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Title: Diary And Notes Of Horace Templeton, Esq. - Volume II (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 II (of II)" ***

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DIARY AND NOTES OF HORACE TEMPLETON,

Late Secretary Of Legation At --------.

By Charles Lever,

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

In Two Volumes. Vol. II.

Second Edition.

London: Chapman And Hall, 186 Strand.



HORACE TEMPLETON.



CHAPTER I.

The Ortl'er is the Mont Blanc of the Tyrol, and seen from Nauders, a
village on a green, grassy table land, more than four thousand feet
above the sea, can well bear comparison with the boldest of the Swiss
Alps. Nauders itself, a type of a Tyroler village, is situated in a wild
and lonely region; it has all the picturesque elegance and neat detail
of which Tyrolers are so lavish in their houses, and, like every other
Dorf in this country, has its proud castle standing sentry over it.
The Barons of the Naudersberg were men of station in olden times, and
exacted a tribute over a tract extending deep into the Engadine; and
now, in this great hall, whose chimney would contain the heaviest
diligence that ever waddled over the Arlberg, a few Nauders notabilities
are squabbling over some mysterious passage in a despatch from Vienna,
for it is the high court of the district, while I wait patiently without
for some formality of my passport. To judge from their grave expressions
and their anxious glances towards me, one would say that I was some
dangerous or suspected personage--some one whose dark designs the
government had already fathomed, and were bent on thwarting. If they did
but know how few are, in all likelihood, the days I have yet to linger
on, they would not rob me of one hour of them in this wild mountain.

And yet I have learned something while I wait. This little dorf,
Nauders, is the birthplace of a very remarkable man, although one whose
humble name, Bartholomew Kleinhaus, is little known beyond Tyrol. Left
an orphan at five years old, he lost his sight in the small-pox, and
was taken into the house of a carpenter who compassionated his sad
condition. Here he endeavoured to learn something of his protector's
trade; but soon relinquishing the effort, he set to work, forming little
images in wood, at first from models, and then self-designed, till,
at the age of thirteen, he completed a crucifix of singular beauty and
elegance.

Following up the inspiration, he now laboured assiduously at his new
craft, and made figures of various saints and holy personages, for his
mind was entirely imbued with a feeling of religious fervour; and to
such an extent that, in order to speak his devotion by another sense, he
actually learned to play the organ, and with such a proficiency, that he
performed the duties of organist for nearly a year in the village church
of Kaltenbrunnen. As sculptor, his repute is widely spread and great in
Tyrol. A St. Francis by his hand is at present in the Ambras collection
at Vienna; many of his statues adorn the episcopal palaces of Chur and
Brixen, and the various churches throughout the province.

Leaving the sculptor and his birthplace, which already a mountain mist
is shrouding, I hasten on, for my passport is at last discovered to be
in order, and I am free to pursue my road to Meran.

Of all spots in the Tyrol, none can compare with Merah, the wildest
character of mountain uniting with a profusion of all that vegetation
can bring. The snow peak, the glacier, the oak forest, the waving fields
of yellow corn, the valley, one vast vineyard--where have such elements
of grandeur and simple beauty in scenery been so gloriously commingled?
And then the little town itself--what a strange reminiscence of
long-buried years! The street--there is properly but one--with its deep
arched passages, within which the quaint old shops, without windows,
display their wares; and the courtyards, galleried around, story above
story, and covered at top by a great awning to keep off the sun; for
already Italy is near, and the odour of the magnolia and oleander is
felt from afar.

I wandered into one of these courts last night; the twilight was
closing, and there was a strange, mysterious effect in the dim distances
upwards, where figures came and went along the high-perched galleries.
Beyond the court lay a garden, covered over with a vine-roofed trellis,
under whose shade various tables were placed. A single light, here and
there, shewed where one or two guests were seated; but all so still and
silently, that one would have thought the place deserted. It seemed as
if the great charm was that mellow air softened by silence, for none
spoke.

I walked for some time through the alleys, and at last sat down to rest
myself at a little table, over which a wide-leaved fig-tree spread its
dark canopy.

At first I did not remark that another person was seated near the table;
but as my eyes became more accustomed to the shade, I descried a figure
opposite to me, and immediately rising, I offered my apology in German
for intruding. He replied in French, by politely requesting I would be
seated; and the tone and manner of his words induced me to comply.

We soon fell into conversation; and although I could barely distinguish
his shadow as the night fell thicker, I recognised that he was an old
man; his accent proclaimed him to be French. We chatted away, the topics
ranging, with that wilfulness conversation always inclines to, from the
"Wein-cur "--the "Grape cure"--for which Meran is celebrated, to the
present condition and the past grandeur of the ancient town. With its
bygone history my companion seemed well acquainted, and narrated with
considerable skill some of its illustrious passages, concluding one by
saying, "Here, in this very garden, on a summer morning of 1342, the
Emperor and the Margrave of Brandenburg sat at breakfast, when a herald
came to announce the advance of the procession with the future bride of
the Duke, Margaretta, while the Bishops of Augsburg and Regensberg,
and all the chivalry of the Tyrol, rode beside and around her. In
yonder little chapel, where a light now glitters over a shrine, was the
betrothal performed. From that day forth Tyrol was Austrian. Of all this
gorgeous festivity, nothing remains but an iron horse-shoe nailed to
the chapel door. The priest who performed the betrothal somewhat
indiscreetly suggested that, with such a dowry as the bridegroom
received, he might well be generous towards the Church; on which the
Duke, a man of immense personal strength, at once stooped down and
wrenched a fore-shoe from the bride's white palfrey, saying, with
sarcastic bitterness, 'Here, I give thee iron for stone!' in allusion to
the rocks and precipices of the Tyrol land.

"Ungratefully spoken at the time," continued the stranger, "and equally
false as a prophecy. These wild fastnesses have proved the best and
last defences of that same Austrian Empire. Indeed, so well aware was
Napoleon of the united strength and resources of the Tyrol, that one
of his first measures was to partition the country between Bavaria,
Austria, and Illyria. And yet this Tyrol loyalty is inexplicable. They
are attached to the house of Haps-burgh, but they are not Austrian in
feeling. The friends of free trade need not go far in Meran to find
disciples to their doctrine. Every one remembers the time that an aume
of Meraner wine was worth seventy-five gulden, which now is to be had
for five; but then they were Bavarian, and might barter the grape-juice
for the yellow produce of the Baierisch corn-fields. At the present day
they are isolated, shut up, and imprisoned by custom-houses and toll;
and they are growing daily poorer, and neglecting the only source they
possessed of wealth."

We talked of Hofer, and I perceived that my companion was strongly
imbued with an opinion, now very general in the Tyrol, that his merits
were much less than foreigners usually ascribe to him. Sprung from the
people, the host of a little wayside inn, a man with little education,
and of the very roughest manner, it is somewhat singular that his claims
are most disputed among the very class he came from. Had he been an
aristocrat, in all likelihood they had never ventured to canvass the
merits they now so mercilessly arraign. They judge of his efforts by the
most unfair of tests in such matters--the result. They say, "To what
end has Tyrol fought and bled? Are we better, or richer, or freer than
before?" They even go further, and accuse him of exciting the revolt
as a means of escaping the payment of his debts, which assuredly were
considerable. What a terrible price is paid for mob popularity, when the
hour of its effervescence is past!

We fell to chat over the character of revolutions generally, and the
almost invariable tendency to reaction that ensues in all popular
commotions. The character of the Three Days and the present condition
of France, more despotically governed than ever Napoleon dared, was
too palpable an example to escape mention. I had the less hesitation in
speaking my opinion on this subject, that I saw my companion's leanings
were evidently of the Legitimist stamp.

From the Revolution we diverged to the struggle itself of the Three
Days; and being tolerably familiar, from various personal narratives,
with the event, I ventured on expressing my concurrence with the opinion
that a mere mob, unprepared, unarmed, and undisciplined, could never
have held for an hour against the troops had there not been foul play.

"Where do you suspect this treachery to have existed?" asked my
companion.

The tone of the question, even more than its substance, confused me, for
I felt myself driven to a vague reply in explanation of a direct charge.
I answered, however, that the magnitude of the danger could scarcely
have been unknown to many men highly placed in the service of
Charles X.; and yet it was clear the King never rightly understood that
any real peril impended. The whole outbreak was treated as an
"échauffourée".

"I can assure you of your error, so far," replied my companion. "The
greatest difficulty we encountered----" There was a slight pause here,
as if by use of the word "we" an unwitting betrayal had escaped him. He
speedily, however, resumed:--"The greatest difficulty was to persuade
his Majesty that the entire affair was any thing but a street brawl. He
treated the accounts with an indifference bordering on contempt; and at
every fresh narrative of the repulse of the troops, he seemed to
feel that the lesson to be inflicted subsequently would be the most
efficacious check to popular excess in future. To give an instance,--a
very slight one, but not without its moral, of the state of feeling of
the court,--at four o'clock of the afternoon of the third day, when the
troops had fallen back from the Place du Carrousel, and with great loss
been compelled to retreat towards the Champs Elysées, Captain Langlet,
of the 4th Lancers, volunteered to carry a verbal message to Versailles,
in doing which he should traverse a great part of Paris in the
occupation of the insurgents. The attempt was a bold and daring one,
but it succeeded. After innumerable hairbreadth dangers and escapes, he
reached Versailles at half-past seven. His horse had twice fallen,
and his uniform was torn by balls; and he entered the courtyard of the
Palace just as his Majesty learned that his dinner was served. Lang-let
hastened up the great staircase, and, by the most pressing entreaties to
the officer in waiting, obtained permission to wait there till the king
should pass. He stood there for nearly a quarter of an hour; it seemed
an age to him, for though faint, wounded, and weary, his thoughts were
fixed on the scene of struggle he had quitted, and the diminishing
chances of success each moment told. At last the door of a salon was
flung wide, and the Grand Maréchal, accompanied by the officers in
waiting, were seen retiring in measured steps before the King. His
Majesty had not advanced half-way along the corridor when he perceived
the splashed and travel-stained figure of the officer. 'Who is that?'
demanded he, in a tone of almost asperity. The officer on guard stepped
forward, and told who he was and the object of his coming. The king
spoke a few words hastily and passed on. Langlet awaited in breathless
eagerness to hear when he should have his audience--he only craved time
for a single sentence. What was the reply he received?--an order to
present himself, 'suitably dressed,' in the morning. Before that morning
broke there was no King in France!

"Take this--the story is true--as a specimen of the fatuity of the
Court. _Quem Deus vult perdere_;--so it is we speak of events, but we
forget ourselves."

"But still," said I, "the army scarcely performed their _devoir_--not,
at least, as French troops understand _devoir_--where their hearts are
engaged.''

"You are mistaken again," said he. "Save in a few companies of the line,
never did troops behave better: four entire squadrons of one regiment
were cut to pieces at the end of the Rue Royale; two infantry regiments
were actually annihilated at the Hôtel de Ville. For eight hours, at the
Place du Carrousel, we had no ammunition, while the insurgents poured in
a most murderous fire: so was it along the Quai Voltaire."

"I have heard," said I, "that the Duc de Raguse lost his head
completely."

"I can assure you, sir, they who say so calumniate him," was the calm
reply. "Never before that day was a Marshal of France called upon to
fight an armed host, without soldiers and without ammunition."

"His fate would induce us to be superstitious, and believe in good luck.
Never was there a man more persecuted by ill fortune!"

"I perceive they are shutting the gates," said my companion, rising;
"these worthy Meranersare of the very earliest to retire for the night."
And so saying, and with a "Good night," so hastily uttered as to forbid
further converse, my companion withdrew, while I wandered slowly back
to my Inn, curious to learn who he might be, and if I should ever chance
upon him again.

*****

I heard a voice this morning on the bridge, so exactly like that of my
companion of last night, that I could not help starting. The speaker was
a very large and singularly handsome man, who, though far advanced in
life, walked with a stature as erect, and an air as assured, as he could
have worn in youth. Large bushy eye-brows, black as jet, although his
hair was perfectly white, shaded eyes of undimmed brilliancy--he was
evidently "some one," the least observant could not pass him without
this conviction. I asked a stranger who he was, and received for answer,
"Marshal Marmont--he comes here almost every autumn."



CHAPTER II. THE TYROL

Every traveller in the Tyrol must have remarked, that, wherever the way
is difficult of access, or dangerous to traverse, some little shrine or
statue is always to be seen, reminding him that a higher Power than his
own watches over his safety, and suggesting the fitness of an appeal to
Him who is "A very present help in time of trouble."

Sometimes a rude painting upon a little board, nailed on a tree,
communicates the escape and gratitude of a traveller; sometimes a still
ruder fresco, on the very rock, tells where a wintry torrent had swept
away a whole family, and calling on all pious Christians who pass that
way to offer a prayer for the departed. There is an endless variety in
these little "Votive Tablets," which are never more touching than when
their very rude poverty attests the simplest faith of a simple people.
The Tyrolers are indeed such. Perhaps alone, of all the accessible parts
of Europe, the Tyrol has preserved its primitive habits and tastes for
centuries unchanged. Here and there, throughout the continent, to be
sure, you will find some little "Dorf," or village, whose old-world
customs stand out in contrast to its neighbours; and where in their
houses, dress, and bearing, the inhabitants seem unlike all else around
them. Look more closely, however, and you will see that, although the
grandmother is clothed in homespun, and wears her leathern pocket at her
girdle, all studded with copper nails, that her grandaughter affects a
printed cotton or a Swiss calico; and instead of the broad-brimmed and
looped felt of the old "Bauer," the new generation sport broad-cloth and
beaver.

Such hamlets are, therefore, only like the passengers left behind by
their own coach, and waiting for the next conveyance that passes to
carry them on their journey.

In the Tyrol, however, such evidences of progress--as it is the fashion
to call it--are rare. The peasantry seem content to live as their
fathers have done, and truly he must be sanguine who could hope to
better a condition, which, with so few prorations, comprises so many of
life's best and dearest blessings. If the mountain peaks be snow-clad,
even in midsummer, the valleys (at least all in South Tyrol) are rich in
vineyards and olive groves; and although wheat is seldom seen, the maize
grows every where; the rivers swarm with trout; and he must be a poor
marksman who cannot have venison for his dinner. The villages are large
and well built; the great wooden houses, with their wide projecting
roofs and endless galleries, are the very types of comfort. Vast
piles of fire-wood, for winter use, large granaries of forage for the
cattle--the cattle themselves with great silver bells hanging to their
necks--all bespeak an ease, if not an actual affluence, among the
peasantry. The Tyrolers are, in a word, all that poets and tourists say
the Swiss are, and of which they are exactly the reverse.

It would be difficult to find two nations so precisely alike in all
external circumstances, and so perfectly dissimilar in every feature
of character. Even in their religious feelings, Romanism, generally so
levelling, has not been able to make them of the same measure here.
The Swiss Catholic--bigotted, overbearing, and plotting--has nothing in
common with the simple-minded Tyroler, whose faith enters into all the
little incidents of his daily life, cheering, exalting, and sustaining,
but never suggesting a thought save of charity and good will to all.

That they have interwoven, so to say, their religious belief into all
their little worldly concerns, if not making their faith the rule, at
least establishing it as the companion of their conduct, is easily seen.
You never overtake a group, returning from fair or market, that all are
not engaged in prayer, repeating together some litany of the Church; and
as each new arrival joins the party, his voice chimes in, and swells the
solemn hum as naturally as if prearranged or practised.

If you pass a village, or a solitary farmhouse, at sunset, the same
accents meet your ears, or else you hear them singing some hymn in
concert. Few "Bauer" houses, of any pretension, are without the effigy
of a patron saint above the door, and even the humblest will have a
verse of a psalm, or a pious sentence, carved in the oaken beam. Their
names are taken from the saintly calendar, and every thing, to the
minutest particular, shews that their faith is an active working
principle, fashioning all their actions, and mingling with all their
thoughts. Their superstitions, like all simple-minded and secluded
people's, are many; their ignorance is not to be denied; mayhap the
Church has fostered the one, and done little to enlighten the other:
still, if Romanism had no heavier sin to account for, no darker score to
clear up, than her dealings in these mountains, there would be much to
forgive in a creed that has conferred so many good gifts, and sowed the
seeds of so few bad ones.

These pious emblems find their way, too, into places where one would
scarce look for them--over the doors of village inns, and as signs to
little wine and beer-houses: and frequently the Holy personages are
associated with secular usages, strangely at variance with the saintly
character. Thus I have seen, in the village beside me, a venerable St.
Martin engaged in the extraordinary operation of shoeing a horse;
though what veterinary tastes the saint ever evinced, or why he is so
represented, I can find no one to inform me. On the summit of steep
passes, where it is usual, by a police regulation, to prescribe the
use of a drag to all wheel carriages, the board which sets forth the
direction is commonly ornamented by a St. Michael, very busily applying
the drag to a heavy waggon, while the driver thereof is on his knees
hard by, worshipping the saint, in evident delight at his dexterity. In
the same way many venerable and holy men are to be seen presiding over
savoury hams and goblets of foaming beer, and beaming with angelic
beatitude at a party of hard-drinking villagers in the distance. Our
present business is, however, less with the practice in general, than
a particular instance, which is to be met with in the Bavarian Tyrol,
mid-way between the villages of Murnou and Steingaden, where over the
door of a solitary little way-side inn hangs a representation of the
Virgin, with a starling perched upon her wrist. One has only to remark
the expression of unnatural intelligence in the bird's look, to be
certain that it was not a mere fancy of the artist to have placed
her thus, but that some event of village tradition, or history, is
interwoven with her presence.

The motto contributes nothing to the explanation. It is merely a line
from the Church Litany, "Maria, Mutter Grottes, hülf uns,--Mary, Mother
of God, help us!"

There is then a story connected with the painting, and we shall, with
your leave, tell it; calling our tale by the name of the little inn,

"MARIA HULF!"

Has our reader ever heard, or read, of those strange gatherings, which
take place at the early spring in the greater number of southern German
cities and are called, "Year Markets?" The object is simply to assemble
the youth of the mountain districts in Tyrol and Vorarlbreg, that they
may be hired, by the farmers of the rich pasture countries, as herds.
Thither they go---many a mile--some children of ten or eleven years
old, and seeming even still younger, away from home and friends, little
adventurers on the bleak wide ocean of life, to sojourn among strangers
in far-off lands; to pass days long in lonely valleys or deep glens,
without a sight or sound of human life around them; watching the bright
sun and counting the weary minutes over, that night and rest may come,
per* chance with dreams of that far-off home, which, in all its
poverty, is still cheered by the fond familiar faces! Some, ruddy and
stout-looking, seem to relish the enterprise, and actually enjoy the
career so promising in its vicissitudes; others, sad and care-worn, bear
with them the sorrows of their last leave-taking, and are only comforted
by the thought that autumn will come at last, and then the cattle must
be housed for the winter: and then they shall be free to wend their way
over mountain and plain, far, far away beyond Maltz--high in the wild
peaks of the Stelvio, or deep in the lovely glens below Meran.

It was in one of these "Markets" at Inspruck that a little boy was
seen, not standing with the groups which usually gather together under a
single leader, but alone and apart, seemingly without one that knew him.
His appearance bespoke great poverty; his clothes, originally poor,
were now in rags; his little cap, of squirrel skin, hung in fragments
on either side of his pallid cheeks; his feet--a rare circumstance--were
bare, and bloodstained from travel; want and privation were stamped in
every feature: and his eyes, which at that moment were raised with
eager anxiety as some Bauer drew nigh, grew wan, and filling at each new
disappointment to his hopes, for this was his third day to stand in the
market, and not one had even asked his name. And yet he heard that name;
ever and anon it met his ears in sounds which stirred his feeble heart,
and made it throb faster. "Fritzerl! ah, Fritzerl, good fellow!" were
the words; and poor Fritzerl would stoop down when he heard them and
peep into a little cage where a Starling was perched--a poor, emaciated
little thing it was, as way-worn and poverty struck, to all seeming, as
himself: but he did not think so: he deemed it the very paragon of the
feathered tribe, for it had a little toppin of brown feathers on its
head, and a little ring of white around its neck, and would come when
he called it; and, better than all, could sing, "Good Fritzerl--nice
Fritzerl!" when it was pleased, and "Potztausend!" when angry. This was
all its education; his master, poor little fellow, had not much more.
How could he? Fritzerl's mother died when he was a baby; his father was
killed by a fall from a cliff in the Tyrol Alps, for he was by trade a
bird-catcher, and came from the Engadine, where every one loves birds,
and in the pursuit of this passion met his fate.

Fritzerl was left an orphan at eleven years old, and all his worldly
wealth was this little Starling; for although his father had left
a little cabin in the high Alps, and a rifle, and some two or three
articles of house gear, they all were sold to pay the expenses of his
funeral, and feast the neighbours who were kind enough to follow him to
the grave: so that poor Fritz kept open house for two days; and when he
walked out the third, after the coffin, he never turned his steps back
again, but wandered away--far, far away--to seek in the year-market of
Inspruck some kind peasant who would take him home to herd his cattle,
and be a father to him now.

Fritzerl knew not that the children, who desire to be hired out,
assemble together in little groups or gangs, electing some one to
bargain for them with the Bauers, setting forth in vehement language
their various excellencies and good gifts, and telling where they have
served before, and what zeal and fidelity they have shewn to their
trust. Fritz, I say, knew not this; perhaps, if he had, it would have
availed him but little; for he was so poorly clad and so weak-looking,
and so ignorant of all about tending cattle besides, that he would soon
have been driven from the fraternity with disgrace. It was, then, as
fortunate for him that he did not know the custom of the craft, and that
he took his stand alone and apart beside the fountain in the main street
of Inspruck.

And a lovely object is the same fountain; and a beautiful street it
stands in, with its stately houses, all rich in stuccoed arabesques,
and gorgeously carved doors and gates! And bright and cheerful, too,
it looks, with its Tyroler people clad in their gay colours and their
gold-banded hats!

Fritz saw little of these things, or, if he saw, he marked them not.
Cold, hunger, and desolation, had blunted the very faculties of his
mind; and he gazed at the moving crowd with a dreamy unconsciousness
that what he saw was real.

The third day of his painful watching was drawing to a close. Fritz had,
several hours before, shared his last morsel of black bread with his
companion; and the bird, as if sympathising with his sorrow, sat
moody and silent on his perch, nor even by a note or sound broke the
stillness.

"Poor Jacob!"* said Fritz, with tears in his eyes, "my hard luck should
not fall on thee! If no one comes to hire me before the shadow closes
across the street, I'll open the cage and let thee go!"

     * Every Starling in Germany is called Jacob.

The very thought seemed an agony, for scarcely had he uttered it when
his heart felt as if it would break, and he burst into a torrent of
tears.

"Potztausend!" screamed Jacob, alarmed at the unusual
cries--"Potztausend!" And as Fritz sobbed louder, so were the Starling's
cries of "Potztausend!" more shrill and piercing.

There were few people passing at the moment, but such as were, stopped;
some to gaze with interest on the poor little boy--more, far more,
to wonder at the bird; when suddenly a venerable old man, with a
wide-leaved bat, and a silken robe reaching down to his feet, crossed
over towards the fountain. It was the Curate of Lenz, a pious and good
man, universally respected in Inspruck.

"What art thou weeping for, my child?" said he, mildly.

Fritz raised his eyes, and the benevolent look of the old man streamed
through his heart like a flood of hope* It was not, however, till the
question had been repeated, that Fritz could summon presence of mind to
tell his sorrow and disappointment.

"Thou shouldst not have been here alone, my child," said the curate;
"thou shouldst have been in the great market with the others. And now
the time is well-nigh over: most of the Bauers have quitted the town."

"Potztausend!" cried the bird, passionately.

"It will be better for thee to return home again to thy parents," said
the old man, as he drew his little leathern purse from between the folds
of his robe--"to thy father and mother."

"I have neither!" sobbed Fritz.

"Potztausend!" screamed the Starling--"Potztausend!"

"Poor little fellow! I would help thee more," said the kind old priest,
as he put six kreutzers into the child's hand, "but I am not rich
either."

"Potztausend!" shrieked the bird, with a shrillness excited by Fritz's
emotion; and as he continued to sob, so did the Starling yell out his
exclamation till the very street rang with it.

"Farewell, child!" said the priest, as Fritz kissed his hand for the
twentieth time; "farewell, but let me not leave thee without a word of
counsel: thou shouldst never have taught thy bird that idle word. He
that was to be thy companion and thy friend, as it seems to me he is,
should have learned something that would lead thee to better thoughts.
This would bring thee better fortune, Fritz. Adieu! adieu!"

"Potztausend!" said the Starling, but in a very low, faint voice, as
if he felt the rebuke; and well he might, for Fritz opened his little
handkerchief and spread it over the cage--a sign of displeasure, which
the bird understood well.

While Fritz was talking to the Curate, an old Bauer, poorly but cleanly
clad, had drawn nigh to listen. Mayhap he was not overmuch enlightened
by the Curate's words, for he certainly took a deep interest in the
Starling; and every time the creature screamed out its one expletive, he
would laugh to himself, and mutter,--

"Thou art a droll beastie, sure enough!"

He watched the bird till Fritz covered it up with his handkerchief, and
then was about to move away, when, for the first time, a thought of the
little boy crossed his mind. He turned abruptly round, and said,--

"And thou, little fellow!--what art doing here?"

"Waiting," sighed Fritz, heavily--"waiting!"

"Ah, to sell thy bird?" said the old man;--"come, I'll buy him from
thee. He might easily meet a richer, but he'll not find a kinder master.
What wilt have?--twelve kreutzers, isn't it?"

"I cannot sell him," sobbed Fritz; "I have promised him never to do
that."

"Silly child!" said the Bauer, laughing; "thy bird cares little for
all thy promises: besides, he'll have a better life with me than thee."
"That might he, easily!" said Fritz: "but I'll not break my word."

"And what is this wonderful promise thou'st made, my little man?--come,
tell it!"

"I told him," said Fritz, in a voice broken with agitation, "that if the
shadow closed over the street down there before any one had hired me,
that I would open his cage and let him free; and look! it is nearly
across now--there's only one little glimpse of sunlight remaining!"

Poor child! how many in this world live upon one single gleam of
hope--ay, and even cling to it when a mere twilight, fast fading before
them!

The Bauer was silent for some minutes; his look wandered from the child
to the cage, and back again from the cage to the child. At last he
stooped down and peeped in at the bird, which, with a sense of being in
disgrace, sat with his head beneath his wing.

"Come, my little man," said he, laying a hand on Fritz's shoulder, "I'll
take thee home with me! 'Tis true I have no cattle--nothing save a few
goats--but thou shalt herd these. Pack up thy bird, and let us away,
for we have a long journey before us, and must do part of it before we
sleep."

Fritz's heart bounded with joy and gratitude. It would have been, in
good truth, no very splendid prospect for any other to be a goatherd to
a poor Bauer--so poor that he had not even one cow; but little Fritz was
an orphan, without a home, a friend, or one to give him shelter for a
single night. It may be believed, then, that he felt overjoyed; and it
was with a light heart he trotted along beside the old Bauer, who never
could hear enough about the starling--where he came from? how he was
caught? who taught him to speak? what he liked best to feed upon? and
a hundred other questions, which, after all, should have been far more
numerous ere Fritz found it any fatigue to answer them. Not only did it
give him pleasure to speak of Jacob, but now he felt actually grateful
to him, since, had the old Bauer not taken a fancy to the bird, it was
more than likely he had never hired its master.

The Bauer told Fritz that the journey was a long one, and true enough.
It lay across the Zillerthal, where the garnets are found, and over
the great mountains that separate the Austrian from the Bavarian
Tyrol--many a long, weary mile--many, I say, because the Bauer had come
up to Inspruck to buy hemp for spinning when the evenings of winter are
long and dark, and poor people must do something to earn their bread.
This load of hemp was carried on a little wheeled cart, to which the old
man himself was harnessed, and in front of him his dog--a queer-looking
team would it appear to English eyes, but one meets them often enough
here; and as the fatigue is not great, and the peasants lighten the
way by many a merry song--as the Tyrol "Jodeln"--it never suggests the
painful idea of over-hard or distressing labour. Fritzerl soon took his
place as a leader beside the dog, and helped to pull the load; while the
Starling's cage was fastened on the sheltered side of the little cart,
and there he travelled quite safe and happy.

I never heard that Fritz was struck--as he might possibly, with reason,
have been--that, as he came into Bavaria, where the wide-stretching
plains teem with yellow corn and golden wheat, the peasants seemed far
poorer than among the wild mountains of his own Tyrol; neither have
I any recollection that he experienced that peculiar freedom of
respiration, that greater expansion of the chest, travellers so
frequently enumerate as among the sensations whenever they have
passed over the Austrian frontier, and breathed the air of liberty, so
bounteously diffused through the atmosphere of other lands. Fritz, I
fear, for the sake of his perceptive quickness, neither was alive to the
fact nor the fiction above quoted; nor did he take much more notice
of the features of the landscape, than to mark that the mountains
were further off and not so high as those among which he lived--two
circumstances which weighed heavily on his heart, for a Dutchman loves
not water as well as a Tyroler loves a mountain.

The impression he first received did not improve as he drew near the
Dorf where the old Bauer lived, The country was open and cultivated; but
there were few trees: and while one could not exactly call it flat,
the surface was merely a waving tract that never rose to the dignity of
mountain. The Bauer houses, too, unlike the great wooden edifices of
the Southern Tyrol--where three, ay, sometimes four, generations may be
found dwelling under one roof--were small, misshapen things, half
stone, half wood. No deep shadowing eave along them to relieve the
heat of a summer sun;--no trellised vines over the windows and the
doorway;--no huge yellow gourds drying on the long galleries, where
bright geraniums and prickly aloes stood in a row;--no Jâger either,
in his green jacket and gold-tas-selled hat, was there, sharing his
breakfast with his dog; the rich spoils of his day's sport strewed
around his feet--the smooth-skinned chamois, or the stag with gnarled
horns, or the gorgeously-feathered wild turkey, all so plentiful in the
mountain regions. No; here was a land of husbandmen, with ploughs, and
harrows, and deep-wheeled carts, driven along by poor-looking, ill-clad
peasants, who never sung as they went along, scarce greeted each other
as they passed.

It was true, the great plains were covered with cattle, but to Fritz's
eyes the prospect had something mournful and sad. It was so still and
silent. The cows had no bells beneath their necks like those in the
Alpine regions; nor did the herds jodeln to each other, as the Tyrolers
do, from cliff to cliff, making the valleys ring to the merry sound.
No, it was as still as midnight; not even a bird was there to cheer the
solitude with his song.

If the aspect without had little to enliven Fritz's spirits, within
doors it had even less. The Bauer was very poor; his hut stood on a
little knoll outside the village, and on the edge of a long tract of
unreclaimed land, which once had borne forest-trees, but now was covered
by a low scrub, with here and there some huge trunk, too hard to split,
or too rotten for firewood. The hut had two rooms; but even that was
enough, for there was nobody to dwell in it but the Bauer, his wife, and
a little daughter, Gretchen, or, as they called her in the Dorf,
"Grettl'a." She was a year younger than Fritz, and a good-tempered
little "Mädle;" and who, but for over-hard work for one so young, might
have been even handsome. Her eyes were large and full, and her hair
bright-coloured, and her skin clear; yet scanty food and continual
exposure to the air, herding the goats, had given her a look of being
much older than she really was, and imparted to her features that
expression of premature cunning which poverty so invariably stamps upon
childhood. It was a happy day for Grettl'a that brought Fritz to the
cottage; not only because she gained a companion and a playfellow, but
that she needed no longer to herd the goats on the wild, bleak plain,
rising often ere day broke, and never returning till late in the
evening. Fritz would do all this now; and more, he would bring in the
firewood from the little dark wood-house, where she feared to venture
after nightfall; and he would draw water from the great deep well, so
deep that it seemed to penetrate to the very centre of the earth. He
would run errands, too, into the Dorf; and beetle the flax betimes;--in
fact, there was no saying what he would not do. Fritz did not disappoint
any of these sanguine expectations of his usefulness; nay, he exceeded
them all, shewing himself daily more devoted to the interests of his
humble protectors. It was never too early for him to rise from his bed--
never too late to sit up when any work was to be done; always willing to
oblige--ever ready to render any service in his power. Even the Bauer's
wife, a hard-natured, ill-thinking creature, in whom poverty had
heightened all the faults, nor taught one single lesson of kindliness to
others who were poor,--even she felt herself constrained to moderate the
rancour of her harshness, and would even at times vouchsafe a word or a
look of good humour to the little orphan boy. The Bauer himself, without
any great faults of character, had no sense of the fidelity of his
little follower. He thought that there was a compact between them,
which, as each fulfilled in his own way, there was no more to be said of
it. Gretchen more than made up for the coldness of her parents. The
little maiden, who knew by hard experience the severe lot to which Fritz
was bound, she felt her whole heart filled with gratitude and wonder
towards him. Wonder, indeed; for not alone did his services appear so
well performed, but they were so various and so numerous. He was every
where and at every thing; and it was like a proverb in the house--
"Fritz will do it." He found time for all; he neglected--stay, I am
wrong--poor little fellow, he did neglect something--something that was
more than all; but it was not his fault. Fritz never entered the village
church--he never said a prayer; he knew nothing of the Power that had
created him, and all that he saw around him. If he thought on these
things, it was with the vague indecision of a mind without guidance or
direction. Why, or how, and to what end, he and others like him, lived
or died, he could not, by any effort, conceive. Fritz was a bondman--as
much a slave as many who are carried away in chains across the seas, and
sold to strange masters. There was no bodily cruelty in his servitude;
he endured no greater hardships than poverty entails on millions; his
little sphere of duties was not too much for his strength; his humble
wants were met, but the darkest element of slavery was there! The daily
round of service over, no thought was taken of that purer part which in
the Peasant claims as high a destiny as in the Prince. The Sunday saw
him go forth with his flock to the mountain like any other day; and
though from some distant hill he could hear the tolling bell that called
the villagers to prayer, he knew not what it meant. The better dresses
and holiday attire suggested some notion of a fete-day; but as he knew
there were no fête-days for him, he turned his thoughts away, lest he
should grow unhappy.

If Fritz's companion, when within doors, was GrettFa, when he was away
on the plain, or among the furze hills, the Starling was ever with him.
Indeed he could easier have forgotten his little cap of squirrel-skin,
as he went forth in the morning, than the cage, which hung by a string
on his back. This be unfastened when he had led his goats into a
favourable spot for pasturage, and, sitting down beside it, would talk
to the bird for hours. It was a long time before he could succeed in
obeying the Curate's counsel, even in part, and teach the bird not to
cry "Potztausend!" Starlings do not unlearn their bad habits much easier
than men; and, despite all Fritz's teaching, his pupil would burst out
with the forbidden expression on any sudden emergency of surprise;
or sometimes as it happened, when he had remained in a sulky fit for
several days together without uttering a note, he would reply to Fritz's
caresses and entreaties to eat by a sharp, angry "Potztausend!" that
any one less deeply interested than poor Fritz would have laughed at
outright. They were no laughing matters to him. He felt that the work
of civilisation was all to be done over again. But his patience was
inexhaustible; and a circumstance, perhaps, not less fortunate--he had
abundant time at his command. With these good aids he laboured on, now
punishing, now rewarding, ever inventing some new plan of correction,
and at last--as does every one who has that noble quality,
perseverance--at last succeeding,--not, indeed, all at once perfectly;
for Star's principles had been laid down to last, and he struggled hard
not to abandon them, and he persisted to cry "Potz------" for three
months after he had surrendered the concluding two syllables; finally,
however, he gave up even this; and no temptation of sudden noise, no
riotous conduct of the villagers after nightfall, no boiling over of the
great metal pot that held the household supper, nor any more alarming
ebullition of ill-temper of the good Fran herself, would elicit from him
the least approach to the forbidden phrase. While the Starling was thus
accomplishing one part of his education by unlearning, little Fritz
himself, under Grettl'a's guidance, was learning to read. The labour was
not all to be encountered, for he already had made some little progress
in the art under his father's tuition. But the evening hours of winter,
wherein he received his lessons, were precisely those in which the poor
bird-catcher, weary and tired from a day spent in the mountains, would
fall fast asleep, only waking up at intervals to assist Fritz over a
difficulty, or say, "Go on," when his blunders had made him perfectly
unintelligible even to himself. It may be well imagined, then, that
his proficiency was not very great. Indeed, when first called upon by
Grettl'a to display his knowledge, his mistakes were so many, and his
miscallings of words so irresistibly droll, that the little girl laughed
outright; and, to do Fritz justice, he joined in the mirth himself.

The same persistence of purpose that aided him while teaching his bird,
befriended him here. He laboured late and early, sometimes repeating
to himself by heart little portions of what he had read, to familiarise
himself with new words; sometimes wending his way along the plain, book
in hand; and then, when having mastered some fierce difficulty, he would
turn to his Starling to tell him of his victory, and promise, that when
once he knew how to read well, he would teach him something out of
his book--"Something good;" for, as the Curate said, "that would bring
luck."

So long as the winter lasted, and the deep snow lay on the hills, Fritz
always herded his goats near the village, seeking out some sheltered
spot where the herbage was still green, or where the thin drift was
easily scraped away. In summer, however, the best pasturages lay further
away among the hills near Steingaden, a still and lonely tract, but
inexpressibly dear to poor Fritz, since there the wild flowers grew in
such abundance, and from thence he could see the high mountains above
Reute and Paterkirchen, lofty and snow-clad like the "Jochs" in his own
Tyrol land. There was another reason why he loved this spot. It was here
that, in a narrow glen, where two paths crossed, a little shrine
stood, with a painting of the Virgin enclosed within it--a very rude
performance, it is true; but how little connexion is there between the
excellence of art and the feelings excited in the humble breast of a
poor peasant child! The features, to his thinking, were beautiful; never
had eyes a look so full of compassion and of love. They seemed to greet
him as he came, and follow him as he lingered on his way homeward.
Many an hour did Fritz sit upon the little bench before the shrine, in
unconscious worship of that picture. Heaven knows what fancies he may
have had of its origin; it never occurred to him to think that human
skill could have achieved any thing so lovely.

He had often remarked that the villagers, as they passed, would kneel
down before it, and with bowed heads and crossed arms seem to do it
reverence; and he himself, when they were gone, would try to imitate
their gestures, some vague sentiment of worship struggling for utterance
in his heart.

There was a little inscription in gilt letters beneath the picture; but
these he could not read, and would gaze at their cabalistic forms
for hours long, thinking how, if he could but decipher them, that the
mystery might be revealed.

How he longed for the winter to be over and the spring to come, that he
might lead the goats to the hills, and to the little glen of the shrine!
He could read now. The letters would be no longer a secret; they would
speak to him, and to his heart, like the voice of that beauteous image.
How ardently did he wish to be there! and how, when the first faint sun
of April sent its pale rays over the plain, and glittered with a sickly
delicacy on the lake, how joyous was his spirit and how light his step
upon the heather!

Many a little store of childish knowledge had Grettl'a opened to his
mind in their winter evenings' study; but somehow, he felt as if they
were all as nothing compared to what the golden letters would reveal.
The portrait, the lonely glen, the solemn reverence of the kneeling
worshippers, had all conspired to create for him a mass of emotions
indescribably pleasurable and thrilling. Who can say the secret of such
imaginings, or bound their sway?

The wished-for hour came, and it was alone and unseen that he stood
before the shrine and read the words, "Maria, Mutter Gottes, hulf uns."
If this mystery were unrevealed to his senses, a feeling of dependent
helplessness was too familiar to his heart not to give the words a
strong significance. He was poor, unfriended, and an orphan: who could
need succour more than he did? Other children had lathers and mothers,
who loved them and watched over them; their little wants were cared for,
their wishes often gratified. His was an uncheered existence: who was
there to "_help him?_"

Against the daily load of his duties he was not conscious of needing
aid; his burden he was both able and willing to bear. It was against his
thoughts in the long hours of solitude--against the gloomy visions of
his own free-thinking spirit, he sought assistance; against the sad
influence of memory, that brought up his childhood before him, when
he had a father who loved him--against the dreary vista of an unloved
future, he needed help. "And could _she_ befriend him?" was the question
he asked his heart.

"He must ask Grettl'a this; she would know it all!" Such were the
reflections with which he bent his way homeward, as eagerly as in the
morning he had sought the glen. Grettl'a did know it all, and more too,
for she had a prayer-book, and a catechism, and a hymn-book, though
hitherto these treasures had been unknown to Fritz, whose instructions
were always given in a well-thumbed little volume of fairy tales, where
"Hans Däumling" and "The Nutz-cracker" figured as heroes.

I am not able to say that Grettl'a's religious instruction was of the
most enlightened nature--not any more than it was commensurate with the
wishes and requirements of him who sought it; it went, indeed, little
further than an explanation of the "golden letters." Still, slight and
vague as it was, it comforted the poor heart it reached, as the most
straggling gleam of sunlight will cheer the dweller in some dark
dungeon, whose thoughts soar out upon its rays to the gorgeous luminary
it flows from. Whatever the substance of his knowledge, its immediate
effect upon his mind was to diffuse a hopeful trust and happiness
through him he had never known till now. His loneliness in the world was
no longer the solitary isolation of one bereft of friends. Not only with
his own heart could he commune now. He felt there was One above who read
these thoughts, and could turn them to his will. And in this trust his
daily labour was lightened, and his lot more happy.

"Now," thought he, one day, as he wandered onward among the hills, "now,
I can teach thee something good--something that will bring us luck. Thou
shalt learn the lesson of the golden letters, Starling--ay, truly, it
will be hard enough at first. It cost me many a weary hour to learn to
read, and thou hast only one little line to get off by heart--and such
a pretty line, too! Come, Jacob, let's begin at once." And, as he spoke,
he opened the cage and took out the bird, and patted his head kindly
and smoothed down his feathers. Little flatteries, that Starling well
understood were preparatory to some educational requirement; and he
puffed out his chest proudly, and advanced one leg with an air of
importance; and drawing up his head, seemed as though he could say,
"Well, what now, Master Fritz?--what new scheme is this in thy wise
head?"

Fritz understood him well, or thought he did so, which in such cases
comes pretty much to the same thing; and so, without more ado, he opened
his explanation, which perhaps, after all, was meant equally for himself
as the Starling--at least I hope so, for I suspect he comprehended it
better.

He told him that for a long time his education had been grossly
neglected; that having originally been begun upon a wrong principle, the
great function of his teacher had been to eradicate the evil, and, so to
say, to clear the soil for the new and profitable seed. The ground, to
carry out the illustration, had now lain long enough in fallow--the time
had arrived to attend to its better culture.

It is more than probable Fritz had never heard of the great controversy
in France upon the system of what is called the "Secondary Instruction,"
nor troubled his head on the no less active schism in our own country
between the enemies and advocates of National Education. So that he has
all the merit, if it be one, of solving a very difficult problem for
himself without aid or guidance; for he resolved that a religious
education should precede all other.

"Now for it," said he, at the close of a longer exposition of his
intentions than was perhaps strictly necessary, "now for it, Starling!
repeat after me--'Maria, Mutter Gottes, hülf uns!'"

The bird looked up in his face with an arch drollery that almost
disconcerted the teacher. If a look could speak, that look said, as
plainly as ever words could,--

"Why don't you ask me to say the whole Litany, Fritz?"

"Ay, ay," replied Fritz, for it was a reply, "I know that's a great deal
to learn all at once, and some of the words are hard enough, too; but
with time, Star, time and patience--I had to use both one and the other
before I learned to read; and many a thing that looks difficult and
impossible even at first, seems quite easy afterwards. Come, then, just
try it: begin with the first word--'Maria'."

It was in vain Fritz spoke in his most coaxing accents, in vain did he
modulate the syllables in twenty different ways; all his entreaties and
petting», all his blandishments and caresses, were of no avail, Star
remained deaf to them all. He even turned his back at last, and seemed
as if no power on earth should make a Christian of him. Fritz had had
too much experience of the efficacy of perseverance in his own case to
abandon the game here; so he went to work again, and with the aid of a
little lump of sugar returned to the lecture.

Had Star been a Chancery lawyer he could not have received the fee more
naturally, though, for the honour of the equity bar, I would hope
the similitude ends there, for he paid not the slightest heed to the
"instructions."

It would, perhaps, be rash in us "featherless bipeds" to condemn Star
all at once; there is no saying on what grounds he may have resisted
this educational attempt. How do we know that his reasoning ran not
somewhat in this strain?--

"What better off shall I be when I have learned all your hard words?--or
how is it that you, my teacher, knowing them so well, should be the
poor, half-fed, half-naked thing I see there before me?"

These very conjectures would seem to have crossed Fritz's mind, for he
said,--

"It is not for a mere whim that I would have thee learn this; these
words will bring us luck, Star! Ay, what I say is true, though thou
mayst shake thy head and think otherwise. I tell thee, 'Good words bring
luck.'"

Whether it was that Star assumed an air of more than ordinary conceit
and indifference, or that Fritz had come to the end of patience, I
cannot affirm; but he hastily added, and in a voice much louder and more
excited than was his wont,--"It is so; and thou shalt learn the words
whether thou wilt or no--that I tell thee!"

"Potztausend!" cried the bird, frightened by his excitement, and at once
recurring to his long unused exclamation: "Potztausend!"

"Hush, shameless thing!" said Fritz, angrily; "there is nothing for it
but punishment!" And so he replaced him in the cage, covered him close
on every side with his handkerchief, and trudged sorrowfully towards
home.

For several days Fritz never spoke to Starling, even one word. He
brought him his food in silence; and instead of taking him, as of old,
along with him into the fields, he hung his cage in a gloomy corner of
the hut, whence he could see little or nothing of what went on in the
house--no small privation for a bird so alive to inquisitiveness. At
length, when he believed punishment had gone far enough, he took him
down and hung him on his back as usual, and brought him a long, long way
into the hills. The day was fine, a fresh but balmy spring breathed over
the young flowers, and the little stream danced and rippled pleasantly;
and the clouds moved along overhead in large soft masses, bordered with
a silvery edge. Star never noticed these things; he was indignant at the
neglect, as he deemed it, which had been shewn him of late. His pride
and spirit--and Starlings are not deficient in either--had sustained
grievous injury; and he felt that, without due reparation made to him,
he could not, consistently with honour, sign a treaty of reconciliation.

Fritz mistook these indications altogether--and who can blame him? What
the world calls dignity is not unfrequently mere sulk. How should
poor Fritz make distinctions great Ministers and Princes are sometimes
incapable of?

The end of all this was a struggle, a long and violent struggle, on each
side for the ascendancy. Fritz, however, had the advantage, for he could
starve out the enemy--a harsh measure, no doubt, but greater folks
have adopted even more severe ones to enforce their principles. Fritz,
besides, had all the stern enthusiasm of a fanatic in the cause. The
dark zeal of the Holy Office itself never enforced its decrees with more
inflexible purpose than did he his. "Accept this creed, or die in your
sins," was, if not exactly his dictum, certainly his full meaning.
Star stood out long, so long that Fritz began at last to fear that the
creature meditated martyrdom, and in this dread he relaxed somewhat of
his prison discipline.

It would scarcely be instructive--not any more than amusing--to recount
the painful progress of this long contest--a contest, after all, in
which there is nothing new to any reader of history; for when force is
on one side and weakness on the other, the result may be deferred but is
never doubtful. It is enough that we say, Star made submission. True, it
was the submission of coercion--no matter for that, it was submission;
for after three weeks of various successes on either side, the creature
greeted Fritz one morning as he arose with a feint cry of "Maria,
Maria!"

This was enough, more than enough, and Fritzerl could have hugged him to
his heart.

His authority recognised, his will acknowledged, he was but too happy
to take his rebellious subject into full favour again. Whether Star felt
the benefits of his changed conduct so very satisfactory to his comfort,
or that he was really disposed to please his master, I cannot say; but,
from that hour out, he laboured strenuously to learn his new profession
of faith, and screamed "Maria!" from day-dawn to dusk. The two
following words were, however, downright puzzles; "Mutter-Gottes" was
a combination that no Starling--even a German one, bred up among strong
gutturals and flat labials--could master. He worked hard, however, and
so did Fritz. If life depended upon it, neither of them could have
exerted themselves more zealously; but it was no use. In any other
language, perhaps, Star might have been able to invoke the Virgin, but
here it was out of the question. The nearest approach the poor
fellow could make was something like a cry of "Mörder--Mörder"
(Murder--murder); so unfortunate a change that Fritz abandoned the
lesson with the best grace he could, betaking himself to the concluding
words, which happily presented no such unseemly similitudes.

His success here was such as to obliterate all memory of his former
defeat. Starling made the most astonishing progress, and learned the
words so perfectly, with such accuracy of enunciation, that to hear
him at a little distance any one would say it was some pious Catholic
invoking the Virgin with all his might. The "Hülf uns" was not a mere
exclamation, but a cry for actual aid, so natural as to be perfectly
startling.

So long as the bird's education was incomplete, Fritzerl carefully
screened him from public observation. He had all the susceptibility of
a great artist, who would not let his canvass be looked upon before the
last finishing touch was laid on the picture. No sooner, however, had
full success crowned his teaching, than he proudly displayed him in a
new cage made for the occasion at the door of the Bauer's hut.

It was Sunday, and the villagers were on their way to mass; and what
was their astonishment to hear themselves exhorted as they passed by
the fervent cry of "Maria, hülf uns! Hülf uns, Maria!" Group after group
stood in mute amazement, gazing at the wonderful bird, some blessing
themselves with a pious fervour, others disposed to regard the sounds as
miraculous, and more than either stood in dumb astonishment at this new
specimen of ghostly counsel.

All this while Fritzerl lay hid beneath the window, enjoying his triumph
with a heart full almost to bursting. Never did singing-master listen
to the syren notes of his pupil, while as the _prima donna_ of a
great opera she electrified or entranced a crowded audience, with more
enthusiastic rapture than did Fritz at his Starling's performance. Poor
little fellow! it was not merely vanity gratified by public applause--it
was a higher feeling was engaged here. A sense of religious exaltation
worked within him, that he had laboured in a great cause; a thrill of
ecstasy trembled at his heart that another voice than his own was asking
aid for him, and incessantly invoking the Virgin's protection on his own
head. Happy had it been for him that no other sentiment had intervened,
and that he had not also indulged a vain pride in the accomplishment of
his pupil!

It so chanced, that among those who passed the hut and stood to wonder
at this astonishing creature, was a tall, ragged-looking, swarthy
fellow, whose dress of untanned leather, and cap ornamented with the
tail of many a wood squirrel, told that he was an "Engadiner," one from
the same land Fritz came himself. A strange wild land it is! where in
dress, language, custom, and mode of life, there is no resemblance to
any thing to be seen throughout Europe. A more striking representative
of his strange country need not have been wished for. His jacket was
hung round with various tufts of plumage and fur for making artificial
birds, with whistles and birdcalls to imitate every note that ever
thrilled through a leafy grove; his leathern breeches only reached to
the knee, which was entirely bare, as well as the leg, to below the
calf, where a rude sandal was fastened; his arms, also, copper-coloured
as those of an Indian, were quite naked, two leathern bracelets
enclosing each wrist, in which some metal hooks were inserted: by these
he could hang on the branch of a tree, or the edge of a rock, leafing
his hands at liberty. He wore his coal-black hair fer down on his back
and shoulders, and his long moustache drooped deep beneath his lank jaw.
If there was something wild almost to ferocity in his black and flashing
eyes, the mouth, with its white and beautifully regular teeth, had a
look of almost womanly delicacy and softness,--a character that was
well suited to the musical sounds of his native language ~one not less
pleasant to the ear than Italian itself. Such was he who stopped to
listen to the bird, and who, stealing round to the end of the hut, lay
down beneath some scattered branches of firewood to delight his ear to
the uttermost.

It may be doubted whether a connoisseur ever listened to Orisi or Jenny
Lind with more heartfelt rapture than did the Engadiner to the Starling;
for while the bird, from time to time, would break forth with its newly
acquired invocation, the general tenor of its song was a self-taught
melody--one of those wild and delicious voluntaries in which conscious
power displayed itself; now, astounding the ear by efforts the wildest
and most capricious, now subduing the sense by notes plaintive almost to
bring tears. In these latter it was that he mingled his cry of "Maria,
hülf--hülf--hülf uns, Maria!"--words so touching and so truthful in
their accents that at every time the Engadiner beard them he crossed
himself twice on the forehead and the breast; which devout exercise, I
am constrained to say, had in his case more of habit than true piety, as
the sequel proved.

I forget whether it is not Madame de Seuderi has built a little theory
upon the supposition that every mind has within it the tendency to yield
to some one peculiar temptation. The majority, I fancy, have not limited
their weakness to units. Poverty has so many wants to be supplied,
wealth so many seductions to offer, that it may be affirmed he is not
worse than his fellows whose heart has only one undefended bastion. I am
not anxious to claim for my Engadiner any more than ordinary powers of
resistance: neither his race nor his country, the habits of his life,
nor his principles--if it be permitted to use the word--had taught him
such self-control; but, if they had--if they had steeled his nature
against every common seduction, they could not have stifled within him
the native passion for bird-catching, or, what is very much akin to it,
bird-stealing. He would as soon have thought it needful to restrict his
lungs in their requisite quantity of atmospheric air, as to curb what
he regarded as a mere human instinct. If Engadiners were made for any
thing, it was for bird-catching: no one did any thing else, thought,
spoke, or dreamt of any thing else, in the Engadine. It was not a
pastime, or a caprice; it was not that the one was skilful, or that the
other was adroit at it, but the whole population felt that birds were
their natural prey, and that the business of their life was comprised
in catching, feeding, training, sending, and selling them all over
the globe--not only in Europe, but over the vast continent of America.
Wherever birds had fanciers, wherever men cared for the tints of plumage
or the warbling mellowness of their notes, there an Engadiner was sure
to be found. And who has ever studied their nature like one of these
mountaineers, who knows all their habits and their tastes, their seasons
of migrating and returning, how they build their nests, and all
their likings and their antipathies--the causes which influence their
selection and abandonment of a peculiar locality, the meaning of their
songs--ay, and they are full of meaning--of welcome, of sorrow, of love,
and of despair? None like an Engadiner for all this! Few would have the
patience, fewer still the requisite gifts of acuteness, with uncommon
powers of eye and ear--of eye to discern the tints of plumage among the
dark leaves of the pine-forest--of ear to catch and imitate the notes of
each tribe, so that birds themselves should answer to the sounds.

The Engadiner stirred not from his hiding-place the whole day; he
watched the moving throng passing to and from the village church; he
saw the Bauers pass by, some in the Sunday "waggons," their horses gaily
caparisoned, with huge scarlet tassels beneath their necks, and great
wide traces all studded with little copper nails; and the more humble,
on foot, the men dressed in their light Bavarian blue, and the women
clad in a coarser stuff of the same colour, their wealth being all
centred in one strange head-dress of gold and silver filigree, which,
about the size and shape of a peacock's tail when expanded, is attached
to the back of the head--an unwieldy contrivance, which has not the
merit of becomingness; it neither affords protection against sun or
rain, and is so inconvenient, that when two peasant women walk together
they have to tack and beat, like ships in a narrow channel; and not
unfrequently, like such craft, run foul of each other after all.

The Engadiner watched these evidences of affluence, such as his wild
mountains had nothing to compare with, and yet his heart coveted none of
them. They were objects of his wonder, but no more; while every desire
was excited to possess the little bird, whose cage hung scarcely three
yards from where he lay.

As evening drew nigh, the Engadiner became almost feverish in
excitement: each stir within the house made him fear that some one was
coming to take the bird away; every step that approached suggested the
same dread. Twice he resolved to tear himself from the spot, and pursue
his journey; but each time some liquid note, some thrilling cadence,
fell like a charm upon his ear, and he sank down spell-bound. He sat for
a long time with eyes rivetted on the cage, and then at length, stooping
down, he took from the ground beside him a long branch of pine-wood; he
measured with his eye the distance to the cage, and muttered to himself
an assent. With a dexterity and speed which in his countrymen are
instincts, he fastened one handle of his scissors to the branch, and
tied a string to the other, making an implement like that used by the
grape-gatherers in the wine season. He examined it carefully, to try its
strength, and even experimented with it on the jessamine that grew over
the front of the cottage. His dark eyes glistened like burning coals as
the leaves and twigs were snapped off at a touch. He looked around him
to see that all was still, and no one near. The moment was favourable:
the Angelus was ringing from the little chapel, and all the Dorf was
kneeling in prayer. He hesitated no longer, but, lifting the branch,
he cut through three of the little bars in the cage; they were dry
and brittle, and yielded easily: in a moment more he had removed them,
leaving a little door wide enough for the bird to escape. This done, he
withdrew the stick, detached the scissors, and in its place tied on a
small lump of maple sugar--the food the bird loves best. Starling, at
first terrified by the intrusion, soon gained courage and approached
the bait. He knew not that a little noose of horse-hair hung beneath it,
which, no sooner had he tasted the sugar, than it was thrown over his
neck and drawn tight. Less practised fingers than the Engadiner's could
scarcely have enclosed that little throat sufficiently to prevent even
one cry, and yet not endanger life.

Every step of this process was far more rapid than we have been in
telling it. The moment it was effected, the Engadiner was away. No
Indian ever rose from his lair with more stealthy cunning, nor tracked
his enemy with a fleeter step: away over the wide plain, down through
the winding glens, among the oak-scrub, and into the dark pine-wood, who
could trace his wanderings?--who could overtake him now?

With all his speed, he had not gone above a mile from the Dorf when
Fritz missed his treasure. He went to take his bird into the house for
the night, when the whole misfortune broke full upon him, For a few
seconds, like most people under sudden bereavement, his mind could not
take in all the sorrow: he peered into the cage, he thrust his fingers
into it, he tumbled over the moss at the bottom of it; and then, at
length, conscious of nis loss, he covered his face with his hands, and
sobbed as though his heart was breaking.

Men and women may find it hard to sympathise with such sorrow. A child,
however, can understand a child's grief, for Fritz had lost every thing
he had in the world. This little bird was not only all his wealth, all
his ambition, his daily companion in solitary places, his hope, his
friend, but somehow it was linked mysteriously with the memories of his
own home--memories that every day, every hour, was effacing--but these,
Star still could call up in his heart: to lose him was, therefore, to
cut the last slender cord that tied him to the past and linked him to
the future.

His violent sobbing brought Grettl'a to him, but he could tell her
nothing--he could only point to the cage, which now hung on its side,
and mutter the one word,--

"Hin! hin!"--Away! away!

The little girl's grief was scarcely less poignant than his own. She
wrung her hands in all the passion of sorrow, and cried bitterly.

The Bauer and his wife now came to the spot, the one to join in, the
other to rebuke, their afflictions. How little the children noticed
either! Their misery filled up every corner of their minds--their
wretchedness was overwhelming.

Every corner of the little hut was associated with some recollection of
the poor "Star." Here, it was he used to feed--here, he hopped out
to greet Fritz of an evening, when the bad weather had prevented him
accompanying him to the fields. There, he was accustomed to sit while
they were at supper, singing his merry song; and here, would he remain
silently while they were at prayers, waiting for the moment of their
rising to utter the cry of "Maria, hülf uns!"

Each time the children's eyes met, as they turned away from looking
at any of these well-known spots, they burst into tears: each read the
other's thoughts, and felt his sorrows more deeply in the interchange.

What a long, long night was that! They cried themselves to sleep,
to awake again in tears!--now, to dream they heard "Star" calling to
them--now, to fancy he had come back again, all wayworn and ruffled,
glad to seek his usual shelter, and be with friends once more--and then
they awoke to feel the bitterness of disappointment, and know that he
was gone!

"And he told me, Grettl'a--he told me 'A good word brings luck!'" sobbed
Fritz, whose despair had turned to scepticism.

Poor Grettl'a had no argument wherewith to meet this burst of
misery--she could but mingle her tears with his.

We frequently hear of the hard-heartedness of the poor--how steeled they
are against the finer affections and softer feelings of the world; but
it might be as well to ask if the daily business of life--which to them
is one of sheer necessity--does not combat more powerfully against
the indulgence of sorrow than all the philosophy that mere wisdom ever
taught?

Poor Fritzerl awoke with a heart almost weighed down with affliction,
but still he went forth with his goats to the pasture, and tended and
watched after them as carefully as ever. The next day, and the day after
that again, he went about his accustomed duties; but on the third day,
as he sat beside Grettl'a under the old linden-tree before the door, he
whispered to her,--

"I can bear it no longer, Grettl'a! I must away!--away!" And he pointed
to the distance, which, vague and undefined as his own resolves,
stretched out its broad expanse before them.

Grettl'a did her best to persuade him against his rash determination:
she reasoned as well as she could reason; she begged, she even cried to
him; and at last, all else failing, she forgot her pledge, and actually
ran and told her father.

The Bauer, sorry to lose so faithful a servant as Fritz, added his
influence to the little maiden's tears; and even the Bauer's wife tried
to argue him out of his resolve, mingling with her wise suggestions
about a "wide world and a cold one" some caustic hints about ingratitude
to his friends and protectors.

Fritz was deaf to all: if he could not yield to Grettl's prayers and
weeping eyes, he was strong against the old wife's sarcasms.

He cried all night through, and, arising before the dawn, he kissed
Grettl'a as she lay sleeping, and, cautiously opening the latch, slipped
out unheard. A heavy dew was on the grass, and the large, massive clouds
rested on the mountains and filled the plain. It was cold, and
gloomy, and cheerless---just such as the world is to the wanderer who,
friendless, alone, and poor, would tempt his fortunes in it!

Fritz wandered on over the plain--he had no choice of paths--he had
nothing to guide, no clue to lead him. He took this, because he had
often gone it with "Star" when he was happy and contented. As he went
along, the sun rose, and soon the whole scene changed from its leaden
grey to the bright tint of morning. The hoar-frost glittered like
thousands of spangles scattered over the grass; the earth sent up a
delicious odour; the leaves, as they opened, murmured softly in the air;
and the little brooks rustled among the stones, and rippled on with a
sound like fairy laughter. There was gladness and joy every where, save
in that heart which was now bereft of all.

"What could he mean?" said he, again and again to himself: "'A good word
brings luck!' When had I ever misfortune till now?"

Oh, Fritzerl! take care lest you are not making the common mistake, and
expecting the moral before the end of the story.

Were it my object to dwell on this part of my tale, I might tell you of
Fritz's long conflict with himself--his doubts, his hesitation, and his
reasonings, before he could decide on what course to take, or whither to
bend his steps. The world was a very wide one to hunt after a Starling
through it: that, he knew, though not very deeply skilled in geography.

Fritz had never heard of those wise inspirations by which knights-errant
of old guided their wanderings; nor, perhaps, if he bad, would he have
benefited by them, seeing that to throw the rein loose on his charger's
neck was a matter of some difficulty. He did, perhaps, what was the
nearest thing in practice to this: he wandered along, keeping the
straight path, and, neither turning right nor left, found himself at
noon in the opening of the beautiful glen that leads to Reute. He looked
up, and there were great mountains before him--not hills, but real
mountains, with pine-forests beneath, and crags above that, and over
them, again, snow-peaks and glaciers. They seemed quite near, but they
were still many a mile off. No matter: the sight of them cheered and
encouraged him; they reminded him of the old life among the Tyrol
"Jochs," and the wild cattle sporting about, and the herdsmen springing
from cliff to cliff, rifle in hand. Ob, that was a free and joyous life!

Fritz's musings on this head were suddenly put a stop to by a severe
pang of hunger, in all likelihood suggested by the odour of a savoury
mess which steamed from the open window of a little hut on the
road-side.

The peasant family were about to sit down to their twelve-o'clock
dinner, when Fritz, unconsciously to himself, drew up at the window, and
looked in at the tempting food.

There is one custom in Germany, which, simple as it is, it would be hard
to praise above its merits: that is, the invariable habit of every one,
so far as his means permit, to help the foot-traveller on his journey.
By an old municipal law of most of the cities, the tradesmen cannot
settle and establish themselves in their native town till they have
travelled and lived in other places; thus learning, as it is supposed,
whatever improvements their several crafts may have obtained in
different and distant cities. These wanderings, which are usually for
one year or two, are accomplished during the period of apprenticeship;
so that you never travel on any of the high-roads without meeting these
Lehr-Junkers, as they are called, who, with a knapsack on their back,
and a spare pair of boots or two depending from it, are either smoking
or singing to beguile the way. As it is not to be supposed that they
are over-abundantly provided with means, it has grown into a recognised
custom to assist them with some trifle: but the good habit ends not
here; it extends to the poor boy returning from the gymnasium, or
school, to see his parents--the discharged or furloughed soldier--the
wayfarer of every class, in fact, whose condition pleads to those more
plenteously endowed than himself.

Fritz was now to reap the benefit of this graceful charity; and scarcely
had his wan features appeared at the window, than a sign from the chief
Bauer invited him to partake. Happily for poor Fritz--happily for all
who give and all who accept such aid--there is no sense of humiliation
in doing so. It is, in fact, less an alms-giving than a remnant of
the ancient hospitality which made the stranger welcome beneath every
roof--a custom that dates before rail-roads and giant hotels.

Fritz ate and drank, and was thankful. The few words he spoke were in
answer to the common questions, as to whence he came--and whither he was
going--and what was his handicraft; inquiries which puzzled him sorely
to reply to. His hesitations were not rendered more embarrassing by the
curiosity of his questioners; they neither cared to push him closely,
nor troubled their heads upon the matter.

"Farewell," said the Bauer's wife, as he thanked her gratefully;
"farewell. Be good and pious, young lad; don't keep naughty company, nor
learn bad ways; and remember 'A good word brings luck.'"

His eyes filled up with tears as she spoke. Who can tell the conflict of
feelings they called up in his bosom?

"Where does this path lead to?" he asked, in a faint voice*

"To Reute, child."

"And then, after Rente?"

"To Zillerthal and Inspruck."

"To Inspruck!" said Fritz, while a sudden hope shot through him. "I'll
go to Inspruck," muttered he, lower. "Good-by, Bauer; good-by, Frau. God
bless thee." And with these words he set out once more.

How little they who roll on their journey with all the speed and
luxury that wealth can purchase, defying climate and distance, know the
vicissitudes that fall to the lot of the weary foot-traveller! From
city to city, from kingdom to kingdom, the rich man glides on, the great
panorama of life revealing itself before him, without an effort on
his part. The Alps--the Pyrenees, scarcely retard him; the luxuries he
requires meet him at every halting-place, as though difference of region
should not trench upon even his daily habits; his patience, perhaps, not
more tried than by the occasional stoppages where fresh horses meet
him. And yet, between two such stations a foot-traveller may spend
the live-long day, wearied, footsore, heavy of heart. What crosses
and trials are his! What strange adventures, too! and what strange
companionships! Each day a new episode of life--but of life over which
Poverty has thrown its shadow.

Fritz was now to experience all this; now, travelling with a company of
wandering apprentices; now, keeping company with a group of peasants
on the way to market; sometimes, partaking of a seat in a Bauer's
waggon--often, alone and weary, thinking over his future--a future, that
each day seemed to render more doubtful and gloomy.

As he penetrated deeper into the Zillerthal, the journeys of each day
became longer, the resting-places for the night being further apart;
sometimes he was obliged to stop a day, or even two days, at a village,
to recruit strength sufficient for a long march; and then, he would have
to walk from before daylight to late in the night ere he reached his
destination. His was not strength to endure fatigue like this with
impunity; and if he did encounter it, it was from an enthusiasm that
supplied energy, where mere bodily strength had failed. Two hopes buoyed
him up, and carried him along through every opposing difficulty. Whether
Star had escaped by accident, or been taken away by design, he was lame,
and would surely be soon caught; and if so, what more likely than that
he would be sent to Inspruck to be sold, for there was the greatest
bird-market of all the world? at least so Fritz believed. His second
sustaining hope lay in the prospect of once again meeting the old
Priest, and learning from him how was it that a "good word" had not
"brought luck" to him, and whether from any fault of his own.

These thoughts had so far obtained possession of his mind, that he
became almost unconscious of every other; from dwelling on them so much,
and revolving them so frequently and in so many different shapes and
forms, he grew to think that he had no other object and aim than to
reach Inspruck and solve these two doubts. Hunger, cold, and fatigue,
every privation of a long and weary journey, was unregarded by him; and
although it was now late in the autumn, and snow was beginning to fall
on the mountain passes, Fritz, poorly clad, and scarcely fed, trudged
on, day after day, his own heart supplying the courage which his weak
frame denied.

As winter drew near the days grew shorter; and the atmosphere, loaded
with snow ready to drop, darkened the earth, and made night come on, as
it seemed, many hours before sunset. This left very little time to Fritz
for his long journeys, which, just at this very period, unfortunately,
were longer than ever. The way, too, had become far more dreary and
deserted, not only because it led through a little-travelled district,
but that the snow being too deep for wheeled carriages, and not hard
enough for sledges, the travellers were fain to wait till either rain or
frost should come on, to make the road practicable. Hence it happened,
that not unfrequently, now, Fritz journeyed the live-long day, from
dawn to dark, and scarcely met a single traveller, Sometimes, too, not
a hut would be seen in a whole day's march, and he would never taste a
morsel of food till he reached his halting-place for the night.

All this was bad enough, but it was not the only difficulty; the worst
of all was, how to find out the way in the mountain passes, where the
snow lay so deep, that the balustrades or parapets that flanked the
road, and often guarded it from a precipice, were now covered, and
no wheel-track could be seen to guide the traveller. Fritz, when he
journeyed this road before, remembered the awe and terror with which he
used to peep over the little stone railing, and look down hundreds of
feet into the dark valley beneath, where a great river was diminished
to the size of a mere brawling rivulet; and now, where was that
parapet?--on which side of him did it lie? A deep gorge was near--that
he well knew; the unfrozen torrent beneath roared like thunder, but a
waving surface of untrodden snow stretched away on either side of him,
without foot-track or aught to mark the way.

For a long time did the poor child stand uncertain which way to turn;
now thinking he heard the heavy plash of wheels moving through the snow,
and then discovering it was merely the sound of falling masses, which,
from time to time, slipped from their places, and glided down the steep
mountain sides» What desolate and heart-chilling solitude was there! A
leaden, greyish sky overhead--not a cloud, nor even a passing bird, to
break its dreary surface--beneath, nothing but snow; snow on the wild
fantastic mountain peaks; snow in waving sweeps between them. The rocks,
the fir-trees, all covered.

Fritz stood so long, that already the thin drift settled on his head
and shoulders, and clothed him in the same wintry livery as the objects
around; his limbs were stiff, his fingers knotted and frozen; the little
tears upon his blue cheeks seemed almost to freeze; his heart, that till
now bore bravely up, grew colder and heavier. He felt as if he would
be happy if he could cry, but that even grief was freezing within him.
Despair was near him then! He felt a drowsy confusion creeping over him.
Clouds of white snow-drift seemed to fall so thickly around, that every
object was hidden from view. Crashing branches and roaring torrents
mingled their noises with the thundering plash of falling snow-masses.
Oh! if he could but sleep, and neither hear nor see these wearying
sounds and sights--sleep, and be at rest! It was just at this instant
his eye caught sight of a little finger-post, from which a passing gust
of wind had carried away the snow. It stood at some distance beneath
him, in the midst of a waving field of snow. Had poor Fritz remarked its
leaning attitude, and the depth to which it was covered, scarcely more
than three feet appearing above the surface, he would have known it must
have been carried away from its own appointed spot; but his senses were
not clear enough for such simple reasonings, and with a last effort he
struggled towards it. The snow grew deeper at every step; not only did
it rise above his foot, and half his leg, but it seemed to move in a
great mass all around him, as if a huge fragment of the mountain had
separated, and was floating downwards. The post, too, he came not nearer
to it; it receded as he advanced;--was this a mere delusion? had his
weakened faculties lost all control of sense? Alas! these sensations
were but too real! He had already crossed the parapet which flanked the
road--already was he in the midst of a great "wraith" of fallen snow,
which, descending from the mountain peak, by a storm in the night,
had carried away the finger-post, and now only waited the slightest
impulse--the weight of that little child--to carry it down, down into
the depth below! And down, indeed, it went; at first, slowly--moving
like a great unbroken wave; then growing more hurried as it neared the
edge of the precipice, thickening and swelling with fresh masses: it
rose around him--now, circling his waist, now, enclosing his shoulders:
he had but time to grasp the little wooden cross, the emblem of hope and
succour, when the mass glided over the brink, and fell thundering into
the dark abyss.

I would not risk any little credit I may, perchance, possess with the
reader, by saying how deep that gorge actually was; but this will I say,
when standing on the spot, in a very different season from this I
have described--when the trees were in full leaf, the wild flowers
blossoming, and both sky above and river beneath, blue as the bluest
turquoise; yet even then, to look down the low parapet into the narrow
chasm, was something to make the head reel and the heart's blood chill.

But to my story.--It was the custom in this season, when the snow fell
heavily on the high passes, to transmit the little weekly mail between
Reute and Inspruck by an old and now disused road, which led along
the edge of the river, and generally, from its sheltered situation,
continued practicable and free from snow some weeks later than the
mountain road. It was scarce worthy to be called a road--a mere
wheel-track, obstructed here and there by stones and masses of rock
that every storm brought down, and not unfrequently threatened, by the
flooding of the river, to be washed away altogether.

Along this dreary way the old postilion was wending--now, pulling up
to listen to the crashing thunders of the snow, which, falling several
hundred feet above, might at any moment descend and engulf him--again,
plying his whip vigorously, to push through the gorge, secretly vowing
in his heart that, come what would, he would venture no more there that
year. Just as he turned a sharp angle of the rock, where merely space
lay for the road between it and the river, he found his advance barred
up by a larch-tree, which, with an immense fragment of snow, had fallen
from above. Such obstacles were not new to him, and he lost no time in
unharnessing his horse and attaching him to the tree. In a few minutes
the road was cleared of this difficulty; and he now advanced, shovel in
hand, to make a passage through the snow.

"Saperlote!" cried he; "here is the finger-post! This must have come
down from the upper road."

Scarcely were the words uttered, when a cry of horror broke from him. He
trembled from head to foot; his eyes seemed bursting from their sockets:
and well might they, for, close around the wood, just where it emerged
from the snow, were two little hands clasped tightly round the timber.

He threw himself on the spot, and tore up the snow with his fingers.
An arm appeared, and then the long yellow hair of a head resting on it.
Working with all the eagerness of a warm and benevolent nature, he soon
disinterred the little body, which, save one deep cut upon the
forehead, seemed to have no other mark of injury; but it lay cold and
motionless--no sign of life remaining.

He pressed the little flask of brandy--all that he possessed--against
the wan, white lips of the child; but the liquor ran down the chin and
over the cheek--not a drop of it was sucked. He rubbed the hands, he
chafed the body, he even shook it; but, heavy and inert, it gave no sign
of life.

"Ach, Gott!" muttered he, "it is all over!" But still, with a hope that
asked no aid from reason, he wrapped the child's body in his fur mantle,
and, laying him softly down in the cart, continued his way.

The lights, which were glittering here and there through the little
village inns, had been gradually extinguished as the night grew
later, till, at last» none remained, save those around the door of
the post-house, where a little group of loungers was gathered, As they
talked together, one or other occasionally would step out into the road
and seem to listen, and then rejoin his companions. "No sign of him yet!
What can keep him so late as this?" cried the Post-master, holding up
his watch, that the lamp-light should fall on it. "It wants but four
minutes to eleven--his time, by right, is half after nine."

"He is trying the upper road belike, and the deep snow has detained
him."

"No, no," said another, "Old Cristoph's too knowing for that: bad as
the lower road is, the upper is worse; and with the storm of last night,
there will be drift there deep enough to swallow horse and mail-cart
twice over."

"There may be fallen snow on the lower road," whispered a
third; "Cristoph told me last week he feared it would not be safe for
another journey."

"He's a daring old fellow," said the Post-master, as he resumed his walk
up and down to keep his feet warm; "but he'll try that lower road once
too often. He can't bear the upper road because it is a new one, and
was not made when he was a boy. He thinks that the world is not half so
wise, or so good, as it was some fifty years back."

"If he make no greater mistakes than that," muttered an old white-headed
hostler, "he may be trusted to choose his own road."

"What's that Philip is mumbling?" said the Post-master; but a general
cry of "Here he comes! Here he is now!" interrupted the answer.

"See how he drives full speed over the bridge!" exclaimed the
Post-master, angrily. "Potz-Teufel! if the Burgomaster hears it, I shall
have to pay a fine of four gulden; and I would not wonder if the noise
awoke him."

There was less exaggeration than might be supposed in this speech, for
Old Cristoph, in open defiance of all German law, which requires that
nothing faster than a slow walk should be used in crossing a wooden
bridge, galloped at the full stride of his beast, making every crazy
plank and timber tremble and vibrate with a crash like small arms.

Never relaxing in his speed, the old man drove at his fastest pace
through the narrow old Roman gate, up the little paved hill, round
the sharp corner, across the Platz, into the main street, and never
slackened till he pulled up with a jerk at the door of the post-house:
when, springing from his seat, he detached the lamp from its place,
and thrust it into the waggon, crying with a voice that excitement had
elevated into a scream,--"He's alive still!--I'll swear I heard him
sigh! I know he's alive!"

It is hard to say what strange conjectures might have been formed of
the old man's sanity, had he not backed his words by stooping down and
lifting from the straw, at the bottom of the cart, the seemingly dead
body of a boy, which, with the alacrity of one far younger, he carried
up the steps, down the long arched passage, and into the kitchen, where
he laid him down before the fire.

"Quick now, Ernest; run for the doctor! Away, Johan; bring the Staats
Physicus--bring two--all of them in the town! Frau Hostess, warm water
and salt--salt, to rub him with--I know he is alive!"

A shake of the head from the old hostess seemed to offer a strong
dissent.

"Never mind that! He is not dead, though he did fall from the
Riesenfels."

"From the Riesenfels!" exclaimed three or four together in amazement.

"Who was it came galloping at full speed over the Bridge, and passed
the grand guard on the Platz at the same disorderly pace?" said the deep
voice of the Burger-meister, who arose from his bed to learn the cause
of the tumult.

"It was I," exclaimed Cristoph, ruggedly; "there lies the reason."

"The penalty is all the same," growled the man of authority: "four
gulden for one, and two gulden thirty kreutzers for the other offence."

Cristoph either did not hear or heed the speech.

"Where's the mail-bag? I haven't seen that yet," chimed in the
Post-master; who, like a wise official, followed the lead of the highest
village functionary.

Old Cristoph bustled out, and soon returned, not only with the leathern
sack in question, but with a huge fragment of a wooden cross over his
shoulders.

"There's the bag, Herr Post-meister, all safe and dry," said he; "and
here Herr Burger-meister, here's your fine finger-post that the Governor
ordered to be stuck up on the Riesenfels. I suppose they'll need it
again when the snow melts and the road is clear: though to be sure,"
added he, in a lower tone, "he must have worse eyes than Old Cristoph
who could not see his way to Imst from that cliff without a finger-post
to guide him."

The Burgermeister was not disposed to suffer this irony in silence; but
the occasion to exert his authority with due severity was not at that
moment, when the whole attention of the bystanders was directed to
the proceedings of the three village doctors--one of them no less a
personage than the Staats Physicus--who, with various hard terms of art,
were discussing the condition of the senseless form before them.

Were I to recount one half of the learned surmises and deep
prognostications of these wise Esculapians, the chances are, my reader
would grow as weary of the recital as did poor old Cristoph of the
reality. For at last, unable to endure any longer active controversies
about the pia mater and the dura mater, the vitreous table and the
cerebellum, with vague hints of "congestion," "depression," "effusion,"
and so on, he broke in with, "In God's name, dear gentlemen, let him be
kept warm and have a good glass of 'schnaps' down his poor throat;
and when he shews a chance of living, fight away about the name of the
malady to your hearts' content."

I am far from defending, Old Cristoph's rude interruption. The learned
faculties should always be treated with becoming deference; but he was a
rude, unpolished old fellow, and the best one can say is, that he meant
it well. Certain it is they seemed to acknowledge the force of his
suggestion; for they at once removed the child to a warm bed, while they
ordered the hostess to administer a very comfortable cordial of her
own devising; and, to shew their confidence in the remedy, had three
likewise provided for their own individual comfort and support.

It is not my wish to dwell on the sad portions of our tale, wherever the
recital would elicit nothing of our little hero's character: and such
was the period which now ensued. Fritz was conveyed, early on the
following morning, to the village hospital, where his case was
pronounced of the very gravest nature. The dangers from cold, inanition,
and exposure, were all inferior to the greater one resulting from
some injury to the brain. I cannot be expected to be clearer and more
explicit on this theme than were his doctors; and they, with proverbial
propriety, did differ most amazingly: one advocating a fracture, another
a concussion, and a third standing out for both, and something more.
They agreed, however, on two points; one of which was, that he would
die--and the other, that as he was evidently very poor and had no
friends, his death was of less consequence. I would not be here
understood, by any malevolent critic, as wishing to infer that the
doctors' neglect of him was a strong point in Fritz's favour. I merely
desire to relate a simple fact--that he continued to live from day
to day, and from week to week, gaining in strength, but never once
evidencing, by even the slightest trait, a return to his faculty of
reasoning. Alas, poor child!--the intellect which, in all his sorrow and
poverty, had been his happiness and his comfort, was now darkened, and
he awoke from that long dream of death--an idiot!

Perhaps I may not have used the fitting word; but how shall I speak of
his state? He seemed sad and sorrow-struck; never spoke, even to answer
a question; moved listlessly and slowly about, as if in search of
something, and muttering lowly to himself. No one ever saw him smile,
and yet he did not weep. He looked more like one in whom reason was,
by some terrible shock, suspended and held in abeyance, than actually
routed or annihilated. Unlike most others similarly afflicted, he slept
very little, remaining usually, the night long, sitting beside his bed,
gesticulating with his hands in a strange way, and suddenly ceasing if
observed.

His eye, for some minutes, would often seem bright with intelligence;
but on looking more closely, it would be discovered that the gaze was
fixed on vacancy, and it might be conjectured that no image of any near
object was presented to the mind, since no expression of pain, pleasure,
or astonishment would follow, when different substances were displayed
before him. One might say, that the faculties were entirely absorbed
by their own operations, and neither took note of those recorded by
the senses, nor had any sympathy with their workings--volition wad at a
stand-still. But why dwell on so sorrowful a picture?

Spring came, and Fritz, who ever obeyed each command of those over
him, was suffered to walk daily in the little garden of the asylum.
One day--it was the first bright one of the new season--the birds were
singing sweetly in the trees when he went forth, and they who came some
time after to fetch him to the house, found him in tears. His sorrow
seemed, however, to have brought some sense of relief with it, for that
night he slept more calmly and longer than usual. From this time out it
was remarked that his appearance varied with the weather of each day.
When the air was clear, and the sun shone bright, and the birds gathered
together in the blossoming branches of the fruit-trees, he seemed
happier; but when dark skies or rain came on, he would walk impatiently
from place to place--now, as if in search of some missing object--now,
as if suddenly overwhelmed by his loss.

Thus did he continue till about the first week in May, when at the usual
hour of recalling him to the house he was not to be found. Search
was made every where--through the garden--about the neighbouring
buildings--in all the Dorf--but all in vain. No one had seen him.

Poor and unfriended as he was, his little simple ways, his sinless
innocence and gentleness, had made him friends among all who had any
authority in the asylum; and no pains were spared to track him out and
discover him--to no end, however. He was seen there no more. Days and
weeks long, with unwearying zeal, the search continued, and was only
abandoned when all hope seemed gone. By none was this sad termination of
his suffering more poignantly felt than by old Cristoph. Every week he
came to Imst, his first care was to ask after the little boy; and when
he learned his fate, his grief was deep and heartfelt.

I know not if my reader has ever visited Inspruck.

Every one has been every where nowadays; and so the chances are, that
the Tyrol capital is as well known to them as to myself. At all the
hazard of being tedious, however, I must mention one feature of that
beautiful old city--a little street which leads out of the Old Market,
and runs westward down a somewhat steep declivity towards the Inn. It is
one of those narrow, old, gloomy alleys a traveller would scarcely think
of exploring. A low range of arches, supported on pillars of the most
sturdy proportions, runs along either side, furnished with massive stone
seats, worn smooth by the use of some centuries of gossips. The little
shops within this dark arcade are undefended by windows of any kind,
but lie open, displaying to the passer-by, not only the various wares
exposed for sale, but frequently, as the wind, or chance, waves the
folds of an old curtain at the back, the little household of the
merchant himself.

The middle portion of this street, scarcely wide enough for three
to walk abreast, grows even narrower as you look up, by the gradual
encroachment of each story on either side; so that while the denizens
of the first-floors have merely the neighbourly advantages of a near
salutation, they who inhabit the garrets may embrace without any fear
on the score of bodily danger. Our business is only with those beneath,
however, and thither I must ask of your accompanying me.

If the two groined arches--dark with age as well as feint light--the
narrow gloomy-looking alley, might at first deter the stranger
from entering, scarcely would he venture a few steps ere a strange
fascination would lead him onward. Within these little dens--for such
rather than shops do they seem--are objects to be found, the strangest
and the most curious ever exposed for sale. In one, you find a
collection of ancient armour the greatest Ritter Saal would be proud
to choose from:--weapons of every age and country--the chain-mail of
Milan--the plate-armour of Venice--the heavy double-nailed suits of
Regens-bourg--the small conical helmet of the East--the massive
but beautifully fashioned casque of Spanish mould--the blade of
Damascus--the double-handled sword of Appenzell--the jereed--the
Crusader's lance--the old pike of the Tyrol, with daggers and poniards
of every shape, that luxury or cruelty ever invented. Adjoining this,
perhaps, lives one who deals in rare flowers and shrubs; and, strange as
it may seem in such a place, the orange-tree, the cactus, the camellia,
and the aloe, shed their bloom and perfume through these vaulted cells,
where age, and rust, and decay would appear the most fitting denizens.
Here, lives one who sells the rich brocaded silks and tabourets of a
by-gone century--great flowering waistcoats, stiff and imposing as the
once wearers--huge sweeping trains of costly embroidery--relics of
a time when stateliness was cultivated, and dignified deportment the
distinctive sign of birth. Right opposite to this is a store of ancient
articles of furniture and _virtù_--marquetry and buhl--Dresden and
Sèvres--carved oak and ebony--ivory and box-wood. All that ever fancy
conceived uncomfortable to sit upon, or a diseased imagination ever
inaugurated as the throne of nightmare to sleep in--are here to be
had. Stools to kneel upon and altars to kneel at--Virgins in ivory and
silver--idols of Indian adoration--ancient goblets, and most curiously
carved treasure-boxes of solid iron, massive little emblems of a time
when men put slight faith in bankers.

A little further on you may meet with a jeweller's, where ornaments the
most rare and costly are to be found: massive old necklaces of amethyst
or emerald, in which the ungainly setting bears such a contrast to the
value of the stone--rich clasps of pink topaz or ruby, for the collar of
a cloak--sword-handles all paved with precious gems--and signet-rings,
that have circled the fingers of proud Counts of the Empire, and,
mayhap, sealed with their impress many a dark and gloomy record.

Some deal in old books and manuscripts, ancient rolls, and painted
missals; some, in curious relics of horse-equipment, brass-mounted
demi-piques and iron-strapped saddles of the sixteenth century, with
spurs of a foot in length, and uncouth bits that would hold an elephant
in check: and one little dusky corner-shop, kept by an old hunchback,
contained the strangest of all stocks-in-trade,--an assemblage of
instruments of torture: chains of every kind hung from the ceiling;
thumb-screws, back-bolts, helmets made to close upon the skull, and
crushed by the action of a vice; racks, hatchets, and pincers; while
conspicuous in the midst, as the support of an old iron lantern, is
the block of a headsman, the surface bearing the shocking record of its
usage. Just where this grim and ghastly cell stands, a little rivulet
of clear water crosses the street, and seems to separate it from the
remaining portion, which, by a steeper declivity, inclined towards the
river.

Separate, indeed, I might well say, for the two portions are as unlike
as the records of all man's vanity and cruelty are unlike the emblem of
Gods goodness and wisdom. You scarcely cross this tiny stream when the
whole air resounds with the warbling of birds, bright in every tint and
hue of plumage, golden and green, purple and crimson.

From the lordly eagle of the Ortiler to the rich-toned linnet of the
Botzen valley, all are there. There, the paroquet of the Stelvio,
gorgeous as the scarlet bustard in plumage; and here, the golden jay
of the Vorarlberg. Blackbirds, thrushes, finches of a hundred different
races, "Roth kopfs," and woodpeckers, spring, chirp, flutter, and
scream, on every side. The very atmosphere is tremulous with the sounds,
lifelike and joyous as they are! The very bustle and movement around is
such a relief from the torpid stillness of the other end of the street,
where nothing is heard save the low monotonous tones of some old Jew
reading in his back-shop, or the harsh clank of an iron weapon removed
from its place; while, here, the merry twitter and the silvery-shake
recall the greenwood and the grove, the bright fields and heath-clad
mountains.

Here is the bird-market of Inspruck. It needs but one passing glance
to shew what attractions the spot possesses for the inhabitants. Every
rank, from the well-salaried official of the government to the humblest
burgher--from the richly clad noble in his mantle of Astracan, to the
peasant in his dark jacket of sheep's skin--the field officer and
the common soldier--the "Frau Grafin" voluminous in furs--the "Stuben
madchen" in her woollen jerkin--the lounging sexagenarian from his
coffee--the loitering school-boy returning from school--all jostle and
meet together here; while the scantiest intimacy with the language
will suffice to collect from the frequently uttered, "_Wie schön!" "Ach
Gott!" "Wie wunderschon!_" that admiration and delight are expressed by
every tongue among them.

It is needless to say, that every corner of this little territory is
familiar to all Inspruckers; not only each shop and its owner, but each
separate treasure. The newly arrived bullfinch, or greywing, having the
notoriety that a Parisian circulates about the last _débutante_ of
the ballet or the opera. If not exactly one of those "lions," that
guide-books enforce among the duties of wandering sight-seers, it is
at least a frequent resort of the town's-folk themselves, for whose
gratification it supplies no small proportion of small-talk.

Among the well-known and familiar objects of this small world--for such
the Juden Gasse in reality is--was a poor boy of some twelve years old,
who, clad in the most wretched rags, and with want in every feature,
used to sit the live-long day on one of the stone benches watching the
birds. It needed but one glance at his bright but unsteady eye, his
faint unmeaning smile, his vague and wild expression, to recognise that
he was bereft of reason. Is it necessary to say this was poor Fritzerl?

Whence he came, who were his parents, how he journeyed thither, no one
could tell! He appeared one morning, when the shop-people were removing
the shutters, sitting close by a window, where the early songs of the
birds was audible, his head bent down to listen, and his whole attitude
betokening the deepest attention. Though he offered no resistance
when they bade him leave the spot, he shewed such deep sorrow and
such reluctance, that he was suffered to remain; and this was now his
dwelling-place. He never quitted it during the day, and there did he
pass the night, under the shelter of the deep arches, and protected by
the fragment of a mantle, which some compassionate neighbour had given
him. All endeavours to induce him to speak were in vain; a sickly smile
was his only answer to a question; and, if pressed too closely, the
tears would come, so that none liked to give him further pain, and
the hope of learning any thing about him, even his name, was given up.
Equally fruitless was every effort to make him perform little services.
If the shopkeepers gave him a bird to carry home for a purchaser, he
would at once sit down beside the cage and gaze wistfully,
delightedly, at the occupant; but he could not be persuaded to quit his
abiding-place. Who could rob one so poor of all the happiness his life
compassed? certainly not the good-natured and kindly folk who inhabited
the bird-market.

He became then a recognised part of the place, as much as the bustard
with one eye in the corner shop, or the fat old owl that had lived for
fifty--some said seventy--years, in the little den with the low iron
door. Every one knew him; few passed without a look of kindness towards
him. It was of no use to give him money, for though he took money when
offered, the next moment he would leave it on the stones, where the
street children came and found it. It was clear he did not understand
its meaning. The little support he needed was freely proffered by the
neighbouring shopkeepers, but he ate nothing save a morsel of dry bread,
of which it was remarked that he each day broke off a small portion and
laid it by--not to eat later on, for it was seen that he never missed it
if removed, nor took it again if suffered to remain. It was one of the
secrets of his nature none could rightly account for.

Although many wealthy and benevolent people of the city wished to
provide the poor, boy with a more comfortable home, the shopkeepers
protested against his removal. Some, loved his innocent, childish
features, and would have missed him sorely; others, were superstitious
enough to think, and even say, that he had brought luck to the
bird-market,--that every one had prospered since he came there; and
some, too, asserted, that having selected the spot himself, it would
be cruel to tear him away from a place where accustomed and familiar
objects had made for him a kind of home. All these reasonings were
backed by the proposal to build for him a little shed, in the very
spot he had taken up, and there leave him to live in peace. This was
accordingly done, and poor Fritz, if not a "Burgher of Inspruck," had at
least his own house in the bird-market.

Months rolled over: the summer went by, and the autumn itself now drew
to a close; and the various preparations for the coming winter might be
seen in little hand-barrows of firewood deposited before each door, to
be split up and cut in fitting lengths for the stoves. Fur mantles
and caps were hung out to air, and some prudent and well-to-do folks
examined the snow-windows, and made arrangements for their adjustment.
Each in his own way, and according to his means, was occupied with the
cares of the approaching season. There was but one unmoved face in
the whole street--but one, who seemed to take no note of time or
season--whose past, and present, and future, were as one. This
was Fritz, who sat on his accustomed bench gazing at the birds, or
occasionally moving from his place to peep into a cage whose occupant
lay hid, and then, when satisfied of its presence, retiring to his seat
contented.

Had the worthy citizens been less actively engrossed by their own
immediate concerns, or had they been less accustomed to this humble
dependant's presence amongst them, it is likely they would have remarked
the change time had wrought in his appearance. If no actual evidence
of returning reason had evinced itself in his bearing or conduct, his
features displayed at times varieties of expression and meaning very
different from their former monotony. The cheek, whose languid pallor
never altered, would now occasionally flush, and become suddenly
scarlet; the eyes, dull and meaningless, would sparkle and light up; the
lips, too, would part, as if about to give utterance to words. All these
signs, however, would be only momentary, and a degree of depression,
even to prostration, would invariably follow. Unlike his former apathy,
too, he started at sudden noises in the street, felt more interest in
the changes that went on in the shop, and seemed to miss certain birds
as they happened to be sold or exchanged. The most remarkable of all the
alterations in his manner was, that, now, he would often walk down to
the river-side, and pass hours there gazing on the current. Who can say
what efforts at restored reason were then taking place within him--what
mighty influences were at work to bring back sense and intellect--what
struggles, and what combats? It would seem as if the brain could exist
in all its integrity--sound, and intact, and living--and yet some
essential impulse be wanting which should impart the power of thought.

Momentary flashes of intelligence, perhaps, did cross him; but such can
no more suffice for guidance, than does the forked lightning supply the
luminary that gives us day. The landscape preternaturally lit up for a
second, becomes darker than midnight the moment after.

Bright and beautiful as that river is, with its thousand eddies whirling
along,--now, reflecting the tall spires and battlemented towers of the
town--now, some bold,'projecting cliff of those giant mountains beside
it--how does its rapid stream proclaim its mountain source, as in large
sheets of foam it whirls round the rocky angles of the bank, and dashes
along free as the spirit of its native home! Fritz, came here, however,
less to gaze on this lovely picture than on a scene which each morning
presented to his eyes, close by. This was à garden, where a little girl
of some seven or eight years old used to play, all alone and by herself,
while the old nurse that accompanied her sat knitting in a little arbour
near.

The joyous river--the fresh and balmy air--the flowers flinging
delicious odours around, and gorgeous in their brilliant tints, only
needed this little infant figure to impart a soul to the scene, and make
it one of ravishing enchantment. Her tiny footsteps on the ground--her
little song, breathing of innocence and happiness--the garlands which
she wove, now, to place upon her own fair brow, now, in childish sport
to throw into the clear current--all imparted to the poor idiot's heart
sensations of intense delight. Who can say if that infant voice did not
wake to feeling the heart that all the wisdom of the learned could not
arouse from its sleep?

Not only was Fritz happy while he sat and watched this little child,
but, for the entire day after, he would appear calm and tranquil, and
his face would display the placid expression of a spirit sunk in a
pleasing trance.

It was not unusual with him, while he was thus gazing, for sleep to
come over him--a calm, delicious slumber--from which he awoke far more
refreshed and rested than from his night's repose. Perhaps she was
present in his dreams, and all her playful gestures and her merry tones
were with him while he slept. Perhaps--it is not impossible--that his
mind, soothed by the calming influence of, such slumber, recovered
in part its lost power, and not being called on for the exercise of
volition, could employ some of its perceptive faculties.

Be this as it may, this sleep was deep, and calm, and tranquillising.
One day, when he had watched longer than usual, and when her childish
sport had more than ever delighted him, he dropped oft* almost suddenly
into slumber. Motionless as death itself he lay upon the bank,--a faint
smile upon his parted lips, his chest scarcely seeming to heave, so soft
and quiet was his slumber. The river rippled pleasantly beside him, the
air was balmy as in the early spring, and fanned his hot temples with
a delicious breath, the child's song floated merrily out--the innocent
accents of infant glee--and Fritz seemed to drink these pleasures in as
he slept.

What visions of heavenly shape--what sounds of angelic sweetness--may
have flitted before that poor distracted brain, as with clasped hands
and muttering lips he seemed to pray a prayer of thankfulness,--the
outpouring gratitude of a pent-up nature finding vent at last! Suddenly
he awoke with a start--terror in every feature--his eyes starting from
their sockets: he reeled as he sprang to his feet, and almost fell. The
river seemed a cataract--the mountains leaned over as though they were
about to fall and crush him--the ground beneath his feet trembled and
shook with an earthquake movement--a terrible cry rang through his ears.
What could it mean? There!--there again he heard it! Oh, what a pang of
heart-rending anguish was that! "Hülf! hülf! hülf!" were the words. The
infant was struggling in the current--her little hand grasped the weeds,
while at every instant they gave way--the water foamed and eddied round
her--deeper and deeper she sank: her hair now floated in the stream, and
her hands, uplifted, besought, for the last time, aid. "Hülf uns! Maria!
hülf uns!" She sank. With a cry of wildest accent, Fritz sprang into the
stream, and seized the yellow hair as it was disappearing beneath the
flood: the struggle was severe, for the strong stream inclined towards
the middle of the river, and Fritz could not swim. Twice had the waves
closed over him, and twice he emerged with his little burden pressed to
his heart; were it not for aid, however, his efforts would have been
vain. The cry for help had brought many to the spot, and he was
rescued--saved from death: saved from that worse than death--the
terrible union of life and death.

He lay upon the bank, wearied and exhausted--but oh, how happy! How
doubly bright the sky!--how inexpressibly soft and soothing the air upon
his brow!--how sweet the human voice, that not only sounded to the ear
but echoed in the heart!

In all his bright dreams of life he had fancied nothing like the bliss
of that moment. Friends were on every side of him--kind friends, who
never in a life-long could tell all their gratitude; and now, with words
of affection, and looks of mildest, fondest meaning, they bent over that
poor boy, and called him their own preserver.

Amid all these sights and sounds of gladness--so full of hope and
joy--there came one shrill cry, which, piercing the air, seemed to
penetrate to the very inmost chamber of Fritz's heart, telling at once
the whole history of his life, and revealing the secret of his suffering
and his victory. It was Star himself; who, in a cage beneath the
spreading branches of a chestnut-tree, was glad to mingle his wild notes
with the concourse of voices about him, and still continued at intervals
to scream out, "Maria, hülf! hülf uns, Maria!"

"Yes, child," said a venerable old man, as he kissed Fritz's forehead,
"you see the fruits of your obedience and your trust. I am glad you have
not forgotten my teaching,--'A good word brings luck.'"

Every story-teller should respect those who like to hear a tale to its
very end. The only way he can evince his gratitude for their patience is
by gratifying all their curiosity. It remains for me, then, to say, that
Fritz returned to the little village where he had lived with Star for
his companion; not poor and friendless as before, but rich in wealth,
and richer in what is far better--the grateful love and affection
of kind friends. His life henceforth was one of calm and tranquil
happiness. By his aid the old Bauer was enabled to purchase his little
farm rent-free, and buy besides several cows and some sheep. And then,
when he grew up to be a man, Fritz married Grett'la, and they became
very well off, and lived in mutual love and contentment all their lives.

Fritz's house was not only the handsomest in the Dorf, but it was
ornamented with a little picture of the Virgin, with Star sitting upon
her wrist, and the words of the golden letters were inscribed beneath,--

"Maria, Mutter Gottes, hülf uns!"

Within, nothing could be more comfortable than to see Fritz and Grett'la
at one side of the fire, and the old Bauer reading aloud, and the "Frau"
listening, and Star, who lived to a great age, walking proudly about,
as if he was conscious that he had some share in producing the family
prosperity; and close to the stove, on a little low seat made on
purpose, sat a little old man, with a long pigtail and very shrunken
legs: this was old Cristoph the postilion--and who had a better right?

Fritz was so much loved and respected by the villagers, that they
elected him Vorsteher, or rector of the Dorf; and when he died--very old
at last--they all, several hundreds, followed him respectfully to the
grave, and, in memory of his story, called the village Maria Hülf, which
is its name to this day.



CHAPTER III.

     _Varenna, Lake of Como_.

Italy at last! I have crossed the Alps and reached my goal, and now I
turn and look at that winding road which, for above two thousand feet,
traverses the steep mountain-side, and involuntarily a sadness steals
over me--that I am never to re-cross it! These same "last-times"
are very sorrowful things, all emblems as they are of that one great
"last-time" when the curtain falls for ever! Nor am I sorry when
this feeling impresses me deeply; nay, I am pleased that
indifference--apathy--have no more hold upon me. I am more afraid of
that careless, passionless temperament, than of aught else, and the more
as hour by hour it steals over me. Yesterday a letter, which once would
have interested me deeply, lay half read till evening; to-day, a very
old friend of my guardian's, Sir Gordon Howard, has left his card: he is
ill the inn, perhaps in the next room, and I have not energy to return
his visit and chat with him over friends I am never to see again. And
yet he is a gallant old officer,--one of that noble class of Englishmen
whose loyalty made the boldest feats of daring, the longest years of
servitude, seem only as a duty they owed their sovereign. The race is
dying out fast.

What can have brought him to Italy? Let me see. Here is the Traveller's
Book; perhaps it may tell something.

"Sir Gordon Howard, Officier Anglais,"--simple enough for a
Major-general and K.C.B. and G.C.H.--"de Zurich à Como." Not much to be
learned from that. But stay! he is not alone. "Mademoiselle Howard." And
who can she be? He never had a daughter, and his only son is in India.
Perhaps she is a grandaughter; but what care I? It is but another reason
to avoid seeing him. I cannot make new acquaintances now. He wants no
companions who must travel the road I am going! Antoine must tell me
when Sir Gordon Howard goes out, and I'll leave my card then. I feel I
must remain here to-day, and I am well content to do so. This calm lake,
these bold mountains, the wooded promontory of Bellagio, and its
bright villas, seen amid the trees, are pleasant sights; while from the
ever-passing boats, with their white arched awnings, I hear laughter and
voices of happy people, whose hearts are lighter than my own.

If I could only find resolution for the task, too, there are a host
of letters lying by me unanswered. How little do some of those "dear
friends" who invite one to shoot grouse in the Highlands, or hunt in
Leicestershire, think of the real condition of those they ask to be
their guests! It is enough that you have been seen in certain houses of
a certain repute. You have visited at B------, and spent a Christmas at
G------; you are known as a tolerable shot and a fair average talker;
you are sufficiently recognised in the world as to be known to all men
of a very general acceptance, and no more is wanted. But, test this
kind of position by absence! Try, if you will, what a few years out of
England effect! You are as totally forgotten as though you belonged to
a past generation. You expect--naturally enough, perhaps--to resume your
old place and among your old associates; but where are they? and what
have they become? You left them young men about town, you find them now
among the "middle ages;" when you parted they were slim, lank, agile
fellows, that could spring into a saddle and fly their horse over a
five-bar rail, or pull an oar with any one. Now, they are of the portly
order, wear wider-skirted coats, trousers without straps, and cloth
boots; their hats, too, have widened in the leaf, so as to throw a more
liberal shade over broader cheeks; the whiskers are more bushy, and less
accurate in curl. If they ride, the horse has more bone and timber under
him; and when they bow to some fair face in a passing carriage there is
no brightening of the eye, but in its place a look of easier intimacy
than heretofore. These are not the men you left?--alas they are! A new
generation of young men about town has sprung up, who "know not Joseph,"
and with whom you have few, if any, sympathies.

So I find it myself. I left England at a time when pleasure was the mad
pursuit of every young fellow; and under that designation came every
species of extravagance and all kind of wild excess. Men of five
thousand a-year were spending twelve! Men of twelve, thirty! Every
season saw some half-dozen cross the Channel, "cleared out"--some, never
more to be heard of. Others, lingering in Paris or Brussels to confer
with their lawyer, who was busily engaged in compromising, contesting,
disputing, and bullying a host of creditors, whose very rogueries had
accomplished the catastrophe they grumbled at. Lords, living on ten
or twelve hundred pounds a-year were to be met with everywhere;
Countesses, lodged in every little town in Germany. The Dons of dragoon
regiments were seen a-foot in the most obscure of watering-places; and
men who had loomed large at Doncaster, and booked thousands, were
now fain to risk francs and florins among the flats of Brussels and
Aix-la-Chapelle. The pace was tremendous; few who came of age with
a good estate held out above two or three years. And if any listener
should take his place beside a group of fashionable-looking young
Englishmen in the Boulevard de Grand, or the Graben at Vienna, the
chances were greatly in favour of his hearing such broken phrases as,
"Caught it heavily!"--"All wrong at Ascot!"--"Scott's fault!"--"Cleared
out at Crocky's!"--"No standing two hundred per cent!"--"Infernal
scoundrel, Ford!"--"That villain Columbine!"--"Rascal Bevan!" and so on,
with various allusions to the Quorn hounds, the Clarendon, and Houlditch
the coach-maker.

Such was the one song you heard every where.

Now the mode--a better one I willingly own it--is "Young Englandism."
Not that superb folly of white neckcloth and vest, that swears by
Disraeli and the "Morning Post," but that healthier stamp, whose steps
of travel have turned eastward, towards the land of old-world wonders,
and who, instead of enervating mind and body at Ems or Baden, seek
higher and nobler sources of pleasure among the cities and tombs of
ancient Egypt. Lord Lindsay, for instance, what a creditable specimen
is he of his age and class! and Warburton's book, the "Crescent and the
Cross," how redeeming is such a production among the mass of frivolity
and flippancy the magazines teem with! These are the men who, returning
to England more intensely national than they left it, cannot be
reproached with ignorance in this preference of their native land above
every other. Their nationality, not built up of the leaders of the daily
newspapers, is a conviction resulting from reflection and comparison.

They are proud of England; not alone as the most powerful of nations,
but as that where personal integrity and truth are held in highest
repute--where character and reputation stand far above genius--and
where, whatever the eminence of a gifted man, he cannot stand above his
fellows, save on the condition that he is not inferior in more sterling
qualities. The young man setting out to travel can scarcely be sustained
by a better feeling than his strong nationality. He who sets a high
store by the character of his country will be slow to do aught that will
disgrace it. Of course I speak of nationality in its true sense; not
the affectation of John Bullism in dress, manner, and bearing--not the
insolent assumption of superiority to the French and Germans, that
some very young men deem English; but, a deep conviction that, as the
requirements of England are higher in all that regards fidelity to his
word, consistency of conduct, and more honourable employment of time
and talents than prevail abroad, he should be guardedly careful not to
surrender these convictions to all the seductions of foreign life and
manners.

I do not believe our country is superior to any foreign land in any one
particular so strikingly as in the capabilities and habits of our higher
orders. Such a class as the titled order of Great Britain, taking them
collectively, never existed elsewhere.

A German, with any thing like independence, lives a life of
tobacco-smoking and snipe-shooting. An Italian, is content to eke out
life with a _café_ and a theatre--lemonade and a "_liaison_" are enough
for him. The government of foreign states, in shutting out the men of
rank and fortune from political influence, have taken the very shortest
road to their degradation. What is to become of a man who has a
Bureaucracy for a government and Popery for a religion?

But what is the tumult in the little court-yard beneath my window? Ha!
an English equipage! How neatly elegant that low-hung phaeton! and
how superb in figure and style that pair of powerful dark-brown
thoroughbreds!--for so it is easy to see they are, even to the smart
groom, who stands so still before the pole, with each hand upon the bars
of the bits. All smack of London. There is an air of almost simplicity
in the whole turn-out, because it is in such perfect keeping. And here
come its owners. What a pretty foot!--I might almost say, and ankle,
too! How gracefully she draws her shawl around her! What! my friend Sir
Gordon himself? So, this is Mdlle. Howard! I wish I could see her face.
She will not turn this way. And now they are gone. How distinctive
is the proud tramp of their feet above the shuffling shamble of the
posters!

So, it is only a "_piccolo giro_" they are gone to make along the lake,
and come back again, to dinner. I thought I heard him say my name to his
valet, as he stepped into the carriage. Who knocks at the door? I was
right; Sir Gordon has sent to invite me to dine at six o'clock. Shall I
go? Why should I think of it? I am sick, low, weak, heart and body. Nay,
it is better to refuse.

Well, I have written my apology, not without a kind of secret regret,
for somehow I have a longing--a strange wish, once more, to feel the
pleasant excitement of even so much of society; but, like the hero of
the Peau de Chagrin, I dread to indulge a wish, for it may lead me more
rapidly down to my doom. I actually tremble lest a love of life, that
all-absorbing desire to live, should lie in wait for me yet. I have
heard that it ever accompanies the last stage of my malady. It is
better, then, to guard against whatever might suggest it. Pleasure could
not--friendship, solicitude, kindness might do so.



CHAPTER IV. _Villa Cimarosa, Logo di Como_.

It is a week since I wrote a line in my notebook, and, judging only from
my sensations, it seems like a year. Events rapidly succeeding, always
make time seem longer in retrospect. It is only monotony is brief to
look back upon.

I expected ere this to have been at Naples, if not Palermo; and here I
linger on the Lake of Como, as if my frail health had left me any choice
of a resting-place. And yet, why should this not be as healthful as it
is beautiful?

Looking out from this window, beneath which, not three paces distant,
the blue lake is plashing--the music of its waves the only sound
heard--great mountains rise grandly from the water to the very skies,
the sides one tangled mass of olive, vine, and fig-tree. The dark-leaved
laurel, the oleander, the cactus and the magnolia cluster around each
rugged rocky eminence, and hang in graceful drapery over the glassy
water. Palaces, temples, and villas are seen on every side; some, boldly
standing out, are reflected in the calm lake, their marble columns
tremulous as the gentle wind steals past; others, half hid among the
embowering trees, display but a window or a portico, or perchance a deep
arched entrance for the gondolas, above which some heavy banner slowly
waves its drooping folds, touching the very water. The closed jalousies,
the cloudless sky, the unruffled water, over which no boat is seen to
glide, the universal stillness, all tell that it is noon--the noon of
Italy, and truly the northern midnight is not a season of such unbroken
repose. Looking at this scene, and fancying to myself the lethargic life
of ease, which not even thought disturbs, of these people, I half wonder
within me how had it fared with us of England beneath such a sun, and in
such a clime. Had the untiring spirit of enterprise, the active zeal and
thirst for wealth, triumphed over every obstacle, and refused to accept,
as a season of rest, the hours of the bright and glaring sunshine?

Here, the very fishermen are sleeping beneath their canvass awnings,
and their boats lie resting in the dark shadows. There is something
inexpressibly calm and tranquillising in all this. The stillness of
night we accept as its natural and fitting accompaniment, but to look
out upon this fair scene, one is insensibly reminded of the condition
of life which leaves these busiest of mortal hours, elsewhere, free
to peaceful repose, and with how little labour all wants are met and
satisfied.

How came I here? is a question rising to my mind at every moment, and
actually demanding an effort of memory to answer. The very apartment
itself is almost a riddle to me, seeming like some magic transformation,
realising as it does all that I could ask or wish.

This beautiful little octagon room, with its marble "statuettes" in
niches between the windows, its frescoed ceiling, its white marble
floor, reflecting each graceful ornament, even to the silver lamp that
hangs high in the coved roof; and then, this little terrace beside
the lake, where under the silk awning I sit among a perfect bosquet of
orange and oleander trees;--it is almost too beautiful for reality. I
try to read, but cannot; and as I write I stand up at each moment to
peep over the balcony at the fish, as sluggishly they move along, or,
at the least stir, dart forward with arrowy speed, to return again the
minute after, for they have been fed here and know the spot. There is
a dreamy, visionary feeling, that seems to be the spirit of the place,
encouraging thought, and yet leading the mind to dalliance rather than
moody reverie. And again, how came I here? Now for the answer.

On Tuesday last I was at Varenna, fully bent on proceeding by Milan
to Genoa, and thence to Naples. I had, not without some difficulty,
resisted all approaches of Sir Gordon Howard, and even avoided meeting
him. What scores of fables did I invent merely to escape an interview
with an old friend!

Well, at eight o'clock, as I sat at breakfast, I heard the bustle of
preparation in the court-yard, and saw with inexpressible relief that
his horses were standing ready harnessed, while my valet came with the
welcome tidings that the worthy Baronet was starting for Como, near
which he had taken a Villa. The Villa Cimarosa, the most beautiful on
the lake,--frescoes--statues--hanging gardens--I know not how many
more charming items, did my informant recite, with all the impassioned
eloquence of George Robins himself. He spared me nothing, from the
news that Mademoiselle, Sir Gordon's grandaughter, who was a prodigious
heiress, was ordered to Italy for her health, and that it was more than
likely we should find them at Naples for the winter, down to the less
interesting fact that the courier, Giacomo Bartoletti, was to proceed by
the steamer and get the Villa ready for their arrival. I could only stop
his communications by telling him to order horses for Lecco, pay the
bill, and follow me, as I should stroll down the road and look at the
caverns of rock which it traverses by the lake side.

I had seen Sir Gordon drive off--I had heard the accustomed "_Buon
viaggio_" uttered by the whole household in chorus--and now, I was
free once more; and so escaping this noisy ceremony of leave-taking, I
sauntered listlessly forth, and took my way along the lake. The morning
was delicious; a slight breeze from the north, the pleasantest of all
the winds on the Lake of Como, was just springing up.

It is here, opposite Varenna, that the lake is widest; but nothing of
bleakness results from the greater extent of water, for the mountains
are still bold and lofty, and the wooded promontory of Bellagio dividing
the two reaches of the lake, is a beautiful feature. Its terraced
gardens and stately palaces peeping amid the leafy shade, and giving
glimpses of one of the sweetest spots the "Villégiatura" ever lingered
in.

I had got a considerable distance from the town of Varenna without
feeling it. The enchanting picture, ever presenting some new effect, and
the light and buoyant breeze from the water, and a certain feeling of
unusual lightness of heart, all aiding, I walked on without fatigue; nor
was I aware of the distance traversed, till at a little bend of the lake
I saw Varenna diminishing away--its tall poplars and taper spires being
now the most conspicuous features of the town.

At a short distance in front of me lay a little creek or bay, from one
side of which a wooden pier projected--a station for the steamers that
ply on the lake. There now Sir Gordon Howard's phaeton was standing,
surrounded with a most multifarious heap of trunks, packing-cases,
portmanteaus, and other travelling gear--signs that some portion of his
following, at least, were awaiting the arrival of the packet. Nor had
they to wait long: for as I looked, the vessel shot round the rocky
point and darted swiftly across the smooth water, till she lay scarce
moving, about a quarter of a mile from shore,--the shoal water prevented
her approaching nearer to the jetty.

With the idle curiosity of a lounger, I sat down on a rock to watch the
scene.

I know no reason for it, but I ever take an interest in the movements
of travellers. Their comings and goings suggest invariably some amusing
pictures to my mind, and many a story have I weaved for myself from
nothing but the passing glimpses of those landed hurriedly from a
steamer.

I watched, therefore, with all my usual satisfaction, the launching
of the boat laden heavily with luggage, on the top of which, like its
presiding genius, sat a burly courier, his gold-banded cap glistening
brightly in the sun. Then came a lighter skiff, in the stern of which
sat a female figure, shaded by a pink parasol. There was another parasol
in the phaeton too--I thought I could even recognise Sir Gordon's figure
in the last boat: but as I looked the sky became suddenly overcast, and
round the rocky point, where but a moment before the whole cliff lay
reflected in the water, there now came splashing waves, tumbling wildly
by, till the whole creek suddenly was covered by them; dark squalls of
wind sweeping over the water, tossing the two boats to and fro, and even
heaving up the huge steamer itself, till her bows were bathed in foaming
cataracts. The suddenness of the tempest--for such it really was--was a
grand and sublime "effect" in such a scene: but I could no longer enjoy
it, as there seemed to be actual danger in the situation of the two
boats, which, from time to time, were hidden between the swelling waves.
At last, but not without a struggle, they reached the packet, and I
could plainly see, by the signs of haste on board, that the captain had
not been a very willing spectator of the scene. The luggage was soon on
board, and the figures of the lighter boat followed quickly after.

Scarcely was this effected when the boats were cast off, and again
the paddle-wheels splashed through the water. The gale at this instant
increased: for no sooner was the steamer's bow to the wind, than the
waves went clean over her, washing her deck from stem to stern, and
dashing in columns of spray over the dark funnel. A great stir and
commotion on deck drew off my attention from the boats; and now I heard
a hoarse voice calling through a speaking-trumpet to those in the boats.
They, however, either did not hear or heed the command, for they rowed
boldly towards the shore, nor once paid any attention to the signals
which, first as a flag, and afterwards as a cannon-shot, the steamer
made for them.

While I was lost in conjecturing what possibly all this might mean, the
vessel once more rounded to her course, and with full steam up breasted
the rolling water, and stood out towards the middle of the lake. A
fisherman just then ran his boat in to land, in a little creek beneath
me, and from him I asked an explanation of the scene.

"It's nothing, Signor, but what one sees almost every day here," said
he, jeeringly: "that '_canaille_' of Pellagino have taken people out to
the steamer, and would not wait to bring them back again; and now, they
must go to Como, whether they will or no."

This explanation seemed the correct one, and appeared to be corroborated
by the attitude of the party on shore, for there stood the phaeton,
still waiting, although all chance of the others' returning was totally
by-gone. Concluding that, Sir Gordon thus carried off without his will,
his servants might possibly need some advice or counsel--for I knew they
were all English, except the Courier--I hastened down to the jetty,
to offer them such aid as I possessed. As I came nearer, I was more
convinced that my suspicions were correct. About thirty ragged and
not over-prepossessing-looking individuals were assembled around the
phaeton; some busily pressing the groom, who stood at the horses' heads,
with questions he could not answer; and others imploring charity with
all that servile tone and gesture your Italian beggar is master of.
Making my way through this assemblage, I accosted the groom, who knew me
to be an acquaintance of his master's, and instead of replying to me, at
once cried out,--"Oh, Miss Lucy, here is Mr. Templeton! You need not be
afraid, now." I turned at once, and instead of a lady's-maid, as I had
believed the figure to be, beheld a very lovely but delicate-looking
girl, who with an expression of considerable anxiety in her features,
was still following the track of the departing steam-boat. At the
mention of my name she looked hurriedly around, and a deep blush covered
her face as she said,--

"I am so happy to see Mr. Templeton! Perhaps he will forgive me if I
make the first moment of our acquaintance the burden of a request?" And
then, in a very few words, she told me how her Grandfather, having gone
on board the steamer to give some particular orders and directions about
his baggage, was unwillingly carried off, leaving her with only a groom,
who could speak no language but his own. She went on to say, that they
had taken the Villa Cimarosa on the lake, and were then proceeding
thither by Lecco, when this _mésaventure_ occurred.

"I now must ask Mr. Templeton's counsel how to act--whether to return to
the inn at Varenna, and wait there till I can hear from my Grandfather,
or venture on to Como with the carriage?"

"If you will take my carriage, Miss Howard, it will be here in a few
minutes. My servant is a most experienced traveller, and will not suffer
you to endure the slightest inconvenience; and I will follow in yours.

"But perhaps you cannot travel in an open carriage? I have heard that
your health is delicate."

"I prefer it greatly."

"And I too----"

She stopped suddenly, feeling that she was about to utter what might
seem an ungracious acknowledgment. There was such an evident regret in
the dread of having offended me, that, without pausing to reflect, I
said,--

"There is another alternative; I am a very safe whip, and if you would
permit me to have the honour of accompanying you, I should be but too
happy to be your escort."

She tried to answer by a polite smile of acceptance, but I saw that
the proposition was scarcely such as she approved of, and so at once I
added,--

"I will spare you the pain of rejecting my offer; pray, then, abide by
my first suggestion. I see my carriage coming along yonder."

"I don't know," said she, with a kind of wilfulness, like that of one
who had been long accustomed to indulgence; "it may seem very capricious
to you, but I own I detest post-horses, and cracking whips, and
rope-harness. You shall drive me, Mr. Templeton."

I replied by a very sincere assurance of how I esteemed the favour, and
the next moment was seated at her side. As I stole a glance at the pale
but beautifully-formed features, her drooping eyelashes, dark as night,
and her figure of surpassing symmetry and grace, I could not help
thinking of all the straits and expedients I had practised for three
entire days to avoid making her acquaintance. As if she had actually
divined what was then passing in my mind, she said,--

"You see, Mr. Temple ton, it was like a fate; you did your utmost not to
meet us, and here we are, after all."

I stammered out a very eager, but a very blundering attempt at denial,
while she resumed,--

"Pray do not make matters worse, which apologies in such cases always
do. Grandpapa told me that ill health had made you a recluse and avoid
society. This, and the mystery of your own close seclusion, were quite
enough to make me desirous to see you."

"How flattered I should have been had I suspected so much interest could
attach to me! but, really, I dreaded to inflict upon a very old friend
what I found to be so tiresome, namely, my own company."

"I always heard that you were fastidious about going into society; but
surely a visit to an old friend, in a foreign country too, might have
escaped being classified in this category?"

"I own my fault, which, like most faults, has brought its own penalty."

"If this be meant to express your deep affliction at not coming to us, I
accept the speech in all its most complimentary sense."

I bowed in acquiescence, and she went on:--

"You must forgive me if I talk to you with a freedom that our actual
acquaintanceship does not warrant, for, while _you_ never heard of me
before, _I_ have been listening to stories and narratives about _you_, I
cannot say how long."

"Indeed! I scarcely suspected Sir Gordon had more than remembered me."

"I did not say that Grandpapa was my informant," said she, laughing.
"Lady Catherine Douglas--the Collingwoods--the Grevilles--and then that
delightful person, Madame de Favancourt,--all spoke of you.... For which
of my catalogue was that blush intended, Mr. Templeton?"

"I was only yielding to a very natural sentiment--call it shame, pride,
or pleasure--that so many fair friends should have deemed me worthy a
place in their memory. Is Mary Greville married?"

"Yes; about a month since she accepted the hand she had, it is said,
some half-dozen times rejected."

"Sir Blake Morony?"

"The same: an intolerable bore, to my thinking; and, indeed, I believe
to poor Mary's, too. But, then, 'the' man did not offer. Some say, he
was bashful; some, that he dreaded what he need not have dreaded--a
refusal; and so, Mary went but to the Cape when her father became
Governor there; and, like all governors' daughters, took a husband from
the staff."

"She was very pretty, but----"

"Say on; we were never more than mere acquaintances."

"I was going to add, a most inveterate flirt."

"How I do detest to hear that brought as an accusation against a girl,
from the very kind of person that invariably induces the error!--Young
men like Mr. Templeton, who, entering life with the prestige of ability
and public success, very naturally flatter the vanity of any girl by
their attentions, and lead to a more buoyant character of mind and a
greater desire to please, which are at once set down as coquetry. For
my own part, I greatly prefer old men's society to young one's, from the
very fact that one is permitted to indulge all the caprices of thought
or fancy without incurring the offensive imputation of a design on his
heart."

"I should not always give a verdict of acquittal even in such cases."

"Very likely not. There are old men whose manner and bearing are
infinitely more attractive than the self-satisfied, self-relying
composure of our modern young ones. Any thing, however, even boyish
awkwardness, is preferable to your middle-aged gentleman, who, with a
slight bald spot on his head, and a very permanent flush on his cheek,
adds the stately pomp of his forty autumns to a levity that has no touch
of younger days."

"Heaven help us! what are we to do from thirty to fifty-five or sixty?"

"Marry, and live in the country. I mean, do not be young men about town.
_Apropos_ to nothing--are we not, this instant, in the very scene of
Manzoni's novel, 'I Promessi Sposi?'"

"Yes; the whole of our journey to-day lies through it, from Lecco to
Como; or rather, more to the northward again--what they call here, the
'Brianza.'"

"The scene deserved better actors, in my opinion. I have always thought
it a very tiresome story, even among that most tiresome class--Pure
love-tales."

"What say you to the 'Bride of Lammermoor?'"

"That it is only inferior to 'Romeo and Juliet.' But how many interests
are there brought up before the reader in either of these--all
subordinate to the great one--but all exciting mingled and conflicting
emotions! The author, in neither case, was satisfied to dwell on the
daily and nightly sighings of a love-stricken pair. He knew better than
to weave his web of one tissue. In fact, the Master of Ravens-wood is
more the slave of his own blighted ambition than of his love, which, at
best, was only an element in his feeling of abasement."

"And yet, how faithfully was his love returned! Nothing short of a true
passion meets such requital."

"If you said, that no heart incapable of feeling ever inspired such, I
would agree with you; but I fancy that women are often imposed upon,
by supposing that they possess the entire affection of those they know
capable of strong attachments."

"That may possibly be true; but I suspect that in the world--in the
middle of that life where we daily meet and form friendships--there is
very little time or opportunity for any thing above a passing feeling of
admiration, that seldom reaches esteem. The Honourable Miss Tollemache
meets Captain Fitzherbert of the Guards. They are introduced and dance
together--the lady is pretty--the Captain amusing--they have a large
number of mutual acquaintances, whom they quiz and praise by turns,
with sufficient agreement to be mutually pleased. They separate; and the
Captain asks if the lady really have 'twenty thousand pounds fortune.'
Match-making aunts and mothers arrange preliminaries; and the young
people have leisure to fail in love after the most approved fashion:
that is, they meet very often, and talk more together, than common
acquaintances are wont to do; but their talk is of Grisi and Lablache,
of the Duke's fete at Chiswick, and Lord Donnington's yacht excursion to
Malta. If the gentleman have a confidence to evoke, it is, possibly, the
state of his mind on the approaching 'Derby.' Now I would ask, How much
of mutual esteem, or even knowledge, grows out of all this?"

"Pretty much the same amount as exists in a French marriage, where M. le
Marquis having '_fait ses farces_,' is fain to marry, being somewhat
too deep in debt to continue what his years admonish him to abandon.
Mademoiselle is brought from the convent, or the governess's apartment,
to sign the contract and accept her husband. There is enough in the
very emancipation she obtains to be pleasurable, not to speak of a grand
_trousseau_, diamonds, cashmeres, and the prettiest equipage in Paris."

"Hence," said I, "we seem agreed, that one must not choose a wife or
husband _à la mode Anglaise ni Française_.

"I believe not," said she, laughing; "for if marriages be made in
heaven, they are about the strangest employment for angels I ever heard
of."

"It entirely depends on how you regard what are commonly called
accidents and chances, as to the interpretation you give that saying. If
you see, in those curious coincidences that are ever occurring in life,
nothing more than hazard, you at once abandon all idea of governing
human actions. If, on the other hand, you read them too implicitly, and
accept them as indications for the future, you rush into fatalism.
For my own part, I think less of the events themselves, than as they
originate or evoke sentiments in two parties, who, though previously
known to each, only discover on some sudden emergency a wonderful
agreement in sentiment and feeling. In the ordinary detail of life
they had gone on, each ignorant of the other's opinions: so long as the
wheels of life revolved freely and noiselessly, the journey had called
for nothing of mutual interest; but some chance occurrence, some
accidental rencontre occurs, and they at once perceive a most fortuitous
similarity in taste or thinking. Like people who have suddenly
discovered a long-persisted-in mistake, they hasten to repair the past
by sudden confidences. Let me give an instance, even though it be almost
too bold a one for my theory. A friend of mine, who had served some
years with great distinction in the East, returned to England in company
with a brother officer, a man of high family, knowing and known to
every one of a certain standing in London. My friend, who, from a remote
province, had no town acquaintances, was, however, speedily introduced
by his friend, and, heralded by his reputation, was greatly noticed in
society. He soon wearied of a round of dissipations, wherein the great,
if not the only interest, lies in knowledge of the actors; and was one
night stealing away from a large evening party, secretly resolving
that it should be his last ball. He had, by dint of great labour and
perseverance, reached the last salon, and already-caught glimpse of the
stair beyond, when his progress was suddenly arrested by a very sweet
but excited voice, saying--'One moment, sir; may I beg you will
release my scarf.' He turned and beheld a very handsome girl, who was
endeavouring to disengage from her shoulders a rich scarf of lace, one
end of which was caught in the star he wore on his breast--a decoration
from the Nizam. He immediately began to detach the delicate tissue from
its dangerous situation. But his address was inferior to his zeal, so
that he continually received admonitions as to greater care and caution,
with mingled laments over the inevitable mischief that must follow.
Something abashed by his own awkwardness, his nervousness made him
worse, and he muttered to himself in German, thinking it was a
safe tongue for soliloquy--'Why will ladies wear such preposterous
finery?--the spider's web is not so fragile.' To which at once the lady
replied, in the same language,--'If men are vain enough to carry a coat
full of '_crachats_' and orders, ladies ought, at least, to be careful
how they pass them.' He blushed at the tart rebuke, and in his eagerness
he tore a little hoop or mesh of the scarf. 'Oh, pray sir, permit me! It
is real Brussels!' and so saying, she at once began, with a skill very
different from his, the work of disentanglement. My friend, however,
did not desist, but gave what aid he could, their fingers more than once
meeting. Meanwhile a running fire of pleasantry and smartness went on
between them, when suddenly his brother officer came up, saying,--

"'Oh! Lydia, here is my friend Collyton. I have been so anxious you
should know him; and he leaves to-morrow.'

"'I hope he will permit me to rescue my scarf first,' said the lady,
taking no heed of the introduction.

"'I am so sorry--I really am in despair,' said Collyton, as the lady,
growing at last impatient, tore the frail web in order to get free.

"'It was all your fault, sir, remember that--or rather that of your
star, which I'm sure I wish the Sirdar, or the Nizam, had reserved for a
more careful wearer.'

"'I never deemed it would have done me such service,' said Collyton,
recovering courage; 'without it, I should have passed on, and you would
never have taken the trouble to notice me.'

"'There, sir, I must leave you your prize,' said she, smartly, as,
taking the arm of her partner, she joined the waltzers; while Collyton
stood with the folds of a Brussels veil draped gracefully on his arm.

"He went home; spent half the night disengaging the intricate web, and
the next day called to restore it, and apologise for his misfortune; the
acquaintance thus casually formed ripened into mutual liking, and, after
a time, into a stronger feeling, and in the end they were married; the
whole of the event, the great event of every life, originating in
the porcupine fashion of the Nizam's star and the small loops of a
Brussels-lace scarf! Here, then, is my case; but for this rencontre
they had never met, save in the formal fashion people do as first
acquaintances. Without a certain collision, they had not given forth the
sparks that warmed into flame."

"I call that a pure chance, just as much as--as----"

"Our own meeting this morning, you were about to say," said I,
laughingly; and she joined in the mirth, but soon after became silent
and thoughtful. I tried various ways of renewing our conversation; I
started new topics, miles remote from all we had been talking of: but
I soon perceived that, whether from physical causes or temperament,
the eager interest she exhibited when speaking, and the tone of almost
excited animation in which she listened, seemed to weary and exhaust
her. I therefore gradually suffered our conversation to drop down to an
occasional remark on passing objects; and so we travelled onwards till,
late in the afternoon, we found ourselves at the gate of a handsome
park, where an avenue of trellised vines, wide enough for two carriages
to pass, led to a beautiful villa, on the terrace of which stood my old
friend, Sir Gordon Howard, himself.

For a few moments he was so totally engrossed by the meeting with his
grandaughter that he did not even perceive me. Indeed, his agitation was
as great as it might reasonably have been had years of absence separated
them, instead of the few brief hours of a twenty miles' drive; and it
was only as she said, "Are you forgetting to thank Mr. Templeton, Papa?"
that he turned round to greet me with all the warmth of his kindly
nature.

It was to no purpose that I protested plans already formed, engagements
made, and horses written for; he insisted on my staying, if not some
weeks--some days--and at last, hours, at the Villa Cimarosa. I might
still have resisted his kind entreaties, when Miss Howard, with a smile
and a manner of most winning persuasiveness, said, "I wish you would
stay,"--and------here I am!



CHAPTER V. _La Villa Cimarosa, October_

How like a dream--a delicious, balmy, summer night's dream--is this life
I am leading! For the first time have I tasted the soothing tranquillity
of domestic life. A uniformity, that tells rather of security than
sameness, pervades every thing in this well-ordered household, where all
come and go as if under the guidance of some ruling genius, unseen and
unheard. Sir Gordon, too, is like a father; at least as I can fancy a
father to be, for I was too early left an orphan to preserve my
memory of either parent. His kindness is even more than what we call
friendship. It is actually paternal. He watches over my health with
all the unobtrusive solicitude of true affection; and if I even hint at
departure, he seizes the occasion to oppose it, not with the warmth of
hospitality alone, but a more deeply-meaning interest that sometimes
puzzles me. Can it be that he recognises in my weakened frame and
shrunken cheek, greater ravages of disease than I yet feel or know of?
Is it that he perceives me nearer the goal than as yet I am aware? It
was yesterday, as we sat in the library together, running over the
pages of an almanac, I remarked something about my liking to travel by
moonlight, when, with a degree of emotion that amazed me, he said, "Pray
do not talk of leaving us; I know that in this quiet monotony there may
be much to weary you; but remember that you are not strong enough
for the world, did you even care to take your place in it as of old.
Besides,"--here he faltered, and it was with a great effort that he
resumed--"besides, for _my_ sake, if the selfishness of the request
should not deter you, for _my_ sake remain with us some time longer."

I protested most warmly, as I had all reason to do, that for years past
I had never known time pass on so happily; that in the peaceful calm
we lived, I had tasted a higher enjoyment than all the most buoyant
pleasures of healthier and younger days had ever given me. "But,"--I
believe I tried to smile as I spoke,--"but recollect, Sir Gordon, I have
got my billet: the doctors have told me to go, and die, at Naples. What
a shock to science if I should remain, to live, at Como!"

"Do so, my dearest friend," said he, grasping my hands within both of
his, while the tears swam in his eyes; "I cannot--I dare not--I have
not strength to tell you, all that your compliance with this wish will
confer on me Spare me this anguish, and do not leave us." As he uttered
these words he left me, his emotion too great to let me reply.

The sick man's selfishness would say, that his anxiety is about that
wasting malady, whose ravages are even more plainly seen than felt.

Turn the matter over how I will, I cannot reconcile this eager anxiety
for my remaining with any thing but a care for myself. It is clear he
thinks me far worse than I can consent to acknowledge. I do not disguise
from myself the greater lassitude I experience after a slight exertion,
a higher tension of the nervous system, and an earlier access of that
night fever, which, like the darkness of the coming winter, creeps daily
on, shortening the hours of sunlight, and ushering in a deeper and more
solemn gloom; but I watch these symptoms as one already prepared for
their approach, and feel grateful that their coming has not clouded the
serenity with which I hope to journey to the last.

Kind old man! I would that I were his son, that I could feel my rightful
claim to the affection he lavishes on me; but for _his_ sake it is
better as it is! And Miss Howard--Lucy, let me call her, since I am
permitted so to accost her--what a blessing I should have felt such a
sister to be, so beautiful, so kind, so gently feminine! for that is
the true charm. This, too, is better as it is. How could I take leave of
life, if I were parting with such enjoyments?

She is greatly changed since we came here. Every day seems to gain
something over the malady she laboured under. She is no longer faint and
easily wearied, but able to take even severe exercise without fatigue;
her cheek has grown fuller, and its rosy tint is no longer hectic, but
the true dye of health; and instead of that slow step and bent-down
head, her walk is firm and her air erect; while her spirits, no longer
varying from high excitement to deep depression, are uniformly good and
animated. Life is opening in all its bloom to her, as rapidly as its
shadows are closing and gathering around me. Were it mine to bestow,
how gladly would I give what remains of flickering life to strengthen
the newly-sprung vitality, her light step, her brilliant smile and dark
blue eye! That coming back to health, from out of the very shadow of
death, must be a glorious sensation! The sudden outbursting of all this
fair world's joys, on a spirit over which the shade of sickness has only
swept, and not rested long enough to leave its blight. I think I read in
that almost heroic elevation of sentiment, that exquisite perception
of whatever is beautiful in Lucy, the triumph of returning energy and
health. She is less fanciful and less capricious, too. Formerly, the
least remark, in which she construed a difference of opinion, would
distress or irritate her, and her temper appeared rather under the sway
of momentary impulse than the guidance of right principle. Now, she
accepts even correction, mildly and gratefully, and if a sudden spark of
former haste flash forth, she seems eager to check and repress it; she
acts as though she felt that restored health imposed more restraint and
less of self-indulgence than sickness. How happy if one were only to
bring out of the sick chamber its teaching of submission, patience, and
gratitude, and leave behind its egotism and its irritability! This she
would appear to aim at; and to strive is to win.

And now I quit this chronicling to join her. Already she is on her way
to the boat, and we are going to see Pliny's villa; at least the dark
and shadowy nook where it once stood. The lake is still as a mirror,
and a gorgeous mirror it is, reflecting a scene of faëry brilliancy and
beauty. She is waving her handkerchief to me to come. "_Vengo, subito_."

This has been a delightful day. We rowed along past Melzi till we
came under the tall cliffs near Bellagio; and there, in a little bay,
land-locked and shaded by olive-trees, we dined. I had never seen Sir
Gordon so thoroughly happy. When Lucy's spirits have been higher, and
her fancy has taken wilder and bolder wings, he has usually worn a
look of anxiety through all his admiring fondness. To-day, she was less
animated than she generally is--almost grave at times--but not sad; and
I think that "Grandpapa" loved her better in this tranquil mood, than
in those of more eager enjoyment. I believe I read his meaning, that, in
her highest flow of spirits, he dreads the wear and tear consequent on
so much excitement; while in her more sombre days he indulges the hope
that she is storing up in repose the energies of future exertion. How it
takes off the egotism of sickness to have some one whose ever-watchful
care is busy for our benefit! how it carries away the load of "self,"
and all its troubles! while I.... But I must not dwell on this theme,
nor disturb that deep sense of gratitude I feel for all that I possess
of worldly advantage, were it no more than this blessing, that on
quitting life I leave it when my sense of enjoyment has mellowed into
that most lasting and enduring one, the love of quiet, of scenery, of
converse with old friends on by-gone events--the tranquil pleasures of
age tasted without the repining of age!

Lucy bantered me to-day upon my inordinate love of ease, as she called
it, forgetting that this inactivity was at first less from choice than
compulsion; now, it is a habit, one I may as well wear out, for I
have no time left to acquire new ones. She even tried to stimulate my
ambition, by alluding to my old career and the rewards it might have
opened to me. I could have told her that a father or an uncle at the
"Council" was of more avail than a clever despatch or a well-concluded
treaty; that some of our ablest Ministers are wasting life and energy at
small, obscure, and insignificant missions, where their functions never
rise beyond the presentation of letters of congratulation or condolence,
attendance on a court ball, or a _Te Deum_ for the sovereign's birthday;
while capacities that would be unnoticed, if they were not dangerous,
have the destinies of great events in their keeping. True, there is
always the Foreign Office as the "_Cour d'Appel_" and, whatever may be
the objections--grave and weighty they certainly are at times--against
those parliamentary interrogations by which the Minister is compelled to
reveal the object and course of his dealings with foreign nations, there
is one admirable result,--our foreign policy will always be National.
No Minister can long pursue any course in defiance of the approval of
Parliament; nor can any Parliament, in our day, long resist the force of
public opinion.

While, therefore, Nicholas or Metternich may precipitate the nations
they rule over into a war, where there is neither the sympathy nor the
prejudices of a people involved, _we_ never draw the sword without a
hearty good will to wield it.

To what end all this in reference to Lucy Howard's question? None
whatever; for, in truth, I was half flattered by the notion that the
shattered, storm-beaten wreck, could be supposed sea-worthy, and so I
promised amendment. How pleasant it was, sitting Tityrus-like, to dream
over high rewards and honours! She, at least, seemed to think so; for
whether to stimulate my ardour, or merely following the impulse of her
own, I know not, but she certainly dwelt with animation and delight on
the advantages of a career that placed one almost _au pied d'égal_ with
sovereigns. "I am sure," said she, "that you cannot look upon those who
started in the race with yourself, without some repinings that others,
whom you know to be inferior to you, have passed you; and that men whom
you would never have thought of as competitors, are now become more than
equals."

If I accede to this opinion to a certain extent, still I must protest
against any feeling of real regret when I think that success is much
oftener obtained by what is called a "lucky hit," than by years of
zealous and intelligent exertion. I have known a man obtain credit for
stopping a courier--waylaying him, I might rather call it--and taking
by force a secret treaty from his hand, while the steady services of a
life-long have gone unrewarded. These things have an evil influence upon
diplomacy as a "career;" they suggest to young men to rely rather on
address and dexterity than upon "prudence and forethought." Because Lord
Palmerston discourses foreign politics with a certain gifted and very
beautiful Countess, or that M. Guizot deigns to take counsel from a most
accomplished Princess of Russian origin, every small _Attaché_ thinks
he is climbing the short road to fame and honours by listening to the
_fadaise_ of certain political _boudoirs_, and hearing "pretty ladies
talk" about Spielberg and Monkopf. When the Northern minister sent his
son to travel through the world, that he might see with his own eyes
by what "commonplace mortals states were governed," he might have
recommended to his especial notice Plenipo's and Envoys Extraordinary.
From time to time, it is otherwise. Lord Castlereagh, whatever
detraction party hate may visit on his home politics, was a consummate
Ambassador. Not of that school which Talleyrand created, and of which he
was the head, but a man of unflinching courage, high determination, and
who, with a strong purpose and resolute will, never failed to make felt
the influence of a nation he so worthily represented. With this, he was
a perfect courtier; the extreme simplicity of his manner and address was
accompanied by an elegance and a style of the most marked distinction.
Another, but of a different stamp, was Lord Whitworth; one on whom all
the dramatic passion and practised outrage of Napoleon had no effect
whatever.

Sir Gordon remarked, that in this quality of coolness and
imperturbability he never saw any one surpass his friend, Sir Robert
Darcy. One evening when playing at whist, at Potzdam, with the late
King of Prussia, his Majesty, in a fit of inadvertence, appropriated to
himself several gold pieces belonging to Sir Robert. The King at last
perceived and apologised for his mistake, adding, "Why did you not
inform me of it?" "Because I knew your Majesty always makes restitution
when you have obtained time for reflection." Hanover was then on the
_tapis_, and the King felt the allusion. I must not forget a trait of
that peculiar sarcastic humour for which Sir Robert was famous. Although
a Whig--an old blue-and-yellow of the Fox school--he hated more than any
man that mongrel party which, under the name of Whigs, have carried on
the Opposition in Parliament for so many years; and of that party, a
certain well-known advocate for economical reforms came in for his most
especial detestation: perhaps he detested him particularly, because he
had desecrated the high ground of Oppositional attack, and brought it
down to paltry cavillings about the sums accorded to poor widows on
the Pension List, or the amount of sealing-wax consumed in the Foreign
Office. When, therefore, the honourable and learned gentleman, in the
course of a continental tour, happened to pass through the city where
Sir Robert lived as ambassador, he received a card of invitation to
dinner, far more on account of a certain missive from the Foreign
Office, than from any personal claims he was possessed of. The Member
of Parliament was a _gourmand_ of the first water; he had often heard
of Sir Robert's _cuisine_--various travellers had told him that such
a table could not be surpassed, and so, although desirous of getting
forward, he countermanded his horses, and accepted the invitation.

Sir Robert, whose taste for good living was indisputable, no sooner read
the note acceding to his request than he called his _attachés_ together,
and said, "Gentlemen, you will have a very bad dinner to-day, but
I request you will all dine here, as I have a particular object in
expressing the wish."

Dinner-hour came; and after the usual ceremony the party were seated at
table, when a single soup appeared: this was followed by a dish of
fish, and then, without _entrée_ or _hors d'oevre_, came a boiled leg
of mutton, Sir Robert premising to his guest that it was to have no
successor: adding, "You see, sir, what a poor entertainment I have
provided for you; but to this have the miserable economists in
Parliament brought us--next session may carry it further, and leave us
without even so much." Joseph was sold, and never forgot it since.

I saw, that while Sir Gordon and I discussed people and events in this
strain, Lucy became inattentive and pre-occupied by other thoughts; and
on charging her with being so, she laughingly remarked that Englishmen
always carry about with them the one range of topics; and whether they
dine in Grosvenor Square, or beneath an olive-tree in the Alps, the
stream of the table-talk is ever the same. "Now a Frenchman," said she,
gaily, "had uttered I cannot say how many flat sentimentalisme about the
place we are in; a German had mysticised to no end; and an Italian would
have been improvising about every thing, from the wire that restrained
the champagne cork to the woes of enchained Italy. Tell us a story, Mr.
Templeton."

"A story! What shall it be? A love story? a ghost story? a merry, or a
sad one?"

"Any of these you like, so that it be true. Tell me something that has
actually happened."

"That is really telling a secret," said I; "for while truth can be,
and oftener is, stranger than fiction, it is so, rather from turning
ordinary materials to extraordinary uses--making of every-day people
singular instances of vice and virtue--than for any great peculiarity in
the catastrophes to which they contribute."

"Well, I don't believe in the notion of everyday people. I have a
theory, that what are so summarily disposed of in this fashion are just
as highly endowed with individualities as any others. Do you remember a
beautiful remark, made in the shape of a rebuke, that Scott one day gave
his daughter for saying that something was 'Vulgar?' 'Do you know what
is the meaning of the word vulgar? It is only common; and nothing that
is common, except wickedness, can deserve to be spoken of in terms of
contempt: and when you have lived to my years, you will be disposed to
agree with me in thanking God that nothing really worth having or caring
about in this world is _uncommon_.'"

"When I said ordinary, every-day people, don't mistake me; I meant only
those who, from class and condition, follow a peculiar ritual, and live
after a certain rubric of fashion; and who, hiding themselves under a
common garment, whose cut, colour, and mode are the same, are really
undistinguishable, save on great and trying occasions.

"Kings, for instance! whom great diplomatic folks are supposed to see a
great deal of, and know in all the terms of an easy intimacy.

"But how do we see them? In an armour of reserve and caution, never
assumed to any one else. The ease you speak of is all assumed. It is the
conventional politeness accorded to a certain station. Kings, so far as
I have seen, are never really engaging, save to a great minister out
of power. Then their manner assumes all its attractiveness; on
the principle, perhaps, that Curran paid his homage to the antique
Hercules,--that _his_ day might yet come uppermost, and he would not
forget the friend who visited him in adversity."

"Well, to come back, tell us a story. Let it be what you will, or of
where and whom you please, so that it last while we are rowing homeward.
Monologue is always better than conversation by moonlight.

"But stay; what are the lights we see yonder, glancing from amid the
trees? And there, now, see the bright blaze that has sprung up, and
is reflected red and lurid on the lake below. It is a 'Festa' of the
Church; for hear, the bells are ringing merrily from the mountain-top,
and there go the people in procession, climbing the steep path towards
the summit."

Wonderful superstition! that has fashioned itself to every phase and
form of human nature--now, sending its aid to the darkest impulses of
passion, as we see in Ireland--now, conforming to the most simple tastes
of an unthinking people; for these peasants here are not imbued with the
piety of the Church--they only love its gauds. It is to the Tyrol you
must go to witness the real devotional feeling of a people.

"Well, shall I tell you a story?"

"No; I am weaving one, now, for myself!"



CHAPTER VI. _Villa Cimarosa, Lake of Como_

Gilbert reminds me that I had arranged my departure hence for to-morrow:
this was some weeks back, and now I have no intention of leaving. I
cling to this "Happy Valley," as one clings to life. To me it is indeed
such. These days of sunshine and nights of starry brilliancy--this calm,
delicious water--these purpled mountains, glowing with richer tints
as day wears on, till at sunset they are one blaze of gorgeous
splendour,--the very plash of those tiny waves upon the rocky shore are
become to me like friendly sights and sounds, from which I cannot tear
myself. And Lucy, too, she is to me as a sister, so full of kind,
of watchful consideration about me; since her own health is so much
restored, all her anxiety would seem for mine. How puzzling is the
tone assumed by Sir Gordon towards me! It was only yesterday that, in
speaking of his granddaughter, he expressed himself in such terms of
gratitude to me for the improvement manifest in her health, as though I
had really been the main agent in effecting it. I, whose power has never
been greater than a heart-cherished wish that one so fair, so beautiful,
and so good, should live to grace and adorn the world she moves in! What
a strange race, what a hard-fought struggle, has been going on within me
for some time back! Ebbing life contesting with budding affection; the
calm aspect of coming death dashed by feelings and thoughts--ay, even
hopes I had believed long since at rest. I feel less that I love than
that I should love, if life were to be granted to me.

I believe it is the pursuit that in most cases suggests the passion;
that the effort we may make to win exalts the object we wish to
gain. Not so here, however. _If I do love_, it has been without any
consciousness. It is so seldom that one who has never had a sister
learns to know, in real intimacy, the whole heart and nature of a
young and lovely girl, with all its emotions of ever-changing hue, its
thousand caprices, its weakness, and its pride. To me this study--it has
been a study--has given an inexpressible interest to my life here.
And then to watch how gradually, almost imperceptibly to herself, the
discipline of her mind has been accomplished--checking wild flights of
fancy here, restraining rash impulses there, encouraging reflection,
conquering prejudices,--all these done without my bidding, and yet
palpably through my influence; What pleasant flattery!

One distressing thought never leaves me. It is this,--how will a nature
so attuned as hers stand the rude jars and discords of "the world?"
for, do how we will, screen the object of affection how we may from its
shocks and concussions, the stern realities of life will make themselves
felt. Hers is too impassioned a nature to bear such reverses, as the
most even current sustains, without injury. The very consciousness of
being mistaken in our opinions of people is a sore lesson; it is the
beginning of scepticism, to end--who can tell where?

She smiles whenever I lecture her upon any eccentricity of manner,
and evidently deems my formalism, as she calls it, a relic of my early
teaching. So, perhaps, it may be. No class of people are so unforgiving
to any thing like a peculiarity as your _Diplomates_. They know the
value of the impassive bearing that reveals nothing, and they carry
the reserve of office into all the relations of private life. She even
quizzes me about this, and says that I remind her of the old Austrian
envoy at Naples, who never ventured upon any thing more explicit than
the two phrases--_C'est dure_, or _C'est sûre_, ringing the changes of
these upon every piece of news that reached him. How altered am I, if
this judgment be correct! I, that was headstrong even to rashness, led
by every impulse, precipitate in every thing, ready to resign all, and
with one chance my favour to dare nine full against me!

But why wonder if I be so changed? How has life and every living object
changed its aspect to my eyes, rendering distasteful a thousand things
wherein I once took pleasure, and making of others that I deemed flat,
stale, and unprofitable, the greatest charms of my existence? What close
and searching scrutiny of motives creeps on with years! what distrust,
and what suspicion! It is this same sentiment--the fruit of a hundred
self-deceptions and disappointments--makes so many men, as they advance
in life, abjure Liberalism in politics, and lean to the side of Absolute
Rule. The "Practical" exercises the only influence on the mind tempered
by long experience; and the glorious tyranny of St. Peter's is
infinitely preferable to the miscalled freedom of Popular Government.
The present Pope, however our Radical friends think of it, is no
unworthy successor of Hildebrand; and however plausible be the assumed
reforms in his States, the real thraldom, the great slavery, remains
untouched! "Hands Free, Souls Fettered," is strange heraldry.

Why have these thoughts crept over me? I would rather dwell on very
different themes; but already, far over the mountains westward, comes
the distant sound of strife. The dark clouds that are hurrying over the
lofty summit of Monte Brisbone are wafted from regions where armed hosts
are gathering, and the cry of battle is heard; and Switzerland, whose
war-trophies have been won from the invader, is about to be torn by
civil strife. Even in my ride to-day towards Lugano, I met parties
of peasants armed, and wearing the cockade of Ticino in their hats,
hastening towards Capo di Lago. The spectacle was a sad one; the field
labours of the year, just begun, are already arrested; the plough is
seen standing in the unfinished furrow, and the team is away to share
the fortunes of its owners in the panoply of battle. These new-made
soldiers, too, with all the loutish indifference of the peasant in
their air, have none of the swaggering effrontery of regular troops,
and consequently present more palpably to the eye the sufferings of a
population given up to conscription and torn from their peaceful homes
to scenes of carnage and bloodshed, and for what?--for an opinion? for
even less than an opinion: for a suspicion--a mere doubt.

Who will be eager in this cause on either side? None, save those
that never are to mingle in the contest. The firebrand Journalist of
Geneva--the dark-intentioned Jesuit of Lucerne; these are they who will
accept of no quarter, nor listen to one cry of mercy: such, at least,
is the present aspect of the struggle. Lukewarmness, if not actual
repugnance, among the soldiery; hatred supplying all the enthusiasm of
those who hound them on.

The Howards are already uneasy at their vicinity to the seat of war,
and speak of proceeding southward; yet they will not hear of my leaving
them. I feel spell-bound, not only to them but to the very place itself;
a presentiment is upon me, that, after this, life will have no pleasure
left for me--that I go hence to solitude, to suffering, and to death!

A restless night, neither waking nor sleeping, but passed in wild,
strange fancies, of reality and fiction commingled; and now, I am
feverish and ill. The struggle against failing health is at last become
torture; for I feel--alas that I must say it!--the longing desire to
live. Towards daybreak I did sleep, and soundly; but I dreamed too--and
how happily! I fancied that I was suddenly restored to health, with all
the light-heartedness and spring of former days, and returning with my
bride to Walcott.

We were driving rapidly up the approach, catching glimpses at times of
the old abbey--now a gable--now some richly traceried pinnacle--some
quaint old chimney--some trellised porch. She was wild with delight, in
ecstasy at the sylvan beauty of the scene: the dark and silent wood--the
brown, clear river, beside the road--the cooing note of the wood-pigeon,
all telling of our own rural England. "Is not this better than ambition,
love?" said I. "Are not leafy groves, these moss-grown paths, more
peaceful than the high-roads of fame?" I felt her hand grasp mine
more closely, and I awoke--awoke to know that I was dreaming--that my
happiness was but a vision--my future a mere mockery.

Why should not Lucy see these scenes? She will return well and in
strength. I would that she would dwell, sometimes, at least, among the
places I have loved so much. I have often thought of making her my heir.
I have none to claim from me--none who need it. There is one clause,
however, she might object to, nay, perhaps, would certainly refuse. My
grand-uncle's will makes it imperative that the property should always
descend to a Templeton.

What if she rejected the condition? It would fall heavily on me were she
to say "No."

I will speak to Sir Gordon about this. I must choose my time, however,
and do it gravely and considerately, that he may not treat it as a mere
sick man's fancy. Of course, I only intend that she should assume the
name and arms; but this branch of the Howards are strong about pedigree,
and call themselves older than the Norfolks.

So there is no time to be lost in execution of my plan. The Favancourts
are expected here to-morrow, on their way to Naples. The very thought of
their coming is misery to me. How I dread the _persiflage_ of the beauty
"_en vogue;_" the heartless raillery that is warmed by no genial trait;
the spiritless levity that smacks neither of wit nor buoyant youth, but
is the mere coinage of the salons! How I dread, too, lest Lucy should
imitate her! she so prone to catch up a trait of manner, or a trick of
gesture! And Lady Blanche can make herself fascinating enough to be a
model. To hear once more the dull recital of that world's follies that
I have left, its endless round of tiresome vice, would be a heavy
infliction. Alas, that I should have gained no more by my experience
than to despise it! But stay--I see Sir Howard yonder, near the lake.
Now for my project!



CHAPTER VII. _La Spezzia_

Another month, or nearly so, has elapsed since last I opened this book;
and now, as I look back, I feel like a convict who has slept soundly
during the night before his doom, and passed in forgetful-ness the hours
he had vowed to thought and reflection. I was reading Victor Hugo's
"Dernier Jour d'un Condamné" last evening, and falling asleep with it in
my hand, traced out in my dreams a strange analogy between my own fate
and that of the convicted felon. The seductions and attractions of life
crowding faster and faster round one as we near the gate of death--the
redoubled anxieties of friends, their kinder sympathies--how delightful
would these be if they did not suggest the wish to live! But, alas!
the sunbeam lights not only the road before us, but that we have been
travelling also, and one is so often tempted to look back and linger! To
understand this love of life, one must stand as I do now; and yet, who
would deem that one so lonely and so desolate, so friendless and alone,
would care to live? It is so, however: sorrow attaches us more strongly
than joy; and the world becomes dearer to us in affliction as violets
give out their sweetest odours when pressed.

Let me recall something of the last few weeks, and remember, if I can,
why and how I am here alone. My last written sentence was dated "Como,
the 29th October," and then comes a blank--now to fill it up.

Sir Gordon Howard was standing near the lake as I came up with him, nor
was he aware of my approach till I had my hand on his arm. Whether that
I had disturbed him in a moment of deep thought, or that something in my
own sad and sickly face impressed him, I know not, but he did not speak,
and merely drawing my arm within his own, we wandered along the waters
edge. We sauntered slowly on till we came to a little moss-house, with
stone benches, where, still in silence, we sat down. It belonged to the
Villa d'Esté, and was one of those many little ornamental buildings that
were erected by that most unhappy Princess, whose broken heart would
seem inscribed on every tree and rock around.

To me the aspect of the spot, lovely as it is, has ever been associated
with deep gloom. I never could tread the walks, nor sit to gaze upon the
lake from chosen points of view, without my memory full of her who, in
her exile, pined and suffered there. I know nothing of her history, save
what all others know; I am neither defender nor apologist--too humble
and too weak for either. I would but utter one cry for mercy on a memory
that still is dearly cherished by the poor who dwelt around her, and by
whom she is yet beloved.

Whatever were Sir Gordon's thoughts, it was clear the few efforts
he made to converse were not in accordance with them. The rumours of
disturbance in Switzerland--the increasing watchfulness on the Lombard
frontier--the growing feeling of uncertainty where and how far this new
discord might extend--these he spoke of, but rather as it seemed to mask
other themes, than because they were uppermost in his mind.

"We must think of leaving this," said he, after a brief pause. "'Where
to?' is the question. How would Genoa agree with _you?_"

"With _me!_ Let there be no question of _me_."

"Nay, but there must," said he, eagerly. "Remember, first of all, that
we are now independent of Climate, at least of all that this side of the
Alps possesses; and, secondly, bethink you that _you_ are the pilot that
weathered the storm for us."

"Happily, then," said I, laughing, or endeavouring to laugh, "I may
sing,--

    'The waves are laid, My duties paid.'
    I must seek out some harbour of refuge and be at rest.'"

"But with us, Templeton--always with us," said the old man,
affectionately.

"Upon one condition, Sir Gordon--short of that I refuse."

I fear me, that in my anxiety to subdue a rising emotion I threw into
these words an accent of almost stern and obstinate resolution; for as
he replied, "Name your condition," his own voice assumed a tone of cold
reserve.

It was full a minute before I could resume; not only was the subject one
that I dreaded to approach from fear of failure, but I felt that I had
already endangered my chance of success by the inopportune moment of its
introduction. Retreat was out of the question, and I went on. As much to
give myself time for a little forethought, as to provide myself with a
certain impulse for the coming effort, as leapers take a run before they
spring, I threw out a hasty sketch of the late events of my life before
leaving England, and the reasons that induced me to come abroad. "I knew
well," said I, "better far than all the skill of physicians could teach,
that no chance of recovery remained for me; Science had done its utmost:
the machine had, however, been wound up for the last time--its wheels
and springs would bear no more. Nothing remained, then, but to economise
the hours, and let them glide by with as little restriction as might be.
There was but one alloy to this plan--its selfishness; but when may
a man practise egotism so pardonably as when about to part with what
comprises it?

"I came away from England, then, with that same sentiment that made the
condemned captain beg he might be bled to death rather than fall beneath
the axe. I would, if possible, have my last days and hours calm and
unruffled, even by fear--little dreaming how vain are all such devices
to cheat one's destiny, and that death is never so terrible as when
life becomes dear. Yes, my friend, such has been my fate; in the calm
happiness of home here--the first time I ever knew the word's true
meaning--I learned to wish for life, for days of that peaceful happiness
where the present is tempered by the past, and hope has fewer checks,
because it comes more chastened by experience. You little thought, that
in making my days thus blissful my sorrow to part with them would be
a heavy recompense.... Nay, hear me out; words of encouragement only
increase my misery--they give not hope, they only awaken fresh feelings
of affection, so soon to be cold for ever."

How I approached the subject on which my heart was set I cannot now
remember--abruptly, I fear; imperfectly and dubiously I know: because
Sir Gordon, one of the most patient and forbearing of men, suddenly
interrupted me by a violent exclamation, "Hold! stay! not a word more!
Templeton, this cannot be; once for all, never recur to this again!"
Shocked, almost terrified by the agitation in his looks, I was unable
to speak for some seconds; and while I saw that some misconception of
my meaning had occurred, yet, in the face of his prohibition, I could
scarcely dare an attempt to rectify it. While I remained thus in painful
uncertainty, he seemed, by a strong effort, to have subdued his emotion,
and at length said, "Not even to you, my dear friend--to you, to whom I
owe the hope that has sustained me for many a day past, can I reveal
the secret source of this sorrow, nor say why what you propose is
impossible. I dreaded something like this--I foresaw how it might
be; nay, my selfishness was such that I rejoiced at it, for her sake.
There--there, I will not trust myself with more. Leave me, Templeton;
whatever your griefs, they are as nothing compared to mine."

I left him, and, hastening towards the lake side, soon lost myself in
the dark groves of chestnut and olive, the last words still ringing in
my ears--"Whatever your griefs, they are as nothing compared to mine."
Such complete pre-occupation had his agitation and trouble over my mind,
that it was long ere I could attempt to recall how I had evoked this
burst of passion, and by what words I had stirred him so to address me.
Suddenly the truth flashed boldly out; I perceived the whole nature of
the error. He had, in fact, interrupted iny explanation at a point
which made it seem that I was seeking his grandaughter in marriage. Not
waiting to hear me out, he deemed the allusions to my name, my family
arms, and my fortune, were intended to convey a proposal to make her
my wife. Alas! I needed no longer to wonder at his repugnance, nor
speculate further on the energy of his refusal. How entertain such a
thought for his poor child! It were, indeed, to weave Cyprus with the
garland of the Bride!

Impatient any longer to lie under the misconception--at heart, perhaps,
vexed to think how wrongfully he must have judged me when deeming me
capable of the thought--I hastened back to the Villa, determined at
once to rectify the error and make him hear me out, whatever pains the
interview should cost either.

On gaining the house I found that Sir Gordon had just driven from the
door. Miss Howard, who for two days had been indisposed, was still in
her room. Resolving, then, to make my explanation in writing, I went to
my room; on the table lay a letter addressed to me, the writing of which
was scarcely dry. It ran thus:--

     "My dearest Friend,

     "If I, in part, foresaw the possibility of what your words
     to-day assured me, and yet did not guard against the hazard,
     the sad circumstances of my lot in life are all I can plead
     in my favour. I have never ceased to reproach myself that I
     had not been candid and open with you at first, when our
     intimacy was fresh. Afterwards, as it became friendship, the
     avowal was impossible. I must not trust myself with more. I
     have gone from home for a day or two, that when we meet
     again the immediate memory of our last interview should have
     been softened.    Be to me--to her, also--as though the
     words were never spoken;  nor withdraw any portion of your
     affection from those you have rescued from the greatest of
     all calamities.

     "Yours ever,

     "Gordon Howard."


The mystery grew darker and more impenetrable; harassing, maddening
suspicions, mixed themselves up in my brain, with thoughts too terrible
for endurance. I saw that, in Sir Gordon's error as to my intentions,
he had unwittingly disclosed the existence of a secret--a secret whose
meaning seemed fraught with dreadful import; that he would never have
touched upon this mysterious theme, save under the false impression my
attempted proposal had induced, was clear enough; and, that thus I had
unwittingly wrung from him an avowal which, under other circumstances,
he had never been induced to make.

I set about to think over every word I had used in our last
interview--each expression I had employed, torturing the simplest
phrases by interpretations the most remote and unlikely, that thereby
some clue should present itself to this mystery: but, charge my memory
how I could, reflect and ponder as I might, the words of his letter had
a character of more deep and serious meaning than a mere refusal of my
proposition, taken in what sense it might, could be supposed to call
for. At moments, thoughts would flash across my brain so terrible in
their import, that had they dwelt longer I must have gone mad. They were
like sudden paroxysms of some agonising disease, coming and recurring
at intervals. Just as one of these had left me, weak, worn out, and
exhausted, a carriage, drawn by four post-horses, drew up to the door of
the Villa, and the instant after my servant knocked at my door, saying,
"La Comtesse de Favancourt is arrived, sir, and wishes to see you."

Who was there whose presence I would not rather have faced?--that gay
and heartless woman of fashion, whose eyes, long practised to read
a history in each face, would soon detect in my agitated looks that
"something had occurred," nor cease till she had discovered it. In Sir
Gordon's absence, and as Lucy was still indisposed, I had no alternative
but to receive her.

Scarcely had I entered the drawing-room than my worst fears were
realised. She was seated in an arm-chair, and lay back as if fatigued by
her journey; but on seeing me, without waiting to return my greeting of
welcome, she asked, abruptly,--

"Where's Sir Gordon?--where's Miss Howard? Haven't they been expecting
me?"

I answered, that Sir Gordon had gone over to the Brianza for a day; that
Miss Howard had been confined to her room, but, I was certain, had only
to learn her arrival to dress and come down to her.

"Is this said _de bonne foi?_" said she, with a smile where the
expression was far more of severity than sweetness. "Are you treating me
candidly, Mr. Templeton? or is this merely another exercise of your old
functions as Diplomatist?"

I started, partly from actual amazement, partly from a feeling of
indignant shame, at the accusation; but, recovering at once, assured her
calmly and respectfully that all I had said was the simple fact, without
the slightest shade of equivocation.

"So much the better," said she gaily; "for I own to you I was beginning
to suspect our worthy friends of other motives. You know what a tiresome
world of puritanism and mock propriety we live in, and I was actually
disposed to fear that these dear souls had got up both the absence and
the illness not to receive me."

"Not to receive you! Impossible!" said I, with unfeigned astonishment.
"The Howards, whom I have always reckoned as your oldest and most
intimate friends----"

"Oh, yes! very old friends, certainly: but remember that these are
exactly the kind of people who take upon them to be severer than all the
rest of the world, and are ten times as rigid and unforgiving as one's
enemies. Now, as I could not possibly know how this affair might have
been told to them----"

"What affair? I'm really quite in the dark to what you allude."

"I mean my separation from Favancourt."

"Are you separated from your husband, Lady Blanche?" asked I, in a state
of agitation in strong contrast to her calm and quiet manner.

"What a question, when all the papers have been discussing it these
three weeks! And from an old admirer, too! Shame on you, Mr. Templeton!"

I know not how it was, but the levity of this speech, given as it was,
made my cheek flush till it actually seemed to burn.

"Nay, nay, I didn't mean you to blush so deeply," said she, "And what a
dear, sweet, innocent kind of life you must have been leading here,
on this romantic lake, to be capable of such soft emotions! Oh, dear!"
sighed she, weariedly. "You men have an immense advantage in your
affairs of the heart; you can always begin as freshly with each new
affection, and be as youthful in sentiment with each new love, as we
are with our only passion. Now I see it all; you have been getting up a
'_tendre_' here for somebody or other:--not Taglioni, I hope, for I see
that is her Villa yonder,--There, don't look indignant. This same
Lake of Como has long been known to be the paradise of _danseuses_ and
opera-singers; and I thought it possible you might have dramatised a
little love-story to favour the illusion. Well, well," said she,
sighing, "so that you have not fallen in love with poor Lucy Howard----"

"And why not with her?" said I, starting, while in my quick-beating
heart and burning temples a sense of torturing pain went through me.

"Why not with her?" reiterated she, pausing at each word, and fixing
her eyes steadfastly on me, with a look where no affected astonishment
existed; "why not with her?--did you say this?"

"I did; and do ask, What is there to make it strange that one like her
should inspire the deepest sentiment of devotion, even from one whose
days are so surely numbered as mine are--so unworthy to hope--to win
her?"

"Then you really are unaware! Well, I must say this was not treating
you fairly. I thought every one knew it, however; and I conclude they
themselves reasoned in the same way. Come, I suppose I must explain;
though, from your terrified face and staring eyeballs, I wish the task
had devolved on some other. Be calm and collected, or I shall never
venture upon it.--Well, poor dear Lucy inherits her mother's malady--she
is insane!"

Broken half-words, stray fragments of speech, met my ears, for she went
on to talk of the terrible theme with the volubility of one who revelled
in a story of such thrilling horror. I, however, neither heard nor
remembered more; passages of well-remembered interest flashed upon my
mind, but, like scenes lit up by some lurid light, glowed with meanings
too direful to dwell on.

How I parted from her--how I left the Villa and came hither, travelling
day and night, till exhausted strength could bear no more--are still
memories too faint to recall; the realities of these last few days have
less vividness than my own burning, wasting thoughts: nor can I, by any
effort, separate the terrible recital she gave from my own reflections
upon it.

I must never recur to this again--nor will I reopen the page whereon it
is written: I have written this to test my own powers of mind, lest I
too----

Shakspeare, who knew the heart as none, save the inspired, have ever
known it, makes it the test of sanity to recall the events of a story in
the same precise order, time after time, neither changing nor inverting
them. This is Lear's reply to the accusation of madness, when yet his
intelligence was unclouded,--"I will the matter re-word, which madness
would gabble from."



CHAPTER VIII. _Lerici, Gulf of Spezzia_

Another night of fever! The sea, beating heavily upon the rocks,
prevented sleep; or worse--filled it with images of shipwreck and
storm. I sat till nigh midnight on the terrace--poor Shelley's favourite
resting-place--watching the night as it fell, at first in gloomy
darkness, and then bright and starlit. There was no moon, but the
planets, reflected in the calm sea, were seen like tall pillars of
reddish light; and although all the details of the scenery were in
shadow, the bold outlines of the distant Apennines, and of the Ponto
Venere and the Island of Palmaria, were all distinctly marked out. The
tall masts and taper spars of the French fleet at anchor in the bay were
also seen against the sky, and the lurid glow of the fires spangled the
surface of the sea. Strange chaos of thought was mine! At one moment,
Lord Byron was before me, as, seated on the taffrail of the "Bolivar,"
with all canvass stretched, he plunged through the blue waters; his
fair brown hair spray-washed and floating back with the breeze; his lip
curled with the smile of insolent defiance; and his voice ringing
with the music of his own glorious verse. Towards midnight the weather
suddenly changed; to the total stillness succeeded a low but distant
moaning sound, which came nearer and nearer, and at last a "Levanter,"
in all its fury, broke over the sea, and rolled the mad waves in masses
towards the shore. I have seen a storm in the Bay of Biscay, and I have
witnessed a "whole gale" off the coast of Labrador, but for suddenness,
and for the wild tumult of sea and wind commingled, I never saw any
thing like this. Not in huge rolling mountains, as in the Atlantic, did
the waves move along, but in short, abrupt jets, as though impelled by
some force beneath; now, skimming each over each, and now, spiriting
up into the air, they threw foam and spray around them like gigantic
fountains. As abruptly as the storm began, so did it cease; and as the
wind fell, the waves moved more and more sluggishly; and in a space of
time inconceivably brief, nothing remained of the hurricane save the
short plash of the breakers, and at intervals some one, long, thundering
roar, as a heavier mass threw its weight upon the strand. It was just
then, ere the sea had resumed its former calm, and while still warring
with the effects of the gale, I thought I saw a boat lying keel
uppermost in the water, and a man grasping with all the energy of
despair to catch the slippery planks, which rose and sank with every
motion of the tide. Though apparently far out at sea, all was palpable
and distinct to my eyes as if happening close to where I sat. A
grey darkness was around, and yet at one moment--so brief as to be
uncountable--I could mark his features, beautifully handsome and calm
even in his drowning agony; at least so did their wan and wearied
expression strike me. Poor Shelley! I fancied you were before me; and,
long after the vision passed away, a faint, low cry, continued to ring
in my ears--the last effort of the voice about to be hushed for ever.
Then the whole picture changed, and I beheld the French fleet all
illuminated, as if for a victory; the decks and yards crowded with
seamen, and echoing with their triumphant cheers; while on the poop-deck
of the "Souverain" stood a pale and sickly youth, thoughtful and sad,
his admiral's uniform carelessly half-buttoned, and his unbelted sword
carried negligently in his hand. This was the Prince de Joinville, as I
had seen him the day before, when visiting the fleet. I could not frame
to my mind where and over whom the victory was won; but disturbed fears
for our own naval supremacy flitted constantly across me, and every word
I had heard from the French captain who had accompanied me in my
visit kept sounding in my ears: as, for instance, while exhibiting the
Paixhan's cannons, he added,--"Now, here is an arm your ships have not
acquired." Such impressions must have gone deeper than, at the time, I
knew of, for they made the substance of a long and painful dream; and
when, awaking suddenly, the first object I beheld was the French fleet
resting still and tranquil in the bay, my heart expanded with a sense of
relief unspeakably delightful.

So, then, I must hence. These Levanters usually continue ten or twelve
days, and then are followed by the Tramontana, as is called the wind
from the Apennines; and this same Tramontana is all but fatal to those
as weak as I am. How puzzling--I had almost said, how impossible--to
know any thing about climate! and how invariably, on this as on most
other subjects, mere words usurp the place of ideas! It is enough to say
"Italy," to suggest hope to the consumptive man; and yet, what severe
trials does this same boasted climate involve! These scorching autumnal
suns; and cold, cutting breezes, wherever shade is found;--the genial
warmth of summer, here; and yonder, in that alley, the piercing air of
winter;--vicissitudes that wake up the extremes of every climate, occur
each twenty-four hours. And he, whose frail system can barely sustain
the slightest shock, must now learn to accommodate itself to atmospheres
of every density; now vapour charged and heavy, now oxygenated to
a point of stimulation that, even in health, would be felt as
over-exciting.

There is something of the same kind experienced here intellectually:
the every-day tone of society is trifling and frivolous to a degree;
the topics discussed are of a character which, to our practical notions,
never rise above mere levity; and even where others of a deeper interest
are introduced, the mode of treating them is superficial and
meagre. Yet, every now and then, one meets with some high and great
intelligence, some man of wide reflection and deep research; and then,
when hearing the words of wisdom in that glorious language, which unites
Teutonic vigour with every Gallic elegance, you feel what a people this
might be who have such an interpreter for their thoughts and deeds. In
this way I remember feeling when first I heard Italian from the lips
of a truly great and eloquent speaker. He was a small old man, slightly
bowed in the shoulders--merely enough so to exhibit to more advantage
the greater elevation of a noble head, which rose like the dome of a
grand cathedral; his forehead, wide and projecting over the brows which
were heavy, and would have been almost severe in their meaning, save
for the softened expression of his large brown eyes; his hair,
originally-black, was now grey, but thick and massive, and hang in locky
folds, like the antique, on his neck and shoulders. In manner he was
simple, quiet, and retiring, avoiding observation, and seeking rather
companionship with those whose unobtrusive habits made them unlikely for
peculiar notice. When I met him he was in exile. Indeed I am not certain
if the ban of his offence be recalled; whether or not, the voice of all
Italy now invokes his return, and the name of Gioberti is associated
with the highest and the noblest views of national freedom.

Well, indeed, were it for the cause of Italy if her progress were to be
entrusted to men like this--if the great principles of reform were to
be committed to intelligences capable of weighing difficulties, avoiding
and accommodating dangers. So late as the day before last I had an
opportunity of seeing a case in point. It is but a few weeks since
the good people of Lucca, filled with new wine and bright notions of
liberty, compelled their sovereign to abdicate. There is no denying that
he had no other course open to him; for if the Grand Duke of Tuscany
could venture to accord popular privileges, supported as he was by a
very strong body of nobles, whose possessions will always assure them
a great interest in the state, the little kingdom of Lucca had few, if
any, such securities. Its sovereign must either rule or be ruled. Now,
he had not energy of character for the one--he did not like the other.
Austria refused to aid him--not wishing, probably, to add to the
complication of Ferrara; and so he abdicated. Now comes _le commencement
du fin_. The Luccese gained the day: they expelled the Duke--they
organised a national guard--they illuminated--they protested, cockaded,
and--are ruined! Without trade, or any of its resources, this little
capital, like almost all those of the German duchies, lived upon "the
Court." The sovereign was not only the fount of honour, but of wealth!
Through his household flowed the only channel by which industry was
nurtured: it was his court and his dependants whose wants employed the
active heads and hands of the entire city. The Duke is gone--the palace
closed--the courtyard even already half grass-grown! Not an equipage is
to be heard or seen; not even a footman in a court livery rides past;
and all the recompense for this is the newly conferred privileges
of liberty, to a people who recognise in freedom, not a new bond of
obligation, but an unbridled license of action. The spirit of our times
is, however, against this. The inspired grocers, who form the Guardia
Civica, are our only guides now; it will be curious enough to see where
they will lead us.

When thinking of Italian liberty, or Unity, for that is the phrase in
vogue, I am often reminded of the Irish priest who was supposed by his
parishioners to possess an unlimited sway over the seasons, and who,
when hard-pushed to exercise it, at last declared his readiness to
procure any kind of weather that three farmers would agree upon, well
knowing, the while, how diversity of interest must for ever prevent
a common demand. This is precisely the case. An Italian kingdom to
comprise the whole Peninsula would be impossible. The Lombards have no
interests in common with the Neapolitans. Venice is less the sister than
the rival of Genoa. How would the haughty Milanese, rich in every thing
that constitutes wealth, surrender their station to the men of the
South, whom they despise and look down upon? None would consent to
become Provincial; and even the smallest states would stand up for the
prerogative of separate identity.

"A National" Guard slowly paces before the gate, within which Royalty
no longer dwells; and the banner of their independence floats over
their indigence! Truly, they have torn up their mantle to make a cap of
Liberty, and they must bear the cold how they may!

As for the Duke himself, I believe he deserves the epithet I heard
a Frenchman bestow upon him--he is a _Pauvre Sire!_ There is a fatal
consistency, certainly, about the conduct of these Bourbon Princes in
moments of trying emergency! They never will recognise danger till too
late to avert it. The Prince of Lucca, like Charles Dix, laughed
at popular menace, and yet had barely time to escape from popular
vengeance. There was a Ball at the palace on the very night when the
tumult attained its greatest importance; frequent messages were sent by
the Ministers, and more than one order to the troops given during
the progress of the entertainment. A despatch was opened at the
supper-table; and as the Crown Prince led out his fair partner--an
English beauty, by-the-by--to the _cotillon_, he whispered in her ear,
"We must keep it up late, for I fancy we shall never have another dance
in this _salle!_" And this is the way Princes can take leave of their
inheritance; and so it is, the "divine right" can be understood by
certain "Rulers of the people."

If the defence of Monarchy depended on the lives and characters of
monarchs, how few could resist Republicanism! though, perhaps, every
thing considered, there is no station in life where the same number
of good and graceful qualities is so certain to win men's favour and
regard. Maginn used to say, that we "admire wit in a woman as we admire
a few words spoken plain by a parrot."

The speech was certainly not a very gallant one; but I half suspect that
our admiration of royal attainments is founded upon a similar principle.

Kings can rarely be good talkers, because they have not gone through
the great training-school of talk--which is, conversation. This is
impossible where there is no equality; and how often does it occur to
monarchs to meet each other, and when they do, what a stilted, unreal
thing, must be their intercourse! Of reigning sovereigns, the King of
Prussia is perhaps the most gifted in this way; of course, less endowed
with that shrewd appreciation of character, that intuitive perception
of every man's bias, which marks the Monarch of the Tuileries, but
possessed of other and very different qualities, and with one especially
which never can be overvalued--an earnest sincerity of purpose in every
thing. There is no escaping from the conviction, that here is a man who
reflects and wills, and whose appeal to conscience is the daily rule
of life. The Nationality of Germany is his great object, and for it he
labours as strenuously--may it be as successfully!--as ever his "Great"
predecessor did to accomplish the opposite. What a country would it be
if the same spirit of nationality were to prevail from the Baltic to
the Black Sea, and "Germany" have a political signification as well as a
geographical one!

After all, if we have outlived the age of heroic monarchy, we have
happily escaped that of royal débauchés. A celebrated Civil Engineer
of our day is reported to have said, in his examination before a
parliamentary committee, that he regarded "rivers as intended by
Providence to supply navigable canals;" in the same spirit one might
opine certain characters of royalty were created to supply materials for
Vaudevilles.

What would become of the minor theatres of Paris if Louis XIV., and
Richelieu, and the Regency were to be interdicted? On whose memory dare
they hang so much of shameless vice and iniquitous folly? Where find
characters so degraded, so picturesque, so abandoned, so infamous, and
so amusing? What time and trouble, too, are saved by the adoption of
this era! No need of wearisome explanations and biographical details of
the _dramatis persono_. When one reads the word "Marquis," he knows
it means a man whose whole aim in life is seduction; while "Madame la
Marquise" is as invariably the easy victim of royal artifice.

It might open a very curious view into the distinctive nature of
national character to compare the recognised class to which vice is
attributed in different countries; for while in England we select
the aristocracy always, as the natural subjects for depravity, in
the Piedmontese territory all the stage villains are derived from the
mercantile world. Instead of a Lord, as with us, the seducer is always
a Manufacturer or a Shipowner; and _vice_ a Captain of Dragoons, their
terror of domestic peace, is a Cotton-spinner or a Dealer in Hardware.

Let it not be supposed that this originates in any real depravity, or
any actual want of honesty, in the mercantile world. No! the whole is
attributable to the "Censor." By _his_ arbitrary dictate the entire of
a piece is often re-cast, and so habituated have authors become to
the prevailing taste, that they now never think of occasioning him the
trouble of the correction. Tradesman there stands for scoundrel, as
implicitly as with us an Irishman is a blunderer and a Scotchman a
knave. Exercised as this power is, and committed to such hands as we
find it in foreign countries, it is hard to conceive any more quiet but
effectual agent for the degradation of a national taste. It is but a few
weeks back I saw a drama marked for stage representation in a city of
Lombardy, in which the words "Pope" and "Cardinal" were struck out as
irreverent to utter; but all the appeals--and most impious they were--to
the Deity were suffered to remain unmutilated.

And now I am reminded of rather a good theme for one of those little
dramatic pieces which amuse the public of the Palais Royal and the
Variétés. I chanced upon it in an old French book, called "Mémoires et
Souvenirs de Jules Auguste Prévost, premier Valet de Charge de S. A. le
Duc de Courcelles." Printed at the Hague, anno 1742.

I am somewhat sceptical about the veraciousness of many of M. Prévost's
recitals; the greater number are, indeed, little else than chronicles of
his losses at _Ombre_, with a certain Mdlle. Valencay, or narratives
of "_petits soupers_," where his puce-coloured shorts and coat of ambre
velvet were the chief things worthy of remembrance. Yet here and there
are little traits that look like facts, too insignificant for fiction,
and preserving something of the character of the time to which they
are linked. The whole bears no trace of ever having been intended for
publication; and it is not difficult to see where the new touches have
been laid on over the original picture. It was in all probability a mere
commonplace book, in which certain circumstances of daily life got mixed
up with the written details of his station in the Duke's household.

Neither its authenticity nor correctness, however, are of any moment to
my purpose, which was to jot down--from memory if I can,--the subject I
believe to be invested with dramatic material.

M. Prévost's narrative is very brief; indeed it barely extends beyond
a full allusion to a circumstance very generally known at the time. The
events run somewhat thus, or at least should do so, in the piece. At the
close of a brilliant fête at Versailles, where every fascination that an
age of unbounded luxury could procure was assembled, the King retired
to his apartment, followed by that prince of vaudeville characters,
the Maréchal Richelieu. His Majesty was wearied and out of spirits; the
pleasures of the evening, so far from having, as usual, elevated his
spirits and awakened his brilliancy, had depressed and fatigued him. He
was tired of the unvarying repetition of what his heart had long ceased
to have any share in; and, in fact, to use the vulgar, but most fitting
phrase, he was bored!

Bored by the courtiers, whose wit was too prompt to have been
unprepared; by the homage, too servile to have any sincerity; by the
smiles of beauty, perverted as they were by jealous rivalry and subtle
intrigue; and, above all, bored by the consciousness that he had no
other identity than such as kingly trappings gave him, and that all the
love and admiration he received were accorded to the monarch and nothing
to the man.

He didn't exactly, as novel writers would say, pour his sufferings
into Richelieu's ear, but in very abrupt and forcible expressions he
manifested his utter weariness of the whole scene, and avowed a very
firm belief that the company was almost as tired of him as he was of the
company.

In vain the Maréchal rallies his Majesty upon successes which were wont
to be called triumphs; in vain he assures him, that never at any period
was the domestic peace of the lieges more endangered by his Majesty's
condescensions: in fact, for once--as will happen, even with Kings now
and then--he said truth; and truth, however wholesome, is not always
palatable. Richelieu was too subtle an adversary to be easily worsted;
and after a fruitless effort to obliterate the gloomy impression of
the king, he, with a ready assurance, takes him in flank, and coolly
attributes the royal dissatisfaction to the very natural weariness at
ever seeing the same faces, however beautiful, and hearing the same
voices, however gay and sparkling their wit.

"Your Majesty will not give yourself the credit due of winning
these evidences of devotion from personal causes, rather than from
adventitious ones. Happily, a good opportunity presents itself for
the proof. Your Majesty may have heard of Madame de Vaugirarde, whose
husband was killed at La Rochelle?"

"The pretty widow who refuses to come to court?"

"The same, sire. She continues to reside at the antique château of her
late husband, alone, and without companionship; and, if report speak
truly, the brightest eyes of France are wasting their brilliancy in that
obscure retreat."

"Well, what is to be done? You would not, surely, order her up to
Versailles by a '_lettre de cachet?_'"

"No, sire, the measure were too bold; nay, perhaps my counsel will
appear far bolder: it is, that since Madame de Vaugirarde will not come
to court, your Majesty should go to Madame de Vaugirarde."

It was not very difficult to make this notion agreeable to the king. It
had one ingredient pleasurable enough to secure its good reception--it
was new--nobody had ever before dreamt of his Majesty making a tour
into the provinces _incog._ This was quite sufficient; and Richelieu had
scarcely detailed his intentions than the King burned with impatience
to begin his journey. The wily minister, however, had many things to
arrange before they set out; but of what nature he did not reveal to his
master. Certain is it that he left for Paris within an hour, hastening
to the capital with all the speed of post-horses. Arrived there, he
exchanged his court suit for a plain dress, and in a _fiacre_ drove to
the private entrance of the Théâtre Français.

"Is M. Duroset engaged?" said he, descending from the carriage.

"He is on the stage, monsieur," said the porter, who took the stranger
for one of the better _bourgeois_ of Paris, coming to secure a good
_loge_ by personal intercession with the manager. Now, M. Duroset was at
the very moment occupied in the not very uncommon task of giving a poor
actor his _congé_ who had just presented himself for an engagement.

As was the case in those days--(we have changed since then)--the
Director, not merely content with declining the proffered services,
was actually adding some very caustic remarks on the pretension of the
applicant, whose miserable appearance and ragged costume might have
claimed exemption from his gratuitous lecture.

"Believe me, _mon cher_," said he, "a man must have a very different air
and carriage from yours who plays 'Le Marquis' on the Parisian boards.
There should be something of the style and bearing of the world about
him--his address should be easy, without presumption--his presence
commanding, without severity."

"I always played the noble parts in the provinces. I acted the
'Régent'----"

"I've no doubt of it; and very pretty notions of royalty the audience
must have gained from you. There, that will do. Go back to Nancy, and
try yourself at valets' parts for a year or two--that's the best counsel
I can give you! Adieu! adieu!"

The poor actor retired, discomfited and distressed, at the same instant
that the graceful figure of Richelieu advanced in easy dignity.

"Monsieur Duroset," said the Maréchal, seating himself, and speaking in
the voice so habituated to utter commands, "I would speak a few words
with you in confidence, and where we might be certain of not being
overheard."

"Nothing could be better than the present spot, then," said the manager,
who was impressed by the style and bearing of his visitor, without ever
guessing or suspecting his real rank. "The rehearsal will not begin for
half-an-hour. Except that poor devil that has just left me, no one has
entered this morning."

"Sit down, then, and pay attention to what I shall say," said the
Maréchal. The words were felt as a command, and instantly obeyed.

"They tell me, M. Duroset, that a young actress, of great beauty
and distinguished ability, is about to appear on these boards, whose
triumphs have been hitherto won only in the provinces. Well, you must
defer her _début_ for some days; and meanwhile, for the benefit of
her health, she can make a little excursion to the neighbourhood of
Fontainebleau, where, at a short distance from the royal forest, stands
a small château. This will be ready for her reception; and where a
more critical taste than even your audiences boast will decide upon her
merits."

"There is but one man in France could make such a proposition!" said the
manager, starting back, half in amazement, half in respect.

"And I am exactly that man," rejoined the Maréchal. "There need never be
secrets between men of sense. M. Duroset, the case is this: your beauty,
whose manners and breeding I conjecture to be equal to her charms, must
represent the character of the widowed Countess of Vaugirarde, whose
sorrow for her late husband is all but inconsolable. The solitude of
her retreat will, however, be disturbed by the accidental arrival of a
stranger, who, accompanied by his friend, will demand the hospitality
of the château. Grief has not usurped every faculty and _devoir_ of
the fair Countess, who consents the following morning to receive the
respectful homage of the travellers, and even invites them, weary as
they seem by travel, to stay another day."

"I understand--I understand," said Duroset, hastily interrupting this
narrative, which the speaker poured forth with impetuous rapidity; "but
there are several objections, and grave ones."

"I'm certain of it," rejoined the other; "and now to combat them. Here
are a thousand louis; five hundred of which M. Duroset will keep--the
remainder he will expend, as his taste and judgment may dictate, in the
costume of the fair Countess."

"But Mademoiselle Bellechasse?"

"Will accept of these diamonds, which will become her to perfection. She
is not a _blonde?_"

"No; dark hair and eyes."

"This suite of pearls, then, will form a most graceful addition to her
toilette."

"They are magnificent!" exclaimed the manager, who, with wondering eyes,
turned from one jewel-case to the other; "they are splendid! Nay"--then
he added, in a lower accent, and with a glance, as he spoke, of
inveterate cunning--"nay, they are a Princely present."

"Ah, M. Duroset, _un homme d'esprit_ is always so easy to treat with!
Might I dare to ask if Mademoiselle Bellechasse is here?--if I might be
permitted to pay my respects?"

"Certainly; your Excell----"

"Nay, nay, M. Duroset, we are all incog." said the Maréchal, smiling
good-humouredly.

"As you please, sir. I will go and make a brief explanation to
Mademoiselle, if you will excuse my leaving you. May I take these jewels
with me? Thanks."

The explanation was, indeed, of the briefest; and he returned in a
few seconds, accompanied by a young lady, whose elegance of mien
and loveliness of form seemed to astonish even the critical gaze of
Richelieu.

"Madame la Comtesse de Vaugirarde," said the Director, presenting her.

"_Ah, belle Comtesse!_" said the Maréchal, as he kissed the tips of her
fingers with the most profound courtesy; "may I hope that the world
has still charms to win back one whose griefs should fall like spring
showers, and only render more fragrant the soil they water!"

"I know not what the future may bring forth," said she, with a most
gracefully-affected sadness; "but for the present, I feel as if the
solitude of my ancient château, the peaceful quiet of the country, would
best respond to my wishes: there alone, to wander in those woods, whose
paths are endeared to me----"

"Admirable!--beautiful!--perfect!" exclaimed Richelieu, in a transport
of delight; "never was the tribute of affection more touching--never a
more graceful homage rendered to past happiness! Now, when can you set
out?"

"To-morrow."

"Why not to-day? Time is every thing here."

"Remember, monsieur, that we have purchases to make--we visit the
capital but rarely."

"Quite true; I was forgetting the solitude of your retreat. Such charms
might make any lapse of memory excusable."

"Oh, monsieur! I should be, indeed, touched by this flattery, if I could
but see the face of him who uttered it."

"Pardon me, fair Countess, if I do not respond to even the least of
your wishes; we shall both appear in our true colours one of these days.
Meanwhile, remember our proverb that says, 'It's not the cowl makes the
monk.' When you shall hear this again, it will be in your château of
Vaugirarde, and----"

"Is that the _consigne_, then?" said she, laughing.

"Yes, that is the _consigne_,--don't forget it;" and, with a graceful
salutation, the Maréchal withdrew to perfect his further arrangements.

There was a listener to this scene, that none of its actors ever guessed
at--the poor actor, who, having lost his way among forests of pasteboard
and palaces of painted canvass, at last found himself at the back of a
pavilion, from which the speakers were not more than two paces distant.
Scarcely had the Maréchal departed, than he followed his steps, and
made all haste to an obscure _auberge_ outside the barriers, where a
companion, poor and friendless as himself, awaited him. There is no need
to trace what ensued at this meeting. The farce-writer might, indeed,
make it effective enough, ending as it does in the resolve, that since
an engagement was denied them at Paris, they'd try their fortune at
Fontainebleau, by personating the two strangers, who were to arrive by a
hazard at the Château de Vaugirarde.

The whole plot is now seen. They set out, and in due time arrive at the
château. Their wardrobe and appearance generally are the very reverse of
what the fair Countess expected, but as their stage experiences supply a
certain resemblance to rank and distinction--at least to her notions
of such--she never doubts that they are the promised visitors, and is
convinced by the significant declaration, that if their wayworn looks
and strange costume seem little indicative of their actual position, yet
the Countess should remember, "It is not the cowl makes the monk."

The constraint with which each assumes a new character forms the second
era of the piece. The lover, far from suspecting the real pretensions he
should strive to personate--the Countess, as much puzzled by the
secrecy of her guest's conduct, and by guesses as to his actual rank and
fortune. It is while these doubts are in full conflict, and when
seated at supper, that the King and Richelieu appear, announced as two
travellers, whose carriage being overturned and broken, are fain to
crave the hospitality of the château.

The discomfiture of Richelieu and the anger of the King at finding the
ground occupied, contrast well with the patronising graces of the mock
Countess and the insolent demeanour of the lover, who whispers in her
ear that the new arrivals are strolling players, and that he has seen
them repeatedly in the provinces. All Richelieu's endeavours to set
matters right, unobserved by the King, are abortive; while his Majesty
is scarce more fortunate in pressing his suit with the fair Countess,
by whose grace and beauty he is fascinated. In the very midst of the
insolent _badinage_ of the real actors, an officer of the household
arrives, with important despatches. Their delivery brooks no delay,
and he at once presents himself, and, kneeling, hands them to the King.
Shame, discomfiture, terror, and dismay, seize on the intruding players.
The King, however, is merciful. After a smart reproof all is forgiven;
his Majesty sagely observing, that although "the Cowl may not make the
Monk," the Ermine has no small share in forming the Monarch.



CHAPTER IX. _Florence_

What did Shelley, what does any one, mean by their raptures about
Florence? Never, surely, was the epithet of _La Bella_ more misapplied.
I can well understand the enthusiasm with which men call Genoa _Il
Superbo_. Its mountain background, its deep blue sea, its groves of
orange and acacia, the prickly aloe growing wild upon the very shore
in all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation, indicative of an almost
wasteful extravagance of production; while its amphitheatre of palaces,
proudly rising in terraced rows, are gorgeous remembrances of the
haughty Republic. But Florence! dark, dirty, and discordant! Palaces,
gaol-like and gloomy, stand in streets where wretchedness and misery
seem to have chosen their dwelling-place--the types of feudal tyranny
side by side with modern destitution. The boasted Arno, too, a
shrunk-up, trickling stream, not wide enough to be a river, not clear
enough to be a rivulet, winds along between hills hot and sun-scorched,
where the brown foliage has no touch of freshness, but stands parched
and shrivelled by the hot glare of eternal noon. The white-walled villas
glisten in the dazzling heat, not tempered by the slightest shade, but
reflecting back the scorching glow from rocks cracked and fissured by
the sun!

How disappointing is all this! and how wearisome is the endeavour,
from the scattered objects here and there, to make any approach to
that Florence one has imagined to himself! To me the abstraction is
impossible. I carry about with me, even into the galleries, before
the triumphs of Raf-faelle and the wonders of Michael Angelo, the sad
discordant scenes through which I have passed. The jarred senses are
rendered incapable of properly appreciating and feeling those influences
that should diffuse their effect upon the mind; and even the sight of
the "Guardia Civica," strutting in solemn mockery beneath the archways
where the proud Medici have trod, are contrasts to suggest rather a
sense of sarcasm than of pleasure.

Here and there you do come upon some grand and imposing pile of
building, the very stones of which seem laid by giant hands; but even
these have the fortress character, the air of strongholds, rather
than of princely dwellings, as at Genoa. You see at once how much more
defence and safety were the guiding principles, than elegance of design
and beauty of proportion. No vestibule, peopled with its marble groups,
opens here to the passer-by a glimpse of a noble stair rising in
spacious amplitude between walls of marble. No gate of gilded fretwork
shews the terraced garden, with the plashing fountains, and the
orange-trees bending with their fruit.

Like all continental cities where the English congregate, the
inhabitants have a mongrel look, grafting English notions of dress and
equipage upon their own, and, like most imitators, only successful in
following the worst models. The Cascini, too, exhibits a very motley
assemblage of gaudy liveries and, dusky carriages, riding-grooms dressed
like footmen, their masters no bad resemblance to the "Jeunes Premiers"
of a vaudeville. The men are very inferior in appearance to the
Milanese; they are neither as well-built nor well-grown, and rarely
have any pretensions to a fashionable exterior. The women are mostly
ill-dressed, and, in no instance that I have seen, even well-looking.
They have the wearied look, without the seductive languor, of the South;
they are pale, but not fair; and their gestures are neither plastic
nor graceful. In fact, in all that I have seen here, I am sadly
disappointed-all, save the Raffaelle's! they are above my conception of
them.

How much of this lies in myself I dare not stop to inquire; a large
share, perhaps, but assuredly not all. This climate should be avoided
by those of weak chest. Symptoms of further "breaking-up" crowd upon me
each day; and this burning sun and piercing wind make a sad conflict in
the debilitated frame. But where to go, where to seek out a quiet spot
to linger a few days and die! Rome is in all the agonies of its
mock liberty--Naples in open revolt: here, where I am, all rule and
government have ceased to exist; the mob have every thing at their
mercy: that they have not abused their power, is more owing to their
ignorance than their honour. When the Irish rebels carried the town
of Ross by storm, they broke into the grocers' shops to eat sugar!
The Florentines having bullied the Duke, are only busied about the new
uniforms of their Civic Guard!

Hitherto the reforms have gone no further than in organising this same
National Guard, and in thrashing the police authorities wherever found.
Now, bad as this police was, it was still the only protection to the
public peace. It exists no longer; and Tuscany has made her first step
in liberty "_en Américaine_" by adopting "Lynch Law."

I was about to note down a singular instance of this indignant justice
of the people, when the arrival of a letter, in a hand unknown to
me, suddenly-routed all my intentions. If I am able to record the
circumstance here, calmly and without emotion, it is neither from that
philosophy the world teaches, nor from any higher motive--it is merely
on the same principle that one would bear with tolerable equanimity the
break-down of a carriage when within a few miles of the journey's end!
The fact, then, is simply this, that I, Horace Templeton, whose draughts
a few days back might have gone far into the "tens of thousands,"
without fear of "dishonour," am now ruined! When we read this solemn
word in the newspapers, we at once look back to the rank and station of
him whose ruin is predicated. A Duke is "ruined" when he must sell
three packs of hounds, three studs of horses, four of his five or six
mansions, part with his yacht at Cowes, and his racers at Newmarket,
and retire to the Continent with a beggarly pittance of some fifteen
thousand per annum. A Merchant is ruined when, by the sudden convulsions
of mercantile affairs, he is removed from the unlimited command of
millions to pass his days, at Leamington or Cheltenham, on his wife's
jointure of two thousand a-year.

His clerk is ruined when he drops his pocket-book on his way from the
Bank, and loses six hundred pounds belonging to the firm. His is more
real ruin, for it implies stoppages, suspicion--mayhap loss of place,
and its consequences.

But I have lost every thing! Hamerton and Scott, my bankers, have
failed; their liabilities, as the phrase is--meaning thereby what they
are liable to be asked for, but cannot satisfy--are enormous. My only
landed property is small, and so heavily mortgaged as to be worth
nothing. I had only waited for the term of an agreement to redeem
the mortgage, and clear off all encumbrances; but the "crash" has
anticipated me, and I am now a beggar!

Yes, there is the letter, in all cold and chilling civility, curtly
stating that "the unprecedented succession of calamities, by which
public credit has been affected, have left the firm no other alternative
but that of a short suspension of payment! Sincerely trusting, however,
that they will be enabled----" and so forth. These announcements have
but one burden--the creditors are to be mulcted, while the debtor
continues to hope!

And now for my own share in the misfortune. Is it the momentary access
of excitement, or is it some passing rally in my constitution? but I
certainly feel better, and in higher spirits, than I have done for many
a day. It is long since I indulged in my old habit of castle-building;
and yet now, at every instant, some new notion strikes me, and I fancy
some new field for active labour and exertion. To the present Ministers
I am slightly known--sufficiently to ask for employment, if not in my
former career, in some other. Should this fail, I have yet powerful
friends to ask for me. Not that I like either of these plans--this
playing "_antichambre_" is a sore penance at my time of life. Had I
health and strength, I'd emigrate. I really do wonder why men of a
certain rank, younger sons especially, do not throw their fortunes into
the colonies. Apart from the sense of enterprise, there is an immense
gain, in the fact that individual exertion, be it of head or hand, can
exercise, free from the trammels of conventional prejudices, which
so rule and restrain us at home. If we merely venture to use the
pruning-knife in our gardens here, there, we may lay the axe to the root
of the oak; and yet, in this commonwealth of labour, the gentleman,
if his claim to the title be really well founded, is as certain of
maintaining a position of superiority as though he had remained in his
own country. The Vernons, the Greys, and the Courtenays, have never
ceased to hold a peculiar place among their fellow-citizens of the
United States; and so is it observable in our colonies, even where mere
wealth was found in the opposite scale.

But let me not longer dwell on these things, nor indulge in speculations
which lead to hope! Let me rather reflect on my present position, and
calculate calmly by what economy I may be able to linger on, and not
exhaust the means, till the lamp of life is ready to be quenched.

I am sure that most men of easy, careless temperament, could live as
well on one half of their actual incomes, having all that they require,
and never feeling any unusual privation; that the other half is
invariably "_mangé_" by one's servants, by tradespeople, by cases of
mock distress, by importunity, and by indolence. I well know how I
am blameable upon each of these several counts. Now, for a note to my
banker here, to ascertain what sum he holds of mine; and then, like the
shipwrecked sailor on his raft, to see how long life may be sustained on
half or quarter rations!

So, here is the banker's letter:--"I have the honour to acknowledge,"
and so on. The question at issue is the sum--and here it stands: Three
hundred and forty-two pounds, twelve shillings, and fourpence. I really
thought I had double the amount; but here I find checks innumerable. I
have, no doubt, given to many, now far richer than I am. Be it so.
The next point is--How long can a man live on three hundred and forty
pounds? One man would say, Three weeks--another, as many months--and
another, as many years, perhaps. I am totally ignorant what guidance to
follow.

In this difficulty I shall send for Dr. Hennesy--he is the man in repute
here--and try, if it may be, to ascertain what length of tether he
ascribes to my case. Be it a day, a week, or a month, let me but know
it. And now to compose myself, and speak calmly on a theme where the
slightest appearance of excitement would create erroneous suspicions
against me. If H. be the man of sense I deem him, he will not
misconstrue my meaning, even should he guess it.

Gilbert reminds me of what I had quite forgotten--that yesterday
I signed an agreement for a villa here: I took it for six months,
expecting to live one! It struck me, when driving out on the Bologna
road, both for architecture and situation; I saw nothing equal to
it--an old summer-palace of the Medici, and afterwards inhabited by the
Salviati, whose name it bears.

A princely house in every way is this; but how unsuited to ruined
fortunes! I walked about the rooms, now stopping to examine a picture or
a carved oak cabinet; now to peep at the wild glens, which here are seen
dividing the hills in every direction; and felt how easy it would be
to linger on here, where objects of taste and high art blend their
influence with dreams of the long past. Now, I must address my mind to
the different question--How to be released from my contract?

H. has just been here. How difficult it was to force him into candour!
A doctor becomes, by the practice of his art, as much addicted to
suspicion as a police agent. Every question, every reply of the patient,
must be a "symptom." This wearies and worries the nervous man, and
renders him shy and uncommunicative.

For myself, well opining how my sudden demand, "How long can I live?"
might sound, if uttered with abrupt sincerity, I submitted patiently
to all the little gossip of the little world of this place,--its envy,
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness--which certainly are prime
features in an English colony on the Continent--all, that I might
at last establish a character for soundness of mind and calmness of
purpose, ere I put my _quore_.

The favourable moment came at last, and I asked in full earnest, but
with a manner that shewed no sign of dread,--"Tell me, _Dottore mio_,
how long may such a chest as mine endure? I mean, taking every possible
care, as I do; neither incurring any hazard nor neglect; and, in fact,
fighting the battle bravely to the last?"

He tried at first, by a smile and a jocular manner, to evade the
question; but seeing my determination fixed, he looked grave, felt my
pulse, percussed my chest, and was silent.

"Well," said I, after a very long pause, "I await my sentence, but in
no mood of hope or fear. Is it a month?--a week?--a day?--nay, surely
it can hardly be so near as that? Still silent! Come, this is scarcely
fair; I ask simply--"

"That which is perfectly impossible to answer, did I concede that I
ought to reply, as categorically as you ask."

"Were I to tell my reasons, doctor, you might judge more harshly of
my intelligence than I should like; besides, you would certainly
misinterpret my meaning. Tell me, therefore, in the common course of
such changes as my disease involves, can I live a year? You shake your
head! Be it so. Six months?--Three, then?--Have I three? The winter,
you say, is to be feared. I know it. Well, then, shall I own that
my convictions anticipate you at each negative? I feel I have not a
month--nay, not half of one--a week will do it, doctor; and now excuse
scant ceremony, and leave me."

Alone--friendless--homeless--ruined, and dying! Sad words to write, each
of them; sadder when thus brought in brotherhood together. The world
and its pageants are passing fast by me, like the eddies of that stream
which flows beneath my window. I catch but one glimpse and they are
gone, beneath the dark bridge of Death, to mingle in the vast ocean of
Eternity.

How strange to see the whole business of the world going on, the moving
multitude, the tumult of active minds and bodies,--at the very moment
when the creeping chill of ebbing life tells of days and hours numbered!

I am alone--not one to sit by me to combat thoughts that with the
faintest help I could resist, but which unaided are too strong for me.
In this window-seat where now I rest, who shall sit this day week? The
youth, perhaps, in gushing pride of heart and buoyancy, now entering
upon life, ardent and high-souled--or the young bride, gazing on that
same river that now I watch, and reading in its circles wreathed smiles
of happy promise. Oh, may no memories of him, whose tears fall fast now,
haunt the spot and throw their gloom on others!

I am friendless--and yet, which of those I still call friends would I
now wish beside me. To drink of the cup of consolation? I must first
offer my own of misery--nay, it is better to endure alone!

Homeless am I, too--and this, indeed, I feel bitterly. Old familiar
objects, associated with ties of affection, bound up with memories of
friends, are meet companions for the twilight hours of life. I long to
be back in my own chosen room--the little library, looking out on the
avenue of old beeches leading to the lake, and the village spire rising
amid the dark yew-trees. There was a spot there, too, I had often
fancied--when I close my eyes I think I see it still--a little declivity
of the ground beneath a large old elm, where a single tomb stood
surrounded by an iron railing; one side was in decay, and through which
I often passed to read the simple inscription--"Courtenay Temple-ton,
Armiger, aetatis 22."

This was not the family burying-place--why he was laid there was a
family mystery. His death was attributed to suicide, nor was his memory
ever totally cleared of the guilt. The event was briefly this:--On
the eve of the great battle of Fontenoy he received an insult from an
officer of a Scotch regiment, which ended in a duel. The Scotchman fell
dead at the first fire. Templeton was immediately arrested; and instead
of leading an attack, as he had been appointed to do, spent the hours of
the battle in a prison. The next morning he was discovered dead; a great
quantity of blood had flowed from his mouth and nose, which, although
no external wound was found, suggested an idea of self-destruction.
None suspected, what I have often heard since from medical men, that
a rupture of the aorta from excessive emotion--a broken heart, in
fact--had killed him: a death more frequently occurring than is usually
believed.

"Ruined and dying" are the last words in my record; and yet neither
desirous of fortune nor life! At least, so faint is my hope that I
should use either with higher purpose than I have done, that all wish is
extinguished.

Seriously I believe, that love of life is less general than the habit
of projecting schemes for the future--a vague system of castle-building,
which even the least speculative practises; and that death is thus
accounted the great evil, as suddenly interrupting a chain of events
whose series is still imperfect. The very humblest peasant that rises
to daily toil has his gaze fixed on some future, some period of rest
or repose, some hour of freedom from his lifelong struggle. Now, I have
exhausted this source; the well, that once bubbled with eddying fancies
of days to come, is dry. High spirits, health, and the buoyancy
that result from both, when joined to a disposition keenly alive to
enjoyment, and yet neither cloyed by excess nor depraved by corrupt
tastes, will always go far to simulate a degree of ability. The very
freedom a mind thus constituted enjoys is a species of power; and its
liberty exaggerates its range, just as the untrammelled paces of the
young colt seem infinitely more graceful and noble than the matured
regularity of the trained and bitted steed.

It was thus that I set out in life--ardent, hopeful, and enthusiastic:
if my mental resources were small, they were always ready at hand, like,
a banker with a weak capital, but who could pay every trifling demand on
the spot, I lived upon credit; and upon that credit I grew rich. Had I
gone on freely as I began, I might still enjoy the fame of wealth and
solvency, but with the reputation of affluence came the wish to be rich.
I contracted my issues, I husbanded my resources, and from that hour
I became suspected. To avoid a "run" for gold, I ceased to trade and
retired. This, in a few words, is the whole history of my life.

Gilbert comes to say that the carriage is waiting to convey me to the
villa--our luggage is already there. Be it so: still I must own to
myself, that going to occupy a palace for the last few hours of life and
fortune is very much like good Christopher Sly's dream of Lordliness.



CHAPTER X. SOME REVERIES ABOUT PLACES.

What would the old school of Diplomatists have said if they saw their
secret wiles and machinations exposed to publicity, as is now the
fashion? When any "honourable and learned gentleman" can call for
"copies of the correspondence between our Minister at the Court
of-------- and the noble Secretary for the Foreign Department;" and
when the "Times" can, in a leader, rip up all the flaws of a treaty, or
expose all the dark intentions of some special compact? The Diplomatic
"Holy of Holies" is now open to the vulgar gaze, and all the mysteries
of the craft as commonplace as the transactions of a Poor-law Union.

Much of the "prestige" of this secrecy died out on the establishment of
railroads. The Courier who travelled formerly with breathless haste from
Moscow to London, or from the remotest cities of the far East, to our
little Isle of the West, was sure to bring intelligence several days
earlier than it could reach by any other channel. The gold greyhound,
embroidered on his arm, was no exaggerated emblem of his speed; but
now, his prerogative over, he journeys in "a first-class carriage"
with some fifty others, who arrive along with him. Old age and infancy,
sickness and debility, are no disqualifications--the race is open to
all--and the tidings brought by "our messenger" are not a particle
later, and rarely so full, as those given forth in the columns of a
leading journal.

How impossible to affect any mysterious silence before the "House!"--how
vain to attempt any knowledge from exclusive sources! "The ordinary
channels of information," to use Sir Robert's periphrasis, are the
extraordinary ones too; and not only do they contain whatever Ministers
know, but very often "something more."

Time was when the Minister, or even the Secretary at a Foreign Court,
appeared in society as a kind of casquet of state secrets,--when his
mysterious whispers, his very gestures, were things to speculate on, and
a grave motion of his eyebrows could make "Consols" tremble, and throw
the "Threes" into a panic. Now the question is, Have you seen the City
article in the "Times?" What does the "Chronicle" say? No doubt this is
a tremendous power, and very possibly the enjoyment of it, such as
we have it in England, is the highest element of a pure democracy.
Political information of a very high order establishes a species
of education, which is the safest check upon the dangers of private
judgment, and hence it is fair to hope that we possess a sounder and
more healthy public opinion in England than in any of the states of the
Continent. At least it would not be too much to infer, that we would be
less accessible to those sudden convulsions, those violent "_coups de
main_" by which Governments are overturned abroad; and that the general
diffusion of new notions on political subjects, and the daily reference
to such able expositors as our newspaper press contains, are
strong safeguards against the seductive promises of mob-leaders and
liberty-mongers.

In France, a Government is always at the mercy of any one bold enough to
lead the assault. The attempt may seem often a "forlorn hope"--it rarely
is so in reality. The love of vagrancy is not so inherent in the Yankee
as is the destructive passion in the Frenchman's heart; but it is there,
less from any pleasure in demolition than in the opportunity thus.
offered for reconstruction. Mirabeau, Rousseau, Fournier, La Mennais,
are the social architects of French predilection, and many a clearance
has been made to begin the edifice, and many have perished in laying the
foundations, which never rose above the earth, but which ere long we may
again witness undertaken with new and bolder hands than ever.

Events that once took centuries for their accomplishment, are now the
work of days or weeks. Steam seems to have communicated its impetuosity
to mind as well as matter, and ere many years pass over how few of the
traces of Old Europe will remain, as our fathers knew them?

I have scarcely entered a foreign city, for the last few years, without
detecting the rapid working of those changes. Old families sinking into
decay and neglect--time-honoured titles regarded as things that "once
were." Their very homes, the palaces, associated with incidents of deep
historic interests, converted into hôtels or "_Pensionnats_."

The very last time I strolled through Paris, I loitered to the
"_Quartier_" which, in my young ambition, I regarded with all the
reverence the pilgrim yields to Mecca. I remembered the first "_soirée_"
in which I was presented, having dined at the Embassy, and being taken
in the evening, by the Ambassador, that I might be introduced to the
Machiavel of his craft, Prince Talleyrand. Even yet I feel the hot blush
which mantled in my cheek as I was passing, with very scant ceremony,
the round-shouldered little old man who stood in the very doorway,
his wide black coat, far too large for his figure, and his white hair,
trimly brushed back from his massive temples.

It did not need the warning voice of my introducer, hastily calling my
name, to make my sense of shame a perfect agony. "Monsieur Templeton,
Monsieur le Prince," said the Ambassador; "the young gentleman of whom
I spoke;" and he added, in a tone inaudible to me, something about my
career and some mention of my relatives.

"Oh, yes!" said the Prince, smiling graciously, "I am aware how
'connexion,' as you call it, operates in England; but permit me,
Monsieur," said he, turning towards me, "to give one small piece of
advice. It is this: 'If you can win by cards never score the honours.'"
The precept had little influence on himself, however. No man ever paid
greater deference to the distinctions of rank, or conceded more to
the prestige of an ancient name. Neither a general, an orator, nor an
author--not even the leader of a faction--this astonishing man stood
alone, in the resources of his fertile intellect, directing events,
which he appeared to follow, and availing himself of resources which he
had stored up for emergency; but so artfully, that they seemed to arise
out of the natural current of events. Never disconcerted or abashed--not
once thrown off his balance--not more calmly dignified when he stood
beside Napoleon at Erfurth, then master of Europe itself, than he was at
the Congress of Vienna, when the defeat of France had placed her at the
mercy of her enemies.

It was in this same house, in the Rue Saint Florentin, that the Emperor
Alexander lived when the Allies entered Paris, on the last day of March,
1814. His Majesty occupied the first floor; M. de Talleyrand, the _rez
de chaussée_. He was then no more than ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs;
neither empowered by the Bourbons to treat for the Restoration, nor by
the nation for the conditions of a government--he was merely "one among
the conquered;" and yet to this man all eyes were turned instinctively,
as to one who possessed the secret of the future. That _rez de chaussée_
was besieged with visitors from morning till night; and even when,
according to the custom of the French, he made his lengthened toilette,
his dressing-room was filled by all the foreign ministers of the
conquering monarchs, and Nesselrode and Metternich waited at these daily
levées. In all these discussions M. de Talleyrand took the lead, with
the same ease and the same "_àplomb_" discussing kings to make and
kingdoms to dismember, as though the clank of the muskets, which now
and then interrupted their colloquy, came from the Imperial Guard of
Napoleon, and not the Cossacks of the Don and the Uhlans of the Danube,
who crowded the stairs and the avenues, and bivouacked in the court.

Here the Restoration was decided upon, and Talleyrand himself it was who
decided it. The Emperor Alexander opposed it strongly at first, alleging
that the old spirit and the old antipathies would all return with the
elder Bourbons, and suggesting the Duc d'Orléans as king. Talleyrand,
however, overruled the objection, asserting that no new agent must
be had recourse to for governing at such a juncture, and that one
usurpation could not be succeeded by another. It is said that when the
news reached Vienna, in 1815, that Napoleon had landed from Elba, the
Emperor Alexander came hurriedly over to where Talleyrand was sitting,
and informing him what had occurred, said, "I told you before your
plan would be a failure!" "_Mais que faire?_" coolly retorted the calm
_diplomate_; "of two evil courses it was the better--I never said
more of it. Had you proclaimed the King of Rome, you had been merely
maintaining the power of Napoleon under another name. You cannot
establish the government of a great nation upon a half-measure. Besides
that, Legitimacy, whatever its faults, was the only Principle that could
prove to Europe at large that France and Napoleon were parted for ever;
and, after so many barterings of crowns and trucklings of kingdoms,
it was a fine opportunity of shewing that there was still
something--whether it be or be not by right divine--which was superior
to sabres and muskets, generals and armies."

It was the sanctity of right--whether of kings, people, or
individuals--which embodied Talleyrand's conception of the Restoration;
and this it was which he so admirably expressed when arriving at the
Congress of Vienna, the ambassador of a nation without wealth or army.
"_Je viens_" said he to the assembled Kings and Ministers of conquering
Europe--"_Je viens et je vous apporte plus que vous n'avez,--Je vous
apporte l'idée du droit!_" This was happily expressed; but no one more
than he knew how to epigrammatise a whole volume of thought. In private
life, the charm of his manner was the most perfect thing imaginable: his
consciousness of rank and ancient family divested him of all pretension
whatever, and the idea of entering the lists with any one never occurred
to his mind. Willingly availing himself of the talents of others,
and their pens upon occasion, he never felt any embittering jealousy.
Approachable by all, his unaffected demeanour was as likely to strike
the passing observer as the rich stores of his intellect would have
excited the admiration of a more reflecting one. Such was he who has
passed away from amongst us--perhaps the very last name of the eventful
era he lived in which shall claim a great place in history!

A singular picture of human vicissitude is presented to us in the aspect
of those places, but more particularly of those houses wherein great
events have once occurred, but where times' change have brought new and
very different associations. A very few years, in this eventful century
we live in, will do this. The wonderful drama of the Empire sufficed to
impress upon every city of Europe some great and imposing reminiscence.
A small, unpretending little house, beside the ducal park at Weimar, was
Napoleon's resting-place for three days, when the whole world was at his
feet! The little salon where his receptions were held at evening--and
what receptions were they! the greatest Ministers and the most
distinguished Generals of Europe!--scarcely more than an ordinary
dressing-room in size, remains to this hour as he left it. One
arm-chair, a little larger than the others, stands at the window, which
always lay open. A table was placed upon the grass-plot outside, where
several maps were laid. The salon itself was too small to admit it, and
here from time to time the Emperor repaired, while with eagle glance
and abrupt gesture he marked out the future limits of the continental
kingdoms, creating and erasing monarchies, fashioning nations and
people, in all the proud wilfulness of Omnipotence! And now, while
thinking of the Emperor, let me bring to mind another local association.

In the handsomest part of the Chaussée d'Antin, surrounded on every
side by the splendid palaces and gorgeous mansions of the wealthiest
inhabitants of Paris, stands a small, isolated, modest edifice, more
like a Roman villa than the house of some northern capital, in the midst
of a park; one of those pleasure-grounds which the French--Heaven knows
why--designate as "Jardin Anglais." The outer gate opens on the Rue
Chantereine, and here to this hour you may trace, among the time-worn
and dilapidated ornaments, some remnants of the strange figures which
once decorated the pediment: weapons of various ages and countries,
grouped together with sphinxes and Egyptian emblems; the faint outlines
of pyramids, the peaceful-looking ibis, are there, among the helmets and
cuirasses, the massive swords and the death-dealing arms of our modern
warfare. In the midst of all, the number 52 stands encircled with a
little garland of leaves; but even they are scarce distinguishable now,
and the number itself requires the aid of faith to detect it.

Within, the place speaks of neglect and decay; the shrubs are broken and
uncared-for; the parterres are weed-grown; a few marble pedestals rise
amid the rank grass, to mark where statues once stood, but no other
trace of them remains: the very fountain itself is fissured and broken,
and the water has worn its channel along the herbage, and ripples on its
wayward course unrestrained. The villa is almost a ruin, the sashes have
fallen in in many places; the roof, too, has given way, and fragments
of the mirrors which once decorated the walls lie strewn upon the floor
with pieces of rare marble. Wherever the eye turns, some emblem of the
taste of its former occupant meets you. Some fresco, Stained with damp,
and green with mildew; some rustic bench, beneath a spreading tree,
where the view opens more boldly; but all are decayed. The inlaid floors
are rotting; the stuccoed ceilings, the richly-carved architraves, fall
in fragments as your footsteps move; and the doomed walls themselves
seem scarce able to resist the rude blast whose wailing cadence steals
along them.

Oh, how tenfold more powerfully are the memories of the dead preserved
by the scenes they habited while in life, than by the tombs and epitaphs
that cover their ashes! How do the lessons of one speak home to
the heart, calling up again, before the mind's eye, the very images
themselves! not investing them with attributes our reason coldly
rejects.

I know not the reason that this villa has been suffered thus to lapse
into utter ruin, in the richest quarter of so splendid a city. I believe
some long-contested litigation had its share in the causes. My present
business is rather with its past fortunes; and to them I will now
return.

It was on a cold dark morning of November, in the year 1799, that the
street we have just mentioned, then called the Rue de la Victoire,
became crowded with equipages and horsemen; cavalcades of generals and
their staffs, in full uniform, arrived and were admitted within the
massive gateway, before which, now, groups of curious and inquiring
gazers were assembled, questioning and guessing as to the unusual
spectacle. The number of led horses that paraded the street, the long
lines of carriages on either side, nearly filled the way; still there
reigned a strange, unaccountable stillness, among the crowd, who, as
if appalled by the very mystery of the scene, repressed their ordinary
tumult, and waited anxiously to watch the result.

Among the most interested spectators were the inhabitants of the
neighbouring houses, who saw, for the first time in their lives, their
quiet quarter the scene of such excitement. Every window was filled with
faces, all turned towards that portal which so seldom was seen to open
in general; for they who dwelt there had been more remarkable for the
retirement and privacy of their habits than for aught else.

At each arrival the crowd separated to permit the equipage to approach
the gate; and then might be heard the low murmur--for it was no
louder--of "Ha! that's Lasalle. See the mark of the sabre wound on
his cheek!" Or, "Here comes Angereau! You'd never think that handsome
fellow, with the soft eye, could be such a tiger." "Place there! place
for Colonel Savary!" "Ah, dark Savary! we all know him."

Stirring as was the scene without, it was far inferior to the excitement
that prevailed within the walls. There, every path and avenue that
led to the villa were thronged with military men, walking or standing
together in groups, conversing eagerly, and with anxious looks, but
cautiously withal, and as though half fearing to be overheard.

Through the windows of the villa might be seen servants passing and
repassing in haste, arranging the preparations for a magnificent
_déjeûné_--for on that morning the generals of division and the
principal military men in Paris were invited to breakfast with one of
their most distinguished companions--General Buonaparte.

Since his return from Egypt, Buonaparte had been living a life
of apparent privacy and estrangement from all public affairs. The
circumstances under which he had quitted the army under his command--the
unauthorised mode of his entry into France, without recall, without
even permission--had caused his friends considerable uneasiness on
his behalf, and nothing short of the unobtrusive and simple habits he
maintained had probably saved him from being called on to account for
his conduct.

They, however, who themselves were pursuing the career of ambition, were
better satisfied to see him thus, than hazard any thing by so bold
an expedient. They believed that he was only great at the head of his
legions; and they felt a triumphant pleasure at the obscurity into
which the victor of Lodi and the Pyramids had fallen when measured with
themselves. They witnessed, then, with sincere satisfaction, the seeming
indolence of his present life. They watched him in those _soirées_ which
Madame Buonaparte gave, enjoying his repose with such thorough
delight--those delightful evenings, the most brilliant for all that wit,
intellect, and beauty can bestow; which Talleyrand and Sieyes, Fouché,
Carnot, Lemercier, and a host of others frequented; and they dreamed
that his hour of ambition was over, and that he had fallen into the
inglorious indolence of the retired soldier.

While the greater number of the guests strolled listlessly through the
little park, a small group sat in the vestibule of the villa, whose
looks of impatience were ever turned towards the door from which their
host was expected to enter. One of those was a tall, slight man, with
a high but narrow forehead, dark eyes, deeply buried in his head, and
overshadowed by long, heavy lashes; his face was pale, and evinced
evident signs of uneasiness, as he listened, without ever speaking, to
those about him. This was General Moreau. He was dressed in the uniform
of a General of the day: the broad-skirted embroidered coat, the
half-boot, the embroidered tricolour scarf, and a chapeau with a deep
feather trimming--a simple, but a handsome costume, and which well
became his well-formed figure. Beside him sat a large, powerfully-built
man, whose long black hair, descending in loose curls on his neck and
back, as well as the jet-black brilliancy of his eye and deep olive
complexion, bespoke a native of the South. Though his dress was like
Moreau's, there was a careless jauntiness in his air, and a reckless
"_abandon_" in his manner, that gave the costume a character totally
different. The very negligence of his scarf-knot was a type of himself;
and his thickly-uttered French, interspersed here and there with Italian
phrases, shewed that Murat cared little to cull his words. At his
left was a hard-featured, stern-looking man, in the uniform of the
Dragoons--this was Andreossy; and opposite, and leaning on a sofa,
was General Lannes. He was pale and sickly; he had risen from a bed of
illness to be present, and lay with half-closed lids, neither noticing
nor taking interest in what went on about him.

At the window stood Marmont, conversing with a slight but handsome
youth, in the uniform of the Chasseurs. Eugène Beauharnois was then but
twenty-two, but even at that early age displayed the soldier-like ardour
which so eminently distinguished him in after-life.

At length the door of the salon opened, and Buonaparte, dressed in the
style of the period, appeared; his cheeks were sunk and thin; his hair,
long, flat, and silky, hung straight down at either side of his pale
and handsome face, in which now one faint tinge of colour marked either
cheek. He saluted the rest with a warm shake of the hand, and then
stooping down, said to Murat:--

"But Bernadotte--where is he?"

"Yonder," said Murat, carelessly pointing to a group outside the
terrace, where a tall, fine-looking man, dressed in plain clothes, and
without any indication of the soldier in his costume, stood in the midst
of a knot of officers.

"Ha! General," said Napoleon, advancing towards him; "you are not in
uniform. How comes this?"

"I am not on service," was the cold reply.

"No, but you soon shall be," said Buonaparte, with an effort at
cordiality of manner.

"I do not anticipate it," rejoined Bernadotte, with an expression at
once firm and menacing.

Buonaparte drew him to one side gently, and while he placed his arm
within his, spoke to him with eagerness and energy for several minutes;
but a cold shake of the head, without one word in reply, was all that he
could obtain.

"What!" exclaimed Buonaparte, aloud, so that even the others heard
him--"what! are you not convinced of it? Will not this Directory
annihilate the Revolution? have we a moment to lose? The Council of
Ancients are met to appoint me Commander-in-chief of the Army;--go, put
on your uniform, and join me at once."

"I will not join a rebellion," was the insolent reply.

Buonaparte shrunk back and dropped his arm, then rallying in a moment,
added,--

"'Tis well; you'll at least remain here until the decree of the Council
is issued."

"Am I, then, a prisoner?" said Bernadotte, with a loud voice.

"No, no; there is no question of that kind: but pledge me your honour to
undertake nothing adverse to me in this affair."

"As a mere citizen, I will not do so," replied the other; "but if I am
ordered by a sufficient authority, I warn you."

"What do you mean, then, as a mere citizen!"

"That I will not go forth into the streets, to stir up the populace; nor
into the barracks, to harangue the soldiers."

"Enough; I am satisfied. As for myself, I only desire to rescue the
Republic; that done, I shall retire to Malmaison, and live peaceably."

A smile of a doubtful, but sardonic character, passed over Bernadotte's
features as he heard these words, while he turned coldly away, and
walked towards the gate. "What, Augureau! thou here?" said he, as he
passed along, and with a contemptuous shrug he moved forward, and soon
gained the street. And truly, it seemed strange that he, the fiercest of
the Jacobins, the General who made his army assemble in clubs and knots
to deliberate during the campaign of Italy, that he should now lend
himself to uphold the power of Buonaparte!

Meanwhile, the salons were crowded in every part, party succeeding
party at the tables; where, amid the clattering of the breakfast and the
clinking of glasses, the conversation swelled into a loud and
continued din. Fouché, Berthier, and Talleyrand, were also to be seen,
distinguishable by their dress, among the military uniforms; and here
now might be heard the mingled doubts and fears, the hopes and dreads of
each, as to the coming events; and many watched the pale, care-worn face
of Bourienne, the secretary of Buonaparte, as if to read in his features
the chances of success; while the General himself went from room to
room, chatting confidentially with each in turn, recapitulating as he
went the phrase, "The country is in danger!" and exhorting all to be
patient, and wait calmly for the decision of the Council, which could
not, now, be long of coming.

As they were still at table, M. Carnet, the deputation of the Council,
entered, and delivered into Buonaparte's hands the sealed packet, from
which he announced to the assembly that the legislative bodies had been
removed to St. Cloud, to avoid the interruption of popular clamour, and
that he, General Buonaparte, was named Commander-in-chief of the Army,
and intrusted with the execution of the decree.

This first step had been effected by the skilful agency of Sieyes and
Roger Ducos, who spent the whole of the preceding night in issuing
the summonses for a meeting of the Council to such as they knew to be
friendly to the cause they advocated. All the others received theirs too
late; forty-two only were present at the meeting, and by that fragment
of the Council the decree was passed.

When Buonaparte had read the document to the end, he looked around
him on the fierce, determined faces, bronzed and seared in many a
battle-field, and said, "My brothers in arms, will you stand by me
here?"

"We will! we will!" shouted they, with one roar of enthusiasm.

"And thou, Lefebvre, did I hear thy voice there?"

"Yes, General; to the death I'm yours."

Buonaparte unbuckled the sabre he wore at his side, and placing it in
Lefebvre's hands, said, "I wore this at the Pyramids; it is a fitting
present from one soldier to another. Now, then, to horse!"

The splendid _cortège_ moved along the grassy alleys to the gate,
outside which, now, three regiments of cavalry and three battalions
of the 17th were drawn up. Never was a Sovereign, in all his pride of
power, surrounded with a more gorgeous staff. The conquerors of Italy,
Germany, and Egypt, the greatest warriors of Europe, were there grouped
around him--whose glorious star, even then, shone bright above him.

Scarcely had Buonaparte issued forth into the street than, raising his
hat above his head, he called aloud, "_Vive la République!_" The troops
caught up the cry, and the air rang with the wild cheers.

At the head of this force, surrounded by the Generals, he rode slowly
along towards the Tuileries, at the entrance to the gardens of which
stood Carnet, dressed in his robe of senator-in-waiting, to receive him.
Four Colonels, his aides-de-camp, marched in front of Buonaparte, as he
entered the Hall of the Ancients--his walk was slow and measured, and
his air studiously respectful.

The decree being read, General Buonaparte replied in a few broken
phrases, expressive of his sense of the confidence reposed in him: the
words came with difficulty, and he spoke like one abashed and confused.
He was no longer in front of his armed legions, whose war-worn looks
inspired the burning eloquence of the camp--those flashing images, those
daring flights, suited not the cold assembly, in whose presence he now
stood--and he was ill at ease and disconcerted. It was only, at length,
when turning to the Generals who pressed on after him, he addressed the
following words, that his confidence in himself came back, and that he
felt himself once more,--

"This is the Republic we desire to have--and this we shall have; for it
is the wish of those who now stand around me."

The cries of "_Vive la République!_" burst from the officers at once,
as they waved their _chapeaux_ in the air, mingled with louder shouts of
"_Vive le Général!_"

If the great events of the day were now over with the Council, they had
only begun with Buonaparte.

"Whither now, General?" said Lefebvre, as he rode to his side.

"To the guillotine, I suppose," said Andreossy, with a look of sarcasm.

"We shall see that," was the cold answer of Buonaparte, while he gave
the word to push forward to the Luxembourg.

This was but the prologue, and now began the great drama, the greatest,
whether for its interest or its actors--that ever the world has been
called to witness.

We all know the sequel, if sequel that can be called which our own days
would imply is but the prologue of the piece!



CHAPTER XI. _Villa Scalviati, near Florence_

I have had a night of ghostly dreams and horrors; the imagination of
Monk Lewis, or, worse, of Hoffman himself, never conceived any thing so
diabolical. H., who visited me last evening, by way of interesting me
related the incidents of a dreadful murder enacted in the very room I
slept in. There was a reality given to the narrative by the presence of
the scene itself--the ancient hangings still on the walls--the antique
chairs and cabinets standing, as they had done, when the deed of blood
took place; but, more than all, by the marble bust of the murderess
herself: for it was a woman, singularly beautiful, young, and of the
highest rank, who enacted it. The story is this:--

The Villa, which originally was in possession of the Medici family,
and subsequently of the Strozzi's, was afterwards purchased by Count
Juliano, one of the most distinguished of the Florentine nobility.

With every personal advantage--youth, high station, and immense wealth,
he was married to one his equal in every respect, and might thus have
seemed an exception to the lot of humanity, his life realising, as it
were, every possible element of happiness. Still he was not happy; amid
all the voluptuous enjoyments of a life passed in successive pleasures,
the clouded brow and drooping eye told that some secret sorrow preyed
upon him, and that his gay doublet in all its bravery covered a sad and
sorrowing heart. His depression was generally attributed to the fact
that, although now married three years, no child had been born to their
union, or any likelihood that he should leave an heir to his great
name and fortune. Not even to his nearest friends, however, did any
confession admit this cause of sorrow; nor to the Countess, when herself
lamenting over her childless lot, did he seem to shew any participation
in the grief.

The love of solitude, the desire to escape from all society, and pass
hours, almost days, alone in a tower, the only admittance to which was
by a stair from his own chamber, had now grown upon him to that extent,
that his absence was regarded as a common occurrence by the guests of
the castle, nor even excited a passing notice from any one. If others
ceased to speculate on the Count's sorrow, and the daily aversion he
exhibited to mixing with the world, the Countess grew more and more
eager to discover the source. All her blandishments to win his secret
from him were, however, in vain; vague answers, evasive replies, or
direct refusals to be interrogated, were all that she met with, and the
subject was at length abandoned,--at least by these means.

Accident, however, disclosed what all her artifice had failed in--the
key of the secret passage to the tower, and which the Count never
entrusted to any one, fell from his pocket one day, when riding from the
door; the Countess eagerly seized it, and guessing at once to what it
belonged, hastened to the Count's chamber.

The surmise was soon found to be correct; in a few moments she had
entered the winding stairs, passing up which, she reached a small
octagon chamber at the summit of the tower. Scarcely had her eager eyes
been thrown around the room, when they fell upon a little bed, almost
concealed beneath a heavy canopy of silk, gorgeously embroidered with
the Count's armorial bearings. Drawing rudely aside the hangings, she
beheld the sleeping figure of a little boy, who, even in his infantine
features, recalled the handsome traits of her husband's face. The child
started and awoke with the noise, and looking wildly up, cried out,
"Papa;" and then suddenly changing his utterance, said, "Mamma." Almost
immediately, however, discovering his error, he searched with anxious
eyes around the chamber for those he was wont to see beside him.

"Who are you?" said the Countess, in a voice that trembled with the
most terrible conflict of terror and jealousy, excited to the verge of
madness. "Who are you?"

"Il Conte Juliano," said the child, haughtily; and shewing at the same
time a little medallion of gold embroidered on his coat, and displaying
the family arms of the Julianos.

"Come with me, then, and, see your father's castle," said the Countess;
and she lifted him from the bed, and led him down the steps of the steep
stairs into, her husband's chamber.

It was the custom of the period, that the lady, no matter how exalted
her rank, should with her own hands arrange the linen which composed her
husband's toilet, and this service was never permitted to be discharged
by any less exalted member of the household. When the Count returned,
toward night-fall, he hastened to his room--an invitation, or command,
to dine at the Court that day compelling him to dress with all speed. He
asked for the Countess as he passed up the stairs, but paid no attention
to the reply, for as he entered his chamber he found she had already
performed the accustomed office, and that the silver basket, with
its snow-white contents, lay ready to his hand. With eager haste he
proceeded to dress, and took up the embroidered shirt before him. When,
horror of horrors! there lay beneath it the head of his child, severed
from the body, still warm and bleeding--the dark eyes glaring as if with
but half-extinguished life, the lips parted as if yet breathing! One cry
of shrill and shrieking madness was heard through every vaulted chamber
of that vast castle; the echoes were still ringing with it as the
maddened father tore wildly from chamber to chamber in search of the
murderess. She had quitted the castle on horseback two hours before.
Mounting his swiftest horse he followed her from castle to castle; the
dreadful chase continued through the night and the next day; a few
hours of terrible slumber refreshed him again to pursue her; and thus he
wandered over the Apennines and the vast plain beyond them, days,
weeks, months long, till in a wild conflict of his baffled vengeance and
insanity he died! She was never heard of more!

Such is the horrid story of the chamber in which I sit; her bust, that
of a lovely and gentle girl, fast entering into womanhood, is now before
me; the forehead and the brows are singularly fine; the mouth alone
reveals any thing of the terrible nature within; the lips are firm and
compressed--the under one drawn slightly--very slightly--backward.
The head itself is low, and, for the comfort of phrenologists, sadly
deficient in "veneration." The whole character of the face is, however,
beautiful, and of a classic order. It is horrible to connect the
identity with a tale of blood.

With this terrible tragedy still dwelling on my mind, and the features
of her who enacted it, I fell asleep. The room in which I lay had
witnessed the deed. The low portal in the corner, concealed behind the
arras, led to the stairs of the tower; the deep window in the massive
wall looked out upon the swelling landscape over which she fled, and he,
in mad fury, pursued her: these, were enough to seize and hold the mind,
and, blending the actual with the past, to make up a vision of palpable
reality. Oftentimes did I start from sleep. Now, it was the fancy of a
foot upon the tower stair; now, a child's fairy step upon the terrace
overhead; now, I heard, in imagination, the one, wild, fearful cry,
uttered as if the reeling senses could endure no more! At last I found
it better to rise and sit by the window, so overwrought and excited had
my brain become. Day was breaking, not in the cold grey of a northern
dawn, but in a rich glow of violet-coloured light, which, warmer on the
mountain-tops, gradually merged into a faint pinkish hue upon the lesser
hills, and became still fainter in the valleys and over the city itself.
A light, gauzy mist, tracked out in the air the course of the Arno; but
so frail was this curtain, that the sun's rays were already rending and
scattering its fragments, giving through the breaches bright peeps of
villas, churches, and villages on the mountain sides: the great dome,
too, rose up in solemn grandeur; and the tall tower of Santa Croce
stood, sentinel like, over the sleeping city. Already the low sounds of
labour, awakening to its daily call, were heard; the distant rumbling
of the heavy waggon, the crashing noise of branches, as the olive-trees
beside the road brushed against the lumbering teams; and, further off,
the cheering voices of the boatmen, whose fast barks were hurrying
along the rapid Arno;--all pleasant sounds, for they spoke of life and
movement, of active minds and labouring hands, the only bulwarks against
the corroding thoughts that eat into the sluggish soul of indolence.

For this fair scene--these fresh and balmy odours--this brilliant
blending of blue sky and rosy earth, I could unsay all that I have said
of Florence, and own, that it is beautiful! I could wish to sit here
many mornings to come, and enjoy this prospect as now I do. Vain
thought! as if I could follow my mind to the contemplation of the fair
scene, and so rove away in fancy to all that I have dreamed of, have
loved and cared for, have trusted and been deceived in!

I must be up and stirring--my time grows briefer. This hand, whose blue
veins stand out like knotted cordage, is fearfully attenuated; another
day or two, perhaps, the pen will be too much fatigue; and I have still
"Good-by," to say to many--friends?--ay, the word will serve as well as
another. I have letters to write--some to read over once again; some to
burn without reading. This kind of occupation--this "setting one's house
in order," for the last time--is like a rapid survey taken of a whole
life, a species of overture, in which fragments of every air of the
piece enter, the gay and cheerful succeeded by the sad and plaintive,
so fast as almost to blend the tones together; and is not this mingled
strain the very chord that sounds through human life?

Here, then, for my letter-box. What have we here?--a letter from the
Marquis of D------, when he believed himself high in ministerial favour,
and in a position to confer praise or censure:--

     "_Carlton Club_.

     "Dear Tempy,

     "Your speech was admirable--first-rate; the quotation
     from Horace, the neatest thing I ever heard; and
     astonishing, because so palpably unpremeditated. Every one
     I've met is delighted, and all say that, with courage and
     the resolve to succeed, the prize is your own. I go to
     Ireland, they say, or Paris. The latter if I can; the
     former if I must. In either case, will you promise to come
     with me? The assurance of this would be a very great relief
     to

     "Yours, truly,

     "D------."

What have we pinned to the back of this? Oh, a few lines in pencil from
Sir C------S------, received, I see, the same evening.

     "Dear T.,

     "Sir H------ is not pleased with your speech,
     although he owns it was clever.   The levity he disliked,
     because he will not give D------ any pretence for continuing
     this system of personalities. The bit of Horace had been
     better omitted; Canning used the same lines once before,
     and the _réchauffée_--if it were such--was poor.   The
     Marquis of D------ was twice at Downing Street, to say that
     he had 'crammed' you. This, of course, no one believes; but
     he takes the merit of your speech to himself, and claims
     high reward in consequence.   He asks for an Embassy!
     This is what Lord L------ calls 'too bad.'   Come over to-
     morrow before twelve o'clock.

     "Believe me yours,

     "C------ S------."


Another of the same date:--

     "Go in and win, old boy! You've made capital running, and
     for the start too--distanced the knowing ones, and no
     mistake! The odds are seven to four that you're in the
     Cabinet before the Derby day. I've taken equal fifties that
     Tramp wins the Goodwood, and that you're in--double event.
     So look out sharp, and don't baulk "Yours ever,


     "Frank Lushington."

A fourth, tied in the same piece of riband:--

     "_Wilson Crescent_.

     "Dear Friend,

     "We have just heard of your success.   Brilliant and
     fascinating as it must be, do not forget those who long to
     share your triumph.   Come over here at once.   We waited
     supper till two; and now we are sitting here, watching
     every carriage, and opening the window at every noise in the
     street. Come then, and quickly.

     "Augusta Beverly."

And here is the last of the batch:--

     "The D------ of B------ presents his compliments to Mr.
     Templeton, and begs to inform him that his ancestor was not
     the Marquis of T------ who conducted the negotiations at
     Malaga;' neither were 'thirty thousand pounds voted by the
     last Parliament to the family by way of secret service for
     parliamentary support,' but in compensation for two patent
     offices abolished--Inspectorship of Gold Mines, and Ordnance
     Comptrollership. And, lastly, that 'Infamous speech,' so
     pathetically alluded to, was made at a private theatrical
     meeting at Lord Mudbury's in Kent, and not 'on the
     hustings,' as Mr. T. has asserted."

So much for one event, and in itself a trivial one! Who shall say that
any act of his life is capable of exciting even an approach to unanimous
praise or censure? This speech, which on one side won me the adhesion
of some half-dozen clubs, the praise of a large body of the Upper House,
the softest words that the "beauty of the season" condescended to utter,
brought me, on the other, the coldness of the Minister, the chilling
civility of mock admiration, and lost me the friendship--in House of
Commons parlance--of the leading member of the Government!

And here is a strange, square-shaped epistle, signed in the corner,
"Martin Haverstock." This rough-looking note was my first step in
Diplomacy! I was a very young _attaché_ to the mission at Florence,
when, on returning to England through Milan, I was robbed of my trunk,
and with it of all the money I possessed for my journey. It was taken by
a process very well known in Italy, being cut off from the back of the
carriage, not improbably, with the concurrence of the driver. However
that might be, I arrived at the "Angelo d'Oro" without a sou. Having
ordered a room, I sat down by myself, hungry and penniless, not having
a single acquaintance at Milan, nor the slightest idea how to act in the
emergency. My very passport was gone, so that I had actually nothing to
authenticate my position--not even my name.

I sent for the landlord, who, after a very cold interview, referred me
to the Consul; but the Consul had on that very morning left the city
for Verona, so that his aid was cut off. My last resource--my only one,
indeed--was to write to Florence for money, and wait for the answer.
This was a delay of seven, possibly of eight, days, but it was
unavoidable.

This done, I ordered supper--a very humble one too, and befitting the
condition of one who had not wherewithal to pay for it. I remember still
the sense of shame I felt as the waiter, on entering, looked around for
my luggage, and saw neither trunk nor carpet-bag--not even a hat-box. I
thought--nay, there could be no mistake about it, it was quite clear--he
laid the table with a certain air of careless and noisy indifference
that bespoke his contempt. The very bang of the door as he went out, was
a whole narrative of my purseless state.

I had been very hungry when I ordered the meal. I had not tasted food
for several hours, and yet now I could not eat a morsel; chagrin and
shame had routed all appetite, and I sat looking at the table, and
almost wondering why the dishes were there. I thought of all the kind
friends far away, who would have been so delighted to assist me; who,
at that very hour perhaps, were speaking of me affectionately; and yet
I had not one near, even to speak a word of counsel, or say one syllable
of encouragement. It was not, it may well be believed, the monied loss
that afflicted me--the sum was neither large, nor did I care for it. It
was the utter desolation, and the sense of dependence, that galled me--a
feeling whose painful tortures, even temporary as they were, I cannot,
at this hour, eradicate from my memory.

Had I been left enough to continue my journey in the very humblest way,
on foot even, it would have been happiness compared with what I felt. I
arose at last from the table, where the untasted food still stood, and
strolled out into the streets. I wandered about listlessly, not even
feeling that amusement the newly seen objects of a great city almost
always confer, and it was late when I turned back to the inn. As I
entered, a man was standing talking with the master of the house, who,
in his broken English, said, as I passed, "There he is!" I at once
suspected that my sad adventure had been the subject of conversation,
and hurried up the stairs to hide my shame. In my haste, however, I
forgot my key at the porter's lodge, and was obliged to go back to fetch
it. On doing so, I met on the stairs a large, coarse-looking man, with
a florid face, and an air of rough but of simple good-nature in his
countenance. "You are a countryman, I believe?" said he in English.
"Well, I've just heard of what has happened to you. The rascals tried
the same trick with me at Modena; but I had an iron chain around _my_
trunk, and as they were baulked, and while they were rattling at it, I
got a shot at one of them with a pistol--not to hurt the devil, for it
was only duck-shot; not a bullet, you know. Where's your room?--is this
it?"

I hesitated to reply, strange enough; though he shewed that he was well
aware of all my loss. I felt ashamed to shew that I had no baggage, nor
any thing belonging to me. He seemed to guess what passed in my mind,
and said,--

"Bless your heart, sir, never mind me. I know the rogues have stripped
you of all you had; but I want to talk to you about it, and see what is
best to be done."

This gave me courage. I unlocked the door, and shewed him in.

"I suspected how it was," said he, looking at the table, where the
dishes stood untouched; "you could not eat by yourself, nor I either:
so come along with me, and we'll have a bit of supper together, and chat
over your business afterwards."

Perhaps I might have declined a more polished invitation; whether or
not, it was of no use to refuse him, for he would not accept an excuse;
and down we went to his chamber, and supped together. Unlike my slender
meal, his was excellent, and the wine first-rate. He made me tell him
about the loss of my trunk, twice over, I believe; and then he moralised
a great deal about the rascality of the Continent generally, and Italy
in particular, which, however, he remembered, could not be wondered at,
seeing that three-fourths of the population of every rank did nothing
but idle all day long. After that he inquired whether I had any pursuit
myself; and although pleased when I said Yes, his gratification became
sensibly diminished on learning the nature of the employment, "I may be
wrong," said he, "but I have always taken it, that you diplomatic folk
were little better than spies in gold-laced coats--fellows that were
sent to pump sovereigns and bribe their ministers." I took a deal of
pains, "for the honour of the line," to undeceive him; and, whether
I perfectly succeeded or not, I certainly secured his favour towards
myself, for, before we parted, it was all settled that I was to travel
back with him to England, he having a carriage and a strong purse, and
that he was to be my banker in all respects till I reached my friends.

As we journeyed along through France, where my knowledge of the language
and the people seemed to give the greatest pleasure to my companion, he
informed me that he was a farmer near Nottingham, and had come abroad
to try and secure an inheritance bequeathed to him by a brother, who for
several years had been partner in a great silk factory near Piacenza.
In this he had only partly succeeded, the Government having thrown all
possible obstructions in his way; still he was carrying back with him
nearly twenty thousand pounds--a snug thing, as he said, for his little
girl, for he was a widower with an only child. Of Amy he would talk
for hours--ay, days long! It was a theme of which he never wearied.
According to him, she was a paragon of beauty and accomplishments. She
had been for some time at a boarding-school at Brighton, and was the
pride of the establishment. "Oh, if I could only shew her to you!" said
he. "But why couldn't I? what's to prevent it? When you get to England
and see your friends, what difficulty would there be in coming down to
Hodley for a week or two? If you like riding, the Duke himself at Retton
Park has not two better bred ones in his stable than I have!" No need to
multiply his arguments and inducements: I agreed to go, not only to, but
actually with him--the frank good-nature of his character won on me at
every moment, and, long before we arrived at Calais, I had conceived for
him the strongest sentiments of affection.

From the moment he touched English ground his enthusiasm rose beyond
all bounds; delighted to be once back again in his own country, and
travelling the well-known road to his own home, he was elated like a
schoolboy. It was never an easy thing for me to resist the infectious
influence of any temperament near me, whether its mood was grave or gay,
and I became as excited and overjoyed as himself; and I suppose that two
exiles, returning from years of banishment, never gave themselves up to
greater transports than did we at every stage of our journey. I cannot
think of this without astonishment, for, in honest truth, I was all
my life attached to the Continent--from my earliest experience I had
preferred the habits and customs to our own, and yet, such was the easy
and unyielding compliance of my nature, that I actually fancied that my
Anglo-mania was as great as his own.

At last we reached Hodley, and drove up a fine, trimly-kept gravel
avenue, through several meadows, to a long comfortable-looking
farmhouse, at the door of which, in expectant delight, stood Amy
herself. In the oft-renewed embraces she gave her father I had time
to remark her well, and could see that she was a fine, blue-eyed,
fair-haired, handsome girl--a very flattering specimen of that good
Saxon stock we are so justly proud of; and if not all her father's
partiality deemed as regarded ladylike air and style, she was perfectly
free from any thing like pretension or any affectation whatever. This
was my first impression: subsequent acquaintance strengthened it. In
fact, the Brighton boarding-school had done no mischief to her; she had
not learned a great deal by her two years' residence, but she had not
brought back any toadying subserviency to the more nobly born, any
depreciating sense of her former companions, or any contempt for the
thatched farmhouse at Hodley and its honest owner.

If our daily life at the farm was very unvarying, it was exceedingly
pleasurable; we rose early, and I accompanied Martin into the fields
with the workmen, where we remained till breakfast. After which I
usually betook myself to a little brook, where there was excellent
fishing, and where, her household duties over, Amy joined me. We dined
about two; and in the afternoon we--that is, Amy and myself--rode
out together; and as we were admirably mounted, and she a capital
horsewoman, usually took a scamper "cross country," whenever the
fences were not too big and the turf inviting. Home to tea, and a walk
afterwards through the green lanes and mossy paths of the neighbourhood,
filled the day; and however little exciting the catalogue of pursuits,
when did I feel time pass so swiftly? Let me be honest and avow, that
the position I enjoyed had its peculiar flattery. There was through all
their friendship a kind of deferential respect--a sense of looking up
to me, which I was young enough to be wonderfully taken by: and my
experiences at Foreign Courts--which Heaven knows were few and meagre
enough--had elevated me in their eyes into something like Lord Whitworth
or Lord Castlereagh; and I really believe, that all the pleasure my
stories and descriptions afforded was inferior to the delight they
experienced in seeing the narrator, and occasionally the actor, in the
scenes described, their own guest at their own table.

It was while revelling in the fullest enjoyment of this pleasant life
that I received a Foreign Office letter, in reply to an application I
had made for promotion, rejecting my request, and coolly commanding my
immediate return to Florence. These missives were not things to disobey,
and it was in no very joyful mood I broke the tidings to my host.

"What's it worth?" said Martin, abruptly.

"Oh, in point of money," said I, "the appointments are poor things. It
is only that there are some good prizes in the wheel, and, whether one
is lucky enough to gain them or not, even Hope is something. My salary
is not quite two hundred a-year!"

Martin gave a long, low whistle, and said,--

"Why, dang it! my poor brother George, that's gone, had six hundred when
he went out as inspector over that silk factory! Two hundred a-year!"
mused he; "and what do you get at your next promotion?"

"That is not quite certain. I might be named _attaché_ at Vienna, which
would, perhaps, give me one hundred more--or, if I had the good fortune
to win the Ministers favour, I might be made a Secretary at some small
legation and have five hundred--that is, however, a piece of luck not to
be thought of."

"Well, I'm sure," sighed Martin; "I'm no judge of these matters; but it
strikes me that's very poor pay, and that a man like myself, who has his
ten or twelve hundreds a-year--fifteen in good seasons--is better off
than the great folk dining with kings or emperors."

"Of course you are," said I; "who doubts it? But we must all do
something. England is not a country where idleness is honourable."

"Why not turn farmer?" said Martin, energetically; "you'd soon learn
the craft, I've not met any one this many a-year picks up the knowledge
about it like yourself. You seem to like the life too."

"If you mean such as I live now, I delight in it."

"Do you, my dear boy?" cried he, grasping my hand, and squeezing it
between both his own. "If so, then never leave us. You shall live with
us--we'll take that great piece of land there near the haugh--I've had
an eye on it for years back; there's a sheep run there as fine as any
in Europe. I'll lay down the whole of those two fields into meadow, and
keep the green crops to the back altogether. Such partridge-shooting
we will have there yet. In winter, too, the Duke's hounds meet twice
a-week. I've got such a strapping three-year-old--you haven't seen him,
but he'll be a clipper. Well, don't say nay. You'll stay and marry
Amy. I'll give her twenty thousand down, and leave you all I have
afterwards."

This was poured forth in such a voluble strain, that an interruption was
impossible; and at last, when over, the speaker stood with tearful eyes,
gazing on me, as if on my reply his very existence was hanging.

Surprise and gratitude for the unbounded confidence he had shewn in
me were my first sensations, soon to be followed by a hundred other
conflicting and jarring ones. I should shame--even now, after years
have gone by--to own to some of these. Alas! our very natures are at the
mercy of the ordinances we ourselves have framed; and the savage red man
yields not more devotion to the idol he has carved, than do we to the
fashion we have made our Deity! I thought of the Lady Georginas and
Carolines of my acquaintance, and grew ashamed of Amy Haverstock! If
I had loved, this I am sure would not have been the case, but I cannot
acquit myself that principle and good feeling should not have been
sufficient without love! Whether from the length of time in which I
remained without answering, or that in my confusion he read something
adverse to his wishes, but Martin grew scarlet, and in a voice full of
emotion said,--

"There, Mr. Templeton, enough said. I see it will not do--there's no
need of explaining. I was a fool, that's all!"

"But will you not let me, at least, reflect?" "No, sir; not a second. If
my offer was not as frankly taken as made--ay, and on the instant too--I
am only the more ashamed for ever making it: but there's an end on't. If
you would be as good friends parting with me as we have been hitherto,
never speak of this again." And so saying, Martin turned on his heel and
walked hastily away. I followed him after a second, but he waved me back
with his hand, and I was forced to comply.

That day Amy and I dined alone together. Her father, she said, "had got
a bad headache;" and this she said with such evident candour, it was
clear she knew nothing of our interview. The dinner was to me, at least,
a very constrained affair; nor were my sensations rendered easier as she
said--"My father tells me that you are obliged to leave us this evening,
Mr. Templeton. I'm very sorry for it; but I hope we'll meet soon again."

We did not meet soon again, or ever. I left the farm that night for
London. Martin came to the door from his bed to wish me good-by. He
looked very ill, and only spoke a few words. His shake-hands was,
however, hearty; and his "God bless you," uttered with kind meaning.

I have never seen that neighbourhood since.

It was about two years after that I received a letter--the very one now
before me--superscribed Martin Haverstock. It was brief, and to this
effect. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs being a candidate for the
representation in Parliament of the county in which Martin held a large
stake, had, in acknowledgment of his friend Mr. Haverstock's exertions
in his support, been only too happy to consider the application made
respecting Mr. H.'s young friend, who, by the next Gazette, would be
announced for promotion.

And thus I was made Secretary of Legation at Studtgart!

There was a postscript to Martin's letter, which filled me with strange
and varying emotions:---"Amy is sorry that her baby is a little girl;
she'd like to have called it 'Horace.'"

This packet I need not open. The envelope is superscribed, "Hints and
Mems for H.T. during his residence at the Court of M------." They were
given in a series of letters from old Lord H------, who had long been
a resident Minister there, and knew the people thoroughly. I followed,
very implicitly too, the counsels he gave, and was said to have
acquitted myself well, for I was "_Chargé d'Affaires_." But what
absurdity it is to suppose that any exclusive information is ever
obtainable by a Minister, except when the Government itself is disposed
to afford it! I remember well, the spy we employed was also in the pay
of the French Embassy. He was a Sardinian, and had spent some years of
his life an Austrian prisoner in a fortress. We all believed, whatever
the fellow's sentiments on other subjects, that he was a profound hater
of Austria. Well, it turned out that he sold us all to Metternich.

Old Sir Robert W------ used to say to his _attachés_--"Never tell me
secrets, but whenever any thing is publicly discussed in the clubs
and cafés, let me hear it." In the same way, he always rejected the
authenticity of any revelations where Talleyrand, or Metternich, or
Pozzo di Borgo's names appeared. "These men," he always used to say,
"were their own confidants, and never leaked save to serve a purpose."
It was from Sir Robert I heard a story first, which has since, I
believe, been fully corroborated. An Under-secretary of Talleyrand,
during the Prince's residence as French ambassador at St. James's,
informed his Excellency one morning, that a very tempting offer had
been made to him if he would disclose the contents of his master's
writing-desk. He had not accepted, nor altogether declined the proposal,
wishing to know from the Prince how it might be made available to his
plans, and whether a direct accusation of the author, a person of high
station, would be deemed advisable. Talleyrand merely said, "Take the
money; the middle board of the drawer in my secretary is removable by a
very simple contrivance, which I'll shew you. I had it made so at Paris.
You'll find all the papers you want there. Take copies of them."

"But, Monsieur le Prince-----"

"Pray make your mind at ease. I'll neither compromise myself nor you."

The Secretary obeyed; the bargain was perfected, and a supposed
"secret correspondence between Talleyrand and Arnim," deposited in Lord
T------'s hands. About a week afterwards Lord T------ invited the Prince
to pass some days at his seat in Herefordshire, where a distinguished
party was assembled. The Ambassador accepted; and they met like the most
cordial of friends. When the period of the visit drew to its conclusion,
they were walking one morning in the grounds together, engaged in a
conversation of the most amicable candour, each vying with the other by
the frankness and unreserve of his communications.

"Come now, Prince," said Lord T------, "we are, I rejoice to find, on
terms which will permit any freedom. Tell me frankly, how do you stand
with Prussia? Are there any understandings between you to which we must
not be parties?"

"None whatever."

"You say this freely and without reserve?"

"Without the slightest reserve or qualification."

Lord T------ seemed overjoyed, and the discussion concluded. They dined
that day together, and in the evening a large company was assembled to
meet the Prince before his departure for London. As usual at T------
House, the party contained a great show of distinguished persons,
political and literary. Among the subjects of conversation started was
the question of how it happened that men of great literary distinction
so rarely could shine as statesmen; and that even such as by their
writings evinced a deep insight into political science, were scarcely
ever found to combine practical habits of business with this great
theoretical talent.

The discussion was amusing, because it was carried on by men who
themselves occupied the highest walks in their respective careers.

To arrest a somewhat warm turn of the controversy, Lord T------, turning
to the Prince, said, "I suppose, Monsieur le Prince, you have seldom
been able to indulge in imaginative composition?"

"Pardon me, my Lord, I have from time to time dissipated a little in
that respect; and, if I must confess it, with a very considerable degree
of amusement."

The announcement, made with a most perfect air of candour, interested at
once the whole company, who could not subdue their murmured expressions
of surprise as to the theme selected by the great Diplomatist.

"I believe," said he, smiling, "I am in a position to gratify the
present company; for, if I mistake not, I have actually with me at this
moment a brief manuscript of my latest attempt in fiction. As I am a
mere amateur, without the slightest pretension to skill or ability,
I feel no reluctance at exposing my efforts to the kind criticism of
friends. I only make one stipulation."

"Oh, pray, what is it? any thing, of course, you desire!" was heard on
every side.

"It is this. I read very badly, and I would request that T------, our
kind host, would take upon him to read it aloud for us."

Lord T------ was only too much flattered by the proposal, and the
Prince retired to fetch his papers, leaving the company amazed at the
singularity of a scene which so little accorded with all they had ever
heard of the deep and wily Minister; some of the shrewdest persons
significantly observing, that the Prince was evidently verging on those
years when vanity of every kind meets fewest obstacles to its display.

"Here are my papers, my Lord," said the Prince, entering with his
manuscript. "I have only to hope that they may afford to the honourable
company any portion of the amusement their composition has given me."

The party seated themselves round the room, and Lord T------, disposing
the papers on the table before him, arranged the candles, and prepared
to begin. "The title of the piece is missing," said he, after a pause.

"Oh, no, my Lord; you'll find it on the envelope," replied Talleyrand.

"Ah, very true; here it is!--'Secret Correspondence'------" Lord T------
stopped--his hands trembled--the blood left his face--and he leaned back
in his chair almost fainting.

"You are not ill!--are you ill?" broke from many voices together.

"No; not in the least," said he, endeavouring to smile; "but the Prince
has been practising a bit of 'plaisanterie' on me, which I own has
astounded me."

"Won't you read it, my Lord; or shall I explain?"

"Oh, Monsieur le Prince," said Lord T------, crushing the papers into
his pocket, "I think you may be satisfied;" and with this, to the
company, very mysterious excuse, his Lordship abruptly retired; while
Talleyrand almost immediately set out for London.

The nature of the mystification was not disclosed till long afterwards;
and it is but justice to both parties to say, not by Talleyrand, but by
Lord T------ himself.

With what facility men, whose whole daily life is artifice, can be
imposed on, is a very remarkable feature in all these cases. The
practice of deceit would actually appear to obstruct clear-sightedness
and dull the ordinary exercise of common sense. Witness that poor Dutch
ambassador Fabricius, who, a few years ago, was imposed on at Paris by
Bouffé, the comedian, representing himself to be the first Secretary of
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and offering, for a sum of money, to
confide to him the secret negotiations between M. Guizot and the Belgian
Government! Fabricius, deceived by the great resemblance of Bouffé to
the person he represented, agreed, and actually wrote to the King of
Holland a triumphant despatch, announcing his own diplomatic dexterity.
Every post saw a huge packet of letters to the King, containing
various documents and papers; some assuming to be in the handwriting of
Guizot--some, of Nothomb--some, of the Duke of Wellington--and two or
three of King Leopold himself. The task of undeceiving the unhappy
dupe was taken by his Majesty Louis Philippe, who having, at an evening
reception at Neuilly, exposed his attempted corruption, coolly turned
his back and refused to receive him.

Another dive into this chaotic mass of reminiscence! A letter from poor
Granthorpe, whose sad suicide remains the unexplained and unexplainable
mystery of all who knew him. A man whose mind was remarkable for its
being so deeply imbued with sentiments of religious truth--whose whole
life was, so to say, devotional--is found dead, the act being by his own
hand! No circumstance of domestic calamity, no pecuniary difficulty, not
even a passing derangement of health, to account for the terrible event.
Here is his note; we were but new acquaintances at the time, and it
begins,--

     "Dear Sir,

     "From the conversation we held together lately at Lord N----'s
     table, I believe I shall not misinterpret your
     sentiments by supposing that any new fact connected with
     Waterloo will interest you strongly. I therefore enclose you
     a memoir, drawn up a few evenings back at W------.   It was
     begun by way of a regular refutation of Alison, whose views
     are so manifestly incorrect; the idea of publication is,
     however, abandoned, and I am at liberty merely to shew it to
     such of my friends as take a more than common interest in
     the transaction.

     "Truly yours,

     "S. Granthorpe."

The memoir which accompanied this is curious for two reasons: first,
from its authenticity; and, secondly, from the fact that, being dictated
from beginning to end, it is as clear, as consecutive, as free from
unnecessary, and as full of all necessary detail, as if the events were
of a few days' back, and that no recital of them had yet been given
to the world. Two or three anecdotes (new to me, at least) were
interspersed here and there, not for themselves, but as circumstantially
evidencing facts of some importance.

One, I remember, alluded to a Prussian statement by a Captain
Hahnsfelder, who stated that two British guns, placed on the height
above La Haye Sainte, were captured by the French as early as eleven
o'clock. The passage in the memoir is this:--"Untrue; these guns were in
the field at seven in the evening, in the same position which they stood
at the beginning of the battle. They are in advance of Adam's left, and
were so far unprotected that the artillerymen who served them had to
retire after each discharge. The Cuirassiers made several attempts to
carry them off, but as orders were given that, after each fire, one
wheel should be taken off each gun, the cavalry failed in their object.
They tried to lasso them, but this also failed, besides losing them some
men."

Alison's strategy, for he went so far as to plan a campaign of his own,
is very ably exposed, and the necessity of posting troops in particular
districts clearly explained from circumstances peculiar to the
localities, such as stationing the cavalry at Enghein, where alone
forage was procurable. The controversy, if it can be so called, is
worthless. They whose opinions are alone valuable are exactly the
persons who will not speak on the subject.

A strange-looking letter is this from C------ enclosing the proof of
a paper I wrote on Irish Educational matters, very laconic and
editorial:--

     "Dear T.,

     "You are all wrong: as blue and yellow, when mixed, form
     green, so will your Protestant and Papist League make
     nothing but rampant infidelity. In any great State scheme of
     education there must be one grand standard of obedience--the
     Bible is the only one I've heard of yet. Keep this one then
     till you hear of better.

     "Yours,

     "H. C."

Another of the same hand:--

     "H------ desires me to inclose you these two letters: one I
     know is an introduction to Guizot; the other, I suppose, to
     be 'Ein empfehlungs Brief' to the 'Gräfin.' Take care to say
     as little as possible to the one, and to have, in Irish
     parlance, as little as possible 'to say' to the other. At
     Paris you want no guidance; and at Vienna, the Abbé Discot
     is your man. Coloredo is out of favour for the moment; but
     he can afford to wait, and, waiting, to win. Be assiduous in
     your visits at B------y's; and when the Countess affects
     ignorance, let us always hear from you.

     "Yours ever,

     "H. C."

This is a very rose-coloured and rose-odoured document:--

     "Dear Mr. Templeton,

     "I have to make two thousand excuses;  one each for two
     indiscretions,    I believed I had your box at the Opera for
     last evening; and I also fancied--think of my absurdity!--
     that the bouquet  of camélias left there was meant for me.
     Pray forgive me; or, rather, ask the fair lady who came in
     at the ballet to forgive me.    I never can think of the
     incident without shame and self-reproach; _du reste_, it
     has given me the opportunity of knowing that your taste in
     beauty  equals   your judgment   in flowers.

     "Very much yours,

     "Helen Collyton.

     "Sir H------ bids me say, that he expects you on Wednesday.
     We dine earlier, as the Admiral goes on board in the
     evening."

This was an absurd incident; and, trivially as it is touched on here,
made of that same Lady Collyton a very dangerous enemy to me.

This is not a specimen of calligraphy, certainly:--

     "If you promise neither to talk of the Catholic Question,
     the Kildare Place Society, nor the 'Glorious Revolution of
     1688.' P------ will have no objection to meet you at dinner.
     Hammond, you've heard, I suppose, has lost his election; he
     polled more voters than there were freeholders registered on
     the books: this was proving too much, and he must pay the
     penalty.   Y------ is in, and will remain if he can; but
     there is a hitch in it--'as the man who lent him his
     qualification is in gaol at Bruges.' Write and say if you
     accept the conditions.

     "Yours,

     "Frederick Hamilton."

There are some memorials of a very different kind--they are bound up
together; and well may they, they form an episode quite apart from all
the events before or after them! I dare not open them; for, although
years have passed away, the wounds would bleed afresh if only breathed
on! This was the last I ever received from her. I have no need to open
it--I know every line by heart!--almost prophetic, too!

     "I have no fear of offending you now, since we shall never
     meet again. The very thought that the whole world divides
     us, as completely as death itself, will make you accept my
     words less as reproof than warning. Once more, then, abandon
     the career for which you have not health, nor energy, nor
     enduring strength. Brilliant displays, discursive efforts,
     however effective, will no more constitute statesmanship
     than fireworks suffice to light up the streets of a city.
     Like all men of quick intelligence, you undervalue those who
     advance more slowly, forgetting that their gleaning is more
     cleanly made, and that, while you come sooner, they come
     more heavily laden. Again, this waiting for conviction--this
     habit of listening to the arguments on each side, however
     excellent in general life, is inapplicable in politics. You
     must have opinions previously formed--you must have your
     mind made up, on principles very different and much wider
     than those a debate embraces. If I find the person who
     guides me through the streets of a strange city stop to
     inquire here, to ask this, to investigate that, and so on, I
     at once conceive--and very reasonably--a doubt of his skill
     and intelligence; but if he advance with a certain air of
     assured knowledge, I yield myself to his guidance with
     implicit trust: nor does it matter so much, when we have
     reached the desired goal, that we made a slight divergence
     from the shortest road.

     "Now, if a constituency concede much to your judgment,
     remember that you owe a similar debt to the leader of your
     party, who certainly--all consideration of ability apart--
     sees further, because from a higher eminence, than other
     men.

     "Again, you take no pleasure in any pursuit wherein no
     obstacle presents itself; and yet, if the difficulty be one
     involving a really strong effort, you abandon it. You
     require as many conditions to your liking as did the
     commander at Walcheren--the wind must not only blow from a
     particular quarter, but with a certain degree of violence.
     This will never do! The favouring gale that leads to
     fortune is as often a hurricane as a zephyr; some are blown
     into the haven half shipwrecked, but still safe.

     "Lastly, you have a failing, for which neither ability, nor
     address, nor labour, nor even good luck, can compensate. You
     trust every one--not from any implicit reliance on the
     goodness of human nature--not that you think well of this
     man, or highly of that, but simply from indolence.
     'Believing,' is so very easy--such a rare self-indulgence!
     Think of all the deception this has cost you--think of the
     fallacies, which you knew to be fallacies, that found their
     way into your head, tainting your own opinions, and mingling
     themselves with your matured convictions. Believe me, there
     is nothing but a strict quarantine can prevail against
     error!"

     Enough of these,--now for an incremation: would that, Hindoo
     like, I could consume with them the memory to which they
     have been wedded!

*****

Dr. H------ has been here again; he came in just as the last flicker was
expiring over the charred leaves; he guessed readily what had been my
occupation, and seemed to feel relieved that the sad office of telling
bad tidings of my case was taken off his hands. Symptoms seem now
crowding on each other--they come, like detached battalions meeting on
the field of battle when victory is won, only to shew themselves and
to proclaim how hopeless would be resistance. The course of the malady
would, latterly, appear to have been rapid, and yet how reluctant does
the spirit seem to quit its ruined temple!

I wish that I had more command over my faculties; the tricks Imagination
plays me at each moment are very painful: scarcely have I composed my
mind into a calm and patient frame, than Fancy sets to work at some
vision of returning health and strength--of home scenes and familiar
faces--of the green lanes of Old England, as seen at sunset of a summer
eve, when the last song of the blackbird rings through the clear air,
and odours of sweet flowers grow stronger in the heavy atmosphere.

To start from these, and think of what I am--of what so soon I shall be!

What marvellously fine aspirations and noble enterprises cross the
sick man's fancy! The climate of health is sadly unfavourable to the
creatures begot of fancy--one tithe of the strange notions that are now
warring in my distracted brain would make matter for a whole novelist's
library. Thoughts that are thus engendered are like the wines which the
Germans call "Ausgelesene," and which, falling from the grape unpressed,
have none of the impurities of fabrication about them. After all, the
things that have been left undone by all of us in this life, would be
far better and greater than those we have done.

     Oh, the fond hearts that have never been smitten,
     And all the hot tears that have never been shed!
     Not to speak of the books that have never been written;
     And all the smart things that have never been said!

*****

Weaker and weaker!--the senses fail to retain impressions, and, like
cracked vases, let their contents ooze out by slow degrees. Objects of
sight become commingled with those of sound; and I can half understand
the blind man Locke tells us of, who imagined "the colour scarlet to be
like the sound of a trumpet."

Mesmerism affects the power of transferring the operations of one sense
to the organs of another; can it be that, in certain states of the
brain, the nervous fluids become intermixed?

It is night--calm, still, and starlit! How large are the stars compared
with what they appear in northern latitudes! And the moonlight, too,
is pale as silver, and has none of the yellow tint we see with us.
Beautifully it lies along that slope of the mountain yonder, where the
tall dark yew-trees throw their straight shadows across the glittering
surface.

It is the churchyard of St. M------; and now in the church I can
perceive the twinkle of lights--they are the candles around the coffin
of him whose funeral I saw this morning. The custom of leaving the body
for a day in the church before consigning it to the grave is a touching
one. The dimly-lighted aisles, and the solemn air of the place, seem a
fitting transition from Life to the sleep of Death.

I have been thinking of that very old man, who came past the window
yesterday, and sat down to rest himself on the stone-bench beside the
door. Giordano never took a finer head as a study: lofty and massive,
with the temples deeply indented; and such a beard, snow-white and
waving! How I longed for strength enough to have wandered forth and
seated myself beside him! A strange, mysterious feeling was on me--that
I should hear words of comfort from his lips! This impression grew out
of his own remarkable story. Yes, poor and humble as his dress, lowly
as his present condition may seem, he was a "Captain of the Imperial
Guard"--a proud title once! He was taken prisoner during the retreat
from Moscow, and, with hundreds more, sent away to eternal exile in
Siberia! At that period he was in all the pride of manhood, a true
specimen of his class--gay, witty, full of daring, and a sceptic; a
Frenchman of the Revolution grafted on a gentleman of the old _régime!_
The Fatalism that sustained them--it was their only faith--through long
years of banishment, brought many in sadness to the grave! It was a
gloomy-religion, whose hope was but chastened despair! He himself lived
on, the reckless spirit of a bold heart hardening him against grief as
effectually as it excluded memory. When, at length, as time went on, and
his companions dropped off around him, a severe and cheerless melancholy
settled down upon him, and he lived on in a state of dreamy unreality,
less like sleep than death itself! And yet, through this dense cloud a
ray of light pierced and fell upon his cold and darkened spirit, like
day descending into some cleft between the mountains!

He was sitting at the door of his hut one evening, to taste the few
short moments of sunset, when, unwrapping the piece of paper
which surrounded his cigar--the one sole luxury the prisoners are
permitted--he was proceeding to light it, when a thought occurred that
he would read the lines, for it was a printed paper. He opened the bit
of torn and ragged paper, and found there three verses from the Gospel
of St. John. Doubtless he had often sat in weariness before the most
heart-stirring appeals and earnest exhortations; and yet these few lines
did what years of such teaching failed to do. The long-thirsting heart
was refreshed by this one drop of clear water! He became a believer,
firm and faithful! His liberation, which he owed to the clemency of
the Emperor Alexander, set him free to wander over the world as a
missionary, and this he has been ever since. How striking are his
calm and benevolent features among the faces which pass you in every
street--for we live in times of eager and insensate passion. The volcano
has thrown forth ashes, and who knows how soon the flame may follow!

How long this night appears! I have sat, as I believe, for hours here,
and yet it is but two o'clock! The dreary vacuity of weakness is like a
wide and pathless waste. I see but one great spreading moorland, with
a low, dark horizon; no creature moves across the surface--no light
glimmers on it. It is the plain before the Valley of the Shadow of
Death.

Poor Gilbert!--how soundly he sleeps, believing that I am also sunk to
rest! The deep-drawn breathings of his strong chest are strange
beside the fluttering hurry of my respiration. He was wearied out with
watching--wearied, as I feel myself: but Death comes not the sooner for
our weariness; we must bide our time, even like the felon whose sentence
has fixed the day and the hour.

Three o'clock! What a chill is on me! The fire no longer warms me, nor
does the great cloak with which I braved the snows of Canada. This is
a sensation quite distinct from mere cold--it is like as though my body
were itself the source from which the air became chilled. I have tried
to heap more wood upon the fire, but am too weak to reach it. I cannot
bear to awaken that poor fellow. It is but enduring a little--a very
little longer--and all will be over!

There was a man upon the terrace below the window, walking slowly back
and forwards. What can it mean, so late? It has made me nervous and
irritable to watch his shadow as it crosses before me. There!--how
strange!--he has beckoned to me! Is this real? Now I see no one! Some
trick of imagination; but how weak it has left me! My hand trembles,
too, with a strange fear.

It has struck again! It must be four; and I have slept. What a long
night it has been! O Life! Life! how little your best and highest
ambitions seem to him who sits, like me, waiting to be released! Now and
then the heart beats full and strong, and a momentary sense of vigour
flashes across my mind; and then the icy current comes back, the faint
straggle to breathe shaking the frame as a wrecked vessel trembles with
each crashing wave!

Day breaks at length--that must be the dawn! But my eyes are failing,
and my hands are numbed. Poor Gilbert! how sound is his sleep! He has
turned--and now he dreams! What is he muttering? Good night! good night!
Even so--good night!

*****

How cold--how very cold I feel! I thought it had been over! Oh, for a
little longer of this dalliance here!--ay, even here, on the last shores
of life! Inexpressibly sweet the odours are, and the birds! How I drink
in those strains!--they will float with me along the journey I am going!
Weaker and weaker. This must be death! Farewell!

*****

The circumstances which have placed these papers in my hands afford
me the only apology I can offer for making them public. They were
bequeathed to me, in some sort, as a recompense for services which my
poor master had long intended to have rewarded very differently; nor,
save under the pressure of an actual necessity, should I devote them
now to the purpose of personal assistance. I neither understand how to
correct nor arrange them. I have no skill in editorship, and send them
to the printer without the addition of a letter by any hand except his
who wrote them. It is true, some pages have been withheld--I am not sure
whether necessarily or not--for I have no competent judgment to guide
me. I would, however, hope, that what I here give to the world may,
while benefiting the servant, leave no stain upon the memory of the best
of masters.

GEORGE GILBERT,

_Valet to the late H. Templeton, Esq_.

_Dover, January_ 1848.


_Postscript to Envoy_.

A word may be necessary as to the political allusions, as they were
all written in the autumn of the past year, many are, of course,
inapplicable to countries whose condition the wonderful events lately
occurring have modified: many are, however, almost correct in every
detail of prophetic foresight; and, it is not necessary that I should
repeat, have neither been changed nor added to since penned by my late
master.


THE END.





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