank and class?--where are the
graceful virtues of charity and kindliness more conspicuous?--and, above
all, where is there so little of actual crime?

It may be said, the temptations are not so great to breaches of law
where a general well-being prevails, where each has enough for his
daily wants, and life displays no inordinate ambitions. I am willing to
acknowledge all this; I cavil not for the cause--I only ask acceptance
for the fact. If one would wish to see the boldest spirit of personal
freedom united to implicit obedience to a ruler, the most stubborn
independence of character with & courteous submission to the will of him
recognised as superior, a manly self-reliance with a faithful trust that
there are others better, wiser, and more far-seeing than himself,--then
let him come to the Tyrol!

The Tyrol is, perhaps, the only part of Europe where any portion of
romance still dwells--where the little incidents of daily life are
tinctured with customs that derive from long ago--where facts of bygone
days, traditions of their fathers' time, are interwoven with the passing
hour--and where primitive habits and tastes are believed to carry
with them a blessing, as to those who honour their fathers' memories.
National gratitude is far more closely allied with individual gratitude
than is usually believed. Under the shade of the great tree the little
plant is often nurtured. It is easy to imagine well of the individual,
where the masses are moved by noble aspirations.

Scarcely a valley, not a single defile here, is without Us historic
glories--many of them as of yesterday, and yet, in their simple
heroism, recalling a time when personal valour was of greater worth than
strategic skill and science. I always regret that Scott, who understood
mountains and those who dwell thereon so thoroughly, should never have
made the Tyrol the scene of a romance.

Even among the "simple annals of the poor" here are little incidents
eminently romantic in their character, while so distinctly national that
they tell, in every detail, the mind of the people who enacted them.

How I should like once more to be young of heart and limb, and able to
travel these winding glens and climb these mountain steeps as once I
could have done! Even now, as I sit here in this little "Wirth's-Haus,"
how the old spirit of wandering comes back 'again as I watch the
peasant, with his long staff in hand, braving the mountain side, or
standing for a second on some rocky peak, to gaze down into the steep
depth below--that narrow valley filled by road and river.

     "Gott hat sein plan Für Jedenmann."

What a road is that from Landeck to Meran!--at once the most beautiful
and the grandest of all the Tyrol passes. The gorge is so narrow, that
it seems rather like a deep channel cut by the river itself; where, on
either side, hundreds of feet in height, rise the rocks--not straight,
but actually impending above the head, leaving, in some places, the
ravine narrower above than beneath.

Escarped in this rock, the road winds on, protected by a little parapet
along the edge of the precipice. Beneath, at a depth to make the
head dizzy to gaze at, is seen the river, whose waters are of a pale
sky-blue, the most delicate and beautiful colour I ever beheld. As the
necessities of the road require, you have to cross the river; more
than once, on wooden bridges, which in themselves are curious for their
ingenuity of construction, if one could think of aught save the grandeur
of the scene around them.

At the second of these bridges, called the Pontlatzer

Brücke, the ravine grows wider, and open, a distant prospect of the
"Kaunser-Thal," backed by the tremendous glacier of Gebatsch. A glorious
valley is it, with its grouped cottages and village spires studded along
the plain, through which the Inn winds its rapid stream, its surface
still ruffled and eddying from the deep descent of the Fünstermünze.

Above the Pontlatzer Brücke, high upon a little table-land of the
mountain, stands a small village--if even that humble name be not too
dignified for the little group of peasant-houses here assembled. This,
called the "Kletscher," derives its title from a mountain torrent which,
leaping from cliff to cliff, actually divides the village into two
portions, over each of which, with pretty fair equality, it distributes
its spray and foam, and then plunges madly down, till, by a succession
of bounds and springs, it reaches the river Inn beneath. The Kletscher,
it must be owned, deserves its name: it is at once the most boisterous
and foam-covered torrent of the whole region, and, as frequently in
its course it pierces the soft rock of the mountain, the roaring stream
echoes more loudly still beneath these natural bridges. These, however,
are not the only sounds which greet the ear on nearing the spot:
the whole air is tremulous with the thumping and crashing noise
of saw-mills, every second cottage having one of these ingenious
contrivances at work; and thus, between the roaring torrent itself
and its forced labour, such a tremendous uproar is created, that the
uninitiated are completely stunned.

It is, indeed, a curious transition from the deathlike stillness of the
pine forest, the unbroken silence of the steep path by which you wend
your way upward, to emerge at once into this land of active life and
turmoil, to see here, high amidst the Alps, where the roe and chamois
are wild and free--to see here a little colony busied in all the arts
of life, and carrying their industry into the regions of cataract and
glacier.

What animation and movement on every side does that bright flowing
torrent carry with it! The axe of the wood-cutter--the rustling branches
sweeping, as twenty or thirty peasants tug some mighty pine-tree
along--the hacking clink of the bark adzes--the voices of the children
gathering and peeling the bark, and, above and through all, the heavy
throbbing of the mill-timbers, shaking the frail sheds and even the very
cottages with their giant strokes! There is a character of enterprise in
the selection of such a wild spot irresistibly captivating. One cannot
look upon those hardy peasants without a sense of respect and admiration
for those who have braved climate and danger--and such there is--to
seek a livelihood and a home, rather than toil in indigence and
dependence in the valley beneath.

The Kletscher is not picturesque for situation only. Its houses, built
of the pine-wood, are covered over with a kind of varnish, which,
while it preserves the colour, protects the timber from the effects of
weather. Each story is flanked externally by a little gallery, whose
ornamental balustrades display their native skill in carpentry, and are
often distinguished by grotesque carvings, executed with an ability that
none but a Tyroler could pretend to. The door and window-frames, too,
are finished in the same taste; while, instead of other designation,
each cottage is known by some animal of the owner's selection, which
stands proudly above the door-porch: and thus some old white-headed
Bauer of eighty winters is called the Chamois; a tart-looking,
bitter-faced Frau, his neighbour, being known as the Lamb; a merry
little cheerful-eyed peasant being a Buffalo; and the schoolmaster--I
blush to write it--diffusing "Useful Knowledge" under the sign of a
braying Donkey.

Animated and cheerful as the scene is by day, alive with all the
instincts and sounds of happy labour, I like bettor to look upon it
by night, when all is calm and still, and nothing but the plash of the
waterfall stirs the air--to see these quaint old houses, with their
sculptured pinnacles and deep-shadowing eaves sleeping in the mellow
moonlight--mill and miller sunk in slumber--not a footstep nor a voice
to be heard, save one, the village watchman, going his nightly round,
chanting his little verse of assuring comfort to the waking ear, and
making the sleeper's dream a peaceful one.

See how he moves along, followed by his little dog, sleepy-looking and
drowsy as its master! He stands in front of that cottage--it belongs to
the Vorsteher, or ruler of the Dorf. Power has its privileges even here,
and the great man should know how the weather fares, and what the hour
is, if, perchance, the cares of state have kept him waking, as Homer
tells us that they can. Now he has ended his little song, and he wends
his way over the bridge of a single plank that spans the torrent; he
slowly descends the flight of stone steps, slippery with falling spray,
and, guided by the wooden railing, he treads the narrow path along the
edge of the cliff, which, nearly perpendicular, stands over the valley
of the Inn. There is a little hut here--a very poor and humble one, the
very poorest of the whole village--and yet it is before the door of this
lowly dwelling that the "Nachtwachter" stands at midnight each night
throughout the year, and then, as he calls the hour, he cries, "Hans
Jörgle, good night!--rest soundly, Hans Jörgle!"

Who can be this Hans Jörgle, for whose peaceful slumber authority is
watchful? If you care for the answer of the question, you must listen
to a story--if I dare to call by so imposing a name the following little
narrative--which, for want of better, I shall call



HANS JÖRGLE

Something short of forty years ago, there came to dwell at the Kletscher
a poor widow with one child, a boy of about nine years old. She never
told much of her history to the neighbours, and merely accounted for her
choice of this secluded spot from the circumstance that she had known
it when a child, her grandfather having been many years an inhabitant of
the "Dorf;" and that, from dwelling on the pleasant days she had known
there once, and talking over them so often with her little Hans, she at
last determined to gratify him and herself by revisiting the cherished
spot, hoping to end her days there in peace.

The grandfather of whom she spoke--long since dead--had been well known
and respected in the village; so that, at first on his account, and
subsequently on her own, the widow was welcomed kindly amongst them. Her
subsistence was derived principally from a small pension she received
from the Government, for her husband had been a grenadier of the
Austrian Imperial Guard, and fell on the field of Austerlitz. This
little pittance would not have sufficed for wants even humble as hers,
without the aid of her own industry; but she was clever at her needle,
and could accomplish many a triumph in millinery above village
skill; and by the exertion of this art she contrived to eke out a
subsistence--in poverty, it is true, but in contentment also.

If little Hans Jörgle could not contribute to the common stock by
any efforts of his labour, his gentle, quiet nature, his guileless
innocence, won for him the love of all the village. Old and young were
pleased to see him, and to talk to him; for, child as he was, Hans had
read a great many books, and could tell the most wonderful stories about
the Swedes in the Thirty Years' War, and also what happened in the long
wars between Frederic of Prussia and the Austrians--stories that, if
Hans were fond of telling, his audience were far more delighted to
listen to. This amusing gift, joined to the claims of infirmity--for he
was lame, the effect of a fall in his infancy--made him a favourite with
every one; for even they--and the number was a small one--who could
not relish his stores of narrative could feel compassion for the little
fatherless boy, bereft of the means of earning a livelihood, and wholly
dependent on one whose frail health gave little promise of long life.

Hans was tall and slight, and, but for his lameness, would haye been as
remarkable for the symmetry of his form, as, even with it, he was for
agility. His countenance was eminently handsome; the brow lofty, and the
eyes, which were of the darkest blue, were set deeply; their habitual
expression was one of great melancholy--not the sorrow of infirm health,
or the depression of a heart in conflict with itself, but the sadness of
a spirit too finely attuned for its daily associations--above,
immeasurably above, all around in its ambitions, and yet an object of
actual pity and compassion! The prevailing tone of his mind, though
sorrowful, did not prevent his joining the village children at their
play; nor was he, perhaps, the less welcome amongst them for those
strange fits of absence which, seizing him in the midst of some rural
sport, would make him forget all around, and burst out with some
exciting anecdote of heroic daring, some bold achievement of the
Austrians in their memorable battles with the Turks. Then, would the day
cease; gradually gathering around him, the children would form a circle,
soon to be strengthened by their elders, who took the most lively
pleasure in these recitals,--tales which many a setting sun and rising
moon shone upon.

It may have been remarked by the reader, that Hans' literary stores
were all military. Such was the case. Battles and sieges, campaigns and
marches, were a passion so exclusive, that he had no interest left for
any other form of reading. This may seem strange in one so young, and
in one, too, whose nature was gentleness itself; his very infirmity,
besides, might have turned his thoughts away from themes in which he
never could be a participator: but how little have material influences
power over the flight of a highly imaginative nature! His father's
stories as he sat at the fireside, his earliest lessons in reading,
implanted the impulse, which the very events of the time served to
strengthen and mature.

It was just the period when the Tyrol, crushed by the oppression of
Bavaria, insulted and outraged in every feeling, had begun to think of
vengeance. The transient success of the Austrians on the Danube animated
the brave mountaineers, and cheered them with the hope of freedom.
Already the low muttering of the distant storm was heard. Wherever a
group of peasants gathered, their low whisperings, their resolute looks,
their clenched hands, denoted some stern purpose. Secret Masses were
said in the chapels for the "rescue of the Vaterland;" the ancient
legends of the land were all remembered; sights and sounds of ominous
meaning were reported to have been observed; all indicative of a
speedy convulsion, all suggesting hope and courage. Rumour had told of
conferences between the Archduke John of Austria and the Tyrol leaders;
not failing to exaggerate the aid proffered by the Imperial Government
in the event of a struggle. The ancient spirit of the land was up, and
only waited the signal for the fight.

Remote and secluded as the little village of my story lay, the news of
the coming conflict did not fail to reach it. Little Hans formed the
link which bound them to the world of the valley beneath; and daily
did he, in despite of lameness, descend the steep path that led to the
Pontlatzer Brucke, bringing back with him towards nightfall the last
rumours of the day. Vague and uncertain as they were, they were listened
to with breathless eagerness. Sometimes, the intelligence merely
announced a gathering of the peasants in a mountain glen; sometimes, the
arrival of a messenger with secret despatches from Vienna. Now, Hofer
had passed through Maltz the night before; now, it was a Bavarian
reinforcement was seen arriving at Landeck.

These simple tidings had seemed of little meaning to their ears if Hans
were not there to give them significance, filling up all the blanks by
wise surmises, and suggesting reasons and causes for every thing. He had
his own theory of the war--where the enemy should be met, and how; in
what manner certain defiles should be defended, and how, in case of
defeat, the scattered forces might re-unite; little views of strategy
and tactics, that seemed like inspiration to the simple ears who beard
him.

Hans' tidings grew daily more important; and one evening he returned to
the Kletscher with a sealed note for the Curate--a circumstance
which excited the most intense curiosity in the Dorf. It was not long
ungratified, for the old priest speedily appeared in the little square
before the Vorsteher's House, and announced that each evening, at
sunset, a Mass would be said in the chapel, and a prayer invoked on all
who loved "Gott, der Kaiser, und das Vaterland." Hans was pressed on
every side; some asking what was going on in the valley, others eager to
hear if the Austrians had not been defeated, and that the Mass was for
the slain. Hans knew less than usual; he could only tell that large
bodies of the peasantry were seen ascending the mountain towards
Landeck, armed with saws and hatchets, while kegs of blasting powder
were borne along between others. "We shall know more, soon," added Hans;
"but come! the chapel is lighted already; the Mass has begun."

How picturesque was the effect the chapel presented! The sun was
setting, and its long golden rays, mingled with the red light of the
tapers, tipping the rich draperies of the altar and its glittering
vessels with a parti-coloured light; the kneeling figures of the
peasantry, clad in all the varied colours of Tyrol taste; the men
bronzed by sun and season, dark-bearded, stern, and handsome; the women
fairer, but not less earnest in expression; the white-haired priest,
dressed in a simple robe of white, with a blue scarf over it--the
Bavarians had stripped the chapels even of the vestments of the
clergy--the banners of the little volunteer battalion of the mountain
waving overhead,--all, made up a picture simple and unpretending, but
still solemn and impressive.

The Mass ended, the priest addressed a few words on the eventful
position of the Vaterland--at first, in terms of vague, uncertain
meaning; but growing warmer as he proceeded, more clearly and more
earnestly, he told them that the "Wolves"--none needed to be told that
Frenchmen were meant--that the "Wolves" were about to ravage the flocks
and overrun the villages, as they had already done twice before; that
the Bavarians, who should be their friends, were about to join their
bitterest enemies; that although the "Gute Franzerl"--for so familiarly
did they ever name the Emperor--wished them well, he could help them but
little. "The Tyroler's hand alone must save Tyrol," he exclaimed. "If
that cannot be, then God pity us; for there is no mercy to be looked for
from our enemies!"

If many a bold and patriotic heart sorrowed over these things, not one
felt them with a more intense sense of anguish than little Hans Jörgle.
The French, who had crushed his country, had killed his father; and now
they were coming to bring fire and sword among those lonely glens, where
his widowed mother had hoped to live her last years peacefully. Oh! if
he had been a man to stand beside his father in the day of battle, or if
even now he could hope to see the time when he should be strong of limb
as he was of heart... a burst of tears was the ever-present interruption
to utterings which, in the eagerness of his devotion, he could not
resist from making aloud.

These thoughts now took entire possession of his mind. If the clatter
of horses' hoofs was heard unusually loud over the wooden bridge in
the valley, Hans would start up and cry, "Here they are!--the cavalry
picquets are upon us!" If a Bauer-house in the plain caught fire, it was
the French were approaching and burning the villages. The rumbling of
heavily-laden sledges over the hard snow was surely "the drums of the
advanced guard;" and never could the ring of jäger's rifle be heard,
that he did not exclaim, "Here come the skirmishers!" If the worthy
villagers were indifferent to these various false alarms, the epithets
and terms of war employed by Hans realised no small portions of its
terror; and while they could afford to smile at his foolish fears,
they exchanged very grave looks when he spoke of cavalry squadrons,
and looked far from happy at the picture of a brigade of artillery in
position on the bridge, while the tirailleurs ascended the face of the
mountain in scattered parties.

While the winter continued, and the snow lay deep upon the roads, and
many of the bridges were removed for safety from the drifting ice, the
difficulties to a marching force were almost insurmountable; but as the
spring came, and the highways cleared, the rumour again grew rife that
the enemy was preparing his blow: the great doubt was, by which of the
Alpine passes he would advance.

Staff-officers and engineers had been despatched from Vienna to visit
the various defiles, and suggest the most efficient modes of defence.
Unhappily, however, all their counsels were given with a total ignorance
of the means of those by whom they were to be executed. To speak of
fortifying Landeck, and entrenching here and stockading there, sounded
like an unknown tongue to these poor chamois-hunters, whose sole idea of
defence lay in the cover of a crag and the certainty of a rifle bullet.

Disappointed, then, in their hope of aid, they betook themselves to
their own devices, and hit upon a plan the most perfectly adapted to
the crisis, as well as the most suitable to their own means of
accomplishment. Is it necessary that I should speak of what is so
familiar to every reader? the rude preparations of the Tyrolers to
defend their native defiles, by trunks of trees and fragments of rocks,
so disposed that at a word they could be hurled from the mountains down
into the valleys beneath.

The pass I here speak of was eminently suited for this, not only from
its narrowness and the precipitate nature of its sides, but that the
timber was large and massive, and the rocks, in many cases, so detached
by the action of the torrents, that little force was required to move
them. Once free, they swept down the steep sides, crushing all before
them; loosening others as they went, and with a thunder louder than
any artillery, plunging into the depths below. Simple as these means of
defence may seem--it is but necessary to have once seen the country to
acknowledge how irresistible they must have been--there was positively
no chance of escape left. The road, exposed in its entire length, lay
open to view; beneath it, roared a foaming torrent, above, stood cliffs
and crags the hardiest hunter could not clamber; and if, perchance, some
little path led upwards to a mountain _chalet_ or a Dorf, a handful of
Tyrol riflemen could have defended it against an army.

All was arranged early in the year, and it was determined that the
revolt should break forth a week or ten days before the time when the
Bavarians were to march the reliefs to the various garrisons--a movement
which, it was known, would take place in the spring. By signal-fires in
the mountain-tops, intimation was to be given to those who inhabited the
Alpine regions; while for those in the plains, and particularly in the
valley of the Inn--the great line of operations--the signal was to be
given by sawdust thrown on the surface of the stream. A month, or
even more, was to elapse from the time I have just spoken of ere the
preparations would be fully made. What an interval of intense anxiety
was that to poor Hans!

A small detachment of Bavarian infantry, now stationed at the Pontlatzer
Brücke, made it unsafe to venture often, as before, into the valley.
Such frequent coming and going would have excited suspicion; and the
interval between suspicion and a drum-head tribunal was a short one, and
generally had a bloody ending. Hans could do little more, then, than
sit the livelong day on the brow of the cliff, watching the valley,
straining his eyes along the narrow glen towards Landeck, or gazing
over the wide expanse to the Kaunser-Thal. How often did his imagination
people the space beneath with an armed host! and how did he build
up before his mind's eye the glitter of steel, the tramp and dust of
mounted squadrons, the long train of ammunition waggons, the gorgeous
staff--all the "circumstance of glorious war!" And how strangely did it
seem, as he rubbed his eyes and looked again, to see that silent valley
and that untrodden road, the monotonous tramp of the Bavarian sentry the
only sound to be heard! On the chapel door the previous Sunday some one
had written in chalk, "_Ist zeit?_--Is it time?" to which another had
written for answer, "_Bald zeit_--It will soon be!" "Oh," thought Hans,
"that it were come at last!" And a feverish eagerness had so gained
possession of him, that he scarcely could eat or sleep, starting from
his bed at night to peep out of the window and see if the signal fire
was not blazing.

The devotional feeling is, as I have remarked, the most active and
powerful in a Tyroler's heart; and deeply intent as each was now on the
eventful time that drew nigh, the festival of Easter, which intervened,
at once expelled all thoughts save those pertaining to the solemn
season. Not a word, not a syllable, fell from any lip evincing an
interest in their more worldly anxieties. The village chapel was crowded
from before daybreak to late in the evening; the hum of prayer sounded
from every cottage; and scarcely was there time for the salutations of
friends, as they met, in the eagerness to continue the works of some
pious ritual.

I know not if Hans Jörgle was as deeply impressed as his neighbours by
these devout feelings; I only can tell that he refrained as rigidly
as the others from any allusion to the coming struggle, and never by a
chance word shewed that his thoughts were wandering from the holy theme.
A very prying observer, had there been such in the Dorf, might perhaps
have detected that the boy's eyes, when raised in prayer, rested
longer on the spot where the striped banners of Tyroler chivalry
waved overhead, or that an expression of wild excitement rested on his
features as the different groups, before entering the church, deposited
their broadswords and rifles in the porch,--every clank of the weapons
seemed to thrill through Hans' heart.

The devotional observances over, Easter Monday came with all the joyous
celebrations with which the villagers were wont to _fête_ that happy
day. It was a time for families to assemble their scattered members, for
old and attached friends to renew the pledges of their friendship, for
those at variance with each other to become reconciled; little children
paid visits to their grandfathers and grandmothers, with bouquets of
spring flowers, repeating the simple verses of some village hymn to
welcome in the morning; garlands and wreaths hung from every door-porch;
lovers scaled up the galleries to leave a rose, or an Alp daisy, plucked
some thousand feet high among the snow-peaks, at their sweethearts'
window. Pious souls made little presents to the Curé in the chapel
itself. The cattle were led through the village in a great procession,
with garlands on their heads and fresh flowers fastened to their horns;
the villagers accompanying them with a Tyrol song, descriptive of
the approaching delights of summer, when they could quit their dark
dwellings and rove free and wild over their native hills. It was joy
every where: in the glad faces and the glancing eyes, the heartfelt
embraces of those who met and saluted with the well-known "_Gott
grilse dich_--God greet thee!" in the little dwellings pranked with
holly-boughs and wild flowers; in the chapel glittering with tapers on
every altar, pious offerings of simple hearts; in the tremulous accents
of age, in the boisterous glee of childhood, it was joy.

It was the season of gifts, too. And what scenes of pleasure and delight
were there, as some new arrival from the valley displayed before the
admiring eyes of a household some little toy, the last discovery of
inventive genius: Bauer-houses, that took to pieces and exhibited all
their interior economy at will; saw-mills, that actually seemed to
work, so vigorously did they perform the incessant time that mark their
labour; dolls of every variety of attraction, but all in Tyrol taste;
nutcrackers that looked like old men, but smashed nuts with the activity
of the youngest; soldiers of lead, stout-looking fellows, that
never quitted the posts committed to them, if the wire was not too
powerful--all were there; appearing, besides, with a magic in true
keeping with their wonderful properties. Some emerged from unknown
pockets in the cuff of a jacket; others, from the deep waistband of
particoloured leather; some, from the recesses of a hat: but all in some
wonderful guise that well became them.

In one cottage only this little festive scene was not enacted. Hanserl's
mother, who for some time back had been in declining health, was unable
to contribute, as she was wont, to their support. Too proud to confess
her poverty in the village, she contrived to keep up all the externals
of their condition as before. She and her son were seen on Sunday
as well dressed as ever; perhaps, if any thing, a more than ordinary
attention in this respect could be detected. Her offering to the curate
rather exceeded than fell short of its customary amount, These were,
however, costly little sacrifices to pride; for these, their meal was
made scantier and poorer; for these, the hours of the wintry night were
made longer and drearier, as, to save the cost of candle-light, they sat
in darkness beside the stove; a hundred little privations, such as only
poverty knows or can sympathise with, fell to their lot; all, borne with
fortitude and patience, but in their slow process chilling and freezing
up the hope from which these virtues spring.

"Hanserl, my love," said the poor widow, and her eyes swam and her
tongue faltered as she spoke, "thou hast had none of the pleasures of
this joyous day. Take these twelve kreutzers and buy thyself something
in the Dorf. There be many pretty things cost not more than twelve
kreutzers."

Hanserl made no answer; his thoughts were wandering far away. Heaven
knows whether they had strayed back to the bold days of Wallenstein,
or the siege of Prague, or were now, with the stormy cataract of the
Danube--at the iron gate, as it is called, the desperate scene of many a
bloody meeting between Turks and Austrians.

"Hans, love, dost hear me? I say, thou canst buy a bow with arrows;
thou hast long been wishing for one. But bring no more books of battles,
child," added she, more feelingly; "strife and war have cost us both
dearly. If thy father had not served the Kaiser, he would not have
fallen at Elchingen."

"I know it well," said the boy, his features flashing as he spoke.
"He would not have stood beside the ammunition-waggons when the French
dragoons bore down, and with a loud voice called out, 'Halt! these
tumbrels are powder; another step and I'll explode the train!' How they
reined up and fled! My father saved the train; didn't he, mother?"

"He did," sobbed the widow; "and fell under the wall of the citadel as
the last waggon entered the gate.''

"God preserve Franz the Emperor!" said the boy, with a wild enthusiasm;
"he has given many a brave soldier a glorious grave. But for this," here
he struck his shrunken limb violently with his hand, "I, too, had been
able to serve him. But for this--" a passion of sorrow, that found vent
in tears, checked his words, and he buried his head in his hands and
sobbed hysterically.

The poor mother did everything she could think of to console her son.
She appealed to his piety for submission under a visitation of God's own
making; she appealed to his affection for her, since, had it not been
for his helplessness, he might one day have left her to be a soldier.

"The conscription is so severe now, Hanserl that they take only sons
away, like the rest--ay, and when they are but thirteen years of age!
Take them away, and leave the mothers childless! But they cannot take
thee, Hans!"

"No, that they cannot," cried the boy, in a burst of grief. "The cripple
and the maimed have not alone to weep over their infirmity, but to feel
themselves dishonoured before others."

The widow saw the unhappy turn her consolations had taken, and tried in
different ways to recall her error. At last, yielding to her entreaties,
Hans left the cottage, taking the twelve kreutzers in his hand to buy
his Easter gift.

It was from no want of affection to his mother he acted, nor was it
from any deficiency of gratitude that when he left the hut he forgot all
about the toy, and the twelve kreutzers, and the _fête_ itself. It was
that a deeper sentiment had swallowed up every other, and left no place
in his heart for aught else.

Hans then sauntered along, and at last found himself on the little
projecting point of rock from which he usually surveyed the valley
of the Kaunser-Thal. There, he sat down and watched till the darkness
thickened around and hid out every thing.

When he arose to turn homeward the lights were glittering in every
window of the village, and the merry sounds of rustic music filled the
air. Hans suddenly remembered it was Easter-night, the glad season
of home rejoicings, and he thought of his poor mother, who sat
alone, unfriended and suffering, in her little cabin. A feeling of
self-reproach at once struck him, and he turned speedily toward the
cottage. His shortest way was through the village, and thither he bent
his steps. The night was starlit but dark, and none of the villagers
were in the street; indeed, all were too happy within doors to wander
forth. In the Vorsteher's house the village band was assembled, and
there the merry notes of a hopsa waltz were accompanied by the tramp of
feet and the sound of mirthful voices. A little farther on was a rich
peasant's house. Hans stopped to peep through the half-closed shutters,
and there sat the family at their supper. It was a well-filled board,
and many a wine-flask stood around, while the savoury steam rose up and
hung like a feint cloud above the dishes--not sufficiently, however, to
obscure a little larch-tree, which, set in a small bucket, occupied the
centre of the table. On this all the candles were fastened, glittering
like stars through the sprayey branches, and glancing in bright sparkles
over a myriad of pretty toys that hung suspended around. For this was
the Easter-tree, to which every friend of the house attaches some little
present. Many a more gorgeous epergne has not yielded one hundredth part
of the delight. Every eye was fixed upon it; some in pure astonishment
and wonder, others speculating what might fall to their share; and while
the old grandfather tried to curb impatience among the elder children,
the young baby, with the destructive privilege that belongs to infancy,
was permitted to pull and tear from time to time at the glittering
fruit,--little feats which excited as much laughter from the grown
people as anxiety from the younger.

Hans moved on, with a sigh, at these new signs of home happiness in
which he had no share. The next was the Curate's cabin, and there sat a
pleasant party round the stove, while the old priest read something
from an amusing volume; the lecture never proceeding far without some
interruption to comment upon it, to indulge a laugh, or mayhap clink
their glasses together, as, in token of friendship, they pledged each
other health and long life. Beyond this again was a new cabin, just
taken possession of; and here Hans, peeping in, beheld a young Tyroler
exhibiting to his wife--(they had been married but a few weeks)--his new
rifle. It was strange to see how she admired the weapon, gazing at it
with all the delight most of her sex reserve for some article of dress
or decoration. She balanced it, too, in her hand, and held it to her
shoulder, with the ease of one accustomed to its use.

In every cabin some group, some home picture, met his eye; peaceful age,
happy manhood, delighted childhood, beamed around each hearth and board.
The song, the dance, the merry story, the joyous meal, succeeded each
other, as he went along. He alone, of all, was poor and sad: in his
mother's hut all was darkness and gloom; the half-suppressed sigh of
pain the only sound. The last cabin of the village, and the poorest too,
belonged to an old peasant, who had been a soldier under the Emperor
Joseph; he was a very old man, and being burdened with a large family of
grandchildren, whose parents were both dead, all he could do by hard
labour was to maintain his household, "Here," thought Hans, as he
stopped to look in, "here are some poor as ourselves,--I hope they are
happier." So they seemed to be. They were all seated on the floor of the
cabin, with the grandfather among them on a low stool, while he
performed for them the evolutions of the Grand Army at Presburg--the
great review which Maria Theresa held of all the Imperial troops. The
old man was sorely puzzled to convey a sufficiently formidable notion of
the force, for he had only some twenty little wooden soldiers to fill up
the different arms of the service, and was obliged to plant individuals
to represent entire corps, while walnut-shells answered for field-pieces
and mortars; the citadel of Presburg being performed by the bowl of hit
Meerschaum pipe.

There were many more brilliant displays met Hans' eyes that evening than
this humble spectacle, and yet not one had the same attraction for him.
What would he not have given to be among that group--to have watched all
the evolutions, many of which were now hidden from his view--perchance
to be permitted to move some of the regiments, and suggest his own ideas
of tactics! Ah, that would have been happiness indeed! How long he might
have watched there is no saying, when a slight incident occurred which
interrupted him--slight and trivial enough was it, and yet in all its
seeming insignificance to be the turning point of his destiny!

It chanced that one of the little soldiers, from some accident or other,
would not stand upright, and a little boy, whose black eyes and sunburnt
cheeks bespoke a hasty temper, in endeavouring to set him on his
legs, broke one of them off. "Ah, thou worthless thing!" cried he
passionately, "thou art no use now to King or Kaiser, for thou art as
lame as Hans Jörgle;" and as he spoke he opened the little pane of the
window, and flung the little figure into the street.

"Shame on thee, Carl!" said the old man reprovingly; "he would have done
for many a thing yet. The best scout we ever had on the Turkish frontier
was so lame, you couldn't think him able to walk. Besides, don't you
remember the Tyrol proverb?--

      'Gott hat sein plan Fur Jedenmann:'

      God has his plan For every man.

So never despise those who are unfit for thine own duties; mayhap, what
thou deemest imperfection, may fit them for something far above thee."

Oh, how Hans drank in these words! the grief that filled him, on the
insulting comparison of the child was now changed to gratitude, and
seizing the little soldier, his own sad emblem, he kissed it a hundred
times, and then placed it in his bosom.

Hanserl's mother was asleep when he reached home, so, creeping silently
to his bed, he lay down in his clothes, dreading lest he might awaken
her; and with what a happy heart did he lie down that night! How full
of gratitude and of love as he thought over the blessed words! How he
wished to remain awake all night long and think over them, fancying,
as he could do, the various destinies which, even to such as him, might
still fall! But sleep, that will not come when wooed, stole over him
as he lay, and in a deep, heavy slumber, he clasped the little wooden
figure in his hands.

The first effect of weariness over, Hans dreamed of all he had seen;
vague and confused images of the different objects passed and re-passed
before his mind, in that disorder and incoherency that belong to dreams.
The scene of the Vorsteher's house became mingled with the remembrance
of the Pontlatzer bridge, where, until nightfall, he had been watching
the Bavarian sentinel; and the curate's parlour beside its listening
group, had, now, a merry mob of children dancing around the Easter-tree,
under whose spreading branches a cavalry picquet were lying--the horses
grazing--while the men lay stretched before the watch-fires, smoking and
chattering.

The memory of the soldiers once touched upon, every other fled; and now
he could only think of the evolutions around Presburg: and he fancied
he saw the whole army defiling oyer the bridge across the Danube, and
disappearing within the ancient gates of the city. The white-cloaked
cuirassiers of Austria, gigantic forms, seeming even greater from
the massive folds of their white drapery; the dark Bohemians on their
coal-black horses; the Uhlans with their banners floating from their
tall lances; the prancing Hungarians mounted on their springing white
steeds of Arab blood; the gay scarlet of their chakos, the clink of
their dolmans, all glitter-* ing with gold, eclipsing all around them.
Then came the Jagers of the Tyrol, a countless host, marching like one
man, their dark plumes waving like a vast forest for miles in distance.
These followed again by the long train of guns and ammunition carts.

Fitful glances of distant lands, of which he had once read, passed
before him: the wide-spreading plains of the Lower Danube--the narrow
passes of the Styrian Alps--the bleak, vast tracts of sterile country
on the Turkish frontier, with here and there a low mud-walled village,
surmounted by a minaretted tower;--all, however, were peopled with
soldiers, marching or bivouacking, striking their tents at day-break,
or sitting around their camp-fires by night. The hoarse challenge of the
sentries, the mellow call of the bugle, the quivering tramp of a mounted
patrol, were all vividly presented to his sleeping senses. From these
thoughts of far-away scenes, he was suddenly recalled to home, and his
own Tyrol land. He thought he stood upon the rocky cliff and looked down
into the valley which he had left so tranquil at nightfall, but which
now presented an aspect of commotion and trouble. The inhabitants of
the little village at the head of the Kaunser-Thal were all preparing
to quit their homes and fly up the valley; carts covered with their
furniture and effects crowded the little street; pack-horses and mules
laden with every thing portable; while in the eager and affrighted
gestures of the peasants it was easy to see that some calamity impended.
Now and then some horseman would ride in amongst them, and by his manner
it was plain the tidings he brought were full of disaster. Hans looked
towards the bridge: and there, to his astonishment, he saw the very same
soldiers the old man had manoeuvred with. They had, seemingly, come off
a long march, and with their knapsacks unstrung, and their arms piled,
were regaling themselves with wine from the guard-house.

Hans' first thought was to hasten back and tell his mother what he
saw; and now he stood up and leaned over her bed, but her sleep was
so tranquil and so happy he could not bear to awaken her. "What can it
mean?" thought he. "Are these the movements of our own people? or are
the French wolves coming down upon us?" As he ruminated thus, he thought
there came a gentle tap at the door of the hut: he opened it cautiously,
and there, who should be standing before him but the lame soldier, his
own poor little fellow, the castaway?

"Come along, Hans," said he in a friendly voice; "there is little time
to lose. The Wolves are near." He pressed his finger to his lips, in
token of caution, and led Hans without the door. No sooner were they
outside than he resumed,--

"Thou art maimed and crippled like myself, Hans Jörgle. We should be
but indifferent front-rank men before the enemy: but remember the Tyrol
proverb,--

      'Gott hat sein plan Für Jedenmann.'

Who knows if even we cannot serve the Vaterland? We must away,
Hanserl--away to the top of the Kaiser-fells, where the fagots lie ready
for the signal fire. The Bavarians have found out where it lies, and
have sent a scout party to destroy it, while their battalions are
advancing by forced marches up the Inn Thai. Thou knowest all these
paths well, Hans; so lead the way, my brave boy, and I'll do my best to
follow."

Hans waited for no further bidding, but hastily crossing the little
wooden bridge, commenced the ascent of the mountain with an activity
that bore no trace of his infirmity.

"We must light the beacon, Hans," said the lame soldier. "When it is
seen blazing, the signal will be repeated up the Kaunser-Thal;
Fünstermünze will have it; and then Nauders. Maltz will shew it next,
and then all Tyrol will be up. The war jodeln will resound in every
valley and glen, and then let the Wolves beware!"

Oh, how Hans strained each nerve and sinew to push forward! The path led
across several torrents, many of them by places which, in day, demanded
the greatest circumspection, but Hans cleared them now at a spring.
The deep marshy ground, plashy with rivulets and melted snow, he waded
through ankle deep, climbing the briery rocks and steep banks without a
moment's halt.

He thought that the lame soldier continued to exhort him, and encourage
his zeal, while gradually his own pace slackened, and at last he cried
out,--"I can do no more, Hans. Thou must go forward alone, my boy,--to
thee all the glory,--I am old and worn out! Hasten, then, my child, and
save the Vaterland. Thou wilt see the tinder-box and the rags in the
hollow pine-tree beside the faggot. It is wrapped in tow, and will light
at once. Farewell, and Gott guide thee!"

I cannot tell a thousandth part of the dangers and difficulties of that
night's walk: in one place the path, for several yards, is on the brink
of a ravine, eleven hundred feet deep, and so abrupt is the turn at the
end, that an iron hook is inserted in the rock, by which the traveller
must grip; a steep glacier is to be crossed farther on; and lastly, the
torrent of the Kletscher must be traversed on a tree, whose bark, wet
and slippery from the falling spray, would be impossible to all but the
feet of a mountaineer. Each of these did Hans now surmount with all the
precision and care of waking senses; with greater courage, by far, than
in his waking moments he could have confronted them.

Gorges he never gazed on before without a shudder, he passed now in
utter disregard; paths he trembled to tread, he stepped along now in
nimble speed, and at last caught sight of a large dark object that stood
out against the sky--the great heap of fire-wood for the beacon.

As he came nearer, his eagerness grew greater; each minute now seemed an
hour--every false step he made appeared to him as though it might prove
fatal to his mission; and when, by any turn of the way, the beacon pile
disappeared for a moment from his eyes, his heart throbbed so powerfully
as almost to impede his breath. At last he gained the top--the wild
mountain-peak of the Kaiser-fells. The Snow lay deep, and a cold,
cutting wind swept the drift along, and made the sensation far more
intense. Hans cared not for this: his whole soul was on one object;
suffering, torture, death itself, he would have braved and welcomed,
could he only accomplish it. The mist lay heavily on the side by which
he had ascended, but towards Landeck the air was clear, and Hans gazed
down in that direction as well as the darkness would permit; but all
seemed tranquil--nothing stirred, nor shewed the threatened approach.
"What if he should be mistaken?" thought Hans. "What if the lame soldier
should have only fancied this? or could he be a traitor, that would
endeavour by a false alarm to excite the revolt before its time?"

These were torturing doubts, and while he yet revolved them he stood
unconsciously peering into the depth below, when suddenly, close beneath
him--so close that he thought it almost beside him, though still about
eighty yards off--he saw two figures emerge from the shadow of a pine
copse, and commence the steep ascent of the peak. They were followed
by two others, and now a long compact line issued forth, and began to
clamber up pass. Their weapons clinked as they came: there the could be
no doubt of it--they were the enemy!

With one spring he seized the tinder-box and struck the light: the wood,
smeared with tar, ignited when touched, and before a minute elapsed a
bright pillar of flame sprung up into the dark sky. Hans, not content
with leaving any thing to chance, seized a brand and touched the fagots
here and there, till the whole reeking mass blazed out--a perfect column
of fire.

No sooner had the leading files turned the cliff, than with a cry of
horror and vengeance they sprang forward. It was too late: the signal
was already answered from the Kaiser-fells, and a glittering star on the
Gebatsch told where another fire was about to blaze forth. Hans had
but time to turn and fly down the mountain as the soldiers drew up. A
particle of burning wood had touched his jacket, however, and, guided by
the sparks, four bullets followed him. It was at the moment when he
had turned for a last look at the blazing pile. He fell, but, speedily
regaining his feet, continued his flight. His mission was but half
accomplished if the village were not apprised of their danger. All the
dangers of his upward course were now to be encountered in his waking
state; and with the agony of a terrible wound--for the bullet had
pierced him beneath the left breast--half frantic with pain and
excitement, he bounded from cliff to cliff, clearing the torrents by
leaps despair alone could have made, and at length staggered rather than
ran along the village street, and fell at the door of the Vorsteher's
house.

Already the whole village was a-foot: the signal blazing on the mountain
had called them to arm, but none could tell by whom it was lighted, or
by which path the enemy might be expected. They now gathered around the
poor boy, who, in accents broken and faltering, could scarce reply.

"What! thou hast done it?" cried the Vorsteher, angrily. "So, then,
thou silly fool, it is to thy mad ravings we owe all this terror--a
terror that may cost our country bitter tears! Who prompted thee to
this?"

"The lame soldier told me they were coming," said Hans, with eyes
swimming in tears.

"The lame soldier!--he is mad!" cried an old peasant: "there is none
such in all the Dorf."

"Yes, yes," reiterated Hans; "they flung him away last night, because he
was lame--lame, and a cripple like me: but he told me they were coming;
and I had only time to reach the Kaiser-fells when they gained the top
too."

"Wretched fool!" said the Vorsteher, sternly; "thy mad reading and wild
fancies have ruined the Vaterland. See, there is the signal from Pfunds,
and the whole Tyrol will be up! If thy life were worth anything, thou
shouldst die for this!"

"So shall I!" said Hans, sobbing; "the bullet is yet here." And he
opened his jacket, and displayed to their horrified gaze the whole chest
bathed in blood, and the round, blue mark of a gun-shot wound.

This terrible evidence dispelled every doubt of Hans' story: all its
strange incoherency vanished before that pool of blood, which, welling
forth at every respiration, ran in currents over him. Dreadful, too, as
the tidings were, the better nature of the poor villagers prevailed
over their fears, and in the sorrow the child's fate excited all other
thoughts were lost.

In a sad procession they bore him home to his mother's cottage, the
Vorsteher walking at his side; while Hans, with rapid utterance,
detailed the events which have been told. Broken and unconnected as
parts of his recital were--incomprehensible as the whole history of
the lame soldier appeared--the wounded figure--the blazing fires that
already twinkled on every peak,--were facts too palpable for denial;
and the hearers stared at each other in amazement, not knowing how to
interpret the strange story.

The agonising grief of the bereaved mother, as she beheld the shattered
and bleeding form of her child, broke in upon these doubtings; and while
they endeavoured to offer her their consolation, none thought of the
impending danger.

For a while after he was laid in bed, Hans seemed sunk in a swoon; but,
suddenly awakening, he made an effort to rise. Too weak for this, he
called the chief people of the village around, and said,

"They are coming from the Kaiser-fells; they will be down soon, and burn
the village, if you do not cut away the bridges over the Kletscher, and
close the pass on the Weissen Spitze. Throw out skirmishers along the
mountain side, and guard the footpath from the Pontlatzer Brücke."

Had the words been the dying orders of a general commanding an army,
they could not have been heard with more implicit reverence, nor more
strictly obeyed. From the spot the Vorsteher issued commands for
these instructions to be followed. Hans' revelations were, to the
superstitious imaginations of the peasants, of divine inspiration:
and many already stoutly affirmed that the lame soldier was St.
Martin himself, their patron saint, at whose shrine a crowd of devout
worshippers were soon after seen kneeling.

The village doctor soon pronounced the case above his skill, but did not
abandon hope. Hans only smiled faintly, and whispered,--

"Be it so! The proverb is always right,--

     'Gott hat sein plan Für Jedenmann.'

"What do you see there, Herr Vorsteher?" cried he, as the old man stared
with astonished eyes from the little window that commanded the valley.
"What is it you see?"

"The Dorf in the Kaunser-Thal seems all in commotion," answered the
Vorsteher. "The people are packing every thing in their waggons, and
preparing to fly."

"I know that," said Hans, quietly; "I saw it already."

"Thou hast seen it already?" muttered the old man, in trembling awe.

"Yes, I saw it all. Look sharply along the river side, and tell me if
a child is not holding two mules, who are striving to get down into the
stream to drink."

"God be around and about us!" murmured the Vorsteher; "his power is
great!" He crossed himself three times, and the whole company followed
the pious motion; and a low, murmuring prayer, was heard to fill the
chamber.

"There is a waggon with eight bullocks, too, but they cannot stir the
load," continued Hans, as, with closed eyes, he spoke with the faint
accents of one half-sleeping.

"Who are these coming along the valley, Hans?" asked the Vorsteher;
"they seem like our own Jagers, as well as my eyes can make out."

"He is asleep!" whispered his mother, with a cautious gesture to enforce
silence.

It was true. Wearied, and faint, and dying, he had fallen into slumber.

While poor Hans slept, the tidings of which he was the singular
messenger had received certain confirmation. The village scouts had
already exchanged shots with the Bavarian troops upon the mountains,
and driven them back. The guard at the Pontlatzer Brücke was seen to
withdraw up the valley towards Landeck, escorting three field-pieces
which had only arrived the preceding day. Every moment accounts came of
garrisons withdrawn from distant outpost stations, and troops falling
back to concentrate in the open country. It was seen, from various
circumstances, that a forward movement had been intended, and was only
thwarted by the inexplicable intervention of Hans Jörgle.

The Tyrolers could not fail to perceive that their own hour was now
come, and the blow must be struck at once or never! So felt the leaders;
and scarcely had the Bavarians withdrawn their advanced posts, than
emissaries flew from village to village, with little scraps of paper,
bearing the simple words, "_Es ist zeit!_--It is time!" while, as the
day broke, a little plank was seen floating down the current, with
a small flag-staff, from which a pennon fluttered--a signal that was
welcomed by the wildest shouts of enthusiasm as it floated along:--the
Tyrol was up! "_Fur Gott, der Kaiser, und das Vaterland!_" rung from
every glen and every mountain.

I dare not suffer myself to be withdrawn, even for a moment, to that
glorious struggle--one of the noblest that ever a nation carried on to
victory. My task is rather within that darkened room in the little hut,
where, with fast-ebbing life, Hans Jörgle lay.

The wild cheers and echoing songs of the marching peasants awoke him
from his sleep, which, if troubled by pangs of pain, had still lasted
for some hours. He smiled, and made a gesture as if for silence, that
he might hear the glorious sounds more plainly, and then lay in a calm,
peaceful reverie, for a considerable time.

The Vorsteher had, with considerable difficulty, persuaded the poor
widow to leave the bedside for a moment, while he asked Hans a question.

The wretched mother was borne, almost fainting, away; and the old man
sat in her place, but, subdued by the anguish of the scene, unable to
speak. At last, while the tears ran down his aged cheeks, he kissed the
child's hand, and said,--

"Thou wilt leave us soon, Hans!"

Hans gave a smile of sad, but beautiful meaning, while his upturned eyes
seemed to intimate his hope and his faith.

"True, Hans--thy reward is ready for thee!"

He paused a second, and then went on:--

"But even here, my child, in our own poor village, let thy devotion be
a treasure, to be handed down in memory to our children, that they
may know how one like themselves--more helpless, too--could serve his
Vaterland. Say, Hans Jörgle, will it make thy last moments happier to
think that our gratitude will raise a monument to thee in the Dorf, with
thy father's name, who fell at Elchingen, above thine own? The villagers
have bid me ask thee this."

"My mother--my poor mother!" murmured Hans.

"She shall never want, Hans Jörgle. The best house in the Dorf shall not
have a better fireside than hers. But my question, Hans--time presses."

Hans was silent, and lay with closed eyes for several minutes; then,
laying his hand on the old man, he spoke with an utterance clear at
first, but which gradually grew fainter as he proceeded,--

"Let them build no monument to one poor and humble as I am; mine were
not actions glorious enough for trophies in the noon-day; but let the
'Nachtwachter' come here at midnight--at the same hour of my blessed
dream--and let him wish me a good night. They who are sleeping will
dream happier; and the waking will think, as they hear the cry, of Hans
Jörgle!"





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