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Title: The Devil's Elixir - Vol. I (of 2)
Author: Hoffmann, E. T. A. (Ernst Theodor Amadeus), 1776-1822
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Devil's Elixir - Vol. I (of 2)" ***

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                           THE DEVIL'S ELIXIR.

                           FROM THE GERMAN OF
                            E. T. A. HOFFMANN.


    _In diesem Jahre wandelte auch her Deuvel offentlich auf den
    Strassen von Berlin.----_

    _Haftit Microc. Berol. p. 1043._

    In that yeare, the Deville was alsoe seene walking publiclie
    on the streetes of Berline.----

    VOL. I.

    WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH:
    AND T. CADELL, LONDON.

    1829.



THE DEVIL'S ELIXIR.



CHAPTER I.


My life, from my fourth to my sixteenth year, was spent at a lonely
farm-house, on the banks of the river Saale, near the Cistertian
Monastery of Kreuzberg. The house, though not large, had once been the
residence of a baronial family, that was now extinct, and of whose
representatives strange stories were narrated. Of course, therefore,
their castle was gloomy; of course, also, said to be haunted, and its
immediate environs were in keeping with the character of the principal
mansion.

There was, for example, a garden in the old style, with steps and
terrace walks, now ruined and neglected; thick hedges of yew and
cypress, with trees cut into fantastic shapes, which the present owner
had not found leisure, or perhaps had not permission, to destroy. The
surrounding country, however, at some distance, was very beautiful,
presenting a fine diversity of hill and dale, rock, wood, and water. The
situation of the Cistertian Convent, too, is particularly admired; but
in the recollections which I am thus commencing, rapid, simple narrative
must be my leading object; I have no time for diffuse and verbose
description.

Being an only child, I was left much alone, and it is therefore not to
be wondered at, that even at this early age, I should have exemplified
an undue developement of the faculty of imagination, and betrayed
singularities of thought and conduct, with proportionate defects in the
more useful qualities of prudence and judgment. It is requisite to
observe, however, that I was not born in this neighbourhood, but at the
convent of the Holy Lime-Tree in Prussia, of which place, even at this
day, I seem to retain the most accurate reminiscence. That I should be
able to describe scenes and events which happened in my earliest
infancy, need not be considered inexplicable, as I have heard so much of
them from the narratives of others, that an impression was of course
very powerfully made on my imagination, or rather, the impressions once
made, have never been suffered to decay, like cyphers carved on a tree,
which some fond lover fails not at frequent intervals to revisit and to
renovate. Of my father's rank or station in the world, I know little or
nothing. From all that I have heard, he must have been a person of
considerable experience and knowledge of life; yet, by various anecdotes
which have only of late become intelligible, it appears that my parents,
from the enjoyment of affluence and prosperity, had sunk, all at once,
into a state of the bitterest poverty and comparative degradation. I
learn, moreover, that my father, having been once enticed by stratagems
of the Arch Enemy into the commission of a mortal sin, wished, when, in
his latter years, the grace of God had brought him to repentance, to
expiate his guilt by a penitential pilgrimage from Italy to the convent
of the Holy Lime-Tree, in the distant and cold climate of Prussia. On
their laborious journey thither, his faithful partner in affliction
perceived, for the first time after several years of a married life,
that she was about to become a mother; and notwithstanding his extreme
poverty, my father was by this occurrence greatly rejoiced, as it tended
to the fulfilment of a mysterious vision, in which the blessed St
Bernard had appeared, and promised to him forgiveness and consolation
through the birth of a son.

In the convent of the Lime-Tree, my father was attacked by severe
illness, and as, notwithstanding his debility, he would on no account
forego any of the prescribed devotional exercises, his disease rapidly
gained ground, till at last, in mysterious conformity to the words of St
Bernard, he died consoled and absolved, almost at the same moment in
which I came into the world.

With my first consciousness of existence dawned on my perceptions the
beautiful imagery of the cloister and celebrated church of the
Lime-Tree. Even at this moment, methinks the dark oak wood yet rustles
around me; I breathe once more the fragrance of the luxuriant grass and
variegated flowers which were my cradle. No noxious insect, no poisonous
reptile, is found within the limits of that sanctuary. Scarce even the
buzzing of a fly, or chirping of a grasshopper, interrupts the solemn
stillness, diversified only by the pious songs of the monks, who walk
about in long solemn processions, accompanied by pilgrims of all
nations, waving their censers of consecrated perfume.

Even now, I seem yet vividly to behold in the middle of the church, the
stem of the lime-tree cased in silver, that far-famed tree, on which
supernatural visitants had placed the miraculous and wonder-working
image of the Virgin, while from the walls and lofty dome, the well-known
features of Saints and Angels are once more smiling upon me.

In like manner, it appears to me also, as if I had once beheld in the
same place the mysterious figure of a tall, grave, and austere-looking
man, of whom I was given to understand, that he could be no other but
the far-famed Italian painter, who had, in times long past, been here
professionally employed. No one understood his language, nor was his
real history known to any one of the monks. This much only was certain,
that he had, in a space of time incredibly short, filled the church with
its richest ornaments, and then, as soon as his work was finished,
immediately disappeared, no one could tell how or whither.

Not less vividly could I paint the portrait of a venerable pilgrim, who
carried me about in his arms, and assisted me in my childish plays of
searching for all sorts of variegated moss and pebbles in the forest.
Yet, though the apparition of the painter was certainly real, that of
the pilgrim, were it not for its influence on my after life, would seem
to me but a dream.

One day this personage brought with him a boy of uncommon beauty, and
about my equal in years, with whom I seated myself on the grass, sharing
with him my treasured store of moss and pebbles, which he already knew
how to form into various regular figures, and above all, into the holy
sign of the cross. My mother, meanwhile, sat near us on a stone bench,
and the old pilgrim stood behind her, contemplating with mild gravity
our infantine employments.

Suddenly, while we were thus occupied, a troop of young people emerged
from the thicket, of whom, judging by their dress and whole demeanour,
it was easy to decide, that curiosity and idleness, not devotion, had
led them to the Lime-Tree. On perceiving us, one of them began to laugh
aloud, and exclaiming to his companions, "See there!--See there!--A
holy family!--Here at last is something for my portfolio;" with these
words he drew out paper and pencils, and set himself as if to sketch our
portraits. Hereupon the old pilgrim was violently incensed, "Miserable
scoffer!" he exclaimed, "thou forsooth wouldst be an artist, while to
thy heart, the inspiration of faith and divine love is yet utterly
unknown! But thy works will, like thyself, remain cold, senseless, and
inanimate, and in the poverty of thine own soul, like an outcast in the
desert, shalt thou perish!"

Terrified by this reproof, the young people hastened away. The old
pilgrim also soon afterwards prepared for departure. "For this one day,"
said he to my mother, "I have been permitted to bring to you this
miraculous child, in order that, by sympathy, he might kindle the flames
of divine love in your son's heart; but I must now take him from you,
nor shall you ever behold either of us in this world again. Your son
will prove by nature admirably endowed with many valuable gifts; nor
will the lessons which have now been impressed on his mind be from
thence ever wholly effaced. Though the passions of his sinful father
should boil and ferment in his veins, yet by proper education their
influence might be repressed, and he might even raise himself up to be a
valiant champion of our holy faith. Let him therefore be a monk!"

With these words he disappeared; and my mother could never sufficiently
express how deep was the impression that his warning had left on her
mind. She resolved, however, by no means to place any restraint on my
natural inclinations, but quietly to acquiesce in whatever destination
Providence, and the limited education she was able to bestow, might seem
to point out for me.

The interval between this period and the time when my mother, on her
homeward journey, stopped at the convent of Kreuzberg, remains a mere
blank; not a trace of any event is left to me. The Abbess of the
Cistertians (by birth a princess) had been formerly acquainted with my
father, and on that account received us very kindly. I recover myself
for the first time, when one morning my mother bestowed extraordinary
care upon my dress; she also cut and arranged my wildly-grown hair,
adorned it with ribbons which she had bought in the town, and
instructed me as well as she could how I was to behave when presented at
the convent.

At length, holding by my mother's hand, I had ascended the broad marble
staircase, and entered a high vaulted apartment, adorned with devotional
pictures, in which we found the Lady Abbess. She was a tall, majestic,
and still handsome woman, to whom the dress of her order gave
extraordinary dignity. "Is this your son?" said she to my mother, fixing
on me at the same time her dark and penetrating eyes. Her voice, her
dress, her _tout ensemble_,--even, the high vaulted room and strange
objects by which I was surrounded, altogether had such an effect on my
imagination, that, seized with a kind of horror, I began to weep
bitterly. "How is this?" said the Abbess; "are you afraid of me? What is
your name, child?"--"Francis," answered my mother.--"Franciscus!"
repeated the Abbess, in a tone of deep melancholy, at the same time
lifting me up in her arms, and pressing me to her bosom.

But here a new misfortune awaited us; I suddenly felt real and violent
pain, and screamed aloud. The Abbess; terrified, let me go; and my
mother, utterly confounded by my behaviour would have directly snatched
me up and retired. This, however, our new friend would by no means
permit. It was now perceived that a diamond cross, worn by the Princess,
had, at the moment when she pressed me in her arms, wounded my neck in
such manner, that the impression, in the form of a cross, was already
quite visible, and even suffused with blood. "Poor Francis!" said the
Abbess, "I have indeed been very cruel to you; but we shall yet,
notwithstanding all this, be good friends."--An attendant nun now
entered with wine and refreshments, at the sight of which I soon
recovered my courage; and at last, seated on the Abbess's lap, began to
eat boldly of the sweetmeats, which she with her own hand kindly held to
my lips.

Afterwards, when I had, for the first time in my life, also tasted a few
drops of good wine, that liveliness of humour, which, according to my
mother's account, had been natural to me from infancy, was completely
restored. I laughed and talked, to the great delight of the Princess and
the nun, who remained in the room. To this moment, I know not how it
occurred to my mother, or how she succeeded in leading me on to talk
freely to the Abbess about all the wonders of my native monastery, or
how, as if supernaturally inspired, I was able to describe the works of
the unknown painter as correctly and livelily as if I had comprehended
their whole import and excellence. Not contented with this, I went on
into all the legends of the saints, as if I had already become
intimately acquainted with the records of the church.

The Princess, and even my mother, looked at me with astonishment. At
last, "Tell me, child," said the Abbess, "how is it possible that you
can have learned all this?"--Without a moment's hesitation, I answered
that a miraculous boy, who had been brought to us by the old pilgrim,
had explained to me all the paintings in the church--nay, that he
himself was able to make beautiful pictures, with moss and pebbles, on
the ground; and had not only explained to me their import, but told me
many legends of the saints.

The bell now rung for vespers. The nun had packed up and given to me a
quantity of sweetmeats in a paper bag, which I grasped and pocketed with
great satisfaction. The Abbess then rose from her seat: "Henceforward,"
said she, turning to my mother, "I shall look upon your son as my chosen
_eléve_, and shall provide for him accordingly."--My mother was so much
affected by this unexpected generosity, that she could only reply with
tears, grasping in silence the hand of the Abbess. We had reached the
door on our retreat, when the Princess came after us, took me up once
more in her arms, first carefully putting aside the diamond cross, and
weeping so that her tears dropped on my forehead, "Franciscus," said
she, "be good and pious!" I was moved also, and wept without knowing
wherefore.



CHAPTER II.


By the assistance of the Abbess we were not long afterwards established
at the farm-house already mentioned, and, through her generosity, the
small household of my mother soon assumed a more prosperous appearance.
I was also well clothed and cared for, enjoying the freedom and
tranquillity of a country life, so congenial to childhood; but, above
all, I profited in due time by the instructions of the neighbouring
village priest, whom, while yet very young, I attended as sacristan at
the altar.

How like a fairy dream the remembrance of those happy days yet hovers
around me! Alas! like a far distant land, the realm of peace and joy,
_home_ now lies far far behind me; and when I would look back, a gulf
yawns to meet me, by which I am separated from these blissful regions
for ever. One lovely form I yet seem to recognize, wandering amid the
roseate light of the morning--one that haunted my early dreams, even
before I was conscious that such beauty could ever on earth be realized.
I beheld her amid the fresh verdure--beneath the fragrant, beaming
sun-showers of May--and not less amid the desolate wildness of autumn,
when even the beech-trees lost their leaves; and her voice in sweet
music rose on me through the moaning sighs of the departing year.

With ardent longing, I strive once more to catch the soothing chords of
that angelic voice, to behold the contour of that form, and to meet once
more the radiance of her smile--in vain! Alas! are there then barriers
over which the strong wings of Love cannot bear him across? Lies not his
kingdom in thought, and must thought, too, be subject to slavish
limitations? But dark spectral forms rise up around me;--always denser
and denser draws together their hideous circle;--they close out every
prospect, they oppress my senses with the horrors of reality,--till even
that longing, which had been a source of nameless pleasureable pain, is
converted into deadly and insupportable torment.

       *       *       *       *       *

The priest was goodness itself. He knew how to fetter my too lively
spirit, and to attract my attention in such manner, that I was delighted
by his instructions, and made rapid progress in my studies. Even at this
moment I can yet recal his calm, contented, and somewhat weather-beaten
features. He was in manners simple as a child, perplexed often about
trifles, of which the contemptible characters around him were completely
_au fait_; yet clear and decisive in judgment on matters of which
ordinary characters could have no comprehension.

At this moment, how vividly do I recal, not only his own appearance, but
that of his dwelling-house in the village of Heidebach, which town,
though small and insignificant, is yet in situation very romantic. The
walls of his house were covered up to the roof with vines, which he
carefully trained. The interior of his humble habitation was also
arranged with the utmost neatness; and behind was a large garden, in
which he sedulously worked for recreation at intervals, when not engaged
in teaching his scholars, or in his clerical functions.

In all my studies I was also very much assisted and encouraged by that
unbounded respect and admiration which I cherished towards the Lady
Abbess. Every time that I was to appear in her presence, I proposed to
myself that I would shine before her, with my newly acquired knowledge;
and as soon as she came into the room, I could only look at her, and
listen to her alone. Every word that she uttered remained deeply graven
on my remembrance; and through the whole day after I had thus met with
her, her image accompanied me wherever I went, and I felt exalted to an
extraordinary solemn and devotional mood of mind.

By what nameless feelings have I been agitated, when, during my office
of Sacristan, I stood swinging my censer on the steps of the high altar,
when the deep full tones of the organ streamed down from the choir, and
bore my soul with them as on the waves of a stormy sea! Then in the
anthem, above all others, I recognised her voice, which came down like a
seraphic warning from Heaven, penetrating my heart, and filling my mind
with the highest and holiest aspirations.

But the most impressive of all days, to which for weeks preceding I
could not help looking forward with rapture, was that of the Festival
of St Bernard, which (he being the tutelary Saint of the Cistertians)
was celebrated at the convent with extraordinary grandeur. Even on the
day preceding, multitudes of people streamed out of the town, and from
the surrounding country. Encamping themselves on the beautiful level
meadows by which Kreuzberg is surrounded, day and night the lively
assemblage were in commotion. In the motley crowd were to be found
all varieties of people--devout pilgrims in foreign habits
singing anthems--peasant lads flirting with their well-dressed
mistresses--monks, who, with folded arms, in abstract contemplation,
gazed up to Heaven--and whole families of citizens, who comfortably
unpacked and enjoyed their well-stored baskets of provisions on the
grass. Mirthful catches, pious hymns, groans of the penitent, and
laughter of the merry, rejoicing, lamentation, jesting, and prayer,
sounded at once in a strange stupifying concert through the atmosphere.

If, however, the convent bell rung, then, far as the eye could reach,
the multitude were at once fallen on their knees. Confusion was at an
end, and only the hollow murmurs of prayer interrupted the solemn
stillness. When the last sounds of the bell had died away, then the
merry crowds, as before, streamed about on their varied occupations, and
of new the rejoicing, which for a few minutes had been interrupted, was
eagerly resumed.

On St Bernard's day, the Bishop himself, who resided in the neighbouring
town, officiated in divine service at the church of the convent. He was
attended by all the inferior clergy of his diocese; his _capelle_, or
choir, performed the music on a kind of temporary tribune, erected on
one side of the high altar, and adorned with rich and costly hangings.
Even now, the feelings which then vibrated through my bosom are not
decayed. When I think of that happy period, which only too soon past
away, they revive in all their youthful freshness. With especial
liveliness I can still remember the notes of a certain _Gloria_; which
composition being a great favourite with the Princess, was frequently
performed.

When the Bishop had intoned the first notes of this anthem, and the
powerful voices of the choir thundered after him, "_Gloria in excelsis
Deo_," did it not seem as if the painted clouds over the high altar
were rolled asunder, and as if by a divine miracle the cherubim and
seraphim came forward into life, moved, and spread abroad their powerful
wings, hovering up and down, and praising God with song and supernatural
music?

I sank thereafter into the most mysterious mood of inspired devotion. I
was borne through resplendent clouds into the far distant regions of
home. Through the fragrant woods of the Lime-Tree Monastery, I once more
heard the music of angelic voices. From thickets of roses and lilies,
the miraculous boy stepped forward to meet me, and said, with a smile,
"Where have you been so long, Franciscus? See, I have a world of
beautiful flowers, and will give them all to you, if you will but stay
with me and love me!"

After divine service, the nuns, with the Abbess at their head, held a
solemn procession through the aisles of the church and convent. She was
in the full dress of her order, wearing the Insul, and carrying the
silver shepherd's-staff in her hand. What sanctity, what dignity, what
supernatural grandeur, beamed from every look, and animated every
gesture, of this admirable woman! She herself impersonized the
triumphant church, affording to pious believers the assurance of
blessing and protection. If by chance her looks fell on me, I could have
thrown myself prostrate before her in the dust.

When the ceremonies of the day were completely brought to an end, the
attendant clergy, including the choir of the Bishop, were hospitably
entertained in the refectory. Several friends of the convent, civil
officers, merchants from the town, etc., had their share in this
entertainment; and by means of the Bishop's choir-master, who had
conceived a favourable opinion of me, and willingly had me beside him, I
also was allowed to take my place at the table.

If before I had been excited by mysterious feelings of devotion, no less
now did convivial life, with its varied imagery, gain its full influence
over my senses. The guests enjoyed themselves with great freedom,
telling stories, and laughing at their own wit, during which the bottles
of old wine were zealously drained, until, at a stated hour in the
evening, the carriages of the dignitaries were at the gate, and all, in
the most orderly manner, took their departure.



CHAPTER III.


I was now in my sixteenth year, when the priest declared that I was
qualified to begin the study of the higher branches of theology, at the
college of the neighbouring town. I had fully determined on the clerical
life, by which resolution my mother was greatly delighted, as she
perceived that the mysterious hints of the pilgrim were intimately
connected with my father's vision of St Bernard; and by this resolution
of mine, she for the first time believed, that his soul was fully
absolved, and saved from the risk of eternal destruction. The Princess,
too, approved my intentions, and repeated her generous promises of
support and assistance.

Though the town of Königswald was so near, that we beheld its towers in
the back ground of the landscape, and though bold walkers frequently
came from thence on foot to our convent, yet to me this first
separation from the Abbess, whom I regarded with such veneration,--from
my kind mother, whom I tenderly loved,--and the good old priest, was
very painful. So true it is, that even the shortest step out of the
immediate circle of one's best friends, is equal, in effect, to the
remotest separation. Even the Princess was on this occasion agitated to
an extraordinary degree, and her voice faltered while she pronounced
over me some energetic words of admonishment. She presented me with an
ornamental rosary, and a small prayer-book, with fine illuminations. She
then gave me a letter of recommendation to the Prior of the Capuchin
Convent in Königswald, whom she advised me directly to visit, as he
would be prepared to afford me whatever advice or aid I could require.

There are certainly few situations so beautiful as that of the Capuchin
Monastery, right before the eastern gates of Königswald. The flourishing
and extensive gardens, with their fine prospect towards the mountains,
seemed to me at every visit more and more attractive. Here it became
afterwards my delight to wander in deep meditation, reposing now at
this, now at that group of finely grown trees; and in this garden, when
I went to deliver my letter of recommendation from the Abbess, I met,
for the first time, the Prior Leonardus.

The natural politeness of the Superior was obviously increased when he
had read through the letter, and he said so much in praise of the
Princess, whom he had formerly known at Rome, that by this means alone
he directly won my affections. He was then surrounded by his brethren,
and it was easy to perceive at once the beneficial effects of his
arrangements and mode of discipline in the monastery.

The same cheerfulness, amenity, and composure of spirit, which were so
striking in the Prior, spread their influence also through the brethren.
There was nowhere visible the slightest trace of ill humour, or of that
inwardly-corroding reserve, which is elsewhere to be found in the
countenances of Monks. Notwithstanding the severe rules of his order,
devotional exercises were to the Prior Leonardus more like a necessary
indulgence of a divine soul aspiring to Heaven, than penitential
inflictions to efface the stains of mortal frailty. And he knew so well
how to instil the same principles among his brethren, that in their
performance of every duty, to which they were by their vows subjected,
there prevailed a liveliness and good humour, which even in this
terrestrial sphere gave rise to a new and higher mood of existence.

The Prior even allowed and approved a certain degree of intercourse with
the world, which could not but be advantageous for the monks. The rich
gifts which from all quarters were presented to the monastery, rendered
it possible to entertain, on certain days, the friends and patrons of
the institution, in the refectory.

Then, in the middle of the banquet-hall was spread a large table, at
which were seated the Prior Leonardus and his guests. The brethren,
meanwhile, remained at a small narrow board, stretching along the walls,
contenting themselves with the humblest fare, and coarsest utensils,
while, at the Prior's table, all was elegantly served on silver, glass,
and porcelain; and even on fast-days the cook of the convent could
prepare meagre dishes in such a manner, that they seemed to the guests
highly luxurious. They themselves provided wine; and thus the dinners at
the Capuchin Convent presented a friendly intercourse of spiritual with
profane characters, which could not fail to be beneficial to both
parties.

Those who were too eagerly occupied in worldly pursuits, were obliged to
confess, that here, by a new mode of life, in direct opposition to their
own, quiet and composure were to be obtained; nay, they might conclude,
that the more the soul is in this world elevated above terrestrial
considerations, the more it becomes capable of enjoyment. On the other
hand, the monks gained a knowledge of life, which otherwise would have
remained from them wholly veiled, and which supplied important
_materiel_ for contemplation, enabling them many times more clearly to
perceive, that, without the aid of some divine principle to support the
mind, all in this world becomes "weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable."

Over all the brethren, highly exalted, both in regard to sacred and
profane accomplishments, stood the Prior Leonardus. Besides that he was
looked on as a great theologian, and consulted on the most difficult
questions, he was, much more than could have been expected from a monk,
also a man of the world. He spoke the French and Italian languages with
fluency and elegance, and on account of his extraordinary versatility,
he had formerly been employed on weighty diplomacies.

At the time when I knew him first, he was already advanced in years; but
though his hair was white, his eyes yet gleamed with youthful fire--and
the agreeable smile which hovered on his lips was the surest evidence of
his inward serenity and activity of mind. The same grace which prevailed
in his discourse, regulated every gesture, and his figure, even in the
unbecoming dress of his order, appeared to extraordinary advantage.

There was not a single individual among the inhabitants of the convent,
who had not come into it from his own free choice. But had it been
otherwise, as, for example, in the case of unfortunate criminals, who
came thither as to a place of refuge from persecution, the penitence
prescribed by Leonardus was but the short passage to recovered repose;
and reconciled with himself, without heeding the world or its follies,
the convert would, while yet living on earth, have become elevated in
mind over all that is terrestrial. This unusual tendency of monachism,
had been learned by Leonardus in Italy, where the mode of education,
and all the views of a religious life, are much more cheerful than among
the Catholics of Germany.

Leonardus conceived a very favourable opinion of my talents; he
instructed me in Italian and French; but it was especially the great
variety of books which he lent to me, and his agreeable conversation,
which contributed most to my improvement. Almost the whole time which
could be spared from my studies in the College, was spent in the
Capuchin Convent; and my inclination towards a monastic life became
always more and more determined. I disclosed to the Prior my wishes in
this respect; but, without directly dissuading me, he advised me at any
rate to wait for a few years, during which time I might look around me
in the world. As to society, since I came into the town, I had, by means
of the Bishop's choir-master, found myself on that score by no means
deficient, but in every party, especially if women were present, I had
uniformly found myself so disagreeably embarrassed, that even this
alone, independent of my disposition to solitude and contemplation,
seemed to decide, that I was by nature destined for a monk.

One day, the Prior spoke with me at great length on the danger of
risking too early a decision on a mode of life, which involves so many
requisites. "Is it possible," said he, "that at so early an age, you are
prepared to renounce all the delusive pleasures of this world? If so,
but not otherwise, you may then embrace the duties of monachism. Are you
thoroughly convinced, that you have formed no attachment,--that you wish
for no enjoyments, but those which the mysterious influences of an
existence devoted to voluntary suffering can bestow?"

He fixed on me his dark penetrating eyes, and I was obliged to cast mine
on the ground, and remain without answering a word; for at that moment a
form, which had been long banished from my recollection, stepped forward
to the mind's eye in colours more than ever lively and distracting.

The choir-master had a sister, who, without being an absolute beauty,
was yet in the highest bloom of youth, and especially on account of her
figure, was what is called a very charming girl. One morning, having
formed some other engagements, I had gone at an earlier hour than usual
to receive my lesson in music at the choir-master's house, stepped
without hesitation into his lodgings, expecting to find him alone, and
wholly unconscious that the apartment was used as a dressing-room (or,
as it happened on this occasion, as an _un_dressing-room) by
Mademoiselle Therese, whom, instead of her brother, I now discovered. So
utterly was I confounded, that I stood motionless for a few seconds,
without retiring or advancing. My heart beat, my limbs tottered--I could
hardly breathe--But when Therese, with her usual _naiveté_ and
_nonchalance_, had recourse to a large shawl, then came forward without
the least confusion, even offered me her hand, and asked what was the
matter, and why I looked so pale--this increased my embarrassment
tenfold, so that I had almost fainted.

It was a fortunate relief when the door of the adjoining room opened,
and the choir-master made his appearance. But never had I struck such
false chords, or sung so completely out of tune, as on that day.
Afterwards I was pious enough to believe that the whole was a temptation
of the devil, and thought myself very fortunate in having, by ascetic
exercises, driven him out of the field.

Now, however, these questions of the Prior, though his intentions were
very praiseworthy, revived the lost image in tenfold strength. I blushed
deeply, and said not a word. "I see, my dear son," resumed the Prior,
"that you have understood me; you are yet free from the vices of
artifice and concealment, nor do you cherish an undue confidence in
yourself. Heaven protect you from the temptations of this life! Its
enjoyments are but of short duration, and one may well say, that there
rests on them a curse. In possession they expire; and what is worse,
leave behind them a disgust, a disappointment, a bluntness of the
faculties for all that is truly praiseworthy and exalted, so that the
better and spiritual attributes of our nature are at last utterly
destroyed!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding my endeavours to forget both the questions of the Prior,
and the image to which they had given rise, yet I could in this by no
means succeed; and though formerly I had been tolerably composed, even
in the presence of Therese, yet now I was obliged with the utmost care
to avoid every meeting. Even the very thoughts of her distracted my
attention completely; and this appeared to me so much the more sinful,
as I could not disguise from myself that such thoughts were attended
with pleasure.

The adventure of one evening, however, was soon to determine all this.
The choir-master invited me, as he had often done before, to a music
party at his house. On entering the room, I perceived that there were
many other young ladies besides Mamselle Therese, and that she was on
this occasion dressed more becomingly and elegantly than I had ever seen
her. I would willingly have excused myself and fled, but it was now too
late. An irresistible longing drew me towards her. I was as if
spell-bound, and through the evening stationed myself near her, happy if
by accident I came into momentary contact with this enchantress, though
it were but to touch the hem of her garment.

Of all this she appeared by no means inobservant, nor did it seem to
displease her. The adventures of the night, however, were drawing to a
close. She had sat long at the harpsichord, but at length rose, and went
towards the window. One of her gloves was left on the chair. This,
believing myself unobserved, I directly took possession of, first
pressing it to my lips, and then placing it in my bosom. One young lady,
however, (who, by the by, was my utter aversion,) had not failed to
notice this _etourderie_. She rose directly from her station at the
tea-table, and went to Therese, who was standing with another
_demoiselle_ at the window. She whispered something to Therese, who
immediately began to smile. The looks of all three were directed towards
me. They tittered and laughed all together. I believed it was in scorn
and mockery, which to my feelings was insupportable.

I was as if annihilated. The blood flowed ice-cold through my veins.
Losing all self-possession I left the room--rushed away into the
college, and locked myself up in my cell. I threw myself in despair and
rage upon the floor. Tears of anguish and disappointment gushed from my
eyes. I renounced--I cursed the girl and myself; then prayed and laughed
alternately like a madman. Tittering voices of scorn and mockery rose,
and sounded gibbering all around me. I was in the very act of throwing
myself out of the window, but by good luck the iron bars hindered me.
It was not till the morning broke that I was more tranquil; but I was
firmly resolved never to see her any more, and, in a word, to renounce
the world.



CHAPTER IV.


My vocation to the monastic life was thus, according to my own opinion,
rendered clear and unalterable. On that very day after the fatal music
party, I hastened, as soon as I could escape from my usual studies in
the school, to the Capuchin Prior, and informed him that it was my fixed
intention directly to begin my noviciate, and that I had already, by
letters, announced my design to my mother, and to the Abbess. Leonardus
seemed surprised at my sudden zeal, and without being impolitely urgent,
he yet endeavoured, by one means or another, to find out what could have
led me all at once to this resolve, to which he rightly concluded that
some extraordinary event must have given rise.

A painful emotion of shame, which I could not overcome, prevented me
from telling the truth. On the other hand, I dwelt, with all the
fervour of excitement, on the visions, warnings, and strange adventures
of my youth, which all seemed decidedly to point to a monastic
retirement. Without in the least disputing the authenticity of the
events which I had described, he suggested that I might, nevertheless,
have drawn from them false conclusions, as there was no certainty that I
had interpreted correctly the warnings, whatever they might be, which I
had received.

Indeed, the Prior did not at any time speak willingly of supernatural
agency--not even of those instances recorded by inspired writers, so
that there were moments in which I had almost set him down for an
infidel and a sceptic. Once I emboldened myself so far, as to force from
him some decided expressions as to the adversaries of our Catholic
faith, who stigmatize all belief of that which cannot be interpreted
according to the laws of our corporeal senses, with the name of
Superstition. "My son," said Leonardus, "infidelity itself is indeed the
worst species of that mental weakness, which, under the name of
Superstition, such people ascribe to believers." Thereafter he directly
changed the subject to lighter and more ordinary topics of discourse.

Not till long afterwards was I able to enter into his admirable views of
the mysteries of our religion, which involves the supernatural communing
of our spirits with beings of a celestial order, and was then obliged to
confess, that Leonardus, with great propriety, reserved these ideas for
students who were sufficiently advanced in years and experience.

I now received a letter from my mother, describing new visions and
warnings, such as those to which I had attached so much importance in my
conversation with the Prior. She had by this means long since
anticipated that the situation of a lay brother would not satisfy my
wishes, but that I would make choice of the conventual life. On St
Medardus' day, the old Pilgrim from the Holy Lime-Tree had appeared to
her, and had led me by the hand, in the habit of a Capuchin monk. The
Princess also completely approved of my resolution; which accordingly
was carried as rapidly as possible into effect.

I saw both of them once more before my investiture, which (as, according
to my earnest request, the half of my noviciate was dispensed with) very
soon followed. In conformity with my mother's last letter, I assumed
the conventual name of Medardus.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reciprocal confidence and friendship of the brethren with regard to
each other--the internal arrangements of the convent--and, in short, the
whole mode of life among the Capuchins, appeared to me for a long time
exactly as it had done at first. That composure of spirit, which was
universally apparent, failed not by sympathy to pour the balm of peace
into my soul; and I was visited often by delightful inspirations,
especially by faëry dreams, derived from the period of my earliest years
in the Convent of the Holy Lime-Tree.

I must not omit to mention, that, during the solemn act of my
investiture, I beheld the choir-master's sister. She looked quite sunk
in melancholy, and her eyes evidently shone in tears. But the time of
temptation was now past and gone; and, perhaps, out of a sinful pride
over a triumph too easily won, I could not help smiling, which did not
fail to be remarked by a certain monk, named Cyrillus, who at that
moment stood near me. "What makes you so merry, brother?" said
he.--"When I am renouncing this contemptible world," said I, "and its
vanities, ought I not to rejoice?"

It was not to be denied, however, that, at the moment when I pronounced
these words, an involuntary feeling of regret vibrated through my inmost
heart, and was at direct variance with what I had said. Yet this was the
last attack of earthly passion, after which composure of spirit
gradually gained complete ascendancy. Oh, had it never departed! But who
may trust to the strength of his armour? Who may rely on his own
courage, if the supernatural and unseen powers of darkness are combined
against him, and for ever on the watch?

       *       *       *       *       *

I had now been five years in the convent, when, according to
arrangements made by the Prior, the care of the reliquiary chamber was
transferred to me from Brother Cyrillus, who was now become old and
infirm.

In this room (it was an old grotesque Gothic chamber) there were all
sorts of devotional treasures:--bones of the saints, and remnants of
their dress--fragments of the cross, &c. etc.--which were preserved in
costly glass cases, set in silver, and exposed to view only on certain
days, for the edification of the people. When the transfer of duties
took place, Brother Cyrillus fully acquainted me with the character of
each article, and with the documents proving the miracles which the
relics had severally performed.

In regard to talents and literary acquirements, this monk stood next in
rank to the Prior Leonardus, for which reason I had the less hesitation
in imparting to him freely whatever doubts or difficulties came into my
mind. "Must we, then," said I, "absolutely and truly, look upon every
article in this collection as that for which it is given out? or,
rather, may not avarice and deceit have here foisted in many things as
relics of this or that saint, which in reality are base impostures? As,
for example, what shall we say if one convent, according to its
archives, possesses the whole cross, and yet there are so many fragments
in circulation, that (as a brother of our own once irreverently
observed) they might, if collected together, supply our house for a
whole twelvemonth with fuel?"

"Truly," said Cyrillus, "it does not become us to subject matters of
this kind to profane inquiry; but, to speak unreservedly, my opinion is,
that very few of the things which are here preserved really are that
which they are given out to be. But in this there seems to be no real or
important objection whatever. If you will take notice, Brother Medardus,
of the doctrine which the Prior and I have always held on these
mysteries, you will, on the contrary, perceive that our religion only
beams forth more and more in renovated lustre.

"Is it not worthy of admiration, dear Brother, that our Church
endeavours in such manner to catch hold of those mysterious links, which
in this world connect together sensual and spiritual existences--in
other words, so to influence our corporeal frame, that our higher origin
and dependance on the Divinity may be more clearly perceived--that we
may enjoy, too, the anticipation of that spiritual life, of which we
bear the germs within us, and of which a fore-feeling hovers around us,
as if like the fanning of seraph's wings?

"What is this or that morsel of wood--that crumbling bone, or fragment
of cloth? In themselves they are, of course, worthless; but it is said,
that the one was cut from the real cross, and that the others are from
the body or garment of a saint. Hence, to the believer, who, without
scrutinizing, takes the relic for what it is _said to be_, is directly
supplied a source of supernatural excitement, and the most enviable
associations. Hence, too, is awoke the spiritual influence of that saint
from whom the relic is derived; and he draws consolation and support
from that glorified being, whom, with full confidence and faith, he had
invoked. By this kind of excitement, also, there is no doubt that many
bodily diseases may be overcome, and in this manner, for the most part,
are effected the miracles, which, as they often take place before the
eyes of the assembled people, it is impossible to dispute or deny."

I recollected immediately many expressions of the Prior which
corresponded exactly with those now used by Cyrillus, and began to look
on these things which I had formerly regarded as mere toys and baubles,
with a degree of respect and devotional veneration. The old monk did not
fail to perceive this effect of his own discourse, and went on, with
increased zeal and energy, to explain, one by one, the remaining
relics.



CHAPTER V.


At last, Brother Cyrillus had recourse to an old and strangely carved
wooden press, which he carefully unlocked, and out of which he took a
small square box. "Herein, Brother Medardus," said he, "is contained the
most wonderful and mysterious relic of which our convent is possessed.
As long as I have been resident here, no one but the Prior and myself
has had this box in his hands. Even the other brethren (not to speak of
strangers) are unaware of its existence. For my own part, I cannot even
touch this casket without an inward shuddering; for it seems to me as if
there were some malignant spell, or rather, some living demon, locked up
within it, which, were the bonds broken by which this evil principle is
now confined, would bring destruction on all who came within its
accursed range.

"That which is therein contained is known to have been derived
immediately from the Arch-Fiend, at the time when he was still allowed
_visibly_, and in personal shape, to contend against the weal of
mankind."

I looked at Brother Cyrillus with the greatest astonishment; but without
leaving me time to answer, he went on.

"I shall abstain, Brother Medardus, from offering you any opinion of my
own on this mysterious affair, but merely relate to you faithfully what
our documents say upon the subject. You will find the papers in that
press, and can read them afterwards at your leisure.

"The life of St Anthony is already well known to you. You are aware,
that in order to be completely withdrawn from the distractions of the
world, he went out into the desert, and there devoted himself to the
severest penitential exercises. The Devil, of course, followed him, and
came often in his way, in order to disturb him in his pious
contemplations.

"One evening it happened accordingly, that St Anthony was returning
home, and had arrived near his cell, when he perceived a dark figure
approaching him rapidly along the heath. As his visitant came nearer,
he observed with surprise, through the holes in a torn mantle worn by
the stranger, the long necks of oddly-shaped bottles, which of course
produced an effect the most extraordinary and grotesque. It was the
Devil, who, in this absurd masquerade, smiled on him ironically, and
inquired if he would not choose to taste of the Elixir which he carried
in these bottles? At this insolence, St Anthony was not even incensed,
but remained perfectly calm; for the Enemy, having now become powerless
and contemptible, was no longer in a condition to venture a real combat,
but must confine himself to scornful words.

"The Saint, however, inquired for what reason he carried about so many
bottles in that unheard-of manner.

"'For this very reason,' said the Devil, 'that people may be induced to
ask me the question; for as soon as any mortal meets with me, he looks
on me with astonishment, makes the same inquiry that you have done, and,
in the next place, cannot forbear desiring to taste, and try what sort
of elixirs I am possessed of. Among so many bottles, if he finds one
which suits his taste, and _drinks it out_, and becomes drunk, he is
then irrecoverably mine, and belongs to me and my kingdom for ever.'

"So far the story is the same in all legends, though some of them add,
that, according to the Devil's confession, if two individuals should
drink out of the same flask, they would henceforth become addicted to
the same crimes, possessing a wonderful reciprocity of thoughts and
feelings, yet mutually and unconsciously acting for the destruction of
each other. By our own manuscripts, it is narrated farther, that when
the Devil went from thence, he left some of his flasks on the ground,
which St Anthony directly took with him into his cave, fearing that they
might fall into the way of accidental travellers, or even deceive some
of his own pupils, who came to visit him in that retirement. By chance,
so we are also told, St Anthony once opened one of these bottles, out of
which there arose directly a strange and stupifying vapour, whereupon
all sorts of hideous apparitions and spectral phantoms from hell had
environed the Saint, in order to terrify and delude him. Above all, too,
there were forms of women, who sought to entice him into shameless
indecencies. These altogether tormented him, until, by constant prayer,
and severe penitential exercises, he had driven them again out of the
field.

"In this very box there is now deposited a bottle of that kind, saved
from the relics of St Anthony; and the documents thereto relating, are
so precise and complete, that the fact of its having been derived from
the Saint is hardly to be doubted. Besides, I can assure you, Brother
Medardus, that so often as I have chanced to touch this bottle, or even
the box in which it is contained, I have been struck with a mysterious
horror. It seems to me also, as if I smelt a peculiar, odoriferous
vapour, which stuns the senses, and the effects of which do not stop
there, but utterly rob me of composure of spirit afterwards, and
distract my attention from devotional exercises.

"Whether I do or not believe in this immediate intercourse with the
devil in visible shape, yet, that such distraction proceeds from the
direct influence of some hostile power, there can be no doubt. However,
I overcame this gradually by zealous and unceasing prayer. As for you,
Brother Medardus, whose fervent imagination will colour all things with
a strength beyond that of reality, and who, in consequence of youth,
also will be apt to trust too much to your own power of resistance, I
would earnestly impress on you this advice,--'Never, or at least, for
many years, to open the box; and in order that it may not tempt and
entice you, to put it as much as possible out of your reach and sight.'"

Hereupon Brother Cyrillus shut up the mysterious Box in the press from
which it had come, and consigned over to me a large bunch of keys, among
which that of the formidable press had its place. The whole story had
made on me a deep impression, and the more that I felt an inward longing
to contemplate the wonderful relic, the more I was resolved to render
this to myself difficult, or even impossible.

When Cyrillus left me, I looked over once more, one by one, the
treasures thus committed to my charge; I then returned to my cell, and
untied the key of the Devil's press from the bunch to which it belonged,
and hid it deeply among the papers in my writing-desk.

One temptation, said I to myself, I have already overcome. I have
emancipated myself from the thraldom of Therese. Never more shall the
Devil, by his insidious artifices, gain ascendancy over me!

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the professors in the College, there was one, distinguished as an
extraordinary orator. Every time that he preached, the church was filled
to overflowing. His words, like a stream of lava fire, bore with him the
hearts and souls of his hearers, and kindled in every one the most
fervid and unaffected devotion.

The inspiration of his discourses animated me, among others, in a
pre-eminent degree; and although I certainly looked on this
extraordinary man as an especial favourite of Heaven, and gifted with no
every-day talents, yet it seemed as if some mighty warning voice spoke
within me, commanding me to rouse from my slumbers,--to go and do
likewise!

After I had returned from hearing him, I used to preach with great
energy in my own cell, giving myself up to the inspiration of the
moment, till I had succeeded in arresting and embodying my thoughts in
proper words, which I then committed to paper.

The brother who used to preach in the convent now became obviously
weaker. Wholly destitute of energy, like a half-dried rivulet in summer,
his discourses dragged laboriously and feebly along; and an intolerable
diffuseness of language, resulting from the want of thought, rendered
his discourses so long and tedious, that most of his hearers, as if
lulled by the unceasing clapper of a mill, long before he concluded,
fell asleep, and were only roused after he had pronounced "amen," by the
sound of the anthem and the organ.

The Prior Leonardus was indeed an admirable orator; but he was at this
time afraid to preach, as, on account of his advanced age, the exertion
fatigued him too much: and except the Prior, there was no one in the
convent who could supply the place of the superannuated brother.

The Prior one day happened to converse with me on this state of affairs,
which he deplored, as it deprived the monastery of many pious visitors.
I took courage, and told him that I had many times felt an inward call
to the pulpit, and had even written several discourses.

Accordingly, he desired to see some specimens from my manuscripts, and
was with them so highly pleased, that he earnestly exhorted me, on the
next holiday, to make a trial in public, in which attempt I ran the less
risk of failure, being by nature gifted with an expressive cast of
features, and a deep, sonorous tone of voice. As to the subsidiary
acquirements, of action and of delivery, the Prior promised himself to
instruct me.



CHAPTER VI.


The eventful holiday soon arrived. The church was unusually crowded, and
it was not without considerable trepidation that I mounted the pulpit.
At the commencement, I remained timidly faithful to my manuscript; and
Leonardus told me that I had spoken with a faltering voice, which,
however, exactly corresponded with certain plaintive and pathetic
considerations with which I had begun my discourse, and which,
therefore, was interpreted by most of my auditors into a very skilful
example of rhetorical _tact_.

Soon afterwards, however, it seemed as if my inward mind were gradually
lighted up by the glowing fire of supernatural inspiration. I thought no
more of the manuscript, but gave myself up to the influence of the
moment. I felt how every nerve and fibre was attuned and energized. I
heard my own voice thunder through the vaulted roof. I beheld, as if by
miracle, the halo of divine light shed around my own elevated head and
outstretched arms. By what means I was enabled to preserve connection in
my periods, or to deliver my conceptions with any degree of logical
precision, I know not, for I was carried out of myself. I could not
afterwards have declared whether my discourse had been short or
long--the time past like a dream! With a grand euphonical sentence, in
which I concentrated, as if into one _focus_, all the blessed doctrines
that I had been announcing, I concluded my sermon; of which the effect
was such as had been in the convent wholly unexampled.

Long after I had ceased to speak, there were heard through the church
the sounds of passionate weeping, exclamations of heartfelt rapture, and
audible prayers. The brethren paid me their tribute of the highest
approbation. Leonardus embraced me, and named me the pride of their
institution!

       *       *       *       *       *

With unexampled rapidity my renown was spread abroad; and henceforward,
on every Sunday or holiday, crowds of the most respectable inhabitants
of the town used to be assembled, even before the doors were opened,
while the church, after all, was found insufficient to hold them. By
this homage, my zeal was proportionably increased. I endeavoured more
and more to give to my periods the proper rounding, and to adorn my
discourses throughout, with all the flowers of eloquence. I succeeded
always more and more in fettering the attention of my audience, until my
fame became such, that the attention paid to me was more like the homage
and veneration due to a saint, than approbation bestowed on any ordinary
mortal. A kind of religious delirium now prevailed through the town.
Even on ordinary week days, and on half-holidays, the inhabitants came
in crowds, merely to see Brother Medardus, and to hear him speak, though
but a few words.

Thus vanity gradually, by imperceptible, but sure approaches, took
possession of my heart. Almost unconsciously, I began to look upon
myself as the _one elect_,--the pre-eminently _chosen_ of Heaven. Then
the miraculous circumstances attending my birth at the Lime-Tree; my
father's forgiveness of a mortal crime; the visionary adventures of my
childhood;--all seemed to indicate that my lofty spirit, in immediate
commerce with supernatural beings, belonged not properly to earth, but
to Heaven, and was but suffered, for a space, to wander here, for the
benefit and consolation of mortals! It became, according to my own
judgment, quite certain, that the venerable old Pilgrim, together with
the wonderful boy that he had brought with him, had been _supernatural_
visitants,--that they had descended on earth, for the express purpose of
greeting me as the chosen saint, who was destined for the instruction of
mankind, to sojourn transiently among them.

But the more vividly all these ideas came before me, the more did my
present situation become oppressive and disagreeable. That unaffected
cheerfulness and inward serenity which had formerly brightened my
existence, was completely banished from my soul. Even all the
good-hearted expressions of the Prior, and friendly behaviour of the
monks, awoke within me only discontent and resentment. By their mode of
conduct, my vanity was bitterly mortified. In me they ought clearly to
have recognised the chosen saint who was above them so highly elevated.
Nay, they should even have prostrated themselves in the dust, and
implored my intercession before the throne of Heaven!

I considered them, therefore, as beings influenced by the most
deplorable obduracy and refractoriness of spirit. Even in my discourses
I contrived to interweave certain mysterious allusions. I ventured to
assert, that now a wholly new and mighty revolution had begun, as with
the roseate light of morning, to dawn upon the earth, announcing to
pious believers, that one of the specially elect of Heaven had been sent
for a space to wander in sublunary regions. My supposed mission I
continued to clothe in mysterious and obscure imagery, which, indeed,
the less it was understood, seemed the more to work like a charm among
the people.

Leonardus now became visibly colder in his manner, avoiding to speak
with me, unless before witnesses. At last, one day, when we were left
alone in the great _allée_ of the convent garden, he broke out--"Brother
Medardus, I can no longer conceal from you, that for some time past
your whole behaviour has been such as to excite in me the greatest
displeasure. There has arisen in your mind some adverse and hostile
principle, by which you have become wholly alienated from a life of
pious simplicity. In your discourses, there prevails a dangerous
obscurity; and from this darkness many things appear ready, if you dared
utter them, to start forward, which if plainly spoken, would effectually
separate you and me for ever. To be candid--at this moment you bear
about with you, and betray that unalterable curse of our sinful origin,
by which even every powerful struggle of our spiritual energies is
rendered a means of opening to us the realms of destruction, whereinto
we thoughtless mortals are, alas! too apt to go astray!

"The approbation, nay, the idolatrous admiration, which has been paid to
you by the capricious multitude, who are always in search of novelty,
has dazzled you, and you behold yourself in an artificial character,
which is not your own, but a deceitful phantom, which will entice you
rapidly into the gulf of perdition. Return, then, into yourself,
Medardus--renounce the delusion which thus besets and overpowers you! I
believe that I thoroughly understand this delusion,--at least, I am
well aware of its effects. Already have you lost utterly that calmness
and complacence of spirit, without which there is, on this earth, no
hope of real improvement. Take warning, then, in time! Resist the fiend
who besets you! Be once more that good-humoured and open-hearted youth
whom with my whole soul I loved!"

Tears involuntarily flowed from the eyes of the good Prior while he
spoke thus. He had taken my hand, but now letting it fall, he departed
quickly without waiting for any answer.

His words had indeed penetrated my heart; but, alas! the impressions
that they had left were only those of anger, distrust, and resentment.
He had spoken of the approbation, nay, the admiration and respect, which
I had obtained by my wonderful talents; and it became but too obvious
that only pitiful envy had been the real source of that displeasure,
which he so candidly expressed towards me.

Silent, and wrapt up within myself, I remained at the next meeting of
the brethren, a prey to devouring indignation. Still buoyed up and
excited by the wild inspirations which had risen up within me, I
continued through whole days and long sleepless nights my laborious
contrivances how I might best commit to paper (without a too candid
avowal of my self-idolatry) the glorious ideas that crowded on my mind.

Meanwhile, the more that I became estranged from Leonardus and the
monks, the better I succeeded in attracting the homage of the people;
and my discourses never failed to rivet their attention.

On St Anthony's day this year, it happened that the church was more than
ever thronged--in such manner, that the vestry-men were obliged to keep
the doors open, in order that those who could not get in might at least
hear me from without. Never had I spoken more ardently, more
impressively,--in a word, with more _onction_. I had related, as usual,
many wonderful anecdotes from the lives of the saints, and had
demonstrated in what degree their examples, though not imitable in their
fullest extent, might yet be advantageously applied in real life. I
spoke, too, of the manifold arts of the Devil, to whom the fall of our
first parents had given the power of seducing mankind; and
involuntarily, before I was aware, the stream of eloquence led me away
into the legend of the Elixir, which I wished to represent as an
ingenious allegory.

Then suddenly, my looks, in wandering through the church, fell upon a
tall haggard figure, who had mounted upon a bench, and stood in a
direction nearly opposite to me, leaning against a pillar. He was in a
strange foreign garb, with a dark violet-coloured mantle, of which the
folds were twined round his crossed arms. His countenance was deadly
pale; but there was an unearthly glare in his large black staring eyes,
which struck into my very heart. I trembled involuntarily--a mysterious
horror pervaded my whole frame. I turned away my looks, however, and,
summoning up my utmost courage, forced myself to continue my discourse.
But, as if constrained by some inexplicable spell of an enchanter--as if
fascinated by the basilisk's eyes--I was always obliged to look back
again, where the man stood as before, changeless and motionless, with
his large spectral eyes glaring upon me.

On his high wrinkled forehead, and in the lineaments of his down-drawn
mouth, there was an expression of bitter scorn, of disdain mixed almost
with hatred. His whole figure presented something indescribably and
supernaturally horrid, such as belonged not to this life. The whole
truth now came on my remembrance. It was, it could be no other, than the
unknown miraculous painter from the Lime-Tree, whose form, beheld in
infancy, had never wholly vanished from my mind, and who now haunted me
like the visible impersonification of that hereditary guilt by which my
life was overshadowed.

I felt as if seized on and grappled with by ice-cold talons: My periods
faltered;--my whole discourse became always more and more confused.
There arose a whispering and murmuring in the church;--but the stranger
remained utterly unmoved; and the fixed regard of his eyes never for a
moment relented. At last, in the full paroxysm--the climax of terror and
despair--I screamed aloud--"Thou revenant!--Thou accursed
sorcerer!--Away with thee from hence!--Begone! for I myself am he!--I am
the blessed St Anthony!"



CHAPTER VII.


From that moment, I remember nothing more, until, on recovering from the
state of utter unconsciousness into which I fell with these words, I
found myself in my cell, on my couch, and carefully watched by Cyrillus.
The frightful vision of the unknown stood yet vividly before mine eyes.
Cyrillus, however, laboured to convince me, that this had been but an
illusory phantom of my own brain--heated by the zeal and ardour of my
discourse.

But the more that he exerted himself for this purpose, the more deeply
did I feel shame and repentance at my own behaviour in the pulpit--As to
the audience, they, as I afterwards understood, concluded that a sudden
madness had seized upon me; for which notion, my last exclamation had,
no doubt, afforded them abundant reason.

I was in spirit utterly crushed and annihilated. Shut up like a
prisoner in my cell, I subjected myself to the severest penitential
inflictions; and strengthened myself by zealous prayer for contention
with the adversary, who had appeared to me, even on consecrated ground,
and only in malice and mockery had put on the features and garb of the
miraculous painter of the Lime-Tree.

No one but myself would acknowledge that he had seen the man in the
violet-coloured mantle; and, with his usual kindness, the Prior
Leonardus, very zealously spread a report, that my conduct had arisen
merely from the first attack of a severe nervous fever, by which I had
been so frightfully borne away in my discourse, and confused in my
ideas. Indeed, without any pretence, I was, for a long time, extremely
ill, and this too for several weeks after I had again resumed the
ordinary conventual mode of life.

However, I at last undertook once more to mount the pulpit;--but,
tormented by my own inward agitation, and still haunted by the restless
remembrance of that horrid pale spectre, I was scarcely able to speak
connectedly, much less to give myself up as before to the spontaneous
fire of eloquence. My sermons, on the contrary, were now stiff,
constrained, and laboriously patched up from disjointed fragments. The
audience bewailed the loss of my rhetorical powers,--gradually gave up
their attendance,--and the superannuated brother who had formerly
preached, and who was now much superior to me, again took his place; so
that I was utterly superseded.

       *       *       *       *       *

After some time lost in this manner, it happened, that a certain young
Count, then on his travels, (under a feigned name,) with his tutor, came
to the monastery, and desired to see whatever we had to boast of that
was rare and curious. I was accordingly obliged to open the reliquary
chamber,--the gleam of a fine sunset shone upon the strange furniture of
this ghastly old room, and the visitors, with an ironical smile on their
features, marched in. To my vexation, I was left with them alone; for
the Prior, who had till now been with us, was called away to attend a
sick person in the town of Königswald.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gradually I had got through all that I intended to shew, and had
minutely described every article, when, by chance, the Count's eye fell
upon the curious old cabinet, adorned with grotesque carvings, in which
was deposited the box with the Devil's Elixir.

Though for some time I dexterously evaded their questions, yet, at last,
the Count and his tutor, joining together, urged me so far, that I could
not avoid telling them, at once, the legends relating to the contents of
this cabinet. In short, I repeated to them the whole story of St Anthony
and the devil, nor (unluckily) did I leave out the warning which brother
Cyrillus had given me, as to the danger of opening the box, or even the
cabinet. Notwithstanding that the Count was of the Catholic religion,
both he and his tutor seemed to have little or no faith in sacred
legends. They both indulged in an exuberance of odd fancies and witty
remarks on this comical devil, who had carried about bottles under his
ragged mantle. At last, the tutor thought proper to assume a serious
demeanour, and spoke as follows:--

"Do not, reverend sir, be offended with the levity of us men of the
world. Be assured, on the contrary, that we both honour the Saints, and
look on them as the most admirable examples of mortals inspired by
religion, who, for the salvation of their souls, and edification of
mankind, sacrificed all the enjoyments of life, and even life itself.
But as to legends and stories such as you have just now related, in my
opinion, these are, though not always, yet in many instances, (of which
this is one,) only ingenious allegories, which, by misconception, are
absurdly supposed to be histories of events that took place in real
life."

With these words, the tutor had suddenly drawn aside the sliding cover
of the box, and taken out the black strangely-formed bottle. Now,
indeed, as brother Cyrillus had remarked to me, there spread itself
abroad a strong odour, which appeared, however, anything rather than
stupifying. It was, in a high degree, agreeable, generous, and
refreshing.

"Hah!" exclaimed the Count, "now would I take any bet, that the Devil's
Elixir is neither more nor less, than excellent old wine of Syracuse!"

"Unquestionably," said the tutor; "and if the bottle really came from
the posthumous property of St Anthony, then, brother, you are more
fortunate than the King of Naples, who, on one occasion, expected to be
able to taste real old Roman wine; but, from the bad custom among the
Romans, of pouring oil into the necks of their bottles instead of using
corks, was debarred that gratification.

"Though this bottle," continued he, "is by no means so old as the
Augustan age, yet, having been St Anthony's, it is certainly by far the
most ancient that we are likely to meet with; and, therefore, reverend
sir, you would, in my opinion, do well to apply the relic to your own
use, and to sip up its contents with good faith and courage."

"Undoubtedly," resumed the Count, "this old Syracusan wine would pour
new strength into your veins, and put to flight that bodily
indisposition under which, reverend sir, you now seem to labour."

Hereupon the tutor pulled a cork-screw from his pocket, and,
notwithstanding all my protestations to the contrary, opened the bottle.
It seemed to me, as if, upon drawing the cork, a blue flame ascended
into the air, which directly afterwards vanished. More powerfully then,
the vaporous odour mounted out of the flask, and spread itself through
the chamber!

The tutor tasted in the first place, and cried out with
rapture--"Admirable, admirable Syracusan! In truth, the wine cellar of
St Anthony was by no means a bad one; and if the devil really was his
butler, then certainly he had no such evil intentions towards the Saint
as people commonly suppose!--Now, my Lord Count, taste the wine!"

The Count did so, and confirmed what the tutor had said. Indeed he took
a long draught, instead of a taste, from the bottle. They renewed their
witticisms and merriment over the relic, which, according to them, was
decidedly the finest in all the collection. They wished heartily, that
they could have a whole cellar of such rarities, etc. etc.

I heard all this in silence, with my head sunk down, and with eyes fixed
on the ground. The _badinage_ of the strangers was to me, in my present
mood of mind, abhorrent and tormenting. In vain did they urge me to
taste the wine of St Anthony! I resolutely refused, and at last was
allowed to shut up the bottle, well corked, into its proper receptacle.

Thus, then, I had _for once_ triumphed and escaped. The strangers,
indeed, would have endeavoured to prove, that this trial of the wine was
but a venial transgression; but even of _venial_ transgressions, I had
at that time a proper abhorrence, knowing that they formed the sure and
ample foundation for mortal sins.

The strangers left the monastery. But, as I sat alone in my cell, I
could not disguise from myself, or deny, that I felt a certain
cheerfulness of mind, and exhilaration of spirit. It was obvious that
the powerful and spirituous odour of the wine had revived me. No trace
or symptom of the bad effects of which Cyrillus had spoken did I
experience. On the contrary, an influence the most opposite became
decidedly manifest.

       *       *       *       *       *

The more that I now meditated on the legend of St. Anthony, and the more
livelily that I called to mind the words of the tutor, the more certain
did it appear to me, that the explanations of the latter were correct
and well-founded. Then, first, with the rapidity and vehemence of
lightning, the thought rushed through me, that on that unhappy day, when
the horrible vision broke the thread of my discourse, I too had been on
the point of interpreting the legend of St Anthony in the same manner as
an ingenious allegory. With this thought another soon was united, which
filled my mind so completely, that every other consideration almost
faded away.

"How," said I to myself, "if this extraordinary and odoriferous drink
actually possessed the secret efficacy of restoring thy strength, and
rekindling that intellectual fire which has been so frightfully
extinguished? What, if already some mysterious relationship of thy
spirit, with the mystical powers contained in that bottle, has been
plainly indicated, and even proved, if it were no more than by
this,--that the very same odour which stunned and distracted the weakly
Cyrillus, has, on thee, only produced the most beneficial effects?"

       *       *       *       *       *

When already I had at various times even resolved to follow the counsel
of the strangers, and was in the act of walking through the church
towards the reliquary room, I perceived an inward, and, to myself,
inexplicable resistance, which held me back. Nay, once, when on the very
point of unlocking the cabinet, it seemed to me as if I beheld in the
powerful _alto relievo_ of the antique carvings on the pannel, the
horrible countenance of the painter, with his fixed glaring eyes, of
which the intolerable expression still penetrated through my heart, and
vehemently seized by a supernatural horror, I fled from the room, in
order to prostrate myself at one of the altars in the church, and repent
of my temerity!

But, notwithstanding all my endeavours, the same thought continued to
persecute me, that only by participation in that miraculous wine could
my now sunk spirit be refreshed and restored. The behaviour of the Prior
and the monks, who treated me with the most mortifying, however well
intended, kindness, as a person disordered in intellect, brought me to
absolute despair; and as Leonardus granted me a dispensation from the
usual devotional exercises, in order that I might completely recover my
strength, I had more time for reflection. In the course of one long
sleepless night, persecuted and tortured by my inward sense of
degradation, I resolved that I would venture all things, even to death,
and the eternal destruction of my soul, in order to regain the station
that I had lost. I was, in short, determined to obtain my former powers
of mind, or to perish in the attempt.



CHAPTER VIII.


I rose from bed, and glided like a ghost through the great aisle of the
church towards the reliquary chamber. I had my lamp with me, which I
lighted at the altar of the Virgin. Illuminated by the glimmering
radiance, the sacred portraits of the Saints seemed to move and start
into life. Methought they looked down upon me with an aspect of
compassion. In the hollow murmurs of the night wind, which poured in
through the high and partly broken windows of the choir, I heard
melancholy warning voices. Among others, I distinguished that of my
mother. Though from a far distance, these words were clearly
audible:--"Medardus! Son Medardus! What wouldst thou do?--Renounce, oh!
renounce, ere it is too late, this fearful undertaking!"

I disregarded them all, however: for my courage was wound up by despair.
As I came into the ghastly old chamber of relics, all was silent and
tranquil. I walked with rapid and resolved steps across the floor, so
that my lamp was almost extinguished. I unlocked the cabinet--I seized
the box--opened it--beheld the bottle--drew the cork--and in an instant
had swallowed a deep and powerful draught!

It seemed immediately as if fire streamed through my veins, and filled
me with a sensation of indescribable delight! I drank once more, (but
sparingly,) and the raptures of a new and glorious life began at once to
dawn on my perception. In haste, as if from dread of being overlooked, I
locked up the empty box into the cabinet, and rapidly fled with the
inestimable treasure into my cell, where I placed it carefully in my
secretaire.

At that moment, while turning over my papers, the identical small key
fell into my hands, which formerly, in order to escape from temptation,
I had separated from the rest; and yet, notwithstanding my precaution, I
had found, both on this occasion, and at the time when the strangers
were with me, the means of unlocking the cabinet! I examined my bunch of
keys, and found among them one strangely shaped and unknown, with which
I had now, and without, in my distraction, remarking it, made my way to
the relic.

Hereupon I shuddered involuntarily; but my terror soon wore away. As if
on the transparent medium of a _phantasmagorie_, one bright and smiling
image chased another before the mind's eye--before that mind, which now,
for the first time, seemed to be awoke from deep sleep; yet the visions
of my youth awoke not--I thought not of the past; but, under the
feverish excitement of newly acquired energy, dwelt only (if thought
could be said to dwell where all was restless confusion) on the
brilliant prospects which awaited me for _the future_. It was ambition
that possessed me. I should have once more the power of obtaining that
noblest of earthly supremacies, an empire over the minds of others!

I had no sleep nor rest through the night, but eagerly waited till the
brightness of the next morning beamed through the high window into my
cell, when I hastened down into the monastery gardens to bask in the
warm splendour of the rising sun, which now ascended fieryly, and
glowing red from behind the mountains.

Leonardus and the brethren directly remarked the change which had taken
place in my outward appearance and behaviour. Instead of being, as
formerly, reserved and wrapt up within myself, without uttering a word,
I was now become once more lively and cheerful, and spoke again in the
same tone with which I used to address the assembled multitudes, and
with the fervid eloquence which used to be peculiarly my own.

On being at last left alone with Leonardus, he looked stedfastly at me
for a long space, as if he would read my inmost thoughts. Then, while a
slight ironical smile coursed over his features, he said only, "Brother
Medardus has had some new vision perhaps--has drawn fresh energy and new
life from supernatural revelations?"

The irony with which the virtuous, the prudent, and immaculate, treat a
fallen brother, is seldom beneficial in its influence; seldom indeed is
it really consistent with virtue. It commonly proceeds either from
selfish coldness of heart, (this utter antithesis of christian charity,)
or from that sort of worldly knowledge, which consists in believing that
no one is to be trusted. Hanging down my head, and with eyes fixed on
the ground, I stood without uttering a word, and as for Leonardus, he
departed and left me to my own contemplations.

I had already been but too much afraid that the state of excitement
produced by wine could not possibly continue long, but, on the contrary,
might, to my utter grief and discomfiture, draw after it a state of yet
more miserable weakness than that which I had already experienced. It
was not so, however; with the perfect recovery of my health, I
experienced a degree even of long-lost youthful courage. I felt once
more that restless and vehement striving after the highest and most
extended sphere of action, which the convent could allow to me.
Accordingly, I insisted on being allowed to preach again on the next
holiday, which after some consideration was granted to me.

Shortly before mounting the pulpit, I allowed myself another draught of
the miraculous wine. The effects were even beyond my most sanguine
expectations. Never had I spoken more ardently, impressively, or with
greater _onction_, than on this day. My audience, as before, were
confounded, and the rumour of my complete recovery was with
inconceivable rapidity spread abroad.

Henceforward the church was regularly crowded, as on the first weeks of
my former celebrity; but the more that I gained the applause of the
people, the more serious and reserved did Leonardus appear, so that I
began at last with my whole soul to hate him. My object, in acquiring an
ascendancy over the multitude, was now fully attained; but in all other
respects, my mind was disappointed, disquieted, and gloomy. In the
friendship of my brethren I had lost all confidence. As for Leonardus, I
believed that he was wholly actuated by selfish pride, and mean-spirited
envy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grand festival of St Bernard drew near, and I burned with impatience
to let my light shine in its fullest lustre before the Lady Abbess; on
which account, I begged the Prior to form his arrangements in such a
manner, that I might be appointed on that day to preach in the
Cistertian Convent. Leonardus seemed greatly surprised by my request. He
confessed to me, without hesitation, that he himself had intended to
preach in the Cistertian Monastery; and had already fixed his plans
accordingly. "However," added he, "it will no doubt be on this account
the more easy for me to comply with your request; as I can excuse
myself, on the plea of illness, and appoint you to attend in my place."

I attempted no apology for the indelicacy of such conduct; for my mind
was possessed wholly by one object. The Prior changed his arrangements
in the manner he had promised. I went to Kreuzberg, and saw my mother
and the Princess on the evening preceding the ceremony. My thoughts,
however, were so much taken up with the discourse that I was to deliver,
of which the eloquence was to reach the very climax of excellence, that
the meeting with them again made but a very trifling impression upon me.

I was at the old farm-house, too, in which my early days had passed away
like a dream. I walked again through the neglected garden, where the
trees were now in their fullest luxuriance. I stood upon the moss-grown
terrace, mounted upon the tottering _altan_,[1] on the top of the old
tower, at one end, the better to behold the features of the landscape.
Thence I saw the wanderings of the Saale gleaming amid the pine-tree
forests; the towers of Kreuzberg and Heidebach on the north, and the
Thuringian mountains, with the spires of Königswald, in the distance
towards the south. The sunbeams played and shifted over the
landscape;--the summer winds breathed fragrance, wafting to my ears the
choral anthems from the Monastery, and from the assembled pilgrims. The
scenes and their influences were the same, but I saw them with unheeding
eyes. I felt them not; the days of innocence were already past, and my
heart was agitated with earthly passions.

[Footnote 1: Balcony or Platform.]

I felt no reproaching pangs of conscience, however, no sadness, nor
regret; I pursued my ONE and _only_ object, elated with the certainty of
success.

       *       *       *       *       *

The report had been duly spread through the town, that I was to preach,
instead of the invalid Leonardus; and, therefore, an audience, perhaps
greater than on any former occasion, was drawn together. Without having
written a single note, and merely arranging mentally into parts the
discourse which I was about to deliver, I mounted the pulpit, trusting
only to that inspiration which the solemnity of the occasion, the
multitude of devout listeners, and the lofty-vaulted church, would of
necessity excite in my peculiarly constituted mind.

In this, indeed, I had not been mistaken. Like a fiery lava stream, the
torrent of my eloquence flowed irresistibly onward. With many real
anecdotes out of the life of St Bernard, I interwove ingenious pictures
from my own invention, and the most pious applications of his glorious
examples to the conduct of ordinary mortals, till in the looks of all,
which were universally directed towards me, I read only astonishment and
admiration. Thus my triumph was complete, and methought the trophy would
be more brilliant than any that I had before won.

       *       *       *       *       *

How anxiously were wound up my anticipations as to the reception which I
was to receive from the Princess! How confidently, indeed, did I look
for the highest and most unqualified expression of her delight! Nay, it
seemed to me, as if she, in her turn, must now pay the homage of
respect and deference to that individual, whom, but a few years before,
she had filled with awe and unlimited veneration.

But in these hopes I was miserably disappointed. Having desired an
interview, I received from her a message, that being attacked by sudden
illness, she could not speak with any one. This notice was so much the
more vexatious, since, according to my proud anticipations, illness
should have only inclined her the more to receive consolation and
spiritual aid from a being so nobly gifted and so highly inspired.

As to my mother, she seemed oppressed, and weighed down by a secret and
overpowering grief, as to the cause of which, I did not venture to
inquire, because the silent admonitions of my own conscience almost
convinced me, that I myself had brought this distress upon her; although
the particular means by which it had been produced, I was unable to
define. She gave me a small billet from the Princess, of which, till my
return to the Capuchin Monastery, I was not to break the seal.

For the rest of the day, (which was, as usual, spent in feasting and
mirth,) I could think of nothing else, and scarcely was I arrived at
home and in my cell, when with the utmost impatience I broke the seal,
and read what follows:

     "My dear son, (for still must I address you in this manner, the
     slightest variation of expression is like an external farewell
     to those whom we love,) by your discourse of to-day, you have
     thrown me into the deepest affliction. No longer has your
     eloquence been that of a heart whose affections are turned
     towards Heaven. Your inspiration was not that which bears the
     pious soul as if on seraph's wings aloft, so that it is
     enabled, in holy rapture and by anticipation, to behold the
     kingdoms of the blest. Alas! the pompous adornments of your
     discourse,--your visible effort, only to utter that which might
     be striking and brilliant, have sufficiently proved to me, that
     instead of labouring to instruct the community, and to stir up
     among them pious affections, you have striven only to acquire
     the approbation and wonder of the light and worldly-minded
     multitude. You have hypocritically counterfeited feelings which
     have no real existence in your heart. Nay, like a profane actor
     on the stage, you have practised gestures and a studied mien,
     all for the sake of the same base meed of wonder and applause.
     The demon of deceit has taken possession of you, and, if you do
     not return into yourself, and renounce the sins by which you
     are beset, will soon bring you to destruction.

     "For, sinful, very sinful, are your present actions and
     conduct; in so much the more, as, by your vows, you are bound
     to renounce the world and its vanities. May the blessed St
     Bernard, whom to-day you have so shamefully offended, according
     to his celestial patience and long sufferance, forgive you, and
     enlighten your mind, so that you may recover the right path,
     from which, by stratagems of the devil, you have been thus
     distracted; and may he intercede for the salvation of your
     soul!--Farewell!"

As if I had been pierced by an hundred fiery daggers, these words of the
Princess struck to my very heart; and, instead of receiving such
admonitions gratefully, as a trial of patience and obedience, I burned
with rage and resentment. Nothing appeared to me more unequivocal, than
that the Prior had taken advantage of the overstrained piety (or
methodism) of the Abbess, and sedulously prejudiced her against me.
Henceforth I could scarcely bear to look upon him without trembling with
indignation. Nay, there often came into my mind thoughts of _revenge_,
at which I myself could not help shuddering.

The reproaches of the Abbess and the Prior were to me, on this account,
only the more intolerable, that I was obliged, from the very bottom of
my soul, to acknowledge their validity and truth. Yet always more and
more firmly persisting in my course, and strengthening myself from time
to time, with a few drops of the mysterious wine, I went on adorning my
sermons with all the arts of rhetoric, and studying theatric gestures
and gesticulations. Thus I secured always more and more the meed of
applause and admiration.



CHAPTER IX.


The beams of the morning sun broke in roseate deep lustre through the
painted windows of the church. Alone, and lost in deep thought, I sat in
the confessional. Only the steps of the officiating lay brother, whose
duty it was to sweep the church, sounded through the vaulted roof. I did
not expect any visitors at such an hour; but suddenly I heard near me a
rustling sound; and, behold! there came a tall, slender, but exquisitely
proportioned, figure of a young woman, in a foreign dress, with a long
veil over her face, who must have entered at one of the private doors,
and was approaching me as if for confession. In her movements was
indescribable grace--she drew nearer--she entered the confessional, and
kneeled down. Deep sighs, as if involuntarily, were heaved from her
bosom. It seemed as if, even before she spoke, some irresistible spell
of enchantment pervaded the atmosphere, and overpowered me with
emotions, such as, till now, I had never experienced.

How can I describe the tone of her voice, which was wholly new and
peculiar; but which penetrated even into my inmost heart! She began her
confession. Every word that she uttered rivetted more and more my
attention, and ruled, like a supernatural charm, over my feelings. She
confessed, in the first place, that she cherished a forbidden love, with
which she had long struggled in vain; and this love was so much the more
sinful, because holy vows for ever fettered the object of her affection.
Yet, in this hopeless delirium of her despair, she had many times cursed
the bonds, however sacred, which held them thus asunder.--She here
faltered--paused--then, with a torrent of tears, which almost stifled
her utterance, added, "Thou thyself, Medardus, art the consecrated being
whom I so unspeakably love!"

As if in deadly convulsions, all my nerves irresistibly vibrated. I was
out of myself. An impulse, till now never known, almost raged in my
bosom. A passionate desire to behold her features--to press her to my
heart--to perish at once in delight and despair--wholly took possession
of me! A moment of pleasure to be purchased by an eternity of pain! She
was now silent; but I heard still the deep heaving of her breath. In a
kind of wild despair, I violently summoned up all my strength. In what
words I answered her, I cannot now remember, nor durst I look on her as
she departed; but I perceived that she silently rose up, and retired;
while, with the cloth curtains firmly pressed upon my eyelids, I
remained fixed, motionless, and almost unconscious, in the confessional.

       *       *       *       *       *

By good chance, no one else came into the church, and I had an
opportunity, therefore, to escape quietly into my cell. How completely
different all things now appeared to me! How foolish--how insipid all my
former endeavours! I had not seen the countenance of the unknown; and
yet, by the force of my own imagination, her image lived within my
heart. She looked on me with her mild blue eyes, in which tears were
glistening, and from which glances fell into my soul like consuming
fire, which no prayer and no penitential exercises any more could
extinguish. Such penitence, indeed, I did not spare; but, on the
contrary, chastised myself with the knotted cords of our order, till
blood streamed from my mangled flesh, that I might, if possible, escape
from that eternal destruction by which I was now threatened.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was an altar in our church dedicated to St Rosalia; and her
picture, admirably painted, was hung over it, representing the Saint at
the moment when she suffered martyrdom. In this picture, which had never
particularly struck me before, I now at once recognised the likeness of
my beloved! Even her dress exactly resembled the foreign habit of the
unknown!

Here, therefore, like a victim of the most horrible insanity, I used to
lie, for hours together, prostrate upon the steps of the altar, uttering
hideous groans, and even howling in despair, so that the monks were
terrified, and fled from me in dismay.

In more tranquil moments, I used to walk hurriedly up and down the
convent garden. I beheld her well-known from wandering through the misty
fragrant regions of the distant landscape. I saw her emerging from the
thickets of the dense wood, rising like a naiad from the
fountains--hovering, like some goddess of the olden time, over the
flowery meadows. Everywhere I beheld her, and lived but for her alone.
Then I cursed my vows, and my now miserable existence. I resolved to go
forth into the world, and not to rest until I had discovered her, and
purchased happiness, though at the expense of my soul's eternal weal!

At last, however, I succeeded so far, that I could, at least in presence
of the Prior and the monks, moderate the ebullitions of my (to them)
unaccountable delirium. I could appear more tranquil; yet, by this
means, my inward agitations were only the more wasting and destructive.
No slumber, no rest by night or by day! Incessantly persecuted and
tormented by one and the same phantom, I passed, especially the night,
always in intolerable conflicts. I called, severally, on all the
Saints; but not to rescue me from the seductive image by which I was
beset--not to save my soul from eternal misery--No! but to bestow on me
the object of my affections--to annihilate my vows, and to give me
freedom, that I might, without _double_ guilt, fall into the abyss of
sin.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last, I had firmly resolved, that I would make an end of my torments,
by a sudden flight from the convent. For, by some strange hallucination,
nothing more than freedom from my monastic engagements seemed to me
necessary to bring the unknown within my arms, and to put an end to the
passions by which I was tormented.

I resolved that, having disguised my appearance sufficiently by cutting
off my long beard, and assuming a lay dress, I would linger and wander
about in the town till I had found her. I never once took into
consideration how difficult, nay, how impossible, this would prove, or
that, perhaps, having no money, I would not be able to live for a single
day beyond the walls of the monastery.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last day that I intended to spend among the capuchins had now
arrived. By a lucky chance, I had been able to obtain a genteel dress,
like that of an ordinary citizen. On the following night, I was resolved
to leave the convent, never more to return.

       *       *       *       *       *

Evening had already closed in, when, suddenly, I received from the Prior
a summons to attend him. I trembled involuntarily at the message; for
nothing appeared to me more certain, than that he had discovered more or
less of my secret plans.

Leonardus received me with unusual gravity--nay, with an imposing
dignity of demeanour, by which I was quite overawed.

"Brother Medardus," he began, "your unreasonable behaviour, which I look
upon only as the too powerful ebullition of mental excitement, (but
which excitement you have for a long time, perhaps not with the purest
intentions, sought to foster,)--this behaviour, I say, has utterly
disturbed our community, and torn asunder those peaceful bands by which
the society was here united. Such conduct operates in the most
destructive manner against that cheerfulness and good humour which, till
now, I had successfully striven to establish among the monks, as the
surest proof and demonstration of a consistent and pious life.

"Perhaps, however, some peculiar and unfortunate event during your
sojourn among us bears the blame of all this. You should, however, have
sought consolation from me, as from a friend and father, to whom you
might confide all things; but you have been silent, and I am the less
inclined now to trouble you with questions, as the possession of such a
secret might, in a great measure, deprive me of that mental freedom and
tranquillity, which, at my years, I prize above all earthly treasures.

"You have many times, and especially at the altar of St Rosalia, by
horrible and extraordinary expressions, which seemed to escape from you
in the unconsciousness of delirium, given great scandal, not only to the
brethren, but to strangers who happened to be visiting among us.
Therefore, according to the laws of the monastery, I could punish you
severely; but I shall not do so, since, perhaps, some evil influence,
some demon, or, in short, the Arch-fiend himself, against whom you have
not sufficiently striven, is the direct cause of your errors; and I
shall only give you up to the guidance of your own conscience, with the
injunction to be ardent and faithful in penitence and prayer.--Medardus,
I can read deep into thy soul!--Thou wishest for freedom, and to be
abroad in the world."

Leonardus fixed on me his most penetrating glances, which I was quite
unable to encounter; but, on the contrary, felt myself wholly
overpowered, and, conscious of my own wicked designs, remained silent.

"I understand you," said Leonardus, "and believe, indeed, that this
world, if you walk through it piously, may contribute more to your
welfare than the lonely life in our convent. An occurrence, involving
the best interests of our order, renders it necessary to send one of the
brethren to Rome--I have chosen you for this purpose; and, even
to-morrow, you may be provided with the necessary powers and
instructions, and set forward on your journey. You are so much the
better qualified for this expedition, being still young and active,
clever in business, and a perfect master of the Italian language.

"Betake yourself now to your cell--pray with fervour for the welfare of
your soul. I shall meanwhile offer up my prayers for you; but leave out
all corporeal chastisement, which would only weaken you, and render you
unfit for the journey. At day-break, I shall await you in my chamber."

Like a gleam from Heaven, these words of Leonardus fell upon the
darkness of my soul. Instead of the hatred which I had been cherishing,
the attachment which I had before felt towards him regained its full
sway. I even burst into tears; for it appeared to me as if he indeed
read my most secret thoughts, and bestowed on me the free liberty of
giving myself up to that imperious destiny, which, perhaps, after
granting a few moments of delusive pleasure, might precipitate me into
an abyss of irremediable destruction.

Flight and secrecy were now become wholly needless. I could openly leave
the convent, and freely give myself up to my own plans of following that
being, without whom there could be for me no happiness upon earth, and
whom I was resolved, at all rides, to discover.

The journey to Rome, and the commissions with which I was to be charged,
appeared to me only inventions of Leonardus, in order that I might, in a
becoming manner, quit the monastery.

I passed the night, according to his injunctions, in prayer and in
preparation for the journey. The rest of the miraculous wine I put into
a basket-bottle, in order to guard it as a precious cordial, and
afterwards, going to the relic room, deposited the empty flask in the
cabinet.

It was not without astonishment that when, on the following day, I
waited on the Prior, I perceived, from his diffuse and serious
instructions, that there was a real cause for my being sent to Rome, and
that the dispatches to which he had alluded were of considerable weight
and importance. The reflection, therefore, fell heavily on my
conscience, that, after receiving these credentials, I should yet be
determined, from the moment that I left the convent, to give myself
wholly up to my own impulses, without the slightest regard to any duty
whatever. The thoughts, however, of _her_--the mistress of my
soul--failed not to encourage me again, and I resolved to remain
faithful to my own plans. The brethren soon after assembled together;
and my leave-taking of them, and especially of the Prior Leonardus,
filled me with the deepest melancholy. At last, the convent gates closed
behind me, and I was equipped for my journey into a far distant land.



CHAPTER X.


I had walked for nearly an hour, and had now come to a rising ground. I
looked back to have a last prospect of the convent and the town, whose
well-known outlines were already become obscured by distance, and by the
white masses of vapour that yet lingered in the valley. But on the
eminence to which I had arrived, the fresh morning breezes awoke, and
played coolly on my brows. Methought I heard music in the air. It was
the pious hymns of the monks that were yet borne up towards me, as if to
express once more their parting blessing and long farewell.
Involuntarily I joined in the anthem, and lingered on the spot,
unwilling to break a train of intricate associations, which it would
require volumes to analyse and develope.

But now the sun rose in full glory over the towers of Königswald. The
glossy foliage of the trees, already tinged by the first hues of
autumn, shone in his dazzling golden light. There was pleasure even in
the rustling sound of the dew-drops that fell like showers of diamonds,
amid the myriads of insects that danced hummingly through the stilly air
of the sheltering thickets. The birds, too, were awake, and fluttered,
singing and rejoicing in amorous play, through the woods. To crown all,
it was a holiday, and there came a religious procession of peasant lads
and girls, in their best attire, up the hill side.

Never had I before enjoyed such a mood of mind. I seemed to myself
wholly metamorphosed; and as if inspired by some newly awoke energies, I
strode rapidly down the opposite side of the hill.

To the first _bauer_ whom I happened to meet, I put the question,
whether he knew the place where, according to the route that had been
given to me, I was first to pass the night; and he described to me very
accurately a footpath leading off from the high road, and winding
through the mountains, by which I should reach more rapidly than by any
other course, the place of my destination.

I had parted with the _Bauer_, and had walked on for a considerable
space in complete solitude, when, for the first time since my setting
out, the thoughts occurred to me of the unknown beauty, and my
fantastical plan of going in search of her. But, as if by some new and
supernatural influence, her image had now vanished almost quite away; so
that it was with difficulty I could trace the pale disfigured
lineaments. The more that I laboured to retain this apparition firmly in
my remembrance, the more fallaciously it melted, as if into vapour, from
my sight; only my extravagant behaviour in the convent, after that
mysterious adventure, remained fresh in my recollection. It was now even
to myself inconceivable with what patience the Prior had borne with all
this; and how, instead of inflicting the punishment I so justly
deserved, he had sent me forth into the world.

I soon became convinced, that the visit of the unknown beauty had been
nothing more nor less than a vision, the consequence of too stedfast
application. Instead of imputing this, as I would formerly have done, to
any direct interference of the devil, I ascribed it to the natural
deception of my own disordered senses. Nay, the circumstance of the
stranger being dressed exactly like St Rosalia, seemed to prove, that
the animated and excellent picture of that saint, which, in an oblique
direction, I could behold from the confessional, had a great share in
producing my delusion.

Deeply did I admire the wisdom of the Prior, who had chosen the only
proper means for my recovery; for, shut up within the convent walls,
always brooding over my own gloomy thoughts, and surrounded ever by the
same objects, I must irretrievably have fallen into utter madness.
Becoming always more reconciled to the rational conclusion, that I had
but dreamed, I could scarcely help laughing at myself; nay, with a
levity which before had been most remote from my character, I made a
jest of my own supposition, that a female saint had fallen in love with
me; whereupon I recollected also, with equal merriment, that I had once
imagined myself to be transformed into St Anthony.

       *       *       *       *       *

One morning, (it was after I had been already several days wandering
amid the mountains,) I found myself amid bold, frightfully piled up
masses of rock, and was obliged to proceed by narrow, dangerous
footpaths, beneath which the mountain rivulets roared and foamed in
their contracted ravines. The path became always more lonely, wild, and
arduous. The autumnal sun (it was in September) rose high in heaven, and
burned upon my uncovered head. I panted for thirst, for no spring was
near, and I could not reach the torrents, though their voice was
audible; moreover, there was yet no sign of my approach to the village,
which had been marked for my next resting place.

At last, quite exhausted, I sat down upon a mass of rocks, and could not
resist taking a draught from my basket-bottle, notwithstanding that I
wished to reserve as much as possible of the extraordinary liquor. I
felt instantly the mantling glow of quickened circulation in every vein,
and energetic bracing of every fibre, while, refreshed and strengthened,
I boldly marched forward, in order to gain the appointed station, which
now could not be far distant.

The dark pine-tree woods became always more and more dense, and the
ground more steep and uneven. Suddenly I heard near me a rustling in
the thickets, and then a horse neighed aloud, which was there bound to a
tree. I advanced some steps farther, as the path guided me onwards,
till, almost petrified with terror, I suddenly found myself on the verge
of a tremendous precipice, beyond which the river, which I have already
mentioned, was thundering and foaming at an immeasurable distance below.

With astonishment, too, I beheld, on a projecting point of rock which
jutted over the chasm, what appeared to me the figure of a man. At
first, I suspected some new delusion; but, recovering in some degree
from my fear, I ventured nearer, and perceived a young man in uniform,
on the very outermost point of the rocky cliff. His sabre, his hat, with
a high plume of feathers, and a portefeuille, lay beside him;--with half
his body hanging over the abyss, he seemed to be asleep, and always to
sink down lower and lower! His fall was inevitable!

I ventured nearer. Seizing him with one hand, and endeavouring to pull
him back, I shouted aloud, "For God's sake, sir, awake! For Heaven's
sake, beware!"--I said no more; for, at that moment, starting from his
sleep, and at the same moment losing his equilibrium, he fell down into
the cataract!

His mangled form must have dashed from point to point of the rocks in
his descent. I heard one piercing yell of agony, which echoed through
the immeasurable abyss, from which at last only a hollow moaning arose,
which soon also died away.

Struck with unutterable horror, I stood silent and motionless. At last,
by a momentary impulse, I seized the hat, the sword, the portefeuille,
and wished to withdraw myself as quickly as possible from the fatal
spot.

Now, however, I observed a young man dressed as a _chasseur_ emerge from
the wood, and coming forward to meet me. At first, he looked at me
earnestly and scrutinizingly--then, all at once, broke out into
immoderate laughter; whereat an ice-cold shuddering vibrated through all
my frame.

"_Sapperment!_ my Lord Count," said the youth, "your masquerade is
indeed admirable and complete; and if the Lady Baroness were not
apprized before hand, I question if even she would recognize you in this
disguise.--But what have you done with the uniform, my lord?"

"As for that," replied I, "I threw it down the rocks into the
water."--Yet these words were _not mine_! I only gave utterance,
involuntarily and almost unconsciously, to expressions, which, by means
of some supernatural influence, rose up within me.

I stood afterwards silent, and absorbed in thought, with my staring eyes
always turned to the rocks, as if from thence the mangled frame of the
unfortunate Count would ascend to bear witness against me. My conscience
accused me as his murderer; but, though thus unnerved, I continued to
hold the hat, the sword, and the portefeuille, convulsively firm in my
grasp.

"Now, my lord," resumed the chasseur, "I shall ride on by the carriage
road to the village, where I shall keep myself _incognito_ in the small
house to the left-hand side of the gate. Of course, you will now walk
down to the castle, where you are probably expected by this time. Your
hat and sword I shall take with me."

I gave them to him accordingly.--"Now, farewell, my lord," added the
youth; "much pleasure attend you in the castle!"

Hereupon, whistling and singing, he vanished away into the woods. I
heard him afterwards untie the horse, that was there bound to a tree,
and ride off.

When I had recovered myself in some measure from my confusion, and
reflected on the adventure, I was obliged to confess, that I had become
wholly the victim of chance or destiny, which had at once thrown me into
the most extraordinary circumstances. It was quite obvious, that an
exact resemblance of my face and figure with those of the unfortunate
Count, had deceived the chasseur; and that his master must have chosen
the dress of a capuchin, in order to carry on some adventure in the
castle, of which the completion had now devolved upon me! Death had
overtaken him, and at the same moment a wonderful fatality had _forced_
me into his place. An inward irresistible impulse to act the part of the
deceased Count, overpowered every doubt, and stunned the warning voice
of conscience, which accused me of murder _now_, and of shameless
intended crimes _yet to come_!

I now opened the portefeuille. Letters, money, and bank-bills, to a
considerable amount, fell into my hands. I wished to go through the
papers, one by one, in order that I might be aware of the late Count's
situation. But my internal disquietude, the confusion of a thousand
strange ideas, which crowded through my brain, did not admit of this.

After walking a few paces, I again stood still. I seated myself on a
rock, and endeavoured to force myself into a quieter mood of mind. I saw
the danger of stepping, thus wholly unprepared, into a circle of people,
of whom I knew nothing. Then suddenly I heard a sound of hunting horns
through the wood, and voices shouting and rejoicing, which came always
nearer and nearer. My heart beat with violence--my breath
faltered.--Now, indeed, a new life, a new world, were about to be opened
upon me!

I turned into a small, narrow footpath, which led me down a steep
declivity. On stepping out of the thicket, I beheld an extensive, nobly
built castle, lying beneath me in the valley. _There_, of course, was
the intended scene of the adventure which the late Count had in
contemplation, and I walked courageously onwards. I soon found myself in
the finely kept walks of the park, by which the castle was surrounded.
At last, in a dark side allée, in a kind of _berçeau_, I saw two male
figures, of whom one was in the dress of a lay monk. They came nearer,
but were engaged in deep discourse, and never once observed me.



CHAPTER XI.


The lay monk was a young man, on whose features lay the death-like
paleness of a deeply corroding and inward grief. Of the other I could
only say, that he was plainly, but genteelly dressed, and was
considerably advanced in years. They seated themselves on a stone bench,
with their backs turned towards me. I could understand every word that
they said.

"Hermogen," said the old man, "by this obstinate silence, you bring your
nearest friends to utter despair. Your dark melancholy increases; your
youthful strength is withered. This extravagant resolution of becoming a
monk, ruins all your father's hopes and wishes. Yet he would willingly
give up the hopes that he had formed, if, from youth onwards, you had
shewn any real tendency of character to loneliness and monachism. In
such case, he certainly would not struggle against the fate that hung
over him and you.

"But the sudden and violent change in your whole disposition, has proved
only too plainly, that some concealed and unfortunate event--some
mysterious adventure, at which we cannot guess, is the cause of your
melancholy; which cause, however remote, still continues to exercise
over you the same destructive influence.

"Your mind in former days was invariably cheerful, buoyant, and
disengaged. What, then, can all at once have rendered you so
misanthropical, that you should now suppose there cannot be in the
breast of any living mortal, counsel or consolation for your
afflictions?--You are silent--you stare only with your eyes fixed on
vacancy.

"Hermogen, you once not only respected, but loved your father. If it has
now become impossible for you to open your heart, and to have confidence
in him, yet, at least, do not torment him by the daily sight of this
dress, which announces only your perseverance in the most inimical and
fantastic resolutions. I conjure you, Hermogen, to lay aside this
hateful garb. Believe me, there lies in such outward things, more
consequence than is usually ascribed to them. Surely you will not
misunderstand, or suspect me of levity, when I remind you of the effect
produced by dress on an actor. On assuming the costume of any character,
he experiences in himself a corresponding change of feelings. Are you
not yourself of opinion, that if these detestable long garments did not
come in your way to confine you, you would be able to walk and run--nay,
to skip, jump, and dance, just as readily and lightly as before? The
gleam and glitter of the bright dazzling epaulet, which formerly shone
upon your shoulders, might again reflect upon your pale cheeks their
wonted colour; and the clang of your military accoutrements would sound
like cheering music in the ears of your noble horse, who would come
neighing and prancing with joy to meet you, bending his neck proudly
before his beloved master.

"Rouse yourself, then, Baron!--Away with these black robes, which, to
tell the truth, are by no means becoming.--Say, shall Frederick now run
and search out your uniform?"

The old man rose up as if to go. The youth detained him, and, evidently
quite overpowered by emotion, fell into his arms.--"Alas! Reinhold,"
said he, "you torment me indeed inexpressibly. The more that you
endeavour in this manner to awaken within me those chords which formerly
sounded harmoniously, the more forcibly I feel how my relentless fate,
as with an iron hand, has seized upon me, and crushed my whole frame,
mental and bodily; so that, like a broken lute, I must either be silent,
or respond in discord."

"These, Baron," said Reinhold, "are but your own delusions. You speak of
some horrible and monstrous destiny which tyrannizes over you; but as to
_wherein_ or _how_ this destiny exists, you are invariably silent. Yet,
be that as it may, a young man like you, endowed both with mental
energy, and courage which is the natural result of animal spirits,
should be able to arm himself against those demons--those invisible
foes, with their iron fangs, of whom you so often speak. As if aided by
divine inspiration, he should exalt himself above that destiny, which
would otherwise crush him into the earth; and, cherishing within his own
heart the principles of life, wing his way above the petty torments of
this world. Indeed, I can scarcely imagine to myself any circumstances
that will not finally yield to a patient, reasonable, and yet energetic
inward volition."

Hereupon Hermogen drew himself one step backwards, and fixing on the old
man, a dark, gloomy look, almost with an expression of repressed rage,
which was truly frightful:--

"Know, then," said he, "that _I myself_ am the destiny--the demon, as
thou sayest, by whom I am persecuted and destroyed, that my conscience
is loaded with guilt, nay, with the stain of a shameful, infamous, and
mortal crime, which I thus endeavour to expiate in misery and in
despair!--Therefore, I beseech you, be compassionate, and implore, too,
my father's consent, that he may allow me to go into a monastery!"

"Hermogen," said the old man, "you are now in a situation peculiar to
those who are disordered both in body and in mind--you, therefore,
cannot judge for yourself; and, in short, you should, on no account, go
from hence. Besides, in a few days the Baroness will return home with
Aurelia, and you must of necessity stay to see them."

A smile of bitter mockery coursed over the young man's features. He even
laughed aloud, and cried, in a voice at which my heart recoiled and
shuddered, "_Must_ stay?--Must _therefore_ stay?--Ay, truly, old man,
thou art in the right--I must indeed stay; and my penitence will be here
far more frightful than in the dreariest cloister."

With these words, he broke away, and disappeared in the thicket, leaving
the old man motionless, and apparently lost in the most gloomy
reflections.

"_Gelobt sey Jesu Christus!_" said I, pronouncing the conventual
salutation in my best manner, and advancing towards him. He started,
looked at me with surprise, and then seemed to call something to mind
that he already knew, but could not _clearly_ remember.

At last, "Reverend sir," said he, "it was perhaps to your coming that
the Baroness alluded in a letter received by us four days ago; and you
are sent hither for the benefit and consolation of this afflicted
family."

I answered without hesitation in the affirmative, and the stranger (or
Reinhold, as he has been styled) then immediately recovered that
cheerfulness which seemed natural to his disposition. We walked on
together through a very beautiful park, and came at last to a _boskett_
near the castle, from whence there was a magnificent prospect towards
the mountains.

On his giving orders to a servant, who just then appeared near us, a
plentiful _dejeuner a-la-fourchette_ was immediately served up, with a
bottle of excellent French wine.

On joining glasses, and looking at each other, it appeared to me as if
Reinhold watched me with great attention, and seemed labouring with some
obscure reminiscence.

At last he broke out--"Good Heaven! reverend sir, I must be grossly
deceiving myself if you are not Brother Medardus, from the capuchin
convent in Königswald: And yet, how is this possible? But, certainly,
there can be no doubt!--Speak only, I beg of you, and clear up this
mystery."

As if struck to the earth by lightning, I was, by these words of
Reinhold, quite paralyzed and overpowered. I saw myself at once
discovered, unmasked--accused, perhaps, as a murderer! Despair gave me
strength. Life and death depended on that moment.

"I am indeed Brother Medardus, from the capuchin convent in Königswald,"
said I; "and am now employed on a diplomatic mission as legate from our
monastery to Rome."

These words I uttered with all the quiet and composure which I was able
to counterfeit. "Perhaps, then," said Reinhold, "it is only chance that
brought you hither. You may have wandered from the high road. Or, if
otherwise, how could it happen that the Baroness became acquainted with
you, and sent you hither?"

Without a moment's reflection, but once more only _repeating_ words
which seemed by some strange voice to be whispered into my ears, I
replied, "On my journey I became acquainted with the Baroness's
confessor, and, at his request, I agreed to come hither."

"True," said Reinhold; "now I remember that the Baroness indeed wrote
somewhat to this effect: Well, Heaven be praised that it is so, and that
you have been induced to come to our assistance. I was, by chance, some
years ago, in Königswald, and heard one of your admirable discourses, in
which you seemed to be indeed gifted with divine inspiration. To your
piety, your unaffected eloquence, your true calling to be the champion
of souls otherwise lost, I can safely trust for the fulfilment of that,
which, to all of us, would have been impossible.

"I consider myself particularly fortunate, however, in having met you
before you were introduced to the Baron, and will take advantage of this
opportunity to make you acquainted with the circumstances of the family,
and to be perfectly sincere and undisguised, as is fitting before a man
of your sanctity and dignified character. It is indeed requisite, that,
in order to give the proper tendency and guidance to your endeavours,
you should receive from me hints on many points, on which (for other
reasons) I would rather have been silent. I shall endeavour, however, to
go through the whole in as few words as possible.

"With the Baron I was brought up from infancy. A certain similarity of
temper made us like brothers, and annihilated those barriers which
difference of birth would otherwise have raised up betwixt us. I was
never absent from him; and, accordingly, after his father's death, and
when he had finished his academical studies, he directly appointed me
steward over his paternal property in these mountains.

"I continued still to be his most intimate friend and companion; nor
were the most secret occurrences and circumstances of the house
concealed from me. The late Baron had wished for his son's connection by
marriage with an Italian family, whom he had highly respected; and my
patron so much the more readily fulfilled his father's wishes, as he
found himself irresistibly attracted to the young lady, who was by
nature beautiful, and by education highly accomplished.

"Seldom, in truth, are the wishes and plans of parents either so
judiciously framed, or so prosperously fulfilled, as in this instance.
The young couple seemed to have been born for each other,--and of this
happy marriage, a son and daughter, Hermogen and Aurelia, were the
offspring.

"For the most part, we spent our winters in the town; but when, soon
after the birth of Aurelia, the Baroness began to decline in health, we
remained there for the summer also, as she indispensably required the
assistance of physicians. She died just as, on the approach of another
spring, her visible amendment had filled the Baron with the most
delightful hopes.

"We then fled to the country, and there only time could meliorate the
deep-consuming grief by which he had become wholly possessed. Hermogen,
meanwhile, grew up to be a fine youth, and Aurelia became every day more
and more the image of her mother. The careful education of these
children was our daily task and delight. Hermogen shewed a decided turn
for the military life, and this constrained the Baron to send him into
town, in order that he might begin his career there under the care of
our old friend the governor of the fort.

"For the first time, three years ago, we again spent a winter together,
as in old times, at the _residenz_; partly in order that the Baron might
be near his son, and partly that he might visit his old acquaintances,
who had constantly beset him with letters complaining of his absence.

"Universal attention was at that time excited by the appearance of a
niece of the governor's, who had come hither out of the neighbouring
_residenz_ of R----. She was an orphan, and had betaken herself to her
uncle's house for protection; though _there_ she had a whole wing of the
castle to herself, had also her own private _economie_, and was in the
habit of assembling the _beau monde_ around her.

"Without describing Mademoiselle Euphemia too minutely, (which is the
more needless, as you, reverend sir, will soon see her, and judge for
yourself,) suffice it to say, that in all that she said or did, there
was an indescribable grace, refinement, and self-possession, by which
the natural charms of her beauty were heightened to an almost
irresistible degree.

"Wherever she appeared, all that were around her seemed to be animated
with new spirit; and every one, with the most glowing enthusiasm, paid
her homage. Indeed the more insignificant and lifeless characters
appeared in her company to be carried quite out of themselves, and to be
so completely warmed with fire not their own, that, as if inspired, they
revelled in enjoyments, of which till then they had never been capable.

"Of course, there was no want of lovers, who daily paid their court to
this new divinity. They were numerous and indefatigable in their
attentions. But meanwhile, one could never with certainty say, that she
distinguished either this or that individual from his competitors; but,
on the contrary, with a kind of playful, yet wicked irony, which
provoked without giving absolute offence, she contrived to involve them
all in a perplexing, but indissoluble, kind of thraldom. They moved
about her, completely under subjection, as if within the limits of some
enchanted circle.

"On the Baron, this new Circe had gradually and imperceptibly made a
wonderful impression. Immediately on his first appearance, she shewed to
him a degree of attention, which appeared to be the result of youthful,
almost childish, veneration. In conversation afterwards, she displayed
her usual skill, proving herself (in his estimation at least) to be
possessed of the most cultivated understanding and the deepest
sensibility, such as, till now, he had scarcely ever found among women.

"With indescribable delicacy, she sought for and obtained Aurelia's
friendship, and took such a warm interest in her fate, that by degrees
she began to perform for her all the duties of her untimely lost mother.
In brilliant circles especially, she knew how to assist the modest,
inexperienced girl; and, without being observed, to set off Aurelia's
natural good sense and talents to such advantage, that the latter became
every day more distinguished, admired, and sought after.

"The Baron took every opportunity of becoming quite eloquent in praise
of Euphemia; and here, for the first time, probably, in our lives, it
happened that he and I were completely at variance.

"In society I was generally a spectator merely, rather than an actor, in
whatever was going forward. In this way, looking on Euphemia as an
object worthy of investigation, I had considered her with great
attention. On her part, she had only, in compliance with her system of
not neglecting any one, now and then interchanged with me a few
insignificant words.

"I must confess, that she was, above all other women, beautiful and
attractive;--that whatever she said was marked by sense and sensibility,
(in other words, by _tact_ and by prudence;) yet, notwithstanding all
this, I was conscious to myself of an inexplicable feeling of distrust
and aversion. Nay, whenever she addressed her discourse to me, or her
looks by chance fell upon me, I could not escape from a certain
disquietude and apprehension that were quite overpowering. Her eyes,
especially when she believed herself unobserved, glowed with an
extraordinary and quite peculiar light, as if some unquenchable fire
dwelt within her, which, at all times with difficulty kept down, had
then irresistibly broken forth.

"Besides all this, there was too often on her otherwise finely formed
lips, the expression of a hateful irony--the decided indication even of
a malignant and fiendish scorn, at which my very heart shuddered.

"In this manner, especially, she often looked at Hermogen, who, for his
part, troubled himself very little about her;--but such looks alone were
quite sufficient to convince me, that, under a specious and beautiful
mask, much was concealed, of which no one but myself suspected the
existence.



CHAPTER XII.


"Against the unmeasured praise of the Baron," continued the old man, "I
had indeed nothing to offer, but my own physiognomical observations, to
which he did not allow the slightest importance; but, on the contrary,
perceived in my dislike of Euphemia only a highly absurd species of
idiosyncrasy. He even confessed to me, that the young lady would soon
become one of his family, as he would do all in his power to bring about
a marriage betwixt her and Hermogen.

"The latter happened to come into the room just as we spoke with
considerable warmth on this subject, and when I was endeavouring to
defend my notions about Euphemia. The Baron, accustomed always to act
openly, and on the spur of the moment, made his son instantly acquainted
with all his plans and wishes.

"Hermogen very quietly listened to his father's enthusiastic praises of
the young lady; and when the eulogy was ended, answered that he did not
feel himself in the least attracted towards Euphemia; that he could
never love her; and therefore earnestly begged that any schemes for a
marriage between her and himself might be given over.

"The Baron was not a little confounded, when all his favourite projects
were thus at once set aside, but at the same time, said the less to
Hermogen, as he recollected that Euphemia herself had never been
consulted on the subject. With a cheerfulness and good humour which are
indeed quite his own, he soon began to jest over the complete failure of
his endeavours, and said that Hermogen evidently shared in my
idiosyncrasy; though, for his part, how a beautiful young woman could
inspire such dislike, he was quite unable to perceive.

"His own intercourse with Euphemia of course remained the same as
before. He had been so accustomed to her society, that he was unable to
spend any day without seeing her.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Consequently, it soon after happened, that one day, in a careless and
cheerful humour, he remarked to her, that there was but _one_ individual
within her enchanted circle, who had not become enamoured, and that was
Hermogen. The latter, he added, had flatly refused to listen to a plan
of marriage, which his father had wished to set on foot for him.

"Euphemia, in the same style of badinage, replied, that it might have
been as well to consult her also on the subject, and that although she
would gladly be more nearly allied to the Baron, yet this must by no
means take place through Hermogen, who was for her far too serious, and
too particular in his humour.

"From the time that this discourse took place with the Baron, (who
immediately communicated it to me,) Euphemia continued, even in an
unusual degree, her attentions towards him and Aurelia. At last, by many
slight but intelligible hints, she gradually brought the Baron to the
idea that a union with herself would exactly realize the _beau ideal_
which she had formed of happiness in marriage. Every objection which
could be urged on the score of years, or otherwise, she was able in the
most convincing manner to refute, and with-all, advanced in her
operations so gradually, delicately, and imperceptibly, that the Baron
believed all the ideas which she directly put into his head to be the
growth of his own feelings and his own ingenuity.

"Still sound and unbroken in health, and by nature lively and energetic,
he now felt himself inspired, even like a young man, by a glowing and
fervent passion. I could no longer damp nor restrain this wild flight,
for it was already too late. In short, not long afterwards, to the
astonishment of all the _residenz_, Euphemia became the wife of the
Baron!!

"It seemed to me now, as if this formidable being, whom even I had
before regarded with such distrust, having thus stepped at last into our
very domestic circle, I must now be doubly and trebly on the watch for
my friend and for myself. Hermogen attended the marriage of his father
with the coldest indifference, but Aurelia, the dear child, who was
haunted with a thousand indefinable apprehensions, burst into tears.

"Soon after the marriage, Euphemia longed to visit the Baron's castle
here among the mountains. Her wish was gratified accordingly, and I
must confess, that her whole behaviour was, for a long time, so
consistent and correct, that she extorted from me involuntary
admiration. Thus, two years flowed on in perfect quietness and domestic
enjoyment. Both winters we spent in the _residenz_, but even there too,
the Baroness shewed towards her husband so much unfeigned respect, and
such attention even to his slightest wishes, that even the voice of envy
and detraction were at last put to silence, and not one of the young
libertines who thought that they would here have sufficient scope for
their gallantry, allowed themselves even the least freedom in her
presence. During the last winter, I was probably the only one left, who,
still influenced by the old _idiosyncrasy_, ventured to cherish doubts
and mistrust against her.

"Before the Baron's marriage, a certain Count Victorin, major in the
Prince's _Garde d'Honneur_, and only now and then professionally
established at the _residenz_, was one of Euphemia's regular suitors,
and the only one of whom it could ever have been said, that he at times
appeared to be honoured by her particular regard. It had once been
whispered indeed, that a much nearer and more intimate acquaintance
existed between them, than was yet indicated by their outward behaviour.
But the rumour immediately died away, as obscurely as it had arisen.

"Be that as it may, the Count Victorin was again this last winter in the
_residenz_, and of course, made his appearance in the circles of the
Baroness. He seemed, however, not in the least to concern himself about
her, but rather even to avoid her conversation. Notwithstanding all
this, I imagined that frequently their looks met, when they believed
themselves unobserved; and that in these looks--but I shall not describe
more particularly--suffice it to say, that their expression was such, as
in my opinion could not be misunderstood, and such as to cause to me the
utmost disquietude.

"More especially, it happened one night at the house of the Governor,
where a large party was assembled, that I stood crowded and squeezed up
into a window, where I was more than half concealed by the furniture
drapery, and only two or three steps before me was the Count Victorin.

"Then Euphemia, more than ever brilliant and tasteful in her dress, and
beaming in luxuriant beauty, swept up to him as if to pass by. No one,
probably, remarked them but myself. He seized her arm, with a kind of
passionate vehemence, but so that it was observed by me alone. Their
eyes met; her expressive looks were turned directly and full upon him.
She whispered some words, of which I could not seize the import.
Euphemia must have seen me. She turned round quickly; but I distinctly
heard the words, 'We are observed!'

"I stood as if petrified by the shock of this discovery. Alas! reverend
sir, think of my conflicting feelings at that moment--think of my
gratitude and respect--of that faithful attachment with which I was
devoted to the Baron--and recollect, too, the apprehensions by which I
had been so long persecuted, and which were thus so cruelly and
unequivocally realized!

"These few words, however unimportant in themselves, had completely
revealed to me that there was a secret understanding between the
Baroness and the Count! For the present I was obliged to be silent; but
I was resolved to watch Euphemia with Argus eyes, and then, as soon as I
had obtained _proofs_ of her crime, to break asunder at once the
disgraceful bands in which she had fettered my unhappy friend.

"Yet who is able to counteract successfully the contrivances of devilish
cunning and hypocrisy? _My_ endeavours, at least, were all utterly in
vain, and it would only have been absurd to impart to the Baron what I
had seen and heard. My opponents would directly have found ways and
means to represent me as a half-witted, tiresome visionary.

"The snow still lay upon the mountains, when we came, last spring, over
to the castle; but I made my usual excursions over all the grounds. One
morning I met, in a neighbouring village, _a bauer_, who had something
odd in his walk and gestures. Happening to turn round his head, he
betrayed to me, on the first glance, the features of the Count Victorin!
However, in the same moment he had vanished among the houses, and was no
more to be seen.

"Any mistake on my part was here impossible. And what could have led him
to this disguise, but the continuance of his old intrigue with the
Baroness? Even now, I know for certain that he is again in this
neighbourhood, for I have seen his _chasseur_ riding past; and yet it
is inexplicable to me how it happened that he did not rather attend the
Baroness in town.

"It is now three months since we received intelligence that her uncle
the Governor was attacked by severe and dangerous illness. Without
delay, therefore, she obtained the Baron's consent to visit her
relation, and set off, taking only Aurelia with her, indisposition
preventing the Baron from accompanying her at that time; and he has
since chosen to remain here.

"Now, however, misfortune had begun to make determined inroads into our
house; for the Baroness had not been long absent before she wrote home,
that Hermogen was suddenly seized by a melancholy, on which no society
or advice of physicians seemed to have any beneficial influence; and
that this even broke out oftentimes into fits of delirious rage. Day
after day he wandered about all alone, cursing and denouncing himself
and his cruel destiny; while all endeavours of his friends to recover
him from this frightful state had been hitherto ineffectual.

"You may suppose, reverend sir, how painful and distressing was the
impression that all this made upon the Baron. The sight of his son
under such a fearful malady, would, in his present state, have agitated
him too much. I therefore went to town alone.

"By the strong measures that had been adopted, Hermogen was already
cured of these violent out-breakings of madness described by the
Baroness; but a settled melancholy had fallen upon him, against which
the physicians seemed to think that all aid would be unavailing.

"On seeing me, he was deeply moved. He told me that an unhappy destiny,
with which it was in vain to struggle, drove him to renounce for ever
the station which he had till then held; and that only as a monk could
he hope for tranquillity in this world, or rescue his soul from eternal
destruction. Accordingly, I found him already in the dress, in which
you, reverend sir, may have observed him this morning; but
notwithstanding his resistance, I succeeded in bringing him hither.

"He is now tranquil, but never for a moment relinquishes the _one_
insane idea which has taken possession of him; and all attempts to
extort a disclosure of the event which has brought him into his misery
remain fruitless, though the revealing of this secret would probably
afford the first means of contributing to its alleviation.

"Some time ago the Baroness wrote, that, by advice of her confessor, she
would send hither a monk of his acquaintance, whose intercourse and
consoling admonitions would probably have more influence than anything
else on Hermogen, as his madness had evidently taken a devotional turn.
I am greatly rejoiced, sir, that the choice has fallen on you, whom a
chance the most fortunate for us had led to the _residenz_. By attending
to the directions that I now give you, I trust that you may restore to a
broken-hearted and deeply-afflicted family, that repose which they have
so long lost.

"Your endeavours ought, in my opinion, to be directed to _two_ especial
objects. In the first place, inquire out this horrible secret, by which
Hermogen is oppressed. His bosom will be lighter if it is once
disclosed, whether in ordinary conversation, or in the confessional; and
the church, instead of burying him within its walls, will again restore
him to the world.

"In the second place, you should make yourself better acquainted with
the Baroness. You know all that I have to communicate--You are probably
already of my opinion, though I have not sufficient _proofs_ for
entering into an open accusation; but I know, that when you see, and
become intimate with Euphemia, you will entertain the same conviction
that I do. She is, however, by temperament, inclined to religion, at
least her imagination is easily roused. Perhaps, therefore, by your
extraordinary gifts of eloquence, you may penetrate deeply into her
heart. You may agitate and terrify her into repentance of her crimes,
and of that treachery against her best friends, by which, of necessity,
she must work for herself everlasting torments.

"Yet one remark more, reverend sir, I must hazard. Many times it has
appeared to me as if the Baron, too, had on his mind some secret grief,
of which he conceals from me the cause. Besides his openly declared
anxiety on account of Hermogen, he contends visibly with painful
thoughts, which constantly harass him. It has often suggested itself to
me, that he may perhaps, by some evil chance, have discovered the
Baroness's criminality, and this by traces more certain and unambiguous
than those which have occurred to me. Therefore, reverend sir, I must
finally recommend also the Baron to your spiritual care and attention."



CHAPTER XIII.


With these words Reinhold closed his long narrative, which had,
meanwhile, in a hundred different ways, tormented me. The most
extraordinary and irreconcilable contradictions laboured, crossing and
re-crossing each other, through my brain.

My very identity, my individuality, was cruelly become the game--the
mere plaything, of chance, while as it were, losing myself, and melting
away into forms and features not my own, I swam, without hold or stay,
upon that wild sea of events, which broke in upon me like raging waves.

I had, indeed, virtually lost myself, for I could no longer recover any
power of voluntary action. It was through the interference of my arm
that Victorin had been hurled into the abyss; but it was chance, and no
impulse of volition, by which I was guided on that occasion. "Now,"
said I to myself, "I come into his place; but then Reinhold knows Father
Medardus, the preacher in the Capuchin Convent, and thus in his
estimation I appear only that which I truly am. On the other hand, the
adventure with the Baroness, which the Count had in contemplation, falls
upon my shoulders, so that in this respect I become again Victorin! To
myself an inexplicable riddle, thought becomes a mere chaos. Like the
fabulous knight, who fought with his DOUBLE in the dark forest, I am at
variance, and combating with myself."

Notwithstanding these internal commotions, I succeeded in counterfeiting
tolerably well such composure as is becoming to a priest; and in this
mood I came for the first time into the presence of the Baron.

I found him a man advanced in years; but in his now shrunk features, lay
yet the evidences of the strength and vivacity which he had once
possessed. Not age, indeed, but grief, had ploughed wrinkles in his
forehead, and blanched his hair. Notwithstanding this, there prevailed
in all that he said, and in his whole behaviour, a cheerfulness and
good humour, by which every one must be attracted, and prepossessed in
his favour.

When the old steward presented me to him as the monk, whose intended
arrival had been noticed by the Baroness, his looks, at first rather
doubtful and suspicious, became always more friendly, as, in the
meanwhile, Reinhold related how he had heard me preach in the Capuchin
Convent of Königswald, and had there convinced himself of my
extraordinary gifts of piety and eloquence.

"I know not, my dear Reinhold," said the Baron, "how, or for what
reason, the features of this reverend gentleman interest me so much at
our first meeting. They certainly awake some remembrance, which yet
struggles in vain to come clearly and fully into light."

It seemed to me, as if he would, in that very moment, break out with the
name "Count Victorin!"--In truth, however miraculous it may appear, I
had now become actually persuaded that I was the Count; and thereby
(aided perhaps by the wine at breakfast, not to speak of the draught
from the basket bottle,) I felt the circulation of the blood more
powerfully in every vein, and colouring my cheeks with a deeper crimson.

I depended, however, upon Reinhold, who indeed knew me as Brother
Medardus, though this now appeared to myself a mere fiction! Nothing
could untie or unravel those intricate knots, by which the strange web
of my destiny was thus bound together.

According to the Baron's wishes, I was immediately to make acquaintance
with Hermogen; but he was nowhere to be found. He had been seen
wandering towards the mountains; but the family were on that score quite
unconcerned, as he had frequently for days together absented himself in
that manner. Accordingly, through the whole afternoon, I remained in the
society of the Baron and Reinhold, and by degrees recollected myself so
completely, that towards evening I became quite calm, and courageous
enough to grapple with the wonderful events and difficulties which now
seemed to lie in wait for me.

In the solitude of the night, I opened the Count's portfolio, and
convinced myself more particularly that it was Count Victorin who had
been hurled into the abyss; yet the letters addressed to him were but
of indifferent import, and not one of them gave me any very clear
insight as to his real circumstances and condition in life.

Without, therefore, harassing my brain any farther about the matter, I
resolved to accommodate myself as skilfully as I could to whatever
course _chance_ might point out for me; especially, it was requisite
that I should wait the issue of my first interview with the mysterious
Euphemia.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the very next day, the Baroness, with Aurelia, unexpectedly made her
appearance. I saw them alight from their carriage, and, received by the
Baron, entering the gates of the castle. Unnerved and disquieted, I
stepped restlessly up and down in my chamber, under a tempest of
extraordinary anticipations. This, however, did not continue long, ere I
was summoned down stairs.

The Baroness came forward to meet me. She was an eminently beautiful
woman, still in the full bloom of her charms. There was in her
countenance and _tout ensemble_ a voluptuous tranquillity, diversified
only by the restless gleam of her eyes, which were to an unparalleled
degree fiery and expressive.

As soon as she beheld me she seemed involuntarily to start, and betrayed
extraordinary emotion. Her voice faltered, she could scarcely command
words.

This visible embarrassment on her part gave me courage. I looked her
boldly in the face, and, in the conventual manner, gave her my blessing.
Hereupon she became all at once deadly pale, and was obliged to seat
herself on a sofa. Reinhold meanwhile looked on me as if quite
satisfied, and even with smiles of good humour.

At that moment the door opened, and the Baron entered with Aurelia.

As soon as I had set eyes on this girl, it seemed as if a gleam of light
from heaven flashed around me, and penetrated to my very heart, kindling
up mysterious and long-lost emotions--the most ardent longings--the
raptures of the most fervent love. All indeed that I had formerly felt
seemed only like obscure and shadowy indications of that which now
stepped forth at once into reality and life. Nay, life itself dawned for
the first time, glittering, variegated, and splendid before me, and all
that I had known before lay cold and dead, as if under the desolate
shadows of night.

It was she herself--the same mysterious unknown whom I had beheld in the
vision of the confessional. The melancholy, pious, childlike expression
of the dark blue eyes--the delicately formed lips--the neck gently bent
down, as if in devout prayer--the tall, slender, yet voluptuous form;
all these--they belonged not to Aurelia--it was herself, the blessed St
Rosalia! Even the minutest particulars of dress--for example, the
sky-blue shawl, which the young Baroness had now thrown over her
shoulders, was precisely the same worn by the saint in the picture, and
by the unknown of my vision.

What was now the luxuriant beauty of Euphemia compared with the divine
charms of this celestial visitant? Only _her, her_ alone could I behold,
while all around was faded into coldness and obscurity.

It was impossible that my inward emotion could escape the notice of the
by-standers.

"What is the matter with you, reverend sir?" said the Baron; "you seem
agitated in an extraordinary degree."--By these words I was directly
brought to myself, and I felt rising up within me a supernatural
power,--a courage till then unknown,--to encounter all obstacles, if
_she_--if _Aurelia_ were to be the prize to reward me for the combat.

"Rejoice, _Herr Baron_!" cried I, as if seized by a sudden fit of
inspiration--"rejoice, for a female saint is sent down from heaven among
us. The heavens, too, will soon be opened in cloudless serenity, and the
immaculate St Rosalia will diffuse blessings and consolation on the
devout souls who humbly and faithfully pay to her their homage and
adoration. Even now I hear the anthem,--the choral notes of glorified
spirits, who long for the society of the saint, and who, calling on her
in song, hover down from their resplendent thrones. I see her features,
beaming in the divine _halo_ of beatification, lifted up towards the
seraphic choir, that are already visible to her eyes. _Sancta Rosalia,
ora pro nobis!_"

Hereupon I fell on my knees, with mine eyes uplifted to heaven, my hands
folded in prayer, and all present mechanically followed my example. No
one ventured to question me any farther. This sudden ebullition was
imputed to some extraordinary inspiration, and the Baron gravely
resolved to have mass said at the altar of St Rosalia in the _residenz_.

In this manner I had completely rescued myself from my present
embarrassment; and I was resolved from henceforward to venture all
things, for Aurelia was at stake, who was now far dearer to me than
life.

The Baroness meanwhile appeared in a very strange and inexplicable mood.
Her looks followed me; but when I met them, quite composedly and
unconcerned, she averted her eyes, which then wandered about unsteadily
and wildly. As for Aurelia, I could only guess at her agitation; for she
had drawn down her veil, and gazed stedfastly on a cross which was hung
by a rosary from her neck. At last the family retired into another
chamber. I made use of the opportunity, and hastened down into the
garden, where, in a state of the wildest excitement, I rushed through
the walks, labouring with, and revolving a thousand resolutions, ideas,
and plans, for my future life in the castle.

       *       *       *       *       *

Through this day I did not again meet Aurelia. It was already evening,
when Reinhold appeared, and said that the Baroness, who had been deeply
affected by my pious and inspired discourse of that morning, wished to
speak with me alone in her chamber.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I had entered the room, and had, by her directions, closed and
bolted the door, she advanced a few steps towards me, then taking me by
both arms, and looking fixedly in my face, "Is it possible?" said
she--"art thou Medardus, the Capuchin monk?--But the voice--the
figure--your eyes--your hair,--speak, or I shall perish in this torment
of suspense and apprehension!"

"VICTORIN!" replied I, in a whisper; and again this word was not mine,
but suggested to me by some unknown and supernatural power;--then, to
my utter astonishment and consternation----

    [There is a hiatus in the MS. at this place.]



CHAPTER XIV.


It was in my power, doubtless, to have fled from the castle, but in
doing so--in saving myself from new crimes--I must have fled also _from
Aurelia_. I had made the resolution (in which I was determined to
persevere) to venture all things for _her_ sake, and especially for the
chance of renewing that conversation which the sanctity of the
confessional wholly prohibited.

It was on her account, therefore, that I had now involved myself in
enormous guilt; but though conscious of this as the cause, I did not
escape the torments of remorse and the bitterest self-condemnation. A
kind of horror seized on me when I thought of meeting Aurelia again,
which, however, was very soon to happen, namely, at the supper-table. It
seemed as if her pious angelic looks would directly accuse me of mortal
sin, and as if, unmasked and detected, I should sink into utter
disgrace and annihilation. From similar reasons, also, I could not bear
to see the Baroness immediately after that interview, and all this
induced me, under the pretext of having my devotions to perform, to shut
myself up in my room, and remain there, when intimation was sent to me
that supper was ready.

Only a few days, however, were required in order to banish all fear and
embarrassment. The outward behaviour of the Baroness was in the highest
degree guarded and amiable; and the more that, in my character of Count
Victorin, I acquired ascendancy over her, the more she seemed to
redouble her attention and affectionate solicitude for the Baron.

She confessed to me, however, that she many times laboured under the
most fearful perplexity; that my _tonsure_, my long beard, and my
genuine conventual gait, (which last, however, I did not now keep up so
strictly as before,) had caused to her a thousand indefinable
apprehensions; nay, upon my sudden inspired invocation of St Rosalia,
she had become almost persuaded that some extraordinary fatality had
annihilated the plan which, along with Victorin, she had so admirably
laid, and had brought a miserable Capuchin monk into his place.

She admired, however, the extent of my precautions in actually taking
the tonsure, in allowing my beard to grow, and in having studied my part
so exactly, that, even now, she was obliged often to look me sharply in
the face, to avoid falling again into painful doubts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, Victorin's _chasseur_, disguised as a _bauer_, made his
appearance now and then at the end of the park, and I did not neglect to
speak with him privately, and admonish him to hold himself in readiness
for momentary flight, if any evil chance should render this necessary.

As for the Baron and Reinhold, they seemed, on the whole, perfectly
satisfied, yet frequently troubled me with urgent suggestions that I
should direct the best energies of my mind to acquire an influence over
the deeply pensive and obstinate Hermogen.

On the contrary, however, I had never been able to interchange with him
a single word, so sedulously did he avoid every opportunity of being
alone with me; and if by chance we met in the society of his father and
the steward, he looked upon me with an expression so marked and
extraordinary, that I had considerable difficulty in avoiding obvious
embarrassment. It seemed almost as if he could read my very soul, and
spy out my most secret thoughts; and as often as he was thus forced into
my presence, an unconquerable ill-humour, a malicious irony, and indeed
rage, with difficulty restrained, were visible on his pale features.

It happened that once when I was taking a walk in the park, I perceived
him, quite unexpectedly, coming up to meet me. I held this for the
fittest possible moment to clear up the painful circumstances in which I
was placed with regard to him; and accordingly, when, as usual, he
wished to escape, I ventured to take him by the arm, and my old talent
of eloquence enabled me now to speak so impressively, and with so much
energy, that at last he could not help being attentive, and shewed, as I
thought, some favourable symptoms of emotion.

We had seated ourselves on a stone bench at the end of a walk which led
towards the castle. In discourse, my inspiration, as usual, increased.
I maintained, that it was in the highest degree sinful for a man, thus
devoured by inward grief, to despise the consolation and assistance of
the church, which can raise up the fallen, and might enable him to
fulfil all purposes and duties of this life, which, by the goodness of
the Supreme Power, were yet held invitingly before him.

I insisted, that even the most depraved criminal need not doubt of the
grace and favour of Heaven, and that the indulgence of such doubts might
alone deprive him of the temporal happiness, and salvation hereafter,
which he would otherwise obtain. At last I demanded that he should
directly unload his conscience by confessing to me, promising him, at
the same time, on the usual conditions of contrition, penance, and
amendment, absolution for every sin that he might have committed.

Hereupon he rose up. His frame seemed to heave and dilate with
indignation;--his brows were contracted--his eyes glared--a burning red
flew at once over his before pale countenance.

"Art thou," cried he, with a voice, by the depth and wildness of whose
tones I was involuntarily agitated,--"art thou then thyself free from
sin, that thou venturest, like the most pure--nay, like the Divinity
whom thou blasphemest, to look into the secrets of my bosom?--Thou,
forsooth, would'st promise me forgiveness--thou, who for thyself wilt
vainly strive for pardon, and against whom the regions of the blest are
for ever closed!--Miserable hypocrite! soon will the hour of retribution
be at hand, and trodden into the dust like a poisonous reptile, shalt
thou writhe in misery and death, struggling in vain for aid and release
from thy nameless torment, till thou perishest in madness and despair!"

Hereupon he turned round, and quickly disappeared. I had no power to
detain him--I was, indeed, utterly crushed and annihilated. All my
composure and courage had fled, and I saw no means by which confidence
and safety could again be recovered.

       *       *       *       *       *

At length I observed the Baroness coming out of the castle, dressed as
if for a walk. With her only, in this difficulty, could I hope to find
assistance or consolation. I hastened, therefore, to meet her.

At first she seemed terrified at my disordered appearance--inquired
after the cause of it; and I described to her the whole scene which I
had just now encountered with the insane Hermogen, expressing also my
terror and apprehension, lest he might, perhaps, by some inexplicable
chance, have got possession of, and might betray, our secret
intercourse.

By all this Euphemia did not appear in the least moved. On the contrary,
she smiled with an expression of irony and malice so extraordinary, that
I was seized with involuntary horror.

"Let us go deeper into the park," said she, "for here we might be
observed, and it might be deemed mysterious if the reverend Father
Medardus were to speak to me with such vehemence."

    [A few sentences are here left out by the Editor.]

"Be composed then, Victorin," said Euphemia; "you may make yourself
perfectly tranquil as to all this, which has brought you into such fear
and trouble. Indeed, it is on the whole fortunate, that this adventure
has happened with Hermogen; for I have thus an opportunity of speaking
to you on many things of which I had too long been silent.

"You must confess, that I wield a strange kind of intellectual supremacy
over all those by whom I am in this life surrounded; and to possess and
exercise this privilege, is, I believe, much more easy for a woman than
for a man. Not only, however, must we for this purpose enjoy that
superiority of personal beauty which Nature has granted to us, but also
many peculiar attributes of mind. Above all, the individual, who, in
such undertakings, expects to succeed, must possess the power of
stepping, as it were, out of herself,--of contemplating her _own
individuality_ from an external point, (that is to say, as it is beheld
by others;) for our own identity, when viewed in this manner, serves
like an obedient implement--a passive means of obtaining whatever object
we have proposed to ourselves, as the highest and most desirable in
life.

"Can there be anything more admirable than an existence which rules over
that of others, so that we may exert perfect empire over the insipid
beings--the phantom shapes, by which we are here surrounded, and command
them, as if by magic spells, to minister to our enjoyments?

"You, Victorin, belong to the few who have hitherto understood me. You
had also acquired this power of looking, as if with others' eyes, upon
yourself; and I have therefore judged you not unworthy to be raised as
my partner on the throne of this intellectual kingdom. The mystery which
we were obliged to keep up, heightened the charm of this union; our
apparent separation only gave wider scope for our fantastic humour,
which played with and scorned the conventional laws of ordinary life.

"Do not our present meetings constitute the boldest piece of adventure,
that spirits, mocking at all conventional limitations, ever dared to
encounter? Even in this new character which you have assumed, the
metamorphosis depends not on your dress merely. It seems, also, as if
the mind, accommodating itself to the ruling principle, worked outwardly
in such a manner, that even the bodily form becomes plastic and
obedient, moulding itself in turns, according to that plan and
destination which the higher powers of volition had conceived and laid
down.

"How completely I myself despise all ordinary rules, you, Victorin, are
already aware. The Baron has now become, in my estimation, a disgusting,
worn-out implement, which, having been used for my past purposes, lies
dead, like a run-down piece of clock-work, before me--Reinhold is too
contemptible and narrow-minded to be worthy of a thought--Aurelia is a
good, pious, and simple-hearted child--We have nothing to do but with
Hermogen.

"Already have I confessed to you, that the first time I saw this youth,
he made on me a wonderful and indelible impression; but of what
afterwards passed betwixt us, you have never yet been fully aware. I had
even looked on him as capable of entering into those lofty schemes, into
that higher sphere of enjoyment, which I could have opened for him; but
for once, I was completely deceived. There existed within him some
principle inimical and hostile towards me, which manifested itself in
perpetual contradiction to my plans--nay, the very spells by which I
fettered others, had on him an effect quite opposite and repelling. He
remained always cold, darkly reserved, or, at best, utterly indifferent,
till at last my resentment was roused; I determined on revenge, but,
above all, I resolved that my former power should not be thus meanly
baffled and subdued, and that his indifference should sooner or later be
fearfully overcome.

"On this combat I had already decided, when the Baron happened to say,
that he had proposed for me a marriage with Hermogen, to which the
latter would by no means agree. Like a gleam of inspiration, the thought
at that moment rose within me, that I might myself, by a marriage with
the Baron, at once clear away those conventional limitations which had
hitherto at times disgustingly forced themselves in my way.

"But as to that marriage, Victorin, I have already frequently spoken
with you. To your doubts, as to whether it could ever take place, I soon
opposed actual performance. In short, as you know, in the course of a
few days, I succeeded in transforming the grave old gentleman into a
silly tender lover. Nay, he was forced to look on those plans which
wholly originated from my agency, (and to which he scarcely dared to
give utterance,) as the offspring of his own foolish brain, and the
fulfilment of his own heartfelt wishes. Still, in the back ground,
concealed indeed, but not less deeply traced, lay the thoughts of my
revenge on Hermogen, which would now be more easy, and in execution far
more perfect.

"If I knew less of your character, if I were not aware that you are
fully capable of entering into my views, I would no doubt hesitate to
inform you of what afterwards occurred.

"I took various opportunities of attracting Hermogen's attention. When
in the _residenz_, I appeared gloomy and reserved--and afforded, in this
respect, a powerful contrast with himself, for he was then cheerful and
active in his own pursuits, and, to most people, frank and disengaged in
manner. The interval was long and tedious, however, before my designs
could be brought into execution.

"During my last visit in town, my uncle's illness forbade all brilliant
assemblies, and I was obliged even to decline the visits of my nearest
acquaintance. Hermogen called upon me, perhaps only to fulfil the duty
which he owed to a step-mother. He found me sunk in the most gloomy
reflections; and when, astonished at this sudden revolution, he
anxiously inquired the cause, I confessed to him that the Baron's infirm
state of health, which he only with difficulty concealed, made me afraid
that I should soon lose him, which idea was to me terrible and
insupportable.

"On hearing this, he was obviously affected; and when I went on to paint
to him, in the liveliest colours, the happiness of my domestic
circumstances with the Baron, entering into minute details of our mode
of life in the country--when, moreover, I spoke at greater length of the
Baron's admirable disposition, and represented his whole character in
the most glowing terms, so that it always appeared more and more how
deeply I honoured him, nay, how my very existence depended on
his,--then, obviously, Hermogen's astonishment and perplexity increased
to an even unexpected degree. He visibly struggled and contended with
himself, but I had already triumphed. The principle, whatever it was,
that lived within him, and had hitherto so hostilely acted against me,
was overcome--he had spoken with me alone, and was deeply moved--he had
beheld me in a new light--his indifference was subdued, and his
tranquillity lost. My triumph became the more certain, when, on the
following evening, he came again to visit me.

"He found me alone, still more gloomy and more agitated than on the
preceding night. I spoke as before of the Baron, and of my inexpressible
longing to return to the country, and to see him again. Hermogen soon
lost all self-possession--he hung enraptured on my looks, and their
light fell like consuming fire into his heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In a word, I succeeded. The consequences were more horrible than I had
supposed; yet on this account my victory was the more brilliant. The
dominion which I had now so unequivocally gained over Hermogen had
utterly broken his spirit. He fell, as you know, into madness, though
till now you were not aware of the exact reason of this.

"It is a peculiar attribute of madmen, that they can often look more
deeply than others into the hearts of those by whom they are surrounded.
It seems as if their own minds, being free from rational control, stand
in nearer relationship with the spiritual world, and are more liable to
be excited sympathetically by the emotions of another. Thus oftentimes
they pronounce aloud our own thoughts, like a supernatural echo, whence
we are startled as if we heard the voice even of a second self.

"On these principles, it may indeed have happened that Hermogen,
considering the peculiar footing on which we stand, has actually looked
through your disguise, and on this account is hostilely disposed toward
us; but as to any danger from him on this account, that is by no means
to be apprehended. Suppose even that he were to break out into open
enmity--should proclaim aloud, 'Trust not this cowled priest--he is not
what he seems!' yet who would look upon this as less or more than a
delirious phantasm of his malady, more especially as Reinhold has been
so good as to recognize in you the reverend Father Medardus?

"In the meanwhile, however, it remains certain, that you cannot, as I
had hoped, gain a favourable influence over Hermogen. My revenge,
however, is fulfilled, and I now look upon him, even as I regard the
Baron, like a broken _marionette_--a worn-out plaything; become, at
last, so much the more tiresome, as he probably considers his meeting
with me here as an act of penitence, and, on this account, haunts and
persecutes me, as you must have observed, with his dead-alive, staring,
and spectral eyes.

"In short, he must, in one way or another, be got rid of; and I thought,
by your acquiring an influence over him, he might have been confirmed in
his notions of going into a convent, and to have contrived, that the
Baron and Reinhold should be persuaded of the propriety of this design.
Hermogen, to say the truth, is to me, in the highest degree,
intolerable. His looks often agitate me, so that I can hardly command
myself; and, for certain, he must, by some means or other, be removed.

"The only person before whom he appears quite in a different character,
is Aurelia. By means of that girl only, can you gain any influence over
Hermogen; for which reason, I shall take care that, for the future, you
may to her also obtain nearer access.

"If you find a suitable opportunity, you may communicate to the Baron
and Reinhold, that Hermogen has disclosed to you, in confession, a
heavy crime, which, according to your religious vows, you are obliged to
conceal. But of this, more at another time: act for the best, and only
be stedfast and faithful. Let us reign together over this contemptible
world of puppets, which move around us only according to our sovereign
will and pleasure. This life must bestow on us its best enjoyments,
without forcing on our necks the yoke of its narrow and despicable
laws!"

We now saw the Baron at a distance, and went towards him, as if occupied
in pious and edifying discourse.



CHAPTER XV.


There had been nothing wanting, perhaps, but this explanation from
Euphemia, to render me fully sensible of my own powers and advantages. I
was now placed in a situation from which all things appeared in wholly
new colours. As to Euphemia's boast of her mental energy and power over
the conduct of others, it only rendered her, in my estimation, worthy of
utter contempt. At the very moment when this miserable woman believed
that she sported in safety with all laws and regulations of this life,
she was in reality given up a helpless victim to that destiny, which my
hand might in a moment wield against her.

It was, indeed, only by means of that spiritual influence and empire
lent to me by the powers of darkness, that she could have been led to
look on _that being_ as a friend and trust-worthy companion, who,
wearing only for her destruction the countenance and figure of her
former lover, held her like a demon in his relentless grasp, so that
liberation and escape were for her no longer possible.

Euphemia, under the dominion of this wretched illusion, became every
moment more despicable in my estimation, and the intercourse which I was
obliged to keep up with her, became so much the more disgusting, as
Aurelia's image had every day acquired more and more power over my
heart;--and it was for her sake only, that I had involved myself in
society and in crimes, from which I should otherwise have fled with
horror.

I resolved, therefore, from henceforth, to exercise, in the fullest
extent, the powers that I now felt were given to me; to seize with mine
own hands, that enchanter's rod, of which Euphemia so vainly boasted the
possession; and with it, to describe the magic circle, in which the
beings around me should move only according to my sovereign wishes.

The Baron and Reinhold were still void of all suspicions, and continued
to vie with each other in their endeavours to render my abode at the
castle as agreeable as possible. They had not the most distant
apprehensions of the circumstances in which I stood with regard to
Euphemia. On the contrary, the Baron frequently became eloquent in
expressions of gratitude, even assuring me in confidence, that by my
interference her affections had been completely restored to him;
whereupon I recollected Reinhold's notion, that the Baron, by some means
or other, had received intimation of his wife's former infidelity.

Hermogen I now saw but very seldom. He visibly avoided me with fear and
trembling, which the Baron and Reinhold very kindly interpreted into
devoted awe and reverence for the sanctity and intuitive energy of my
character, of which he could not bear the scrutiny.

Aurelia, too, appeared to avoid me as much as possible; and if, by
chance, I spoke with her, she was, like Hermogen, timid and embarrassed.
I had, therefore, no doubt that the latter had imparted to his sister
those apprehensions by which I had been so much alarmed; and yet it
seemed to me by no means impracticable to counteract their evil
influence.

Probably by the instigation of the Baroness, who wished to bring me
nearer to Aurelia, in order that, through her, I might acquire an
ascendancy over Hermogen, the Baron requested, that I would give a
share of my time to the instruction of his daughter in the higher
mysteries of religion. Thus Euphemia herself unconsciously supplied me
with the means of arriving at that wished-for goal, which formed the
climax of all my most sanguine prospects, and which imagination had so
often painted in the most glowing colours.

I shall pass rapidly over the rest of my adventures during my residence
in the Baron's castle, the impression of which remains like that of an
hideous dream, on which I have no desire to dwell longer than is
requisite to preserve connection in the narrative.

For some days, indeed, I remained influenced, for the most part, by the
most sanguine hopes, which were yet constantly liable to disappointment.
I had hitherto seen Aurelia only at short intervals, and in the society
of others;--then, at every meeting, her beauty appeared more and more
heavenly; her voice breathed more exquisite music; and the passionate
impressions under which I laboured, were such, that I used, after these
interviews, to run forth, if possible, into the park--search out some
covert the wildest and most secluded, where I threw myself on the
ground, and gave up my whole soul to the delirium of love.

At other times, I sought in meetings with the Baroness a temporary
refuge from agitations, with which I could scarcely contend. I formed a
thousand plans for leaving the castle, and of inducing Aurelia to be the
companion of my flight; but all were one by one renounced as hopeless.

_Now_, however, I was to meet her frequently--and _alone_. I summoned,
therefore, all my talents of eloquence and energies of mind, to clothe
my religious instructions in such language, that I might by this means
direct her affections to her instructor, until, overpowered by her own
feelings, she should at last throw herself into my arms.

Instead, however, of succeeding in my designs against Aurelia, the only
consequence of my endeavours was to augment tenfold my own intolerable
disquietude. A thousand times did I say to myself, How is this possible?
Can Aurelia be the same Unknown--the visitant of the confessional?
Devoutly, with folded hands and downcast eyes, she listened to me; but
not one symptom of emotion, not the slightest sigh, betrayed any deeper
operation of my words. Even if I dropt obscure hints of our former
meeting, she remained unmoved.

I was therefore, of necessity, brought back to the belief and
conviction, that the adventure of the confessional was but a dream. Yet
if so, what import could be attached to the supernatural liveliness of
that vision, except that it must have been an anticipation of what was
now to come--the promise of a higher power, that Aurelia--the living
realization of that phantom--was yet to be mine?

Baffled, however, in all my attempts,--driven oftentimes to rage and
despondency,--I brooded over new plans; and while obliged to counterfeit
pleasure in the society of Euphemia, and feeling only hatred and
impatience, my looks and behaviour assumed a horrible expression, at
which she seemed involuntarily to tremble. Still, of the _real_ mystery
concealed in my bosom, she had no suspicion, but gave way without a
struggle to that supremacy which I exerted over her, and which daily
continued to increase.

Frequently the thought occurred to my mind, that, by assuming proper
courage, by one decisive step, however violent, I might put an end to
the torments of suspense under which I laboured,--that on my very next
meeting with Aurelia, I might cast off the mask, and renounce all
subterfuge and stratagem. I went to her more than once, _resolved_ to
carry some plan of this kind into effect; but when I looked at Aurelia,
and beheld the calm piety, the energy of innocence in her seraphic
features, it seemed as if an angel stood by her, protecting her, and
bidding defiance to the power of the enemy. At such times, a cold
shuddering vibrated through my limbs, and my former resolutions were
completely broken.

At last, the thought occurred to me of joining with her more frequently
in prayer.

    [One page is here left out by the Editor.]

I had no power to prevent this. I was crushed and annihilated, as if a
thunderbolt had struck me to the earth. She fled instantly to the next
room. The door opened, and there appeared--Hermogen! He stood glaring
upon me with the fixed, horrid look of the wildest insanity. Then,
recollecting that such persons are most likely to be tamed by cool, and
daring defiance, I collected all my strength, and went up to
him.--"Madman," cried I, with a deep commanding voice, "wherefore this
intrusion? What wouldst thou here?"

In this plan, however, I was completely baffled. Hermogen stretched out
his right hand, and, in a hollow, frightful tone,--"I would contend with
thee," said he, "but I have no sword; and there is blood on thy face!
Thou art a murderer!"

Thereupon he abruptly vanished, slamming the door violently behind him,
and left me alone, grinding my teeth with rage and despair. No one
appeared, however. It was evident that he had not spread any immediate
alarm, so that I had time to recover self-possession, and began, ere
long, to feel confident, that I should yet fall on means to avoid any
evil consequences of this error.

       *       *       *       *       *

[The monk here goes on to relate, that he remained yet several days in
the Baron's castle, during which he encountered many adventures, which
it is thought not advisable to transcribe. Indeed, perhaps the _whole_
of this section might have well been condensed, or given but in outline.
It is requisite to observe, that these adventures are wound up by the
death of the Baroness and of Hermogen; that of the former, by means of
poison, which she had prepared for Medardus; and of the latter, in
single combat with the monk, who, in self-defence, killed his
antagonist.]

    [At this point the Editor recommences his transcription.]

When Hermogen fell, I ran in wild frenzy down stairs. Then I heard
shrilling voices through the castle, that cried aloud, "Murder! murder!"

Lights hovered about here and there, and I heard hasty steps sounding
along the corridor and passages. Terror now utterly overpowered me, so
that, from exhaustion, I fell down on a remote private staircase. The
noise always became louder, and there was more and more light in the
castle. I heard too that the outcries came nearer and nearer--"Murder!
murder!" At last I distinguished the voices of the Baron and Reinhold,
who spoke violently with the servants. Whither now could I possibly fly?
Where conceal myself? Only a few moments before, when I had spoken, for
the last time, with the detestable Euphemia, it had seemed to me, as if,
with the deadly weapon in my hand, I could have boldly stepped forth,
and that no one would have dared to withstand me.

Now, however, I contended in vain with my unconquerable fear. At last, I
found myself on the great staircase. The tumult had withdrawn itself to
the chambers of the Baroness, and there was an interval, therefore, of
comparative tranquillity. I roused myself accordingly; and, with three
vehement bounds, clinging by the staircase rail, I was arrived at the
ground-floor, and within a few steps of the outward gate.

Then, suddenly, I heard a frightful piercing shriek, which reverberated
through the vaulted passages, and resembled that which I had observed
on the preceding night. "She is dead," said I to myself, in a hollow
voice; "she has worked her own destruction, by means of the poison that
she had prepared for me!"

But now, once more, I heard new and fearful shrieks from the apartments
of the Baroness. It was the voice of Aurelia, screaming in terror, for
help; and, by this, my whole feelings were once more changed. Again the
reiterated cry of "Murder! murder!" sounded through the castle. The
footsteps approached nearer through a staircase leading downwards. They
were bearing, as I conceived, the dead body of Hermogen.

"Haste, haste, after him!--seize the murderer!" These words were uttered
in the voice of Reinhold.

Hereupon I broke out into a vehement and horrid laughter, so that my
voice echoed through the vaulted corridors, and I cried aloud, "Poor
insane wretches! would you strive to interfere with and arrest that
destiny, which inflicts only just and righteous punishment on the
guilty?"

They stopped suddenly. They remained as if rooted to one spot on the
staircase. I wished no longer to fly. I thought rather of advancing
decidedly and boldly to meet them, and announcing the vengeance of God
in words of thunder on the wicked.

But, oh horrible sight! at that moment arose, and stood bodily before
me, the hideous blood-stained and distorted figure of Victorin!
Methought it was not _I_, but _he_, that had spoken the words in which I
thought to triumph! At the first glance of this apparition, (whether
real or imaginary,) my hair stood on end with horror.

I thought no longer of resistance, but of flight. I rushed through the
gates of the castle, and fled in delirious terror away through the
well-known walks of the park.

I was soon in the free, open country; but I had intuitively chosen the
road towards the village where Victorin's chasseur had been stationed.
Yet I thought not of this. It was instinct only, or chance, that had
guided me thither.

I heard behind me the trampling of horses, and summoned up my whole
strength to avoid the pursuit which, of course, awaited me. My speed,
however, would have availed little; for, though the moon was up, yet
dark shadows crossed over my path. At last I fell against the root of a
tree, almost fainting and insensible, to the ground.

Soon after, the horses that I had heard came up to me, and halted.
Fortunately, my pursuer retained his senses, though I had lost mine. It
was Victorin's chasseur.

"For God's sake, my lord," said he, "what has happened in the castle!
There is a cry of murder. Already the whole village is in an uproar."

To this I made him no answer; indeed I was unable to speak.

"Well, whatever the truth may be," continued he, "some good genius has
put it into my head to pack up, and to ride hither from the village.
Everything is in the small portmanteau on your horse, my lord; for, of
course, we shall have to separate for some time. Something dangerous
must have happened. Is it not so?"

I raised myself up without a word, and not without great difficulty
mounting my horse, I directed the chasseur to return to the village, and
there to await my farther commands. As soon as he had disappeared amid
the darkness, finding that to ride was disagreeable, I dismounted, and
carefully led my horse through the thickets of the pine-tree forest,
which now wildly spread itself out before me.



CHAPTER XVI.


When the first gleams of the morning sun broke through the dense wood, I
found myself on the borders of a clear rivulet, rapidly flowing over a
bright bed of pebbles. The horse, which I had laboriously led through
the thicket, stood quietly beside me; and I had nothing better to do,
than to search into the contents of the portmanteau, with which he was
loaded. Accordingly, having found the keys in the portefeuille, I
unlocked the small military equipage, and discovered suits of clothes,
linen, etc., and, what was of most importance, a purse well filled with
ducats and _Frederichs d'or_.

I resolved immediately to change my dress, and disguise as much as
possible my appearance. With the help of scissars and a comb, which I
found in a dressing-case, I cut off my beard, and brought my head of
hair, as well as I could, into order. I then threw off my monk's habit,
in which I still found the fatal stiletto, Victorin's letters, and the
basket-bottle, with the remainder of the Devil's Elixir.

In a short time I stood there in a lay dress, which fitted well enough,
and with a travelling-cap upon my head; so that when I saw my reflection
in the rivulet, I could scarcely recognize myself. Soon afterwards,
having packed up the portmanteau, and resumed my journey, I came to the
outskirts of the wood, and a smoke, which I saw rising before me,
accompanied by the clear sound of a bell, gave me to understand that
there was a town or hamlet at no great distance. Scarcely had I reached
the summit of a rising ground opposite, when a pleasant well-cultivated
valley expanded itself before me, in which there was a large flourishing
village.

I struck, forthwith, into the broad carriage-road which wound thither,
and as soon as the declivity became less steep, mounted my horse, that I
might accustom myself as much as possible to riding, in which I had
hitherto had no practice whatever.

My character seemed to have changed with my dress. As for my capuchin
robes, I had thrown them into the hollow of a decayed tree, and with
them had dismissed and banished from my thoughts all the hideous
adventures in the castle. I found myself once more spirited and
courageous. It now seemed to me that the horrid phantom of Victorin had
been only a vision of my own fevered brain, but that my last address to
the inhabitants of the castle had indeed been an effect of divine
inspiration. It seemed as if I had thus unconsciously wound up and
completed the purposes of that mysterious destiny which led me to the
Baron's house, and that, like the agent of Omnipotent Providence, I had
stepped in, inflicting just vengeance on the guilty.

Only the delightful image of Aurelia lived, as before, unchanged in my
remembrance; and I could not think on my thus inevitable separation from
her, without extreme pain and affliction. Yet oftentimes it appeared to
me, as if, perhaps in some far distant land, I should yet behold her
again,--nay, as if borne away by irresistible impulse, she must, at one
period or another, become mine.

       *       *       *       *       *

I observed that the people whom I met on the road, invariably stood
still to look and gaze after me, so that there must have been something
quite unusual and unaccountable in my appearance. I was not interrupted,
however, but arrived in due time at the village. It was of considerable
extent, badly paved, and composed of poor ill-furnished houses, many of
which were more like animated monsters, like gigantic visages mounted on
claw feet, after the distorted imagination of Teniers, than dwellings to
reside in. The soil on which they stood was damp, therefore most of them
were raised on wooden posts, as if on legs, from the ground. The roofs,
moreover, had sky-lights like protruding eyes, while the door, with its
staircase, might be compared to mouth and chin, and the windows would,
in a drawing, have served for cheek-bones. It was a grotesque town; a
spot such as can only be found in the retired inland parts of Germany,
where trade exists not, husbandry is but indifferent, and where the
post-roads are not much frequented.

It was not difficult, therefore, in such a place, to find out the best
inn, (where there was but one.) When I pulled up the reins at the door,
the landlord, a heavy fat man, with a green glazed night-cap on his
head, was so completely confounded by my looks, that he was evidently
struck speechless. He said nothing, but stared as if half petrified by
his own apprehensions, or occasionally twisted his mouth into an
ironical grin.

Without attending to these symptoms, I desired that my horse should be
put carefully into the stable, and ordered breakfast for myself. I was
shewn into the public room, where there were several tables, and while I
was engaged over a warm ragout, and a bottle of wine, there were
gradually a large company of _bauers_ collecting around me, that looked
occasionally as if half afraid, casting significant glances, and
whispering with each other.

The party became always more and more numerous. Evidently not being
restrained by the laws of good breeding, they at last formed a regular
circle, and stared at me in stupid astonishment. All the while, I
endeavoured to preserve the most perfect composure; and when I had
finished the ragout and bottle of _vin ordinaire_, I called in a loud
tone for the landlord, desiring him to "saddle my horse, and replace my
portmanteau."

He came accordingly, and retired with a significant grin upon his
visage. Soon afterwards he returned, in company with a tall
formal-looking man, who, with a stern official air, and a truly
ridiculous gravity, stepped up to me. He looked me directly in the face.
I boldly answered his looks, rose up also, and placed myself right
before him. This seemed in a considerable degree to disturb his
composure, and he looked round rather confusedly on the numerous
assemblage.

"Well, sir," said I, "what's the matter?--You seem to have something
particular to say to me, and I shall be obliged by your getting through
with it as quickly as possible."

After divers hums and ha's, he then began to speak, endeavouring to give
to every word and tone prodigious importance.

"Sir," said he, "you cannot go from this place without rendering an
account to us, the Judge, circumstantially, who you are, according to
all particulars, as to birth, rank, and dignity; _item_, whence you
came; _item_, whither you intend to go, with all particulars; _item_,
the situation of place, the name of province and town, and whatever is
farther requisite to be known and observed. And besides all this, you
must exhibit to us, the Judge, a pass, written and subscribed, and
sealed, according to all particulars, as is legal and customary."

I had indeed never once recollected that it would be necessary for me to
assume some name or another; and still less had I reflected that the
peculiarities of my appearance, so unsuitable to my remains of monastic
mien and gesture, and even my extraordinary beard and tonsure, would
bring me every moment under the embarrassment of questions and
misunderstandings.

The demands of the village Judge, therefore, came upon me so
unexpectedly, that I considered for some moments in vain, how I should
give him a satisfactory answer.

I resolved, in the first place, to try what decisive boldness would do,
and pronounced in a firm voice,--"Who I am, I have reason to conceal;
and therefore you will ask in vain for my pass. Besides, I recommend it
to you to beware how, with your contemptible circumlocutions, you
detain, even for a moment, a person of rank and consequence."

"Ho, ho!" cried the village Judge, taking out a great snuff-box, into
which, as he helped himself, the hands of no less than five bailiffs
behind him were thrust at once, delving out enormous pinches--"Ho, ho!
not so rough, if you please, most worshipful sir. Your excellency must
be pleased to submit to the examination of us, the Judge; for, in a
word, there have been some very suspicious figures seen here for some
time, wandering among the mountains, that look out and vanish again as
if the very devil were among us. But we know that these are neither more
nor less than cursed vagabonds and thieves, who lie in wait for
travellers, committing all sorts of enormities by fire and sword. Now,
your appearance, sir, with reverence be it spoken, is exactly that of a
portrait which has been sent to us by government, of a most notorious
robber and bandit, according to all particulars. So, without any more
circumlocutions, or needless discourse, your pass, or you go directly to
the tower."

I saw that nothing was to be gained over the man in this way, and
prepared myself therefore for a new attempt.

"Mr Judge," said I, "if you would grant me the favour of speaking to you
alone, I should easily clear up all your doubts; and in full reliance on
your prudence, would reveal to you the cause of my present strange
appearance, which seems to you so formidable. There is indeed a
mystery--"

"Ha! ha!" replied the Judge, "mysteries to be revealed! I see already
how this business is to conclude. Only get away with you there, good
people. Watch the doors and windows, and see that nobody gets in or
out."

Accordingly we were left alone.

"Mr Judge," said I, "you behold in me an unhappy fugitive, who has
succeeded in escaping from a shameful imprisonment, and from the danger
of being immured for ever within the walls of a convent. Excuse me for
not entering more into particulars of my history, which would only be
unravelling a web of the private quarrels and animosities of a
revengeful family. A love affair with a girl of low rank was the cause
of my misfortune. During my long confinement my beard had grown, and
they had also forced me, as you may perceive, to take the tonsure;
besides all which, I was, of course, obliged to assume the habit of a
monk. It was for the first time here, in the neighbouring forest, that I
ventured to stop and change my dress, as I should otherwise have been
overtaken in my flight.

"You now perceive whence proceeds that peculiarity in my looks and
dress, which appeared so suspicious. You may be convinced, also, that I
cannot shew you any pass; but of the truth of my assertions I have here
certain illustrations, which I hope will be satisfactory."

With these words I drew out my purse, and laid three glittering ducats
on the table; whereupon the assumed gravity of the Judge was
involuntarily twisted into smirks and smiles.

"Your proofs, sir," said he, "are sufficiently clear and striking; but
don't take it amiss, your excellency, if I remark, that there is yet
wanting a certain equality and consistency, according to all
particulars. If you wish that I should take the unright for the right,
the irregular for the regular, your proofs, at least, must be equally
proportioned."

I perfectly understood the rascal, and directly laid another ducat on
the table. "Now," said the Judge, "I perceive, indeed, that I had done
you injustice by my suspicions. Travel on, sir, in God's name; but
observe (as you are probably well accustomed) to avoid, as much as
possible, the high roads, till you get rid of your present peculiarity
of appearance."

He then opened the door as wide as he could, and called aloud to the
people, "The gentleman here is a man of rank and quality, according to
all particulars. He has satisfied us the Judge, in a private audience,
that he travels _incognito_, that is to say, unknown; and that you, good
people, have with this nothing to do.--Now, sir, _bon voyage_!"

Accordingly, my horse was brought from the stable, and as I essayed to
mount, the _bauers_, in respectful silence, took off their caps. I
wished to get away from them, and to ride as quickly as possible through
the gate; but to my extreme confusion, my horse was restive, and began
to snort and rear, while my utter ignorance and want of practice in
riding rendered it quite impossible for me to bring him forward. Indeed,
I soon lost all self-possession; for he wheeled round in circles, till
at last, amid the loud laughter of the peasants, I was thrown off into
the arms of the innkeeper and the Judge.

"That is a devil of a horse, sir," said the Judge, with a suppressed
grin.

"A devil of a horse, indeed!" answered I, beating the dust from my
clothes, for I had slipped through their arms to the ground.

They now joined in assisting me once more to mount; but, for the second
time, the horse behaved just as before, snorting and foaming; in short,
would by no means be brought through the gate.

At last an old man among the crowd cried out, "See, there! see, there!
the old witch _Elise_ is sitting at the gate, and won't let the
gentleman pass, because he has not given her _groschen_."

For the first time now I perceived an old beggar sitting, coiled up like
a ball, in a corner by the gate, and with the grin of idiotcy on her
features.

"Will the d--d witch not get out of the way?" cried the Judge.

Hereupon the old woman croaked out, "The bloody brother--the bloody
brother has given me no groschen!--Do you not see the dead man there
lying before him?--The murderer cannot get over him, for the dead man
raises himself up; but I will crush him down, if the bloody brother will
give me a groschen!"

The Judge had taken the horse by the rein, and, not minding the old
woman, would have led it through the gate. In vain, however, were all
his endeavours; and the witch continued to cry without ceasing, "Bloody
brother, bloody brother--give me groschen!"

At last I forced my hand into my pocket, and threw her money. Shouting
and rejoicing, she then started up--"See the groschen!" cried she, "see
the groschen that the murderer has given me--see the beautiful
groschen!"

Meanwhile my horse neighed aloud; and on the Judge's letting him go,
went curvetting and caprioling through the gate. "Now, sir," said he,
"the riding goes on fine and admirably, according to all particulars!"

The _bauers_, who had followed me through the gate, laughed again out of
all measure, when they beheld me dancing up and down to the powerful
movements of my too lively horse, and cried aloud, "See only, see
only--he rides like a Capuchin!"



CHAPTER XVII.


This whole adventure in the village, especially the disgusting and
strange words of the mad-woman, had not a little discomposed me. The
best rule which I could now adopt, was of course to get rid as soon as
possible of every remarkable trait in my outward appearance, and to
assume some name or other, under which I might appear unobserved and
unsuspected in the world.

Life now lay before me, as if beneath the dark clouds of impenetrable
mystery. What was it possible for me to do, but to give myself up to the
current of that stream which bore me irresistibly onward? All bonds by
which I was formerly connected with certain duties or situations in the
world were now broken and dissevered,--so that I could find no hold or
stay by which to pilot my course.

       *       *       *       *       *

The high road became always more lively and populous. I met carriages
and horsemen, as well as foot passengers. The country was more
cultivated, and the hedge-rows were planted with orchard-trees, some of
which were yet loaded with the later fruits of autumn. In short,
everything already announced, from a distance, the existence of the rich
and flourishing commercial town to which I was now drawing near.

In due time it lay visibly before me. Without being questioned, nay,
without even being rudely stared at, I rode at once into the suburbs.

A large house, with bright plate-glass windows, over the door of which
there was a golden lion, immediately struck my attention. Crowds of
people were here streaming in and out at the gate--carriages arrived and
departed, while from the rooms on the ground-floor I heard the jovial
sounds of laughter and the ringing of glasses.

Scarcely had I pulled up the reins, being yet undecided, when the
_hausknecht_ officiously sprung out, took my horse by the bridle, and on
my dismounting, led him, without asking any questions, to the stable.

The head waiter, smartly dressed, came bustling and rattling, with his
bunch of keys at his girdle, and walked before me up stairs. When we
came into the second story, he looked at me with a flitting glance of
inquiry, and then led me up an _etage_ higher, where he shewed me a
chamber of moderate dimensions; then politely asked "if I had any
commands;" said that "dinner would be ready at two o'clock, in the great
hall, No. 10." etc. etc.

"Bring me a bottle of wine," said I. These were indeed the first words
which the officious assiduity of these people had left me an opportunity
to interpose.

Scarcely had the waiter left me alone, when there was a knocking at the
door, and a face looked in, which at once reminded me of the
representations that are seen in allegorical pictures, of a comic mask.
A pointed red nose--a pair of small glistening eyes--lips drawn upwards
into an exquisite grin--a long chin--and, above all this, a high
powdered toupée, which, as I afterwards perceived, declined backwards
most unexpectedly into a _Titus_;--for his dress, a large ostentatious
frill, a fiery-red waistcoat, under which protruded two massy
watch-chains--pantaloons--a frock-coat, which in some places was too
narrow, in others too wide; of course did not fit anywhere!--Such was
the figure that now stepped into the room, retaining all the way the
same angle of obeisance which he had assumed at his first entrance, and
talking all the time. "I am the _frizeur_ of this house," said he; "and
beg leave, with the greatest respect, and in the most immeasurable
degree, to offer my services!"

There was about this little shrivelled wretch an air and character so
irresistibly comical, that I could hardly suppress laughter. His visit,
however, was now very _apropos_; and accordingly I told him that my hair
had been both neglected, in the course of a long journey, and spoiled by
bad cutting. I therefore desired to know, whether he could bring my head
into proper order.

He looked at me accordingly with the significant eyes of an artist and
_connoisseur_, laid his right hand with an elegant and _gracioso_ bend
on his breast, and said--

"Bring into order, forsooth! Oh, heavens! Pietro Belcampo, thou whom
malignant enviers and traducers have chosen to call Peter Fairfield,
even as that divine military fifer and hornist, Giacomo Punto, was
called Jack Stitch,--thou, like him, art in truth calumniated and
misunderstood. But, indeed, hast thou not thyself placed thy light
under a bushel, instead of letting it shine before the world? And yet,
should not even the formation of this hand and fingers, the brightness
of genius which beams from these eyes, and colours the nose in passing
with a beautiful morning red; in short, should not thy _tout ensemble_
betray to the first glance of the connoisseur, that there dwells within
thee that spirit which strives after the _ideal_? 'Bring into
order!'--These are indeed cold words, sir!"

I begged the strange little man not to put himself into such a flutter,
as I had the fullest reliance on his skill and cleverness.

"Cleverness!" resumed he with great fervour; "what is cleverness? Who
was clever? He who took the measure at five eye-lengths, and then
jumping thirty yards, tumbled into the ditch? He who could throw the
grain of linseed at thirty steps distance through the eye of a needle?
He who hung five hundred weight on the point of his sword, and then
balanced it on his nose for six hours, six minutes, six seconds, and a
half?--Ha! what is cleverness? Be it what it may, it is foreign to
Belcampo, whose whole soul is imbued by art, sacred art.

"_Art_, sir, _art_! My fancy revels in the wonderful formation, the
_creation_ of locks--in that moulding of character, which indeed the
breath of a zephyr in wiry curls builds and annihilates. There, art (or
science, as it may, for variety's sake, be called) conceives, developes,
labours, and originates! In this, sir, there is indeed something truly
divine; for art is not properly that of which men, under this name,
speak so much, but rather springs out of all to which this name has been
given.

"You understand me, sir; for I perceive that you have a meditative head,
as I conclude from that lock which hangs over your excellency's right
temple."

I assured him (however falsely) that I completely understood him; and
being diverted with the man's originality of humour, I resolved that,
holding his boasted science in due respect, I would by no means
interrupt his eloquence, however diffuse.

"What then," said I, "do you intend to make of this confused head of
mine?"

"All, everything that you please or wish," said the man. "If, however,
it may be allowed to Pietro Belcampo to give counsel, then let me first
contemplate your excellency's head, in its proper length, breadth, and
circumference--your whole figure, too, your mien, your gait, your play
of gesture; then I shall be able finally to say whether you belong
properly to the antique or romantic, the heroic or pastoral, the
_grandios_ or _ordinaire_, the _naive_ or _satyric_, the humorous or
severe; then, accordingly, I shall call up the spirits of Caracalla, of
Titus, of Charlemagne, of _Henri Quatre_, of Gustave Adolph, of Virgil,
of Tasso, or Boccaccio!

"Inspired by them, the muscles of my fingers will vibrate and quiver,
and under the sonorous twittering of the scissars, will proceed the
masterpiece of art! I shall be the man, sir, who will perfect your
leading characteristic, as it should exhibit itself in real life. But
now, let me beg of you, sir, to step up and down through the room. I
shall meanwhile contemplate, remark, and record. Let me beg of you,
sir!"

I must, of course, accommodate myself to the strange man, therefore did
as I was desired, walking up and down the room, endeavouring at the same
time to conceal, as much as I could, my inclination to the monastic
gait, which, however, it is almost impossible for one by whom it has
been thoroughly learned, even after many years, wholly to conquer.

The little man contemplated me with great attention, then began to trip
about the room. He sighed and shrugged, even panted and sobbed, then
drew out his handkerchief, and wiped the drops from his forehead; at
last he stood still, and I inquired "if he was yet resolved how he
should operate?" Then, with a deep sigh, he broke out--"Alas, sir! what
is the meaning of all this? You have not resigned yourself to your
natural character. There was constraint in every movement--a conflict of
contending principles. Yet, a few more steps, sir."

Hereupon I absolutely refused to set myself up for show any longer in
that manner, and told him plainly, that if he could not _now_ resolve
what to make of my hair, I must refuse altogether to have anything to do
with him or his art.

"Bury thyself, Pietro!" cried the little man, with great fervour; "go to
the grave, for in this world thou art wholly and utterly misunderstood.
Here is no confidence, no truth any more to be found!

"Yet, sir, you shall be compelled to acknowledge the depth of my
perceptions, and do honour to my genius. In vain did I labour to
amalgamate together all the contradictions and conflicts in your
character and gestures. In the latter there is something that directly
points at monachism. '_Ex profundis clamavi ad te, Domine. Oremus. Et in
omnia secula seculorum!_'"

With bitter scorn and mockery the man pronounced these words from the
Ritual, in a hoarse croaking voice, imitating, at the same time, to the
very life, the postures and gesture of a monk. He turned himself as if
before the altar, he kneeled, and rose again. At last he stopped, drew
himself up, and assumed a proud look of defiance, stared widely, and
cried, "MINE is the world! I am more wealthy, more wise, prudent, and
intelligent, than all of ye, ye blind moles! Bend, then, and kneel down
before me, in humble submission!

"Look you, sir, that which I have mentioned forms the chief attribute
and ingredient in your appearance; and, with your permission, I shall,
contemplating your features, your figure, and moods of mind, blend
together something of Caracalla, Abelard, and Boccaccio; and proceeding
on the idea thus gained, shall, like an inspired sculptor, begin the
glorious creation of antique, ethereal, classic locks and curls!"

Imperfect and ridiculous as the man's _expressions_ were, yet there was
so much home _truth_ in his remarks, that I judged it best to conceal
nothing from him; I therefore confessed that I had indeed been a monk,
and had received the _tonsure_, which, for certain reasons, I now wished
as much as possible to keep unobserved.

With the most absurd writhing, twisting, grimaces, and extravagant
discourse, the man at last proceeded with his operations on my hair. Now
he looked cross and gloomy--now smiled--anon stamped and clenched his
fist--then smiled again and stood on tiptoe; in short, it became
impossible for me to refrain from laughing, in which I at last indulged
very heartily.

After about an hour's work, he had finished, and before he could break
afresh into words, which were already on the tip of his tongue, I begged
him immediately to go and send up some one who, as a barber, might
exhibit the same skill that he had done as a _frizeur_.

With a significant grin, he stepped to the door on tiptoe, shut and
bolted it, then tripped back into the middle of the room, and
began--"Oh, golden age! where still the hair of the head and of the
beard, in one plenitude of waving locks, poured itself out for the
adornment of man and the delightful care of the artist! But those days
are for ever gone! Man has insanely cast away his noblest ornament, and
a shameful race have set themselves to work, with their horrible
instruments, to raze and extirpate the beard even to the skin! O ye
despicable band of beard-scrapers! whetting your abominable knives upon
black strops stinking with oil, and, in scornful defiance of art,
swinging about your tasselled bags, clattering with your pewter basons,
splashing about your scalding-hot froth, and asking your unhappy
patients whether they will be shaved over the thumb or the spoon!
Luckily there are men still--there is at least one Pietro, who labours
against your infamous trade, and who, though lowering himself to your
wretched office of rooting out the beard, still endeavours to preserve
and cherish that little which is allowed to lift itself from the
desolate wrecks of Time!

"What are the numberless varieties of whiskers in their elegant
windings and curvatures, now softly bending around the cheek, in the
fashion of the delicate oval--now melancholily sinking straight down
into the depth of the neck--now boldly mounting up even to the corner of
the mouth--anon narrowing modestly into small delicate lines, anon
spreading out in full unchastised luxuriance,--what, I say, are all
these but the invention of our science, in which the high striving after
the sublime, the beautiful, and the _ideal_, is unfolded? Ha, then,
Pietro, shew what a spirit dwells within thee! Shew what thou art in
reality prepared to undertake for the sacred cause of art, while, to the
eyes of the ignorant, you appear to be lowering yourself to a mere
beard-scraper!"

With these words, the little man had drawn out a complete barber's
apparatus, and begun, with, light and skilful touches, to free me from
that remaining incumbrance, which had so much offended the eyes of my
old friend the Judge. In truth, I came out of his hands completely
metamorphosed; and nothing more was necessary but a proper change of
dress, in order to escape all danger of provoking, by my appearance,
questions or impertinent curiosity.

Belcampo, having packed up his implements, stood smiling on me with
great satisfaction. I then said to him, that I was quite unacquainted
with the town; and that it would be very satisfactory if he could inform
me, how to procure immediately a suit of clothes, according to the
newest fashion of the time and place. To reward his trouble, and
encourage him in my service, I slipped a ducat into his hand.

Hereupon he seemed absolutely inspired--cast his eyes to the ceiling,
and then ogled the ducat in the palm of his hand. "Worthiest of patrons
and masters," said he, "in you I have not been deceived. A guardian
spirit, indeed, guided my hand, and in the proud waving of these
curls--in the eagle flight of these whiskers--your high sentiments are
clearly expressed!

"I have, indeed, a friend, a Damon, an Orestes, who will fulfil upon the
rest of the body, that which I have commenced upon the head, with the
same depth of reflection, and the same light of genius. You perceive,
sir, that the individual whom I mean is an artist of costume; which
expression I prefer to the trivial one of tailor.

"He, too, willingly luxuriates and loses himself in the _ideal_; and
thus forming in his own mind shapes, characters, and physiognomies, he
has planned a magazine, a _depot_ of the most exquisite dresses. You
behold there the modern _elegant_, in all possible shadowings of
character, now boldly and energetically out-shining all competitors--now
reserved within himself, and lost to all that is external--now witty and
ironical--now melancholy and out of humour--anon bizarre and
extravagant, anon plain and citizen-like, according as he wishes to
appear, _so_ or _so_!

"The youth who, for the first time, ventures to order a coat for
himself, without the assistance of mamma, or his tutor,--the man of
forty, who must wear powder to conceal grey hairs,--the old man, still
vigorous in his enjoyment of life,--the profound student,--the bustling
merchant,--the opulent, retired citizen,--all these varieties of
character rise up before your eyes, as on a theatre, when you enter the
shop of my Damon. But, in a few moments, the masterpieces of my friend's
art shall be presented in this very room, for your inspection."

Accordingly, he hopped away in great haste, and soon after re-appeared
with a tall, stout, genteelly dressed man, who, as well in his whole
behaviour as in his exterior, made the most perfect contrast possible,
with the little _frizeur_; and yet, nevertheless, he introduced him to
me as his Damon!

Damon sedately measured me with his eyes, and then searched out of a
large bale that a boy had carried, several suits of clothes, which
exactly corresponded with the wishes that I had expressed. Indeed I
then, for the first time, acknowledged the fine _tact_ of the
_costume-artist_, as the little man had styled him; for he had chosen
for me precisely that style of dress, in which, without any hints of
reference to rank, profession, birth-place, and so forth, one might
glide unobserved through the world. It is, in truth, no easy matter to
dress one's self in such manner, that all suspicions of a particular
character or pursuit may be avoided. The costume of a citizen of the
world should be regulated by the _negative_ principle, as, in polite
behaviour, more depends on judicious unobtrusive _leaving out_, than on
actual performance.

The little man all the while indulged himself in his own absurd and
wandering discourse; and as he probably did not meet every day with a
listener so willing as I had been, he was, no doubt, unusually
brilliant. Damon, however, a grave, and, as it seemed to me, intelligent
man, at last cut him short, without mercy; and shaking him by the
shoulder, "Fairfield," said he, "you are got again to-day into the old
vein--upon the right '_jawing tack_,' as the Dutch mariners say. I would
bet any sum, that the gentleman's ears must have ached already with the
nonsense which you are pouring out!"

With an air of the deepest melancholy, Belcampo now hung down his head.
He then suddenly seized his old weather-beaten hat; and, running quickly
to the door, "Such," cried he, "is the lamentable fate--such are the
misfortunes of genius! Thus is the character of Belcampo prostituted and
defamed, even by his best friends!"

Damon also then took his leave, and, in retiring, said, "He is a coxcomb
quite of his own kind, this Fairfield! Much reading has turned his
brain; otherwise he is a good-natured fellow, and clever in his own
business, on which account I can bear him well enough, since, if a man
has good success in any _one_ trade, he may be excused a little
extravagance on other occasions."



CHAPTER XVIII.


As soon as I was left alone, I began to look in a large mirror, which
hung in the room, and to give myself formal lessons in gait and
demeanour. For this purpose, the discovery made by the _frizeur_ had
given me very necessary hints. Monks acquire a peculiar awkwardness of
walk from their long dresses, which confine the limbs, and from their
attempt at the same time to move quickly, which the rules of our order
enjoin. There is also something farther characteristic in a submissive
bending forward of the body, and in the carriage of the arms, which must
never hang downwards. All this I endeavoured to unlearn as effectually
as possible.

Now, however, I derived most encouragement from the idea, that I was
completely transformed in mind, as well as in appearance; that the
thread of my former life was wholly broken, so that I could look on its
adventures as on transactions foreign to myself, which I had now done
with for ever. I had entered on a new state of existence, wherein, if
recollections still haunted me, these would every day become fainter and
fainter, until at last they wore out, and perished altogether.

When I looked out from the window, the tumult of people, the
uninterrupted noise of business which was kept up upon the streets--all
was new to me, and was exactly calculated to prolong that levity of
mind, which the loquacity of the little man, and my being forced to
laugh at him, had excited.

In my new dress I ventured down to the crowded _table d'hote_, and all
apprehension vanished, when I found that no one observed me, nay, that
even my nearest neighbour did not give himself the trouble of looking at
me when I set myself beside him.

In the list of strangers, I had entered my name simply as Mr Leonard,
and given myself out for a _particulier_, who travelled for his own
pleasure. Of such travellers there might be many in the town, and of
course I would escape farther questioning.

After dinner, it afforded me a new and incalculable pleasure to wander
through the town, where I found streets much broader and better paved,
with far finer houses, than any to which I had yet been accustomed.
Luckily there were now preparations set on foot for the approaching
great yearly fair, which caused an unusual bustle in every quarter; and
I had been told at my hotel that a few days later it would have been
impossible for me to obtain lodgings. The richness of the booths, which
already began to open, exceeded all that my imagination had ever
conceived. _There_ were the _choicest_ goods from all quarters of the
globe; from France, Italy, England, the East and West Indies; from
Persia, Turkey, Russia, down to the nearer kingdoms of Hungary and
Poland; and I became confirmed in my conviction that here no one would
observe my dress or appearance, since there were natives of all
countries, in their proper costumes, parading the streets, or arranging
their merchandize. The air was perfumed by the fragrance of Turkish
tobacco, as the natives of Constantinople stalked silently about with
their long pipes, in dresses which I had till then only seen in books;
and there were Persians, who, from their splendour of attire, might
have passed for sultans, had not their present occupations proved the
contrary.

But as I found my way at last to the streets more particularly allotted
to the dealers in all sorts of _bijouterie_, toys, paintings,
engravings, and other works of art, my wonder and delight were increased
at every step. Amid the infinite variety of objects conducive to luxury
and amusement here exhibited, time passed on like a dream. I did not
fail to indulge myself in the purchase of several articles of ornament
and convenience. A watch and chain, two seal rings, a large _meerschaum_
pipe, (which the vender rightly declared to be a _chef d'oeuvre_,) a
few books and prints, etc.; all which I ordered to be sent home to my
hotel.

On arriving afterwards at the Great Square, in the centre of the town, I
was confounded by finding it already occupied by caravans and temporary
theatres, filled with wild beasts, travelling players, puppet-shows,
giants, dwarfs, panoramas, jugglers, etc. etc. etc.

These sights, however, I did not venture for the present to examine more
narrowly, but made my way into the public walks and gardens by which
the town is surrounded, and which were now gay with genteel parties,
enjoying the afternoon's promenade, enlivened, moreover, with excellent
music from harp-players, singers, organists, etc., many of whom,
especially of the singers, reminded me of the best music that I had
heard in early days, in the house of the choir-master at Königswald.

For a moment, too, I was reminded of his sister, by the countenance, and
yet more by the figure, of a girl that passed me, in the midst of a
thicket of very dark massive pines, near the Bockenheimer gate; but the
recollection was transient; for now, though surrounded by gaiety and
music, by sparkling groups and beautiful countenances, (for at
Frankenburg, as at Saxe Gotha, almost every female, not in the extreme
of old age, is beautiful,) yet by rapid degrees the cheerfulness which I
had felt at the commencement of my walk vanished quite away.

All at once I felt within me the solution of the riddle, the explanation
of the cause why I was thus changed. I was _alone_ in the midst of these
happy groups. The trees, the flowers, (withered and yellowed already by
the blasts of autumn,) the ruddy gleams of the western sky, and the
varieties of the landscape--these, indeed, were like society--these I
partook in common with the parties around me--but of all the shapes and
forms of men and women, smiling or grave, meditative or gay, that moved
about me, I knew _not one_. There was not a single individual in whose
breast I could imagine a shadow of apprehension who I really was--what
strange chance had brought me hither, or even the least atom of that
overpowering load of mystery by which I was weighed down, and which was
wholly locked up within my own bosom.

All this, however convenient at the present moment, made on me an
impression hostile, destructive, and almost insupportable. As long as I
had the gay booths, the paintings, toys, jewels, sparkling dresses,
liqueurs, and confections, tobacco-pipes, books, and engravings around
me,--such things, however contemptible in the eyes of one accustomed to
the world, had, from their novelty, power enough to rivet my attention,
and alienate it from _selfish_ fears and despondency. But now, amid
these rural walks, surrounded only by happy groups, of whom each
individual enjoyed mutual confidence with his neighbour--by husbands
and wives, lovers and mistresses, parents and children; amid scenes that
reminded me of my early days of innocence, methought I was like a
condemned spirit--like a _revenant_, doomed involuntarily to wander on
the earth, from whence all, and every one to whom he had been attached,
had long since died away!

If I called to mind how, formerly, every visitant at the Capuchin
Convent so kindly and respectfully greeted the pulpit orator, and how
the whole neighbourhood, and even strangers from remote countries,
thirsted after his conversation, rejoicing even in the opportunity of a
few words, then my heart was wrung with the bitterest anguish.

I strove against this, however, as much as possible. "That pulpit
orator," said I to myself, "was the Monk Medardus, he who is now dead,
buried, and (ought to be) forgotten, in the abysses of the mountains--in
the darkness of the far-distant pine-tree forest. With him I have
nothing to do, for I am alive and active, nay, life itself has for the
first time dawned upon me, and begun to offer its varied and substantial
enjoyments."

Thus, when in my involuntary waking dreams I recalled the strange and
frightful adventures at the castle, I said to myself, "These things are
indeed known to me, yet it is to some one else that they refer; over me
they can have no influence." This _other_ was again the Capuchin; but I
was no longer a monk. It was only the never-dying thoughts of Aurelia
that united still, by indissoluble ties, my former with my present
existence; but when this feeling was truly awoke, like the torment of an
incurable malady, it killed and annihilated that spirit of pleasure
which had risen up within me. I was then suddenly torn out of those
brilliant circles of glittering forms and fantastic imagery, by which
life had begun to surround me. The delusions fled. I despised myself for
having been pleased for a moment, like a child, with toys and rattles,
and once more sunk down, a prey to the darkest and most rayless
despondency.

This evening, on my return from the public walks, I visited, for the
first time in my life, a theatre. This was to me another new enjoyment;
but before reaching thither, my despondency had gained its full
influence. The piece performed happened to be a tragedy, and I thought,
during the whole performance, only of Aurelia.

       *       *       *       *       *

During my residence at Frankenburg, I did not omit to visit some of the
many houses of public resort, in which people met to breakfast, _a la
fourchette_; to dine, to sup, and enjoy the pleasures of wine, gaming,
and conversation. Accordingly, I soon felt a particular preference for a
certain hotel in the middle of the town, where, on account of the
superior quality of the wines, a numerous society were to be found every
night.

At a table, in a room adjoining to the great _salle_, I found regularly,
at a fixed hour in the evening, the same persons assembled. Their
conversation was always lively and ingenious. Accident at last brought
me acquainted with these people, who had thus formed an especial circle
for themselves, and who for some time shewed no disposition to bestow on
me any share of their attention.

At first, I used to sit quietly in a corner of the room, and drink my
wine alone; but on one occasion it so happened that I was able to afford
them information on a literary topic which they were discussing, and
was in consequence invited to a place at their table, which afterwards
was the more willingly kept open for me, as my good address and the
extent of my reading and acquirements exactly suited their dispositions.

Thus I obtained, without trouble, some very agreeable acquaintances; and
accustoming myself more and more to the world, I became every day more
unconcerned, and was able, in great measure, to rub off the rust of my
former habits.

For several evenings there had been much talk in this society of a
certain painter, (an entire stranger in the town,) who had lately
arrived, and during the fair was to hold an exhibition of his works.
Every member of the society but myself had seen his pictures, and
praised them so highly, that I of course felt anxious for an opportunity
of judging for myself, and went accordingly.

The painter was absent when I entered his exhibition-room, but an old
man acted as _cicerone_, and named the masters of various old pictures
which the artist exhibited along with his own. Among them were many
admirable pieces, most of them originals, of celebrated Italian masters,
with which I was highly delighted.

At last, I came to a series of pictures which the man said were copies
from certain large _frescoes_, designed many years ago. What was now my
astonishment, when involuntarily the recollections of my youth here
began to dawn upon me, every moment acquiring more distinct forms and
livelier colours! These were obviously copies from the Convent of the
Lime-Tree. Above all, I recognized most unequivocally, in a holy family,
the features of the old pilgrim who had come to us with the miraculous
boy! At this sight, the levity in which I had for some time indulged,
once more completely declined; and, sunk into the deepest melancholy, I
stood long gazing at the group. But when my sight next fell on a
portrait (large as life, and admirably done) of my adoptive mother, the
Princess, I could not forbear a loud outcry of wonder. This portrait
exhibited a most accurate resemblance, (such as Vandyke never failed to
give to all his pictures,) the costume was the same in which she used to
walk before the nuns in their procession through the church, and the
painter had seized the moment, when, having finished her private
devotions, she was leaving her room in full dress, in order to join in
that solemnity. The perspective behind shewed the interior of the
church, crowded with the expectant congregation.

In the looks of this admirable woman, was fully developed that
expression of a mind wholly devoted to Heaven, which was so
pre-eminently her own. It now seemed to me as if she implored
forgiveness for that unhappy sinner, whom his own crimes had torn from
her maternal embraces. I felt once more all the bitterness of contrast
between what I now was, and what I _had been_! Feelings long lost and
estranged gained their full influence over my heart, and I was borne
away by an unspeakable longing after the scenes and impressions of my
youth.

Methought I once more heard the south wind sigh through the dark
yew-hedges and tall beech-trees of the old manor-house, and traced again
the bright wanderings of the Saale, but _not_, as on the occasion of my
last visit there, with coldness and indifference! The delusion for a
moment was perfect, only to be followed by the bitterness of reality and
remorse. Anon, it seemed as if I were again with the good priest of the
Cistertian Convent, a cheerful, free-minded, and courageous boy,
wandering at will through the wild country, losing himself in rocky
recesses of the Thuringian mountains, or shouting and rejoicing because
the grand festival of St Bernard was drawing near!

That well-known form of her whom I so deeply revered, was again
presented, as if living, before me. Methought, too, I heard her
voice.--"Medardus," said she, "hast thou been good and pious?" The
well-known tones, deepened by anxiety and love, floated like soft music
around me. "Hast thou been good and pious?" Alas! what must now be my
answer? The beautiful picture, traced by the pencil of Innocence and
Hope, is clouded and defaced for ever--the vernal skies are
darkened--the cold tempest winds of grief and remorse desolate the
landscape. I have heaped up crime on crime. On the first breach of my
monastic vows followed murder; and _now_, is not my daily life of
dissipation and deceit, but the certain commencement of crimes yet to
come?

These thoughts, and many more, that it would require a volume to
delineate, rushed at once upon me, so that, completely overpowered, I
sunk, half-fainting, into a chair, and burst into tears.

The old man was terrified. "For God's sake, sir," said he, "what's the
matter? what has happened to you?"

"That picture," said I, in a hollow suppressed voice, "resembles with
such accuracy a near relation whom I lost by a cruel and untimely death,
that it has deeply affected me." With these words I arose, and assumed
as much composure as possible.

"Come, sir," said this man, "such recollections are far too painful, and
should be avoided. There is yet one portrait here, which my master
considers his best, and which you have not seen. It is painted after the
life, and has only just now been finished. We have hung a curtain before
it, that the sun might not injure the fresh colours."

The old man placed me carefully in the proper light, and then drew up
the curtain--IT WAS AURELIA!



CHAPTER XIX.


At first, a kind of horror seized upon me; for I knew not if this could
be reality, or the mockery of that relentless Fiend, that would lure me
on to destruction. But, with a violent effort, I summoned up courage; an
entire revolution again took place in my mind; new hopes and feelings
began to break through the gloom and melancholy, which for a space had
gathered around me.

With eager eyes, I devoured the charms of Aurelia, which from the
enchanted canvass now gleamed out in full splendour before me. Yet,
alas! did not these childlike pious looks seem only to complain against
the murderer of her brother? The mystery of his guilt, however, which
had been deposited in my bosom, gave me confidence; and even a malicious
spirit of scorn and irony rose within me. I only regretted now, that in
that fatal night of Hermogen's death, Aurelia had not become mine. His
appearance had then frustrated my plans; but with death he had expiated
the rashness of his attempts against me.--"Aurelia," said I, "yet
survives; and this alone is sufficient to encourage my hopes of one day
possessing her. From the destiny in which she is involved, it is
impossible for her to escape; for am not I myself the living
impersonization of the fate to which she is subjected?"

All the sadly-cherished dreams of youth, all feelings of piety which the
Abbess's portrait had inspired, were thus banished; and, still gazing on
Aurelia, I encouraged myself to the commission of deliberate and
premeditated crime. The old man was astonished at my conduct. He drawled
out a long string of words, about drawing, tone, colouring, etc. etc.; but
I heard him not. The thoughts of Aurelia, the hopes that I might yet
fulfil some one of those many plans, which had only been delayed,
absorbed me so completely, that I walked away, as in a dream, from the
exhibition-room, without once asking for the painter--thus losing,
perhaps, the best opportunity of learning what sort of connection there
existed betwixt myself and these pictures, which seemed to comprehend
in that magic circle the chief impressions of my whole life.

Once more, I was now resolved to venture all things for Aurelia. Nay, it
seemed almost as if the clouds of mystery would soon be broken--as if,
elevated to a station from which I could overlook all the characters and
events connected with my life, I could have from them nothing to fear,
and therefore nothing to risk. I brooded, as formerly, over a thousand
plans and resolutions, in order to arrive nearer to my object. In the
first place, I perceived that I should, no doubt, learn much from the
strange painter, and, by conversation with him, develope many trains of
evidence, of which the possession was to me most important. At last, I
had nearly resolved that I would return, in my present state of complete
disguise and metamorphosis, to the Baron's castle. Nor, to my excited
feelings and disordered imagination, did this appear as an act of
extraordinary hazard and daring.

In the evening, I went, as usual, to the club-room, where I had trouble
enough to restrain the vehemence of my emotions, and to prevent the
ebullitions of my overheated phantasy from being observed. I heard much
of the strange painter's productions, especially of that wonderful power
of expression which he had displayed in his portraits, above all in that
of Aurelia. I had now the means of joining in this approbation, and,
with a peculiar splendour, and strength of language, (heightened, too,
by a kind of scorn and irony, for I felt my own superiority in speaking
of this picture,) I described the nameless graces, the angelic charms,
which were spread over that saint-like countenance. Hereupon, one of the
party declared his intention of bringing the painter himself to the club
on the following evening, adding, that, though advanced in years, he was
still an interesting and agreeable companion, and that he would be
detained here for some time longer, having been employed professionally
by several rich families in the town.

       *       *       *       *       *

Agitated by a tempest of conflicting feelings and indefinable
apprehensions, I could scarcely summon up resolution for the encounter
which I had so much wished, and, on the following night, went at a later
hour than usual to the club-room.

On my entrance, I perceived at once which was the stranger, though his
countenance was not turned towards me. A conviction of the truth
immediately flashed on my mind; and, when I went round, and took my
place opposite to him--then, oh Heaven! there glared out upon me the
never-to-be-forgotten features of that horrible Unknown, the same who,
on St Anthony's day, had leaned against the pillar of the church, and
filled me with abhorrence and consternation!

Now, too, even as then, he looked at me with the same fixed solemnity of
aspect--the same cold spectral self-possession. But the mood of mind
which I had so recently been cherishing, the thoughts of Aurelia, and my
determination to brave all things for her sake, gave me courage and
stability to bear up against his inspection, apparently unmoved. I could
no longer suppose that I but dreamed. The enemy had now visibly started
into life; and I was necessitated to venture the combat.

I resolved, however, not to begin, but wait for his attack; and, should
he attempt to tear off the mask by which I was now concealed, to beat
him back with weapons, on the strength of which I flattered myself that
I could rely.

After a short interval, however, the stranger appeared to take no
particular notice of me, but, turning his looks another way, continued
the conversation in which he had been engaged at my entrance. The party
began, at length, to speak of his own works, and bestowed especial
praise on the portrait of Aurelia. Some one among them maintained, that,
although this picture was, even at first sight, evidently a portrait,
yet it might serve for an imaginative study, and be taken for the _beau_
(or _belle_) _ideal_ of a female saint. As I had, on the preceding
evening, been so eloquent in praise of this work, they now asked my
opinion, and, almost unconsciously, I said that I coincided with the
last speaker, and that I could not imagine to myself the blessed St
Rosalia otherwise than as a counterpart of the female here represented.

The painter seemed scarcely to notice my words, but again broke
in--"Indeed, that young lady, whom the portrait, whatever may be its
merit as a work of art, very faithfully resembles, is a real and
immaculate saint--who, in the spiritual combat, exalts herself even to
supernatural excellence. I have painted her at the moment when, under
the influence of the most overwhelming griefs, she yet placed her hope
and trust in religious consolation,--in the aid of that Divine
Providence which unceasingly watches over us.

"The expression of this hope, which, in a perfect degree, can dwell only
in a mind elevated above all that is terrestrial, I have endeavoured to
give to my picture--I cannot flatter myself that I have adequately
succeeded, but the principle, '_in magnis voluisse_,' seems to me to
have rendered it at least one of the most tolerable of my productions."

The conversation now wandered away to other subjects.--The wine, which
to-day, in honour of the stranger-guest, was of a better sort, and drunk
more freely than usual, soon did its good office in enlivening the
party--Every one of them at last found something diverting to relate, or
some comical song to sing. The painter, meanwhile, seemed only to laugh
inwardly. If any change was produced in his countenance, it was to be
observed in his eyes, which were lighted up occasionally with a certain
mysterious lustre,--yet, by means of a few striking and powerful words
occasionally thrown in, he was able to play his part, and to keep the
whole company in admirable good humour.

Although, whenever the stranger happened to fix his looks on me, I could
not repress a certain feeling of apprehension, yet I gradually overcame
that still worse mood of mind into which I had been brought, on my first
_reconnoissance_ of his features. I even told stories of the absurd
Belcampo, who was known less or more to all the party, and, to their
great amusement, gave such a lively account of his behaviour on the day
of my arrival, (with imitations of his voice and gesticulations,) that a
good-humoured fat merchant who sat opposite to me, declared, with tears
of laughter in his eyes, "That was the most delightful evening he had
ever spent in his life!"

When the merriment that I had raised had begun to decline away, the
stranger suddenly inquired--"Gentlemen, has any one among you ever seen
the Devil?"

This question was received but as the prelude to some new and comical
story. Of course, every one assured him, in turn, "that he had never yet
had that honour."

"Well," said the stranger, "it so happened, that I was very lately
within a hair-breadth of attaining myself to that honour, and this,
namely, at the Castle of the Baron von R----, among the Thuringian
mountains."

I now trembled in every limb; but the others laughed aloud, crying out,
"Go on--go on!"

"Gentlemen," said the painter, "you probably all know that wild district
in the Thuringian mountains, through which every one must pass, who
travels in that direction northwards. But there is especially, on a
by-road, one romantic spot, where, if the traveller emerges out of the
dark pine-tree forests, and advances to the height of the rocky cliffs,
he finds himself suddenly, to his amazement, on the extreme verge of an
awful, deep, and, indeed, bottomless abyss. This is called the devil's
ground, and the projecting promontory of the rock the devil's chair.

"Of the devil's chair it is related, that once, when a certain Count
Victorin, with his head full of wicked projects, had sat down upon this
rock, the devil suddenly appeared beside him; and because he was himself
resolved to carry the Count's wicked designs into execution, he
incontinently hurled Victorin down into the unfathomable gulf.

"Thereafter, the devil appeared as a capuchin monk, at the castle of the
Baron von R----; and when he had taken his pleasure with the Baroness,
he first sent her out of the world, (no one knew how,) and then, because
the Baron's son, a madman, would by no means allow of this masquerade,
but always called out, 'The devil, the devil is among us!' he strangled
him. However, by that persevering _annonce_ of the madman, _one_ pious
soul at least was saved from the destruction which the devil had
intended for them all; and this was the young Baroness Aurelia, the
subject of the picture, which you have this night been commending.

"Afterwards, the capuchin, (or the devil,) in an inconceivable manner,
vanished; and it is said, that he fled, coward-like, from Victorin, who
had risen like a bloody spectre from the grave against him.

"Let all this be as it may, I can assure you, in plain truth, that the
Baroness died mysteriously--probably by poison; and that Hermogen (the
madman) was assassinated. The Baron himself, shortly afterwards, died of
grief; and Aurelia, the pious Saint, whose portrait I painted, at the
very time when these horrible events had taken place at the castle, fled
as a desolate orphan into a distant Cistertian Convent, of which the
Abbess had been in terms of friendship with her father.

"You have seen and admired in my gallery the likeness of this admirable
and unfortunate young lady. But as to other circumstances, this
gentleman (pointing to me) will be better able to inform you than I am,
since, during the whole of the adventures to which I have alluded, he
was an inhabitant of the castle!"

All looks, full of astonishment, were now directed towards me. Quite
unnerved, and lost to all self-possession, I started up--"How, sir!"
exclaimed I, in a violent tone--"What have I to do with your absurd
stories of capuchins, and devils, and assassinations? You mistake
me--you mistake me completely, I assure you; and I must beg that, for
this once, you will leave me completely out of the question."

Considering the tumult of my mind, it was difficult for me to give my
words even this much of connection and propriety, or to assume any
degree of composure. The powerful influence of the painter's narrative,
and my excessive disquietude, were only too visible. The cheerful tone
which prevailed through the party rapidly declined; and as the members
of the club gradually recollected that I was a complete stranger, and
had only by accident obtained my place among them, they began to fix on
me mistrustful and suspicious glances.

Meanwhile, the painter had risen from his chair, and, standing opposite,
transfixed me once more with his dead-alive glaring eyes, as formerly in
the Capuchin church. He did not utter a word; he stood cold, stiff, and,
but for the expression of his eyes, as if lifeless.

But at those ghostly looks, my hair rose on end; cold drops gathered on
my forehead, and, seized by the most intense horror, I trembled through
every fibre. "Avaunt!--away with thee!" I exclaimed, out of myself with
agitation; "for thou thyself art Satan! Thou art the murderer--yet over
me thou hast no power!"

The whole party instantly left their seats.--"What's the matter? Who is
that?" was heard from all quarters; and out of the adjoining _salle_,
the people, terrified by my voice, having left their amusements, came
thronging into our room.--"A drunk man!--A madman!--Turn him out!" cried
several voices.

Meanwhile, the painter stood there steadfast, and immovably staring upon
me. The power which he thus (I know not how) exerted over my very mind
and thoughts--the whole train of consequences which the discovery he was
determined to force out would bring upon me--the wretched thraldom in
which I should remain at present, and the destruction which must
ensue--all these ideas conflicted together in my mind. But even without
their aid, the looks of the spectral painter alone were more than I
could endure. Methought his detestable features at length enlarged,
moved, and were writhen in mockery and scorn. At last, driven to the
uttermost paroxysm of rage and despair, I drew forth the stiletto with
which I had, in self-defence, killed Hermogen, and which I always
carried in my breast-pocket.

With this weapon in my hand, I now fell upon my enemy; but his quick eye
had caught every movement, and one blow of his powerful arm brought me
to the ground. Methought I heard him laugh aloud, in hideous and
scornful triumph, so that his voice resounded through the chamber.

"Brother Medardus!" said he, "Brother Medardus, play no longer this
false game! Go, return to the sanctuary of thy convent, and humble
thyself to the dust in shame and repentance!"

I now felt myself seized by the people in the room; and allowing them to
raise me up, pretended at first to be quite exhausted; then, all at
once, rousing my whole strength, I drove and struck like a raging wild
beast against my assailants; and this so unexpectedly, that several of
them fell to the ground, and I made myself a passage towards the door;
but had scarcely rushed into the corridor, when a small side door
opened, and I felt myself seized on by an invisible arm, by which I was
drawn into a dark chamber. To this I made no resistance, for the
multitude of pursuers were raging behind me.

Into this dark room I had been drawn just as I turned round a corner of
the corridor, and the mob of people, imagining that I had run onwards
and escaped down stairs, passed by the door and left me for the moment
unmolested. My invisible companion listened to their proceedings, and
in a few moments led me by the arm down a dark, private staircase, into
a back court, and then through the buildings behind into the open
street. By the light of the lamps I here recognised as my deliverer the
absurd Belcampo!



CHAPTER XX.


"Your excellency," said Belcampo, "appears to have laboured under a
strange fatality with regard to this painter. I was drinking my wine in
an adjoining room when the uproar began, and resolved, if possible, to
rescue you, for I alone am the author of all this disturbance."

"How can that be?" said I; "what share could you possibly have in the
disaster?"

"Who can resist momentary impulse?" said the little man, in a tone of
great pathos; "who can withstand the influences of that unseen, but
predominant Spirit, that rules over and inspires all our thoughts and
actions?

"When I arranged your excellency's hair, my mind was, as usual, lighted
up by the sublimest ideas. I resigned myself up to the unbridled impulse
of wild phantasy, and accordingly I not only forgot to bring the lock of
anger on the topmost curls into a state of proper softness and
roundness, but even left seven-and-twenty hairs of fear and horror upon
the forehead.

"The twenty-seven hairs that were thus left, raised themselves erect at
the stern looks of the painter, (who is, in truth, neither more nor less
than a _revenant_,) and inclined themselves longingly towards the lock
of anger on the toupée, which, in return, hissing and rustling, became
dishevelled. All this I could perceive with my own eyes.

"Then, roused to extreme rage, your excellency pulled out a stiletto, on
which I distinguished that there were already drops of blood. But it was
a vain and needless attempt to send to hell him who to hell already
belongs. For this painter is Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, or Bertram de
Bornis, or Mephistopheles, or Benvenuto Cellini, or Judas Iscariot; in
short, a wicked _revenant_, and, in my opinion, to be banished by no
other means than by burning-hot curling-irons, which shall twist away
into annihilation that idea in which he properly consists; or, by the
dexterous and energetic use of electrical combs, against those thoughts
which, in order to his own existence, he must suck up and imbibe.

"Your excellency perceives that to me, _phantast_ and artist by
profession, such things are, as the French say, _veritable pomade_,
which proverb, borrowed from our science, has more meaning than one
would otherwise suppose, as soon as the pomade is known to contain
genuine oil of cloves."

This mad and unintelligible gibberish of the little man, who, meanwhile,
ran along with me through the streets, had for me, in my present mood of
mind, something truly horrible; and yet, when I looked now and then at
his incredible leaps and springs, his grotesque gestures, and comical
countenances, I was forced, as if by an involuntary convulsion, to
laugh.

At last we were in my own chamber, in the inn of the suburb, and beyond
the town gates. Here Belcampo assisted me to pack up my clothes, etc. and
in a short time all was ready for my departure. Thereafter, I slipped
not one only, but several ducats, into his hand, whereupon he jumped up
into the air for joy, and cried aloud, "Hurrah!--hurrah!--now I have got
gold, indeed--honourable gold, dyed in heart's-blood, streaming and
beaming with its red effulgence! Excuse me, sir," (for at these words I
looked at him with amazement,) "'twas but a passing thought, and now
'tis gone!"

He then offered his services to give to the "lock of anger" the proper
degree of roundness, and cut away the "twenty-seven hairs of horror,"
requesting also that he might be allowed to choose for himself a small
"love-lock," to keep as a remembrance. This I accordingly granted, and
with indescribable gestures and grimaces, he fulfilled his task.

After this, he seized the stiletto, which, on undressing, I had laid
upon the table, and taking the position of a fencer, made with it divers
cuts and thrusts into the air.

"Ha!" said he, "now shall I make an end of your adversary, for he
is but an idea, probably he may also be extirpated by a thought. Let him
die, then, by this thought of mine, which, in order to render more
powerful, I accompany with suitable gestures of the body--_Apage,
Satanas!--apage, Ahasuerus!--Allez vous en!_--Now, that was
something like! That was working to some purpose," said he, laying down
the stiletto, breathing hard, and wiping his brows, like one that has
exerted his utmost to get through some great labour.

Luckily I now got possession of the stiletto, and, wishing to conceal
it, groped with it into my sleeve, forgetting that I no longer wore my
capuchin robes. This gesture the man seemed to remark, and slyly to
laugh at. Meanwhile the postilion (for I had ordered horses) began to
blow his bugle before the house.

Then Belcampo suddenly changed his posture and tone. He drew out a small
pocket-handkerchief, bent himself several times with deep reverence, at
last kneeled before me, and entreated in a lamentable voice--

"Two masses, reverend father, I beseech you, for my poor grandmother,
who died of a surfeit; four for my father, who died of involuntary
fasting; but for myself, one every week when I am dead. Above all,
however, and in the first place, an indulgence for my many faults and
sins now, while I am yet living!

"Alas! sir, there is an infamous wicked fellow that lurks concealed
within me, and says, 'Peter Fairfield, be no longer an ass, and believe
that thou existest; for _I_ am properly _thou_, and am called
Belcampo--moreover am a genial idea; and if thou dost not believe this,
I will strike thee down to the earth with an acute thought, finely
pointed as a hair!'

"This damnable fellow, sir, commits all sorts of sins and wicked pranks.
Oftentimes he doubts of the Real Presence--gets drunk--falls into
quarrels and pommelling matches, and commits gross indelicacies against
pure virgin thoughts. This Pietro Belcampo, sir, has made me, Peter
Fairfield, quite confused and dissipated; so that I frequently jump
about in an absurd and unbecoming manner, and defile the spotless garb
of innocence, when, with white silk stockings, and singing _dulce
jubilo_, I splash unawares into the dirt. Forgiveness, then, venerable
father, for both, for Peter Fairfield and Pietro Belcampo."

He continued prostrate, and pretended to sob violently. The folly of the
man became tiresome to me. "Be reasonable at least," said I to him, "and
give us no more of this." The head-waiter now came in to take my
luggage. Belcampo sprung up, and resuming at once his mirthful humour,
he assisted, talking, however, all the time, to collect together
whatever property of mine was in the room. In a few moments I found
myself seated in my cabriolet.

"That fellow is a most complete puppy," said the waiter, in a low voice,
and pointing to Belcampo; "the less one has to do with him the better."

The door was closed, and the postilion mounted. Belcampo waved his hat,
and began, "Even to the last breath of my life--" but with a significant
look, I laid my finger on my lips, and he was silent. Anon the postilion
drove off, blowing the _Tyroler-lied_ on his bugle as we clattered along
the _chaussée_, and I was once more, emancipated from all ties, whether
hostile or friendly, thrown upon the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the morning began to dawn, the town from which I had fled lay far
behind me; and as I contemplated with some interest the new scenes
through which we passed, the form of that frightful man, who pursued and
haunted me like a visible impersonization of the guilt and mystery by
which my life had been darkened, had again almost vanished away. On
setting out, I had merely desired to be driven to the first stage on the
high road leading southwards; but at every new station, the questions of
the postmaster, "_Whence and whither?_" revived to my mind how
completely I was now separated and cut off from every relationship in
life; and like the wandering Ahasuerus, of whom Belcampo had spoken, was
utterly given up, a prey to the stormy waves of chance, that bore me
like a powerless wreck along.

But had not my ruling destiny drawn me thus out of my former
relationships and dependencies, only that the internal efforts of my
spirit might be exerted with greater life and vigour? Something must be
accomplished, in order to still those yearnings of the soul, by which I
was convinced that a great and important result was before me. Restless
I travelled on, through a beautiful and flourishing country. Nowhere
could I find repose, but was driven irresistibly onward, always farther
and farther, towards the south. I had hitherto, without any
consciousness or attention on my own part, scarcely made any important
deviation from the route recommended to me by Leonardus; so that the
impulse which he had given to me at first setting out, seemed to work
always in a straight-forward direction, and with an influence wholly
uninterrupted.

       *       *       *       *       *

It happened, one very dark night, that I travelled through a dense wood
of pine and beech-trees, which was said to extend as far as the next
station, on which account the postmaster had advised me to remain with
him till the next morning; but from an impatience, to myself
unaccountable, as I was unable to put a name on any goal or object which
I wished to reach, I peremptorily refused his proposal.

Already, at the time of my departure, lightning, which is not usual at
that season of the year, gleamed on the distant horizon; and very soon,
clouds, collected by the approaching storm, rolled together, darker and
darker, in threatening volumes. The postilion observed what sort of
weather we should of necessity encounter; pointed to the clouds, and
asked if he might return? To this I gave a peremptory answer in the
negative. We entered accordingly that long, interminable, and tangled
forest which stretches between Holzenheim and Rosenthurm, where the wood
alternately consists of tall beech-trees and dense thickets of Norway
and Scotch fir. Having laid aside his tobacco-pipe, he began here, for
his diversion, to play "Malbrook" on his bugle; but anon the thunder
began to roll, and even to crack above our heads, with numberless
reverberations; while, far as the eye could reach, there was nothing but
the crossing and re-crossing of red lightnings on the horizon. Such a
tempest I have never witnessed, neither before nor since. During a
thunderstorm, the air is generally calm, but now there were
unaccountable gusts of wind, such as usually occur only in the depth of
winter. The tall fir-trees, shaken to their very roots, groaned and
crashed. The rain poured down in torrents. Every moment we ran the risk
of being killed by the falling of the trees, and the horses constantly
reared, and ran back from the flashes of lightning.

At last, after a long struggle, and many vicissitudes, we were "beat to
a _stand still_," for the carriage (as a climax) was overturned, on a
piece of rough road, so violently, that one of the hinder wheels broke
in pieces. Thus we had no alternative, but must remain on the spot, till
the storm should abate, and the moon break through the clouds.

The postilion now remarked, that, on account of the darkness, and the
rain driving in his face, he had quite wandered away from the right
road, and had fallen into an avenue of the forest. There was now no
other method, but to follow out this avenue as far as it would go, and
thus perhaps to arrive at some woodman's hut or village.

Though the darkness continued, yet we contrived to prop up the carriage
with a kind of wooden leg, and thus it was dragged gradually onwards. We
had not gone far, till, marching in the van, I perceived now and then
the gleaming of a light, and thought that I could distinguish the baying
of dogs.

I had not deceived myself; for we had not persevered in our laborious
progress above a few minutes longer, before I distinctly heard the
dogs' voices; and in due time we came to an opening in the wood, where
the road became more passable. At last we arrived at a large
respectable-looking house, though, as far as the dim light enabled us to
perceive, old, gloomy, and surrounded by the high walls of a
regularly-built square court.

The postilion, without hesitation, knocked loudly at the outer gate. The
dogs immediately grew outrageous, and sprang out from their kennels
against us. In the house, (or _keep_,) however, all remained quiet and
dead, till the postilion had recourse to his horn, (lending me a spare
one, that we might play a duet,) and blew "Wilhelmus von Nassau" with
such vehemence, that the old vaulted building re-echoed to the notes.

Then a window in the upper story, from which I had before seen the
light, was opened, and a deep, rough voice called out, "Christian!
Christian!"--"Ay, ay, sir," cried a voice from below. Then we knocked
again, and blew our horns.

"There is a knocking and blowing of bugles at our gate," said the voice
from above, "and the dogs are raging like devils. Take the lantern
down, with the blunderbuss number three, and see what is the
matter."--Soon after, we heard Christian's voice, quieting the dogs, and
saw him at last come with the lantern.



CHAPTER XXI.


The postilion now found out where we were. Instead of going straight
forward, he had quitted the road, and driven almost in a retrograde
direction, so that we were now at the Prince von Rosenthurm's
_forst-haus_, distant only about a league to the right of the station
which we had quitted.

As soon as we had explained to Christian the mischance that we had met
with, he directly opened both wings of the gate, and let the carriage
pass into the court. The dogs, who were now pacified, came fawning and
snuffling about us; and the man above, who was still stationed at the
window, cried out incessantly, in a voice by no means of good-humour,
"Who's there?--who's there? _What for a_ caravan is that?" to which
neither Christian nor I returned a word in answer.

At last I stepped into the house, and was walking up stairs, when I met
a powerful tall man, with a sun-burnt visage, a large hat, with a plume
of green feathers, on his head, (which was oddly contrasted with the
rest of his figure, for he appeared in his shirt and slippers,) and a
drawn stiletto (or hunting dagger) in his hand. In a rough voice, he
called out to me, "Whence do you come? How dare you disturb people in
the dead of night? This is no public-house; no post station. Here no one
lives but the _Ober-revier-forster_, and for want of a better, I am he.
Christian is an ass, for having opened the gates without my permission."

In a tone of great humility, I now related the story of my mischance,
explaining that nothing but necessity had brought me hither. Hereupon
the man was somewhat conciliated. He said, "Well, no doubt, the storm
was very violent; but your postilion must be a stupid rascal, to drive
out of the road, and break your carriage in that manner. Such a fellow
should have been able to go blindfolded through these woods. He should
be at home among them, like any one of us."

With these words, he led me up stairs into a large hall, furnished with
a long oak table and benches; the walls adorned with stag's antlers,
hunting weapons, bugle-horns, etc. An enormous stove was at one end, and
an open _kamin_, where there were yet the warm embers of a wood-fire, at
the other.

The _Ober-revier-forster_ now laid aside his hat and dagger, and drawing
on his clothes, requested I would not take it ill that he had received
me so roughly; for, in his remote habitation, he must be constantly on
his guard. All sorts of bad people were in the habit of haunting these
woods--and especially with poachers, he lived almost always in open
warfare--"However," added he, "the rogues can gain no advantage over me,
for, with the help of God, I fulfil my duty to the prince
conscientiously and faithfully. They have more than once attacked my
house by night; but, in reliance on Providence, and my trusty dogs and
fire-arms, I bid them defiance."

Involuntarily, and led away by the force of old habits, I here thrust in
some common-place words about the power and efficacy of trust in
God.--However, such expressions were not lost on the forester, but
seemed to gain for me his confidence and good opinion. He became always
more cheerful, and notwithstanding my earnest entreaties to the
contrary, roused up his wife--a matron in years, of a quiet,
good-humoured demeanour, who, though thus disturbed from her sleep,
welcomed, in a very friendly manner, her unexpected guest, and began, by
her husband's orders, to prepare supper.

As for the postilion, he, by the forester's decision, was obliged, for a
punishment, that night, to drive back (as he best could) to the station
from which he had come,--and on the following morning I should be
carried on by the forester to the place of my destination. I agreed the
more readily to this plan, as I found myself now much in want of repose.

I therefore said to my host that I would gladly stay with him even till
the middle of the following day, as, by constant travelling, I had been
greatly fatigued, and would be much the better for such refreshment.

"If I might advise you, sir," said the forester, "you had better remain
here through the whole of to-morrow--After that, my son, whom I must at
any rate send to the _residenz_, will himself take you forward in my
carriage."

I was, of course, well contented with this proposal; and by way of
conversation, while supper was placed on the table, began to praise the
solitude and retirement of his house, by which I professed myself to be
greatly attracted.

"It is remote, sir, no doubt," said the forester; "at the same time, our
life here is the farthest possible from being dull or gloomy, as a
townsman would probably conclude it to be.--To such people every
situation in the country appears both lonely and stupid;--but much
depends on the temper and disposition of the party by whom a house like
this of ours is inhabited.

"If, as in former years in this castle, an old gloomy Baron were the
master,--one who shuts himself up within the four walls of his court,
and takes no pleasure in the woods or the chase--then, indeed, it would
be a dull and lonely habitation--But since this old Baron died, and our
gracious Prince has been pleased to fit it up as a _forst-haus_, it has
been kept in constant liveliness and mirth.

"Probably you, sir, may be one of those townspeople, who know nothing,
unless by report, of our pleasures, and therefore can have no adequate
idea, what a joyous pleasant life we hunters lead in the forest--As to
solitude, I know nothing either of its pains or pleasures--for, along
with my huntsmen lads, we live all equally, and make but one family.
Indeed, however absurd this may seem to you, I reckon my staunch wise
dogs also among the number--And why not? They understand every word that
I say to them. They obey even my slightest signals, and are attached,
and faithful even to death.

"Mark there, only, how intelligently my Waldmann looks up, because he
knows already that I am speaking about him!

"Now, sir, not only is there every day something to be done with the
huntsmen and dogs in the forest--but every evening before, there is the
pleasure of preparation, and a hospitable well-supplied board, (at which
we enjoy ourselves with a zest, that you townsmen never experience;)
then, with the first dawn of day, I am always out of bed, and make my
appearance, blowing all the way a cheering _réveille_ upon my
hunting-horn.

"At that sound every one directly starts up--The dogs, too, begin to
give tongue, and join in one great concert, of barking and rejoicing,
from their delight at the anticipation of the coming sport. The
huntsmen are quickly dressed--They throw the game-bags and fire-arms on
their shoulders, and assemble directly in this room, where my old woman
(my wife, I mean) prepares for us a right stout hunter's breakfast, an
enormous _schüssel_ of hot ragout, with a bottle of vin-ordinaire, a
reaming flagon of home-brewed ale, with another of _Stettiner beer_,
sent us from the _residenz_; then, after a glass of _schnaps_, we all
sally forth in the highest possible spirits, shouting and rejoicing.

"Thereafter, we have a long march before us--(I speak of our employments
at this present season)--but at last we arrive at the spot where the
game lies in cover--There every one takes his stand apart from the rest;
the dogs grope about with their noses on the ground, snuffing the scent,
and looking back every now and then to give notice to the huntsman, who,
in his turn, stands with his gun cocked, motionless and scarcely daring
to breathe, as if rooted to the ground. But when at last the game starts
out of the thicket, when the guns crack, and the dogs rush in after the
shot, ah! then, sir, one's heart beats--every fibre is trembling with
youthful energy; old as I am, I thus feel transformed into a new man.

"Moreover, and above all, there are no two adventures of this kind
exactly like each other. In every one is something new, and there is
always something to talk over that never happened before. If it were no
more than the variety of game at different seasons of the year, this
alone renders the pursuit so delightful, that one never can have enough
of it.

"But setting aside these diversions, I assure you, sir, that the mere
superintendance and care of the woods is an employment which would amply
fill up my time from January to December. So far am I from feeling
lonely, that every tree of the forest is to me like a companion.

"Absolutely, it appears to me as if every plant which has grown up under
my inspection, and stretches up its glossy waving head into the air,
should know me and love me, because I have watched over, and protected
it. Nay, many times, when I hear the whispering and rushing of the
leaves in the wind, it seems as if the trees themselves spoke with an
intelligible voice, that this was indeed a true praising of God and his
omnipotence; a prayer, which, in no articulate words, could so well
have been expressed.

"In short, sir, an honest huntsman and forester, who has the fear of God
before him, leads, even in these degenerate times, an admirable and
happy life. Something is yet left to him of that fine old state of
liberty, when the habits of men were according to nature, and they knew
nothing of all that conventional artifice, parade, and frippery,
wherewith they are now tormented in their walled-up garrisons and
cities. _There_, indeed, they become totally estranged from all those
delightful influences which God, in the midst of his works in this
world, is ready to shower upon them, by which, on the contrary, they
ought to be edified and rejoiced, as the free sylvan people were in
former ages, who lived in love and friendship with nature, as we read in
the old histories."

All this (though his style was somewhat rambling and methodistic) the
old forester uttered with a _gusto_ and emphasis, by which one could not
fail to perceive that he felt whatever he had said deeply in his own
heart; and I truly envied him his station in life, together with his
deeply-grounded quiet moods of mind, to which my own bore so little
resemblance, or rather presented so painful a contrast.

       *       *       *       *       *

In another part of the building, which was of considerable extent, the
old man shewed me a small and neatly-fitted-up apartment, in which was a
bed, and where I found my luggage already deposited. There he left me,
with the assurance that the early disturbance in the house would not
break my sleep, as I was quite separated from the other inhabitants of
the castle, and might rest as long as I chose. My breakfast would not be
carried in until I rung the bell, or came down stairs to order it. He
added, that I should not see him again till we met at the dinner-table,
as he should set out early with his lads to the forest, and would not
return before mid-day.

I gave myself no farther trouble therefore, but being much fatigued,
undressed hastily, and threw myself into bed, where I soon fell into a
deep sleep. After this, however, I was persecuted by a horrible dream.
In a manner the most extraordinary, it began with the consciousness of
slumber. I said to myself, "Now this is fortunate, that I have fallen
asleep so readily; I shall by this means quite recover from my fatigue,
and, for fear of awaking, must only take special care to keep my eyes
shut."

Notwithstanding this resolution, it seemed to me as if I must, of
necessity, open my eyes, and yet continued at the same time to sleep.
Then the door of my room opened, and a dark form entered, in whom, to my
extreme horror and amazement, I recognised _myself_ in the capuchin
habit, with the beard and tonsure!

The monk came nearer and nearer to the bed, till he stood leaning over
me, and grinned scornfully. "Now, then," said he, in a hollow sepulchral
voice, and yet with a strange cadence of exultation--"now, then, thou
shalt come along with me; we shall mount on the _altan_[2] on the roof
of the house beside the weather-cock, who will sing us a merry
bridal-song, because the owl to-night holds his wedding-feast--there
shall we contend together, and whoever beats the other from the roof of
the house is king, and may drink blood!"

[Footnote 2: Balcony.]

I felt now that the figure seized upon me, and tried to lift me up from
the bed. Then despair gave me courage, and I exclaimed, "Thou art not
Medardus!--thou art the devil!" and as if with the claws of a demon, I
grappled at the throat and visage of this detestable spectre.

But when I did so, it seemed as if my fingers forced their way into
empty skeleton sockets, or held only dry withered joints, and the
spectre laughed aloud in shrilling tones of scorn and mockery.

At that moment, as if forcibly roused by some one violently wrenching me
about, I awoke!

The laughter still continued in the room. I raised myself up. The
morning had broken in bright gleams through the window, and I actually
beheld at the table, with his back turned towards me, a figure dressed
in the capuchin habit!

I was petrified with horror. The abominable dream had started into real
life! The capuchin tossed and tumbled among the things which lay upon
the table, till by accident he turned round, and thereupon I recovered
all my courage, for his visage, thank Heaven, was _not mine_! Certain
features, indeed, bore the closest resemblance, but I was in health and
vigour; he was, on the contrary, worn and emaciated, disguised too by an
overgrown head of hair, and grizzly black beard. Moreover, his eyes
rolled and glared with the workings of a thoughtless and vacant
delirium.

I resolved not to give any alarm, but remain quietly on the watch for
whatever he might do, and not interrupt him unless he attempted
something formidably mischievous, for my stiletto lay near me on the
bed, and on that account, together with my superior strength, I could
soon be completely master of this intruder.

He appeared to look at, and to play with, the things that lay upon the
table, as a child would do with toys; especially, he seemed delighted
with the red _portefeuille_, which he turned over and over towards the
light of the window, at the same time making strange grimaces, and
jumping up like a patient in the dance of St Vitus.

At last, he found the bottle with the rest of the Devil's Elixir, which
he directly opened and smelt at; then he seemed to tremble convulsively
through every limb. He uttered a loud and indescribable cry--"He, he,
he!--He, he, he!" which echoed in faltering reverberations through the
room, and passages.

A clear-toned clock in the house just then struck three (but the hour
must have been much later.) Thereupon, to my great annoyance, he lifted
up his voice, and howled as if seized by some horrible torment; then
broke out once more into the same shrill laughter that I had heard in my
dream. He heaved himself about into the wildest attitudes and caprioles,
concluding with a long draught from the bottle with the Devil's Elixir,
which (after having exhausted the last drops) he then hurled from him
against the wall, and ran out at the door.

I now instantly rose up and looked after him, but he was already out of
sight, and I heard him clamping and clattering down a distant staircase;
and, lastly, the violent hollow clank of a door, as he closed it after
him.

I then carefully locked and bolted that of my own room, that I might be
secured against any second intrusion, and threw myself once more into
bed. I had been too much excited to be able for some time to sleep
again; but at last slumber fell heavily upon me, and I did not awake
till a late hour, when, refreshed and strengthened, I found the bright
warm sun beating into my apartment.



CHAPTER XXII.


Having dressed, I found a bell in the corridor, which I rung, to give
notice that I was awake. The forester, according to what he had said,
had gone out early with his huntsmen; but a very blooming, and indeed
beautiful girl, his youngest daughter, appeared, and served me with
breakfast, while her elder sister, as she told me, was busied with her
mother in household concerns.

The girl was frank and unembarrassed. She described to me, very
prettily, how the inhabitants of the _forst-haus_ all lived on the best
terms together, and that only now and then, their usual quiet routine
was interrupted when the Prince came to hunt in this district, who on
such occasions frequently staid through the night with the forester.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus a few hours glided away. Then it was mid-day, and the mirthful
sounds of shouting and bugle-horns announced that the forester was on
his return. He appeared soon after, attended by his four sons, (of whom
the youngest was about fifteen,) all blooming, handsome young men, and
three servants. They were all dressed uniformly, in dark green and gold,
with complete accoutrements for the _chasse_.

The forester directly inquired how I had rested in the night, and if the
early alarm in the court had not awoke me. I did not like to relate to
him the adventure which had befallen me; for the living appearance of
the horrible monk had joined itself so closely to the phantom of my
dream, that I could scarcely distinguish that point at which the vision
had passed onwards into reality.

The long oak table was spread. Two large dishes smoked at head and
foot;--the old man took off his cap in order to say grace. Then the door
suddenly burst open, and the emaciated, grizzly capuchin, habited
precisely as I had seen him in the night, marched in. The wildness of
insanity had indeed somewhat relaxed upon his visage; but he still
looked gloomy, discontented, and scowled around him.

"Welcome, reverend sir," cried the forester. "You are come in good time.
Do you say grace for me, and then take your place with us at the
dinner-table."

Hereupon the monk's eyes kindled with furious rage;--he looked wildly on
every one; and, in a frightful tone, cried out, "May the devil fetch
you, with your reverend sirs, and your damned hypocritical graces! Have
you enticed me hither, in order that I might be the _thirteenth_, and
that you might allow me to be butchered by the strange murderer? Have
you stuck me into this tunic, that no one might recognise the Count, who
is thy lord and master? But beware, thou miscreant!--beware of my just
anger!"

With these words, the monk seized a heavy earthen bottle, which stood
upon the table, and hurled it at the old man, who, only by his
professional quickness of eye, and a very clever turn of his head,
escaped the blow, which otherwise must have been his instant
destruction.

At that moment, the three servants started up, seized the madman, and
pinioned his arms.

"What!" cried the forester, "thou cursed, blasphemous wretch, is it thus
that, with thy old bedlamite pranks, thou venturest to come into the
society of honest Christians? Thou venturest again to aim against my
life--against me, by whom thou wert raised from the condition of the
beasts of the field, and from the certainty of everlasting
perdition?--Away--away with thee to prison!"

The monk now fell upon his knees. He prayed--even wept--moaned, and
howled for mercy. But in vain. "Thou must and shalt go to prison," said
the forester; "and never shalt thou dare to come hither again, until
such time as I know that thou hast renounced the Satan that thus blinds
thee; and if not, thou shalt die!"

Hereupon the maniac shrieked out in the hopeless agony of grief. He was
seized, however, and led away by the huntsmen, who, returning soon
afterwards, announced to us, that he had become quieter as soon as he
was deposited in his dungeon. They added, that Christian, who generally
watched over him, had said, that the monk, through the whole preceding
night, had been restless, and tumbling about through the walks and
corridors of the castle; and that, more especially towards the morning,
he had been heard often to exclaim--"More wine, and I will give myself
up wholly to thee!--More wine--more wine!" Besides, it had seemed to
Christian as if the man absolutely rolled about like a drunken person,
though it was impossible for him to conceive how he could have got at
any kind of intoxicating liquor.

Now, therefore, I of course did not any longer hesitate to relate my
adventures of the night; nor did I forget the circumstance of his
drinking out of my basket-bottle.

"Ha, worthy sir," said the forester, "I owe you indeed many apologies.
You must have been cruelly disturbed. But you seem a pious good man, and
therefore courageous. Another might have absolutely died of terror."

I begged him to tell me, somewhat minutely, what was the real history of
his connection with the monk. "At another opportunity, sir, if you
please," said the forester; "it is too long a narrative to begin during
dinner; and indeed it is bad enough that this abominable man has
disturbed us in such manner just as we were about to enjoy, gratefully
and tranquilly, that which the goodness of God bestows upon us.
However, let us lose no farther time."

Thereupon he took off his hat, and said the grace, with much emphasis
and devotion. The conversation became animated and cheerful, as if
nothing had happened;--the dishes, though served in a rustic style, were
plentiful, and admirably cooked; so that I had never partaken of a more
refreshing and agreeable repast. There were excellent strong soup, and
boiled meat; afterwards, a course of venison and other game, prepared in
different ways, (of which I preferred the _sour braten_,) salmon, etc. In
honour of his guest, the old man produced some bottles of noble old
wine, which was drunk, according to patriarchal custom, out of a
magnificent goblet, and passed round the table.

While the wine thus went round, the dishes were cleared away. The
huntsmen then took their bugle-horns from the wall, and, by way of
concert, blew a loud, inspiring _jager-lied_;[3] first without
accompaniment, but, at the second repetition, they blew more softly, and
the girls joined in with very sweet voices. Then, at the third and
concluding part, the forester's four sons also joined, and finished the
performance with a grand chorus.

[Footnote 3: Hunting-song.]

My heart was in a wonderful degree lightened and expanded. For a long
period, I had not felt myself in so genial a mood of mind as now, among
these honest, simple-hearted people. There were afterwards many songs,
very musically and effectively given, by the girls, assisted by the
young men, till at last the forester rose up, and with the toast, "Long
life to all brave men who love the noble art of hunting," he emptied his
glass. We all followed his example; and thus the agreeable banquet,
which, on my account, had been enlivened with wine and with song, was
concluded.

"Now, sir," said the forester, "I shall sleep for half an hour, or
thereabouts; but after that, we go once more to the wood; and if you are
pleased to accompany us, I shall, on the way, relate to you how the monk
came to my house, and all that I know of him. We must wait till the
twilight, however. Then we go to our appointed station, where _Franz_
has informed me, that there are a noble covey of partridges. You shall
have a gun also, if it is agreeable to you, and try your fortune."

The thing was new to me; for though I had, as a _seminarist_, many times
practised shooting at a mark, yet I had never tried at living game. I
therefore accepted the forester's offer, who appeared quite delighted
that I did so; and even before going to sleep, instructed me in various
rules and precautions, by means of which he thought that I would make
sure of booty.



CHAPTER XXIII.


Accordingly, I was in due time accoutred with a huntsman's bag, and a
fowling-piece slung over my shoulder, and, in company with the old man,
marched away through the woods, while, in the following manner, he began
the story of the monk.

"This harvest, it must be now about six months since, my lads first
announced that they heard oftentimes a tremendous howling in the forest,
which, though the noise could not well be called human, yet my _Franz_
always insisted it must be the voice of a man. Francis, indeed, seemed
to be particularly aimed at, as the _butt_ or prey of this howling
spectre, for, when he went to a good station, the howling always
frightened away the game; and, at last, whenever he wanted to shoot at a
deer or hare, he saw a large bristly human monster burst out of the
thicket, against whom he did not venture to draw the trigger.

"This youth had his head full of all the ghostly hunting legends which
his father, an old _chasseur_, had related to him;--and he was inclined
to hold that strange intruder for the devil himself, who wanted to
destroy his sport, or entice him to destruction.

"The other lads,--even my own sons, to whom also the same devil had
appeared,--at last joined with Francis, and my desire to obtain an
explanation of all this mystery, was so much the greater, as I held it
for a contrivance of the poachers, to frighten away my people from the
proper covers.

"Consequently, I gave strict orders that the next time they met with the
devil, they should stop and question him; and if he would not answer,
they should, without hesitation, according to the rules of the forest,
shoot him dead on the spot.

"Francis happened once more to be the first who encountered
him.--Recollecting my orders, he commanded him to stand, at the same
time presenting his fowling-piece--Thereupon the spectre rushed away
into the thicket; Francis thought to send a thundering shot after him,
but the gun missed fire; and now looking on this as supernatural, he ran
homewards more horrified than ever. Of course, he told every adventure
of this kind to his companions, who became all convinced that it was the
devil who thus, frighted away the game, and frustrated his attempts in
shooting--for it was quite true, that ever since he was persecuted by
this demon, he had killed nothing, though, before that time, he had been
an excellent and successful marksman.

"The rumour of the devil being in our wood spread itself abroad, and in
the nearest village the people had got long stories, how Satan had come
to Francis, and offered him _freikügeln_, (enchanted balls,) with a deal
of other absurd nonsense. I resolved, therefore, that I would myself
make an end of all this, and watch at the places where he was usually
found, for the monster, who had hitherto never once appeared to me.

"For a long time, my endeavours were unsuccessful, but at length, when I
was at the station where he had first appeared to Francis, there was
heard a rustling in the thickets--softly I raised up my gun, expecting a
wild boar, or some other animal, but to my utter astonishment, there
started up a horrible human figure, with flaming red eyes, bristly black
hair, and his body hung (I cannot say clothed) with rags.--The spectre
glared on me with his fiery eyes--uttering at the same time the
tremendous howlings, which had been before now so faithfully described
to me.

"In truth, sir, that was a moment which might have inspired terror even
into the most courageous heart. I must confess I thought it was the
devil who thus stood visibly before me,--and felt a cold sweat
involuntarily burst from every pore--But in a powerful energetic prayer,
which I uttered aloud, I completely recovered my courage. While I thus
prayed, and pronounced audibly the name of Christ, the monster howled
more outrageously than ever, and at last broke out into horrible
blasphemies and execrations.

"Then I cried out--'Thou cursed, wicked, lubberly fellow, desist from
these blasphemous words, and resign thyself into my power, otherwise I
shall instantly shoot thee through the head!'

"Hereupon, with moans and lamentations, the man instantly fell upon the
earth before me, and prayed for compassion. My servants came up--we
seized the wretch, and led him home, where I shut him up in the prison
of the tower, at the corner of the court, and next morning I intended to
give notice of what had happened to the magistrates.

"As soon as he came into the tower, he had fallen into a state of almost
utter insensibility.--When I went to him next morning, he was sitting on
a bed of straw, which we had prepared for him, and wept violently. He
fell at my feet, and begged that I would take compassion on him.--He
told me that he had already lived several weeks in the woods, eating
nothing but roots and wild fruit. He was a poor Capuchin from a distant
convent, and had escaped out of the prison, in which, on account of his
madness, he had been shut up.

"The man was, to say the truth, in a most miserable condition--I had
compassion upon him, and desired that food and wine should be
administered for his restoration, after which he visibly recovered. He
begged of me in the most earnest and abject manner, that I would bear
with him for a few days in the house, and that I would, if possible,
get him a new dress of his order. He would then alone, and of his own
accord, walk back to his convent.

"I complied with his wishes, and his madness seemed visibly to leave
him. The paroxysms were more rare, and far less vehement. In the
exasperations of his madness he uttered horrible cries, and I observed,
that when on this account I spoke to him harshly, and threatened him
with death, he fell into a state of almost utter annihilation, threw
himself on the earth, chastised himself with a knotted rope, and called
on God and the Saints, to free him from the torments and terrors of hell
which awaited him.

"At such intervals he seemed to look on himself as St Anthony, and at
other times, in his violent paroxysms, affirmed that he was an
_herrgraf_, and supreme Prince, adding, that he would have us all put to
death as soon as his servants appeared to rescue him.

"In his lucid moments, he begged of me for God's sake not to turn him
out of this house, as he felt that his cure depended on his residence
with me. Only once I had another disagreeable adventure with him, and,
as luck would have it, it befell just at the time when the Prince was
hunting in our forest, and spent the night in my house.

"The monk, after he had beheld the Prince with his brilliant train of
attendants, was completely changed. He remained gloomy and reserved.
When we went as usual to prayers, he retired abruptly. If he heard even
a word uttered in the spirit of devotion, there was a trembling through
all his limbs, and at the same time, he looked on my daughter Anne with
an aspect so strange and ambiguous, that I resolved to get him directly
away from the house, in order to prevent all sorts of misdemeanours,
which of necessity would ensue.

"In the course of the very night preceding the day on which I had
intended to pack him off, I was alarmed about one o'clock by a piercing
cry, which vibrated along the corridor. I sprung out of bed, got a
light, and ran towards the room where my daughters slept. The monk had
contrived to break from the dungeon in which I always kept him shut up,
and giving the reins to his abominable impulses, had betaken himself
directly to the door of my daughters' room, which he had burst in with
his foot.

"By good luck, the lad Francis had been awoke by extreme thirst, and was
going to get water in the court, when he heard the monk's heavy step in
the corridor. He ran up to him accordingly, and seized him from behind,
just at the moment when he was entering the room; but the lad was too
weak to get the better of the madman. They wrestled together, and both
fell out of the room again into the corridor, the girls, meanwhile,
screaming loudly.

"Just at this time I came up. The monk had got Francis on the ground,
and was grappling him by the throat in such a manner that he would very
soon have made an end of his victim. Without losing a moment, therefore,
I seized the maniac, and tore him away. Then suddenly, before I could
understand how he could accomplish it, I saw a knife gleaming in his
clenched hand, with which he directly struck at me; but Francis, who had
now recovered, seized his arm, and, as I am a strong man, we succeeded
in pinning the wretched man to the wall, in such manner, that his breath
was almost squeezed out of his body.

"The noise had by that time roused all my people from their sleep, and
they came running to the spot. We bound the monk with ropes, and threw
him into the tower; then I brought a horse-whip, and inflicted on him
such a castigation, that he sobbed and moaned most lamentably.

"'Thou incorrigible miscreant!' said I, 'this is all far too little for
thy deserts. Thou, who wouldst have seduced my daughter, and hast, with
thy knife, aimed at the life of thy preserver, were I to do justice,
death itself would be too little for thee!'

"Hereupon he howled aloud with horror; for the apprehension of death
seemed always quite to annihilate him. The following morning we found
that he could not be removed; for he lay there as if dead, in the most
miserable depression and exhaustion, so that involuntarily I could not
help once more taking compassion upon him.

"Consequently I made a bed be prepared for him in a better apartment,
where my wife nursed him with strong soups, and gave him from our
domestic dispensary whatever drugs were requisite. Moreover, you must
know, sir, that my wife, when alone, has the good Christian habit of
singing to herself some pious hymn or favourite anthem, in which she
sometimes desires my daughter Anne to join with her. This happened to
take place several times near the bed of the sick man. Then he began to
sigh heavily, and to look at my wife and Anne with an aspect of the
deepest melancholy, and frequently tears forced their way over his
cheeks. Sometimes he moved his hand and fingers as if he would cross
himself; but could not succeed in it, his hand fell down powerless; many
times, too, he uttered low and imperfect tones, as if he were about to
join in the anthem; in short, he began perceptibly to recover.

"Then, according to monastic habits, he crossed himself very often, and
prayed in a low voice. At last he began to sing Latin songs, the words
of which my wife and daughter, of course, did not understand; but their
music, their admirably deep, solemn cadence, penetrated so deeply into
their hearts, that they could not express how much they had been, by the
sick man's conduct, moved and edified.

"The monk was now so far recovered, that he rose from bed, and could
walk about the house; but his appearance, and whole manner were
completely changed. His eyes now looked mild and tranquil, whereas
before they had gleamed with a malicious fire. According to conventual
rules, he now walked about softly, and with clasped hands, in an
attitude of constant devotion. Every trace of madness had vanished from
his aspect and conduct. He would take nothing for food, but vegetables,
bread, and water. It was only of late that I had forced him to sit at my
table; to eat our ordinary provisions, and to allow himself, now and
then, a small draught of wine. At these times he said grace, and we were
delighted with his discourse, which was often unusually eloquent.

"Frequently he went alone, walking through the woods, where it chanced
that I met him one day, and, without attaching much importance to the
question, I asked him whether he now thought of returning to his
convent. He seemed much affected. 'My friend,' said he, 'it is to you
that I am indebted, under Heaven, for the rescue of my soul. You have
saved me from eternal destruction. Even now I cannot bear to part with
you; let me, therefore, remain here. Alas! have compassion on me, whom
the devil has thus enticed and misled, and who would have been for ever
lost, if the guardian saint, to whom he yet prayed in hours of terror,
had not brought him, in his madness, to this forest.

"'You found me,' continued the monk, after a short pause, 'in a
condition altogether depraved, and therefore cannot have guessed that I
was once a promising youth, gifted by nature with many excellent
endowments; whom nothing but an enthusiastic love of solitude, and of
deep meditation, led to a convent. My brethren there all looked on me
with regard and affection, and I lived as happily as any one within the
walls of a cloister can possibly do. By piety and exemplary conduct I
gained a high reputation, and already people beheld in me the future
prior.

"'It happened, unfortunately for me, that one of the brethren returned
home from distant travels, and brought with him to our convent various
relics, which he had carefully collected on his journey. Among them was
an extraordinary sealed-up bottle, which, it was said, St Anthony had
one time taken from the devil. This relic was, like all the rest,
preserved with great reverence, though there appeared to me something in
the nature of it wholly opposite to the true spirit of devotion, and
indeed ludicrous and absurd. However, by commencing in this manner, my
attention was gradually directed more and more to the subject, till at
last an indescribable longing took possession of me to know what was
actually in the bottle. I succeeded at last in getting it into my
possession, opened it, and found therein a strong drink, which exhaled a
very delightful perfume, and tasted very sweetly, and which, therefore,
I drank out, even to the last drops.

"'In what manner my spirit and disposition were now at once wholly
changed,--how I felt a burning thirst for the pleasures of the
world,--how vice, in seductive form, appeared to me as the very highest
object of pursuit in this life, I can only hint at, but cannot
adequately describe. In short, my life became a continued chain of
shameful crimes, till at last, notwithstanding my devilish artifice and
cunning, I was betrayed to the prior, who, accordingly, sentenced me to
perpetual imprisonment in the dungeons of the convent.

"'When I had passed several weeks in a damp dark prison, I cursed myself
and my existence--I blasphemed God and the Saints. Thereupon the devil
came to me in a glowing atmosphere of red flame, and said to me, that if
I would turn away my soul wholly and utterly from the service of the
Most High, and swear allegiance to him alone, he would set me directly
at liberty. Howling, I fell upon my knees, and cried out, 'There is no
God whom I serve!--Thou alone art my master; and from the fervour of thy
fire stream forth all the pleasures and enjoyments of this life!'

"'Scarcely had I uttered these wild words, when there arose a roaring
wind like a hurricane, and my prison walls groaned and cracked, as if
agitated by an earthquake. An indescribable voice, like the piping
shrill tone of the wind in autumn, vibrated through the air. The iron
bars of the window fell down, broken into fragments; and, hurled out by
some invisible power, I found myself standing in the court of the
convent.

"'At that moment the moon gleamed clear and powerful through the clouds,
and in her light shone above me the statue of St Anthony, which was
erected at a fountain in the middle of the court. An inexpressible
horror now seized on me; my frame shook with the agony of conscious
guilt. I threw myself prostrate and annihilated before the Saint,
renounced the devil, and prayed for mercy. But then dark clouds rose up
into the sky, and again the hurricane roared around me. My senses were
lost, and I recovered myself, for the first time, in the forest, where I
raged about, delirious with hunger and despair, out of which situation
you rescued me.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"Such," continued the forester, "was the Capuchin's story, and it made
upon me an impression so deep, that, even after the lapse of many
months, I am able thus to repeat it, word for word. Since that time the
monk has behaved himself with so much piety and consistency, that we all
conceived an affection for him; and on this account it is to me the more
inexplicable how his madness during the last night should have broken
out so violently again."

"Do you not know, then," said I, "from what Capuchin convent the
fugitive has come?"

"He has been silent on that head," said the forester; "and I am the less
inclined to ask him regarding it, because it is probable this may be the
same unhappy man, who, not long ago, was a constant subject of discourse
at our Prince's court. Yet there was no knowledge of his being in this
neighbourhood; and for the monk's sake, I by no means wished that my
suspicions should be changed into conviction, as I should then have been
compelled to announce the truth at the _residenz_."

"But I at least may hear your suspicions," said I; "for, being a
stranger, I am not involved in the consequences; besides, I shall
solemnly promise not to repeat what you may communicate."

"You must know, then," said the forester, "that the sister of our
reigning Princess is Abbess of the Cistertian Convent at Kreuzberg. The
Abbess had taken under her care the son of a poor woman, (betwixt whose
husband and our Prince's family some mysterious connection subsisted,)
and provided for his support and education. By his own desire, he became
a Capuchin monk, and acquired, as a pulpit orator, great reputation. The
Abbess frequently wrote to her sister in praise of her chosen _eléve_;
but not long ago her style on this subject became completely changed,
and she deeply deplored that she had irrecoverably lost him. It was
rumoured that, on account of the misuse of a certain relic, he had been
banished from that convent, of which he had been so long the chief
ornament. All this I learned from a conversation of the Prince's
physician with another gentleman of the court, at which I happened, not
long ago, to be present. They mentioned some other very remarkable
circumstances, which, however, have escaped me, as I did not hear the
whole distinctly, and durst not trouble them with questions. I am,
therefore, not prepared on all particulars of the story, which in part
remains to me inexplicable.

"Yet, though the monk, who is now in our house, describes his leaving
the monastery in a different manner, this may be the work of his own
imagination. He may have dreamed all that he tells about his escape;
and, in short, I am persuaded that this monk is no other than Brother
Medardus, the Capuchin, whom the Prioress educated, and whom the devil
enticed to all sorts of crimes, until Heaven at last punished him with
the infliction of utter insanity."



CHAPTER XXIV.


When the forester pronounced the name of Medardus, my whole frame
violently shook, nay, the story throughout had even, physically and
corporeally, tormented me, so that at every word I felt almost as if
daggers were piercing to my heart; and it was with great difficulty that
I prevented my agitation from being observed by my companion. I felt
convinced that the monk had spoken only the truth, both with regard to
the relic and direct agency of the devil; nay, that it could have been
nothing else but a repetition of the same infernal drink that had now
renewed in him this horrible delirium.

But my own situation had again become degraded. I found myself more and
more confirmed into the mere plaything of that mysterious and malicious
destiny, which had so effectually wrapt its indissoluble toils around
me, so that, while I madly believed myself free, I was, in truth, only
beating about, like a captive bird in a cage, within barriers, from
which I could find no outlet.

The good and pious lessons of my old friend Cyrillus, on which I had
bestowed no attention; the appearance of the young Count and his
volatile tutor, all came back on my memory. I was now clearly instructed
whence had proceeded that sudden alteration which I had experienced both
in mind and body. I was utterly ashamed of the delusions to which I had
been subjected, and of my criminal conduct. But, alas! this shame, which
was the emotion of a selfish worldling, rather than a penitent, appeared
to me at the moment as equivalent to the deep repentance, the
self-annihilation which I ought in my inmost heart to have felt and
cherished.

Thus I had sunk into deep reflection, and scarcely listened to the old
man, who once more recurred to his hunting stories, describing to me
various adventures which he had encountered with poachers, etc. etc.

The twilight had now drawn on, and at last we stood opposite to the
covert in which it was said that there were black game or partridges.
The forester placed me in a proper station and attitude, admonished me
once more that I was not to speak nor move, but, with the utmost care,
to hold my gun on the cock, and ready to fire.

The huntsmen softly glided away to their several places, and I was left
standing alone in the dim light, which always became more obscure.
Seldom have I known visions more strange than what arose to my
bewildered senses at that moment. Forms and features, imagery and
adventures out of my past life, stept out vividly, like the illusions of
a phantasmagorie, amid the gloom of the dark forest, before me. Among
them were visions even of my earliest years. I beheld alternately my
mother and the Abbess. They looked at me with a severe and reproving
aspect. Euphemia, too, habited in luxurious splendour, came floating and
rustling up, as if to salute me. But her visage was deadly pale, and I
liked not the gleam of her darkly-glaring eyes. I shrunk, therefore,
from her proffered embrace, whereupon she lifted up her hands, in a
threatening attitude, against me. "They are steeped in blood," cried I,
"that drops reeking to the earth. They are died in the life-blood from
Hermogen's wounds!"

Instantly, as I uttered aloud these delirious words, there came over my
head a great whirring of wings, so that by the noise I was quite stunned
and confounded. It was a large covey of partridges. I directly put my
gun to my shoulder, and shot, blindfold and at random, into the air,
whereupon two birds fell directly to the ground.

"Bravo!" cried one of the huntsmen, who had been standing at a short
distance, while at the same moment, as the stragglers of the covey
started up, he fired, and brought down a third partridge. Shots
afterwards reverberated all round us. The air was filled with smoke, and
the _chasseurs_ at last assembled, every one bearing his own proper
booty.

The lad to whom I had been stationed nearest, related, not without sly
side-looks at me, how, when the partridges rose on the wing, I had cried
out aloud, as if in great affright, and then, without once taking aim,
had shot blindly into the midst of them, though he was obliged to allow,
that I had at the same time killed two birds. Nay, he insisted that, in
the twilight, it had appeared to him as if I held the gun in a direction
totally wrong; yet the birds were struck, by which result he seemed to
have been brought into great perplexity.

The old forester was mightily diverted, and laughed aloud at the notion
that I could be frightened in such manner by a covey of partridges, and
that I had then only shot at random among them. "However," added he, "I
shall nevertheless trust that you are an honest Christian hunter, and no
_freischutz_--no devil's marksman--who can hit whatever he likes,
whether he aims at it or not." This unpremeditated jest of the old man
struck my inmost heart, and even the good luck attending my random shot,
at that moment filled me with horror. More than ever discontented, and
torn by conflicting impulses, I became wholly involved in doubt and
mystery, which, by their destructive influence, continued to darken my
whole existence.

       *       *       *       *       *

On our return to the _forst-haus_, Christian announced that the monk had
kept himself quite quiet in his prison, had not spoken a word, and would
not accept of any nourishment.

"It is impossible now," said the forester, "that he can remain any
longer with me; for who can say that his madness, which is obviously
incurable, might not break out again, and, in consequence, some horrible
misfortune be brought upon our house? To-morrow, therefore, he must, as
early as possible, be sent off with Christian into the town. The
deposition that I thought it best to draw up, as to my whole adventures
with him, has been long since ready, and in town he may be at once taken
to the mad-house."

       *       *       *       *       *

This night, when I was again left alone in my chamber, the same
frightful visions that had haunted me in the wood, once more regained
their full influence. More especially Hermogen, like a horrible ghastly
spectre, stood, in the dimness of the half-lighted room, before me, and
when mustering courage to dare the worst, I tried to look fixedly on the
apparition, it was changed into that of the delirious monk. Both seemed,
according to my confused perceptions, to be melted into one, and thus
perhaps impersonized the warning influence of a higher power, which
interposed to save me just as I stood upon the very brink of
destruction.

While undressing, I stumbled over the basket-bottle, which still lay
upon the floor. The monk had drained it even to the last drops; thus I
was protected completely from any temptation to drink more. But even the
bottle itself, from which there exhaled a strong stupifying odour, I
hurled away through the open window, over the wall of the court, in
order to annihilate at once every operation of this damnable Elixir.

By degrees I became more tranquil, and found at last some consolation in
the belief, that in point of intellect, I must be greatly elevated over
that monk, who, by a scanty draught out of my bottle, had been roused
into furious madness. I felt also that the present dangers had passed
over me, for the forester believed that his maniac monk was the Capuchin
Medardus; and, from all this, I inferred the favourable warning of
Providence, whose purpose it was not that I should utterly perish.

       *       *       *       *       *

Irresistibly I felt myself drawn towards the Prince's _residenz_. There
it was possible that an introduction to the sister of the Abbess, who
was said to bear a great resemblance to the latter, might restore to me
my long-lost disposition towards a life of simple piety, and to those
pure enjoyments which had attracted me in youth. In order to reanimate
the most vivid recollections of that period, even a sight of the
Princess was, in my present tone of feelings, all that would be
requisite; but as to the means by which an interview with her might be
obtained, I resolved to submit myself wholly to chance.

Scarcely was it day-break when I heard the voice of the forester in the
court. I had agreed to set out early with his son, and therefore dressed
as quickly as possible. When I came down stairs, there was a rough
_leiter-wagen_ at the door, prepared for departure. The three servants
now brought out the monk, who, with a deadly-pale and distorted
countenance, allowed himself to be led, without uttering a word. He
would answer no questions--he would accept of no food; indeed, scarcely
seemed to notice those who were around him. Accordingly, they lifted him
upon the carriage, and bound him with ropes; for his present condition
appeared very doubtful, and no one could be secure against the sudden
breaking out of his malady.

As they bound his limbs, his visage was convulsively writhen, and he
heaved a deep sigh, with an expression so piteous, that his situation
wounded me to the heart. Between him and me there subsisted some
mysterious relationship, as to the nature of which, I could not yet even
guess; but to his misery and probable destruction I owed my present
hopes of safety.

Christian, and one of the huntsmen, took their places beside him in the
carriage. It was not till they were driving away that his looks happened
to fall directly on me, whereupon his features immediately assumed an
expression of wonder and perplexity. As the carriage receded, his eyes
still remained intently gazing on me.

"Mark you," said the forester, "how strangely he watches you. I do
believe that your presence in the dining-room contributed very much to
his frenzy; for even in his lucid intervals he has always been timid,
and has cherished the suspicion that a stranger was to come who would
put him to death, of which he always entertains an unbounded horror.
Being aware of this, I have often, when in the wildest of his paroxysms,
by threatening to shoot him, produced perfect calmness and submission."

I now felt lightened and relieved by the consciousness that this monk,
who seemed to present a horrible and distorted shadow of myself, was
effectually removed from my presence. I rejoiced, too, in my
anticipation of the _residenz_, believing that the load of that gloomy
and obscure fate by which I had been oppressed, would at last be taken
from my shoulders,--that I should be gifted with new energies, and
acquire strength to tear myself from the grasp of that malicious demon,
to whom I had hitherto been subjected.

After breakfast, the handsome travelling equipage of the forester drove
up to the door; I could not prevail on his wife to accept of a little
money in requital for the hospitality that she had shewn to me; but to
his daughters I was luckily able to give some articles of _bijouterie_
which I found in my portmanteau, having purchased them at the fair in
Frankenburg. The whole family took leave of me as affectionately as if I
had been for a long time resident among them; but the old man did not
let me go without some farther jokes upon my peculiar genius and success
as a sportsman. Under the bright golden gleams of a fine autumnal day,
we at last drove off.



CHAPTER XXV.


The _residenz_ of the Prince presented a complete contrast to the
trading town which I had left. In extent, it was much smaller, but was
more regularly and handsomely built. Several broad streets, planted with
double rows of flourishing trees, seemed more to belong to the laying
out of a park, or English garden, than to a town. There was here no
bustle of trade; all was, on the contrary, still and solemn--an
impression perhaps deepened by the kind of atmosphere peculiar to that
season of the year (the decline of autumn) when I arrived at the
capital. The quiet was only now and then interrupted by the rattling
course of some coroneted carriage. In the dress and demeanour even of
the lower ranks, there was an attempt at the polite and ornamental, yet
without vain ostentation; while, as I walked through the streets,
although a perfect stranger, yet my appearance probably being approved
of, I was saluted with a respectful bow, and wave of the hat, from every
passenger.

The palace of the Prince was by no means large, nor even built in a
grand style; yet, with regard to elegance and just proportions, it was
one of the finest buildings that I had ever seen. Around it was a very
beautiful park, which, by the possessor's liberality, was thrown open to
all the world, while, as usual in Germany, not a single flower was
plucked, nor an ornament displaced or disfigured, not even a blade of
grass injured by passengers quitting the gravel walks.

At the hotel where I had put up, I was told that the Prince frequently
enjoyed an evening promenade with his family through the park; and that
many inhabitants of the town watched that opportunity of paying their
respects to, or seeing, _en passant_, their respected sovereign.

Accordingly, at the proper hour, I hastened to the grounds, and observed
the Prince, with his consort and a small train of attendants, step out
from the _vestibule_ of the palace. Very soon, as they drew nearer, my
whole attention was directed to the Princess, whom I should have
instantly recognised, only by her resemblance to the Abbess, which was
striking and extraordinary. The same height and dignity; the same grace
in every gesture; the same intellectual gleam of the eyes, and the free,
unclouded forehead and fascinating smile. Only she appeared younger in
years, and in shape fuller and rounder than the Abbess. She came close
past me, so that I heard also the tone of her voice, as she spoke with
some ladies who happened to be in the _allée_, while the Prince walked
behind, seemingly absorbed in deep discussion with a grave,
formal-looking man.

The looks and behaviour of this noble family, and the simplicity of
dress, the total absence of display evinced both by them and their
immediate train, were all in harmony. One could easily perceive that the
good manners and spirit of respectful order which prevailed through the
town, had their origin in the example of the court. By chance I had my
station near a lively little man, who gave me answers readily to all the
questions that I was inclined to put to him, adding spontaneously many
remarks of his own, which to me were very opportune and interesting.

When the Prince and Princess had passed by, he proposed to me, as a
stranger, to take a walk through the park, and to point out to me the
various objects which, as works of art, were there most to be admired.

This was an offer precisely such as I had wished for, and I gladly
availed myself of his politeness. As we proceeded through the grounds,
beneath dark shadowy rows of beeches, elms, and poplars, I expressed
with great sincerity my admiration of the delightful soil and climate of
the _residenz_, and the luxuriant growth of the noble trees.

But as to the numberless buildings in imitation of ancient temples,
where pillars, that should have been of gigantic height, could be
measured at an arm-length from the ground;--Gothic chapels, for example,
where the attention of the builder had been concentrated on trifling
ornaments, instead of the construction of a grand and intellectual
_whole_;--of all _these_ I expressed freely my decided disapprobation;
consequently, he endeavoured to defend these erections by the usual
argument, that they were in a park _indispensable_, if it were no more
than to guard against the inconvenience of a sudden shower. To this I
replied, that simple buildings, such as romantic cottages, root-houses,
etc. would be equally useful, and free from that blame of bad taste which
I attached to the now existing temples, mosques, and chapels.

"To say the truth, I am quite of your opinion," said the stranger; "but,
meanwhile, you must know, that the design of all these buildings, and of
the whole park, proceeds from our Prince himself; and this circumstance,
of course, softens down, at least to us, who are under his dominion, all
tendency to severe criticism or censure.

"The Prince is, in truth, one of the best of men. He has acted always on
that admirable principle, that his subjects are not there to serve and
minister to him, but that he is appointed guardian over them, and is
responsible for their comfort and welfare. The liberty of speaking
freely and aloud whatever one thinks; the low rate of taxes and
consequent cheapness of provisions; the extreme lenity, nay,
invisibility, of the police, (who, though always watchful, never make
their appearance except on occasion of some flagrant misdemeanour,) the
removal of all troublesome and superfluous soldiery, the calm regularity
with which affairs of business and merchandize are carried on; all
these circumstances must make a residence in our capital very agreeable
to a stranger.

"I would lay any bet, that you have never yet been asked after your name
and rank; nor has the innkeeper at your hotel, as it happens in other
places, marched in with a great book under his arm, in which one is
obliged, _nolens volens_, with an abominable stump of a pen, and ink
made of soot and water, to enter his name and condition in the world.

"In short, the whole economy and arrangements of our small kingdom, in
which there prevail a real prudence and wisdom, proceed directly from
our excellent Prince; whereas, _formerly_, at this very town, people
were tormented by the pedantic formality of a court, whose only aim was
to represent the expenses and parade of a neighbouring government of far
greater power and wealth, in a _pocket-edition_.

"Our Prince is a sincere and unaffected lover of the arts and sciences.
Therefore, every good artist, and every man of real learning, is welcome
to him; for, as to rank in life, he lays on that no stress whatever. He
considers only the degree of intellectual acquirements which a stranger
actually does or does not possess; and accordingly shews or withdraws
his favourable countenance.

"But even in the accomplishments of our Prince, it is impossible to
deny, that something of an alloy of pedantry has crept in, which is
partly owing to errors in his early education, and which expresses
itself in his improvements, by an overstrained and slavish adherence to
this or that particular school or fashion. He himself drew out, with the
most laborious minuteness, the plans for every building in the park; and
even the slightest departure of the workmen from the given models, which
he had searched out and put together from an hundred antiquarian
repositories, vexed him in the highest degree. Every pillar, portico,
tower, and cupola, must have its representative, however ludicrous the
imitation in point of height and dimensions must of necessity be.

"By the same disposition to carry one or other favourite system to an
_extreme_, our theatre now suffers, where the principles that he has
once laid down, must on no account be departed from, although, in order
to retain them, sometimes the most heterogeneous incongruities are
forced together. In short, the Prince has a boundless variety of
_hobbies_, which (to keep up the metaphor) he rides alternately; yet not
one of them is of a description calculated to give offence, or do any
real injury to his subjects. When this park was laid out, then he was
architect and gardener _à la folie_. After that, some new fantasies
about music wholly absorbed his attention; to which inspiration,
however, we owe the fitting up of a most admirable and unrivalled choir
and opera. Then painting took the _pas_, and occupied him so entirely,
that, as an artist, he is no mean proficient.

"Even in the daily amusements of the Court, he shews the same
disposition to extremes, and the same variability. Formerly, dancing was
kept up almost every evening; _now_, there is on company-days a
Pharo-Bank, and the Prince, without being in the least what is properly
called a gamester, delights in watching and calculating all the
intricacies of chance. But the pharo-table has continued already long
enough; and there is wanting only some very trifling occurrence or
impulse to bring something altogether new again on the carpet.

"This versatility has sometimes drawn upon our good Prince the reproach
of a weak understanding. There are people who insist, that the mind of
a wise man should always be like a still and waveless lake, reflecting
the same images with calm and unchangeable fidelity. But, in my opinion,
injustice is done him; for it is merely from an extraordinary vivacity
of spirit, that he thus gives the reins at all times to some favourite
and passionate impulse. Hence no expense is spared on establishments
contributing to the amusement and intellectual improvement of his
subjects. These grounds, for example, whatever may be their defects, are
always kept in the nicest order; our opera, chapel choir, and theatre,
are munificently endowed; and our collection of pictures is at every
opportunity augmented. As to the court amusements of gaming, etc. these
are recreations, which, considering the Prince's sedulous application at
other times to business, surely cannot be refused to him."

During this conversation, we passed by many very beautiful and
picturesque masses and groups of trees, of which I renewed my
expressions of admiration, praising also the fine varieties, which, from
rising grounds, the eye commanded in the landscape.

"I ought not to forget," said my companion, "that although the Prince
designed every architectural ornament, and had generally the
superintendance of the park, yet he was indebted for the position of
every thicket, group, or _allée_ of trees, to the taste of our admirable
Princess. She is indeed a complete landscape painter, after which,
natural history, especially botany, is her favourite study. Hence you
will find the rarest and most curious foreign plants and flowers, not
arranged as if merely brought hither for show, but growing in artificial
parterres as if on their native soil. The Princess, however, expressed
an especial disgust to the awkwardly cut gods and goddesses in
freestone, naiads and dryads, with which the park, in former days, was
filled. These statues have therefore vanished; and you find only a few
copies after the antique, which the Prince, on account of certain
cherished remembrances, would not part with."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now late in the evening, and we left the park. My companion
readily accepted an invitation which I gave him to my hotel, where he
at last announced himself as the _Inspector_ of the Prince's
picture-gallery.

After supper, and a bottle of excellent wine, when we had become better
acquainted, I mentioned to him my earnest wish to obtain an introduction
at court; whereupon he assured me, that nothing could be more easy than
this, as every well-educated stranger was welcomed in the circle of his
sovereign. I had only to make a visit to the Court-Marshal, and beg of
him to present me to the Prince.

This diplomatic mode of introduction, however, by no means suited me, as
I could scarcely hope to escape certain troublesome questions of whence
I had come--what was my rank and profession, etc. I therefore resolved to
trust to chance, which would soon throw a favourable opportunity in my
way; and, accordingly, this soon after occurred.

One morning, as I was taking an early walk in the yet solitary park, the
Prince, dressed in a simple blue surtout, and quite alone, came along an
_allée_, directly meeting me. I saluted him _en passant_, as if he had
been some one of whom I had no previous knowledge. Hereupon he stood
still, and began a conversation with the question, "Whether I was a
stranger here?" I answered in the affirmative, adding, "that I had
arrived only a few days before, with the intention of passing directly
through; but that the charms of the situation, with the tranquillity,
good order, and spirit of calm enjoyment, which everywhere seemed to
prevail, had induced me to stay longer. Quite independent, and living
merely for literature and the arts, I had now resolved to make this
place my residence for some time, as everything by which I was
surrounded had become to me more and more delightful and attractive."

By these expressions the Prince seemed obviously flattered, and he even
offered himself as my _cicerone_, to explore the beauties of the park. I
took special care not to betray that I had already seen everything, but
availed myself of my previous knowledge, in order to throw in apt
remarks and exclamations. I allowed myself to be led through all the
temples, grottos, chapels, and pavilions, patiently listening to the
Prince's long lectures about every building. He regularly named the
ancient models after which every structure had been imitated; made me
attend particularly to their minutest details; then referred, ever and
anon, to the grand _morale_, the intellectual system which prevailed
through the whole plan of the park; that harmony in confusion, "where
all things differ, and yet all agree," which he thought should be
adopted as the leading principle in laying out grounds of this sort.

The Prince then desired my opinion. I approved very cordially the
natural charms of the place, and the luxuriant vegetation also of the
well-disposed masses and groups of wood, with the shadowy _berceaux_;
but as to the buildings, I expressed myself just as freely as I had
before done to the gallery inspector. He listened to me attentively;
seemed not altogether to reject my remarks, but at last cut all
discussion short, by saying, that my notions were very good in theory,
but that as to the actual practice, it was a different affair, of which
I seemed to have but very little notion.

The conversation then turned upon the arts. I soon proved that I was a
tolerable _connoisseur_ of painting; and, as a practical musician, I
ventured many observations, in opposition to his ideas, which, though
ingeniously and precisely delivered, only served to shew that he was far
more studied than persons of his rank generally are; but, at the same
time, that of the _real attributes_ of musical genius he had no
comprehension whatever. On the other hand, my objections only proved to
the Prince that I was a _dilletante_, one of a class who are generally
not much enlightened by the actual practice of their theories. He
instructed me, however, in the proper characteristics (or what,
according to him, ought to be the proper characteristics) of a sublime
picture, and a perfect opera.

I heard much about colouring, drapery, pyramidal groups; of serious and
of comic music; of scenes for the _prima donna_; of choruses; of effect,
_chiaro oscuro_, light and shade, etc. etc.; to all which medley I
listened quietly, for I perceived that the Prince took a pleasure in his
own discourse.

At last he abruptly cut short his own eloquence with the question, "Do
you play pharo?" to which I answered in the negative.--"Well, sir," said
he, "that is a most admirable game. In its lofty simplicity, it is the
true and proper pastime for a man of genius. One is thereby carried out
of himself; or, to speak better, if he is possessed of due powers of
mind, he is lifted up to a station from which he can contemplate all the
strange complications and entanglements which are (otherwise invisibly)
spun by the mysterious power which we call Chance. Loss and gain are the
two points on which, like pivots, the grand machine is moved; and by
this machine we are irresistibly carried onward, while it is impelled
ceaselessly by its own internal springs. This game, sir, you must
absolutely learn. I will myself be your teacher."

I assured him that I had hitherto felt no particular turn for gaming,
and that I had always understood the inclination for it to be highly
pernicious and destructive. The Prince smiled, and fixing on me his
bright, penetrating eyes, resumed; "Ay, there are indeed childish
superficial minds, who maintain that argument; and, consequently, you
will suppose that I am a gamester, who wishes to draw you into his nets;
know, then, that I am the Prince! If you are pleased with your residence
at my capital, then remain here, and visit at my palace, where you will
find that we sometimes play pharo. Yet I by no means allow that any one
under my roof shall subject himself to loss, though the stake must of
necessity be high in order to excite interest; for fortune herself is
lazy and stupid as long as nothing but what is insignificant is offered
to her arbitration."

Already on the point of leaving me, the Prince turned round, and asked,
"With whom have I been speaking?"--I answered that my name was Leonard;
that I lived as a literary man, _particulier_; for the rest, I was by no
means a _nobile_, nor a man of rank; and, therefore, perhaps did not
dare to make use of the advantages which his highness had thus offered
to me.

"What the devil," said he, "has nobility to do with it? You are, as I
have clearly convinced myself, a very ingenious and well-informed man.
Literature, science, and the arts, confer on you nobility, and render
you fully qualified to appear in our circles. Adieu, Mr Leonard!--_Au
revoir!_"



CHAPTER XXVI.


Thus my wishes were far more readily, and more early than I could have
expected, fulfilled. For the first time in my life I should appear as a
courtier. All the absurd stories, therefore, which I had read in
romances, of cabals, quarrels, intrigues, and conspiracies, floated
through my brain. According to the most received authorities among novel
writers, the Prince must be surrounded and blindly led by all sorts of
impostors; especially, too, the Court-Marshal must be an insipid, proud,
high-born coxcomb; the Prime Minister a malicious, miserly villain; the
lords in waiting gay and unprincipled libertines. Every countenance must
artificially wear the most agreeable expression, while in the heart all
is selfishness and deception. In society they (the courtiers) must
profess to each other the most unbounded friendship and attachment. They
must bend to the very earth in apparent humility, while every one
endeavours to trip up his neighbour's heels in the dark, so that he may
fall unpitied, and his pretended friend come into his place, which he
may keep only till some one else plays off the same manoeuvre against
him. Finally, the court ladies must be ugly, proud, revengeful;
glistening with diamonds, nodding with feathers, painted up to the eyes,
but withal, amorous, constantly engaged in venal intrigues, and laying
snares for the unwary stranger, which he must fly from as he would from
the devil.

Such was the absurd picture which, from the books I had read at college,
had remained vividly on my recollection. The conversation of the Prior,
indeed, might have afforded me more rational ideas; still it seemed to
me that a court must be the sphere, of all others, where the Arch-Enemy
of mankind exerted his pre-eminent and unresisted dominion. Hence it was
not without timidity that I looked forward to my promised introduction;
but an inward conviction, that _here_ my lot in life was finally to be
decided, and the veil of mystery withdrawn, drove me still onwards, so
that, at the appointed hour, with a palpitating heart, but struggling
as manfully as I could with my disquietude, I found myself in the outer
hall of the palace.

My residence at the commercial town of Frankenburg had done much to rub
off the rust of my conventual habits. Being by nature gifted with a
graceful and prepossessing exterior, I soon accustomed myself to that
free and unembarrassed demeanour, which is proper to the man of the
world. That paleness, which generally disfigures even handsome features
among the inhabitants of the cloister, had now vanished from my
countenance. I was at that time of life when our mental and bodily
energies are generally in their zenith. Conscious power, therefore, gave
colour to my cheeks and lustre to my eyes, while my luxuriant dark hair
completely concealed all remains of the _tonsure_. Besides all this, I
wore a handsome full dress suit of black, a chef-d'oeuvre of Damon,
which I had brought with me from Frankenburg.

Thus it was not to be wondered at that I made a favourable impression on
those who were already assembled in the outer hall, and this they did
not fail to prove, by their polite advances and courteous expressions.
As, according to my romantic authorities, the Prince, when he revealed
his rank to me in the park, should have thrown back his _surtout_, and
discovered to my sight a brilliant star, (which he had failed to do,) so
I had expected that every one whom I should meet in the palace should be
clad in the richest silks and embroidery. How much was I surprised,
therefore, to find that, with the exception of ribbons and orders, their
dresses were all as plain as that in which I myself appeared.

By the time, therefore, that we were summoned to the audience-chamber,
my prejudices and embarrassment had worn off; and the manners of the
Prince himself, who came up to me, with the words, "Ha! there is Mr
Leonard," completely restored my courage. His highness continued for
some time in conversation with me, and seemed particularly diverted by
the freedom and severity with which I had criticised his buildings in
the park.

The folding doors were now opened, and the Princess, accompanied by some
of her ladies, came into the room. Immediately on her appearance, as the
glare of the lustres fell on her features, I recognised, more forcibly
than ever, her exact likeness to the Abbess. The ladies of the assembly
surrounded her for some time, but at last I was summoned, and
introduced, after which ceremony her eyes followed me, with a gaze
obviously betraying astonishment and inward emotion. Then turning to an
old lady who stood near her, she said a few words in a whisper, at which
the latter also seemed disquieted, and looked on me with a scrutinizing
aspect.

All this was over in a moment, for other presentations took place; after
which the assembly divided into groups, and engaged in lively
conversation. One recollected, indeed, that he was in the circle of a
court, and under the eye of the sovereign, yet without feeling on that
account constrained or embarrassed.--I scarcely recognised a single
figure that would have been in keeping with the caricatures that I had
previously drawn. The Court-Marshal was a lively and happy-looking old
man, without any particular attributes, either of pride or formality.
The lords in waiting were sprightly youths, who, by no one symptom,
betrayed that their characters were depraved and vicious. Two ladies,
who immediately waited on the Princess, seemed to be sisters. They were
uninteresting, insignificant, and, as luck would have it, dressed with
extraordinary plainness.

There was, however, one little man in the room, with a comical visage,
long nose, and sparkling eyes, who irresistibly engaged my attention. He
was dressed in black, with a long steel-mounted sword, and wound
himself, with incredible dexterity, like a serpent through the crowd,
appearing now here, now there, but resting never, and apparently raising
laughter (whether with him, or at him, I knew not) wherever he went.
This person (having ventured an inquiry) I understood was the Prince's
physician.

The old lady with whom the Princess had spoken had kept her eyes on me,
and contrived to manoeuvre so skilfully, that, before I was aware of
her plans, I found myself alone with her in a window recess. She began a
conversation with me, in which, guardedly as it was managed, I perceived
very clearly that her only object was to gain a knowledge of my
situation and circumstances in life. I was prepared for some occurrence
of this kind, and being convinced that the simplest story was always the
safest, I told her that I had formerly studied theology, but that
having received from my father a competent fortune, I now travelled
about for my own pleasure and improvement.

My birth-place, I said, was on the Polish frontiers of Prussia; and I
gave it by the way such a horrible unpronounceable name, that the old
lady made no attempt to repeat it after me. "Well, sir," said she, "you
have a countenance which might here raise many, and not altogether
pleasant recollections; and you are, perhaps, as to rank, more than you
wish to appear, for your demeanour by no means resembles that of a
student of theology."

       *       *       *       *       *

After refreshments had been handed round, we went into another room,
where the pharo-table was in readiness. The Court-Marshal was the
banker; but I understood afterwards that his agreement with the Prince
allowed him to retain all his winnings, while the latter indemnified him
against every loss, so that the bank remained always in the same state.

The gentlemen now assembled themselves round the table, with the
exception of the physician, who never played, but remained with the
ladies, who took no interest in the game. The Prince desired that I
would station myself next to him, while, in a few words, he very clearly
explained to me the rules and principles of pharo, at the same time
selecting my cards, as I was here completely a novice.

But there was not a single card chosen by the Prince for himself, that
was not attended by the worst possible luck; and as long as I followed
his counsel, the same fate attended mine. Besides, I was suffering
considerable losses. A louis d'or was the very lowest point; my limited
exchequer was fast ebbing away, and this painfully brought back on me
the question that had often occurred, "What was I to do in the world,
when my last ducat was expended?"

A new _taille_ was begun, and I begged of the Prince that he would now
leave me to myself, as it seemed that I was born to be unlucky, and was
drawing him into the same fatality. The Prince agreed, with a smile of
perfect good humour. He said, that the best way to recover my loss
would, in his opinion, have been, to follow the lead of an experienced
player; however, that he was very curious to learn how I would behave
when alone, having in myself such confidence.

I had not said that I had any such confidence; and now blindfold and at
random, I drew out a card from my hand; it was the Queen. It may seem
absurd, but is nevertheless true, that I thought the caricature features
on this card had a resemblance to Aurelia! I stared at it accordingly,
and became so lost in my own reflections, that it was only the call of
the banker, "All's ready," that awoke me from my reverie.

Then, without a moment's hesitation, I drew out the five louis d'ors,
all that I had left, and staked them on the Queen. Beyond my
expectations this succeeded! Then I always staked more and more on the
Queen always higher as my gains increased, and I never lost a single
round.

At every new stake my antagonists and the by-standers cried out--"No; it
is impossible! This time she must prove unfaithful!" But, on the
contrary, I won, and the cards of every other player turned against
him--"Now, this is unheard of--this is miraculous!" resounded from all
quarters, while, completely reserved, and wrapt up within myself, with
my whole thoughts fixed only on Aurelia, I scarcely noticed the
_rouleaux_ of gold, which the banker shoved one after another over to
me.

In short, the Queen had, in the four last _tailles_, invariably gained,
and I had my pockets full of gold. I had won about two thousand louis
d'ors; and though I thus found myself suddenly freed from all pecuniary
embarrassment, yet I could not repress a strange feeling of perplexity,
and inward self-condemnation.

Of course, I perceived an exact coincidence between my success at pharo,
and my good fortune in shooting, with eyes closed and at random, the two
partridges when in company with the forester. It was obvious that the
result on both occasions was not owing to any superior skill or
management of mine, but to some higher power to which I was wholly
subservient. This constant recurrence too, and reflection of Aurelia's
form and features, could be nothing but an abominable scheme of the
devil to draw me into wickedness, and the misuse which I had now made of
that truly sacred and beloved image filled me with horror and aversion!

In the most gloomy mood of mind, and utterly at variance with myself, I
was gliding about in the morning through the park, when the Prince, who
was accustomed to take a walk at the same hour, joined me.

"Well, Mr Leonard," said he, "how do you like my game of pharo? What
think you of the humours and caprices of Fortune, who kindly excused
your absurd conduct, and flung the gold into your hands?" I was not
ready with an answer, and the Prince therefore resumed--"You had luckily
stumbled on the _carte favorite_, but you must not trust to your luck
again in this manner. You might carry the principle too far."

His highness now went into a long discussion, founded on this idea of
the _carte favorite_, imparted to me various rules as to the doctrine of
chances, and concluded by expressing his conviction that I would no
doubt follow up zealously this commencement of my _bonne fortune_ at
play.

On the contrary, I assured his highness, "that it was my firm resolution
never more to touch a card!" The Prince looked at me with surprise.
"Even my yesterday's wonderful luck," said I, "has been the natural
cause of this resolution; for all that I had formerly conceived of the
pernicious and ruinous tendency of this game, has truly been realized
and confirmed. In truth, there was in my very success something
repugnant, and even horrible to my feelings. I drew out a card,
blindfold, and unawares. That card awoke in my mind painful, though
cherished remembrances, of which I could not resist the influences. I
went on accordingly, venturing stake after stake, as if some demon had
placed it in my power to _command_ fortune, though I had no real and
moral right to the gain which thus fell to my share."

"I understand perfectly," said the Prince, "what you mean by painful and
cherished remembrances. You have been an unfortunate lover, and the card
brought to your recollection the image of the lost fair one; though,
begging your pardon, Mr Leonard, when I think of the pale complexion and
flat features of your favourite Queen, this seems not a little
capricious. However, you thought on your lost mistress, and in that game
of pharo, she was perhaps more true and faithful than she had been in
real life. But what you are able to discover in all this that is
horrible and frightful, I cannot possibly conceive. On the contrary,
you should rejoice that Fortune, even on any grounds, is so much
inclined to favour you. Besides, if you are really vexed, this is not to
be imputed to the pharo-table, but to the individual moods, the
idiosyncrasies of your own mind."

"All that your highness has stated," said I, "may be perfectly correct;
but I feel deeply that it is not merely the fear of loss on which my
present dislike to gaming is founded. Gain itself, which only brings us
more and more under a state of slavery to a mysterious fate, which would
one day lead us to destruction, is equally dangerous. Yet, sire, I
confess that I was yesterday on the point of seeing my travelling
exchequer completely drained, which, considering my present distance
from home, would have been to me no slight misfortune."

"Nay," said the Prince, "I should have infallibly learned this
occurrence, and would have taken care that the loss should have been to
you threefold repaid, for I certainly do not choose that any one should
be ruined, in order to contribute to my amusement. Besides, any real
evil of this kind cannot happen under my roof, for I know my players,
and do not trust them out of my own sight."

"Yet, with submission," said I, "may not these very precautions take
away all that freedom from the player, and thereby annihilate those fine
involvements of chance, in which your highness takes delight? Or may not
some individual, on whom the passion for play has violently seized,
break out of such trammels, and rush on, unobserved, to his own
destruction? Forgive my candour, sire. I believe also, that those very
methods which your highness would adopt to prevent evil consequences,
would, from the perverse nature of mankind, be looked upon by many as a
disgusting and intolerable restraint."

"Say no more, Mr Leonard," said the Prince, "it is obvious, that from
every opinion or idea of mine you are resolved to dissent." With these
words he hastily retired, adding only an unceremonious and careless
"adieu."



CHAPTER XXVII.


I knew not myself how I had been led to speak so freely on the subject,
never having till now thought of gaming or its consequences; but the
words, as on former occasions, seemed to be prompted for me by some
invisible power, after whom I only repeated them. However this might be,
I believed that I had now lost the favour of the Prince, and with it,
the right of appearing on any future occasion within the walls of his
palace.

In this belief, however, I was mistaken, for, on the same day, I
received a card inviting me to a concert; and the Prince, whom I once
more met in the park, said, _en passant_, with much politeness, "Good
evening, Mr Leonard! You are to be with us to-night, and it is to be
hoped that my _capelle_ may gain some credit, and please you better than
my park and my pharo-table have done."

The music was indeed very commendable. All was performed with great
accuracy; but, at the same time, the pieces appeared to me not well
chosen; for one destroyed, by contrast, the effect of the other; and,
especially, there was one long act, which seemed to have been got up
with particular care, and which, nevertheless, produced in me a hearty
fit of _ennui_.

I took good care not to express my opinion audibly; and in this respect
acted, for once, with prudence, as I was afterwards informed that this
same long act, or scene, was one of the Prince's own composition.

When the music had concluded, I found myself unawares in the innermost
circles of the court, and would have been willing even to take a hand at
pharo, in order to reconcile myself wholly with the Prince. But, on
entering the room where pharo had been played, I was not a little
surprised to find no preparations for that game. On the contrary, small
parties were seated at ordinary tables, over hands of Boston-whist,
while the rest of the company kept up lively conversation. Even a
regular course of story-telling was introduced. Old bon-mots were
revived, and fresh anecdotes attentively listened to, provided they
were agreeably delivered, even though not intrinsically of much
importance.

Here my old gifts of loquacity and eloquence came opportunely to my aid;
and, under the guise of romantic and poetical legends, I contrived to
narrate many events out of my own life.

Thus I attracted attention and won applause from many listeners. The
Prince, however, liked best whatever was cheerful and humorous; in which
respects, the physician was not to be equalled. He was indeed
inexhaustible.

This kind of pastime was at last carried so far, that individuals were
chosen to read from their own MS. compositions, whatever they considered
best suited for the present society. A kind of regular _esthetical_ club
was thus formed, where the Prince presided, and every one contributed as
he best could. Among the rest, there was a certain professor from the
_gymnasium_, who chose to read a very long paper on some new
discoveries; and precisely in proportion as the few who knew anything
about his science were interested and delighted, the others were
_ennuyés_ and restless. Among this majority was the Prince, who was
evidently rejoiced when the physician very judiciously seized this time
to introduce one of his stories, which, if not very original and witty
in themselves, yet, from the drollery of his manner, were irresistible,
and had at least a _naiveté_ and facility which were highly acceptable,
after the tiresome lecture of the professor.

"Your highness knows," said the physician, turning to the Prince, "that
I never failed, when on my travels, to enter into my memorandum-book,
portraits (in writing I mean) of all the strange characters and odd
adventurers that fell in my way; and from this journal I am now about to
repeat some notices to which I have hitherto not alluded, on account of
their being perhaps too common-place, yet they seem to me not altogether
undiverting.

"On my way home, about a year ago, I came to a large handsome village,
about four German miles from Berlin; and being much fatigued, resolved
to rest there, instead of going on to the capital. The landlord directly
shewed me to a good room, where, after supper, I threw myself into bed,
and directly fell asleep. About one in the morning, however, I was
suddenly awoke by a noise, which, assimilating with a fearful dream
with which I had just then been haunted, I imagined to be either the
shrieking of an owl at the window, or the cries of a person in distress,
for I had dreamed of both.

"It was, however, the sound of a German flute, which proceeded from a
room very near me; but in my whole life, before or since, I have never
heard such an attempt at music. The man must have had monstrous and
gigantic powers of lungs; for in one loud shrill cutting key, he went on
without mercy, so that the character of the instrument was perfectly
annihilated. What added, if possible, to this enormity, was, that he
blew everlastingly the same identical passage over and over, not
granting me the slightest relief, by an endeavour at a tune, so that
nothing could be conceived more abominable.

"I raved at, cursed, and abused this infernal musician, who so cruelly
deprived me of needful rest, and by whom my ears were so barbarously
outraged; but, like a wound-up piece of clock-work, the diabolical flute
continued to utter the same notes over and over, until I thought the
devil himself must be the player, for no one else could have had
physical strength to hold out so long. At last I heard something thrown
with great violence, and a loud crack, against the wainscot; after which
there was dead silence, and I could for the rest of the night sleep in
peace.

"In the morning I heard a great noise of quarrelling and scolding in the
lower floor of the house. In the _row_ I could now and then distinguish
the voice of mine host, who was scarcely allowed, however, to throw in a
word, by a man who roared without ceasing, in broken German--'May your
house be damned! Would that I had never been so unlucky as to cross the
threshold! The devil himself must have brought me hither, where one can
neither drink, eat, nor enjoy himself--where everything is infamously
bad, and dog dear. There, sir, you have your money; and as for your
rascally gin-shop, you shall never more see me again within its walls!'

"Having just then finished my toilet, I was in time to behold the author
of all this disturbance. He was a little, withered man, in a
coffee-brown coat, and a round _fox-red_ wig, on which, with a martial
air of defiance, he stuck a little grey hat; then ran out of the house
towards the stable, from which I soon afterwards saw him re-appear, with
a horse fully as odd-looking as himself, on which he mounted, and, at a
heavy, awkward gallop, rode off the field.

"Of course I supposed he was like myself, an entire stranger, who had
quarrelled with the landlord, and had now taken his final departure. I
dismissed him, therefore, from my thoughts; but, at dinner-time, (having
been induced to remain another day at the village,) how I was surprised,
on taking my place at the _table d'Hote_, to perceive the same absurd
coffee-brown figure, with the fox-red wig, who, without ceremony, drew
in his chair opposite to mine!

"He had one of the ugliest, and most laughable visages that I had ever
beheld. In his whole demeanour, there was a kind of grave and solemn
absurdity that was irresistible. During dinner, I kept up a monosyllabic
dialogue with my host, while the stranger continued to eat voraciously,
and took no notice whatever of any one.

"At last, the innkeeper, with a sly wink at me, led the discourse to
national peculiarities, and asked me, whether I had ever been
acquainted with an Irishman, or knew what was meant by Irish bulls, for
which that country was celebrated? 'Unquestionably,' said I; 'I have
heard many such;' and a whole string of these blunders came at once into
my head. I then told the story of the Irishman, who, when asked why he
wore stockings with the wrong side out, answered, 'Because there was a
hole in the other side;'--of the still better anecdote of another
disciple of St Patrick, who was sleeping in the same bed with a choleric
Scotch Highlander. An English wag, who was lodged in the same room, by
way of a practical joke, took one of the Irishman's spurs, and,
perceiving that he wast fast asleep, buckled it on his heel. Soon after,
the Irishman happening to turn round, tore the Scotchman's legs with his
spur; whereupon the latter, in great wrath, gave his companion a violent
box on the ear, and the Englishman had the satisfaction of hearing
betwixt them the following ingenious discourse:--

"'What devil,' said the Irishman, 'has got possession of you? and why
are you beating me?'--'Because,' said the other, 'you have torn me with
your spurs.'--'How is that possible? I took off my clothes.'--'And yet
it is so--see only here.'--'Damnation!--you are in the right. The
rascally waiter has pulled off my boots, but left on the spurs!'

"The story, however old, was new to the innkeeper, who broke out into
immoderate laughter; but the stranger, who had now wound up his dinner
with a great draught of beer from a glass as high as a church tower,
looked at me gravely, and said--'You have spoken well, sir. The Irishmen
certainly do make these bulls; but this by no means depends on the
character of the people, who are ingenious and witty, but on the cursed
air of that damp country, which infects one with them, as with coughs
and catarrhs. I myself, sir, am an Englishman, though born and bred in
Ireland, and therefore am, on that account, subjected to the vile
propensity of making bulls.'

"Hereupon the innkeeper laughed more and more, and I was obliged to join
him heartily, for it was delightful that the Irishman, gravely lecturing
on bulls, should _unconsciously_ give us one of the very best as a
specimen.

"The stranger seemed not in the least offended by our laughing. 'In
England,' said he, with his finger on his nose, and dilating _his_
eyes--'in England, the Irishmen are like strong spices added to society
to render it tasteful. I am myself, in one respect, like Falstaff; I am
not only witty in myself, but the cause of wit in others, which, in
these times, is no slight accomplishment. Could you suppose it possible,
that in the empty leathern brain of this innkeeper, wit, generated by
me, is now and then roused? But mine host is, in this respect, a prudent
man. He takes care not to draw on the small capital that he possesses of
his own, but lends out a thought now and then at interest, when he finds
himself in the society of the rich!'

"With these words, the little original rose and left us. I immediately
begged the innkeeper to give me something of his history.

"'This Irishman,' said mine host, 'whose name is Ewson, and who, on that
account, will have himself to be an Englishman, has now been here for
the short period of twenty-two years! As a young man, I had just set up
in the world, purchased a lease of this inn, and it happened to be on my
wedding-day when Mr Ewson first arrived among us. He was then a youth,
but wore his fox-red wig, his grey hat, and coffee-brown coat, exactly
as you saw him to-day. He then seemed to be travelling in great haste,
and said that he was on his return to his own country; however, hearing
the band of music which played at my wedding feast, he was so much
delighted with it, that he came into the house and insisted on making
one of the party.

"'Hereupon, though he approved our music, yet he swore that it was only
on board an English war ship that people knew how to dance; and to prove
his assertion, gave us a hornpipe, whistling to it all the while most
horribly through his teeth, fell down, dislocated his ancle, and was, of
course, obliged to remain with us till it was cured.

"'Since that time he has never left my house, though I have had enough
to do with his peculiarities. Every day through these twenty-two years,
he has quarrelled with me. He despises my mode of life, complains that
my bills are over-charged; that he cannot live any longer without
roast-beef and porter; packs up his portmanteau, with his three red wigs
one above the other, mounts an old broken-winded horse, and rides away.

"'This, however, turns out nothing more than a ride for exercise; for at
dinner-time he comes in at the other end of the town, and in due time
makes his appearance at my table, eating as much of the despised dishes
as might serve for any three men!

"'Once every year he receives from his own country a valuable bank-bill.
Then, with an air of the deepest melancholy, he bids me farewell, calls
me his best friend, and sheds tears, which I do also; but with me they
are tears of laughter. After having, by his own account, made his will,
and provided a fortune for my eldest daughter, he rides away slowly and
pensively, so that the first time I believed he certainly was gone for
good and all.

"'His journey, however, is only four German miles, viz. into the
_residenz_, from whence he never fails to return on the third or fourth
day, bringing with him two new coffee-brown coats, six new shirts, three
wigs, all of the same staring and frightful red, a new grey hat, and
other requisites for his wardrobe; finally, to my eldest daughter,
though she is now eighteen, a paper of sugar-plums.

"'He then thinks no more either of residing in the capital, nor of his
homeward journey. His afternoon expenses are paid every night, and his
money for breakfast is thrown angrily at my head every morning.

"'At other times, however, he is the best-tempered man in the world. He
gives presents every holiday to all my children, and in the village has
done much real good among the poor; only, he cannot bear the priest,
because he learned from the schoolmaster that the former had changed a
gold piece that Mr Ewson had put into the box, and given it out in
copper pennies! Since that time, he avoids him on all occasions, and
never goes to church, and the priest calls him an atheist.

"'As before said, however, I have often trouble enough with his temper.
On coming home just yesterday, I heard a great noise in the house, and a
voice in furious wrath, which I knew to be Ewson's. Accordingly I found
him in vehement altercation with the house-maid. He had, as usual with
him, thrown away his wig, and was standing bald-pated in his
shirt-sleeves before her, and holding a great book under her nose,
wherein he obstinately pointed at something with his finger. The maid
stuck her hands in her sides, told him he might get somebody else to
play his tricks upon, that he was a bad wicked man, who believed in
nothing, etc. etc. etc.

"'With considerable difficulty I succeeded in parting the disputants,
and bringing the matter under arbitration. Mr Ewson had desired the maid
to bring him a wafer to seal a letter. The girl never having written or
sealed a letter in her life, at first did not in the least understand
him. At last it occurred to her that the wafers he spoke of were those
used at mass, and thought Mr E. wanted to mock at religion, because the
priest had said he was an atheist. She therefore refused to obey him.
Hereupon he had recourse to the dictionary, and at last got into such a
rage, that he spoke nothing but English, which she imagined was
gibberish of the devil's own inspiration. Only my coming in prevented a
personal encounter, in which probably Mr Ewson would have come off with
the worst.'

"I here interrupted mine host with the question, 'Whether it was Mr
Ewson also who tormented me so much in the night with his
flute-playing?' 'Alas! sir,' said he, 'that is another of his
eccentricities, by which he frightens away all my night-lodgers. Three
years ago one of my sons came on a visit here from the _residenz_. He
plays well on the flute, and practises a good deal. Then, by evil
chance, it occurred to Mr Ewson that he had also in former days learned
to blow the flute, and never gave over till he prevailed on my son to
sell him his instrument for a good round sum, and also a difficult
concerto which he had brought with him from town.

"'Thereafter Mr Ewson, who has not the slightest pretensions to a
musical ear, began with furious zeal to blow at this concerto. He came,
however, only to the second solo of the first allegro. There he met with
a passage which he could by no possible means bring out; and this one
passage he has now blown at, through these three years, about a hundred
times per day, till at last, in the utmost rage, he throws his flute and
wig together against the wall.

"'As few instruments can long hold out against such treatment, he
therefore frequently gets a new one, and has indeed three or four in use
at the same time. If any of them exhibits the smallest flaw in one of
the keys or joinings, then, with a 'God d--n me, it is only in England
that musical instruments can be made!' he throws it out of the window.

"'What is worst of all, however, is, that this passion for blowing the
flute of his, seizes him in the night, and he then never fails to diddle
all my guests out of their first sleep.

"'Could you believe it, however, that there is in our town another
foreigner, an Englishman, by name Doctor Green, who has been in the
house of the _Amtmann_ about as long as Mr Ewson has lived with me, and
that the one is just as absurd an original as the other? These two are
constantly quarrelling, and yet without each other could not live. It
has just now occurred to me that Mr Ewson has, for this evening, ordered
a bowl of punch at my house, to which he has invited Doctor Green. If,
sir, you choose to stay here till to-morrow, you will see the most
absurd trio that this whole world could afford.'



CHAPTER XXVIII.


"Your highness will readily conclude," continued the physician, "that I
was very willing on this account to delay my journey, as I had thereby
an opportunity of seeing Mr Ewson in his glory. As soon as the morning
drew on, he came into my room, and was so good as to invite me to his
bowl of punch, although he regretted that he could only give me that
contemptible drink which, in this country, bore the honoured name of a
far different liquor. It was only in England where good punch could be
drunk, and if ever I came to see him in his own country, he would
convince me that he knew how to prepare, in its best fashion, that
divine panacea.

"Not long afterwards, the two other guests whom he had invited, made
their appearance. The _Amtmann_ was, like Ewson, a little figure, but
round as a ball, happy and contented, with a red snub nose, and large
sparkling eyes. Dr Green, on the contrary, was a tall, powerful, and
middle-aged man, with a countenance strikingly national, carelessly, yet
fashionably dressed, spectacles on his nose, and a round white hat on
his head.

"'Give me sack, that mine eyes may be red,' cried this hero, (marching
up to the innkeeper, whom he seized by the breast, shaking him
heartily,) 'Speak, thou rascally Cambyses, where are the princesses?
There is here a base odour of coffee and Bremen cigars, but no
fumigation yet floats on the air from the ambrosial drink of the gods.'

"'Have mercy, oh champion! Away with thy hands--relax thy potent grasp,'
answered the host, coughing; 'otherwise, in thine ire, thou might'st
crush my ribs like an eggshell."

"'Not till thy duties are fulfilled,' replied Dr Green; 'not before the
sweet vapour of punch, ambrosial punch, delights our nostrils. Why are
thy functions thus delayed? Not till then shall I let thee go, thou most
unrighteous host!'

"Now, however, Ewson darted out ferociously against the Doctor, crying,
'Green, thou brute, thou rascal!--Green shalt thou be, beneath the
eyes,--nay, thou shalt be green and yellow with grief, if thou dost not
immediately desist from thy shameful deeds.'

"Accordingly, I expected a violent quarrel, and prepared myself for
departure; but I was for once mistaken. 'In contempt, then, of his
cowardly impotence, I shall desist,' said the Doctor, 'and wait
patiently for the divine drink which thou, Ewson, shalt prepare for us.'

"With these words he let go the innkeeper, (who instantly ran out of the
room,) seated himself, with the demeanour of a Cato, at the table,
lighted his pipe, which was ready filled, and blew out great volumes of
smoke.

"'Is not all this as if one were at the play?' said the good-humoured
_Amtmann_, addressing himself to me. 'The Doctor, who generally never
reads a German book, borrowed from us a volume of Schlegel's
Shakespeare, and since that time he has, according to his own
expression, never ceased playing old well-known tunes upon a strange
instrument. You must have observed, that even the innkeeper speaks in
measured verse, the Doctor having drilled him for that purpose.'

"He was interrupted by the appearance of the landlord with his
punch-bowl, ready filled with liquor, smoking hot; and although Green
and Ewson both swore that it was scarcely drinkable, yet they did not
fail to swallow glass after glass with the greatest expedition.

"We kept up a tolerable conversation. Green, however, remained very
silent, only now and then falling in with most comical contradictions of
what other people had said. Thus, for example, the _Amtmann_ spoke of
the theatre at Berlin, and I assured him that the tragedy hero played
admirably. 'That I cannot admit,' said Dr Green. 'Do you not think if
the actor had performed six times better, that he might have been
tolerable?' Of necessity I could not but answer in the affirmative, but
was of opinion, that to play six times better would cost him a deal of
unnecessary trouble, as he had already played the part of Lear (in which
I had already seen him) most movingly. 'This,' said Green, 'quite passes
the bounds of my perceptions. The man, indeed, gives us all that he has
to give. Can he help it, if he is by nature and destiny inclined to be
stupid? However, in his own way, he has brought the art to tolerable
perfection; therefore one must bear with him.'

"The _Amtmann_ sat between the two originals, exerting his own
particular talent, which was, like that of a demon, to excite them to
all sorts of folly; and thus the night wore on, till the powerful
ambrosia began to operate.

"At last Ewson became extravagantly merry. With a hoarse, croaking
voice, he sung divers national songs, of which I did not understand a
word; but if the words were like the music, they must have been every
way detestable. Moreover, he threw his periwig and coat through the
window into the court, and began to dance a hornpipe, with such
unutterable grimaces, and in a style so supernaturally grotesque, that I
had almost split my sides with laughing.

"The Doctor, meanwhile, remained obstinately solemn, but it was obvious
that the strangest visions were passing through his brain. He looked
upon the punch-bowl as a bass fiddle, and would not give over playing
upon it with the spoon, to accompany Ewson's songs, though the innkeeper
earnestly entreated of him to desist.

"As for the _Amtmann_, he had always become more and more quiet; at last
he tottered away into a corner of the room, where he took a chair, and
began to weep bitterly. I understood a signal of the innkeeper, and
inquired of this dignitary the cause of his deep sorrow. 'Alas! alas!'
said he, 'the Prince Eugene was a great, very great general, and yet
even he, that heroic prince, was under the necessity to die!' Thereupon
he wept more vehemently, so that the tears ran down his cheeks.

"I endeavoured as well as I could to console him for the loss of this
brave hero of the last century, but in vain.

"Dr Green, meanwhile, had seized a great pair of snuffers, and with all
his might drove and laboured with them towards the open window. He had
nothing less in view than to clip the moon, which he had mistaken for a
candle.

"Ewson, meanwhile, danced and yelled as if he were possessed by a
thousand devils, till at last the under-waiter came, with a great
lantern, notwithstanding the clear moonlight shone into the apartment,
and cried out, 'Here I am, gentlemen. Now you can march.'

"The Doctor arose, lighted his pipe, (which he had laid aside while the
enjoyments of the punch-bowl lasted,) and now placed himself right
opposite to the waiter, blowing great clouds into his face.

"'Welcome, friend,' cried he; 'Art thou Peter Quince, who bearest about
moonshine, and dog, and thorn-bush? 'Tis I that have trimmed your light
for you, you lubber, and therefore you shine so brightly!

"'Good night then! Much have I quaffed of the contemptible juice here
denominated ambrosial punch. Good night, mine honest host--Good night,
mine Pylades!'

"Ewson swore that he would instantly break the head of any one who
should offer to go home, but no one heeded him. On the contrary, the
waiter took the Doctor under one arm, and the _Amtmann_, still weeping
for Prince Eugene, under the other; and thus they reeled along through
the streets, towards the _Amthaus_.

"With considerable difficulty, we carried the delirious Ewson to his own
room, where he raged and blew for half the night on his flute, so that I
could not possibly obtain any rest; nor did I recover from the
influences of the mad evening, until I found myself once more in my
travelling carriage."

The physician's story was (more, perhaps, from the _naive_ quaintness of
his delivery, than the _materiel_ of his narrative,) interrupted
frequently by peals of laughter, louder and longer than are usually to
be heard in a court circle. The Prince himself appeared particularly
delighted.

"There is only one figure," said his highness, "which, in the punch-bowl
scene, you have kept too much in the back-ground, and that is your
own--for I am fully persuaded, that you must have been the means of
leading the Doctor and Ewson to a thousand extravagancies, and that you
were, in truth, the exciting principle of mischief, for which you would
have us take the poor devil of an _Amtmann_."

"I assure your highness," said the Doctor, "that the club was, on the
contrary, so rounded and complete in itself, that every addition would
have been both discordant and superfluous. The three originals were
tuned up, and adapted, one to the other, each on his proper key, so as
to produce a most perfect trio. The host added thereto what we musicians
call a _septime_."

In this manner the conversations and the readings were kept up till the
hour when the Prince's family retired to their private apartments,
after which the numerous assembly all separated in the greatest good
humour.

       *       *       *       *       *

I now found myself, day after day, moving happily and cheerfully in a
world entirely new. But the more that I learned to accommodate myself to
the quiet pleasant mode of life in the town, and at the court, the less
I thought of the past, or troubled myself with reflections that my
situation here was held by a very frail tenure. A place was gradually
opened for me, which I could hold with honour and credit. The Prince
seemed to take particular pleasure in my society, and from various
hints, I could very easily perceive that he thought of retaining me
permanently at his court.

It was not to be denied, that to many individuals the restraint imposed
by the constant presence of the sovereign, and the necessity of
accommodating one's pursuits and opinions to those which prevailed at
court, might have been very disagreeable. But here I possessed the
peculiar advantage of having been already accustomed to the formal
restrained life of the convent; so that I suffered less than any other
stranger would have done.

One circumstance, however, was exceedingly irksome to me. I perceived
that, although the Prince always distinguished me by the most
unequivocal tokens of his favour, yet the Princess invariably remained,
in her manner towards me, cold, haughty, and reserved. Nay, my presence
seemed often to disquiet her in an extraordinary degree, and it seemed
to cost her a great effort to bestow on me now and then, for form's
sake, a few words of ordinary politeness.

With the ladies, however, by whom she was surrounded, I had better
fortune. My appearance seemed to have made on them a favourable
impression; and as I was often with them, I succeeded at last in
acquiring the arts of gallantry, that is to say, of accommodating myself
to the notions of the ladies, whoever they were, among whom I happened
to be thrown, and of talking on subjects, in themselves trifling and
contemptible, as if they were of some importance.

Is not this oftentimes a key to the female heart? It is not difficult to
possess one's self of the ideas that usually prevail there, and if
these ideas, commonly not very deep nor sublime, are repeated and
embellished by the eloquence of a handsome lover, is not this far better
than downright flattery? It sounds, indeed, to female ears, like a hymn
of self-adoration. The beauty, hearing her own slender ideas thus
improved, is as delighted as if she beheld herself (dressed with
elegance and splendour) in a mirror.

I was satisfied that my transformation was complete. Who could now have
recognised in me the monk Medardus? The only dangerous place for me now
was the church, where I could scarcely avoid mechanically betraying the
force of old habits.

Among the constant hangers-on of the court, the physician was almost the
only one, except myself, who seemed to have any decided character of his
own. He was, therefore, partial to me, and approved highly the boldness
of my expressions, by which I had strangely succeeded in banishing from
the Prince's parties, the pleasures of the pharo-table.

It thus happened that we were often together, and spoke now of
literature and the arts--now of the goings on of those that were around
us. For the Princess, the physician had, like myself, a high veneration;
and assured me, that it was only through her influence that the Prince
was restrained from many other follies. It was this only that could
charm away that kind of restless _ennui_ by which he was tormented; and
it seemed often as if she were obliged to treat him as a child, and put
into his hands some harmless plaything.

I did not lose this opportunity of lamenting that I seemed to be out of
favour with the Princess, without being able to explain to myself any
cause for it.

The Doctor immediately rose, and, as we happened to be in his room,
brought a small miniature picture from his writing-desk, desiring me to
examine it with great care. I did so--but how was I confounded when I
perceived that the features of the male figure whom it represented were
precisely my own! It was only the old fashion of hair-dressing and of
garb in the portrait, and the luxuriant whiskers (Belcampo's
chef-d'oeuvre) on my part, that presented any difference.

Without hesitation I imparted my astonishment to the physician. "Well,
sir," said he, "it is neither more nor less than this resemblance which
now terrifies and disquiets the Princess as often as you come into her
presence; for your appearance never fails to bring to her mind the
recollection of a tremendous adventure, which formerly happened at this
court, and which I knew not whether I ought to relate.

"My precursor in the duties of physician, who has been some years dead,
and of whom I was a pupil, entrusted me with the particulars of that
event, and at the same time gave me this picture, which represents a
former favourite in the Prince's family, known here by the name of
Francesco. You perceive, by the way, that the miniature itself is a
masterpiece of art.

"It is one of the numerous works of that celebrated foreign painter who
was then at our court, and became a principal actor in the tragedy to
which I have alluded."

On contemplating the picture, my mind was overpowered by confused and
stupifying apprehensions, which I vainly endeavoured to arrange into
some definite shape. This only was certain, that some mystery, in which
I was myself involved, would now be cleared up; and I entreated the
physician to wave his scruples, and acquaint me with the adventure to
which he had alluded, as it probably might account to me for the
extraordinary likeness between my features and those of Francesco.

"Truly," said the physician, "I cannot wonder at your curiosity being
thus awakened; and though I speak very unwillingly of these
circumstances, on which, to this day, there lies a veil of mystery which
I have never been able to lift up, yet you shall now hear all that I
know of the matter. Many years have now passed since that occurrence,
and the principal actors have retired altogether from the stage; yet the
mere recollection of them is here so hazardous, that I must beg of you
not to repeat to any one what I may now communicate."

Of course I promised secrecy, and the physician went on as follows:--

"It happened just at the time of our Prince's marriage, that his brother
the Duke of Neuenburg returned from his travels in the society of a man
whom he called Francesco, though it was known that he was not an
Italian, but by birth a German. They brought with him also a painter,
said to have acquired, as an artist, the highest celebrity.

"The Duke of Neuenburg was one of the handsomest men that have ever
lived; and, on this account alone, would have outshone our sovereign,
even if he had not also excelled him both in vivacity and energy of
mind.

"On the young and newly-married Princess, therefore, who was then very
lively, and for whose disposition her consort was not very well suited,
the Duke made an extraordinary impression. Without the slightest shade
of criminal intentions, of any premeditated crime, the parties were
gradually and almost unconsciously involved in an attachment, at first
more distinguishable to by-standers than to themselves, and from which
they would, on _timely_ reflection, have fled with terror.

"It was the stranger Francesco alone, who, both in talents and in
personal beauty, could be compared to the Duke; and as the Duke
interested our reigning Princess, so Francesco completely acquired the
affections of her elder sister, who was then an inmate of our court.

"Francesco soon became aware of his good fortune, and did not fail to
lay the craftiest plans for profiting by the advantages then put within
his power. Meanwhile, although our sovereign was perfectly convinced of
his wife's virtue, yet the overstrained attentions of his brother, and
the satisfaction with which they were received, gave him considerable
vexation, and Francesco alone, who was become a great favourite, was
able at certain times to keep him in good humour. On this man he wished
to confer some distinguished situation; but the foreigner was contented
with the advantages derived from the system of favouritism, and the
affection of the Princess's unmarried sister.

"Such was the situation of affairs for some time. No particular event
occurred to disturb the family; but it was easy to perceive that some
among them were in no enviable state of mind. At this very juncture, by
the invitation probably of the Duke, there appeared with great splendour
at our court a certain Italian Countess, to whom, it was said, that, in
the course of his travels, he had at one time been greatly attached, and
who had even been spoken of as his betrothed bride.

"Be this as it may, she is said to have been wonderfully beautiful, to
have concentrated in her person and manners the very _belle ideal_ of
grace and elegance. Indeed these attributes speak for themselves in her
portrait, which you may see in the gallery. Her presence at first
greatly enlivened the court, where a kind of languor had begun to
predominate. She outshone every lady, even the Royal Princesses not
excepted.

"Francesco, however, after the arrival of this Italian beauty, became
most unfavourably changed. It seemed as if he were preyed upon by some
inward grief, which wore away the fresh bloom that had been formerly on
his features. Moreover, he became peevish, reserved, and melancholy. He
neglected even the society of his noble mistress, to whom he had before
shewn such obsequious attention.

"After some time, too, the Duke became morose and meditative, seemingly
carried away by some new passion, which he was unable to resist. But,
above all, it was on Francesco's mistress, the unmarried Princess, that
the strange lady's arrival had the most painful influence. Being
naturally inclined to enthusiasm, and to feel in extremes, it seemed to
her, that with the loss of Francesco's love, all the hopes and joys of
this life were, for her, withered for ever.

"Amid these dark clouds of disappointment and melancholy, by which all
were more or less affected, the Duke was the first to recover an outward
show of cheerfulness. That his attentions formerly to the reigning
Princess had been perfectly innocent, there can be no doubt; but these
were now changed for a vehement revival of his old attachment to the
Italian Countess, so that he lay once more under the same fetters,
which, but a short time before he came hither, he had successfully
broken!

"The more that the Duke gave himself to this passion, the more
remarkable for gloom and discontent was the behaviour of Francesco, who
now scarcely ever made his appearance at court, but wandered about
through the country alone, and was often for weeks together absent from
the _residenz_.

"On the other hand, the painter, who, as I have mentioned before, had
also accompanied the Duke from Italy, and who at first had been so shy
and reserved, that he was almost invisible, now made his appearance very
frequently in society, and laboured with great success and industry in
a large room, which the Italian Countess had fitted up for him in her
house, and where he took many portraits of her and of others, with
matchless fidelity and strength of expression.

"To the reigning Princess, meanwhile, he seemed to cherish a decided
aversion. He absolutely refused to paint her portrait, while, at the
same time, of her unmarried sister he took a most perfect likeness,
without her having allowed him a single sitting. Many other strange
stories are told of this painter's capricious and unaccountable conduct,
which I do not think it necessary to detail. Suffice it to say, that
though for the most part employed sedulously in his own profession, he
seemed to be utterly careless of what others said or thought of his
productions. One day, however, when the Duke had made some remarks which
did not suit with the stranger's particular humour, an irreconcilable
and violent quarrel took place betwixt them; and the artist only
requested, that, before retiring from the court, he might be allowed to
bestow some finishing touches on a favourite picture of the Italian
lady, which he was then painting for his patron. This being agreed to,
by two or three masterly strokes of his pencil, he converted in a few
seconds the countenance which had been so beautiful, into the most
hideous monster of deformity, on which no one could bear to look. Then,
with the words, 'Now art thou for ever lost,' he slowly and solemnly
left the apartment.

"This happened when the Italian Princess was already become the
betrothed bride of the Duke, and the marriage was appointed to take
place in a few days. As to the painter's strange conduct, less notice
was taken of it, as he was, by prevalent report, liable frequently to
madness. He returned, as it was said, to his own small and confined
apartments, where he sat staring at a great piece of stretched canvass,
without, as the by-standers believed, making any progress, though he
himself said that he was engaged on magnificent works. So he completely
forgot his attendance at court, and was himself forgotten.

"The marriage of the Duke with the Italian lady, was solemnly celebrated
in the palace. The reigning Princess had, of course, accommodated
herself to circumstances, and if she really loved her brother-in-law,
had renounced a passion which was without legitimate object, and which
never could have been gratified.

"Her unmarried sister once more seemed in high spirits, for her lover,
Francesco, now re-appeared at court, more blooming and joyous than ever.

"The Duke, with his consent, was to inhabit a wing of the palace, which
our Sovereign had ordered to be prepared for them. The Prince was,
indeed, at that time, quite in his element. He was never visible,
without a crowd of architects, painters, and upholsterers around him,
turning over great books, and spreading out on the table plans,
sketches, and outlines, which he partly devised himself; and which,
among them all, turned out sufficiently incommodious and absurd.

"Neither the Duke nor his bride was allowed to see any of these
arrangements, till on the eve of their marriage-day, when they were led
by the Prince, in a long solemn procession, into the rooms, which were
really decorated with great splendour; and on the evening of that day,
the festivities were concluded by a ball, given in the great banquet
_salle_, which was made to resemble a blooming garden.

"The nuptials were regularly solemnized on the following day; and all
was conducted as usual on such occasions; till about midnight, when,
from the Duke's wing of the house, there was heard a strange
disturbance, of which the noise became always louder and louder, till it
reached our Sovereign's ears, who, in great alarm, started from his bed.

"Having dressed himself hastily, and attended by his guards, he reached
the distant corridor of his brother's apartments, just as the servants
were lifting up the dead body of the Duke, who had been found murdered,
and lying at the door of the bridal chamber!

"I make the narrative as short as possible. It is easier to conceive
than describe the horror of the sovereign, the affliction of his
consort, and the whole court.

"Of course, the first inquiries of the Prince were, how and by whom the
murder had been committed? Watches were placed in all the corridors.
How, therefore, was it possible, that an assassin could have got
admittance, or how could he escape if he had once got in? All the
private passages were searched, but in vain!

"The page who usually waited on the Duke, related that he had assisted
his master to undress, who was for a long while agitated by fearful and
undefinable apprehensions, and had walked up and down, greatly
disquieted, in his dressing-room, then, carrying a large wax candle, he
had accompanied him to the anti-room of the bridal chamber. The Duke had
there taken the light out of his hand, and sent him away.

"Scarcely was he out of the anti-room, when he heard a hollow stifled
cry, the noise of a heavy fall, and the rattling of the overthrown
candlestick. He then ran directly back, and, by the gleam of a lamp,
which still burned, beheld the Duke stretched, dying or dead, before the
door of the bridal chamber, and near him he saw lying a small bloody
stiletto. Thereupon he directly gave the alarm.

"On the other hand, the Italian Duchess gave a totally different, and
quite inexplicable account. She said, that directly after her maids had
left her, the Duke had hastily come into her room without a light, and
had directly put out the other lights, so that the apartment was left in
darkness. He had remained with her a good half-hour, and had then risen
and departed. According to her statement, it must have been only a few
minutes after this that the murder was perpetrated.

"In short, people wore themselves out with conjectures as to who could
have been the murderer, while not a single trace of him was to be
obtained. But at this juncture, there stepped forward a certain
waiting-maid of the Princess's unmarried sister, who had been
accidentally and privately a witness of the scene between the Duke and
the painter, when the portrait was destroyed. After hearing her opinion
and evidence, no one doubted that the painter was the man who had found
his way secretly into the palace, and become the murderer.

"Orders were of course given to arrest this man; but ere the
waiting-maid's evidence was given, he had found time to escape, and not
the slightest tidings of him were to be found.



CHAPTER XXIX.


"After this horrible tragedy," continued the physician, "the court
remained sunk in the profoundest melancholy, which was shared by all the
inhabitants of the town; and it was only Francesco, (whose attachment
continued unabated to the unmarried Princess,) who still seemed
cheerful, and, by sympathy, spread a gleam of satisfaction through the
otherwise melancholy circles.

"I have stated only such facts as I can vouch for on my own knowledge.
As to the conjectures and rumours that were now abroad, they were, of
course, many and various, and, especially, a strange story was told of
some individual, who, on the marriage night, had played, in the dark,
the part of the bridegroom.

"Be that as it may, the Italian Countess afterwards retired to a distant
castle belonging to our Prince; and as to her mode of life there, it
was kept entirely secret, all that was made known being that her
extreme grief had disgusted her with the world.

"Notwithstanding the influence of this horrible misfortune, Francesco's
intercourse with the sister of our reigning Princess became always more
and more intimate, and the friendship of this Sovereign towards him more
publicly confirmed. The mystery, whatever it was, that hung over this
man's birth and fortunes, had now been fully explained to him; and at
last, after many consultations and entreaties, he agreed to a private
marriage between Francesco and his sister-in-law. The former was to be
raised to a high rank in the army, under another government, where our
Prince had influence; and not till that event took place, was his
marriage to be made public.

"The day of the solemnization arrived. The Prince and Princess, with two
other confidential witnesses, of whom my predecessor was one, were the
only persons present at this occasion. One page, who was also in the
secret, kept watch at the chapel-door.

"The couple were kneeling before the altar. The Prince's confessor, a
venerable old man, after an appropriate prayer and lecture, began the
ceremony, when, to the astonishment of every one, Francesco grew
suddenly pale as marble, staring at some object which as yet none but
himself beheld. 'What would'st thou have?' cried he, in a deep hollow
voice, and letting go his bride's hand.

"Following the direction of his looks, they now observed, leaning
against a pillar of the church, in his Italian dress, with a dark
violet-coloured mantle drawn closely round him--the painter! He
continued to fix his dark glaring eyes on Francesco, who seemed
transfixed with some inexplicable apprehension.

"The Princess nearly fainted, and every one but the priest was too much
astonished to speak--'Why should the figure of this man affright you?'
said he, to Francesco. 'It is true that his presence here was
unexpected; but if your own conscience is at rest, wherefore should you
tremble before him?'

"Then Francesco, who had till now kept this kneeling posture at the
altar, started up, and, with a small stiletto in his hand, rushed
towards the painter. But before he reached him, he himself fell, with a
frightful cry, to the ground, and in the same moment the painter
vanished behind the pillar.

"The marriage ceremony, of course, was thought of no more. All started
up as from a dream, and ran to the help of Francesco, who had fainted,
and lay on the ground as if dead. To avoid risk of publicity, the two
witnesses, with the page's help, carried him into the Prince's
apartments. When he recovered from his faint, he demanded vehemently
that he should be conveyed to his own lodgings, and left there alone. To
the Prince's questions as to his strange conduct in the church, he would
make no answer whatever.

"On the following morning, Francesco had fled from the _residenz_,
taking with him all the valuables which the favour of the late Duke, and
of our Sovereign, had bestowed upon him. The latter used every possible
means to unravel these mysteries, and, above all, to explain the ghostly
apparition of the painter. The chapel had only two entrances, of which
one led from the rooms of the palace to the seats near the high altar;
the other, from the great corridor into the aisle of the chapel. This
last entrance had been watched by the page, in order that no prying
observer should gain admittance. The other had been carefully closed, so
that it remained inexplicable both how the painter appeared in, and
vanished from, the chapel.

"Another circumstance very remarkable was noticed by the page. This
person had been the confidential attendant of the late Duke, and he
declared himself convinced, that the stiletto which Francesco had
continued to grasp convulsively during his faint, was the same which he
had seen lying by the body of his master on that fatal evening, and
which had soon afterwards been unaccountably lost.

"Not long after Francesco's flight, news came of the Italian Duchess. On
the very day when the former should have been married, she had been
delivered of a son, and soon after her accouchement had died. The Prince
deplored her untimely fate, though the circumstances of the bridal-night
had weighed so heavily on her, that her future life must, of necessity,
have been unhappy. Nor were there wanting individuals malicious enough
to raise against her evil rumours and suspicions. Her son never appeared
here, but was educated in distant countries, under the Italian title of
Count Victorin.

"The Princess--I mean the sister-in-law of our Sovereign--being reduced
to utter despair by these horrid events following like links of a chain
so closely on one another, determined on devoting the rest of her life
to the cloister. She is, as you already know, Abbess of the Cistertian
Convent at Kreuzberg.

"But, between these adventures which happened in our court, there has
lately been traced a wonderful, and almost supernatural coincidence,
with others which occurred very lately at the castle of the Baron von
F----, in the Thuringian mountains, and by which his house was thrown
precisely into the same state of distraction and misery under which ours
had suffered. You must know that the Abbess, who had been moved with the
distress of a poor woman with a child in her arms, who came to her from
a pilgrimage to the Convent of the Lime-Tree"--

Here the entrance of a visitor put an end to the physician's narrative;
and hastily taking my leave, I succeeded tolerably well in concealing
the tempest of emotions which now raged within me.

Scarcely a doubt remained on my mind that Francesco had been my father.
He had murdered the Duke with the identical stiletto with which, in
self-defence, I had afterwards killed Hermogen! Here, then, was the
origin of that hereditary guilt, of which the darkening clouds hung like
a curse upon my existence, and which it should have been my earnest
endeavour to expiate, by a life of voluntary suffering, of penance, and
exemplary piety.

Hence, therefore, I resolved instantly to follow the Prior's
injunctions, and betake myself to Italy; thus breaking out at once from
that dangerous circle into which I had been seduced by the malicious
powers of darkness.

On that very evening, however, I had been engaged to a party at court,
and went accordingly. The assembly was as numerous and varied as that
which I have described on a former occasion; but, through them all,
there prevailed _one only_ subject of conversation, viz. the
extraordinary beauty of a young lady who had arrived only the day
preceding at our court, and had been appointed one of the maids of
honour to the Princess.

At last the folding-doors were thrown open, the Princess, as usual,
stepped in, but not with her usual attendant. The stranger was with her,
and in that stranger I recognized at once--AURELIA!!


END OF VOLUME FIRST.





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