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Title: The Devil's Elixir - Vol. II (of 2)
Author: Hoffmann, E. T. A. (Ernst Theodor Amadeus), 1776-1822
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Devil's Elixir - Vol. II (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. II

    WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH:
    AND T. CADELL, LONDON.
    1829.



THE DEVIL'S ELIXIR.



CHAPTER I.


Who is there, over the wide world, who has not, at one period or
another, in a more or less degree, felt the mysterious influences of
love?--Whoever thou art, then, courteous reader, who shalt, after the
lapse of years, turn over these papers, recall, I beseech you, to
recollection that noontide interval of dazzling brightness--contemplate
once more that beautiful image, which came, like an impersonization of
the abstract spirit of love, from divine regions, to meet you.

At that time, it was through her,--through her alone, that thou
seemed'st assured of thine own existence! Canst thou not yet remember,
how the rushing streams, the waving trees, and the balmy winds of
evening, spoke to thee, in articulate and intelligible accents, of her,
and of the prevailing passion which possessed thy whole heart and
soul?--Canst thou yet behold how the flowers unfolded their bright
beaming eyes, bearing to thine from her kisses and salutation?

Yet, suppose that she herself had actually come--that she vowed to be
thine, and thine only--to live for thee alone--then didst thou fold her
in thy embraces, and it seemed as if Heaven opened its eternal realms to
receive you--as if thou could'st raise thyself with her above all the
petty sorrows or enjoyments of this every-day and earthly sphere. Yet
scarcely hadst thou formed such hopes ere she was lost! The bland
illusion was broken. No longer could'st thou hear the music of her
celestial voice; and only the sorrowful complaints of the despairing and
forsaken lover sounded amid the desolate loneliness!

If then, reader, to me unknown!--if thou hast ever been persecuted by
such a destiny, join, then, and sympathize with the grief of the
penitent monk, who, recollecting still the sunny gleams of his youthful
attachment, weeps on his hard couch, and whose fearful groans
reverberate, in the stillness of night, through the gloomy aisles of the
convent!--But thou, too, in spirit to me related, doubtless wilt concur
in my belief, that it is not till _after death_, that the mysterious
gifts and enjoyments of this passion can be obtained and fulfilled! This
truth is, indeed, announced to us by many a hollow prophesying voice,
which rises on our ears from the immeasurable depths of eternity; and as
in those rites, celebrated by our earliest ancestors, (the children of
nature,) death appears also to us the high festival of love!

I have said before, that my leading object in these pages was rapid,
concise narrative, without any attempt at description. But of my
emotions on meeting Aurelia, that evening, in the palace, no words
could, however skilfully laboured, convey any adequate impression. I was
struck as if with a thundershock. My breast heaved--my heart beat
convulsively--and every pulse and vein throbbed almost audibly.

"To _her_!--to _her_!"--It seemed as if an over-powering impulse would
force me to thrust aside the contemptible mob of insipid worldlings--of
every-day flatterers, scarcely possessed of one rational idea, by whom
she was surrounded--to crush, like webs of gossamer, those despicable
barriers, and snatch her to my arms, in all the wild frenzy of
undisguised passion! Methought I could have exclaimed aloud--"What,
unhappy girl, dost thou strive against? With that supernatural power,
which has irresistibly and unalterably chained thee to me?--Am I not thy
fate, and art thou not indeed mine for ever?"

Yet notwithstanding these emotions, I contrived, far better than
formerly, at the Baron's castle, to conceal from the bystanders my
agitation. Besides, the eyes of all were directed to Aurelia; and thus,
in a circle of people, who to my concerns were perfectly indifferent, I
contrived to move about, without being particularly remarked or spoken
to, which to me would have been intolerable, as I could but see, hear,
and think of her alone.

Let no one insist that a truly beautiful girl appears to most advantage
in a homely household dress. On the contrary, the beauty of woman, like
that of flowers in a parterre, is then most attractive and irresistible
when they are arrayed in their fullest pomp and magnificence. Say,
then, oh lover! to whom I have before addressed myself, when thou for
the first time beholdest the empress of thy heart--who had before worn a
simple garb, now attired with splendour and gleaming, the _cynosure_ of
a brilliant party--did not a new and nameless rapture vibrate through
every nerve and vein? She would appear to you indeed so strange! but
this, joined to the knowledge that she was in reality _the same_,
heightened the charms by which thy soul was wholly subjected. What
unspeakable pleasure, if thou could'st, by stealth, seize and press her
hand in the crowd, and say to thyself, she, who is here the magnet of
all eyes, is mine by indissoluble bonds, and lives for me alone!

Thus I beheld Aurelia on that evening dressed with becoming splendour
for her first introduction at court. Then the spirit of evil once more
became powerful within me, and lifted up his internal voice, to which I
now bent a willing ear--"Seest thou not now, Medardus," it began, "how
thou triumph'st over all the conditional laws and limitations of this
life--how Destiny now submits herself to thy will, and only knots more
firmly the threads which thou thyself hadst spun?"

There were many other women at court who might well have passed for
beautiful, but before the dazzling charms of Aurelia, they faded away
into utter insignificance. A kind of inspiration now seemed to take
possession of the most insipid and common-place characters. Even the old
courtiers gave up their usual strain of unmeaning talk, and visibly
exerted themselves, in order to appear to the best advantage in the eyes
of the beautiful stranger.

Aurelia received all this homage with looks fixed on the ground, and
with deep blushes; but now, when the Prince assembled the elder
courtiers about himself, and many a handsome youth timidly and
respectfully drew near her, she began, by degrees, to lose her
embarrassment, and to seem more cheerful.

There was, in particular, a certain Major of the _garde d'honneur_, who
succeeded in attracting a good deal of her attention, so that she at
last appeared occupied with him in lively discourse. I knew this Major
to be a decided favourite of the female sex; with a fine ear, he could
catch even the very tone, sentiment, and voice of the person whom he
addressed, so that the deceived listener seemed to hear a miraculous
anticipation of her own thoughts--a chord struck in perfect unison. I
now stood not far from Aurelia, who appeared to take no notice of me.
Many times I was on the point of going up to her, but, as if bound by
iron fetters, I could not move from the spot on which I stood. The
bitterness of envy and jealousy possessed my heart. At last, as I
steadfastly gazed on Aurelia and her fortunate companion, methought that
the Major's features were changed into those of Victorin!

As if actuated by some demon, I wholly lost all self-possession. In a
convulsed tone of bitter scorn and mockery, I laughed aloud--"Ha, ha,
ha!--Thou _revenant_!--Thou cursed libertine!" cried I, "has thy bed
then, in the devil's abyss, been so downy, that, in frenzied passion,
thou darest aspire to the chosen paramour of the Monk?"

I know not if I actually uttered these words, but I heard myself laugh,
and started up as from a dream, when the old Court-Marshal, taking my
arm, gently inquired, "What makes you so merry, Mr Leonard?" An ice-cold
shuddering passed over my whole frame.

Were not these the identical words of the pious brother Cyrillus, when,
at the time of my investiture, he remarked my sinful laughter?--Scarcely
was I able to utter some incoherent nonsense in reply--I felt conscious
that Aurelia was no longer near to me, but did not venture to look up to
see what had become of her. Instinctively, I resolved to make my escape,
and ran with my utmost speed through the illuminated apartments.
Doubtless, my appearance was in the utmost degree disordered, for I
remarked how every one cleared the way for me as if seized with horror
and affright. At length, I arrived at the outer-door, and leapt headlong
rather than ran down the broad marble staircase.

Henceforward I completely avoided the court; for to see Aurelia again,
without betraying the mystery which it was my interest to conceal,
seemed to me impossible. Abandoned to my own reveries, I ran through the
fields and woods, thinking of her, and beholding her alone. My
conviction always became more certain that some mysterious destiny bound
up her fate indissolubly with mine, and that my pursuit of her, which
had many times appeared to me as an unpardonable crime, was but the
fulfilment of an eternal and unalterable decree.

Thus encouraging myself, I laughed at the danger which now threatened
me, if Aurelia should recognize in me the murderer of Hermogen! Besides,
this appeared to me very improbable; and, meanwhile, the attentions of
those fluttering youths who laboured to win for themselves the good
graces of her who was altogether and exclusively mine, filled me with
the utmost scorn and contempt for their endeavours.

"What," said I, "are to me these Counts, Freyherrs, Chamberlains, and
military officers, in their motley coats bedaubed with lace, and hung
with orders? What are they more than gaudy impertinent insects, which,
if they became troublesome, I could with one blow crush to
annihilation?"

Reflecting on the chapel adventure of the Cistertian Convent, it seemed
to me as if, robed in my capuchin tunic, I could step in among them with
Aurelia, habited like a bride, in my arms, and that this proud and
haughty Princess should be forced even to sanction the marriage, and
prepare the bridal festival for that conquering and triumphant monk,
whom she now so much despised. Labouring with such thoughts, I
frequently pronounced aloud, and unconsciously, the name of Aurelia;
and, as before in the Capuchin Convent, laughed and howled like a
madman!

But, ere long, this tempest was laid, and I began quietly to take
counsel with myself in what manner I was now to act. Thus I was one
morning gliding through the park, considering whether it would be
prudent for me to attend another evening party at court, which had been
announced to me, when some one touched me on the shoulder. It was the
physician.

To my great surprise, after the usual salutations, he looked steadfastly
in my face, took hold of my arm, and requested that I would allow him to
feel my pulse. "What's the meaning of all this?" cried I, with some
impatience.--"Nay," said he, "there is a sort of madness going about
here, that seizes all at once upon honest Christian people, and makes
them utter tremendous noises, though some will have it that the said
noises are nothing more than very immoderate laughter. At the same time,
this may be all a misconception; this devil of madness may be only a
slight fever, with heat in the blood; therefore I beg of you, sir,
allow me to feel your pulse."

"I assure you, sir," said I, "that I am well, and by no means understand
the drift of this discourse." The physician, however, had kept hold of
my arm, and now taking out his watch, counted my pulse with great
precision. His conduct, indeed, puzzled me completely, and I entreated
of him to explain himself.

"Do you not know, then, Mr Leonard," replied he, "that your behaviour
has lately brought the whole court into the utmost confusion and
consternation? Since that time, the lady of the upper Chamberlain has
been almost perpetually in hysterics; and the President of the
Consistorial Court has been obliged to put off hearing the weightiest
causes, because it was your pleasure to tramp with all your might upon
his gouty toes; so that, now confined to his arm-chair, he sits at home
roaring and cursing most notably. This happened when you were running
out of the hall, after you had laughed in such a demoniacal tone without
any perceptible reason, that all were seized with the utmost horror."

At that moment I thought of the Court-Marshal, and said that I indeed
recollected having laughed in that sudden manner, but that my conduct
surely could not have been attended by such consequences, as the Marshal
had only asked me, with great coolness, "Why I was so merry?"

"Nay, nay," answered the physician, "that will not prove much--The
Marshal is such a _homo impavidus_, that the very devil himself could
scarcely put him out of his way--He retained his ordinary placidity of
manner, but the Consistorial President, on the other hand, was
exceedingly disturbed in mind as well as in body, and maintained
seriously, that none but the devil could have laughed in such a
style.--But what is worst of all, our beautiful Aurelia was seized with
such excessive terror, that all the efforts of the family to quiet her
were in vain,--and she was soon obliged to retire, to the utter despair
of the company. At the moment too, when you, Mr Leonard, so charmingly
laughed, the Baroness Aurelia is said to have shrieked out the name,
"Hermogen!" Now what may be the meaning of all this?--You are generally
a pleasant, lively, and prudent man, Mr Leonard, and I cannot regret
having confided to you the story of Francesco, which, if all suggestions
be true, must be to you particularly intelligible and instructive!"

During this discourse, the physician had continued to hold my arm, and
to gaze steadfastly in my face. Tired of this restraint, I disengaged
myself with some roughness--and answered--"I really know not how to
interpret all this discourse of yours, sir; but I must confess, that
when I saw the beautiful Aurelia surrounded by that tribe of conceited
young gentry, a very bitter remembrance from my early life was called up
in my mind; and that, seized with a kind of angry scorn at the behaviour
of such empty-brained coxcombs, I forgot in whose presence I was, and
laughed aloud in a manner that would only have been warrantable when I
was alone. I am truly sorry that I have unintentionally brought about so
much mischief; but I have done penance on that score, having for some
time denied myself the pleasure of being at court. I hope that the
Prince's family and the Baroness Aurelia will excuse me."

"Alas! dear Mr Leonard," said the Doctor, "one is indeed subject to
strange attacks and varieties of mind, which we might yet easily resist,
if we were but pure in heart, and quiet in conscience."

"Who is there," said I vehemently, "on this earthly sphere, that may
boast of being so?"--The physician suddenly changed his looks and tone.
Mildly and seriously he said--"Mr Leonard, you appear to me to be really
and truly sick: your looks are pale and disordered--your eyes are sunk,
and gleam with a strange kind of fire--your pulse, too, is feverish, and
your voice sounds strangely.--Shall I prescribe something for you?"

"Poison!" answered I, in a kind of hollow whisper.--"Ho, ho," said the
physician, "does it stand thus with you?--Nay, nay, instead of poison,
rather the tranquillizing and sedative remedy of pleasant society, and
moderate dissipation. It may, however, be, that"--(hesitating)--"It is
wonderful indeed, but----"

"I must beg of you, sir," said I, now quite angry, "not to torment me in
that manner by your broken hints, but at once to speak out."

"Hold!" answered the Doctor. "Not so fast, Mr Leonard--yonder comes the
Princess--there are in this world the strangest delusions, and for my
part, I feel almost a conviction that people have here built up an
hypothesis which a few minutes' explanation will dissolve into nothing.
Yonder, as I said, comes the Princess with Aurelia.--Do you make use of
this accidental rencontre. Offer your own excuses for your behaviour.
Properly, indeed, your only crime is, that you have laughed--in an
extraordinary tone it is true, and rather inopportunely. But who can
help it, if people with weak nerves have on that occasion chosen to be
so absurdly terrified?--Adieu!"

The physician started away with that vivacity which to him was
peculiar.--The Princess and Aurelia were coming down the walk to meet
me. I trembled; but with my whole strength laboured to regain composure,
for after the mysterious discourse of the physician, I felt that it was
my duty on the instant to defend my character. Resolutely, therefore, I
went forward to meet them; but no sooner had Aurelia fixed her eyes upon
me than she became deadly pale, and to my utter astonishment, with a
suppressed scream, she fell down in a fainting fit, to the ground. I
wished to assist her, but with looks of aversion and horror, the
Princess then motioned me away, at the same time calling loudly for
help!



CHAPTER II.


As if hunted by a thousand devils and furies, I ran away homewards
through the park--I shut myself up in my lodgings, and gnashing my teeth
with rage and despair, threw myself on the bed. Evening came, and then
the dark hours of night, and I still lay there obstinately cherishing my
grief. At last I heard the outer gate of the house open, and many voices
murmuring and whispering confusedly together. Then there was a noise of
heavy steps tottering and clattering up the staircase,--and with three
hollow knocks on my door, I was commanded to rise and open it in the
name of the magistracy. Without clearly comprehending the danger that
awaited me, I yet felt an instinctive conviction that I was now for ever
lost.

To save myself instantly by flight--This was my only thought, and I flew
to the window, tearing open the lattice. This, however, availed me
nothing,--for before the house door, I saw a troop of armed men, one of
whom directly observed me, and at the same moment, the door of my
apartment was burst in--several men immediately stood around me, whom I
recognized for officers of police, and who shewed me an order of the
Justiciary Court for my immediate imprisonment. Any attempt at
resistance would now have been in vain. They led me down stairs, and
placed me in a carriage, which stood there ready to receive me, and
which immediately drove off rapidly, through the streets.

When arrived at the place which seemed that of my destination, after
being led through divers passages and corridors; also up staircases
_that staircases were none_, but seemed (having no steps[1]) to be like
the side of a mountain; I inquired "Where I was?" I received for answer,
"In the prison of the upper castle." In this place, according to
information already received on the arrestment of others, I knew that
dangerous and treasonable criminals were shut up during the time that
their trial was going on, or was in preparation.

[Footnote 1: This is exemplified in the (old) royal palace at Berlin.]

My apartment was comfortless and ghastly enough; but, in a little time,
my bed and some other furniture were brought, and the gaoler asked if I
wanted anything more. To get rid of him, I answered "No;" and at last
was left alone. The receding steps through the long-sounding passages,
with the opening and shutting of many doors, if I had not known it
already, would have sufficiently made me aware that I was in one of the
innermost prisons of the fortress.

It was to myself inconceivable, how, during a pretty long drive, I had
remained quite quiet, nay, under a kind of stunning and stupefaction of
the senses. I beheld all images that passed before me, as if they
existed only in the half-effaced colours of a faded picture. Now, too, I
did not resign myself to sleep, but to a kind of faint or swoon,
paralysing the faculty of clear thought, and yet leaving me awake to the
most horrible and fantastic apprehensions.

When I awoke in the bright light of the morning, I, for the first time,
gradually took counsel with myself, and fully recollected all that had
happened, and whither I had been brought. As to the room wherein I lay,
its inconvenience made less impression on me than it would have done
upon another. The vaulted roof, and want of comfort, only reminded me of
my cell in the Capuchin Convent; and the chamber would scarcely have
appeared to me a prison, if it had not been that the small and only
window was strongly barred with iron, and so high, that I could scarcely
reach it with my upstretched hands, far less look out from it on the
prospect.

Only a narrow sunbeam fell through this high loop-hole; and being
anxious to examine the environs of my prison, I drew my bed to the wall
under it; over this placed my table, and was just in the act of mounting
up, when my gaoler stepped in and seemed very much surprised at my
proceedings. He inquired roughly what I was about there; and on
receiving for answer, that I only wished, for diversion, to look out at
the window, he did not say a word; but, in significant silence, made the
bed, the table, and chair, be taken away: after which, having set down
my breakfast, he again disappeared.

After about an hour, he came back, accompanied by two other men, and
led me through long passages, up stairs and down stairs, till I entered,
at last, into an audience-hall of moderate dimensions, where one of the
supreme judges awaited me. By his side sat a young man as secretary, to
whom he afterwards dictated whatever information he got from me, in
answer to his questions. I had to thank the influence of my former
station at Court, and the respect with which I had long been treated by
all ranks, for the politeness now shewn to me by this judge. However, I
was convinced that it could only be suspicions, founded on Aurelia's
extraordinary conduct, which had led to my arrestment.

The judge's first demand was, that I should give him a clear and concise
account of my former life. Instead of answering directly to this, I
begged to know whether I had not, in the first place, a right to know
the cause of my sudden imprisonment. He told me that I should, in due
time, have information of the crimes with which I was charged; but that,
meanwhile, it was of the utmost importance that he should learn the
exact course of my life up to that day when I first arrived at the
_residenz_; and he must remind me that, as the court possessed ample
means to detect the slightest deviation from truth, I should be watchful
for my own sake, to avoid any attempt at deception.

This admonishment of the judge (a little spare man, with red hair,
staring eyes, and an absurdly croaking voice) was by no means lost upon
me. I recollected that I had already ventured to give the name of my
birth-place, and some account of my life, to one of the court ladies;
and that the story which I had now to weave, must of necessity be such,
as to harmonize with that which I had already promulgated. It was also
requisite to avoid all marvellous and intricate adventures. Moreover, to
lay the scene, as much as possible, in a country so distant, that
inquiries into the reality of my references would be tedious and
difficult. At that moment too, there came into my remembrance, a young
Pole, with whom I had studied in the college at Königswald. I knew the
circumstances of his life, and as the safest method now in my power,
resolved to appropriate them as my own. Thus prepared, I set out as
follows:--

"My arrestment, no doubt, has arisen from the imputation against me of
some heavy crime. For a considerable period, I have lived here under the
eye of the Prince, and all the town's-people, and during that time, have
been guilty of no crime nor misdemeanour; consequently it must be some
stranger lately arrived here who has accused me of a crime formerly
committed; and as my conscience assures me that I am completely free
from any such guilt, I can only account for what has occurred, by
supposing that an unhappy personal resemblance betwixt myself and some
person unknown, has led to the mistake.

"However, it seems to me not a little severe, that on account of
_suppositions_ merely, (for here there can exist nothing more,) I should
be thus thrown into prison, and brought like a criminal for examination.
But why have I not been confronted at once with my rash, and perhaps
malicious accuser? I doubt not that individual will be found at last to
be some wicked impostor, or, at best, some misguided fool, who--"

"Softly--softly, Mr Leonard," croaked the judge. "Correct yourself,
otherwise your words may strike against some high personage; and,
besides, I can assure you, that the individual by whom you, Mr Leonard,
have been recognized as--" (here he bit himself in the lip) "is in
truth, neither rash nor foolish, but"--(hesitating) "and besides, we
have unquestionable intelligence from ---- in the Thuringian mountains."

Here he named the residence of the Baron von F.; and I perceived
immediately the dangers which threatened me. It was obvious that Aurelia
had recognized in me the monk, whom she probably looked upon as the
murderer of her brother. This monk, however, was Medardus, the preacher
of the Capuchin Convent, and as such had been recognized by the Baron's
steward Reinhold. The Abbess, however, knew that this Medardus was the
son of Francesco, and thus, my resemblance to him, which had so long
puzzled the Princess, must now probably have corroborated into certainty
the suspicions which the sisters had, no doubt, by letter communicated
to each other.

It was possible even, that intelligence had been received from the
Capuchin Convent; that I had been carefully watched upon my journey; and
that they had unequivocally identified my person with that of Medardus.

All these possibilities came crowding on my recollection, and forced me
to perceive the whole hazard of my situation. The judge, while I was
occupied in this reverie, still continued to talk on, which was very
advantageous, for I had time to repeat to myself the almost unutterable
name of the Polish town which I had assigned to the old lady at court as
the place of my birth. Scarcely, then, had the judge again repeated his
gruff demand, that I would concisely inform him as to my past course of
life, than I once more began--

"My proper name is Leonard Krczinski; and I am the only son of a Polish
nobleman, who had sold his property, and lived privately in the town of
Kwicziczwo."--

"How--what?" said the judge, endeavouring in vain to pronounce after me
either my name, or that of the town to which I had referred. The
secretary had no notion how he was to set the words on paper; I was
obliged to write down both names myself, and then went on--

"You perceive, sir, how difficult it is for a German tongue to imitate
these words of my language, which are so overburdened with consonants,
and herein consists the reason why I have chosen to lay aside my surname
altogether, and bear only my christian name of Leonard.

"But this is, indeed, the only mystery or singularity which I have to
unfold. The rest of my life is the simplest and most ordinary that could
be imagined. My father, who was himself a man of good education,
approved of my decided propensity to literature and the arts, and just
before his death, had resolved on sending me to Cracow, to live there
under the care of a clergyman related to him, by name Stanislaus
Krczinski. After that event, being my father's sole heir, I was left the
uncontrolled choice of my own actions. I therefore sold the small
remnant that was left of a paternal property, called up some debts that
were due to my father, and went with the pecuniary proceeds to Cracow,
where I studied some years under the guardianship of my relation.

"From thence I travelled to Dantzig and Königsberg; at last I was
driven, as if by irresistible impulse, to make a journey towards the
south. I trusted that the remainder of my small fortune would be
sufficient to carry me through, and that I should at last obtain a fixed
situation at some university; but in this town I had probably found my
means exhausted, if it had not been that one night's luck at the
Prince's pharo-table enabled me to live comfortably for some time, after
which I intended to prosecute my journey into Italy.

"As to anything truly remarkable or worthy of being related--no such
adventure has ever occurred in my life. Yet perhaps, (here I recollected
myself,) I ought not to say this, for I have at least one singular
occurrence to record. It would have been quite easy for me to prove
exactly the truth of all that I have now deposed, had not a very strange
chance deprived me of my _portefeuille_, in which was contained my pass,
my journal, and various letters, which would have supplied ample
documents for that purpose."

By this conclusion the judge was visibly surprised. It was evidently
something unexpected; he fixed his sharp staring eyes upon me, and then,
in a tone somewhat ironical, requested me to explain what strange
accident had thus unluckily put it out of my power to _prove_ (as might
have been hoped for) my assertions.

"Some months ago," said I, "I was on my way hither by the road leading
through the mountains. The fine season of the year, and the romantic
scenery, made me resolve to perform the journey on foot. One day, being
much fatigued, I sat in the public room of an inn at a small village. I
had there got some refreshments, and had drawn out a leaf from my
pocket-book, in order to take a drawing of some old houses that had
struck my fancy.

"At this time there arrived at the inn a horseman, whose extraordinary
dress and wild looks excited in me much astonishment. He came into the
public room obviously striving with much vain effort to look cheerful
and unconcerned, took his place opposite to me, and called for drink,
casting on me from time to time dark and suspicious glances. The man
seemed to me to be half mad, or something worse. I by no means liked
such company, and therefore, merely to avoid him, stepped out into the
court. Soon afterwards, the stranger also came out, paid the innkeeper,
hastily bowed to me, and remounting his horse, rode off at a rapid pace.

"Afterwards, as I was in the act of setting out myself, I remembered my
_portefeuille_, which I had left on the table of the public room. I
went and found it lying where I had left it, and, in my hurry, believed
all was right. It was not till the following day, that, wishing to refer
to my pocket-book, I found the _portefeuille_ was not mine, but had, in
all probability, belonged to the stranger, who must have, by mistake,
put up mine into his pocket, and left his own in its place.

"In the latter there was nothing but letters and cards, which to me were
unintelligible, addressed to Count Victorin. This _portefeuille_, with
the Count's papers, will be found still among my effects. In mine, which
was lost, I had, as before mentioned, my pass, my journal, and, as now
occurs to me, even my baptism certificate, the production of which would
at once have confirmed whatever regarding myself I have alleged."

The judge here desired that I would give him an accurate description,
from head to foot, of the stranger's personal appearance. Accordingly, I
patched up a skilful composition from the features and dress of the late
Count Victorin, and of myself when on my flight from the Baron's castle.
To the judge's cross-questioning as to all the minutest circumstances of
this meeting, to which there almost seemed no end, I continued to
answer as quietly and decisively as possible, till at last the fiction
that I had thus invented, rounded itself in such manner in my own mind,
that I actually believed all that I had asserted, and ran no risk
whatever of falling into contradictions.

Besides, there were other advantages; my first object indeed had only
been to justify my possession of these letters of Count Victorin, which
would be found in my _portefeuille_; but, by the method that I had
chosen to fulfil this purpose, I had luckily raised up an imaginary
personage, (one at least who no longer existed in reality,) who might
hereafter, as need required, play the part either of the fugitive
Medardus, or of the Count Victorin.

Afterwards, it occurred to me also that probably Euphemia's papers must
have been examined; that among them there were no doubt letters paving
the way for Victorin's plan of appearing as a monk at the castle, and
that this would form a fresh nucleus of clouds sufficient to wrap the
whole affair in impenetrable mystery.

Thus my internal fantasy continued to work, during the whole time of my
examination; and there were always new methods suggesting themselves,
by which I might avoid the risk of discovery; so that at last I believed
myself secure against the very worst that could happen.

I now waited in hopes that the judge would have recourse to the criminal
accusation which had been entered against me, and concluded that I had
said quite enough as to the fortune and adventures of my own past life.

I was mistaken, however, for he seemed as willing to go on with his
tiresome questions as if he had but just begun. Among other inquiries,
he asked, "For what reason I had formed the wish of escaping out of
prison?" I assured him that no such thought had ever entered my mind,
and that I had only wished to look out through the window. The gaoler's
testimony, however, as to the piled-up bed, chair, and table, seemed
here much against me. At last, after a most tedious interview, the judge
finally assured me, that if I attempted any prank of that sort again, I
must, of necessity, be bound to the ground with iron chains.



CHAPTER III.


I was then led back to my prison. My bed, as before mentioned, had been
removed, and a straw mattress in its stead laid on the ground. The table
was firmly screwed down, and, in place of the chair, I found a very low
wooden bench.

Many days passed over in dreary captivity, without any farther
examination, and without the slightest variety. The time of a prisoner
is seldom or never a blank; it is filled up by horrible phantoms and
distorted reveries, such as have often been described, though mine
probably were of a new character. The detail of them, however, is not
within the limits of my present undertaking; I record only simple facts,
in the manner of an obtuse old chronicler; and if there be a colouring
of imagination, it is not only unsought, but unwelcome and involuntary.

During these three days, I did not behold the features of any living
being, except the peevish face of an old sub-janitor, who brought my
food, and in the evening lighted my lamp. Hitherto, I had felt like a
warrior, who, in a mood of martial excitement, was determined, at all,
risks, to meet danger and fight his way to the last; but such passion
had now time enough to decline entirely away.

I fell into a dark melancholy trance, during which all things became
indifferent. Even the cherished vision of Aurelia had faded, or floated
in dim colours before me. But unless I had been in body as much
disordered as in mind, this state of apathy could not, of necessity,
continue long. In a short time my spirit was again roused, only to feel
in all its force the horrid influence of nausea and oppression, which
the dense atmosphere of the prison had produced, and against which I
vainly endeavoured to contend.

In the night I could no longer sleep. In the strange flickering shadows
which the lamp-light threw upon the walls, myriads of distorted visages,
one after another, or hundreds at a time, seemed to be grinning out upon
me. To avoid this annoyance, I extinguished my lamp, and drew the upper
mattress over my head--but in vain! It was now dark, indeed, but the
spectres were visible by their own light, like portraits painted on a
dark ground, and I heard more frightfully the hollow moans and rattling
chains of the prisoners, through the horrid stillness of the night.

Often did it seem to me as if I heard the dying groans of Hermogen and
Euphemia. "Am I then guilty of your destruction? Was it not your own
iniquity that brought you under the wrath of my avenging arm?" One night
I had broken out furiously with these words, when, on the silence that
for a moment succeeded, there distinctly and unequivocally arose a long
deep-drawn sigh or groan, differing from the noises which had disturbed
me before. The latter might have been imaginary--this was assuredly
real, and the sound was reverberated through the vault. Driven to
distraction, I howled out--"It is thou, Hermogen!--the hour of thy
vengeance is come--there is for me no hope of rescue!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It might be on the tenth night of my confinement, when, half-fainting
with terror, I lay stretched out on the cold floor of my prison. I
distinctly heard on the ground directly under me a light, but very
audible knocking, which was repeated at measured intervals. I listened
attentively. The noise was continued, as if with the determination to
attract attention, and occasionally I could distinguish a strange sound
of laughter, that also seemed to come out of the earth.

I started from the floor, and threw myself on the straw couch; but the
beating continued, with the same detestable variety of laughter and
groans. At last I heard a low, stammering, hoarse voice syllabically
pronounce my name--"Me-dar-dus!--Me-dar-dus!"--My blood ran ice cold
through every vein; but with a vehement effort I gained courage enough
to call out, "Who's there?"--The laughter now became louder--the beating
and groaning were renewed; again the stammering demon addressed
me--"Me-dar-dus!--Me-dar-dus!"

I rose from bed, and stamped on the floor. "Whoever thou art," cried I;
"man or devil, who art thus adding to the torments of an already
miserable captive, step forth visibly before mine eyes, that I may look
on thee, or desist from this unmeaning persecution!" The beating was now
right under my feet. "He--he--he!--he--he--he!--Broth-er,--Broth-er!
Open the door!--I am here--am here! Let us go hence to the wood--to the
wood!"

Now, methought I recognised the voice as one that I had known before,
but it was not then so broken and so stammering. Nay, with a chill
shivering of horror, I almost began to think there was something in the
accents that I now heard, resembling the tones of my own voice, and
involuntarily, as if I wished to try whether this were really so, I
stammered, in imitation, "Me-dar-dus!--Me-dar-dus!"

Hereupon the laughter was renewed, but it now sounded scornful and
malicious.--"Broth-er,--Broth-er," said the voice, "do you know me
again?--Open the door--the--the door!--We shall go hence, to the
wood--to the wood!" "Poor insane wretch!" said I; "I cannot open the
door for thee--I cannot enable thee to go forth into the pleasant woods,
to hear the fresh rustling of the leaves, or breathe the fragrance of
Heaven's pure atmosphere. I am, as thou art, shut up, hopeless and
abandoned, within the gloomy walls of a prison."

To this address I was answered only by sobs and moans, as if from the
bitterness of despairing grief; and the knocking became always more
faint and indistinct, till at last it ceased altogether; and from
exhaustion, I sunk into troubled slumber.

At length the morning light had broke in slanting gleams through the
window; the locks and keys rattled, and the gaoler, whom I had not seen
for many days, entered my room.

"Through the last night," said he, "we have heard all sorts of strange
noises in your apartment, and loud speaking. What means this?"

"I am in the habit," answered I, "of talking loudly in my sleep, and
even when awake I indulge in soliloquy. May not this much of liberty be
granted me?"

"Probably," said the gaoler, "it is known to you, that every endeavour
to escape, or to keep up conversation with any of your fellow-prisoners,
will be interpreted to your disadvantage?" I declared that I had never
formed any intentions of that kind; and after a few more surly remarks,
he withdrew.

Some hours after this, I was again summoned, as before, to the hall of
judgment. It was not, however, the judge by whom I had before been
examined, but a very different personage, who now sat on the bench. He
was a man apparently much younger in years, but far surpassing his
predecessor in cleverness and versatility.

Laying aside all the formality of office, he left his place, came up to
me in the friendliest manner, and invited me to take a chair.

Even at this moment his appearance is vividly present to my
recollection. In constitution he seemed, for his time of life, to be
much broken down; he was very bald, and wore spectacles. But in his
whole demeanour there was so much of kindness and good-humour, that, on
this account alone, I found it would be difficult for any one, but the
most reckless and hardened of criminals, to resist his influence.

His questions were thrown out lightly, almost in the style of ordinary
conversation, but they were well contrived, and so precisely couched,
that it was impossible to avoid giving him decisive answers.

"In the first place, I must ask you," said he, "whether all that you
have before deponed is perfectly consistent with truth; or, at least,
whether many other circumstances may not have occurred to you as
requisite to be told, in order to corroborate your former statement?"

"No," said I. "I have already freely communicated every circumstance
which I could mention, or which it can be necessary to mention, as to
the tenor of my simple and uniform life."

"Have you never associated much with clergymen, and with monks?"

"Yes--In Cracow, in Dantzig, Königsberg, Frauenberg. In the latter place
especially, with two lay monks, who officiated there as priest and
_capellan_."

"You did not state before that you were in Frauenberg?"

"Because I did not think it worth while to mention a short residence
there of about eight days, on my way from Dantzig to Königsberg."

"So, you are a native of Kwicziczwo?"

This question the judge put in the Polish language, and in the most
correct dialect, (all the while looking quite unconcerned, as if his
use of that language had been on the present occasion a matter of
course.)

For a moment this overthrew all my self-possession. I rallied, however;
tried to recollect what little Polish I had learned from my friend
Krczinski, and made shift to answer--

"On a small landed property of my father, near Kwicziczwo."

"What was the name of this estate?"

"Krczinzicswo--the family estate of my relations."

"For a native Pole, you do not pronounce your own language remarkably
well. To say the truth, you speak it rather like a German--How is this?"

"For many years I have spoken nothing but German. Even while in Cracow,
I had much intercourse with German students, who wished to learn from me
our difficult language. Unawares, I may have accustomed myself to their
accent, as one finds it very easy, when living in particular districts
of the country, to adopt provincialisms."

The judge here looked significantly on me. A slight smile passed over
his features; and, turning to the secretary, he dictated to him
something in a whisper, of which I could distinctly make out the words
"visibly embarrassed." Hereupon I wished to say something farther, in
excuse for my bad Polish, but the judge gave me no opportunity.

"Have you never been in Königswald, where there is a large Capuchin
Convent?"

"Never."

"The way hither from Königsberg should have led you to that town."

"I took another road."

"Have you never been acquainted with a monk from the convent there?"

"Never."

On receiving this answer, the judge rung the bell, and in a low voice
gave an order to the attending officer.

Soon afterwards, an opposite door opened, and how was my whole frame
shaken, and my very heart withered by terror, when I beheld the old
Brother Cyrillus! The judge asked,

"Do you know this man?"

"No. I have never seen him before."

It was now the monk's turn to speak. He came nearer; looked at me
stedfastly--then clasping his hands, while tears involuntarily burst
from his eyes--"Medardus!" cried he, "Brother Medardus! In God's name,
how comes it that I find you thus horribly changed? How came you into
this condition of abandoned and obdurate wickedness? Brother Medardus,
return into thyself--Confess--Repent!--The patience and long-suffering
of God are infinite."

"Can you then recognize this man," said the judge, "for the Monk
Medardus from the Capuchin Convent in Königswald?"

"As I hope for Heaven's mercy," answered Cyrillus, "it is impossible for
me to think otherwise. I believe that this man, although he now appears
in a lay dress, is that very Medardus, who lived under my care as a
novice at the Capuchin Convent, and whom I attended at the altar on the
day of his consecration. Yet Medardus had on his neck a scar, in the
shape of a cross, on the left side, and if this man----"

"You perceive," interposed the judge, turning to me, "that you are
looked upon as a runaway monk from the town of Königswald, and you may
rightly conjecture that the real monk alluded to has been guilty of
serious crimes. But this man has a particular mark on his neck, which,
according to your own account, you cannot have. This, therefore, at once
gives you the best opportunity to prove your innocence. Untie your
neckcloth."

"There is no need of this," answered I. "It is already certain, that an
exact personal resemblance exists between myself and the fugitive
criminal, who is to me wholly unknown; for I do bear a slight scar on my
throat, such as has been described."--"Remove your neckcloth," repeated
the judge. I did so; and the scar left by the wound from the Abbess's
diamond cross, which had never been effaced, was immediately perceived.
Hereupon Cyrillus uttered a loud exclamation.--"It is--it is the same
impression of the cross," he added.--"Medardus! oh Medardus! hast thou
then renounced thy eternal weal?"--Weeping and half fainting, he sunk
into a chair.

"What answers do you now make to the assertion of this venerable man?"
said the judge.

For a moment I felt as if lifted up and inspired by supernatural
strength. It seemed as if the devil himself came and whispered to me.

"What power have these despicable weaklings over thee, who art yet
strong and undaunted in spirit and in frame? Shall not Aurelia yet
become thine?"

"This monk," said I, with great vehemence, "who sits there fainting in
his chair, is a fantastic, feeble-minded, drivelling dotard. In his
absurd visions, he takes me for a runaway capuchin from his own convent,
to whom, as it happens, I bear a personal resemblance."

The judge had till now remained perfectly tranquil, without changing his
looks, gesture, or tone. Now, however, his visage, for the first time,
assumed a dark and lowering earnestness of expression. He rose, as if
the better to observe me, and even the glare of his spectacles was
intolerable to my feelings, so that I could not utter a word more of my
intended defence. For a moment I lost all self-possession. Abandoned to
rage and despair, I struck my clenched knuckles to my forehead, and, in
a tone which must have sounded unearthly, almost shrieked out the name
"Aurelia!"

"What do you mean by that, sir?" said the judge, in a voice which,
though calm, had yet the effect of thunder, and reverberated through the
vaulted roof of the audience-chamber.

"A dark and implacable destiny," said I, "dooms me to an ignominious
death. But I am innocent--I am wholly innocent of the crimes, whatever
they may be, that are charged against me. Have compassion, therefore;
and for the present, at least, let me go. I feel that madness begins to
rage through my brain, and agitate every nerve: therefore, in mercy, let
me go!"

The judge, who had resumed his seat, and become perfectly calm, dictated
much to the secretary, of which I did not know the import. At last he
read over to me a record, in which all his questions and my answers,
with the evidence of Cyrillus, were faithfully set down. This record I
was obliged to ratify by my own signature.

The judge then requested me, in a careless tone, to write for him, on
separate slips of paper, something in Polish and in German. I did so,
without being aware what object he had in view. He then immediately gave
the German leaf to Cyrillus, with the question, "Have these characters
any resemblance to the hand-writing of your brother, Monk Medardus?"

"It is precisely his hand even to the most minute peculiarities," said
Cyrillus; and turning to me, was about to speak; but a look of the judge
admonished him to silence. The latter examined carefully the leaf which
I had written in Polish. He then rose, quitted the bench, and came down
to me.

"You are no Pole," said he, in a serious and decisive manner. "This
writing is altogether incorrect, full of errors, both in grammar and
spelling. No native Pole would write in that style, even if he were
destitute of that education which you have enjoyed."

"I was born," said I, "in Kwicziczwo, and therefore am most certainly a
Pole; but even were this not really the case, and if circumstances
compelled me to conceal my true rank and name, yet it would by no means
follow, in consequence of this, that I must turn out to be the Monk
Medardus, who, as I understand, came from the Capuchin Convent in
Königswald."

"Alas! Brother," interposed Cyrillus, "did not our excellent Prior send
you to Rome, placing the fullest confidence in your fidelity, prudence,
and pious conduct; and is it thus that you requite him? Brother
Medardus, for God's sake, do not any longer, in this blasphemous manner,
deny the holy profession to which you belong."

"I beg of you not to interrupt us," said the judge, and, turning again
to me, proceeded--

"It is my duty to observe to you, that the disinterested evidence of
this reverend clergyman affords the strongest presumptions, that you are
actually that runaway monk, for whom you have been arrested. At the same
time, I ought not to conceal, that various other persons will be brought
forward, who also insist that they have unequivocally recognised you for
that individual. Among them is one, to whom your escape from the due
punishment or coercion of the law would be attended by no little danger,
at all events, by no little fear and apprehension. Besides, many things
have been discovered in your own travelling equipage, which support the
allegations against you.

"Finally, sir, you may rely, that inquiries will be set on foot as to
your pretended family, on which account application is already made to
the court at Posen. All these things I explain to you the more openly,
because it belongs to my office to convince you how little I wish, by
artifice, or any undue method, to extort from you the truth, which you
wish to conceal, but which, at all events, will soon be brought to
light. Prepare yourself, therefore, before-hand, as you best can. If you
are really that criminal named Medardus the Capuchin, you may be assured
that justice will soon penetrate through your deepest disguise; and you
will learn, in due time, the precise crimes of which you are accused.
If, on the other hand, you are Mr Leonard of Kwicziczwo, and only, by
some extraordinary _lusus naturæ_, forced to resemble Medardus, you will
be furnished, even by us, with clear and decisive proofs to support this
identity.

"You appeared at your first trial, in a very disordered state of mind;
therefore I wished that you should be allowed sufficient time for mature
reflection. After what has taken place to-day, you will again have ample
store for meditation."

"Then," said I, "you look upon all that I have said to-day as utter
falsehood? You behold in me only the runaway monk Medardus?"

To this I received merely a slight parting bow, with the words, "Adieu,
Herr von Krczinski;" and I was forthwith led back to my prison.



CHAPTER IV.


Every word uttered by this judge had penetrated to my very heart, and I
was unable to subdue my vehement agitation. All the fictions that I had
invented seemed to me utterly absurd and insipid. That the chief person
who was to appear as my accuser, (and who was said to entertain such
fears of me if left at liberty,) was Aurelia, I could have no doubt. How
could I bear this, and how counteract her influence?

I considered afterwards what might have been suspicious among my
travelling effects, and was much vexed by the recollection, that since
my residence at the castle of the Baron von F----, I had retained in my
_portefeuille_, a hair ring, on which Euphemia's name was enwoven, and
which, perhaps, might be recognized by Aurelia. Besides, it had
unfortunately occurred, that in the forest I had bound up Victorin's
portmanteau with the knotted cord, which is part of the dress of our
order; and this had still remained in my possession.

Tormented by these thoughts, I gave myself up for lost; and unconscious
what I did, paced backwards and forwards in despair, through my narrow
chamber. Then it seemed as if there was a rushing and whispering in mine
ears,--"Thou fool," said a voice, "why should'st thou despair? Canst
thou not think on Victorin?" Hereupon, in a loud voice, I called
out--"Ha! the game is not lost!--Nay, it may yet be won!"

My heart beat, and my bosom heaved with new impulses. I had already
thought, that among Euphemia's papers there must, of necessity, be found
something which would point to Victorin's appearance at the castle as a
monk. Resting on this assumption, (or probability,) I would, at my next
examination, amplify on my former deposition as to the meeting with
Victorin; nay, why should I not also have met with the monk Medardus? I
could plead knowledge, also, of those adventures at the castle which
ended so frightfully, and repeat them as if they came to me by hearsay.
With such stories I could interweave references to myself, and to my
resemblance with both these people.

In order to attain my object, however, the most trifling circumstances
must be maturely weighed. I resolved, therefore, that I would commit to
writing the romance, by the incidents of which I was to be rescued. The
gaoler supplied me with the requisite materials, and I laboured with
great zeal till late in the night. In writing, my imagination was
roused, until I almost actually believed whatever I had set down to be
the truth; and I had in the closest manner spun together a web of
falsehood, wherewith I expected completely to blind the eyes of the
judge.

The prison-clock had struck twelve, when I again heard softly,
and as if from a distance, the knocking which, on the preceding day,
so much disturbed me. I had resolved that I would pay no attention
to this noise; but it approached nearer, and became louder. There
were again, at measured intervals, the same divertisements of
knocking, laughing, and groaning. I struck my hand with great vehemence
on the table--"Be quiet!" cried I--"Silence below there!" Thus I
thought that I should banish my persecutor, and recover my composure,
but in vain! On the contrary, there arose instantly a sound of
shrill discordant laughter, and once more the same detestable
voice--"_Brüd-er-lein!--Brüd-er-lein!_[2] Up to thee! Open the door!
Open the door!"

[Footnote 2: Little brother. One of the German diminutives of
familiarity or endearment.]

Then right under me commenced a vehement rasping and scratching in the
floor, accompanied by continuous groans and cachinnation. In vain did I
try to write, and persuading myself that these were but illusions of the
arch enemy, determined to hold them in contempt. The noise always became
more intolerable, and was diversified occasionally by ponderous blows,
so that I momentarily expected the gaolers to enter in alarm.

I had risen up, and was walking with the lamp in my hand, when suddenly
I felt the floor shake beneath my tread. I stepped aside, and then saw,
on the spot whereon I had stood, a stone lift itself out of the
pavement, and sink again. The phenomenon was repeated, but at the second
time I seized hold of the stone, and easily removed it from the
flooring.

The aperture beneath was but narrow, and little or no light rose from
the gulf. Suddenly, however, as I was gazing on it, a naked arm,
emaciated, but muscular, with a knife, or dagger, in the hand, was
stretched up towards me. Struck with the utmost horror, I recoiled from
the sight. Then the stammering voice spoke from below--"Brother--brother
Me-dar-dus is there--is there!--Take--take!--Break--break!--To the
wood!--To the wood!"

Instantly all fear and apprehension were lost. I repeated to myself,
"Take--take!--Break--break!" for I thought only of the assistance thus
offered me, and of flight! Accordingly I seized the weapon, which the
hand willingly resigned to me, and began zealously to clear away the
mortar and rubbish from the opening that had been made.

The spectral prisoner below laboured also with might and main, till we
had dislodged four or five large stones from the vault, and laid them
aside. I had been occupied in this latter purpose, that is, in placing
the large stones in a corner of my room, that they might not interrupt
my work; when, on turning round, I perceived that my horrible assistant
had raised his naked body as far as the middle, through the aperture
that we had made. The full glare of the lamp fell on his pale features,
which were no longer obscured as formerly, by long matted locks, or the
overgrown grizzly beard, for these had been closely shaven. It could no
longer be said that I was in vigorous health, while he was emaciated,
for in that respect we were now alike. He glared on me with the grin,
the ghastly laughter, of madness on his visage. At the first glance I
RECOGNIZED MYSELF, and losing all consciousness and self-possession,
fell in a deadly swoon on the pavement.

From this state of insensibility I was awoke by a violent pain in the
arm. There was a clear light around me; the rattling of chains, and
knocking of hammers, sounded through the vault. The gaoler and his
assistants were occupied in loading me with irons. Besides handcuffs and
ankle-fetters, I was, by means of a chain and an iron hoop, to be
fastened to the wall.

"Now," said the gaoler, in a satisfied tone, when the workmen had
finished, "the gentleman will probably find it advisable to give over
troubling us with his attempts to escape for the future!"

"But what crimes, then," said the blacksmith, in an under tone, "has
this obstreperous fellow committed?"

"How?" said the gaoler, "dost thou not know that much, Jonathan? The
whole town talks of nothing else. He is a cursed Capuchin monk, who has
murdered three men. All has been fully proved. In a few days there is to
be a grand gala; and among other diversions, the scaffold and the wheel
will not fail to play their part!"

I heard no more, and my senses were again lost. I know not how long I
remained in that state, from which I only painfully and with difficulty
awoke. I was alone, and all was utter darkness; but, after some
interval, faint gleams of daylight broke into the low deep vault,
scarcely six feet square, into which I now, with the utmost horror,
perceived that I had been removed from my former prison. I was tormented
with extreme thirst, and grappled at the water-jug which stood near me.
Cold and moist, it slipped out of my numbed hands before I had gained
from it even one imperfect draught, and, with abhorrence, I saw a large
overgrown toad crawl out of it as it lay on the floor. "Aurelia!" I
groaned, in that feeling of nameless misery into which I was now
sunk--"Aurelia!--and was it for this that I have been guilty of
hypocrisy and abominable falsehood in the court of justice--for this
only, that I might protract, by a few hours, a life of torment and
misery? What would'st thou," said I to myself, "delirious wretch, as
thou art? Thou strivest after the possession of Aurelia, who could be
thine only through an abominable and blasphemous crime; and however thou
might'st disguise thyself from the world, she would infallibly recognize
in thee the accursed murderer of Hermogen, and look on thee with
detestation. Miserable deluded fool, where are now all thy high-flown
projects, thy belief and confidence in thine own supernatural power, by
which thou could'st guide thy destiny even as thou wilt? Thou art wholly
unable and powerless to kill the worm of conscience, which gnaws on the
heart's marrow, and thou wilt shamefully perish in hopeless grief, even
if the arm of temporal justice should spare thee!"

Thus I complained aloud, but at the moment when I uttered these words, I
felt a painful pressure on my breast, which seemed to proceed from some
hard substance in my waistcoat pocket. I grappled with it accordingly,
and drew out, to my surprise, a small stiletto. Never had I worn any
such implement since I had been in the prison. It must, of necessity, be
the same which had been held up to me by my mysterious _double_. I
recognized the glittering heft. It was the identical stiletto with which
I had killed Hermogen, and which, for many weeks, I had been without!

Hereupon there arose in my mind an entire revolution. The inexplicable
manner in which this weapon had been returned to me, seemed like a
warning from supernatural agents. I had it in my power to escape at will
from the ignominious death that awaited me. I had it in my power to die
voluntarily for the sake of Aurelia. It seemed again as if there was a
rushing and whispering of voices around me; and among them Aurelia's
accents were clearly audible. I beheld her as when formerly she appeared
to me in the church of the Capuchin Convent. "I love thee, indeed,
Medardus," said she; "but hitherto thou understandest me not. In this
world there is for us no hope of enjoyment; the true festival and
solemnization of our love is--death." I now firmly resolved that I would
demand a new audience--that I would confess to the judge, without the
least reserve, the whole history of my wanderings, after which I would,
in obedience to the supposed warning, have recourse to suicide.

The gaoler now made his appearance, bringing me better food than usual,
with the addition of a bottle of wine. "It is by the command of the
Prince," said he, covering a table which his servant brought in after
him. He then proceeded to unlock the chain by which I was bound to the
wall.

Remaining firm in my determination, I took but little notice of this,
and earnestly requested that he would communicate to the judge my wish
for an audience that very afternoon, as I had much to disclose that lay
heavy on my conscience. He promised to fulfil my commission, and
retired.

Meanwhile, I waited in vain to be summoned to my trial. No one appeared
until such time as it was quite dark, when the gaoler's servant entered
and lighted my lamp as usual. Owing to the fixed resolution which I had
adopted, I felt much more tranquil than before; and, as the night wore
on, being greatly exhausted, I fell into a deep sleep.

My slumber was haunted, however, by a strange and very vivid dream.
Methought I was led into a high, gloomy, and vaulted hall, wherein I
saw, ranged along the walls, on high-backed chairs, a double row of
spectral figures, like clergymen, all habited in the black _talar_,[3]
and before them was a table covered with red cloth. At their head sat a
judge, and near him was a Dominican friar, in the full habit of his
order.

[Footnote 3: Long black robe.]

"Thou art now," said the judge, in a deep solemn voice, "given over to
the spiritual court; forasmuch as thou, obstinate and criminal as thou
art, hast attempted to deny thy real name, and the sacred profession to
which thou belongest. Franciscus, or, according to thy conventual name,
Medardus, answer, Dost thou plead guilty, or not guilty, to the crimes
of which thou hast been accused?"

Hereupon I wished to confess all that I had done, which, in my own
estimation, was sinful or blame-worthy. But, to my great horror, that
which I uttered was not the thoughts that existed in my mind, and which
I intended to deliver. On the contrary, instead of a sincere and
repentant confession, I lost myself in wandering desultory gibberish,
which sounded even in my own ears quite unpardonable.

Then the Dominican rose up, and, with a frightful menacing
look--"Away--to the rack with him," cried he, "the stiff-necked obdurate
sinner--to the rack with him--he deserves no mercy!" The strange figures
that were ranged along the wall rose up, stretched out their long
skeleton arms towards me, and repeated, in a hoarse horrible
unison--"Ay, ay!--to the rack with him--to the rack--to the rack!"

Instantly I drew out my stiletto and aimed it violently towards my
heart, but, involuntarily, it slid upwards to my throat, and striking on
that part wherein the diamond necklace of the Abbess had left the sign
of the cross, the blade broke in pieces as if it were made of glass, and
left me unwounded! Then the executioner seized me, removed me from the
audience-hall, and dragged me down into a deep subterranean vault.

_There_, however, my persecutions did not cease. The man once more
demanded of me whether I would not make a true confession? Accordingly,
I again made an attempt to do so, but my thoughts and words, as before,
were at variance. Deeply repentant, torn equally by shame and remorse,
I confessed all inwardly and in spirit; but whatever my lips brought
forth audibly, was confused, senseless, unconnected, and foreign from
the dictates of my heart. Hereafter, upon a sign received from the
Dominican, the executioner stripped me naked, and tied my wrists
together behind my back. How he placed me afterwards, I know not, but I
heard the creaking of screws and pulleys, and felt how my stretched
joints cracked, and were ready to break asunder. In the agony of
superhuman torture, I screamed loudly and awoke.

The pain in my hands and feet continued as if I had been really on the
rack, but this proceeded from the heavy chains which I still carried;
yet, besides this, I found a strange pressure on my eye-lids, which, for
some time, I was unable to lift up. At last, it seemed as if a weight
were taken from my forehead, and I was able to raise myself on my couch.

Here my nightly visions once more stepped forth into reality, and I felt
an ice-cold shivering through every vein. Motionless like a statue, with
his arms folded, the monk--the Dominican whom I had seen in my
dream--stood there, and glared on me with his hollow black eyes. In
that look, I at once recognized the expression of the horrible painter,
and fell, half fainting, back upon my straw-bed.

Yet, perhaps, thought I to myself, all this was but a delusion of my
senses, which had its origin from a dream. I mustered courage,
therefore--but the monk was there! He stood, as the painter had ever
done, calm and motionless, with his relentless dark eyes fixed upon me.

"Horrible man!" cried I, "Avaunt!--Away!--But no! Man thou art not. Thou
art the devil himself, who labours to drag me into everlasting
destruction!--Away!--I conjure thee, in the name of God, begone!"

"Poor, short-sighted fool!" answered the Dominican, "I am not the fiend
who endeavours to bind thee with his iron fetters; who seeks to turn thy
heart from those sacred duties to which thou hast, by Divine Providence,
been appointed!--Medardus, poor insane wanderer! I have indeed appeared
frightful to thee, even at those moments when thou should'st have
recognized in me thy best friend--when thou wert tottering within a
hair's-breadth of being hurled into the eternal gulf of destruction, I
have appeared and warned thee; but my designs have ever been perverted
and misunderstood. Rise up, and listen to what I would now say!"

The Dominican uttered this in a tone of deep melancholy and complaint.
His looks, which I had before contemplated with such affright, were
become relaxed and mild. My heart was roused by new and indescribable
emotions. This painter, who had haunted me like a demon, now appeared to
me almost like a special messenger of Providence, sent to console me in
my extreme misery and despair.

I rose from my bed, and stepped towards him. It was no phantom! I
touched his garments. I kneeled down involuntarily, and he laid his hand
on my head as if to bless me. Then, in the brightest colouring of
imagination, a long train of beautiful and cherished images rose on my
mind. I was once more within the consecrated woods of the Holy
Lime-Tree. I stood on the self-same spot of that favourite grove, where
the strangely-dressed pilgrim brought to me the miraculous boy. From
hence I wished to move onwards to the church, which I saw also right
before me. There only it appeared to me, that I might now, penitent and
repentant, receive at last absolution of my heavy crimes. But I remained
motionless; my limbs were powerless, and I could scarcely retain the
feeling of self-identity.--Then a hollow voice pronounced the words,
"The will suffices for the deed!"

The dream vanished. It was the painter who had spoken these words.

"Incomprehensible being!" said I, "was it then thou, who art here with
me as a friend, who appeared leaning on the pillar on that unhappy
morning in the Capuchin church at Königswald? At night, in the trading
town of Frankenburg? And now----"

"Stop there," said the painter; "it was I indeed who have been at all
times near to thee, in order, if possible, to rescue thee from
destruction and disgrace; but thy heart was hardened; thy senses were
perverted. The work to which thou wert chosen, must, for thine own weal
and salvation, be fulfilled."

"Alas!" cried I, in a voice of despair, "why, then, didst thou not
withhold mine arm from that accursed deed, when Hermogen----"

"That was not allowed me," said the painter. "Ask no farther. The
attempt to resist the eternal decrees of Omnipotence is not only sinful,
but hopeless presumption. Medardus, thou now drawest near to thy
appointed goal--_To-morrow_!"

At these words I shuddered; for I thought that I completely understood
the painter. I believed that he knew and approved my premeditated
suicide. He now retreated towards the door of my prison.--"When," said
I, with great earnestness, "when shall I see you again?"--"AT THE GOAL,"
said he, in a deep, solemn tone, that reverberated through the
vault.--"So then--_to-morrow_?" He would not answer. The door
opened--turned silently on its hinges--and the painter had vanished.



CHAPTER V.


The faint gleams of daylight had long since made their way through the
gloom of my wretched prison, when at last the gaoler made his appearance
with a train of attendants, who carefully and obsequiously took off the
fetters from my wounded arms and ankles. They announced also that I
should be very soon led up for a final audience in the judgment-hall.

The summons came accordingly. Deeply reserved, and wrapt up in my own
thoughts, becoming always more and more accustomed to the idea of
immediate death, I stepped into the audience-chamber. I had inwardly
arranged my confession in such manner, that I had only a short story to
tell, which would yet embrace every circumstance that was of importance.

To my astonishment, the judge, directly on my entrance, left the bench,
and came to meet me. I must have looked greatly emaciated and
disfigured; for a cheerful smile, that had been at first on his
countenance, changed itself obviously into an expression of the most
painful sympathy and compassion. He shook hands, and made me take
possession of a large arm-chair.

"Herr von Krczinski," said he, in a solemn diplomatic tone, "I am happy
in being able to announce to you some very agreeable intelligence. By
the Prince's commands, all proceedings against you are this day brought
to an end. It appears that people have hitherto confounded you with
another person; and of their mistaken accusations, your exact personal
likeness to that individual must bear the blame. Your innocence is now
established beyond the possibility of doubt. Mr Krczinski, _you are
free_!"

A frightful giddiness now attacked me. The room, with all its furniture,
seemed turning round. The figure of the judge was multiplied a thousand
fold before mine eyes, and I fell into a swoon. When I awoke, the
servants were rubbing my temples with eau de cologne; and I recovered so
far, as to hear the judge read over a short _Protokoll_, stating that he
had duly informed me of the process being given up, and of my final
release from prison. But some indescribable feelings arising from that
last interview with the painter, repressed all joy in my bosom. It
seemed to me as if now, when people believed me innocent, I should
voluntarily make a full confession of my crimes, and then plunge the
dagger into my heart.

I wished to speak; but the judge seemed to expect that I would retire,
and I retreated towards the door. He came after me a few steps. "I have
now," said he, in a low voice, "fulfilled my official duties, and may
confess that, from the first time of our meeting, you interested me very
much. Notwithstanding that appearances (as you must yourself allow) were
so greatly against you, yet I sincerely wished that you might not turn
out to be the horrible monster of wickedness for whom you had been
stigmatized. I may now repeat to you, in confidence, my conviction, that
you are no Pole: you were not born in Kwicziczwo: your name is not
Leonard von Krczinski."

With composure and firmness I answered, "No."--"Nor are you a monk,"
said the judge, casting his eyes on the ground, that he might not seem
to play the part of an inquisitor; but by this question I was
irresistibly agitated.--"Listen, then," said I, in a resolute tone, "and
I shall explain _all_."--"Nay, nay, be silent," said the judge. "What I
surmised at first is, according to my present belief, wholly confirmed.
I see that there is here some dark and deep mystery; and that, by some
inexplicable game of chances, your fate is involved with that of certain
personages of our court. But it is no longer my vocation to make
inquiries; and I should look upon myself as a presumptuous intermeddler,
if I wished to extort from you any of the real adventures of your life,
of which the tenure has probably been very peculiar.

"There is but one suggestion which I cannot help offering. Would it not
be well if you were to tear yourself away from this _residenz_, where
there is so much that is hostile to your mental repose? After what has
happened, it is almost impossible that your abode here can be agreeable
to you."

When the judge spoke in this manner, my mind again underwent an entire
revolution. All the dark shadows that had gathered around me were
suddenly dissolved. The spirit of life once more, with all its
enjoyments, vibrated through every nerve.--"Aurelia! Aurelia!--Should I
leave this place and forsake her for ever!"

The judge looked on me with an expression of the greatest
astonishment.--"God forbid, Mr Leonard," said he, "that a very frightful
apprehension, which has now risen up in my mind, should ever be
fulfilled. But you know best the nature of your own plans. I shall say
no more."

The hypocritical calmness with which I now answered him, was a proof
that my short-lived repentance was over and gone.--"So then," said I,
"you still look upon me as guilty?"--"Permit me, sir," said the judge,
"to keep my present fears to myself. They are, I must confess,
unsubstantiated by proof, and are perhaps the result of imaginary
apprehensions. It has been in the most conclusive manner proved, that
you are not the Monk Medardus; for that very man is in his own person
here among us, and has been recognized by the old Father Cyrillus,
though the latter had been deceived at the trial, by the exactitude of
your resemblance. Nay, this man does not deny that he is the Capuchin
Medardus, for whom you were arrested. Therefore everything has happened
that could have been desired, in order to free you from that first
imputation."

At that moment an attendant called the judge away, and thus the dialogue
was interrupted at the very time when it began to be disagreeable to me.
I betook myself forthwith to my old lodgings in the town, where I found
my effects placed carefully in the same order in which I had left them.
My papers had been put up in a sealed envelope. Only Victorin's
_portefeuille_ and the Capuchin's hair-rope were wanting. My
suppositions as to the importance that would be attached to the latter
article were therefore correct.

But a short time elapsed, when an equerry of the Prince made his
appearance, with a card from the Sovereign, and the present of a very
elegant box, set with diamonds. The card was in his usual familiar
style. "There have been very severe measures taken against you, Mr
Krczinski, but neither we ourselves, nor our court of justice, can
rightly be blamed. You are inconceivably like in person to a very wicked
and dangerous man. All now, however, has been cleared up to your
advantage. I send you a small token of my good will, and hope that we
shall see you soon."

The good will of the Prince and his present were at this moment both
indifferent to me. My long imprisonment had greatly enfeebled my bodily
strength, and the extreme excitement which I had undergone, was followed
by lassitude and relaxation. Thus I had sunk into a deep and dark
melancholy, and looked on it as very fortunate when the physician came
to visit me, and prescribed some remedies, which he judged absolutely
requisite for the restoration of my health. He then, as usual, entered
into conversation.

"Is it not," said he, "a most extraordinary chance, and concatenation of
circumstances, that, at the very moment when every one felt himself
convinced that you were that horrible monk, who had caused such
misfortunes in the family of the Baron von F----, this monk should
_himself_ actually appear, and rescue you at once from the impending
danger?"

"It would oblige me," said I, "if you would inform me of the minuter
circumstances which led to my liberation; for as yet I have only heard
generally that the Capuchin Medardus, for whom I had been taken, had
been found here and arrested."

"Nay, it is to be observed," answered the physician, "that he did not
come hither of his own accord, but was brought in, bound with ropes, as
a maniac, and delivered over to the police at the very time when you
first came to the _residenz_. By the way, it just now occurs to me that,
on a former occasion, when I was occupied in relating to you the
wonderful events which had happened at our court, I was interrupted,
just as I had got to the story of this abominable Medardus, the
acknowledged son of Francesco, and his enormous crimes at the castle of
the Baron von F----. I shall now take up the thread of my discourse
exactly where it was then broken off.

"The sister of our reigning Princess, who, as you well know, is Abbess
of a Cistertian monastery at Kreuzberg, once received very kindly, and
took charge of a poor deserted woman, who, with her infant son, was
travelling homeward, towards the south, from a pilgrimage to the Convent
of the Holy Lime-Tree."

"The woman," said I, "was Francesco's widow, and the boy was Medardus."

"Quite right," answered the physician; "but how do you come to know
this?"

"The events of this Medardus's life," said I, "have indeed become known
to me in a manner the strangest and most incredible. I am aware of them
even up to the period when he fled from the castle of the Baron von
F----; and of every circumstance that happened there I have received
minute information."

"But how?" said the physician; "and from whom?"

"In a dream," answered I; "in a dream I have had the liveliest
perception of all his sufferings and adventures."

"You are in jest," said the physician.

"By no means," replied I. "It actually seems to me, as if I had in a
vision become acquainted with the history of an unhappy man, who, like a
mere plaything in the hands of dark powers,--a weed cast on the waves of
a stormy sea, had been hurled hither and thither, and driven onward from
crime to crime. In the Holzheimer forest, which is not far from hence,
on my way hither, the postilion, one stormy night, drove out of the
right track, and there, in the _forst-haus_----"

"Ha! now I understand you," said the physician, "there you met with the
monk."

"So it is," answered I; "but he was mad."

"He does not seem to be so now," observed the physician. "Even at that
time, no doubt, he had lucid intervals, and told you his history."

"Not exactly," said I. "In the night, being unapprized of my arrival at
the _forst-haus_, he came into my room. Perhaps it was on account of the
extraordinary likeness existing betwixt us, that my appearance
frightened him extremely. He probably looked upon me as his _double_,
and believed that such an apparition of necessity announced his own
death. Accordingly, he began to stammer out strange confessions, to
which I listened for some time, till at last, being tired by a long
journey, I fell asleep; but the monk, not aware of this, continued to
speak on. I dreamed, but know not where the reality ended and the dream
began. So far as I can recollect, it appears to me that the monk
maintained that it could not be he who had caused the death of the
Baroness von F---- and Hermogen, but that they had both been murdered
by the Count Victorin."

"Strange, very strange!" said the physician. "But wherefore did you
conceal this mysterious adventure at your trial?"

"How could I imagine," answered I, "that the judge would attach any
importance to such a story? At best, it must have appeared to him a mere
romance; and will any enlightened court of justice receive evidence
which even borders on the visionary and supernatural?"

"At least," replied the physician, "you might have at once supposed that
people were confounding you with this insane monk, and should have
pointed out him as the real Capuchin Medardus?"

"Ay, forsooth," answered I; "and in the face of the venerable Father
Cyrillus, (such, I believe, was his name,) an old dotard, who would
absolutely have me, right or wrong, to be his Capuchin brother? Besides,
it did not occur to me either that the insane monk was Medardus, or that
the crime which he had confessed to me was the object of the present
process. But the keeper of the _forst-haus_ told me the monk had never
given up his name. How, then, did people here make the discovery?"

"In the simplest manner," said the physician. "The monk, as you know,
had been a considerable time with the forester. Now and then, it seemed
as if he were completely cured; but at last he broke out again into
insanity so frightful, that the forester was obliged to send him hither,
where he was shut up in the mad-house. There he sat night and day, with
staring eyes, and motionless as a statue. He never uttered a word, and
must be fed, as he never moved a hand. Various methods were tried to
rouse him from this lethargy, but in vain; and his attendants were
afraid to try severe measures, for fear of bringing back his outrageous
madness.

"A few days ago, the forester's eldest son came to the _residenz_, and
desired admittance into the mad-house, to see the monk, which,
accordingly, was granted him. Quite shocked at the hopeless state in
which he found the unhappy man, he was leaving the prison, just as
Father Cyrillus, from the Capuchin Convent in Königswald, happened to be
going past. He spoke to the latter, and begged of him to visit a poor
unhappy brother, who was shut up here, as, perhaps, the conversation of
one of his own order might be beneficial to the maniac.

"To this Cyrillus agreed; but as soon as he saw the monk, he started
back, with a loud exclamation--'Medardus!' cried he; 'unhappy Medardus!'
And at that name the monk, who before scarcely shewed signs of life,
began to open his eyes, and attend to what went forward. He even rose
from his seat; but had scarcely done so, when, seemingly overpowered by
his cruel malady, (of which he was himself not unconscious,) he uttered
a strange hollow cry, and fell prostrate on the ground.

"Cyrillus, accompanied by the forester's son and others, went directly
to the judge by whom you had been tried, and announced this new
discovery. The judge went back with them to the prison, where they found
the monk in a state of great weakness; but (judging by his conversation)
not at all under the influence of delirium. He confessed that he was
Medardus, from the Capuchin Convent in Königswald; and Cyrillus agreed
on his side, that your inconceivable resemblance to this Medardus had
completely deceived him.

"Now, however, he remarked many circumstances of language, tone, and
gesture, in which Mr Leonard differed from the real Capuchin. What is
most of all remarkable is, that they discovered on the neck of the
madman the same mark, in the form of a cross, to which so much
importance was attached at your trial. Several questions also were now
put to the monk, as to the horrid incidents at the castle of the Baron
von F----, to which the only answers they could then obtain were in
broken exclamations. 'I am, indeed,' said he, 'an accursed and abandoned
criminal; but I repent deeply of all that I have done. Alas! I allowed
myself to be cheated, by temptations of the devil, out of my own reason,
and out of my immortal soul. Let my accusers but have some compassion on
me, and allow me time--I shall confess all.'

"The Prince being duly advised of what had happened, commanded that the
proceedings against you should be brought to an end, and that you should
be immediately released from prison. This is the history of your
liberation. The monk has been brought from the mad-house into one of the
dungeons for criminals."

"And has he yet confessed all? Is he the murderer of Euphemia, Baroness
von F----, and of Hermogen? How stands public belief with regard to the
Count Victorin?"

"So far as I know," said the physician, "the trial of the monk was only
to begin this day. As to Count Victorin, it appears that nothing farther
must be said of him. Whatever connection those former events at our
court may seem to have with the present, all is to remain in mystery and
oblivion."

"But," said I, "how the catastrophe at the Baron's castle can be
connected with these events at your Prince's court, I am unable to
perceive."

"Properly," answered the physician, "I allude more to the dramatis
personæ than to the incidents."

"I do not understand you," said I.

"Do you not remember," said the physician, "my relation of the
circumstances attending the Duke's death?"

"Certainly," answered I.

"Has it not then become clear to you," resumed the doctor, "that
Francesco entertained a criminal attachment towards the Italian
Countess? That it was he who made his entrance secretly into the bridal
chamber, and who poniarded the Duke? Victorin, as you know, was the
off-spring of that crime. He and Medardus, therefore, are sons of one
father. Victorin has vanished from the world, without leaving a trace of
his fate. All inquiries after him have been in vain."

"The monk," said I, "hurled him down into the Devil's Abyss, amid the
Thuringian mountains. Curses on the delirious fratricide!"

Softly, at the moment after I had pronounced these words, there came on
my ears, from underneath the floor whereon we stood, the same measured
knocking which I had heard in my dungeon. Whether this were imagination
or reality, the effect on my feelings was the same. I could not contend
against the horror which now seized me. The physician seemed neither to
remark my agitation, nor the mysterious noise.

"What!" said he, "did the monk then confess to you that Victorin also
fell by his hand?"

"Yes," answered I. "At least I drew this conclusion from various
passages in his confused and broken confessions--connecting them also in
my own mind with the sudden disappearance of Victorin. Woe--woe to the
relentless fratricide!"

The knocking was now more powerful. There was again a
moaning and sobbing. Methought a shrill laughter sounded
through the air, and I heard the same stammering
voice--"Me-dar-dus--Me-dar-dus!--He--he--he--Help,
help!--He--he--he--Help, help!"--I was amazed that the physician
took no notice of this, but he quietly resumed.

"An extraordinary degree of mystery seems to rest upon Francesco's
appearance at our court. It is highly probable that he also was related
to our Prince's house. This much; at least, is certain, that Euphemia,
Baroness von F----, was the daughter----"

With a tremendous stroke, so that the bolts and hinges seemed broken
into splinters, methought the door flew open, and I heard the voice of
the spectre absolutely scream with laughter. I could not bear this any
longer. "Ho--ho--ho! _Brüd-er-lein!_" cried I. "Here am I--Here am
I!--Come on--come on quickly, if thou would'st fight with me--Now the
owl holds his wedding-feast, and we shall mount to the roof, and contend
with each other. There the weather-cock sings aloud, and he who knocks
the other down, is king, and may drink blood!"

"How now?" cried the physician, starting up, and seizing me by the arm.
"What the devil is all that? You are ill, Mr Leonard, dangerously ill.
Away--away with you to bed!"

I continued, however, staring at the open door, momentarily expecting
that it would open, and that my horrible _double_ would enter _in
propria persona_. Nothing appeared, however, and I soon recovered from
the delirium and horror which had seized upon me.

The physician insisted that I was much worse than I supposed myself to
be, and attributed all the mental derangement and wildness that I had
betrayed, to the effects of my long imprisonment, and the agitation
which, on account of my trial, I must have undergone.

I submissively used whatever sedative remedies he prescribed; but what
most of all contributed to my recovery was, that the horrible knocking
was not heard any more, and that the intolerable _double_ seemed to have
forsaken me altogether.



CHAPTER VI.


The delightful season of spring had now once more returned. Every
morning the birds serenaded me at the window of my lodgings, which were
in a garden-house, near a street called the Parterre, not far from the
river. Doubtless, the year is never so delightful and interesting as
when all things are yet undeveloped, and in their prime; when the
gardener is yet going about, with his hatchet, and bill-hook, and large
sheers, lopping the branches, though the flourishing boughs are already
redolent of green buds, that give out their fresh odours in the warm
sun. One says to himself--Let the gardener, or pruner, do his worst--let
him remove every unprofitable branch, so that the daylight may fall into
the most secret recesses, where the loves of a former year have been
celebrated and are gone by, yet the trees will, ere long, be in their
full luxuriance--all that he has lopped away will soon be more than
amply replaced.

It is the season of hope and bright anticipations. Every new flower that
rises from the teeming earth, and every bright green leaf that breaks
forth along the southern slope of the forest, calls forth responsive
feelings of buoyancy and delight in the soul.

Thus it happened, that one morning the vernal sun darted his unclouded
golden gleams into my chamber. Sweet odours of flowers streamed through
the open window, for the wind was in the south-west. The birds, as
usual, cheered me with their songs.

An irresistible longing urged me to go forth, and wander at will through
the open country. Despising, therefore, the directions of my physician,
I dressed, went down stairs, and betook myself, in the first place, to
the Prince's park. There the trees and shrubs, rustling with their
new-born green leaves, greeted the weakly convalescent. It seemed as if
I had just awoke from a long and heavy dream; and deep sighs were the
inexpressive tokens of rapture which I breathed forth, amid the joyous
carolling of birds, the humming of insects, and gladness of all nature.

Ay, life itself now appeared to me like a heavy and frightful dream, not
only for the time lately passed, but through the whole interval since I
had left the convent. I now found myself in a walk, shaded by dark
platanus trees, which give out their green leaves very early in the
year; and gradually I became lost in reverie. Methought I was once more
in the garden of the Capuchin Convent at Königswald. Out of the distant
thickets rose already the well-known lofty crucifix, at which I had so
often prayed with fervent devotion for strength to resist all
temptation.

The cross seemed to me to be now that only goal, after which I ought to
strive; _there_, prostrate in the dust, to do penance for the sinful
dreams in which I had indulged, for the guilty delusions into which I
had been led by the Arch-fiend. I stepped forward, therefore, with my
clasped hands lifted up, and with my eyes fixed upon the cross.
Methought I heard the pious hymns of the monks borne upon the air; but
it was only the mysterious voice of the woods, where the wind was up
amid the yet dry branches and the verdant foliage.

Its influence was more than in my weakly condition I could yet bear. I
was soon obliged to support myself against a tree, and even to lie down
on the turf: yet I never lost sight of the cross, but collecting my
whole strength, rose again, and tottered on. However, I could only reach
a rustic moss-seat, in front of the consecrated thicket, where, like a
weak old man, I sat languidly down, and in hollow groans tried to
lighten the anguish of my oppressed heart.

How long I remained in this situation, I know not. But at last I heard a
rustling, and the sounds of light steps on the walk. Instinctively, I
knew whom I was to expect--AURELIA! Scarcely had I formed the thought,
when, turning the corner of an opposite walk leading towards the seat,
she stood visibly before me!

Description here fails me, nor indeed have I in this narrative often
attempted to describe. Tears glistened in her heavenly blue eyes; but
through those tears gleamed a kindling light of love, which was,
perhaps, foreign to the saint-like character of Aurelia. This
expression, however, reminded me at once of that mysterious visitant of
the confessional, whom in my cherished dreams I had so often beheld.
Aurelia advanced towards me. She accepted my proffered hand. "Can you,"
said she in a low voice--"Can you ever forgive me?"

Then losing all self-possession, I threw myself on the ground before
her. I seized her hand, and bathed it with my tears.--"Aurelia,
Aurelia!" cried I, "for thy sake, gladly would I endure martyrdom!--I
would die a thousand deaths!" I felt myself gently lifted up. It was
Aurelia who raised me, and who afterwards sunk into my arms. I scarcely
know how these moments passed. Probably our interview was short, for I
remember only these words--"All my best hopes are now fulfilled--all the
mysterious fears that have haunted me are at an end!--But see! we are
observed." She quickly disengaged herself from my embrace, and I saw the
Princess coming up one of the walks. Not wishing at present to venture
an interview with one whom I had never dared to look on as a friend, I
retired into the thicket, where I discovered that the object which I had
mistaken for a crucifix, was only the grey withered stem of an old
pollard willow.

From that moment, I no longer felt any effects of my severe illness, far
less any influence of melancholy. The kiss of reconciliation which I had
thus received from Aurelia, inspired me with new life; and it seemed as
if, for the first time, I enjoyed the mysterious raptures of which even
this our terrestrial existence is susceptible. For the first time, I
knew the happiness of mutual love! I stood upon the highest pinnacle of
worldly fortune, and my path must, from henceforth, lead downwards, in
order to conduct me to that goal which the powers of darkness had seemed
to mark out for my final destination.

It was a dream of happiness like this to which I alluded, when I before
painted the delights of my first meeting again with Aurelia at the
Prince's court. Then I addressed myself to thee, oh stranger! who may
one day read these pages. I requested thee to recall the bright sunny
days of thy first love, and to imagine that dark disappointment had
annihilated every prospect painted for thee by the fairy hands of
Hope--then would'st thou be able to sympathize with the unhappy monk,
who, in his solitary prison, moaning over the remembrance of his early
visions, lay the victim of despair. Yet once more I beg of you to
recall that happy time--but now let there be no thought nor apprehension
of disappointment--and I need not then attempt to describe to thee the
supernatural light that was now shed on my path by my fortunate love. No
gloomy thoughts had longer any influence over my mind; I began even to
entertain a firm conviction that I was not the reckless criminal who, at
the Baron's castle, had killed Hermogen and Euphemia, but that it was
actually the delirious monk whom I had met at the _forst-haus_, that had
been the culprit.

All, therefore, that I had said to the physician appeared to me no
longer the fiction of my own brain, but the true narrative of events
which to myself remained mysterious and inexplicable. The Prince had
received me with the utmost kindness as a valued friend, whom he had
believed lost, and by whose unexpected return he had been greatly
rejoiced. This conduct of the Sovereign naturally gave the tone to that
of all my former acquaintances at court; only the Princess seemed still
to look upon me with coldness and reserve.

I had now the opportunity of daily meetings with Aurelia, nor did any
one venture remarks on our attachment. Many times our interviews were
without witnesses; but on these occasions her saint-like purity,
mildness, and timidity of character, which I could not but observe,
inspired me with an involuntary awe and reverence. I felt that she
placed in me implicit confidence, and with no one, not even with the
nearest relation, could such meetings have been more safe.

       *       *       *       *       *

For several days I had not seen Aurelia. She had gone with the Princess
to a neighbouring summer-house in the forest. At last I could not bear
her absence, but determined on a pedestrian excursion thither.

When I arrived, it was already late in the evening. The sun had declined
in red effulgence in the west. The air was filled with the odoriferous
breath of young leaves and flowers, and the woods resounded with the
sweetest notes of unnumbered nightingales. The approach to the
Princess's country-house was through a very long avenue of magnificent
pine-trees, whose massy down-hanging branches swept the ground, waving
in the balmy evening breeze with a mysterious murmur; and,
notwithstanding all the enchantments of the hour and scene, methought I
almost heard a warning voice pronounce the word, "Beware!" whereupon I
only quickened my pace, and with a beating heart arrived at the
garden-gate of the summer-house.

In the garden I met with one of the maids of honour, who pointed out to
me the wing of the chateau in which were Aurelia's apartments, for I by
no means wished to encounter the Princess. Softly I opened the door of
the anti-room, from which the warm breath of flowers and exotic plants
greeted me with their almost too-powerful fragrance. Remembrance was
busy with her dim illusions. "Is not this," said I, "the _identical_
chamber of Aurelia at the Baron's castle, where, on that fatal
night----" Scarcely had I formed this idea, when methought a dark form
reared itself up in gigantic height behind me, and, with terror that
shook my inmost heart, I heard a voice pronounce the name, "Hermogen!"

Losing all self-possession, I tottered onwards. I intended to knock, but
the door of the cabinet was ajar, and I saw Aurelia kneeling at a
_tabourett_, on which there was an open book, and above it a crucifix. I
looked back trembling, to see if the spectre was yet there, but it was
now vanished; then, in a tone of rapture, though not such as to alarm
her, I called out, "Aurelia--Aurelia!" "Is it possible," said she,
softly--"Leonard, my beloved, how came you hither?" She arose, and in
the next moment was folded in my arms. Her luxuriant hair hung
dishevelled over my head and shoulder. I felt her heart beat, and saw
her eyes gleam with unwonted fire; but at that moment there was a noise
behind us as if from the strong and powerful beating of wings. A moan
like the death-cry of one mortally wounded, sounded through the chamber.
"Hermogen!" cried Aurelia, and sunk fainting out of my arms. I placed
her on the sofa, but, in a voice of horror, she cried to me,
"Away--away! I command, I beseech you, begone!"

Scarcely knowing what I did, I left the room, and soon afterwards found
myself, unawares, in the entrance-hall of the ground-floor, where I was
met by the Princess. She looked at me gravely and haughtily. "Mr
Leonard," said she, "I am indeed not a little surprised to find you
here--What means this intrusion?" By a violent effort, combating my
distraction, I stammered out some incoherent apologies, by which I
perceived, from the looks of the Princess, that she was by no means
satisfied. On the contrary, I durst not venture to remain longer in the
house, but, after a hasty obeisance, betook myself to the front-gate,
and departed.

As I passed once more through the darkness amid the waving pine-trees,
methought I no longer walked alone! On the contrary, it seemed to me as
if some person ran all the way very near me, keeping time with my steps,
and as if I heard a stammering voice, which pronounced the words,
"Ev-er--ev-er am I with thee! Broth-er--broth-er Me-dar-dus! Go whither
thou wilt, east, north, or south, I am ever with thee!"

Hereupon I paused and looked round me; I became convinced that this
horrible _double_, by whom I was haunted, had his existence only in my
own disturbed imagination. However, I could by no means get rid of the
frightful image; he continued to run along by my side, and to speak with
me at intervals, till at last it seemed to me as if I must actually
enter into conversation, and relate to him the recent adventures of my
life. Accordingly, I confessed that I had just now been very foolish,
and had allowed myself once more to be terrified by the insane Hermogen;
however, that St Rosalia should now very soon be irrevocably mine, and
that, for her sake only, I had become a monk, and received the
investiture and consecration.

Then my detestable _double_ laughed and groaned as he had before done,
and stuttered out--"But lose no time--lose no time--Quick-ly, quick-ly!"

"Nay, have a little patience," said I, "and all will go well. Only, the
blow that I struck Hermogen has not been deep enough. He has got one of
those damned protecting crosses in the throat, even as thou hast, and I
have! But my stiletto, which thou hast preserved for me, is still sharp
and bright!"--"He--he--he!--He--he--he!--Strike him well, then--strike
him well!" Such were the accents of my infernal companion, amid the dark
rushing of the pine-tree woods; nor did they end there. The same
persecution accompanied me almost the whole way homeward into town,
until at last, the fresh morning wind cooled the burning fever of my
brow, and a roseate splendour advancing in the east, announced the dawn
of a new vernal day.

I had enjoyed only about two hours' broken rest at my lodgings, when I
received a summons to attend the Prince. I betook myself immediately to
the palace, where he received me very cordially.

"In truth, Mr Leonard," he began, "you have won my good opinion in the
highest degree. I cannot conceal from you that my prepossessions in your
favour have ripened into real friendship. I should be sorry to lose you,
and would rejoice in contributing to your happiness. Besides, it is our
duty to atone to you as much as possible, for all that you have been
made to suffer among us. By the way, Mr Leonard, do you know what was
the direct cause of the process against you--that is, who first accused
you?"

"No, sire," answered I.

"Baroness Aurelia," said the Prince,--"you are astonished. Nay, it is
very true, Baroness Aurelia, Mr Leonard, mistook you for a
Capuchin."--(He laughed heartily.)--"Now, if you are a Capuchin, you are
certainly the politest and best-favoured of that order that has ever
fallen under my notice. Say, in truth, Mr Leonard, have you ever been a
monk?"

"Sire," answered I, "I know not by what wicked fatality I am always to
be transformed into a monk; but----"

"Well, well!" interrupted the Prince, "I am no inquisitor. It would be a
serious disaster, however, if you were bound by any clerical vows. But
to the point--Would you not like to have your revenge on Aurelia for the
mischief that she has brought on you?"

"In what mortal's breast," said I, "would such a thought as that of
revenge arise against the amiable Baroness?"

"Do you not love Aurelia?" said the Prince.

I was silent, but replied by an expressive gesture, laying my hand on my
heart.

"I know it," resumed his highness. "You have loved this young lady since
that moment when she, for the first time, made her appearance here with
the Princess. Your affection is returned, and indeed with a fervour of
which I scarcely believed the mild Aurelia to be capable. The Princess
has told me all, and I know that she lives only for you. Would you
believe, that after your imprisonment, Aurelia gave herself up to a mood
of utter despondency, and became at last so ill, that we entertained
serious apprehensions for her life? She at that time looked upon you as
the murderer of her brother, and her grief, therefore, appeared to us
unaccountable; but the truth was, that even then she loved you.

"Now, Mr Leonard, or Mr von Krczinski, (for you are by birth noble,) I
shall fix you at the court in a manner that will be agreeable to you.
You shall marry Aurelia, and in a few days we shall solemnize the
betrothment. I myself will act in place of the bride's father.
Meanwhile, adieu!" The Prince, in his usual abrupt manner, then left the
audience-chamber.



CHAPTER VII.


Aurelia my wife!--the wife of a perjured and apostate monk! It may seem
incredible that my mind could undergo so many changes; but it is
nevertheless true, that though this idea had so long been cherished, and
had been familiar to myself, yet now, when I for the first time heard it
announced by another, it was attended by a clear perception of its
unfitness, and the almost utter unfeasibility of its realization. No!
said I to myself, the dark powers by whom my actions have been
instigated, whatever else of evil they may have in store, cannot have
resolved on this! I endeavoured to combat these fears, but in vain; and
yet to determine on voluntary separation from Aurelia was impossible.

It was the idea of the marriage ceremony, which filled me with a degree
of terror to myself inexplicable. I believed, indeed, that if the
perjured monk dared to kneel before the altar, making a mockery of
sacred vows, then, of necessity, the figure of that spectral omnipresent
painter, not with a demeanour mild and friendly as in the prison, but
announcing vengeance and destruction, would appear--as at Francesco's
marriage--to overwhelm me with disgrace and misery.

But then methought I heard, in a deep solemn tone, the words, "And yet
must Aurelia be thine! Weak-minded fool! How durst thou think of
changing that destiny which hangs over her and thee?" Scarcely were
these words uttered, when another voice rose within me--"Down--down!
throw thyself into the dust, thou blind wicked mortal! Never can she be
thine!--It is the blessed St Rosalia herself, whom thou madly think'st
to clasp in the embraces of terrestrial passion!"

Thus utterly at variance with myself, tost hither and thither by
contending impulses, I had left the palace, and wandered through the
park, in a state of such distraction, that, to arrive at any rational
plan for my future conduct, was wholly impossible. Past and gone was now
that happier mood, in which I had looked upon my whole former life, and
especially on my adventures at the Baron's castle, as a frightful
dream! On the contrary, I saw in myself only a base criminal, and
hypocritical deceiver. All that I had said to the physician and the
judge was only a collection of foolish and badly invented falsehoods, by
no means inspired, as I had before persuaded myself, by any supernatural
voice, but the off-spring of my own feeble ingenuity.

Lost and wrapt up in these bitter reflections, I was hurrying through
the streets towards my lodgings, when I was overtaken by one of the
Prince's carriages, which immediately stopped. I heard my own name
pronounced aloud, and saw that I was beckoned to by the physician, who
alighted, and immediately took me with him to his apartments.

"What means all this?" said he, "you violent unreasonable man! You have
thought proper, it seems, to make your appearance like a ghost to the
Baroness Aurelia, in the gloom of night too, so suddenly, that the poor
nervous young lady has been almost frightened out of her senses, and has
been attacked by serious indisposition--Well, well," (continued he,
perceiving a change in my countenance,) "I must not frighten you. Her
illness has not lasted long. She has again been out walking, and will
return to-morrow with the Princess into town. Of you, Mr Leonard, the
Baroness has in confidence said much to me. She longs greatly to see you
again, and to excuse herself; for she allows, that her conduct at your
last visit, must have appeared to you both childish and silly."

When I reflected on what had really passed at the summer-house, I was at
a loss how to interpret these expressions of Aurelia. The physician,
however, gave me no time to brood over this, but indulged in his usual
vein of loquacity. He gave me to understand, that he was perfectly aware
of the Prince's views for my advancement in rank, and marriage with
Aurelia. Hereupon reverting to her late fit of nervous irritability, he
gave, wickedly enough, such a caricature (for he was an excellent mimic)
of her conduct and expressions, when he had arrived express at the
summer-house, contrasting these also, with the grave ceremonious
_hauteur_ of the Princess, that I was forced, even against my will, to
laugh, (for the good humour of the physician was infectious,) and
gradually recovered a degree of cheerfulness, which, but a few minutes
before, I had supposed lost for ever.

"Could the imagination of any man," said the physician, "have
anticipated, when you came to our _residenz_, that so many wonderful
events would, in so short a time, have taken place: First, the absurd
misunderstanding which brought you as a criminal before the Justiciary
Court--Then the truly enviable fortune which has acquired for you the
special friendship and patronage of the Prince!"

"His highness," said I, "no doubt treated me from the first with marked
condescension and politeness. As to the advances that I have lately made
in his good graces, I ascribe this to his recollection of the unjust
prosecution by which I suffered, and which he is now desirous to atone
for."

"The Prince's favour," said the physician, "perhaps is not owing so much
to this, as to another circumstance, which you, no doubt, can guess."

"I cannot," answered I.

"The people, it is true," resumed the physician, "continue to give you
the same name which you assumed on your first arrival. Every one knows,
however, that you are by birth noble, as the intelligence which has been
received from Poland confirms all that you had asserted!"

"Admitting this intelligence to have been received," said I, "I know not
why it should have any influence on my reception at court, since, at my
first introduction there, I declared that I had no pretensions to any
rank beyond that of a citizen _particulier_, and yet was treated by all
with kindness, and even respect."

To this the physician replied, by a harangue, which lasted nearly an
hour, on the true principles which regulate the distinction of ranks;
and the lecture being delivered with his usual vivacity, had at least
the beneficial effect of engaging my attention, and putting to flight
the gloomy thoughts by which I had been overwhelmed. I could not but
feel also a kind of triumph at the manner in which I had again seemed to
rule over my own destiny, as by accidentally choosing the Polish name of
Kwicziczwo in conversation with the old lady, on the evening of my first
presentation at court, I had created for myself that patent of nobility
which induced the Prince to bestow on me the Baroness in marriage.

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as I ascertained that the Princess was returned to the palace, I
hastened to Aurelia, and immediately obtained an interview. The desire
to excuse herself for the needless and capricious agitation, to which
she had given way on my last visit, gave a new tone to her voice and
manner, and new expression to her eyes, so that her timidity being less,
I could once more say to myself, "The prize will yet be thine!" Tears
glistened in her beautiful eyes, and her tone was that of earnest and
plaintive supplication.

Still haunted by the idea of my spectral _double_, I wished to learn
from her explicitly what had been the real cause of her terror.
"Aurelia," said I, "I conjure you by all the saints, tell me what
horrible phantom was it that then appeared to you?" At this question she
gazed at me with obvious astonishment--her looks became always more and
more fixed, as if in deep thought--then suddenly started up as if to go,
but stood irresolute. At last, with both hands pressed on her eyes, she
sobbed out--"No--no--no;--It is not--it cannot be he!"--

Unconsciously she allowed me to support her to a chair, into which she
sank down exhausted. "For God's sake, Aurelia, who is it that you mean?"
cried I, though I had already dark anticipations of what was passing
through her mind. "Alas!" said she, "my beloved friend, were I to
confess to you the whole truth, would you not look on me as an insane
visionary? A horrible phantom accompanies me through life, and mars, by
its irresistible influence, every enjoyment, even at the times when I
should otherwise be most happy. At our very first meeting, this
frightful dream hovered, as if on dark wings, over me, spreading an
ice-cold atmosphere of death around us, where there should have
prevailed only a buoyant spirit of cheerfulness and hope.

"In like manner, when you came into my room at the Princess's
country-house, the same evil power acquired its full dominion over me.
But this persecution is not without its especial cause. Precisely in the
same manner in which you entered my apartments, though at a later hour
of the night, an accursed monk of the Capuchin order once surprised me.
Spare me the repetition of what then occurred. Suffice it, that he
became the murderer of my brother; and _now_, your features--your tone
of voice--your figure--But no more--no more of this--let me be silent on
that subject for ever, and forgive, if possible, my weakness in this
betrayal!"

Aurelia reclined on the sofa on which I had placed her, and seemed
unconscious of that freedom with which I now contemplated the exquisite
contour of her shape, and the angelic beauty of her features. Once
more--all better inspirations--all doubts and fears vanished from my
mind--with a fiendlike scorn and contempt, I said in a low voice--"Thou
unhappy _fated_ girl! Thou bought and sold of Satan! Thou, forsooth,
believest that thou hast escaped from thine old enemy--from the Capuchin
monk, who long ago would have led thee on to ruin and despair! But
_now_, thou art his bride; and in unconscious mockery of the religion
which thou cherishest, art doomed to kneel with him at the altar of the
Most High!"

The powers of darkness had, for a time, acquired over me supreme
dominion. I exulted over Aurelia as my devoted prey, and began to think,
like a professed libertine, that her destruction would form the noblest
epoch in my life. Our present interview, however, was not suffered to be
of long duration, for Aurelia was summoned to attend the Princess, and I
was left alone. Her expressions in apologizing for her conduct at the
Princess's _chateau_, had convinced me that there existed some mystery
betwixt us, of the nature of which I was yet unaware, and which I had
not the means of unravelling, for I perceived that there was no chance
of inducing Aurelia to speak more explicitly on the subject.

Accident soon after revealed to me that which she had been so determined
to conceal. One day I happened to be in the apartment of that officer of
the court, whose business it was to take charge of the receipt and
delivery of letters. He was suddenly called out, when Aurelia's
waiting-maid came with a large packet, and placed it among others which
were already on the table. A fleeting glance confirmed me that the
hand-writing was that of the Baroness, and I perceived that the
superscription was to the Abbess of the Cistertian Nunnery at
Kreuzberg. With the rapidity of lightning the thought vibrated through
me, that this packet would afford the key to many yet unexplored
mysteries, and before the officer returned, I had retired, and taken
with me Aurelia's letter--of which now follows a transcript--



CHAPTER VIII.



     "BARONESS AURELIA VON F----, to the Abbess
     of the Cistertian Convent at Kreuzberg:--

     "My dear kind Mother--How shall I find adequate words to announce
     to you that your daughter is fortunate and happy--that at length
     the horrid spectre is banished, whose terrific influence, blighting
     every flower, and clouding every sun-gleam, had, for a long
     interval, rendered her existence utterly wretched!

     "But now self-reproach falls heavy on my heart. When after my
     unhappy brother's death, and when my father perished from grief and
     disappointment, you received and supported me during my otherwise
     hopeless affliction, I ought then, not only to have confessed my
     sins, but to have acquainted you fully and explicitly with the
     strange and mysterious impressions, by which my tranquillity had
     been broken.

     "I was unwilling, however, to disturb you by a detail, which would
     have seemed rather like the fantastic illusions of a disordered
     imagination, than reality, and of which the malignant influence
     then admitted of no cure nor antidote. Circumstances are now
     changed, and I can freely write to you of that secret, which has so
     long been deeply concealed in my own breast. It seems to me,
     indeed, as if that mysterious power by whom I have been haunted,
     had mocked, like a demon, at my every prospect of happiness! I have
     been tost about hither and thither, as if on the waves of a stormy
     sea, and left ever and anon to perish without hope of rescue! Yet
     Heaven has almost miraculously assisted me, even at the moment when
     I was on the point of being irrecoverably lost.

     "In order to render my disclosures intelligible, I must look back
     to the period of my earliest recollections, for even at that time,
     the foundation was laid in my heart of those apprehensions which
     have since grown with my growth, and strengthened with my strength.

     "It happened when I was only about four years old, that one day,
     when the spring season was at its brightest and loveliest, I was
     busily engaged with Hermogen at play in the castle gardens.
     Hermogen had run about supplying me with a thousand varieties of
     flowers, which he also assisted me to weave into garlands, with
     which I adorned myself, till being completely decked out like a
     fairy queen, and covered with flowers, I said, 'Now, let me go!--I
     must shew myself to my mother!'

     "Hermogen, as you know, was older than I was, and exercised a kind
     of authority over his sister. At these words of mine, he started
     up, 'Stay here, Aurelia,' said he, in a commanding voice--'Thy
     mother is in her blue closet, and speaks with the devil!' I could
     not tell what my brother meant by this, but, quite overcome with
     terror, I began to weep bitterly--'Foolish Aurelia,' said Hermogen,
     'wherefore weepest thou?--Your mother speaks every day with the
     devil. But let us keep out of his way, and he will do us no harm!'
     He spoke, and looked angrily, so that I was obliged to be silent.

     "My mother was even then in very feeble health--she was attacked
     often by frightful convulsions, which left her in a state of
     deathlike weakness. This happened once in presence of Hermogen,
     and myself. We were ordered out of the room, and I wept bitterly;
     but Hermogen only said, 'It is the devil that has done this to
     her!'

     "Thus the belief was firmly impressed on my mind, that my mother
     every day held conversations with some frightful spectre, whom,
     even to look upon, would, to any one else, be death. (As to
     religious instructions, they were, of course, yet wholly beyond my
     comprehension.) One day, after rambling through the castle, I was
     horrified to find myself alone in the blue cabinet which had been
     alluded to by Hermogen.

     "I should instantly have taken refuge in flight, but my mother came
     in with a deadly paleness on her countenance, and without observing
     me, (for I stood in a corner,) in a deep melancholy tone, she
     pronounced the name, 'Francesco--Francesco!' There was then a
     strange rustling and rattling behind the oak pannels of the wall.
     The boards began to move, and drew themselves asunder. I then saw a
     full-length portrait, so admirably painted, that it had all the
     animation of life, representing a man in a foreign dress, with a
     dark violet-coloured mantle.

     "The figure and expressive countenance of this unknown, made on me
     an indescribable impression, which I never afterwards forgot. My
     admiration was such that I could no longer be silent, but uttered
     an exclamation of joy, which, for the first time, made my mother
     aware of my presence. Her temper, which was generally mild and
     equable, was now more ruffled than on any former occasion.--'What
     would'st thou here, Aurelia?' said she, in an angry tone; 'who
     brought thee hither?'--'They left me all alone,' cried I, bursting
     into tears. 'I know not how I came hither, and had no wish to be
     here!'

     "Meanwhile the pannels were again put in motion, and the portrait
     disappeared.--'Alas!' said I, 'the beautiful picture--Mother,
     dearest mother, why is it gone?'--The Baroness lifted me up in her
     arms, and caressed me.--'Thou art my dear good child,' said she;
     'but no one must see that picture, nor speak of its having been
     there. It is now gone, Aurelia, and will never come again!'

     "Accordingly, as long as I remembered this warning, I intrusted to
     no one what I had observed in the mysterious blue cabinet. Only to
     Hermogen, I once said--'Dearest brother, it is not with the devil,
     as you supposed, that our mother speaks, but with a young handsome
     man. However, he is only a picture, and starts out of the wall when
     she calls for him.'--'The devil,' answered Hermogen, with a fixed
     serious look, 'may look as he will,--so says our father confessor.
     But as to the Baroness, he dare no longer trouble her!'--Horror
     seized on me at these words, and I begged of Hermogen, that he
     never would speak of the devil again.

     "Soon after this we went to the _residenz_, and the picture
     _almost_ vanished from my remembrance; nor did I think of it till
     after my mother's death, when we came back to the country. The wing
     of the castle in which was that blue cabinet, remained uninhabited.
     Here had been my late mother's favourite apartments; and my father
     could not enter them without suffering from the most painful
     recollections.

     "At last, after an interval of several years, it became necessary
     to order some repairs in that wing; and being now in my fourteenth
     year, restless and wild, I happened to come into the blue cabinet,
     just at the time when the workmen were about to tear up the floor.
     When one of them was in the act of lifting a heavy table, which
     stood in the middle of the room, there was a strange noise heard
     behind the wall, the pannels burst asunder, and the portrait of the
     unknown again became visible.

     "On examination, they discovered a spring in the floor, which being
     pressed down, brought into motion certain machinery behind the
     wainscot, which was accordingly drawn aside, as already described,
     so as to exhibit the picture. Once more that extraordinary event of
     my childhood was brought vividly to my remembrance; and, at the
     recollection of my beloved mother, tears started into my eyes. Yet
     I could not turn away my looks from the expressive and interesting
     features of the unknown, which were so admirably painted, that they
     seemed more like life and reality, than any work of art. Above all,
     his eyes were so animated, that their glance seemed to penetrate
     into my very soul.

     "Probably the workmen had sent word to my father, of the discovery
     which they had made; for while I yet stood gazing on the unknown,
     he hastily entered the room. He had scarcely cast a fleeting
     glance on the picture, when he appeared almost petrified by some
     mysterious emotion, and murmured to himself, in a deep tone, the
     name '_Francesco!_'--

     "Then suddenly, as if awoke from a painful reverie, he turned round
     to the workmen, and, with a stern voice, commanded them, that they
     should directly tear the painting from the wall, roll it up, and
     give it in charge to Reinhold. I was greatly distressed by this
     order. It seemed to me as if I should never more behold that form,
     so heroic, noble, and interesting; who, in his foreign garb,
     appeared to me almost like some prince of the spiritual world! Yet
     an unconquerable timidity prevented me from requesting of my
     father, that he would not allow the portrait to be destroyed.

     "In a few days, however, these impressions altogether vanished; nor
     did they recur till after a long interval. I was now carried away
     by the volatility and light-heartedness of youth. A thousand
     sports, of my own devising, every day engaged my attention; and my
     father often said, that Hermogen, at this time, had the quiet,
     timid manners of a well-behaved girl; while I, on the contrary,
     behaved like a wild romping boy!

     "These characteristics, however, were soon to be changed. Hermogen
     was already past the years of adolescence, and began to devote his
     whole attention to his own professional pursuits as a young
     soldier. He thought only of hardening his frame to endure every
     possible fatigue--of parades and reviews--of military
     tactics--above all, of actual service in time of danger; and in
     these views, his father (having determined on his son's
     destination) wholly concurred.

     "For my part, my whole existence now underwent a complete
     revolution, which I was then unable to interpret, and which I yet
     cannot adequately describe. The solitude in which I lived probably
     contributed to heighten every fantastic impression. If any new
     feeling arose within me, being wholly undiverted by any external
     influence, or by the usual dissipations of society to which others
     can have recourse, it naturally grew into excess. I became
     thoughtful, melancholy, nervous, and discontented. By night, I was
     visited by strange and unaccountable dreams; and during the day, I
     was, by fits, extravagantly merry, or, on the slightest
     provocation, burst into a passion of tears.

     "My father observed these changes, which he ascribed to
     irritability of nerves, and called in a physician, who prescribed
     for me all sorts of remedies, without the slightest good effect. At
     this time--I know not myself how it could have happened--but one
     night the half-forgotten image of the unknown appeared before me,
     in colours so vivid and lively, that he was no longer a dead
     phantom on canvass, but a corporeal and living being, who gazed on
     me with an aspect of kindness and compassion.

     "'Alas!' cried I, 'must I then die? What is it by which I am thus
     so unspeakably tormented?'--'Thou lovest me, Aurelia,' said the
     vision, 'and this is the cause of thy present illness and
     distraction. But canst thou dissolve the vows of one already
     devoted to heaven?' To my astonishment, I now perceived that the
     unknown wore the robes of a monk.

     "Summoning my whole strength, I endeavoured to break the spells
     with which the detestable dream had fettered my senses; and, for
     the present moment, I succeeded in this; but I could not prevent
     the same phantom from recurring to my imagination, and persecuting
     me with tenfold power. I perceived only too well, that for me the
     mysteries of a first love were revealed,--that, with a passionate
     fervour, of which only the youthful heart is capable, I was
     attached to the nameless and visionary unknown! My indisposition
     seemed, however, to have attained its crisis, and I became
     perceptibly better. My nervous irritability decreased, and I was
     able again to mix in society; only the constant presence of that
     image, my fantastic love of a being who existed only in my own
     brain, rendered me so _distraite_, that I frequently gave absurd
     answers when questioned; and being wholly wrapt up in my own
     reveries, must have appeared to others either an affected prude, or
     an unidea'd simpleton.

     "About this time, I had found, among other romances, in my
     brother's room, one containing the history of a monk, who, being
     overcome by temptations of the devil, renounced his vows, and fell
     in love with a young lady, who in consequence perished miserably.
     This I read with avidity, and though the lessons that it contained
     might have been expected to open my eyes to the dangers which I was
     drawing on myself, yet it had an effect directly the reverse, by
     fixing my attention more and more on those visions which I ought to
     have banished for ever from my mind. Frequently I thought of
     Hermogen's words--'Thy mother speaks with the devil;' and began to
     think, that the unknown was, in truth, an agent of the Arch-fiend,
     employed to entice me to destruction. Yet I could not cease to love
     him; and when Reinhold came back, on one occasion, from a journey,
     and talked much of a certain Brother Medardus, whom he had heard
     preach in the town of Königswald, there arose within me an obscure
     dim apprehension, that the original of the beloved and yet dreaded
     vision might be that very Medardus; and this belief Reinhold's
     description of the preacher's features and person seemed amply to
     sanction. Thereafter, the wild dreams and internal conflicts by
     which I was persecuted, were increased tenfold. It happened that a
     monk (as was often the case) came to visit at my father's house;
     and this person chose, in a very diffuse lecture, to describe the
     manifold temptations of the devil, and the wretched delusions to
     which especially youthful minds were subjected, if they did not
     sufficiently resist his influence. My father seemed to approve of
     this discourse, and I believed it was aimed particularly at
     me.--'Only unbounded trust and confidence,' said the clergyman,
     'not only in religion, but in her servants, and submissive
     obedience to their injunctions and advice, can afford hopes of
     rescue.'

     "Not long after this, I accompanied my father to the town of
     Königswald, whither he went to attend a law process which Reinhold
     had been unable to finish alone. We lived at the garden-house of
     the Graf van M----, which is close by the celebrated chapel of the
     Capuchin Convent; and remembering the lecture which I had heard
     just before leaving home, I resolved not to lose that opportunity
     of fulfilling the sacred duty of confession."

[Aurelia's letter is very long, and contains a recapitulation, in a
diffuse rambling style, of events that are already known to the reader.
In the first place, there is her interview with Medardus in the church,
which has been described already in the first volume of these Memoirs.
After this, it appears that Aurelia was seized by a long and dangerous
illness, by which her passion for Medardus was, for a time, completely
subdued and alienated. To this change his vehement exhortation to her
in the confessional had also contributed; but, for the future, she
looked on the whole transaction as a dream, with which she had been
visited, in order that her eyes should be opened to the errors into
which she had, by a youthful imagination, been led.

Secondly, there is a full explanation of her conduct at the time when
Medardus appeared at the castle of her father the Baron von F----.
Though she at once recognized the former object of her affections, yet,
with an unshaken perseverance, she persisted in her determination, on no
occasion whatever to betray this recognition. Many times, however, she
now underwent severe conflicts on account of a transient recurrence of
her not yet wholly conquered passion; but against these her mind was
fortified by the constant presence and advice of Hermogen.

Thirdly, and lastly, comes a detail of recent circumstances which are
already sufficiently intelligible. No sooner had Medardus, in
consequence of Aurelia's representations, been thrown into prison, and,
by the opinion of every one, already prejudged to the scaffold, than
she became dreadfully agitated; and, although conscious that her conduct
was but the fulfilment of imperious duty, and feeling the utmost
abhorrence for him as a criminal, yet with these feelings was blended a
share of compassion, so that she almost regretted what she had done. At
this period, the discovery of the insane monk, in whom Cyrillus
recognized the true Medardus--the proofs received from Posen, that the
individual who had, in consequence of her accusations, been imprisoned,
was a Polish nobleman, and never had been a monk--effected an entire
revolution in her mind. Regret for the sufferings which she had so
unwarrantably inflicted, led naturally to the revival of her early
passion, which had now found a legitimate and innocent object.

She dwells with satisfaction on many attributes of character and
demeanour, in which her beloved Leonard differs from, and contrasts
with, the detestable monk, by whom her brother had been put to death.
Only the adventure at the Princess's country-house had, for a time,
broken in upon this confidence, and given rise to many harassing doubts
and fears, with an oppressive feeling of mystery, by which her mind is
still clouded, and against which she earnestly entreats the prayers and
maternal blessing of the Abbess for herself and her betrothed husband.]



CHAPTER IX.


Repeatedly, and with the greatest attention, I read over this letter of
Aurelia, especially the latter pages, in which there was obviously
displayed so much of true piety and confiding simplicity of heart, that,
at our next meeting, I was unable to continue my addresses in the tone
and manner in which I had before indulged. Aurelia remarked this change
in my conduct; and, struck with remorse, I penitentially confessed to
her my robbery of her letter addressed to the Lady Abbess--(which,
however, I had duly sealed and forwarded)--excusing myself on the
principle, that some mysterious and supernatural impulse had forced me
to this deed, against which it was impossible to contend. I insisted
also, that a similar influence, emanating from some high and
inexplicable source, had already shadowed forth to me in visions some of
the principal incidents in her life, which the perusal of the letter,
therefore, had only confirmed and realized.--"As a proof," said I, "of
the intellectual sympathy existing betwixt us, I could long ere now have
informed you of a wonderful dream by which I was myself visited, in
which you confessed to me your love; but methought I was transformed
into a miserable monk, whose heart, instead of being rejoiced by such
good fortune, was torn by remorse and self-reproach. I loved you,
indeed, with the utmost fervour; but my love was mortal sin; for I had
regularly taken the vows of a Capuchin; and you, Aurelia, were
metamorphosed into the blessed St Rosalia."

At these words Aurelia started up in affright. "For God's sake,
Leonard," said she, "say no more! Our lives are mutually obscured by
some frightful and impenetrable mystery; and the less we endeavour to
break through the veil by which it is now wrapt in darkness, the better.
Who knows what insupportable horrors may be therein concealed? Let us
think no more of such frightful inquiries, but rely firmly on each
other. That you have read my letter to the Abbess no doubt surprises
and vexes me. But what is done cannot be retrieved. As to its contents,
I would willingly have imparted them to you _viva voce_, if I had known
that it was to serve any good purpose, for no secrets dare exist betwixt
us. But to say the truth, Leonard, it appears to me that you yourself
struggle against the evil influence of much that is wrapt up in your own
bosom, and which, on account of false shame, you do not allow to pass
your lips. If possible, be for the future sincere! How much would your
heart be lightened by a free confession, and as to our attachment, its
bonds would thereby be strengthened tenfold!"

At these words of Aurelia, I felt in all its bitterness the torment of
conscious deception and hypocrisy. I reflected with the keenest
self-reproach, how, only a few moments before, I had voluntarily
practised imposition against this pious simple-hearted girl; and an
almost unconquerable impulse arose within me to confess to her
_all_--even the worst that I could utter against myself, and yet
methought I should not even then lose her affection!

"Aurelia! my guardian angel, who rescued me from----" I had thus even
begun my confession, when the Princess abruptly entered the room, and
produced an entire change, not only in my behaviour, but in my feelings.
Her manner, as usual, was haughty and ceremonious. I met her with all
the outward forms of respect, but internally with emotions of scorn and
defiance. As the acknowledged bridegroom of Aurelia, she was now obliged
to bear with me, and I boldly kept my place, though I perceived that her
aversion to me was by no means abated. In truth, it was only when alone
with Aurelia that I was now free from all wicked thoughts and impulses.
At such moments, the beatitude of Heaven seemed to descend on me, and I
began once more to wish anxiously for our marriage, in despite of every
obstacle.

About this time it came to pass that a remarkable dream one night
greatly disturbed my rest, by the recollection of which I continued for
several days to be haunted. Methought the figure of my mother stood
vividly before me, and when I wished to salute and welcome her, I
perceived it was but an aerial phantom which assumed her features, and
mocked my filial embrace. "To what purpose this absurd deception?" cried
I, angrily--"Thou delusive shadow, what would'st thou here?"

Then methought my mother wept bitterly. The tears that she shed were
changed into bright dazzling stars which floated through the air, and
began to form a circle round my head; but ever and anon, a black
frightful hand, like that of a demon, with long claws, broke the circle
as soon as it was nearly formed. "Thou, whom I brought pure and sinless
into the world," said my mother, "and whose infancy and youth I watched
over with such care, hast thou lost all energy and self-command, that
thou submittest, like a grovelling slave, to every enticement of Satan?
Now, indeed, I can look into thine inmost heart, since the load of
earthly existence, under which I have long struggled, is taken from my
shoulders. Rouse thyself, Franciscus! Resist the fiend that besets thee,
and he will flee! I shall once more adorn thee, as in early days, with
ribbons and flowers, for St Bernard's day is come, and thou shalt again
be a pious and happy child!"

Now it seemed to me as if, in obedience to my mother's admonition, I
must once more begin singing one of the lovely anthems which I had
learned in my youth, but frightful and indescribable noises overpowered
my voice. My attempts at music were like the howling of a wild beast;
and betwixt me and my phantom visitant there fell, rustling and
undulating, the folds of a massy black veil, supported by the spectral
arms of demons, with long hideous talons. Thus ended my dream.

Two days afterwards, I happened to meet in the park the chief judge of
the criminal court, who came up to me in a very friendly manner, and
entered into conversation.

"Do you know," said he, "that the final issue of Medardus's trial has
again become very doubtful? Judgment of death had nearly been pronounced
against him, indeed was all but carried into effect, when he again
shewed symptoms of madness. The court received intelligence of the death
of his mother. I made this known to him. Then he laughed aloud like a
maniac, and in a tone which would have inspired the stoutest heart with
horror--'The Duchess of Neuenburg!' said he, (naming the wife of the
late Duke, brother of our Sovereign,)--'She is long since dead. If this
is all the intelligence you had to bring, the trouble might have been
spared!'

"In consequence of this paroxysm, the execution of the sentence is
delayed, and a new medical inquiry set on foot. However, it is
generally believed that his madness is only pretended, and that his
condemnation is therefore inevitable."

I afterwards obtained information of the day and hour of my mother's
death, and found that these corresponded exactly with the time at which
she had appeared to me in that remarkable vision.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day which the Prince had appointed for our marriage was at last
arrived; and the ceremony was to take place in the morning, at the altar
of St Rosalia, in the church of a neighbouring convent, which (I know
not for what reason) Aurelia preferred to the Prince's chapel. I passed
the preceding night in watching and prayer.--Alas! I did not reflect
that prayer under such circumstances, and cherishing such intentions in
my heart, was only adding by blasphemy to my previous guilt.

When I went to Aurelia, she came, dressed in white, and wearing roses as
her only ornament, to meet me. Never had she looked more beautiful; but
in the fashion of her dress, and in the flower wreaths that she had
chosen, there was something that inspired me with strange and mysterious
recollections, which I knew not how to define. At the same moment I
remembered that the painting over the altar, at which the marriage
ceremony was to take place, represented the martyrdom of St Rosalia, and
that the saint was there dressed precisely as Aurelia now appeared,
whereupon my whole frame was shaken with horrid and uncontrollable
apprehensions, which it was hardly in my power to conceal.

We had no time for conversation, however. Scarcely had I saluted
Aurelia, when a servant of the Prince announced that we were waited for
by the wedding-party. She quickly drew on her gloves, and gave me her
arm. Then one of her attendants remarked that some ringlets of her hair
had fallen loose, and begged for a moment's delay. Aurelia seemed vexed
at the interruption, but waited accordingly.

At that moment a hollow rumbling noise, and a tumult of voices on the
street, attracted our attention. At Aurelia's request I hastened to the
window. There, just before the palace, was a _leiter-wagen_, which, on
account of some obstacle, had stopped in the street. The car was
surrounded by the executioners of justice; and within it, I perceived
the horrible monk, who sat looking backwards, while before him was a
capuchin, earnestly engaged in prayer. His countenance was deadly pale,
and again disfigured by a grizzly beard, but the features of my
detestable _double_ were to me but too easily recognizable.

When the carriage, that had been for a short space interrupted by the
crowd, began to roll on, he seemed awoke from his reverie, and turning
up his staring spectral eyes towards me, instantly became animated. He
laughed and howled aloud--"_Brüd-er-lein_--_Brüd-er-lein!_" cried
he.--"Bride-groom!--Bride-groom!--Come quickly--come quickly.--Up--up to
the roof of the house. There the owl holds his wedding-feast; the
weather-cock sings aloud! There shall we contend together, and whoever
casts the other down, is king, and may drink blood!"

The howling voice in which he uttered these words, the glare of his
eyes, and the horrible writhings of his visage, that was like that of an
animated corse, were more than, weakened as I was by previous
agitation, I was able to withstand. From that moment I lost all
self-possession; I became also utterly insane, and unconscious what I
did! At first I tried to speak calmly. "Horrible wretch!" said I; "what
mean'st thou? What would'st thou from me?"

Then I grinned, jabbered, and howled back to the madman; and Aurelia, in
an agony of terror, broke from her attendants, and ran up to me. With
all her strength, she seized my arms, and endeavoured to draw me from
the window. "For God's sake," cried she, "leave that horrible spectacle;
they are dragging Medardus, the murderer of my brother, to the scaffold.
Leonard!--Leonard!"

Then all the demons of hell seemed awoke within me, and manifested, in
its utmost extent, that power which they are allowed to exercise over an
obdurate and unrepentant sinner. With reckless cruelty I repulsed
Aurelia, who trembled, as if shook by convulsions, in every
limb.--"Ha--ha--ha!" I almost shrieked aloud--"foolish, insane girl! I
myself, thy lover, thy chosen bridegroom, am the murderer of thy
brother! Would'st thou by thy complaints bring down destruction from
heaven on thy sworn husband?--Ho--ho--ho! I am king--I am king--and will
drink blood!"

I drew out the stiletto--I struck at Aurelia,--blood streamed over my
arm and hand, and she fell lifeless at my feet. I rushed down
stairs,--forced my way through the crowd to the carriage--seized the
monk by the collar, and with supernatural strength tore him from the
car. Then I was arrested by the executioner; but with the stiletto in my
hand, I defended myself so furiously, that I broke loose, and rushed
into the thick of the mob, where, in a few moments, I found myself
wounded by a stab in the side; but the people were struck with such
terror, that I made my way through them as far as to the neighbouring
wall of the park, which, by a frightful effort, I leapt over.

"Murder--murder!--Stop--stop the murderer!" I had fallen down, almost
fainting, on the other side of the wall, but these outcries instantly
gave me new strength. Some were knocking with great violence, in vain
endeavours to break open one of the park gates, which, not being the
regular entrance, was always kept closed. Others were striving to
clamber over the wall, which I had cleared by an incredible leap. I
rose, and exerting my utmost speed, ran forward. I came, ere long, to a
broad _fosse_, by which the park was separated from the adjoining
forest. By another tremendous effort, I jumped over, and continued to
run on through the wood, until at last I sank down, utterly exhausted,
under a tree.

I know not how the time had passed, but it was already evening, and dark
shadows reigned through the forest, when I came again to my
recollection. My progress in running so far had passed over like an
obscure dream. I recollect only the wind roaring amid the dense canopy
of the trees, and that many times I mistook some old moss-grown pollard
stem for an officer of justice, armed and ready to seize upon me!

When I awoke from the swoon and utter stupefaction into which I had
fallen, my first impulse was merely to set out again, like a hunted wild
beast, and fly, if possible, from my pursuers to the very end of the
earth! As soon, however, as I was only past the frontiers of the
Prince's dominions, I would certainly be safe from all immediate
persecution.

I rose accordingly, but scarcely had I advanced a few steps, when there
was a violent rustling in the thicket; and from thence, in a state of
the most vehement rage and excitement, sprung the monk, who, no doubt in
consequence of the disturbance that I had raised, had contrived to make
his escape from the guards and executioners.

In a paroxysm of madness he flew towards me, leaping through the bushes
like a tiger, and finally sprung upon my shoulders, clasping his arms
about my throat, so that I was almost suffocated. Under any other
circumstances, I would have instantly freed myself from such an attack,
but I was enfeebled to the last degree by the exertions I had undergone,
and all that I could attempt was to render this feebleness subservient
to my rescue. I fell down under his weight, and endeavoured to take
advantage of that event. I rolled myself on the ground, and grappled
with him; but in vain! I could not disengage myself, and my
infernal double laughed scornfully. His abominable accents,
"He--he--he!--He--he--he!" sounded amid the desolate loneliness of the
woods.

During this contest, the moon broke, only for a moment, through the
clouds, for the night was gloomy and tempestuous. Then, as her silvery
gleam slanted through the dark shade of the pine trees, I beheld, in all
its horror, the deadly pale visage of my _second self_, with the same
expression which had glared out upon me from the cart in which he had
been dragged to execution. "He--he--he--Broth-er, broth-er!--Ever, ever
I am with thee!--Leave thee, leave thee never!--Cannot run as thou
canst! Must carry--carry me! Come straight from the gallows--They would
have nailed me to the wheel--He--he--he!--He--he--he!"

Thus the infernal spectre howled and laughed aloud as we lay on the
ground; but ere the fleeting moonbeam had passed away, I was roused once
more to furious rage. I sprang up like a bear in the embraces of a
boa-constrictor, and ran with my utmost force against trees and
fragments of rock, so that if I could not kill him, I might at least
wound him in such manner that he would be under the necessity of letting
me go. But in vain. He only laughed the more loudly and scornfully; and
my personal sufferings were increased tenfold by my endeavours to end
them.

I then strove with my whole remaining strength to burst asunder his
hands, which were firmly knotted round my throat, but the supernatural
energies of the monster threatened me with strangulation. At last, after
a furious conflict, he suddenly fell, as if lifeless, on the ground: and
though scarcely able to breathe, I had run onwards for some yards, when
again he sat upon my shoulders, laughing as before, and stammering out
the same horrible words. Of new succeeded the same efforts of despairing
rage! Of new I was freed! Then again locked in the embraces of this
demoniacal spectre!

After this I lost all consciousness.--I am utterly unable to say
distinctly how long I was persecuted by my relentless _double_. It seems
to me as if my struggles must have continued at least during a whole
month; and that during this long period I neither ate nor drank. I
remember only _one_ lucid interval. All the rest is utter darkness.

I had just succeeded in throwing off my double, when a clear gleam of
sun-light brightened the woods, and with it a pleasant sound of bells
rose on mine ear. I distinguished unequivocally the chimes of a convent,
which rung for early mass. For a moment I rejoiced; but then the thought
came like annihilation upon me--"Thou hast murdered Aurelia!" and once
more losing all self-possession and recollection, I fell in despair upon
the earth.



CHAPTER X.


Methought the air in which I breathed had a mildness and fragrance such
as now I had never known; but, as yet, I was labouring under the
influence of a deep and morbid slumber. I felt a strange irritation, a
shooting prickly pain in every vein and fibre, till it seemed as if my
frame was split and divided an hundred fold, and every division thence
arising assumed a peculiar and individual principle of life, while the
head in vain strove to command the limbs, which, like unfaithful
vassals, would not submit themselves to its dominion.

Then, methought, each of these separated parts became a glittering fiery
point, which began to turn itself round in a circle, till hundreds of
them, whirling rapidly together, formed at last the appearance of a
fixed ball of fire, which darted forth flames and coruscations. "These
are my limbs which are thus moving," said I to myself; "now I am for
certain about to awake."

At that moment, when the fiery ball was turning round, I felt sudden and
violent pain, and distinctly heard the sound of a clear chime of bells.
"Away, away--Onward, onward!" cried I, believing myself still in the
wood, and making a vehement effort to rise up, but I fell back powerless
on my couch. Now, for the first time, I was restored to perfect
consciousness, and saw, with great surprise, that I was no longer in the
forest. In the dress of a Capuchin monk, I lay upon a well-stuffed
mattress. The room was vaulted and lofty; a pair of rush-bottomed
chairs, and a small table, stood beside my bed.

I concluded that my state of unconsciousness must have continued for a
long time, and that, while in that unhappy situation, I must have been
brought to some convent or other, where the monks were, by their rule,
obliged to receive the sick. Probably my clothes had been torn, and they
had been obliged, for the meanwhile, to supply me with a cowl. However
this might be, there was no doubt that I had escaped from all immediate
danger. I was also free from pain, though very weak, therefore continued
quite tranquil, having no doubt that my protectors would, in due time,
look after their charge.

Accordingly, it was not long before I heard steps that seemed, from
their sound, to approach through a long stone-floored gallery. My door
opened, and I saw two men, of whom one had a lay dress, the other wore
the habit of the brethren of charity. They came up to me in silence; the
man in the lay dress fixed his eyes on me, and seemed much astonished.
"I am again come to myself, sir," said I, in a weak voice. "Heaven be
praised, who has restored to me my reason. But will you be so good as to
inform me where I am, and how I have been brought hither?"

Without answering me, the physician (as I supposed him to be) turned to
the clergyman, and said, in Italian, "This is indeed very extraordinary.
His looks are, since our last visit, completely changed. His speech is
quite clear, only weak. Some particular crisis must have taken place in
his malady."

"For my part," said the monk, "I have no doubt that he is completely
cured."

"Of that," said the physician, "we cannot judge, until we have seen how
he may conduct himself for the next few days. But do you not understand
as much German as to speak with him?"

The monk answered in the negative.

"I understand and speak Italian," interrupted I. "Tell me, then, I
beseech you, where I am, and how I found my way hither?"

"Ha!" cried the physician, "our difficulties are then at an end. You
find yourself, reverend sir, in a place where every possible precaution
has been, and will be taken, for your perfect recovery. Three months ago
you were brought hither in a very critical and dangerous situation; but,
under our care and attention, you seem to have made great progress
towards convalescence; and if we shall have the good fortune to complete
your cure, you may then freely pursue your journey, for, as I have
understood, you wish to go to Rome."

"Did I come to you, then," said I, "in this Capuchin dress which I now
wear?"

"Truly you did so," said the physician; "but give over, I pray you, this
asking of questions, and do not disquiet yourself--everything shall, in
due time, be explained to your satisfaction. Our business at present is
to attend to your bodily health."

He then felt my pulse, and the monk, who had for a moment disappeared,
returned with a cup full of some liquid, which the physician desired me
to drink, and then to tell him what I thought it was. I obeyed, and told
him that what I had drunk seemed to me a strong and nourishing
meat-broth. "Good--very good," said the monk, with a smile of
satisfaction. They then left me alone, with a promise of returning in a
short time.

Through the next three days, I was attended with the utmost skill and
kindness by the brethren and the physician. I continued rapidly to
improve, and at the end of that time was able to rise up, and, leaning
on the monk's arm, to walk through the room. He led me to the window and
opened the lattice. A delightfully warm and fragrant (but not sultry)
air, such as till then I had never breathed, came in at the window.
Without, I beheld an extensive garden, wherein all sorts of fruit-trees
grew, and flourished in the highest luxuriance. There were also
delightful arbours, bowers, and temples; while, even around the window
from which I looked, the grapes hung in rich massy clusters. Above all,
however, it was, with the clear cloudless blue of the sky that I was
altogether enchanted. I could not find words to express my admiration.

"Where am I then?" cried I. "Have the blessed saints granted to a
wretched sinner to dwell in their Elysium?"

The monk smiled contentedly at my raptures. "You are in Italy, brother,"
said he.

"In Italy!" repeated I, with the utmost astonishment. I then urged the
clergyman to explain to me more particularly how I could have found my
way to such a distance. He referred me to the physician, who just then
entered, and who at last informed me, that a strange man of most
eccentric manners had brought me hither about three months ago, and
begged that I might be taken into their house; that, finally, I was in a
regular hospital, which was taken charge of by the brethren of charity.

As I gradually gained more strength, I found that the monk and physician
willingly entered into conversation with me on various subjects of
literature and the arts. The latter, as if in order to obtain
information for himself, even requested me to write down many things
which he afterwards read over in my presence; but I was puzzled by
observing that, instead of praising what I had written on its own
account, he only said, "Indeed?--This looks well!--I have not been
deceived--Excellent--excellent!"

I was now allowed at certain hours to walk in the garden, where,
however, I was greatly discomposed by the sight of strange spectral
figures, who, as if quite unable to take care of themselves, were led
about by the monks. Once, in particular, I was struck by the appearance
of a tall haggard man, in a dingy yellow mantle, who was led by two of
the brethren, one on each side, and in this manner met me as I was
returning to the house. At every step, he made the most absurd
gesticulations, as if he were about to commence a _pas seul_, at the
same time whistling shrilly an accompaniment.

Astonished at this, I stood gazing on the man, but the monk by whom I
was attended drew me suddenly away. "Come, come, dear brother Medardus!"
said he, "that is no business of yours!"

"For God's sake," said I, "tell me how is it that you know anything of
my name?"

The vehemence with which I put this question seemed to discompose my
attendant. "For what reason," said he, "should we not know your name?
The man by whom you were brought hither, named you without hesitation,
and you were accordingly entered in the list of the house--Medardus,
brother of the Capuchin Convent at Königswald."

Once more I felt the ice-cold shuddering of terror vibrate in every
limb. But whoever was the unknown by whom I had been brought to the
hospital, whether he were or were not initiated in the horrible
mysteries of my life, he certainly had not cherished any evil intentions
towards me, for I had been treated with the greatest care and
tenderness, and was, besides, at liberty to go whereever I wished.

After this walk, I had returned to my chamber, and was leaning out at
the open window inhaling the delightful fragrance of the air, which
seemed to inspire me with new life and energy in every fibre, when I
beheld in the garden a man coming up the middle walk, whom I thought
that I had seen before, but could not immediately recollect where.

He was a diminutive withered figure, had upon his head a small hat with
a long peaked crown, and was dressed in a miserable weather-beaten
surtout. In his gait, he rather danced than walked; nay, every now and
then cut a caper right up into the air; and anon, started off to one
side, as if he were possessed by the demon of St Vitus. Occasionally he
made a full stop, and at one of these intervals, perceiving me at the
window, he took off his high-peaked hat, and waved it in the air, then
kissed his hand repeatedly, with an emphasis of gesticulation which at
once confirmed and cleared up my recollection. There was but one
individual in the world who could have practised these manoeuvres, and
that was Belcampo! He vanished, however, among the trees; but, not long
afterwards, I heard a particular rap at the door, of which the style and
manner immediately taught me whom I was to expect.

"Schönfeld!" said I, as he indeed made his appearance; "how, in the name
of wonder, have you found your way hither?"

"Ach--ach!" said he, twisting his face, as if he were about to
weep--"how should I have come hither otherwise than driven and hurled
onwards as I was by that malignant and relentless destiny, which never
fails to persecute every man of true genius. On account of a murder, I
was obliged to fly from the rich and flourishing town of Frankenburg."

"On account of a murder!--What would'st thou say?" interrupted I, with
considerable agitation.

"Ay, truly," answered he--"on account of a murder. I had, in a fit of
wrath, immolated the left whisker of the youngest _Commerziensrath_ in
that free town, and had also dangerously wounded the right mustachio."

"Once more," said I, "I must beg of you to give up these absurd and
unmeaning jokes, and to tell your story connectedly, otherwise you had
better leave the room."

"Nay, dear brother Medardus," he resumed, "this is indeed unforeseen and
unaccountable; now that you are restored to health, you would send me
from you in disgrace; but, as long as you were ill, you were glad to
have me for a companion in your room, and to be always near to you."

"What does all this mean?" cried I, quite confounded; "and how have you
got to the knowledge of my name Medardus?"

"Look," said he, with an ironical smile, "if you please, at the
right-hand lappelle of your monk's cowl."

I did so, and became almost petrified with terror and astonishment, for
I found the name "Medardus" embroidered thereupon; and, on more accurate
inspection, I could discover also that this was the identical tunic
which, on my flight from the castle of the Baron von F----, I had thrown
into a hollow tree in the forest.

Schönfeld did not fail to remark my agitation, over which he seemed
wickedly to triumph. With his fore-finger on his nose, and lifting
himself on tiptoe, he looked stedfastly in my face. I remained
speechless; then, in a low and pensive tone, he resumed--

"Your excellency, no doubt, wonders at the handsome dress which has been
chosen for you. To say the truth, it seemed in every respect to fit and
become you better than the nut-brown suit, with plated buttons, which
my wise friend Damon supplied for you. It was I, the banished, the
despised and misunderstood Belcampo, who provided for you this dress, in
order to cover your nakedness. Brother Medardus, you were then, indeed,
but in a sorry plight, for, instead of great-coat, vest, pantaloons,
English frock, &c. &c. you wore, in the simplest, and most unpretending
manner, your own skin. As to a proper friseur, you thought as little of
him as you did of a tailor, performing his functions with your own ten
fingers, in a style which was by no means to be commended."

"Give over these disgusting follies," said I, much incensed;
"Schönfeld--I insist on your being rational, otherwise I will hear no
more!"

"Pietro Belcampo is my name," interrupted he, with great vehemence; "Ay,
Pietro Belcampo; for we are now in Italy, and you must know, reverend
sir, that I, simple as I here stand, impersonize that folly, which
luckily has been present on every disastrous occasion, to assist your
wisdom; and without which, you would have found yourself miserably
deficient. It is from Folly alone that you have derived protection. By
this alone your boasted reason, which is unable to hold itself upright,
but totters about like a drunk man or a child, has been supported, and
instructed to find the right road home, that is to say, to the
mad-house, where we are both happily arrived."

By these last words I was much agitated. I thought on the strange
figures that I had seen, especially on the tall haggard man in the dingy
yellow mantle, who had made such absurd gesticulations; and could
entertain no doubt that Schönfeld had told me the truth. "Ay, dear
brother Medardus," resumed Schönfeld, with solemn voice and gestures;
"Folly is, indeed, on this earth, the true intellectual queen. Reason,
on the other hand, is only a pitiful viceroy, who never troubles himself
with what happens beyond his own narrow boundaries, who, from sheer
_ennui_, indeed, makes his soldiers be exercised on the _parade-platz_,
though the said soldiers afterwards, in time of danger, cannot fire a
single volley in proper time. But Folly, the true queen of the people,
marches in with kettle-drums and trumpets--Huzza! Huzza!--before and
behind her, triumph and rejoicing! The lieges straightway emancipate
themselves from the constraint in which Reason would have held them, and
will no longer stand or walk as their pedantic tutor would have them to
do. At last he calls the roll, and complains,--'Lo! Folly hath robbed me
of my best recruits--hath driven them away--driven their wits a
wool-gathering--ay, driven them mad.' That is a play of words, dear
brother Medardus, and such play is like a glowing pair of curling-irons
in the hand of Folly, with which she can twist such a thought!"

"Desist, I once more entreat of you," said I, "desist from this childish
clatter of unmeaning words, and tell me concisely how you came hither,
and what you know regarding the dress which I now wear!" Hereupon I
seized him by both arms, and forced him into a chair, where he seemed to
recollect himself, fixed his eyes stedfastly on the ground, and with a
deep sigh resumed,--

"I have saved your life," said he, "for the second time. It was I who
enabled you to escape from the town of Frankenburg. It was I, too, who
brought you hither."

"But, in the name of Heaven," said I, "where did you last find me?"

I had let him go, and he instantly bolted up--"Ha, brother Medardus,"
said he, "if I, weak and diminutive as I seem, had not contrived to bear
you on my shoulders, your limbs would by this time, have lain the food
of ravens on the wheel!"

I shuddered as if ready to faint, and sunk into a chair. At that moment
my attendant monk entered the room. "How hast thou come hither? Who gave
thee liberty now to enter this room?" said he, very angrily, to
Belcampo.

"Alas! venerable father," said the latter, in a supplicating tone, and
pretending to burst into tears, "I could no longer resist the vehement
impulse to visit my dearest friend, whom I had rescued from danger of
death!"

I now recovered myself. "Tell me, brother," said I to the monk, "did
this man really bring me hither?"

The monk hesitated.

"I scarcely know," said I, "in what sort of hospital I am now protected,
but I can easily suppose that I have been in the most frightful of all
conditions. You perceive, however, that I am now quite well, and
therefore, I may hear all which was before intentionally concealed from
me, when you supposed that my nerves were yet too irritable."



CHAPTER XI.


"It is, indeed, quite true," said the monk, "this man brought you hither
about three months and a half ago. He had, according to his own account,
found you in the Lovanian forest, (which separates the dominions of the
Prince of Laguria, from our district,) and had recognized you for the
Capuchin Medardus from Königswald, who had before, on a journey to Rome,
passed through a town where he then lived.

"When first brought among us, you were in a state of utter apathy. You
walked when you were led, remained standing if one let you alone, and
seated or laid yourself down according as you were put into the required
position. Food and drink we were obliged to pour down your throat; as to
words, you were able only to utter hollow unintelligible sounds, and
your eyes appeared to stare, without the power of distinguishing any
object. Belcampo then never left you, but was your faithful attendant.
After an interval of about a month, you fell into a state of outrageous
madness, and we were obliged to place you in one of the cells
appropriated for persons in that frightful malady. You were then like a
ferocious wild beast; but I dare not describe your sufferings more
minutely, as the picture might be too painful. After some weeks, your
state of apathy again returned, and seemed more obstinate than ever, but
at last, God be praised, you awoke from your stupefaction, into your
present convalescence."

Schönfeld had, during this narrative of the monk, seated himself, as if
in deep reflection, leaning his head on his hand. "Ay, truly," he
resumed, "I know that I am sometimes little better than a self-conceited
fool; but the air of the mad-house, destructive to reasonable people,
has on me had a very beneficial influence. I begin to speculate on my
own errors, which is no bad sign. If, generally speaking, I exist only
through my own self-consciousness, it is only requisite that this
consciousness should pull off the fool's motley coat, and I shall shew
myself to the world, a very wise, rational gentleman. But, oh, heavens!
is not a genial friseur, according to the principles of his character
and profession, a privileged fool and coxcomb? Such folly is, in truth,
a protection from all madness; and I can assure you, reverend sir, that
in a north-west wind, I can distinguish very well between a church-tower
and a lamp-post!"

"If this be really the case," said I, "give us a proof of it now by a
quiet rational narrative, how you discovered me in the wood, and brought
me to this house."

"That shall immediately be done," said Belcampo, "though the reverend
father on my right hand looks at me with a very suspicious aspect. You
must know, then, that on the morning after your escape from Frankenburg,
the foreign painter, with his collection of pictures, had also, in an
inconceivable manner, vanished; and although the disturbance that you
had raised at first excited a good deal of notice, yet, in the stream of
other events, and the bustle of the fair, it was ere long forgotten. It
was not till after the murder at the castle of the Baron von F----
became generally talked of, and the magistracy of that district
published handbills, offering a reward for the arrest of Medardus, a
Capuchin monk in Königswald, that people were reminded of the painter
having indeed told the whole story, and recognized in you the said
brother Medardus.

"The landlord of the hotel wherein you had lodged, confirmed a
supposition that had already got afloat, of my having been accessory to
your flight. The people, therefore, fixed their attention on me, and
would have thrown me into prison. Having long wished to quit for ever
the miserable course of life that I had been dragging on, my resolution
was, in consequence, very speedily adopted. I determined to go into
Italy, where there are _Abbatés_ with powdered wigs, and encouragement
is yet afforded to an accomplished _friseur_. On my way thither I saw
you in the _residenz_ of the Prince von Rosenthurm. The people there
talked of your marriage with the Baroness Aurelia, and of the
condemnation and execution of the monk Medardus.

"I had also an opportunity of seeing this criminal monk, and whatever
his history might have been, I was convinced at once that you were the
true Medardus. I placed myself in your way, but you did not observe me,
and I left the Prince's _residenz_, in order to follow out my own plans.

"After a long and fatiguing journey, I had taken up my night's rest at a
small obscure hamlet. In the morning I rose very early, as was the
custom of the inhabitants there, and prepared to continue my laborious
progress through a forest, which lay in gloomy darkness before me. Just
as the first gleams of the morning had begun to break through the clouds
of the east, there was a rustling in the thickets, and a man, with his
hair matted, and staring out in various directions, his beard, too, in
the same disorder, but wearing an elegant modern suit of clothes, leaped
past me!

"His looks were wild and outrageous, and I gazed after him with the
greatest astonishment, but in a moment he had disappeared again in the
thick of the tangled coppice, and I could see no more of him. I walked
onwards, therefore; but what words can express the horror that I felt,
when right before me I saw a naked human figure stretched out flat upon
the ground! There seemed to me no doubt that a murder had been
committed, and that the fugitive whom I had before seen was the
murderer.

"I knelt down beside the naked man, recognized at once your features,
and perceived that you still breathed. Close beside you lay the Capuchin
habit, which at this moment you are wearing. With much labour and
stratagem I contrived to dress you in it, and to drag you along with me.
At last you awoke out of your deep swoon, but you remained in that
frightful state of apathy in which this reverend gentleman has described
you.

"It cost me no little exertion to get you dragged along, and
consequently it was not till late in the evening that I was able to
reach an ale-house, which was situated in the middle of the forest. Here
I placed you upon a bench of turf at the door, where you lay as if
utterly overcome and drunk with sleep. I then went into the house to
procure you food and drink, and, found (as I suspected might be the
case) a party of hussars, who, as the hostess informed me, were in
pursuit of a monk, who, in an inconceivable manner, had escaped at the
moment when, on account of his enormous crimes, preparations were making
for his death on the scaffold.

"It was to me an inexplicable mystery how you could have escaped out of
the _residenz_ into the forest; but the entire conviction that you were
the Medardus whom they now sought after, made me exert myself to the
utmost to rescue you from the danger which now hovered over you. Of
course, I brought you away directly from the ale-house, in which
undertaking I was favoured by the increasing darkness; and thereafter
choosing always the by-roads and most unfrequented tracks, I succeeded
at last in conducting you over the frontiers.

"Finally, after long and incredible wanderings, I came with you to this
house, where the inhabitants received us both, as I declared that I was
not willing to separate from you. Here I was convinced that you were
perfectly secure, for by no means would the venerable fathers give up a
sick person whom they had once received, to any criminal court.

"In this very chamber, then, I faithfully attended and nursed you; for
as to your own five senses, you were indeed but very indifferently
provided. Nor were the movements of your limbs to be commended. Neither
Vestris nor Noverre would have given you much encouragement, for your
head hung down on your breast, and when any one wished you to stand
upright, then you tumbled about like a capotted nine-pin or skittle. As
to your celebrated eloquence, too, you fared still worse, for you were
d----d _monosyllabic_, and in your lucid intervals, only said, 'Hu--hu!'
and 'Me--me!' out of which expressions your thoughts and wishes were not
to be very clearly divined: Indeed, it was to be supposed, that your
rational faculties had become unfaithful to you, and were gone
a-vagabondizing on their own private account.

"At last you became all of a sudden extravagantly merry, cut inordinate
capers in the air, and roared aloud with sheer exuberance of delight,
tearing your habit at the same time, in order, we supposed, to escape
even from the smallest restraint. Your appetite was then----"

"Stop, stop, Schönfeld," cried I, "give over this horrible and cruel
raillery--you have already sufficiently informed me of the frightful
situation into which I had fallen. Thanks and praise to the
long-suffering and mercy of Heaven, and the intercession of the saints,
that I am now rescued!"

"Alas! reverend sir," resumed Schönfeld, "in what respect are you the
better of all that you have gained, I mean of this peculiar attribute of
the soul, which is called self-consciousness? Methinks it might well be
compared to the cursed activity of a pettifogging toll-keeper, or
excise-officer, at best, or a controller of customs, who has established
his damnable _comptoir_ in the brain, and upon the last indication of
goods coming forth from hence, cries out 'Hey day! The export is
forbidden. These wares must remain in the country.' The richest jewels,
like contemptible grains of seed, remain stuck in the earth, and at
last, all that rises above the surface are _runkelrüben_,[4] from an
hundred thousand weight of which, perhaps a quarter of an ounce of bad
sugar is afterwards extracted; and yet this pitiful export is, forsooth,
to lay the foundation of trade with the glorious city of the New
Jerusalem in the realms above, where all is magnificence and splendour.
Oh, heavens! I would have given all my dearly bought powder _à la
Marchalle_, or _à la Pompadour_, or _à la Reine de Golconde_,--would
have cast it into the river, where it is deepest, if by transi-to-trade,
I could have obtained from thence but a _quentlein_ of the golden dust of
the sun's rays, to dress the wigs of reverend professors, and men of
learning, but in the first place, mine own! What do I say? If my
excellent friend Damon, reverend sir, had, instead of the flea-coloured
frock, contrived to hang about your shoulders one of those robes made of
the morning light, in which the burgesses of the holy city walk to
church, then, as to dignity and gentility, we should have come off very
differently; but as the matter stood, the world held you for a common
_glebæ adscriptus_, and the devil for your cousin-german!"

[Footnote 4: Beet-roots.]

Schönfeld had risen up, and walked, or rather hopped, about the room,
with vehement gesticulations, and twisting his features into incredible
contortions. He was in the plenitude of his vein, kindling up one folly
by another. I therefore seized him again by both arms. "Art thou
resolved," said I, "to secure thyself a place in this hospital instead
of me? Is it impossible for thee to talk more than five minutes
together without falling into these absurdities?"

"Is then all that I utter," said he, "so very foolish, when thus the
spirit comes upon me?"

"That is precisely what renders your talk so intolerable," said I.
"There is often good sense at the bottom of all this gibberish, but so
abominably metamorphosed, that a thought, good in itself, is like a fine
dress hung over with party-coloured rags. Like a drunk man, thou canst
not proceed in a straight direction, but art everlastingly floundering
away hither and thither. Thy conduct is never consistent or
consecutive."

"What is conduct?" said Schönfeld, with a contemptuous smile--"What is
conduct, most venerable Capuchin? Doth not that term imply the
preconception in the mind of some fixed and certain object, for the
attainment of which we shape and adapt our procedure? Are you, reverend
sir, sure of your own object? Are you not rather afraid that you may
have occasionally admitted too little alloy in your spirituous
potations, and now, like a giddy tower-watcher, see two goals, without
knowing the right one? Besides, sir, let it be forgiven to one of my
profession, if he is apt, perhaps too often, to have recourse to the
humorous and the _outré_, in order to season the insipidity of this
life, as we add Spanish pepper to cauliflower; without this, an artist
of my vocation would be but a pitiful _dummkopf_,[5] who carries his
privilege in his pocket, without ever daring to make use of it."

[Footnote 5: Blockhead.]

The monk had remained in the room, and had looked attentively at
Belcampo and at me; but as we spoke German, he did not understand a
single word. At last, he resolutely interrupted our dialogue. "Excuse
me, gentlemen," said he, "if I put an end to a discourse from which it
is impossible for either of you to derive any advantage. Your health,
brother, is yet much too weak to bear with a conversation which probably
awakens painful recollections as to your past life. Besides, you will
have time enough to learn all that your friend has to inform you of, as
when you leave our establishment, he will no doubt accompany you.
Belcampo has a strange manner of speaking; and by his eloquence and
gesticulations together, never fails, when he tells a story, to bring
every adventure vividly before the eyes of his listener. In Germany he
must, I suppose, be looked on as mad. Here in Italy, he would be valued
as a capital buffoon, and on the stage might make a fortune."

Schönfeld stared with all his might at the clergyman, then lifted
himself on tiptoe, clasped his hands over his head, and called out in
Italian, "Thou warning voice from the world of spirits--thou voice of
omnipotent destiny! To me thou hast spoken at last through the organs of
this reverend father. Belcampo--Belcampo! How could'st thou mistake so
long thy true vocation? It is now resolved!" He then ran out of the
room, and for that day I saw no more of him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning he made his appearance, equipt for a journey. "Dear Brother
Medardus," said he, "you are now quite recovered; you do not any longer
require my assistance. I therefore take my departure, in order to go, as
the spirit moves me, into the world. Farewell, then! Yet permit me that
I exercise on you, for the last time, my art, although in my own
estimation it has now become utterly contemptible."

Hereupon he drew out his razors, comb, and scissars, and with a thousand
grimaces, _more suo_, brought my hair and visage into proper order. At
last he took his leave, with many tears; and as the man, notwithstanding
his fidelity, had become very strange and mysterious, and knew more of
my history than I could have wished, I was not sorry to find myself free
from his tiresome conversation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The physician's remedies had been of great service to me; and as, by
taking every day longer and longer walks, I had quite recovered my
strength, I became convinced that I was able for the fatigues of a
pedestrian journey, and resolved to leave a house, which, however
suitable to the sick, was by no means a congenial abode for those who
were in health.

The plan of going to Rome had been, without any volition of my own,
brought so far into execution. I had always been advancing farther
towards the place of my destination, and resolved, therefore, that I
would now persevere in the same course.



CHAPTER XII.


At last I had taken leave of the charitable brethren, and set out as a
pilgrim on that high road, which I was told was the proper route to the
great city. Notwithstanding that my health was now thoroughly
reinstated, yet I was conscious of a strange apathy of mind, which threw
a dark shade on every image, rendering the prospects before me grey,
withered, and cloudy. Without even any clear remembrance of my past
life, I was completely occupied by cares for the present moment. Towards
evening, I always looked out anxiously for some place, (generally a
convent or private house,) where I would be able to extort food and
shelter for the night. I rejoiced not a little, when I met with persons
sufficiently devout to fill my knap-sack and wine-bottle, in return for
which I mechanically repeated, according to monastic form, the customary
blessings. In short, I had sunk in spirit, as well as in outward
observances, into an ordinary, stupid, and depraved mendicant friar.

At last, after many adventures, no one of which deserves particular
commemoration, (for they were all of a similar character,) I came at
last to a great Capuchin Convent, which, surrounded only by houses
belonging to the establishment, and forming in itself a little town, is
situated not far from Rome. This convent, though within itself large and
populous, is, in other respects, lonely and insulated. The monks are by
their rule obliged to receive others of the same order, and I imagined
that I should live for some time with much comfort among them.

Accordingly I made up a story, such as I thought would sound favourably
in their ears. I pretended that the convent to which I belonged in
Germany had been recently broken up; that consequently I had been thrown
on the wide world, and wished to be received into some other monastery,
under the same laws.

With that hospitality and cheerfulness which are peculiar to the Italian
clergy, they, in the first place, entertained me sumptuously, and the
Prior formally said, that if no fulfilment of a sacred vow obliged me
to travel farther, I was welcome to remain there as long as I chose.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now the hour of vespers. The monks went to their appointed places
in the choir, and I walked into the church. I was deeply impressed by
the bold and magnificent architecture of the great aisle--but, alas! my
spirit could now no more be exalted by those raptures which in early
days attended me in the church of the Holy Lime-Tree, to which this bore
a marked and mysterious resemblance!

When I had completed my devotions at the high altar, I indulged myself
in walking through the different subsidiary aisles, contemplating the
paintings at various shrines, which, as usual, represented the
martyrdoms of the saints, to whom they were severally consecrated. At
last I was attracted by a small and retired chapel, where the altar was
exquisitely illuminated by the beams of the now setting sun, that
streamed in through the painted window.

I wished to examine the picture, and devoutly making the sign of the
cross, mounted up the marble steps. Oh, heaven! It was precisely the
same, the fatal altar-piece of my own convent--the martyrdom of St
Rosalia! Methought, however, the figure was yet more beautiful, more
exquisitely attractive and seducing. It was Aurelia, in her fullest
bloom of beauty, that I beheld; and my whole past life, which I had
begun to forget, with all its wanderings and crimes--the murder of
Euphemia, of Hermogen, and of Aurelia, revived on my recollection, as if
concentrated instantaneously into one horrible thought, that penetrated
my heart and brain, like a burning hot implement of torture.

I threw myself prostrate on the stone floor. I was convulsively shook
and torn by my inward conflicts, as if I had been laid on the rack of
the most cruel and relentless inquisition. Death would have been
welcome--but, alas! death would not come to my relief! Hereupon I began
to tear my garments, in the furious rage of despair. I howled in
hopeless anguish, so that my voice resounded through the vaulted aisles
of the church.

"I am cursed," cried I aloud--"I am cursed for ever. There is for me no
grace, no consolation more--neither in this world nor in the next. To
hell--to hell am I doomed! Sentence of eternal damnation has gone forth
against me--an accursed and abandoned sinner!"

My cries of course alarmed the whole community. People came, lifted me
up, and carried me from the altar of St Rosalia. The service was now
over, and the monks assembled in the chapel. At their head was the
Prior. He looked at me with an indescribable mildness and gravity of
expression, which reminded me of Leonardus. He then advanced and took me
by the hand, while to me it seemed as if some blessed saint, hovering in
the air, held up the miserable sinner above the fiery and bottomless
pool of destruction into which he was about to plunge.

"You are ill and feverish, brother," said the Prior; "the fatigues of
your long pilgrimage have been too great a trial of your strength, but
we shall carry you safely into the sick ward of the convent, where you
will be faithfully attended by our physician, and restored to health."

I could not make any articulate answer to this address. I knelt before
him in abject misery, and even kissed the hem of his garment.
Deep-drawn sighs, which I could not repress, betrayed the frightful
condition of my soul. The monks again lifted me up, and brought me into
the refectorium, where they insisted on my accepting of some
refreshments.

On a sign from the Prior, the brethren then retired, and I remained with
him alone.

"Brother," he began, "your conscience seems to be loaded with some heavy
sins; for nothing but repentance almost without hope, on account of some
extraordinary crime, could have given rise to such conduct as you have
this evening exhibited. Yet great and boundless are the mercy and
long-suffering of God; very powerful, too, is the intercession of the
saints. Therefore, take courage! You shall confess to me; and when this
duty is fulfilled, the consolations of the church shall not be wanting."

These words in themselves were not remarkable; but the tone and manner
of the Prior made on me such an impression, that at this moment
methought the mysterious pilgrim of the Holy Lime-Tree stood beside me,
and as if he were the only being on the wide earth to whom I was bound
to disclose the horrors of my life, and from whom I must allow nothing
to remain concealed. Still I was unable to speak. I could only prostrate
myself again upon the earth before the old man.

"I am now obliged," said he, "to return to the chapel. Should you
resolve to follow my counsel, you will find me there."

My determination was already fixed. As soon as I had, by a great effort,
recovered some degree of composure, I hastened after the Prior, and
found him waiting in the confessional. Acting according to the impulse
of the moment, I began to speak, for the first time since a very long
period, without the slightest attempt at disguise. On the contrary, I
confessed all the adventures of my life, from first to last, without
mitigating a single circumstance, which the severest censor could have
suggested against me!

Horrible was the penance which the Prior now imposed upon me! Forbid to
appear again in the church--shut out like an alien from the society of
the monks, I was henceforth confined to the charnel vaults of the
convent--miserably prolonging my life by a stinted portion of tasteless
roots and water, scourging myself with knotted ropes, and mangling my
flesh with various implements of martyrdom, which the ingenuity of
demoniacal malevolence had _first_ invented, lifting up my voice only in
bitter accusations against myself, or in the most passionate and abject
supplications for deliverance from that hell whose flames already seemed
to burn within me!

But when my blood streamed from an hundred wounds--when pain, in a
hundred scorpion stings, assailed me--and nature yielded at last, from
inability to continue the conflict, so that I fell asleep like an
exhausted child, even in despite of my torments--then the horrid imagery
of dreams molested me with a new and involuntary martyrdom.

Methought I saw Euphemia, who came floating towards me in all the
luxuriance of her beauty, and casting on me the most seductive glances.
But I cried out aloud, "What would'st thou from me, thou accursed sinful
woman? No! hell shall not triumph over the truly penitent!" Then
methought her form, before so wanton and luxurious, shook and shivered.
She threw aside her robes, and a horror, like that of annihilation,
seized upon me; for I saw that her body was dried up into a skeleton,
and through the ribs of the spectre I saw not worms, but numberless
serpents that twined and twisted within and without, thrusting out their
heads and forked burning tongues towards me.

"Away!--begone!" cried I, in delirium; "thy serpents are stinging my
already wounded flesh. They would fatten on my heart's-blood,--but
then--I should die--I should die--Death would release me from thy
vengeance!"

"My serpents," howled out the spectre, who now seemed like an infernal
fury,--"my serpents may nourish themselves from thy heart's-blood, but
herein consists not thy torment, oh wretched sinner! Thy pain is within
thine own bosom, and in vain hopest thou for release in death. Thy
torment is the thought of thine own crimes, and this thought is
eternal!"

Hereafter the figure of Hermogen, streaming with blood, rose up out of
the dusky void, and Euphemia fled before him. He, too, staid not; but
rushed past, with an hideous groan, and pointing to a wound in his
throat, which had the form of the cross.

I now wished to pray; but my senses were lost and overcome in the
confusion that ensued. At first the whole air was animated, and filled
with rustling and flapping of wings, and gibbering of unearthly voices.
Then mortals, whom I had before known in the world, appeared
metamorphosed into the most insane caricatures. Heads, with well-known
features, came crawling about me on scarecrow legs, which grew out of
their own ears. Strange winged monsters, too, which I knew not, and
could not name, came floating through the air. Among these were ravens,
and other birds, with human faces. But at last, these gave place to the
Bishop's choir-master, at Königswald, with his sister. The latter
wheeled herself about in a wild and furious _walz_, to which her brother
supplied the music; but he kept all the while strumming on his own
breast, which had become a violin.

Belcampo, whom I recognised, although he wore a hateful lizard's head,
and sat upon a disgusting winged serpent, came driving up towards me. He
wanted to comb my beard with a red-hot iron comb; but could not succeed
in his attempt. The tumult always became wilder and wilder. More strange
and indescribable were the figures, from the smallest beetle, dancing on
large human feet, up to the long drawn-out horse skeleton, with blazing
eyes, and with his own hide made into a pillion, upon which sat a rider,
with a gleaming owl's head. A gigantic bottomless beaker served for his
coat of mail, and an inverted funnel was his helmet.

"Hell," cried a voice, "is in a mood of mirth, and triumphs!" Hereupon I
heard myself laugh aloud; but the exertion of laughter tore my breast;
my pain became more scorching, and my wounds bled more fiercely.

At last the rabble rout vanished, and there came forward the glorious
form of a woman more beauteous than the fairest of the boasted
Circassians on earth! She walked up towards me.--"Oh, heaven, it is
Aurelia!"--"I live," said she; "I live, and I am now for ever thine!"

Then the raging fires of sinful passion once more arose within me. I
flew to Aurelia, seized and embraced her with fervour. All weakness and
exhaustion were utterly forgotten; but instead of her light and
sylph-like form, methought I felt the weight and the torture of burning
lead or iron laid on my breast. My visage and eyes, too, were scratched
and wounded as if with rough bristles, like a wool-dresser's comb; and
Satan roared aloud, with thrilling laughter--"Now, _now_ art thou wholly
mine!"

With a shriek of terror I awoke, and anon my blood flowed anew in
streams, from the strokes of the knotted whip, with which, in hopeless
agony, I chastised myself. For the crime of that interview with Aurelia,
though but in a dream, demanded double penance, and I was resolved to
run the risk even of committing indirect suicide, rather than omit one
iota of the prescribed inflictions.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last, the period appointed by the Prior for my seclusion in the
vaults was over, and, by his express command, I was obliged to remove
from thence, in order to finish the remainder of my penance in the
convent, although my cell was yet to be separated from all the other
brethren; for, by such gradations, I was at last to arrive at his
permission to return to the church, and to the society of the monks.

But with the latter gradations of penance I was not myself satisfied. I
was enjoined only solitude and a daily use of the knotted rope; but I
stedfastly refused every better sort of food which was now offered to
me; and when at last allowed to enter the church, I lay for whole days
on the cold marble floor, before the shrine of St Rosalia, and chastised
myself in my cell in the most cruel and immoderate degree. By these
outward sufferings, I thought that I should overcome the more fearful
pains by which I was inwardly tormented, but in vain! Those phantoms,
the off-spring of my own perturbed imagination, always returned, and I
believed myself given up a helpless prey to Satan, who thus, for his own
special divertisement, assailed me, and enticed me to commit those sins
in _thought_, which in _deed_ were no longer in my power.

The severe penance imposed upon me, and the unheard-of perseverance with
which it was fulfilled, excited in the highest degree the attention of
the monks. They contemplated me with a kind of reverential awe, and many
times I heard whisperings among them--"He is indeed a saint!" This
expression was to me unspeakably distressing, for it reminded me vividly
of that moment in the Capuchin Convent of Königswald, when, in my
outrageous delirium, I had called out to the spectral painter, "I am the
blessed St Anthony!"

The very last and concluding stage of the penance imposed by the Prior,
had now passed away, yet I had never desisted from self-martyrdom.
Nature seemed unable to bear up any longer against the violence which I
inflicted. My eyes were dim and sunk in their sockets. My bleeding frame
was become a mere skeleton, so that, when for hours I had lain on the
marble floor, I was not able to raise myself till the monks came to
assist me.

At last, the Prior one day sent for me to his consulting-room.
"Brother," said he, "do you now feel, after the severe penance you have
undergone, your mind soothed and lightened? Have the consolations of
Heaven been poured upon you?"

In the hollow tone of despair, I answered him, "No!"

"Brother," he resumed, "when, after your confession of horrid crimes, I
inflicted on you that severe penance, I satisfied the laws of the
church, which demand that a malefactor whom the arm of justice has not
reached, but who voluntarily confesses his evil actions, should also,
by his outward conduct, prove the _reality_ of his repentance. Yet I
believe, (and the best authorities are on my side,) that the most
excruciating torments which the penitent can inflict on himself, do not,
as soon as he himself grounds any confidence on these exercises,
diminish, by one fraction, the amount of his guilt. To no human
intellect is it given to explain how the omniscient and eternal Ruler
measures and weighs the deeds of mankind; but lost for ever must that
mortal be, who deludes himself with expectations of taking Heaven by
storm, through the force of penitential infliction.

"Moreover, the individual who believes that, by the fulfilment of such
duties, the crimes of which he has been convicted are, of necessity,
blotted out and atoned, proves, by this very belief, that his inward
repentance has neither been true nor complete. But as for you, dear
brother Medardus, you have yet experienced no consolation, and _this_,
in my opinion, proves the truth of your conversion. Give up now, I
command you, all chastisements--allow yourself better food, and no
longer avoid the society of your brethren.

"Learn, besides, that your extraordinary life, with all its complicated
involvements, is better known to me than it is even to yourself. A
fatality from which you could not escape, gave to the devil a certain
influence over you; and, while you committed crimes which to your own
nature were abhorrent, you were only his tool, or implement.

"Dream not, however, that you are on this account less sinful in the
eyes of Heaven, or of the church, for on you was bestowed ample power,
if you had had the resolution to exert it, to conquer in a spirited
battle the fiend who beset you. In what mortal heart has not this
influence of our arch-enemy raged like a tempest, resisting every
impulse of good? But without this conflict, virtue could have no
existence--For in what doth virtue consist, but in the triumph (after a
hard-fought battle) of good over evil?

"But, as one source of consolation, I can inform you, that you have
accused yourself of a crime wherein you have been guilty in intention,
but not in effect. Aurelia yet lives. In your madness you probably
wounded yourself, and it was your own blood that streamed over your
hands. Aurelia still lives;--this fact I have amply ascertained."

Hereupon I fell on my knees, with my hands uplifted in fervent prayer,
and burst into tears.

"Know farther," said the Prior, "that the strange old painter, of whom,
in your confession, you spoke so much, has, as long as I can remember,
been an occasional visitor at our convent, and probably may, before
long, again appear among us. Long ago he gave me a parchment book to
take charge of, in which are numerous drawings, but more especially a
kind of chronicle, to which, as often as he came hither, he always added
a few lines or pages. He has not left me under any injunctions not to
shew this book to any one whom its contents may interest, and, of
course, I shall not hesitate to intrust it with you. Indeed, this now
becomes my indispensable duty, and hence you will learn the wonderful
entanglements of your own destiny, which at one time led you as if into
a higher world of visions and miracles, and, at another, into the most
ordinary and most depraved scenes of what is called the world.

"It has been said that miracles have now wholly vanished from the earth;
but this is a doctrine which I, for one, am by no means inclined to
accede to. Miracles, if by that name we understand only that which we
by no means can explain or account for, certainly have continued among
us, though it is true, that by the observance of a few fixed and limited
rules, our philosophers seem (in their own conceit at least) to give
laws to nature; yet, nevertheless, there are phenomena every now and
then recurring, which put all their boasted wisdom to shame, and which,
in our obstinate stupidity, because they are not explainable, we
therefore reject, as unworthy of belief.

"In this manner we deny, among other things, the possibility of a
spiritual apparition, inasmuch as it is impossible for an incorporeal
figure to be mirrored on the surface of the human eye, which is
corporeal, the absurd fallacy and sophism of which reasoning is obvious.
To tell the truth, I look upon this ancient painter as one of those
extraordinary apparitions, which put to the blush all ordinary rules and
theories. I am doubtful even if his corporeal figure is such as we can
properly call real. This much is certain, that no one here ever
discovered in him the ordinary functions of life. He would neither eat,
drink, nor sleep; nor did I ever observe him either writing or drawing,
though it was obvious, notwithstanding, that in the book, in which he
only appeared to read, there were always more leaves written or painted
on when he went away, than there had been before.

"I should observe, also, that all which the book contains, appeared to
me to be mere _griffon-age_, or fantastic sketches of an insane artist,
until you came to our convent. Then, for the first time, its pages came
to be legible and intelligible, after you, dear brother Medardus, had
confessed to me.

"I dare not give utterance more particularly to my own suppositions, or
apprehensions, regarding the real character of this old painter, and his
relationship to you. You will yourself guess at the truth, or, more
probably, it will develope itself in the clearest light before you, when
you have attentively perused this book. Go then, take every proper
method and precaution to restore your bodily, as well as mental
energies, and, in a few days, if you feel yourself recovered, as I hope
will be the case, you shall receive from me the mysterious volume,
which, meanwhile, I retain, as you have not strength at present for the
task of deciphering it."

Henceforward, I was of course under the necessity of acting according to
the injunctions of the Prior. I ate with the brethren at their public
table, and omitted all chastisements, confining myself to fervent and
prolonged prayer at the altars of the saints. Although my heart
continued to bleed inwardly, and my mind was still much disturbed, yet
at last those horrible phantoms and diabolical temptations by which I
had been persecuted, came to an end. Often, when tired to death, I
passed sleepless nights on my hard couch, there was around me a waving
as if of seraphs' wings; and I beheld the lovely form of the living
Aurelia, who, with her eyes full of tears and celestial compassion, bent
down over me. She stretched out her hand, as if protectingly, and
diffusing blessings over my head. Then my eye-lids sank down, and a mild
refreshing slumber poured new strength into my veins.

When the Prior observed that my mind and frame had once more regained
some degree of healthy excitement, he again sent for me in private, and
gave me the painter's parchment book, admonishing me to read it with
attention in my own cell.

I opened the volume, and the first of its contents which struck my eye
were drawings for those paintings which still exist in the Church of the
Holy Lime-Tree, and which had, from earliest youth, possessed so
mysterious an influence over my whole life. Formerly, the possession of
this book would have agitated me almost to madness, from the degree of
anxiety which it would have excited. Now, however, after the discipline
which I had undergone, I was perfectly calm. Besides, there was scarcely
any degree of mystery left which I had not by anticipation already
developed. That which the painter had here, in a small scarcely-legible
hand, set down, intermixed with sketches both in black lead and in
colours, was but a distinct and clear delineation of my own dreams and
apprehensions, brought out indeed with a degree of precision and
accuracy of which I could not have been capable.



CHAPTER XIII.


After mature reflection, I have judged it superfluous to transcribe in
this place the parchment book of the old and supernatural painter;
though I might be tempted to do so by the consideration, that no one
else could ever be enabled to understand and follow out its intricate
details, or even to decipher the hand-writing. He sets out by speaking
of himself in the third, but afterwards, or towards the close of his
narrative, uses the first personal pronoun.

He was the eldest son of a certain Prince Camillo di Rosoli, (who had in
early life been distinguished for his bravery and military talents,) and
had been sent by his father, at an early age, into the world, where, to
the great surprise of his noble friends and relations, he devoted
himself almost exclusively to the study of painting, under a celebrated
master of that art in Rome. Here he had already been for a considerable
time, when his father, having been requested by the Republic of Genua to
take the command of a powerful fleet against the Algerine corsairs, sent
an abrupt and peremptory order for the young prince to return home. To
this, Francesco, for that was his name, returned for answer, that a
prince, surrounded by all the pomp and dignity incident to high rank,
was, in his estimation, a mere cipher, in comparison with the character
of an independent man of genius, whose wants were few, and who could
supply these wants by the exercise of his art. A prince, he said, was,
by the circumstances under which he lived, much more subdued and slavish
than even the poorest artist:--for his own part, he knew well enough how
to wield the pallet and pencils, but by no means the sceptre. Finally,
that as to exploits in warfare, whether by sea or land, they were
barbarous and abhorrent to his nature; whereas the creations of the
painter were like reflections on canvass of the divine spirit, of which
a share sometimes descends on favoured mortals.

Thus he sent back his father's messengers with contumely and disgrace,
and the old prince, being thereby violently incensed, dispatched other
ambassadors, who had no better success; whereupon, they informed him,
that, if he did not obey his father's orders, they were commissioned to
say, that he would be disinherited, and never more permitted to assume
that rank which he had now virtually, though not formally, resigned.

To these conditions Francesco made no objections whatever;--on the
contrary, he gave up to his younger brother, in a regular charter, all
claims on the family estates; and as the old prince soon after lost his
life in battle, Zenobio succeeded to the government, and Francesco
continued to live poorly enough on a small pension, which his brother
voluntarily bestowed upon him.

Francesco was originally of a proud and overbearing temper; but his
instructor in the art of painting, the celebrated Leonardo di Rovino,
was one of the most pious and ingenious of men. Finding that his pupil
had actually renounced the fortune and rank to which he had been born,
he gave him such good counsel and example, that for some years Francesco
behaved as a very obedient and faithful disciple, assisting his master
in the completion of several great works, which were almost wholly
devoted to the illustration of the Christian miracles, and the glorious
lives of the Saints.

After some time, however, it came to pass that Francesco raised himself
to the rank of a master on his own account, and was engaged to paint
many altar-pieces for churches, &c., in which Leonardo continued kindly
to assist him, until at length, being very far advanced in years, he
died.

Then like a fire long with difficulty suppressed, the native pride and
insolence of Francesco's character again broke forth. He looked on
himself as the greatest painter of his time, and joining with this
notion of his own pre-eminence, the recollection of his hereditary rank,
he assumed for himself the title of the Noble Painter. Of his once
revered master, Leonardo, he now spoke with contempt, and invented for
himself a new school of art, which was well adapted to attract the
admiration of the multitude. He diligently studied the works of the
ancient statuaries; among which, a certain renowned figure of Venus,
above all others, engaged his attention; and henceforth no one could
equal him in representing the luxurious seductions of the female form,
which he always introduced naked, giving to his figures, by means of
dark shadows in the back ground, and a brilliance of colouring, which
were particularly his own, the most magical effect of _alto relievo_.

It happened that in the great city he fell into the society of a set of
wild young men, most of them of high rank, who were delighted to have
for their companion a man in birth equal to themselves, though, as an
artist and man of genius, more interesting than men of mere fortune and
family can generally pretend to be. Francesco was but too willing to
attend their feasts and festivals, and was delighted by the praise with
which they constantly fed his vanity, insisting, in particular, on the
high advantages which he possessed over the artists of that age, by his
preference of the ancient models, and his correctness as to drawing and
anatomy.

Being all of them unable or unwilling to submit to any degree of
restraint, and cherishing no other principle than that of yielding to
the extravagance of youthful imagination, and the indulgence of their
own passions, they formed a plan of renouncing altogether the Christian
Religion, and adopting fantastically the creed and manners of the
ancient Romans.

In this manner they for some time continued to lead a shameless and most
dissolute life, in consequence of which, it happened that Francesco,
neglecting the orders which were from time to time sent to him from
convents and other religious institutions, fell into grievous distress
for want of ready money. Added to this it so happened, that the salary
usually allowed him by his brother Zenobio, was not paid at the regular
time. He now recollected that the monks of a certain Capuchin convent
had some months before offered a large sum for an altar piece,
representing the martyrdom of St Rosalia, which commission he had, under
the influence of his dissolute pleasures, and apostacy from the
Christian faith, refused to execute. Now, however, he resolved to
perform the work required of him, wholly for the sake of the reward with
which it would be attended.

Accordingly he began, intending to paint the martyrdom of St Rosalia, in
his usual glaring and seductive manner, modelling her form and features
after those of the favourite Venus which has already been mentioned. In
the pencil drawing which he made in the first place, he succeeded well
enough, and the wicked young men, his companions, were highly delighted
with the notion of setting up a heathenish idol, instead of a real
picture of a Christian saint, in the church.

But when Francesco came actually to paint, lo! by some inexplicable
influence, the work turned out very differently from what he had
intended.--A more powerful inspiration overcame that of wicked deceit,
and hatred to the Christian faith, by which he had been till then
actuated. It seemed as if the countenance of an angel, from the realms
of the blest, began to dawn on his perceptions, out of the dark clouds
which he had laid for the ground-work on his canvass. Involuntarily a
kind of religious terror took possession of his mind. He became fearful
of offending the blessed martyr whom he was employed to represent, and
around the body, which, according to the original design, he had painted
naked, were at last thrown the elegant folds of a dark-red dress, with a
sky-blue shawl or mantle.

The Capuchin monks had, in their letter to the painter, only expressed
their wish for a portrait of St Rosalia, that is to say, for a single
figure, and for this purpose had his drawing been prepared; but now, led
on by the workings of his own creative spirit, he invented a grand
historical design, and introduced many figures, grouped with great
skill, and which blended very harmoniously with that of the principal
personage. In short, Francesco's attention was wholly absorbed by this
work, so that the shameful course of life which he had before led was
completely broken of, or at least interrupted.

It came to pass, however, that he found himself quite unable to finish,
according to his own notions, the countenance of the saint; and this
disappointment tormented him so exceedingly, that he had no rest by
night or by day. He no longer thought of having recourse to his
favourite statue of Venus, but it seemed to him as if he beheld his old
master Leonardo, who looked at him mournfully, and addressed him in
these words--"Alas! I would willingly assist you, but I dare not! You
must first renounce all your sinful and shameless propensities, and, in
deep repentance and contrition, pray for the interposition of the
saints, against whom you have so fearfully offended."

The wicked young men, whose society had been long neglected by
Francesco, once more sought him out, and found him in his painting
room, but wholly unemployed; for, in consequence of his mental anxiety,
he had fallen sick, and was lying powerless and despairing on his couch.
On the appearance of his friends he complained to them bitterly of his
misfortune, and expressed his belief that some malignant demon had
interfered to rob him of his former reputation, and would prevent him
altogether from completing his picture of St Rosalia.

At this they all laughed aloud. "Ha, brother," cried one among them, "it
is easy to perceive that solitude and fasting have been the demons that
have brought this illness upon you. Come then, my friends, let us devote
a libation of good old wine to Esculapius, and the benevolent Hygeia, in
order that this feeble youth may again be restored!"

They sent immediately for Syracusan wine, which these fantastic young
men drank out of antique-fashioned horns, and silver beakers, pouring
forth, as they expressed it, their libations to Hygeia, before the
unfinished picture. Afterwards, when they began to drink stoutly, and
insisted on Francesco joining in their orgies, the latter resolved
positively not to taste a drop of their wine, and would take no share in
their merriment; although they drank the health of his favourite
goddess, and tried every stratagem to flatter his vanity, and engage his
attention.

At last, one of them exclaimed, "Our _penseroso_ comrade there is
perhaps really sick, and cannot so easily be cured as we had supposed.
Yet, methinks, he hath acted very wrongfully in refusing to taste the
remedies that have been already prescribed for him. Be this as it may,
seeing that he is so very ill, I shall directly go hence, and obtain for
him the assistance of a learned physician." The youth then threw his
mantle around him, girted on his sword, and marched out. Scarcely,
however, had he got beyond the door, when he returned again.--"Look you
now, comrades," he exclaimed, "I am myself the man who will effectually
cure this poor despairing artist!"

He then put on, as well as he could, the character of an old ridiculous
physician,--bent himself half double,--walked with his knees knocking
together, and twisted his face into an hundred wrinkles,--so that, in
truth, he looked like an hideous old man; and his companions, greatly
diverted, cried out, "See what learned physiognomies the doctor cuts!"

The doctor went up to Francesco, and pretended to feel his pulse. Then,
in a pompous rough voice, "Why, thou poor devil!" cried he, "what has
brought it into thine addled brain to fall sick in this manner? Thy
pulse beats regularly; what then is the matter with thee? Be that as it
may, I must make haste to cure thy distemper, whether real or imaginary,
and thou must submissively follow all my prescriptions; for in the state
in which thou now art, thy Donna Venus will never be pleased with thee.
It might be, however, that, if thy visage were less pale, and thy looks
not so downcast, the Lady Rosalia herself would receive you kindly.
Here, then, thou poor desponding shepherd! sip up a little of that
miraculous cordial which I always carry about with me. As you wish to
paint portraits of saints and angels, my drink will probably be of
especial service to you; for it is wine from the celebrated cellar of St
Anthony."

With these words, the pretended doctor had pulled out a small and
oddly-shaped flask from underneath his mantle, from which flask he now
drew the cork. Instantly there spread itself all around, an
extraordinary stupifying vapour, by which most of the youths were so
confused and overcome, that, one by one, in the course of a few seconds,
they all dropt in their chairs, closed their eyes, and fell asleep.

Francesco, meanwhile, as if tired of this mummery, and vexed to have
been mocked and flouted at, snatched the bottle with violence from the
doctor, intending at first to dash it against the wall. On the contrary,
however, the odour attracted him so much, that he put it to his lips,
and instantly swallowed a copious draught.

"Much good may it do you!" said the doctor, who now assumed his former
countenance and youthful demeanour. But, at that moment, the door
opened, and the youth, who had before departed in order to bring a
physician, reappeared _in propria persona_. His double, who must have
been the devil, stepped forward, and made him a formal bow, whereat the
whole party were so affrighted, that they all (having been awoke from
sleep by the noise of his entrance) started up, ran away, and tumbled
headlong down stairs.

Even like the raging of a volcano was now the tempest which arose within
the heart and soul of Francesco! All the Heathen stories which he had
before painted, revived once more, in tenfold force, on his imagination,
and their _dramatis personæ_ floated around him in forms as seductive,
and colours as brilliant, as if they had been alive, and corporeally
present.--"But thou, my beloved goddess!" he exclaimed, addressing
himself to the favourite Venus whom he had so often painted--"thou must
assume also life, and a tangible form, and become mine, otherwise I
shall devote myself from henceforth to Pluto, and the subterranean
powers of darkness!"

Then he beheld, according to his distempered phantasy, the animated
figure of his admired statue, with an exquisite bloom on her complexion,
standing right before the unfinished picture, and kindly nodding towards
him.

Hereupon, seized with a sudden fit of inspiration, he started from his
couch, ran to his _easel_, and began to paint at the head of St Rosalia;
for he thought that he would now be able to make an exact copy from the
features of his Venus. It seemed to him, however, as if the firmest
efforts of volition could not command his hand--as if, in spite of all
his endeavours, the pencil glided away from the unfinished countenance
of Rosalia, to the profane figures by which the rest of the canvass was
tenanted--and the heavenly aspect of the saint, unfinished as it was,
and that came there he knew not how, always broke out more visibly and
powerfully into view, till at last the eyes seemed to move, and look
into his very soul. Finally, he was overcome with such agitation, that
he dropped his pallet and pencils, and fell to the ground as if dead, in
a state of utter despair and insensibility.

When, after a long interval, he awoke from his trance, and had with
difficulty raised himself up, he did not venture to look at the picture,
which had now become so terrific, but crawled, with his eyes fixed on
the ground, towards the table, where he still found the doctor's
extraordinary bottle of wine, out of which he indulged himself with a
long and powerful draught.

Francesco was, by this means, completely restored and energized. New
life and spirit vibrated through every limb and fibre of his frame. He
mustered up courage enough to look at his picture; and, behold! it was
now completed, even to the finest touches of the pencil which in his
best days he could have been able to bestow! But what appeared most
remarkable, was, that not the saintly countenance of Rosalia, but that
of his old favourite Venus, now smiled with the most seductive
expression and glances of love upon him.

Accordingly, Francesco, from that moment, became the victim of the most
sinful and delirious passion. He thought of the Pagan statuary
Pygmalion, whose history had supplied him with a subject for one of his
former profane works, and like him, he implored the gods, that they
would infuse life into the creations of his art. Very soon it appeared
to him as if the principal figures in his picture began to move and to
swell forward in _alto relievo_; but when he tried to clasp the phantom
in his arms, he found that the dead, cold canvass still mocked at his
embrace! Thereupon he tore his hair, and behaved like one possessed by
the devil.



CHAPTER XIV.


Already two days and two nights had Francesco passed in a state of
raging delirium. On the third day, when he, as if petrified, and
motionless like a statue, was standing before the picture, the door of
his chamber opened, and there was a rustling behind him as if of female
garments. He turned round, and beheld a very beautiful woman, whom he
recognized at once as the original of his picture.

His astonishment was now beyond all description when he beheld that
form, which he had so long contemplated as a marble statue, living,
breathing, and blooming, before him. Nay, he was seized with a kind of
mysterious terror, when he looked from his beautiful visitant back to
the picture, of which the resemblance was so accurate, that it appeared
like the reflection of her features in a mirror.

He felt the fullest conviction, that this event was the effect of
supernatural agency; he could not utter a word, but, overcome by his
fears, fell on his knees before the strange lady, whom he scarcely
believed to be more than an aerial phantom.

This living Venus raised him up, however, and immediately proceeded to
relate to him her own history.

She had seen Francesco at the time when he was yet a pupil in the school
of Leonardo di Rovino. She was then but very young, but had conceived
for him a passion so ardent, that it had never lost possession of her
heart; and at last she had determined on leaving her parents and
friends, who resided in the country, and wandering away to find him in
Rome, as an inward voice had told her that he loved her very much; and
that, merely from the force of that attachment, had been led to paint
her portrait, which warning she now found to have been strictly true.

Francesco now believed all that she told him. He became persuaded that a
secret mental sympathy existed between himself and this stranger, which
had given rise to the passion by which he had so long been haunted. He
forgot the statue, and gave himself no trouble with inquiries as to how
the resemblance betwixt it and his new visitor had been produced. Indeed
such questions would have been very needless, as they admitted not of
any satisfactory answer.

The consequence of this visit was the solemnization (not by Christian,
but by heathen rites) of a marriage betwixt the strange woman and
Francesco, which was attended by all his libertine friends and
associates. As it was found that his bride had brought with her a casket
filled with jewels and ready money, he immediately hired servants, and
purchased a house, where they lived in great splendour and luxury for
many months.

At the close of this period the paramour of Francesco gave birth to a
son, which event was followed by her death, attended by circumstances so
mysterious and horrible, that Francesco was obliged to fly from Rome,
being accused of sorcery and witchcraft, also of divers other crimes
peculiarly odious and abhorrent to the spirit and laws of the Christian
religion. In consequence of all this, he was obliged to make his escape
suddenly during the night, taking with him his child; and, as if
endowed with supernatural energies, he made his way onwards to a wild
and mountainous district of country, which he had before visited in his
days of extravagance and pleasure, and where he knew that there was a
cavern cut in the rock, in which he was now glad to take refuge with the
child from a violent thunder storm.

As to the child, he could not have himself explained by what influence
he was induced to bear it along with him; for, in truth, he only wished
for its destruction. On being thrown on the hard floor of the cave,
however, the infant, for the first time, uttered some fearful and
melancholy cries, which penetrated to Francesco's heart; and hereupon,
he, being moved with compassion, tried every method in his power for its
preservation.

For this purpose, indeed, he was not well provided. At first he could
only offer the child an orange to suck; but afterwards he recollected
the doctor's extraordinary flask, of which the contents seemed
inexhaustible, and which he had found on his departure, and brought with
him. From this bottle he administered a few drops to the infant, who
thereupon seemed miraculously strengthened and tranquillized; and he
made for it, as well as he could, a bed of heather and soft moss,
protecting it from damp and cold with his mantle.

Hereafter, Francesco passed several weeks in the cavern, living like a
penitent hermit; and, incredible as it may seem, the child lived also,
being supplied with food from the contributions that his father received
from pious and compassionate neighbours. But Francesco's mind,
meanwhile, became quite wandering and irrational. He prayed, indeed,
with great zeal, to the blessed saints, that they would intercede for
him, a miserable sinner; for his heart was now wholly alienated from his
profane and blasphemous errors. Above all, he preferred many
supplications to St Rosalia.

Thus it happened, that the wretched man, one beautiful and serene
evening, was prostrate on his knees, in the wilderness. He watched the
receding sun, which, at last, was slowly lost in the water, leaving the
western sky like a sea of red dazzling waves; and that ruddy light faded
ere long into the sombre grey tints of evening, the forerunner of dark
night. Then Francesco perceived in the atmosphere the roseate gleam of
an extraordinary light, which at first he noticed only as a strange
phenomenon, because the sun had now departed. But the red light assumed
a particular form, and floated always nearer and nearer to the penitent,
till at last he recognized the figure of St Rosalia, kneeling on a
bright cloud, and surrounded by angels. Then he heard a voice like that
of soft and articulate music, which pronounced the words, "Forgive, oh
Lord! this mortal, who, in his weakness, was not able to escape the
deeply-laid snares, and resist the manifold temptations, of Satan!"

Hereupon lightnings quivered through that roseate cloud, and there was a
deep and reverberating thunder-clap. A fearful voice answered the prayer
of the saint,--"Oftentimes mortals have sinned and been forgiven; but
what habitant of earth hath ever transgressed like this one? NO
HAPPINESS IN LIFE, NOR PEACE IN THE GRAVE, SHALL BE GRANTED TO HIM, SO
LONG AS THE SINFUL RACE TO WHICH HE HATH GIVEN RISE, SHALL EXIST UPON
THE EARTH!"

Francesco now sunk down, as if annihilated in the dust; for he
thoroughly knew that his irrevocable doom had been pronounced; and that,
by the most horrible destiny, he would now be driven, like a second
Ahasuerus, through the realms of life, without hope of enjoyment here,
or confidence of salvation hereafter.

Of course, he now fled, without thinking of the child in the cave; for
though he could not now wish for its existence, yet he dared not add to
his already heavy crimes, by that of child-murder. He lived, being no
longer able to paint, in extreme and abject misery. Many times it came
into his mind, as if, for the glory of the Christian religion, he must
yet execute extensive and magnificent works; and, consequently, he made
out in his thoughts grand designs, both as to drawing and colouring,
which should illustrate and represent the history of the blessed Virgin,
and St Rosalia. But how could he begin those paintings, as he now did
not possess a single _scudo_ to supply himself with canvass and colours,
and only supported himself by the small pittance of alms, which he
received at the doors of churches?

Into the churches also, like other mendicants, he was allowed freely to
enter; and thus it befell, that one bright and beautiful evening, though
at a late hour, when the sun had gone down, he sat staring on an
opposite empty wall, and filled it in imagination with the paintings
which his genius was yet fully competent to execute. While he sat thus
absorbed in reverie, he saw two female figures, who, silently and with
noiseless steps, approached him. Their countenances were veiled, so that
he had no perception of their features; but, with a voice that rose on
his ears like celestial music, one of them addressed to him the
following admonition:--

    "In the remote land of East Prussia is the celebrated
    Convent of the Holy Lime-Tree, wherein
    Providence has vouchsafed to shew many miracles;
    but the magnificent chapel there erected is yet
    without any ornaments of painting. Go thither,
    then! Let the practice of your art as a painter
    become to you an exercise of devotion, and your
    now desponding soul will be refreshed with heavenly
    consolation!"

With these words, the two female figures melted away in a gleam of
light, and left the air filled with the fragrance of roses and lilies.
Francesco was convinced of the supernatural character of these
visitants, and resolved that he would on the following day begin his
pilgrimage. On that same evening it happened, that a servant of
Zenobio's, after much trouble, found him out, paid him two years'
arrears of his allotted income, and invited him kindly to his brother's
court.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus far the old painter had written of himself in the third person,
which, in his later memoranda, he exchanges for the first. I consider it
needless to transcribe his historical account of the various fortunes
and intricate relationships of that illegitimate race which he had
founded, and of which I am a descendant. No reader would take the
trouble of following out a detail which could scarcely be understood,
unless thrown into the form of a genealogical tree. Besides, the mind
revolts from the contemplation of enormous and complicated guilt!
Suffice it to say, that the child which had been left in the cave was
accidentally found and preserved; that a small ivory cup, which, along
with the bottle of the devil's elixir, was discovered at the same time,
bore, for an inscription, the painter's name, Francesco, by which the
boy was afterwards baptized.

Many years passed away, and, according to the curse which had been
pronounced against him, the painter's life was miraculously prolonged,
in order that, by unheard-of penitence, he might expiate his own crimes.
Meanwhile, he beheld the powers of darkness unceasingly employed against
him. The boy who had been found in the cave, and who was protected and
educated, first in the palace of Count Philippo di Saverno, in Italy,
afterwards in the Court of Prince Zenobio, had several children, among
whom were two, a son and daughter, who especially inherited their
father's wicked propensities, and yielded to the temptations of the
devil.

The family afterwards branched out so widely, that the painter's book
alone would supply materials for many volumes. To this family belonged
the Princess von Rosenthurm, the Abbess of the Cistertian Convent, both
the first and second Baroness von F----, and the Count Victorin, who,
notwithstanding the mystery under which he had been reared and educated
in Italy, I now ascertained to be my brother. After the horrible crimes
which my father had perpetrated at the court of Rosenthurm, he was
arrested in his flight by an attack of severe illness, which detained
him long at the house of a benevolent countryman, whose daughter (my
mother) he afterwards married. For some time after this event, by his
knowledge of literature and the arts, he contrived to obtain employment
in the world, having assumed a fictitious name, and established himself
under a principality where his person and features were wholly unknown.
But sooner or later, sin is, even in this world, visited by punishment,
and the just anger of the Almighty. My father was again attacked by
sickness, so that the remnant of the once considerable legacy left him
by his father, was wholly spent. He fell into the bitterest poverty, and
was at the same time assailed by such horrors of conscience, that his
life became a continued miserable penance.

At last Heaven, by means of an extraordinary vision, sent to him a gleam
of consolation. He was warned that he should make a pilgrimage to the
Convent of the Holy Lime-Tree in Prussia, and that the birth of a son
should there announce to him the grace and forgiveness of Heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last words in the manuscript are as follows. More, indeed, seems to
have been written, but in a scrawl half obliterated, and so faint that
it could not be deciphered.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In the forest by which the Convent of the Lime-Tree is surrounded, I
appeared to the melancholy mother as she wept over her lately born, and
fatherless infant, and revived her almost annihilated spirit with words
of consolation. Miraculously sometimes has the favour of Heaven seemed
to be won for children who are born within the limits of a blest
sanctuary. They have even been visited by supernatural and celestial
visions, kindling up in their infant minds the fires of divine love, and
the holiest aspirations. The mother has, in holy baptism, given to this
child his father's name, Francesco, or, according to conventual
language, Franciscus.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Wilt thou then, oh Franciscus! prove to be that long-wished-for
descendant, who, born on consecrated ground, will atone, by the piety
of his earthly pilgrimage, for the crimes that were heaped up by his
ancestors? And wilt thou procure for the wretched penitent refuge in the
grave?

"I have taken such precautions, that the boy will remain for many years
far from the world and its seductive delusions; nay, I have resolved
that he shall become a monk. This destination, the same blessed saint
who poured divine consolation into my soul announced to his mother, and
this event may, indeed, be the forerunner of divine grace, and
forgiveness, which, with the splendour of the morning light, has at last
beamed forth upon me, so that I seem, in my inward mind, to observe
clearly, by anticipation, every event of the future.

"Methinks I already behold this youth undergo the deadly strife with the
fiends of darkness, who, with the most fearful weapons, press in upon
him. He falls a victim to their infernal artifices, yet a beatified
female elevates over his head the crown of victory. It is the blessed St
Rosalia herself, by whom he is rescued. As often as the mercy of Heaven
allows it to me, I shall be near him in infancy, in youth, and in
manhood, and will protect him to the utmost of my limited power."



CHAPTER XV.


The fame of my sanctity had now spread in such a manner abroad, that
when I allowed myself to be seen in the streets of Rome, there were
passengers who begged me for a moment to speak with them, and then, with
the humblest prostration, implored my blessing. No doubt, my severe
penitence must excite attention, for I had renewed in their utmost
extent all my devotional exercises; but even my strange appearance, my
neglect of my dress, &c. might be enough to excite the imagination of
the lively Italians, who are ready at all times to fix on any remarkable
individual for the hero of a religious legend. Often, when unconscious
of all that passed around me, I had thrown myself on the steps of an
altar, I was awoke from my inward contemplation by the murmur of prayer,
and groans of repentance, from those who had collected around me, as if
wishing to implore my saintly intercession with Heaven.

As in the Capuchin Convent, I frequently heard it called out in the
streets behind me--"There goes the saint!" and such words never failed
to strike like daggers to my heart. I wished, therefore, to leave Rome,
and had made my arrangements for this purpose, when, to my utter
astonishment, and indeed terror, the Prior of the Convent wherein I
lodged, announced to me that the Pope had ordered me to appear before
him.

Dark apprehensions arose within me, that perhaps the powers of hell were
more than ever on the watch, and laboured by new stratagems to draw me
into destruction. Meanwhile, I summoned up all my courage, and at an
hour which was duly announced to me, repaired to the Vatican.

I was to have a private audience, and the Pope, who was still a handsome
man, and looked as if he had been in the prime of life, received me
sitting on a richly ornamented elbow-chair. Two very beautiful boys, in
the dress of Sacristans, attended to serve him with iced water; and as
the weather was very hot, they were constantly employed in cooling the
atmosphere with large fans made of herons' feathers.

I went up to his Holiness with the utmost humility, and paid to him the
customary homage of kneeling. He fixed his eyes sharply on me, but
instead of the grave severity, which, from a distance, seemed to me
before to characterize his features, his looks displayed much good
humour, and he welcomed me with a very agreeable smile.

His first inquiries were only common-place questions, as to whence I
came, what had brought me to Rome, &c. He then rose from his chair, and
assuming a more serious tone, "Brother Medardus," said he, "I have
summoned you hither, because I had received extraordinary accounts of
your piety. But wherefore do you perform your devotional exercises
openly before the people, and in the most public churches? You probably
wish to be looked on as a chosen saint, a pre-elect of Heaven, and to be
worshipped by the fanatical mob. But inquire into thine own heart,
whence this idea first arose, and by what means it has acquired such
ascendancy. If your intentions are not pure before the eye of the
Almighty, and before me, his appointed Viceroy, then, Brother Medardus,
your now flourishing sanctity will soon come to a shameful end."

These last words the Pope uttered in a deep powerful voice, and his eyes
gleamed as if in anger. For the first time, since a very long period, I
felt myself accused, without being guilty of the faults with which I was
charged. On this account I was not only able to retain perfect
composure, but even to answer him with some degree of fervour and
eloquence.

"Heaven," said I, "has indeed granted to your Holiness to look into my
inmost heart, which is loaded and oppressed with a weight of unspeakable
crimes, of which my deep consciousness may perhaps prove the sincerity
of my repentance. Far from my thoughts is any attempt at hypocrisy. I
never had any ambition to influence the minds of the people; on the
contrary, the attention which they direct to me is abhorrent to my
feelings, and causes to me the utmost pain and regret. In support of
what I have now said, will your Holiness grant to a wretched penitent an
opportunity of relating the events of his life, that he may prove the
sincerity of his contrition, and his utter self-annihilation at the
remembrance of the sins which he hath committed?"

On receiving permission, I accordingly went on to narrate, as concisely
as I could, the whole circumstances and adventures of my life, only
omitting names, which were of no consequence as to the facts that I
related against myself. The Pope listened with the greatest attention,
appearing always more and more interested. At last, by many
extraordinary looks and gestures, he evinced the astonishment that I had
excited.

"Your history, Brother Medardus," said he, "is, indeed, the most
mysterious that I have ever heard. Do you then believe in the immediate,
and _visible_ agency of the devil?" I was about to answer, but he went
on. "Do you believe that the wine which you stole from the
relic-chamber, and drank, really impelled you to the crimes which you
have committed?"

"Like a water distilled from pestilential herbs," said I, "it gave new
strength to the seeds of vice and wickedness which lurked within me,
till at length they burst from their concealment, and spread into
luxuriant and multiplying growth!"

Upon this answer, the Pope seemed to sink into reflection, and said,
more as if communing with himself, than addressing me,--

"What if the same rules of nature by which corporeal life is usually
governed, applied also to the mind? If every seed or scion must bring
forth and perpetuate that which is like to itself? There are whole
families of murderers, and of robbers. In such cases this was the
hereditary sin, entailed on a race followed by some inexpiable curse!"

"If he who is descended from a sinful ancestor," said I, "must of
necessity sin again, it follows from this doctrine, that there is no
sin!"

"Nay," said the Pope, "the Almighty created a gigantic power, who can
yet tame and control the appetite for crime, which, like a furious wild
beast, rages within us. This giant is named Conscience, and from his
combat with the beast, arise our independence and volition. In the
victory of the giant consists virtue; in the victory of the beast
consists sin." The Pope was silent a few moments. He then added in a
milder voice, "Do you believe, Brother Medardus, that it is becoming for
the Viceroy of Heaven, to reason thus with you on virtue and vice?"

"Your Holiness," said I, "has condescended to allow the humblest of your
servants to hear your opinions on this matter; and it well becomes the
warrior to speak freely on that combat, whose dangers he has himself
encountered, and in which he has long since obtained the palm of
victory!"

"You have a favourable opinion of me, Brother," said the Pope; "or do
you look upon the Tiara, as the laurel crown, announcing my victory to
the world?"

       *       *       *       *       *

     [_The Editor has here left out two or three pages of this
     conversation, as it seems irrelevant to the general tenure of the
     narrative._]

       *       *       *       *       *

Hereupon the Pope again rose from his chair. "Thou art an excellent
orator, Brother Medardus," said he, "and hast spoken after my own
heart--we shall, as I perceive, understand one another better ere long
than we now do. Remain at Rome. In a few days you will be promoted to
the dignity of Prior of the Capuchin Convent, where a situation is now
vacant, and afterwards, perhaps, you will be chosen for my Father
Confessor. Go then, behave yourself with more prudence in the churches,
and think not of raising yourself to canonization. The calendar is
already crowded!--Farewell!"

Our interview ended here, and by these last words of the Pope, I was not
a little astonished, as indeed I had been by his whole behaviour
throughout, which was completely at variance with the picture which I
had previously drawn of him. I had imagined not only that he was a
worthily appointed Vicegerent of Heaven on this earth, but that he was
gifted with every virtue, and all mental energies. He had, on the
contrary, falsely supposed that I was actuated by the base ambition of
being looked on as a saint, and now wished to excite in my mind a desire
for other temporal distinctions, which was, in truth, not less sinful.

Notwithstanding my perplexity and dissatisfaction, I was led to conform
to what the Pope had enjoined, as to the intermission of my penitential
exercises; and I wandered for some days idly through the streets of
Rome, meditating chiefly on my past life, on the penitence which I had
undergone, and the career which was yet before me.

On the last of these idle days, as I passed through the Spanish Square,
there was a mob assembled round the stage of a puppet-player. My
attention was at once attracted by the croaking voice of Pulcinello, and
the laughter of the audience. The first act was ended as I came up--the
curtain dropped, and the audience stood in anxious expectation of the
second.

The little curtain again drew up. The youthful King David appeared with
his sling and his sackful of pebbles. With the most ludicrous gestures,
he proved that the monstrous giant should now be slain, and Israel
rescued. Then there was heard a fearful hollow roaring and rustling
under the stage, whereupon the giant mounted up, with a huge and most
absurdly ill-proportioned head. How was I astonished, when, at my first
glance of this giant's head, I recognized the features of my old friend
Belcampo. Right under his head he had, by means of an ingenious
apparatus, contrived to fit on a small body, conformable to those of the
other puppets, while his own person was concealed by the stage drapery,
which last served, at the same time, for the mantle of the giant.
Goliah, with most hideous grimaces of visage and contortions of his
dwarfish body, held a proud and threatening discourse, which King David
only now and then interrupted by a shrill and contemptuous laughter.

The mob were diverted out of all measure, and I myself being wonderfully
attracted by this new apparition of Belcampo, allowed myself to be
carried away by the impression of the moment, and broke out into the
unrestrained and hearty laughter of boyish delight. Alas, how often
before was my laughter only the convulsive vibration of that internal
torment which preyed upon my heart!

Hereafter, the combat with the giant was preceded by a long disputation,
wherein King David demonstrated, with great erudition and eloquence,
wherefore he must and would smite his frightful antagonist to death.
Belcampo made all the muscles of his countenance writhe and play with
the most inconceivable vivacity, indicating extreme rage. His gigantic
arms stretched themselves out against the less than little David, who,
meanwhile, saved himself by incredible leaps and bendings, vanishing
altogether, and then coming into sight again--now here, now there, even
from the folds of the giant's own mantle. At last the pebble flew from
David's sling against Goliah's head. He fell down lifeless, and the
curtain dropped.

I laughed always more and more, excited not merely by the absurdity of
Pulcinello, but by my previous recollection of Belcampo's grotesque
genius. Probably I laughed too loud, for the people seemed to notice my
conduct; and, when I turned round, there was a dignified Abbot standing
near me.

"I rejoice, reverend sir," said he, "to find that you have not
altogether lost your relish for terrestrial enjoyments. After I had
witnessed your most extraordinary penitence and devotion, I believed
that it would be wholly impossible for you to be diverted with follies
such as these."

While the Abbot spoke thus, it seemed to me as if I ought to feel
ashamed of my levity, but involuntarily I answered him in a way of which
I directly afterwards repented. "Believe me, Signor _Abbate_," said I,
"the man who has once combated, like a stout swimmer, with the stormy
waves of this changeful life, never loses altogether the power of
lifting up his head bravely from the dark flood!"

The Abbot looked at me with significant glances. "Indeed!" said he, "I
know not which to praise most, the poetry or logic of your illustration.
I believe that I now understand you completely, and admire you, reverend
sir, from the bottom of my heart!"

"I know not, for my part, Signor _Abbate_," replied I, "how a poor
penitent monk can have excited your admiration."

"Excellent!" said the Abbot. "You do not, most reverend father, run any
risk of forgetting the part you have to play!--You are worthy to be the
favourite of the Pope!"

"His Holiness," answered I, "has indeed been pleased to honour me with
an audience. I have done homage before him in the dust, as is becoming
towards him, whom, on account of his tried virtues, Omnipotence has
chosen for his vicegerent on earth."

"Well, then," replied the Abbot, "you, too, are no doubt a well-chosen
vassal of the triple-crowned, and will nobly fulfil the duties required
of you. But, believe me, the present Pope is a jewel of virtue, compared
to Alexander the Sixth, and you may perhaps have erred sadly in your
reckoning. Go on with your part, however--What is well begun is half
ended!--Farewell, most reverend father!"

With a laugh of unrepressed scorn, the Abbot started away, leaving me
confounded and almost petrified at his conduct. When I connected his
expressions with my own remarks on the Pope, I became convinced that the
latter was by no means that conqueror deservedly crowned "after his
combat with the beast," such as I had supposed him to be; and, at the
same time, I could no longer entertain any doubt that my penitential
exercises must, to the majority of the public, have appeared but as a
hypocritical and artificial system, adopted only to force myself into
notice. Astonished and bitterly mortified, I returned home to my
convent, and going into the church, had recourse to long and zealous
prayer.

Then the scales seemed to fall from my hitherto blinded eyes, and I
recognized at once the temptation of the powers of darkness, who had of
new endeavoured to involve me in their snares. Only rapid and instant
flight could save me from destruction. And I determined with the first
rays of the next morning to set out on my way.



CHAPTER XVI.


It was already night when I heard the gate-bell of the convent forcibly
rung. Soon after, the brother who officiated as porter, came into my
cell and told me there was a strangely-dressed man without, who insisted
on speaking with me. I went accordingly to the parlour. It was Belcampo,
who, in his usual mad style, capered up to me, seized me by both arms,
and drew me, with an air of great mystery, aside into a corner.

"Medardus," said he, in a low and hurried tone, "you may make what
arrangements you please for your own destruction; but Folly is once more
come on the wings of the west wind to the rescue of your helpless
wisdom. If there is but the slightest corner or thread of your habit
remaining in sight, this arm will yet draw you back from out the yawning
and bottomless abyss. Oh, Medardus! remember and acknowledge once more
the power of love and of friendship. Think on David and Jonathan,
dearest Capuchin!"

"I have admired you as Goliah, no doubt," answered I; "but what can have
brought you hither at this time, I have yet to learn."

"What brought me hither!" said Belcampo, with great fervour. "What else
could have impelled me, but an unreasonable, a boundless attachment to a
Capuchin, whose head I once set to rights (in more senses of these words
than one) when it was in very formidable disorder; who threw about him
his blood-red golden ducats, with lavish profusion; who had intercourse
with abominable _revenants_; who, finally, after he had committed a few
trifling murders, was about to marry the most beautiful woman in the
world, with whom----"

"Stop--stop there!" cried I--"no more of this, thou cruel-hearted and
reckless fool. Heavily have I already done penance for all with which
thou hast now, in thy wicked humour, reproached me!"

"Ha! Brother Medardus," said Belcampo, "are the scars then so tender and
sensitive of those wounds with which the powers of darkness assailed
you? This proves that your recovery is not yet perfect; so, then, I
shall be as mild and quiet as a child--I shall tame the wildness of my
fantasy--shall no more cut caprioles either mentally or corporeally--but
only inform you, that as my attachment and friendship, chiefly on
account of your sublime madness, which you call wisdom, are very great,
I am determined to preserve your life as long as possible, and protect
you from every danger that you bring upon yourself.

"Concealed in my puppet-show theatre, I have chanced to overhear a
discourse relating to you. The Pope has determined to make you the Prior
of one of the most distinguished Capuchin Convents, and also to appoint
you his own Father Confessor. Fly, then, quickly--fly from Rome, for
dagger and poison are already prepared for you. I know one bravo who has
even now got his retaining fee for sending you in all haste to the other
world. In a word, you have come in the way of a certain famous
Dominican, who has hitherto been the Pope's confessor. You are obnoxious
to him and all his adherents; and, to conclude, to-morrow morning you
must no longer be found within the walls of Rome!"

This new occurrence I was at no loss to connect in my mind with the
expressions of the unknown _Abbate_. The two warnings were exactly in
keeping with each other, and I stood so lost in thought, that I scarcely
noticed the absurd conduct of Belcampo, who embraced me with great
fervour, and then with hideous grimaces and contortions took his
departure.

It might now be past midnight, when I heard the hollow rolling of a
carriage over the pavement of the Court. Soon afterwards, I observed
steps on the stone-stairs. There was a knocking at my door, which I
opened, and beheld the Father Guardian of the Convent, who was followed
by a man in disguise, masked, and carrying a torch in his hand.

"Brother Medardus," said the guardian, "we are informed that a dying man
desires your spiritual assistance, and the last unction. Do then what
the rule enjoins. Follow this man, who will lead you to the person who
requires your attendance."

Hereupon, a cold shuddering ran through my limbs. The apprehension rose
vividly within me, that they were leading me to my own death; yet I
dared not refuse, but instantly rose, put on my habit, and followed the
stranger, who lighted me down stairs, opened the door of the carriage,
and forced me to enter it.

In the carriage there were two other men, also disguised, who placed me
betwixt them. I inquired whither I was to be led, and who it was that
wished for my prayers and last services? No answer. In deep silence, we
drove on through several streets. For some time, I believed, by the
sound of the wheels, that we were already beyond the city walls; but
again, I perceived that we came through an arched gate-way, and then
drove once more over paved streets.

At last, the carriage stopped, and I felt that they immediately bound up
my hands; and that a thick night-cap was drawn over my face, by which I
was completely blinded. At this I expressed some dissatisfaction and
anxiety.

"No evil shall befall you," said a rough voice, "only you must be silent
as to all that you see and hear, otherwise your death is inevitable."

They now lifted me out of the carriage. There was a rattling of keys and
locks. Then a gate opened that groaned heavily, and creaked on its rusty
and unoiled hinges. We entered, and they led me at first through long
corridors, and at last down stairs deeper and deeper. The echoing sounds
of our steps convinced me that we were in vaults, and the abominable and
oppressive air proved that these vaults were destined for the reception
of the dead.

At last we stood still. My hands were untied, and the cap taken from my
head. I found myself in a large apartment, dimly lighted by a lamp hung
from the ceiling.

There was a man in black robes, and wearing a mask, probably the same
who had come for me to the Capuchin Convent. He stood next to me; and
along the walls of the room, seated on two benches, I beheld many
Dominican monks.

The horrible dream already narrated, which occurred to me in the prison
at the _residenz_ of the Prince von Rosenthurm, came back vividly on my
remembrance. I held it for certain, that I was now to meet an immediate
and cruel death; yet I remained silent, and only prayed inwardly, not
for rescue from the danger that awaited me, but for a religious and
sanctified end.

After some moments of gloomy silence and expectation, one of the monks
came to me, and said, with a hollow voice, "Medardus, we have here
doomed to death a brother of your order. His sentence is this night to
be carried into execution. From you he expects absolution and admonition
in his last moments. Go, then, and fulfil what belongs to your office."

The mask in black robes, who stood near me, now took me by the arm, and
led me from the audience-chamber through a narrow passage, into a small
vaulted cell.

Here I found lying in a corner, on a straw-bed, a pale and emaciated
spectre--properly speaking, a mere skeleton--half-clothed, or rather
hung like a scarecrow, with rags. The mask placed the lamp which he had
brought with him on a stone-table, in the middle of the vault, and
retired.

I then approached nearer the wretched couch of the prisoner. My name had
been announced, and with great difficulty he turned himself round
towards me. I was confounded when I recognized the features of the
venerable Cyrillus. A smile as of celestial beatitude came over his
countenance, though I knew not wherefore he was thus rejoiced.

"So then," said he, "the abominable ministers of hell, who dwell in this
building, have for once not deceived me. Through them I learned that
you, dear Brother Medardus, were in Rome; and as I expressed a great
wish to speak with you, they promised me to bring you here at the hour
of my death. That hour is now arrived, and they have not forgotten their
contract."

Hereupon, I kneeled down beside the venerable and pious old man. I
conjured him, in the first place, to tell me, how it was possible that
he could have been doomed by any society, calling themselves religious,
either to imprisonment or death?

"No, no! dear Brother Medardus," said Cyrillus, "not till after I have
confessed my manifold crimes, and, in the first place, those which I
have through inadvertence committed against you; not till after you
have, according to the holy institutes of our church, reconciled me with
Heaven, dare I speak any farther as to my own earthly misery, and
worldly cares. You already know, that I myself, as well as all the rest
of our community, looked upon you as the most hardened and most
unpardonable of sinners. According to our belief, you had, by a
continued chain of errors, heaped up the most enormous guilt on your
head, so that we expelled you from our society. Yet your chief crime was
but in yielding to the impulse of one fatal moment, in which the devil
cast his noose round your neck, and dragged you away from the holy
sanctuary, into the distractions of this sinful world.

"Then an abominable swindler, assuming your name, your dress, and, as if
he were the devil incarnate, also your corporeal figure, committed those
crimes, which had almost drawn upon you the shameful death of a
murderer. It has indeed been proved against you, that you have on one
occasion sinned, inasmuch as you wished to break your monastic vows; but
that you are unstained by those enormities which were imputed to you,
there can be no doubt. Return then to our convent, Medardus, where the
brethren will receive him whom they believed for ever lost, with
redoubled kindness and rejoicing."

Here the old man, overcome by weakness, sank back, fainting on his
couch; and resisting the excitement which his words had produced upon
me, I remembered that my present duty was to attend to Cyrillus only,
and the welfare of his soul, which he had intrusted to my care.
Therefore I laboured as well as I could, by friction, and raising him in
the bed, to recover the unhappy prisoner from his insensibility.

At last he was restored, and went regularly through his confession; he,
the pious and almost blameless old man, humbling himself before me, the
depraved sinner! But when I absolved the self-accusing monk, whose only
fault seemed to be that he had on many subjects _doubted_, and by these
doubts had been driven hither and thither, it seemed to me as if,
notwithstanding my own manifold offences, a divine spirit were kindled
up within me--as if I were but the unworthy instrument, the corporeal
organ, by which Omnipotence spoke temporally to souls not yet released
from their temporal bondage.

"Oh, Brother Medardus," said Cyrillus, lifting his eyes full of devotion
to Heaven, "how have your words refreshed and strengthened me! Gladly
shall I now go to meet death, which the traitors residing here have
prepared for me. I fall a victim to that abominable treachery and
concealed wickedness, by which the throne of the Pope is now
surrounded.----"

I heard hollow sounding steps, that always came nearer and nearer. Then
keys rattled in the door-lock.

Cyrillus raised himself up with a violent and fearful effort.--"Return,"
said he, "return, Medardus, to the happiness and security of our own
convent. Leonardus is already informed as to all that has occurred; he
knows in what manner I am now about to die. Conjure him to be silent as
to this last event; for how soon, even without this, would death have
claimed a weak and tottering old man! Farewell, my brother! Pray for the
salvation of my soul! My spirit shall be with you, when, in our convent
at Königswald, you read for me the prayers over the dead. Above all, I
beseech you to be silent as to whatever you have witnessed here; for
otherwise you will bring on yourself certain destruction, and involve
our community in endless disputes."

On this point I made him a solemn promise. The disguised men had come
into the room. They lifted up the old monk out of bed, and, as he had
not strength enough to walk, dragged him through the corridor towards
the vaulted hall, or audience-chamber, in which I had before been.

On a signal from the masks, I had followed the prisoner, and now found
that the Dominicans had arranged themselves in a circle, within which
they brought the old man, and then commanded him to kneel down upon a
small heap of earth, which they had laid in the centre of the circle.

A crucifix was now placed by one of the masks in his hands, and he
grasped it with great fervour. According to the duty of my office, I had
also gone within the circle, and prayed aloud. Before I had ended, one
of the Dominicans pulled me by the arm, and spoke to me aside. At that
moment I observed a sword gleam in the hand of one of the masks; and in
an instant, at a single blow, the head of Cyrillus was dissevered, and
rolled down, streaming a torrent of blood, at my feet.

I could not endure the horror of this spectacle, but threw myself on the
earth, in a state of half fainting and half consciousness. On my
recovery, I found that I was in a small apartment fitted up like a cell.
A Dominican came up to me.

"You are terrified perhaps," said he; "yet, brother, methinks you
should rather rejoice to have beheld with your own eyes this perfect
martyrdom. By that name, of course, it must be distinguished, if a
brother of your convent undergoes the execution of his sentence; for, no
doubt, you are, to a man, _all_ saints!"

"We are not saints," replied I; "but we can at least say this
much--Never was an innocent man within the walls of our convent
murdered--Let me now go! I have fulfilled my duty faithfully, and with
self-satisfaction. The spirit of my departed brother, who is now in
Heaven, will, as I trust, be near to me, if I should fall into the hands
of accursed murderers!"

"I do not doubt," said the Dominican, "that your departed brother,
Cyrillus, will, in such case, be able to assist you. Methinks, however,
you ought not to call the judgment which has been executed against him,
a murder. Cyrillus had committed enormous misdemeanours against the now
reigning Vicegerent of the Almighty; and it was by his (I mean by the
Pope's) express command, that your brother was condemned to death. But
as he must have confessed all to you, it is needless to speak with you
any farther on this subject. Rather take, before you go, a little of
this cordial for your bodily refreshment; for you look quite pale, and
much agitated."

With these words, accompanied by a good-humoured smile, the Dominican
handed to me a crystal cup, filled with a dark red-coloured and strongly
fragrant wine, which, like champagne, foamed and mantled.

I scarce knew how to interpret the obscure apprehensions which were
within me. Surely this was the self-same wine which had once before been
presented to me by the Baroness Euphemia von F----, which I then luckily
refused to taste! I had no time for reflections, however; for the monk
was attentively watching me. Involuntarily, and without thought, I put
up my left hand over my face, as if blinded by the glare of the lamp;
and with the other, lifting my glass, poured the wine into the wide
sleeve of my habit.

The Dominican was effectually deceived.--"Much good may it do you!" said
he; at the same time hastily opening the door, and making signs for my
departure.



CHAPTER XVII.


I was again brought into the carriage, which, to my surprise, was now
empty; and they drove me rapidly away. The terrors of the night--the
violent excitement which I had undergone, and my grief for the
unfortunate Cyrillus, combined to produce a deep gloomy reverie, in
which I scarcely remembered where I was, or knew what was passing around
me. When the carriage stopped, I took no notice; but from this trance I
was awoke by two men, who lifted me (as if I had been unable to help
myself) out of the carriage, and then threw me down, roughly enough,
upon the ground.

The morning had already broke, and I found myself before the gate of my
own convent, of which I immediately rang the bell. The porter was
terrified at my pale and disordered aspect; and, of course, had
announced his apprehensions to the Prior, for, immediately after early
mass, the latter came with anxious looks into my cell.

To his questions I only answered generally, that the death of the person
whom I had been sent for to absolve had been very horrible, and that,
consequently, I could not help being much agitated. The Prior was
satisfied with this answer, but soon afterwards, from the insupportable
torment which I felt in my left arm, I could not contain myself, but
screamed out aloud.

The surgeon of the convent was sent for, and, meanwhile, the sleeve of
my habit ripped open; but the cloth had already grown into my flesh, and
the whole arm was found withered, and eaten away to the very bone, by a
deleterious caustic.

"I was to have drunk wine," said I to the Prior, "but allowed the
contents of the glass to run thus into my sleeve." I said no more,
remembering the injunctions of Cyrillus to secrecy.

On the arrival of the physician, he declared that the wine had been
impregnated with the most destructive and corrosive of all poisons; but
by the remedies which he applied, my torment was lessened, at least,
though by no means assuaged. My recovery was slow and tedious; for it
was considered doubtful whether the limb ought not to be amputated. I
escaped that misfortune, however; but my arm remains to this hour
withered and powerless.

"I am now perfectly aware," said the Prior, one morning after I became
convalescent, "of the peculiar circumstances by which you have lost the
use of your arm. The pious Brother Cyrillus vanished in the most
mysterious manner from our convent and from Rome; and you, dear Brother
Medardus, will in the same manner be lost, if you do not immediately
change your residence. During your illness, many suspicious inquiries
were made after you, and had it not been for my watchfulness, and the
faithful attachment of your brethren, probably you would not now have
been in life.

"To me you appeared from the first an extraordinary man, under the
influence of a destiny, whose final decrees are yet inscrutable; but
however this may be, you have certainly, since your arrival in Rome,
attracted far too much attention, to escape the animosity and
watchfulness of certain people, who, no doubt, wish you to be removed
out of their way. My advice is, therefore, that you should return home
to your own country, and to your own convent. May all happiness, and,
above all, the grace of God, be with you!"

Even without this admonition of the Prior, I should have clearly felt,
that so long as I remained in Rome, my life must be in constant danger.
To this painful thought, others were added. I was haunted still by the
recollection of my numberless and enormous crimes; then, above all,
there was the immediate torment of my festering and withered arm. I
could not value a life which was so useless and miserable, but, on the
contrary, reverted frequently to the thoughts of suicide, which only the
terror of committing a new crime prevented me from carrying into
execution. But even without this, I might soon fall in the way of
obtaining for myself a timely and welcome martyrdom, and whether this
should occur at Rome or elsewhere was to me indifferent.

More and more, however, I accustomed myself to dwell on the thoughts of
a speedy and violent death, to which, by my penitence, I considered
myself entitled. Methought I saw the figure of the monk Medardus, _of
myself_, issuing from the gates of the convent, and passing along the
road. Then there appeared behind him a dark and indefinable form, who
stabbed him with a stiletto to the heart. A crowd immediately collected
round the bloody corpse. "Medardus!" cried they; "the pious and blessed
penitent Medardus is murdered!"

These words were spread and repeated hundred-fold through the streets;
and the crowd always became more numerous, lamenting the loss of a saint
so gifted and distinguished. Women kneeled down, and reverentially dipt
their handkerchiefs in the blood which flowed from my wounds. In doing
this, one of them remarked the scar of the cross on my neck, whereupon
she exclaimed aloud--"He is indeed a martyr--a glorified saint! See here
the impress of Heaven, which he has borne on his earthly frame!"
Hereupon all the multitude threw themselves on their knees, and happy
were those who could touch the mortal remains of the saint, or even the
hem of his garment! Then a new impulse was given. There was an opening
made in the crowd. A bier was brought forward, ornamented with a
profusion of flowers, and in triumphant march, with prayer, and the
choral voice of divine music, the attendant youths carry on it the dead
body of the saint onwards to the church of St Peter!

Thus my still wandering and deluded fantasy elaborated, in the most
vivid colours, a picture, representing my own martyrdom. Without once
apprehending how the deceitful demon of pride led me on, and by new
methods laboured to ensure my destruction, I resolved, after my perfect
recovery, to remain in Rome; to continue the same penitential life which
I had hitherto adopted, and then either to die in the full odour and
splendour of sanctity, or else, being rescued by the Pope, to raise
myself up to high dignities and power in the church.

My convalescence, as I have already mentioned, was very tedious, but the
powerful energies of my constitution enabled me at first to bear up
against the torture, and at last triumph over that abominable poison,
which had not only destroyed one limb, but threatened, by sympathy, to
injure my whole vitals. The physician, however, had no doubts of my
perfect restoration. Indeed, it was only at those moments of mental
confusion which usually precede sleep, that I was liable still to
feverish attacks and delirium.

In one of these paroxysms I was visited by an extraordinary dream, of
which the circumstances were far too wild and confused to be faithfully
described. Methought I again looked on my own dead body, but not as
before in a public street of Rome. It was now laid in a lonely _berceau_
walk of the convent at Königswald, where every object in the landscape
came in vivid colours to my remembrance. Methought I was conscious of my
own separate existence, as a self-subsisting idea, and then I ascended,
as if borne up by my own buoyancy, from the realms of earth, and ere
long found myself floating in a cloud of a beautiful roseate colour.
There I beheld a magnificent array of wood-crowned mountains and rocky
cliffs, gleaming in the morning sun, but far more beautiful than those
of the earth. Anon, methought I stood at the lofty gate of a gorgeous
palace, and wished to enter; but fearful bolts of lightning crossed and
re-crossed each other, like fiery lances, betwixt me and the entrance,
till I was struck down into the bosom of a damp, obscure, and colourless
cloud. As I fell down deeper and deeper, I again beheld the dead body,
which raised itself up and stared upon me with ghastly, lustreless eyes,
and howled out some accents of lamentation, like the north wind in a
narrow ravine. Anon, methought the face of all nature became dead and
withered. The flowers declined their heads, sank down, and faded away.
The trees lost every leaf, and their dry branches rattled like the
marrowless joints of a skeleton. I saw men and women too, no longer like
living beings, but like pale, hideous spectres, and they threw
themselves in despair on the earth, calling out, "Mercy! mercy! Is then
the guilt of our crimes so enormous, that thou, oh Lord, givest unto our
Arch-Enemy power to destroy, and render vain the sin-offering of our
blood?"

I wished for annihilation, though, being a disembodied idea, this was
impossible. Then methought I was, as if by an electrical shock, roused
up from my sleep. The great clock of the convent struck twelve. "The
dead raise themselves up," said a voice; "they rise out of their
graves, and are gone to divine worship." Accordingly, I began to pray.
Then I heard a slight knocking at my door, and believed it was one of my
brethren, who wished to come into the room, till, with
unspeakable horror, I recognized the voice of my ghostly
DOUBLE.--"Broth-er--Broth-er!" said the voice--"I am here--I am
here!--Come with me--Come with me!"

I wished thereupon to start up from my couch, but a shuddering coldness
had fettered every limb, and every attempted movement produced only a
convulsive inward struggle. My only refuge was in prayer; and I heard,
in a strange manner, the audible effect of my own voice. Now it
gradually triumphed over the renewed knocking and stammering of the
spectre; but at last all was confused and lost in the hum of ten
thousand voices, as when the air is filled with myriads of insects. Anon
this humming changed to articulate lamentations as before, and methought
I was again wrapt in the dark cloud; but suddenly there came over it a
gleam of the most exquisite morning red. Through the dark vapours
descended a tall and dignified form, on whose bosom a cross shone with
dazzling effulgence. The features were those of St Rosalia!

The lamentations were now turned to an exulting hymn of praise; and from
afar I beheld the landscape again blooming in all the luxuriance of
spring. Only my own voice was now heard, lamenting--"Shall I then alone,
of all these rejoicing inhabitants of earth, be given a prey to
everlasting torments?"--Then a change came over that beautiful phantom.
Its awe-striking dignity was transformed into mild grace and
beneficence, and a sweet smile was diffused over her features.

"AURELIA!" cried I aloud, and with that name I at last in reality awoke,
and saw the clear morning light beaming into my cell.

By this introduction of Aurelia I clearly recognized the new endeavours
of the restless powers of darkness against me; and no sooner was this
perception aroused, than I understood also the nature of those delusions
by which I had been induced to remain in Rome. I hastened down to the
church, and prayed with great fervour, leaving out, however, all bodily
chastisements, having need of all the strength that I could muster for
my long and fatiguing journey. Before the mid-day sun shot down his
perpendicular and insupportable beams, I was already far from Rome,
taking precisely the same road by which I had come thither.



CHAPTER XVIII.


I determined to avoid the _residenz_ of the Prince; not because I was
afraid to be recognized and punished, but because I could not bear to
look on the scene of my horrible offences. Moreover, should Aurelia
still reside there, I felt that I had no certainty of avoiding new
temptations; and this apprehension, perhaps, proved, more than any other
circumstance, the reality of my penitence and conversion. The conviction
afforded me some consolation, that at least the diabolical spirit of
pride was annihilated within me, and that I no longer wished to throw
myself into danger, from a vain confidence in my own strength.

       *       *       *       *       *

My long pilgrimage was without any incidents deserving of record. At
last I had arrived amid the well-known Thuringian mountains; and one
morning, through the dense vapours that lingered in a valley before me,
I beheld a castle, which I instantly recognized to be that of the late
Baron von F----. As I came nearer, alas! how was the scene now changed
from what it had been! The walks and ornaments of the parks were become
a wilderness of ruin and devastation. The shrubberies, parterres, and
young plantations, were either torn up by the cattle, or converted into
ploughed fields. The road on which I walked, after entering the path,
was overgrown with moss and weeds; and even the beautiful lawn before
the mansion-house, that used to be so carefully kept, was now covered
with a herd of cattle, and another of swine, that had rooted up all its
verdure. The windows of the castle, too, were broken, and looked
ghastly. The steps leading up to the principal entry were ruinous, and
covered with lichens and grass that waved in the wind. Through the whole
domain there seemed not to be one living being. All was neglected and
lonely.

On passing through a dense thicket, which had once been my favourite
walk, I heard an obscure sound of moaning and lamentation. Then I
perceived a grey-headed old man at some distance, who, though his
countenance was turned towards me, did not seem in the least to notice
my presence or approach. On the contrary, when I came almost close to
him, he uttered, as if talking to himself in deep reverie, the
words,--"Dead--dead and gone,--all dead and gone, whom I once loved in
this world. Oh, Aurelia! thou, too, the last, art dead to all sublunary
enjoyments!"

I now recognized Reinhold, the old intendant, though grief had so much
changed his appearance, that at first I knew not who he was. I had do
wish to speak with any one, but now remained as if involuntarily rooted
to the spot.

"Aurelia dead!" cried I. "No, no, old man, thou art misinformed. The
power of the all-seeing and omniscient Judge protected her from the
stiletto of the murderer!"

The old man started at these words as if he had been struck by
lightning. "Who is here?" cried he, vehemently--"Who is here?--Leopold!
Leopold!" A boy now sprung out from the thicket, and on perceiving me,
pronounced the customary salutation--"_Laudetur Jesus Christus!_"--"_In
omnia sæcula sæculorum_" answered I. Then the old man raised himself up.
"Leopold! Leopold!" said he, with great energy; "Who is among us? What
is this man?"

Now, for the first time, I perceived that Reinhold was blind. The boy
answered him. "A reverend monk, Herr Intendant; a monk of the Capuchin
order." Upon these words, it seemed as if the old man was seized by the
utmost terror and abhorrence.

"Away--away!" cried he. "Boy, lead me from hence--To my room--to my
room! Peter shall close all the doors, and keep watch.--Away--away!"
With these words, he seemed to exert his utmost strength to escape from
me, as from a furious wild beast. The boy looked at him and me
alternately, as if quite confounded, and at a loss how to act; but the
old man, instead of allowing himself to be led, forced on his attendant,
and they soon disappeared through a gate, which, as I perceived, was
immediately locked behind them.

I was much shocked at this adventure, and fled as quickly as I could
from this place, the scene of my greatest crimes, which now appeared to
me more abominable than ever. I soon afterwards found myself in dense
thickets of the forest, and but for the direction which the sun
afforded, would not have known what path to choose, or whither
to turn. I sank into a deep reverie, in which I almost lost all
self-consciousness of what was immediately around me; till at last,
being much fatigued, I laid myself down on a mossy couch, formed on the
spreading roots of a wild oak tree, not far from which I saw a small
artificially formed eminence, on which was planted a cross. Gazing on
this, I soon fell into a profound sleep, and the bodily exertions that I
had undergone were such, that I now slumbered without ever being visited
by any of my former visions.

On awaking from my sleep, I was surprised to perceive an old countryman
seated near me, who, as soon as he saw that I raised myself up,
respectfully took off his cap.

"No doubt, reverend father," said he, "you have travelled a far way, and
are greatly fatigued, otherwise you would not have chosen _this_ as your
resting-place. Or it may be that you are an entire stranger, and know
not the peculiar circumstances connected with this spot?"

I assured him, that being a stranger, a pilgrim from the most distant
parts of Italy, I could not possibly have any knowledge of the
circumstances to which he alluded.

"Well," said the countryman, "the warning which I wished to give you is
particularly applicable to all brethren of your order; for it is said
that some years ago a Capuchin monk was murdered in this very part of
the forest; consequently, when I saw you sleeping on the grass, I
determined to station myself here, and be ready to defend you from
whatever danger you might be threatened with. Whether the story of your
brother's death at this place be true or false, this much is certain,
that at the time alluded to, a Capuchin came as a passing guest to our
village, and after staying all night, walked away in the morning,
through these mountains. On that very day, a neighbour of mine going as
usual to big work through the deep valley below what is called the
'Devil's Ground,' suddenly heard a piercing hideous cry, which continued
for a few seconds, and then strangely died away in the air. He insists,
(though to me this appears very improbable,) that at the same time when
he heard the cry, he saw the form of a man shoot down from the
jutting-out point of rock above, into the bottomless abyss.

"This evidence was so circumstantial, that all the village began to
think it possible that the Capuchin who had left us that morning might
really have fallen down from the cliff, and we tried every method in our
power, without endangering our own lives, to find out his dead body in
the chasm.

"Our labour proved fruitless, however; we laughed at the man who had put
us to much trouble, and ridiculed him still more when he afterwards
insisted, that in returning home at night, he had plainly seen the
figure of a man rising out of the water.

"This last must have indeed been mere imagination; but afterwards we
understood that the Capuchin, God knows wherefore, had been murdered by
a man of rank, who had afterwards thrown down the body from that point
of rock which we call the Devil's Chair.

"That the murder must have been committed near the spot where we now
are, I am fully persuaded; for, as I was once sitting quietly after hard
work, and looking at an old hollow oak-tree, methought I saw something
like a corner of dark-brown cloth hanging out, which excited my
curiosity. Accordingly, when I went to the tree, I drew out of it, to my
great surprise, a Capuchin tunic, quite fresh and new, which I therefore
took home to my cottage. I perceived that one of the sleeves was stained
with blood, and in one corner found embroidered, the name 'Medardus.'

"It occurred to me that it would be a pious and praise-worthy action if
I sold the habit, and give the money that it would bring to our priest,
requesting him to read prayers for the benefit of the poor murdered man.
Consequently, I took the dress with me to town, but no old-clothesman
would purchase it, and there was no Capuchin Convent in the place.

"At last there came up to me a man, who, by his dress, must have been a
_chasseur_, or forester. He said that he was just then in want of such a
garment, and gave at once the money that I had demanded for it.
Returning home, I made our priest say several masses, and as I could not
contrive to station a cross in the Devil's Abyss, I placed one here, as
a memorial of the Capuchin's cruel fate.

"However, the deceased father must have had not a few sins to answer
for; his ghost is said to wander about here still, and has been seen by
divers people, so that the priest's labours have been of no great
service in his behalf. Therefore, reverend father, I would earnestly
entreat of you, when you have returned safe to your own convent, to read
prayers now and then for the soul of your unfortunate brother, Medardus.
Will you promise me this?"

"You are in a mistake, my good friend," said I; "the Capuchin Medardus,
who some years ago passed through your village, is not murdered; there
is no need of masses for him, since he still lives, and must by his own
labours and repentance work out the salvation of his soul. I am myself
this very Medardus.--Look here!"

With these words I threw open my tunic, and shewed him my name
embroidered, as he had described, on the outside of the lapelle.
Scarcely had the _bauer_ looked at the name, when he grew deadly pale,
and stared at me with every sign of the utmost horror. Then suddenly he
started up, and without uttering a word, ran as if he had been pursued
by fiends into the wood.

It was obvious that he took me for the ghost of this murdered Medardus,
and all endeavours would have failed to convince him of his error. The
remoteness of the place, and the deep stillness, broken only by the
roaring of the not far distant river, were well suited to awake in my
mind the most horrible imagery. I thought once more of my detestable
_double_, and infected almost with the terror of the countryman, I felt
myself agitated to my inmost heart, and believed that the frightful
spectre of my second self would start out from some dark thicket against
me.

Summoning my utmost courage, I again stepped forward on my journey, but
so much was I disturbed by the revived notion of my ghostly _double_,
that not till after a considerable time had I leisure to recollect that
the countryman's narrative had completely cleared up to me the mystery
how the delirious monk had first got possession of the tunic, which, on
our flight into Italy, he had left with me, and which I had recognized
as unquestionably my own. The forester whom he had applied to for a new
dress, had, of course, purchased it from the countryman in the
market-town.

I was deeply impressed by the confused and broken manner in which the
_bauer_ had told the fatal events of the Devil's Ground, for I thus
perceived the intricate web--the concatenation of circumstances, in
which the powers of darkness seemed to have done their utmost to produce
that fearful exchange of characters betwixt myself and Victorin. The
strange sight that had been seen by the _bauer_, too, of a man rising
out of the abyss, which his companions believed only a vision, appeared
to me of no little importance. I looked forward with confidence to an
explanation of this also, though without knowing where it could be
obtained.



CHAPTER XIX.


After a few days more of restless walking, it was with a beating heart,
and eyes swimming in tears, that I once more beheld the well-known
towers of the Cistertian Monastery, and village of Heidebach. Anxious as
I now am to wind up this long and painful narrative, I shall not pause
to describe and analyze my feelings at thus visiting once more the
scenes of my youth, which, in the yellow light of a still autumnal day,
lay in all their wonted calmness and beauty before me.

I passed through the village, went up the hill, and came to the great
square shaded by tall trees before the gate of the convent. Here, for
some time, I paused, seating myself on a stone bench in a recess,
reviving all my oldest and most cherished recollections, that came over
my mind like shadows of a dream. Scarcely could I now believe that I was
the same Francesco who had there spent so many years with a heart
unclouded by care, and to whom guilt and remorse were yet known only by
name.

While thus occupied, I heard at some distance a swelling voice of
melody--it was an anthem sung by male voices. A large crucifix became
visible, and I found that a procession was coming up the hill. The monks
walked in pairs, and at the first glance I recognized that they were my
own brethren, and that the old Leonardus, supported by a young man whose
name I did not know, was at their head. Without noticing me, they
continued their anthem, and passed on through the convent gate.

They were followed by the Dominicans and Franciscans, also from the town
of Königswald, and walking in the same order of procession. Then several
coaches drove up, in which were the nuns of St Clare. From all this I
perceived that some remarkable festival was now to be solemnized.

The church doors were opened, and I went in. People were adorning the
altars, and especially the high altar, with flower garlands, and a
sacristan gave directions for a great quantity of fresh roses, as the
Abbess had particularly desired that they should predominate. Having
resolved that I would immediately request permission to join my
brethren, I first strengthened myself by fervent prayer, after which I
went into the convent, and inquired for the Prior Leonardus.

The porteress then led me into a hall, where the Prior was seated in an
arm-chair, surrounded by his brethren. Agitated to the utmost degree,
and indeed quite overpowered, I could not refrain from bursting into
tears, and falling at his feet. "Medardus!" he exclaimed, and a murmur
sounded immediately through the ranks of all the brethren. "Brother
Medardus!" said they--"Brother Medardus, the long-lost, is returned!"

I was immediately lifted up from the prostration into which I had
involuntarily sunk, and all the brethren, even those with whom I was
before unacquainted, fervently embraced me.--"Thanks and everlasting
praise," they exclaimed, "to the mercy and long-suffering of Heaven,
that you have thus been rescued from the snares and temptations of that
deceitful world. But relate, dearest brother--tell us your
adventures--all that you have encountered!"

Thus there arose among them a murmur of confused and anxious inquiries;
but, meanwhile, the Prior rose up and made a sign for me to follow him
privately into another room, which was regularly appropriated for his
use when he visited the convent.

"Medardus," he began, "you have in the most wicked manner broken your
monastic vows, and deceived that faith which was reposed in you by all
our community. Instead of fulfilling the commissions with which I
intrusted you, you became a disgraceful fugitive, no one knows why, nor
whither. On this account, I could order you to be imprisoned for life,
or to be immured, and left to perish without food or drink, if I chose
to act according to the severe laws of our order."

"Judge me, then, venerable father," interrupted I--"judge me according
as the conventual law directs. I should resign with pleasure the burden
of a miserable life; for indeed I feel but too deeply that the severest
penance to which I could subject myself, would to me bring no
consolation."

"Recover yourself," said Leonardus; "be composed and tranquil. I have
now fulfilled my duty in speaking to you as an abbot; but, as a friend
and father, I have yet to address you, and to hear what you have to say
in your own justification. In a wonderful manner you have been rescued
at Rome, from the death with which you was threatened. To the disorders
which prevail there, Cyrillus has been the only sacrifice."

"Is it possible, then," said I, "that you already know----"

"I know it all," answered the Prior; "I am aware, that you rendered
spiritual assistance to the poor man in his last moments; and I have
been informed of the stratagem of the Dominicans, who thought they had
administered deadly poison in the wine which they offered you as a
cordial drink. Had you swallowed but a single drop, it must have caused
your death in a few minutes; of course you found some opportune method
of evading this."

"Only look here," said I, and, rolling up the sleeve of my tunic, shewed
the Prior my withered arm, which was like that of a skeleton; describing
to him, at the same time, how I had suspected the fate that was intended
me, and found means to pour all the liquor into my sleeve.

Leonardus started as he beheld this frightful spectacle, and muttered to
himself--"Thou hast indeed done penance, as it was fitting, for thou
hast committed many crimes.--But Cyrillus--the good and pious
Cyrillus!"----

He paused, and I took this opportunity of remarking, that the precise
cause of my brother's death, and the accusation which had been made
against him, remained, up to that day, unknown to me.

"Perhaps you too," said the Prior, "would have shared the same fate, if,
like him, you had stepped forward as a plenipotentiary of our convent.
You already know, that the claim of our house, if admitted, and carried
into effect, would almost annihilate the income of the Cardinal
von ----; which income he at present draws without any right to its
appropriation. This was the reason why the Cardinal suddenly made up a
friendship with the Pope's father confessor, (with whom he had till then
been at variance,) and thus acquired, in the Dominican, a powerful ally,
whom he could employ against Cyrillus.

"The latter was introduced to the Pope, and received with particular
favour; in such manner, that he was admitted into the society of the
dignitaries by whom his Holiness is surrounded, and enabled to appear as
often as he chose at the Vatican. Cyrillus, of course, soon became
painfully aware, how much the Vicegerent of God seeks and finds his
kingdom in this world, and its pleasures,--how he is made subservient as
the mere tool of a mob of hypocrites, who turn him hither and thither,
as if vacillating between heaven and hell. Doubtless this seems
inconsistent with the powerful talents and energetic spirit, of which he
has, on various occasions, shewn himself possessed; but which they
contrive, by the most abominable means, to pervert and to subdue.

"Our pious brother Cyrillus, as might have been foreseen, was much
distressed at all this, and found himself called on, by irresistible
impulses, to avert, if possible, the misfortunes which might thus fall
upon the church. Accordingly, as the spirit moved him, he took divers
opportunities to rouse and agitate, by the most fervid eloquence, the
heart of the Pope, and forcibly to disengage his soul from all
terrestrial pleasures or ambition.

"The Pope, as it usually happens to enfeebled minds, was, in truth, much
affected by what Cyrillus had said; and this was precisely the
opportunity which his wicked ministers had watched for, in order to
carry their plans into execution. With an air of great mystery and
importance, they revealed to his Holiness their discovery of nothing
less than a regular conspiracy against him, which was to deprive him of
the triple crown. For this purpose, Cyrillus had been commissioned to
deliver these private lectures, and induce the Pope to submit to some
public act of penance, which would serve as a signal for the open
out-break of the rebellion that was already organized among the
cardinals.

"Accordingly, on the next appearance of our zealous and excellent
brother, the Pope imagined that, in his present discourse, he could
detect many concealed and treacherous designs. Cyrillus, however, did
not hesitate to persist in his attempts, assuring his Holiness, that he
who did not wholly renounce the pleasures of this world, and humble his
heart, even as the most submissive and self-accusing penitent, was
wholly unfit to be the Vicegerent of God, and would bring a load of
reproach and shame on the church, from which the latter should make
itself free.

"After one of these interviews, the iced-water which the Pope was in the
habit of drinking, was found to have been poisoned. That Cyrillus was
perfectly guiltless on that score, it is needless for me to make any
assertion to you, who knew him. His Holiness, however, was convinced of
his guilt; and the order for his imprisonment and execution in the
Dominican Convent was the consequence.

"The hatred of the Dominicans towards you, after the attention which you
had received from the Pope, and his intentions openly expressed of
raising the Capuchin penitent to high dignities, requires no
explanation. You had thus become more dangerous, in their estimation,
than Cyrillus had ever been; and they would have felt the less remorse
at your destruction, as they doubted not that your penitential
observances were the result of the basest hypocrisy, and a desire of
temporal advancement.

"With regard to my accurate knowledge of all that occurred to you in
Rome, there is in this no mystery. I have a friend at the metropolis,
who is thoroughly acquainted even with the most secret occurrences which
take place in the Vatican, and who faithfully informs me of them by
letters, written in a cypher which has hitherto baffled all attempts at
discovery.

"But on my side, there are many questions to be asked, of which the
solution yet appears to me an inscrutable mystery. When you lived at the
Capuchin Convent, near to Rome, of which the Prior is my near relation,
I believed that your penitence was genuine, and from the heart. Yet, in
the city, you must have been actuated by very different motives. Above
all, why did you seek to gain the Pope's attention by an incredible and
marvellous story? Why accuse yourself of crimes which you had never
committed? Were you, then, ever at the castle of the Baron von F----?"

"Alas, venerable father!" said I, "that was indeed the scene of my most
horrible crimes. Is it possible that, in your eyes also, I have appeared
a liar and hypocrite?"

"Truly," said the Prior, "now that I speak with, and see you, I am
forced to believe that your repentance and self-inflicted sufferings
have been sincere. Still there are difficulties, which I am wholly
unable to clear up.

"Soon after your flight from the _residenz_ of the Prince von
Rosenthurm, and after the monk, with whom Cyrillus had confounded you,
had, as if by miracle, escaped, it was proved by the discovery of
letters, and other concomitant testimony, that the Count Victorin,
disguised as a monk, had been at the Baron's castle, and must have been
the perpetrator of the crimes charged against you. Reinhold, his old
steward, indeed, vehemently disputed this notion. But suddenly
Victorin's _chasseur_ made his appearance, and explained that his master
had lived long concealed in the Thuringian forest; that he had allowed
his beard to grow, and had said that he would take the first opportunity
of providing himself with a Capuchin tunic, which he intended to wear
for at least twelve months, in order to carry on certain adventures.
Finally, he declared, that, after having been for some days absent from
his master, on business, he had, on his return, found him completely
disguised in a monk's dress, at which he was not surprised, as he, the
day before, observed, at some distance, the figure of a Capuchin pilgrim
in the forest, from whom he doubted not that his master had supplied
himself with the masquerade attire. He insisted that he knew the Count
far too well to have been deceived, and, besides, had spoken with him
frequently betwixt the period of that occurrence and his disappearance
from the castle. This deposition of the _chasseur_ completely
invalidated the opinion of Reinhold; but the utter vanishing of the
Count, of whom not a single trace could be found, remained quite
incomprehensible.

"In the _residenz_, the Princess von Rosenthurm started the hypothesis,
that the pretended Herr von Krczinski, from Kwicziczwo, had been really
the Count Victorin; and was the more inclined to this belief, on account
of the resemblance that she had found between this pretender and
Francesco, of whose guilt no one now entertained any doubt. The story of
the Prince's forester, describing a maniac, who had wandered about in
this forest, and afterwards lived in his house, almost sanctioned the
hypothesis. The madman had been recognized as Medardus. Victorin, in
order to possess himself of his tunic, had cast him down into the abyss
below the Devil's Chair. Here, by some chance or other, he had not been
killed in the fall, but only wounded on the head. The pain of his wound,
with hunger and thirst, made him delirious; and he ran about, perhaps
obtaining a morsel of food now and then from some compassionate
countryman, and half clothed with miserable rags, till he was kindly
received into the house of the forester.

"Two things, however, remained here inexplicable, namely, how this
Medardus could have run away to such a distance out of the mountains
without being arrested, and how, even in his lucid intervals, he should
confess to the judges and the physician crimes which he had never
committed. Hereupon some individuals insisted that these lucid intervals
were delusive--that he never had been free from his madness, and that as
there are no limits to the varieties of that malady, it was possible
that he had, by the force of his own perverted imagination, invented all
the circumstances which he related, and that the belief of them was the
one, fixed, and obstinate idea, (the characteristic of insanity,) which
never left him.

"The judge of the criminal court, on the other hand, (whose wisdom was
held in great reverence,) declared that the pretended Herr von Krczinski
was not only no Pole, but also no count, and certainly not the Count
Victorin. Moreover, that the monk assuredly was, and continued mad on
every occasion, on which account the Court had intended that his
sentence should be that of constant imprisonment, in order that he might
be prevented from committing more crimes; but the Prince, who was much
shocked by the calamities brought on the family of the Baron von F----,
changed this decision into that of execution on the scaffold.

"Such is the nature of mankind in this transitory life, that every
impression, however vivid, loses, after a short time, almost all its
influence, and fades away into pale and dusky colours. But now the
notion that Aurelia's fugitive bridegroom had been Count Victorin,
brought the story of the Italian Countess fresh into the remembrance of
every one. Even those who before knew nothing of the matter, were
informed by others who thought there was no longer any need for keeping
the secret, and all agreed in considering it quite natural that the
features of Medardus should resemble those of Victorin, as they had both
been sons of one father.

"The Prince at last determined that no farther attempt should be made to
break the veil of mystery. He wished rather that all these unhappy
involvements, which no one could be found to unravel, should be allowed
to rest, and be forgotten. Only Aurelia----"

"Aurelia!" cried I, with vehemence, "for God's sake, reverend sir, tell
me what has become of Aurelia?"

       *       *       *       *       *

[Some pages are here left out by the Editor.]



CHAPTER XX.


"You are sincere, Medardus," said the Prior; "your silence on this point
is to me better than the most fervid eloquence. I felt the most perfect
conviction that it was you only who had in the _residenz_ played the
part of a Polish nobleman, and wished to marry the Baroness Aurelia.
Moreover, I had traced out pretty accurately your route. A strange man,
by name Schönfeld, or Belcampo, who called himself a professor and an
artist, called here, and gave me the wished-for intelligence. At one
period I was indeed quite convinced that you had been the murderer of
Hermogen and Euphemia, on which account I entertained, if possible, the
more horror at your plan of seizing and involving Aurelia in your own
destruction.

"I might indeed have arrested you, and perhaps it was my duty to have
done so; but, far from considering myself as a minister of vengeance, I
resigned you and your earthly conduct to the eternal decrees and
guidance of Providence. That you were, in a manner, little less than
miraculously preserved and carried through so many dangers, proved to
me, that your destruction, so far as this life is concerned, was not yet
resolved.

"But now, it is most important for you to hear the circumstances by
which I was afterwards led, and indeed forced to believe, that Count
Victorin had actually appeared as the Capuchin, in the Thuringian
mountains, at the castle of Baron von F----.

"Some time ago, Brother Sebastian, our porter, was awoke from his sleep
by an extraordinary noise of sobbing and groaning at the gate, which
sounded like the voice of a man in the last agony.

"The day had just dawned, and he immediately rose. On opening the
outward gate, he found a man lying on the steps, half petrified with
cold, and miserably exhausted. With great effort the stranger brought
out the words, that he was Medardus, a monk who had fled from our
monastery.

"Sebastian was much alarmed, and immediately came to me with accounts of
what had happened below. I summoned the brethren around me, and went to
inquire into the matter. The stranger seemed to have fainted, whereupon
we lifted him up, and brought him into the refectorium. In spite of the
horribly disfigured countenance of the man, we still thought that we
could recognize your features. Indeed, several were of opinion that it
was the change of dress, more than any other circumstance, which made a
difference. The stranger had a long beard, like a monk, and wore a
lay-habit, now much torn and destroyed, but which had at first been very
handsome. He had silk stockings, a gold buckle still on one of his
shoes, a white satin waistcoat----"

"A chesnut-coloured coat," interrupted I, "of the finest cloth; richly
embroidered linen, and a plain gold ring upon his finger."

"Precisely so," said Leonardus; "but, in God's name, how could you know
these particulars?"

Alas! it was the identical dress which I had worn on that fatal day of
my marriage in the _residenz_. My horrible double again stood vividly
before mine eyes. It was no longer the mere phantom of my own disturbed
brain that had seemed to follow me through the woods, but the real and
substantial madman, or demon, by whom my strength had been overpowered,
and who had at last robbed me of my clothes, in order to represent me in
this manner at the convent. I begged of Leonardus, that, before asking
any other questions, he would proceed with his narrative, from which,
perhaps, a perfect explanation of the mysteries in which I had been
involved would at last dawn upon me.

"After a trial of several days," said Leonardus, "we began to perceive
that the man was utterly and incurably mad; and, notwithstanding that
his features resembled yours very closely, and he incessantly cried out,
'I am Medardus, and have come home to do penance among you,' we all
concluded that this was but an obstinately fixed delusion of the maniac.

"To this change of opinion we were led by divers proofs. For example, we
brought him into the church; where, as he endeavoured to imitate us in
the usual devotional exercises, we perceived plainly that he had never
before been in a convent. The question then always gained more and more
influence over my mind--'What if this madman, who has, according to his
own account, fled from the _residenz_ of Rosenthurm, and escaped the
punishment of the scaffold, were actually the Count Victorin?'

"The story which the maniac had before told to the forester was already
known to me, but I was almost of opinion with the judge at Rosenthurm,
that the discovery and drinking out of the Devil's Elixir, his residence
in a convent, where he was condemned to prison, and all the rest, might
be mere visions, the off-spring of his own malady, aided perhaps by some
extraordinary magnetic influence of your mind over his--I was the more
inclined to this notion, because the stranger had, in his paroxysms,
often exclaimed that he was a Count, and a ruling sovereign. On the
whole, I resolved, as he could have no claim on our care, to give him up
to the hospital of St Getreu, where it was not impossible that the skill
and tenderness with which he would be treated, might at last effect his
recovery, after which his rational confessions might clear away that
load of uncertainty under which we laboured.

"This resolution I had not time to put in practice. During the following
night I was awoke by the great bell, which you know is rung whenever
any one is taken dangerously ill and requires my assistance. On inquiry,
I was informed that the stranger had asked for me so calmly and
earnestly, that it was probable his madness had left him, and that he
wished to confess. But, however this might be, his bodily weakness had
so much increased, that it was scarcely possible for him to survive
through the night.

"'Forgive me, venerable father,' said the stranger, after I had
addressed to him a few words of pious admonition--'forgive me, that I
have hitherto attempted to deceive you--I am not Medardus, the monk who
fled from your convent, but the Count Victorin. _Prince_, indeed, I
should be called, since I derive my birth from princes. This I advise
you to notice, with due respect, otherwise my anger may yet overtake
you!'

"'Even if you are a ruling prince,' said I, 'that circumstance, within
our walls, and in your present condition, is not of any importance
whatever; and it would, in my opinion, be much more suitable, and more
for your own advantage, if you would now turn your thoughts altogether
from such vain and terrestrial considerations.'

"At these words he stared on me, and his senses seemed wandering; but
some strengthening drops having been administered, he revived, and began
again to speak, though, to my great disappointment, in a style so wild
and delirious, that his discourse scarce admits of repetition.

"'It seems to me,' said he, 'as if I must soon die, and that before
leaving this world I must lighten my heart by confession. I know,
moreover, that you have power over me; for, however you attempt to
disguise yourself, I perceive very well that you are St Anthony, and you
best know what misfortunes your infernal Elixirs have produced in this
world. I had indeed grand designs in view when I first resolved to
become a monk with a long beard, a shaven head, and a brown tunic tied
with hair ropes. But, after long deliberation, it seemed to me as if my
most secret thoughts played false with him to whom they owed their
birth--as if they departed from me, and dressed themselves up in a
cursed masquerade, representing MYSELF. I recognized the likeness--the
identity--it was my _double_, and I was horrified.

"'This _double_, too, had superhuman strength, and hurled me down from
the black rocks, through the trees and bushes, into the abyss, where a
snow-white radiant princess rose out of the foaming water to receive me.
She took me in her arms and bathed my wounds, so that I no longer felt
any pain. I had now indeed become a monk, but that infernal second-self
proved stronger than I was, and drove me on in the paths of wickedness,
till I was forced to murder the princess that had rescued me, along with
her only brother. I was then thrown into prison; but you yourself, St
Anthony, know better than I, in what manner, after I had drunk up your
cursed Elixir, you brought me out, and carried me away through the air.

"'The green forest king received me badly enough, although he knew very
well that I was a prince, and therefore of equal rank; but my
second-self interfered betwixt us, telling the king all sorts of
calumnies against me, and insisted, that because we had committed these
damnable crimes together, we must continue inseparable, and enjoy all
things in partnership.

"'This happened accordingly, but when the king wanted to cut off our
heads, we ran away, and on the road at last quarrelled and separated. I
saw that this parasitical _double_ had resolved on being perpetually
nourished by my powerful spirit, though I had then not food enough for
myself; and I therefore knocked him down, beat him soundly, and took
from him his coat.'

"So far the ravings of the man had some resemblance, however distant and
shadowy, to the truth; but afterwards he lost himself in the sheer
absurdities of his malady, out of which not a word could be understood.
About an hour afterwards, as the first bell was rung for early prayers,
he started up with a hideous cry, then fell back on his couch, and, as
we all believed, instantly expired.

"Accordingly, I made the body be removed into the dead-room, and gave
orders, that, after the usual interval, he should be buried, not in the
convent vaults, but in a spot of consecrated ground in our garden. But
you may well imagine our utter astonishment, when, on returning to the
dead-room, we found that the supposed lifeless body was no longer to be
seen! All inquiries after him were in vain, and I was obliged to despair
of gaining any farther information as to the strange involvements that
subsisted betwixt you and this man.

"No doubt, however, remained on my mind that he was Count Victorin.
According to the story of the chasseur, he had murdered a Capuchin monk
in the forest, and put on his tunic in order to carry on some intrigue
in the castle. The crimes which he had thus begun, ended perhaps in a
way that he did not expect--with the murder of the Baroness and of the
young Baron Hermogen. Perhaps he was then mad, as Reinhold maintained,
or became so upon his flight, being tormented by a reproving conscience.
The dress which he wore, and the murder of the Capuchin, gave rise in
his mind to the fixed delusion that he was a monk, and that his
individuality was split into two hostile and contending powers.

"Only the period betwixt his flight from the Baron's castle and that of
his arrival at the forester's house remains obscure. We know not how he
could have lived all that time; nor is it conceivable how the story of
his living in a convent, and being rescued from prison, had originated.
Again, the time of his appearing to the forester will by no means answer
with the date which Reinhold fixes for Victorin's departure from the
Thuringian mountains."

"Stop, stop, father," said I; "every hope of obtaining, notwithstanding
the fearful load of my crimes, forgiveness through the mercy and
long-suffering of Heaven, must perish in my soul, if I do not, with the
deepest repentance and self-condemnation, relate to you all the
circumstances of my life, as I have before narrated them in holy
confession!"

When I now went through this detail, the Prior's astonishment increased
beyond all bounds. At last he said, "I must believe all that you have
told, Medardus, if it were for no other reason than that, while you
spoke, I perceived in your tone and looks the most unequivocal proofs of
sincere and heartfelt repentance. Who can explain, but, at the same
time, who can deny or disprove, the extraordinary mental sympathy and
connection that has thus subsisted between two brothers, sons of a
wretched sinner, and themselves both acted on and misled by the powers
of darkness?[6]

[Footnote 6: According to the devil's assertion, if two individuals
should drink out of the same flask, they would henceforth possess a
wonderful reciprocity of thoughts and feelings, though mutually and
unconsciously acting for the destruction of each other. See Vol. I. pp.
46, 68.--EDIT.]

"It is now certain that Victorin had rescued himself from the rocky
abyss into which you had thrown him, (his fall probably having been
broken by the water,) that he was the delirious monk whom the forester
protected, who persecuted you as your _double_, and who died, or seemed
to die, in our convent. He was an agent of our Arch-Enemy, placed in
your way for the express purpose of misleading you from the path of
virtue, or veiling from your sight that light of truth which otherwise
might have dawned upon you. Or shall we look upon him not as Victorin,
but as an incarnate demon, who, for his own hellish purposes, had
availed himself of your unhappy brother's bodily frame?

"Alas! it is too true that the devil yet wanders restless and watchful
through the earth, offering, as of yore, to unwary mortals, his
deceitful Elixirs! Who is there that has not, at one period or another,
found some of these deadly drinks agreeable and seductive to his taste?
But such is the will of Heaven. Man must be subjected to temptations;
and then, by the reproaches of his own conscience, being made aware of
the dangers into which a moment of levity and relaxation has betrayed
him, summon up strength and resolution to avoid such errors for the
future. Thus, as the natural life of man is sometimes prolonged by
poison, so the soul indirectly owes its final weal to the dark and
destructive principle of evil.--Go now, Medardus, and join the
brethren."

I was about to retire, but the Prior called me back.--"You have no doubt
observed," said he, "the preparations for a great festival. The Baroness
Aurelia is to-morrow to take the veil, and receives the conventual name
of Rosalia!"



CHAPTER XXI.


The agitation which I felt at these words was indeed indescribable. As
if struck by a thunderbolt, I had almost fallen to the ground, and could
make no answer. Hereupon the Prior seemed greatly incensed.--"Go to your
brethren!" said he, in a tone of sternness and anger;--and I tottered
away, almost senseless, or totally unable to analyze my own sensations,
to the refectorium, where the monks were assembled.

Here I was assailed by a storm of anxious inquiries; but I was no longer
able to utter a single word on the adventures of my own life. Only the
bright and beaming form of Aurelia came vividly before mine eyes, and
all other imagery of the past faded into obscurity. Under pretext of
having devotional duties to perform, I left the brethren, and betook
myself to the chapel, which lay at the further extremity of the
extensive convent garden. Here I wished to pray; but the slightest
noise, even the light rustling of the wind among the faded leaves, made
me start up, and broke every pious train of contemplation.

"It is she--I shall see her again!--Aurelia comes!"--In these words a
voice seemed to address me, and my heart was at once agitated with fear
and with rapture. It seemed to me as if indeed at some distance I heard
the sounds of soft whispering voices. I started up, left the chapel,
and, behold! there were two nuns walking through an _allée_ of lime
trees, and between them a person in the dress of a novice. Certainly
that was Aurelia. My limbs were seized with a convulsive shuddering; my
heart beat so violently, that I could hardly breathe; and I wished to go
from the place; but, being unable to walk, I fell, not fainting, but
overcome with the vehemence of my internal conflict, powerless to the
ground. The nuns, and with them the novice, vanished into the thickets.

What a day and what a night I had to encounter! I strove to diversify
the emotions under which I laboured, by a visit to the house in which my
mother had lived; but, alas! it no longer existed. The garden--the
tower--the old castle--all were gone; and the ground on which they once
stood had been converted, by a new proprietor, into a ploughed field. I
was but slightly affected by this change, for my whole heart and soul
were devoted to that one object. I wandered about repeating her
name--"Aurelia! Aurelia!" This distraction continued also through the
long night. There was, for the time, no other thought--no other image,
but hers, that could gain any influence over my attention.

As soon as the first beams of the morning had begun to break through the
autumnal wreaths of white vapour that hovered in the valley, the convent
bells rung to announce the festival of a nun's investiture and
dedication. Soon afterwards, the brethren assembled in the great public
hall, where, too, in a short time, the Abbess appeared, attended by two
of her sisterhood.

Undescribable was the feeling which filled my heart, when I once more
beheld her, who, towards my father, had been so deeply attached, and,
after he had through his crimes broken off a union which promised him
every happiness, had yet transferred her unconquerable affection to his
son.

That son she had endeavoured to rear up to a life of virtue and piety;
but, like his father, he heaped up crime on crime, so that every hope of
the adoptive mother, who wished to find in the one consolation for the
profligacy of the other, was annihilated.

With my head hung downwards, and eyes fixed on the ground, I listened to
the discourse, wherein the Abbess once more formally announced to the
assembled monks, Aurelia's entrance into the Cistertian Convent; and
begged of them to pray zealously at the decisive moment of the last vow,
in order that the Arch-Fiend might not have any power at that time to
torment the pious virgin, by his abominable delusions.--"Heavy and
severe," said she, "were the trials which this young woman had already
to resist. There was no method of temptation which the great adversary
of mankind did not employ, in order to lead her unawares into the
commission of sins, from which she should awake when it was too late, as
if from a hideous dream, to perish in shame and despair!

"Yet Omnipotence protected this truly pious votary of the church; and if
on this day, too, the adversary should approach her, and once more aim
at her destruction, her history now will be the more glorious. I
request, then, your most zealous prayers--not that this chosen votary
may be firm and unchanged in her resolve, for her mind has long been
devoted wholly to Heaven; but that no earthly misfortune may interrupt
the solemn act of her investiture, or disturb her thoughts in that
sacred act. I must confess that a mysterious timidity--an apprehension,
has got possession of my mind, for which I am unable to account, but
which I have no power of resisting."

Hereupon it became clear and obvious, that the Abbess alluded to me
alone, as that evil adversary--that destructive demon, who would
probably interrupt the ceremony. She had heard of my arrival, and, being
aware of my previous history, had imagined that I came with the fixed
intention of committing some new crime to prevent Aurelia from taking
the veil. The consciousness how groundless were these suspicions, and of
the change which my mind had undergone, caused, for the moment, a sinful
feeling of self-approbation, which I ought to have repressed, but
which, like other vices, obtained a victory before I was on my guard.
The Abbess did not vouchsafe towards me a single look, or the slightest
sign of recognition. Hereupon I felt once more that proud spirit of
scorn and defiance, by which I had been formerly actuated towards the
Princess in the _residenz_; and when the Abbess spoke these words,
instead of wishing, as of yore, to humble myself before her in the dust,
I could have walked up to her, and said:--

"Wert thou then always so pure and elevated in soul, that the pleasures
of terrestrial life never had for thee any attraction? When thou daily
sawest my father, wert thou so well guarded by devotion, that sinful
thoughts never entered into thy mind? Or, when adorned with the _infula_
and crosier, in all thy conventual dignity, did his image never wake
within thee a longing desire to return into the world? Hast thou
contended with the dark powers as I have done? Or canst thou flatter
thyself with having gained a true victory, if thou hast never been
called into a severe combat? Deem not thyself so proudly elevated that
thou canst despise him, who submitted indeed to the most powerful of
enemies, yet again raised himself up by deep repentance, and the
severest penance."

The sudden and demoniacal change that I had undergone, must have been
visible in my exterior looks and deportment; for the brother who was
next to me, inquired, "What is the matter with you, Brother Medardus?
Why do you cast such angry looks towards the truly sanctified Abbess?"

"Ay, indeed," answered I, almost audibly; "she may indeed be sanctified,
for she carried her head always so high, that the contamination of
profane life could not reach her; and yet, methinks, she appears to me
at this moment less like a Christian saint than a pagan priestess, who,
with the bloody knife in her hand, prepares to immolate before an idol
her human victim!"

I know not how I came to pronounce these blasphemous words, which were
out of the track of my previous ideas, but with them arose in my mind a
multitude of the most horrible and distracting images, which seemed to
unite and harmonize together, as if for the purpose of gaining more
strength, and effectually obtaining the victory over any degree of
rational self-possession I had left.

Aurelia was for ever to forsake and renounce this world!--She was to
bind herself, as I had done, by a vow, that appeared to me only the
invention of religious fanaticism, to renounce all earthly enjoyments!
Old impressions, which I had believed for ever lost, revived on me with
tenfold strength and influence. My attention was again wholly engrossed
by the one idea, that Aurelia and the monk should yet be united, though
it were but for a moment, and then perish together, a sacrifice to the
subterranean powers of darkness. Nay, like a hideous spectre, like Satan
himself, the thought of murder once more rose on my mind. I beheld
myself with the bloody dagger in my hand!--Alas, poor blinded wretch! I
did not perceive that at the moment when I had conceived such resentment
against the Abbess for her supposed allusions, I was given up a prey to
perhaps the severest trial to which the power of the devil had ever
subjected me, and by which I was to be enticed to the most hideous crime
of which I had yet even dreamed!

The brother to whom I had spoken looked at me terrified. "For the love
of God, and all the saints," said he, "what words are you muttering
there?" The Abbess was now about to leave the hall. On her retreat, her
eyes accidentally encountered mine. I perceived that she immediately
grew pale, that she tottered, and must lean on the attendant nuns.
Methought also I could distinguish the words,--"Merciful Heaven, my
worst fears then are confirmed!"

Soon after, she summoned the Prior Leonardus to a private audience; but,
meanwhile, the bells were again rung, and with them was united the deep
thundering notes of the organ. The consecration anthem was just begun,
and was distinctly heard from the church, when the Prior returned into
the hall. Now the monks of the different orders arranged themselves all
in solemn processions, and advanced towards the church, which was now
just as crowded as it used formerly to be at the anniversary of the
blessed St Bernard. On the right side of the high altar, which was
richly adorned with red and white roses, were elevated seats placed for
the clergy opposite to the tribune, whereon the Bishop's _capelle_
performed the music of the high mass, at which he himself was the
officiating priest.

One of the monks with whom I had formerly been acquainted, and to whom
probably Leonardus had given directions, called me to take my place next
to him. I perceived that he watched even my slightest movements, and he
insisted that I should pray without ceasing out of my Breviary.

The decisive moment was now drawing near. The nuns of St Clare assembled
themselves within the small square, enclosed by an iron railing, before
the high altar, while, through a private door from behind the altar, the
Cistertians brought forward Aurelia.

A whispering rustled through the crowded church on her appearance; the
organ was silent, and only the simple anthem of the nuns in the choir
vibrated to the very heart of every listener. Till now, I had not
ventured to lift up mine eyes, and on doing so, I trembled convulsively,
so that my Breviary fell to the ground. I bent down to take it up, but a
sudden giddiness seized me, and I should have fallen after my book, had
not my watchful brother seized and held me back. "What is the matter
with you, Medardus?" said he--"Resist the demon that besets you, and he
will flee!"

I made a violent effort to be tranquil, looked up again, and saw Aurelia
kneeling at the high altar. Oh, heavens! her beauty of countenance, and
symmetry of form, were more than ever dazzling and seductive! She was
dressed, too, as a bride, precisely as she had been on that fatal day of
our intended marriage, with wreaths of myrtle and roses twisted in her
luxuriant and skilfully-plaited hair. The devotion--the solemnity and
agitation of the moment, had heightened the bloom on her cheeks; and in
her eyes, uplifted to heaven, lay an expression of desire, which, in
another place, or on another occasion, might have been very differently
interpreted.

What were those moments, after I had recognized Aurelia at the
_residenz_ of the Prince von Rosenthurm, compared to this? I said that
my feelings then were indescribable, but my passions now raged and
burned within me with a violence which I had never before known. Every
vein and fibre in my frame was convulsed and swollen by the vehemence
of my conflict, and I grasped the reading-desk with such force, that the
boards cracked and broke beneath the pressure.

Meanwhile, I prayed internally with great fervour--"Oh, merciful
Heaven--Oh, ye blessed saints, intercede for me!--Let me not become
mad!--only not mad!--Save me--save me from this hellish torment!--Save
me from utter frenzy, otherwise I must commit the most horrible of
crimes, and give up my soul to everlasting destruction!" Such were my
inward aspirations, for I felt how every moment the evil spirit was
acquiring more and more an ascendancy over me. It seemed to me as if
Aurelia, too, had a share in the crime which I alone was committing, as
if the vow that she was about to take was _not_ to be the bride of
Heaven, but to become _mine_! To rush up to the altar, to press her in
my arms in one last delicious embrace, and then stab her to the
heart--this impulse became almost irresistible. The demon raged more and
more wildly in my heart--I was about to scream out, "Stop there, deluded
fools!--Not a virgin, as you believe, pure and emancipated from earthly
bonds and passion, but the devoted bride of the perjured monk, would
you consecrate to Heaven!" * * * * When I heard Aurelia's voice,
however, as she began to pronounce the vow, then it seemed as if a mild
gleam of moonlight broke through the dark and stormy clouds by which my
reason had been obscured. By this pure light I detected all the
artifices of my relentless adversary, whom I was thus, with tenfold
vigour, enabled to resist. Every word uttered by Aurelia, like the
encouraging voice of a guardian seraph, gave me new strength, and, after
an arduous conflict, I was left victor. That black and hideous impulse
to new crimes was put to flight, and with it every remains of sinful
passion. Aurelia was again the pious votary of Heaven, whose prayer
could rescue me from eternal remorse and destruction. Her vows were to
me the source of consolation and of hope; I could look again without
despair into the blue unclouded vaults of heaven! The monk who had
watched over me, immediately perceived this change. "Thou hast bravely
resisted the adversary, Medardus. This was perhaps the last and severest
trial which has been destined for thee by the will of the Almighty!"



CHAPTER XXII.


The vow was now pronounced, and during that part of the service
consisting of question and response, sung by the nuns of St Clare, the
veil was to be laid on Aurelia. Already they had taken the myrtles and
roses from her head, and were in the act of cutting off her long and
luxuriant locks, when an extraordinary tumult arose in the church. I
remarked how the people who stood in the aisles were thrust and driven
about. Many of them, too, were violently knocked down, and the
disturbance made its way always nearer and nearer, till it arrived at
the centre of the church, before which time I could not distinguish the
cause.

With the most furious looks and gestures, striking with his clenched
fists at all who stood in his way, and still pressing forward, there now
appeared a half-naked man, with the rags of a Capuchin dress hung about
his body! At the first glance, I recognized my diabolical _double_; but
already at the moment when, anticipating some horrible event, I was in
the act of leaving the gallery to throw myself in his way, the horrible
wretch had leaped over the railing of the altar. The terrified nuns
shrieked and dispersed, but the Abbess undauntedly held Aurelia firmly
clasped in her arms. "Ha, ha, ha!" screamed the madman in a thrilling
tone, "would'st thou rob me of my Princess?--Ha, ha, ha!--The Princess
is my bride, my bride!"

With these words he tore the fainting Aurelia from the Abbess, and with
incredible quickness pulled out a stiletto, elevated it high over her
head, and then plunged it into her heart, so that the blood sprung in
torrents from the wound.--"Hurrah!--hurrah!" cried the maniac; "now have
I won my bride--have won the Princess!" With these words he rushed
through the private grating behind the altar, and disappeared.

The church-aisles and vaults reverberated with the deafening shrieks of
the nuns, and outcries of the people.--"Murder!--Murder at the altar of
the Lord!" cried they, crowding to the spot.

"Watch all the gates of the convent, that the murderer may not escape!"
cried Leonardus, in a loud voice; and many accordingly left the church,
seizing the staves and crosiers that had been used in the procession,
and rushing after the monster through the aisles of the convent.

All was the transaction of a moment, and soon after, I was kneeling
beside Aurelia, the nuns having, as well as they could, bound up her
wound, while others assisted the now fainting Abbess.

"_Sancta Rosalia, ora pro nobis!_" I heard these words spoken near me in
a powerful and steadfast voice; and all who yet remained in the church
cried out, "A miracle!--A miracle!--She is indeed a martyr! _Sancta
Rosalia, ora pro nobis!_"

I looked up, the old painter stood near, but with a mild earnestness on
his features, precisely as when he had appeared to me in the prison. It
seemed to me already as if every earthly tie was broken. I felt no pain
at the fate of Aurelia, nor could I now experience any apprehension or
horror from the apparition of the painter. It seemed, on the contrary,
as if the mysterious nets, by which the powers of hell had so long held
me entangled, were now completely dissolved and broken.

"A miracle!--A miracle!" shouted again all the people. "Do you see the
old man in the violet-coloured mantle? He has descended out of the
picture over the high altar!--I saw it!"

"I too!"--"And I too!" cried many confused voices, till again all fell
upon their knees, and the tumult subsided into the murmur of zealous
prayer, interrupted occasionally by violent sobbing and weeping.

The Abbess at last awoke from her faint.--"Aurelia!" cried she, with the
heart-rending tone of deep and violent grief,--"Aurelia, my child! my
pious daughter! But why do I complain?--Almighty Heaven, it was thy
resolve!"

A kind of bier, or couch, tied on hand-poles, was now brought, on which
Aurelia was to be placed. When she was lifted up for this purpose, she
opened her eyes, and seeing me beside her, "Medardus," said she, "thou
hast indeed submitted to the temptation of our adversary. But was I then
pure from the contamination of sin, when I placed in my affection for
thee all my hopes of earthly happiness? An immutable decree of
Providence had resolved that we should be the means of expiating the
heavy crimes of our ancestors, and thus we were united by a bond of
love, whose proper throne is beyond the stars, and the enjoyment of
whose votaries partakes nothing in common with terrestrial pleasure.

"But our watchful and cunning adversary succeeded but too well in
concealing from us altogether this true interpretation of our
attachment--nay, in such manner to delude and entice us, that we only
construed and exemplified that which was in its nature heavenly and
spiritual, by means earthly and corporeal.

"Alas! was it not I myself, who, in the confessional, betrayed to you my
affection, which afterwards, instead of kindling within you the
celestial flames of heavenly and everlasting love, degenerated into the
fire of selfish and impure passion, which afterwards you endeavoured to
quench by unheard-of and enormous crimes? But, Medardus, be of good
courage. The miserable maniac, whom our Arch-Adversary has deluded into
the belief that he is transformed into thee, and must fulfil what thou
hadst begun, is but the mere tool or implement of that higher Power,
through which the intentions of the latter are fulfilled. Soon, very
soon----"

Here Aurelia, who had spoken the last words with her eyes closed, and a
voice scarcely audible, fell again into a faint, yet death could not yet
triumph over her. Indeed, all that she had said was but in fragments and
single words, so broken and disjointed, that it was with much difficulty
the sense could be collected, which I have above put together.

"Has she confessed to you, reverend sir?" said the nuns. "Have you
consoled her?"--"By no means," said I; "she has indeed poured
consolation on my mind, but I am unable to aid her!"

"Happy art thou, Medardus! Thy trials will soon be at an end, and I then
am free!"

It was the painter who still stood near me, and who had spoken these
last words. I went up to him, and began,--"Forsake me not, then, thou
wonderful and miraculous man, but remain ever with me!" I know not how
my senses, when I wished to speak farther, became, in the strangest
manner, confused and lost. I could not bring out a word, but fell into a
state betwixt waking and dreaming, out of which I was roused by loud
shouts and outcries.

I now no longer saw the painter. My attention was directed only to a
crowd of countrymen, citizens from the town, and soldiers, who had
forced their way into the church, and insisted that it should be allowed
them to search through every apartment of the convent, as the murderer
certainly must be still within its walls. The Abbess, who was afraid of
the disorders that would ensue, refused this; but, notwithstanding the
influence of her high dignity, she could not appease the minds of the
people. They reproached her, on the contrary, with a wish to conceal the
murderer, because he was a monk, and, raging more violently, threatened
to force for themselves that admittance which she had refused.

Leonardus then mounted the pulpit, and after a few words of
admonishment, on the sin of profaning a sanctuary by such tumult, he
assured them that the murderer was by no means a monk, but a madman,
whom he himself had taken out of compassion into his convent, where he
had, to all appearance, died; but, after being carried to the
dead-room, had unaccountably recovered from his supposed death, and
escaped, taking with him an old tunic, which, at his earnest request,
had been charitably lent to him during his stay in the monastery. If he
were now concealed anywhere within these walls, it would be impossible
for him, after the precautions that had been taken, to make his escape.
The crowd were at last quieted, and permitted the removal of Aurelia.

It was found that the bier on which she was placed could not be carried
through the wicket-door behind the altar. It was, therefore, brought in
solemn procession through the aisle of the church, and across the court,
into the convent. The Abbess, supported by two nuns, walked close behind
the bier. Four Cistertian sisters carried over it a canopy, and all the
rest followed,--then the brethren of the different orders, and lastly
the people, who now behaved with the most respectful silence. The bier
was covered with roses and myrtle wreaths; and thus the procession moved
slowly on.

The sisters who belonged to the choir must have returned to their
station; for as we reached the middle of the long and spacious aisle,
deep fearful tones of the organ sounded mournfully from above. Then,
lo! as if awoke by those notes, Aurelia once more raised herself slowly
up, and lifted her clasped hands in fervent prayer to Heaven. Again the
people fell upon their knees, and called out, "_Sancta Rosalia, ora pro
nobis!_" Thus was the vision realized, which, at my first meeting with
Aurelia, I had announced, though then actuated only by base and devilish
hypocrisy.

The bier was first set down in the great hall of the convent; and as the
nuns and the brethren formed a circle, and prayed around her, she
suddenly fell into the arms of the Abbess, with a long deep sigh. She
was dead!

       *       *       *       *       *

The multitude were still gathered round the gates, and when the bell
announced to them the death of the consecrated virgin, all broke out
into new lamentations. Many of them made a vow to remain in the village
till after the funeral of Aurelia, and to devote that period to fasting
and prayer. The rumour of this fearful event was rapidly spread abroad,
so that Aurelia's obsequies, which were solemnized four days thereafter,
resembled one of the highest festivals of the church on the canonization
of a saint. As formerly, on St Bernard's eve, the convent lawn was
covered with a great crowd from the town of Königswald, and from all
quarters; but there was no longer to be heard among them the wonted
voice of mirth. Their time was spent in sighs and tears; and if a voice
was raised aloud, it was but to utter execrations against the murderer,
who had supernaturally vanished, nor could a trace of him be discovered.
Far deeper was the influence of these three days (which I spent mostly
in the garden-chapel) on the weal of my soul, than my long laborious
penitence in the Capuchin Convent of Rome. When I reflected on my past
life, I perceived plainly how, although armed and protected from
earliest youth with the best lessons of piety and virtue, I had yet,
like a pusillanimous coward, yielded to Satan, whose aim was to foster
and cherish the criminal race, from which I was sprung, so that its
representatives might still be multiplied, and still fettered by bonds
of vice and wickedness upon the earth. My sins were but trifling and
venial when I first became acquainted with the choir-master's sister,
and first gave way to the impulses of pride and self-confidence. But,
alas! I was too careless to remember the doctrine which I had yet often
inculcated on others, that _venial_ errors, unless immediately
corrected, form a sure and solid foundation for sins which are _mortal_.
Then the Devil threw that Elixir into my way, which, like a poison
working against the soul instead of the body, completed his victory over
me. I heeded not the earnest admonitions of the unknown painter, the
Abbess, or the Prior.

Aurelia's appearance at the confessional was a decisive effort for my
destruction. Then, as the body, under the influence of poison, falls
into disease, so my spirit, under the operation of that hellish cordial,
was infected and destroyed by sin. How could the votary, the slave of
Satan, recognize the true nature of those bonds by which Omnipotence, as
a symbol of that eternal love, (whose marriage festival is death,) had
joined Aurelia's fate and mine?

Rejoicing in his first victories, Satan then haunted me in the form of
an accursed madman, between whose spirit and mine there seemed to be a
reciprocal and alternate power of influencing each other. I was obliged
to ascribe his apparent death (of which I in reality was guiltless) to
myself; and thus became familiarized with the thought of murder. Or was
Victorin really killed, and did the Arch-Fiend re-animate his body, (as
the vampyres in Hungary rise from the grave,) for his own especial
purposes? May it not suffice to say, that this brother, called Victorin,
who derived his birth from an accursed and abominable crime, became to
me an impersonization of the evil principle, who forced me into hideous
guilt, and tormented me with his unrelenting persecution?

Till that very moment when I heard Aurelia pronounce her vows, my heart
was not yet pure from sin; not till then had the Evil One lost over me
his dominion; but the wonderful inward tranquillity--the cheerfulness as
if poured from Heaven into my heart, when she addressed to me her last
words, convinced me that her death was the promise of my forgiveness and
reconciliation. Then, as in the solemn requiem, the choir sung the
words--"_Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis_," I trembled;
but at the passage, "_Voca me cum benedictis_," it seemed to me as if I
beheld, in the dazzling radiance of celestial light, Aurelia, who first
looked down with an expression of saintly compassion upon me, and then
lifting up her head, which was surrounded with a dazzling ring of stars,
to the Almighty, preferred an ardent supplication for the deliverance of
my soul! At the words, "_Ora supplex et acclinis cor contritum, quasi
cinis_," I sank down into the dust; but how different now were my inward
feelings of humility and submission, from that _passionate_
self-condemnation, those cruel and violent penances, which I had
formerly undergone at the Capuchin Convent!

Now, for the first time, my spirit was enabled to distinguish truth from
falsehood, and by the new light, which was then shed around me, every
temptation of the devil must, from henceforward, remain vain and
ineffectual. It was not Aurelia's death, but the cruel and horrible
manner in which it had occurred, by which I had been at first so deeply
agitated. But how short was the interval, ere I perceived and recognized
in its fullest extent, even in this event, the goodness and mercy of
Heaven! The martyrdom of the pious, the tried, and absolved bride! Had
she then died for my sake? No! It was not till now, after she had been
withdrawn from this world, that she appeared to me like a dazzling
gleam, sent down from the realms of eternal love, to brighten the path
of an unhappy sinner. Aurelia's death was, as she had before said, our
marriage festival, the solemnization of that love, which, like a
celestial essence, has its throne and dominion above the stars, and
admits nought in common with grovelling and perishable earthly
pleasures! These thoughts indeed raised me above myself; and accordingly
these three days in the Cistertian Convent might truly be called the
happiest of my life.

After the funeral obsequies, which took place on the fourth day,
Leonardus was on the point of returning with the brethren home to his
own convent. When their procession was ready to set out, the Abbess
summoned me to a private audience. I found her alone, in her high
vaulted parlour, the same room wherein I had my first introduction, and
which then inspired me with such awe and terror. She was now in the
greatest emotion, and tears burst involuntarily from her eyes.

"Son Medardus!" said she, "for I can again address you thus, all now is
known and explained to me, so that I have no questions to ask. You have
at last survived the temptations by which, unhappy and worthy to be
pitied, you were assailed and overtaken! Alas, Medardus, only she, _she_
alone, who intercedes for us at the judgment throne of Heaven, is pure
from sin. Did I not stand on the very brink of the abyss, when, with a
heart given up to the allurements of earthly pleasure, I was on the
point of selling myself to a murderer? And yet, son Medardus, and yet I
have wept sinful tears in my lonely cell, when thinking of your father!
Go then, in God's name. Every apprehension by which I have often been
assailed, that in you I had reared and educated even the most wicked of
the race, is banished from my soul. Farewell!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Leonardus, who had no doubt revealed to the Abbess whatever
circumstances of my life remained yet unknown to her, proved to me by
his conduct that he also had forgiven me, and recommended me in his
prayers to Heaven. The old regulations of the conventual life remained
unbroken, and I was allowed to take my place, on an equal footing with
the brethren, as formerly.

One day the Prior desired to speak with me. "Brother Medardus," said he,
"I should like still to impose upon you one act of penitence."--I humbly
inquired wherein this was to consist. "I advise you," answered
Leonardus, "to commit to paper a history of your life. In your
manuscript do not leave out any incident--not only of those which are
leading and important, but even such as are comparatively insignificant.
Especially, detail at great length whatever happened to you in the
varied scenes of the profane world. Your imagination will probably by
this means carry you back into that life which you have now for ever
renounced. All that was absurd or solemn, mirthful or horrible, will be
once more vividly impressed on your senses; nay, it is possible, that
you may for a moment look upon Aurelia, not as a nun and a martyr, but
as she once appeared in the world. Yet if the Evil One has wholly lost
his dominion over you; if you have indeed turned away your affections
from all that is terrestrial, then you will hover, like a disengaged
spirit, as if on seraph's wings, above all these earthly remembrances,
and the impression thus called up will vanish without leaving any trace
behind."

I did as the Prior had commanded; and, alas! the consequences were such
as he had desired me to expect. A tempest of conflicting emotions, of
pain and pleasure, of desire, and abhorrence, rose in my heart as I
revived the circumstances of my life. Thou, to whom I have already
addressed myself, who mayest one day read these pages, I spoke to thee
more than once of the highest meridian sun-light of love, when Aurelia's
image arose in all its celestial beauty on my soul. But there is a love
far different from terrestrial passion, (which last generally works its
own destruction.)--There is another and far different love, and in
_this_ may be truly found that meridian sun-light which I described,
when, far removed above the influences of earthly desire, the beloved
object, like a gleam from heaven, kindles in thy heart all the highest,
the holiest, and most blissful inspirations which are shed down from the
realms of the saints on poor mortals. By this thought have I been
refreshed and comforted, when, on my remembrance of the most seductive
moments which this world bestowed on me, tears yet gushed from mine
eyes, and wounds, long cicatrized, broke open and bled anew.

I know that probably in the hour of death the adversary will yet have
power to torment me. But steadfastly, and with fervent longing, I wait
for the moment which is to withdraw me from this life; for it is on that
event that the fulfilment of all that Aurelia, all that the blessed St
Rosalia, has promised to me, depends. Pray--pray for me, oh, ye
beatified Virgin! in that dark hour, that the powers of hell, to which I
have so often yielded, may not once more, and for the last time, conquer
me, and tear me with him to the abyss of everlasting destruction!



CHAPTER XXIII.

_Additions by Father Spiridion, Librarian of the Capuchin Monastery at
Königswald._


In the night of the 3d-4th September, in this year 17--, much that is
worthy of being recorded has happened in our monastery. It might be
about midnight, when, in the cell of Brother Medardus, which was next to
mine, I overheard a strange noise of stammering and laughing, which
continued for a considerable time; and at intervals I heard also obscure
sounds of lamentation, sobbing, and groaning. It seemed to me as if I
could distinguish the articulate accents of a most disagreeable broken
voice, from which I involuntarily recoiled and shuddered, and which
pronounced the words "_Brüd-er-lein! Brüd-er-lein!_--Come with me--Come
with me.--The bride is here--The bride is here!"--I immediately started
up, and wished to inquire for Brother Medardus; but then there fell
upon me an unaccountable and supernatural horror, so that my limbs shook
and my jaws clattered, as if in the cold fit of an ague. Thereafter, I
went not into the cell of Brother Medardus, but to the Prior, and, with
some trouble, woke him from his sleep. The Prior was much alarmed by my
description of what I had heard, and desired me to bring consecrated
candles, and then we should both go to the assistance of Medardus. I did
as he commanded me, lighted the candles at the lamp beside the image of
the blessed Virgin in the aisle, and we went along the corridor, till we
came near the cell. There Leonardus stood for some time, listening at
the door; but the voice which I had described to him was no longer to be
heard. On the contrary, we observed a pleasant silvery sound, as of the
ringing of bells, and methought the air was filled with the fragrance of
roses. Leonardus was about to enter, when the door opened, and lo! there
stepped forth the form of a very tall man, with a long white beard,
attired in a dark violet-coloured mantle. I was indescribably terrified,
knowing well that this must be a supernatural apparition, for the
convent gates were all firmly locked, and it was impossible for any
stranger, without my knowledge, to have gained admittance. Leonardus,
however, looked at him boldly, though without uttering a word. "The hour
of fulfilment is not far distant," said the figure, in a tone very
hollow and solemn. With these words he vanished in the obscurity of the
corridor, so that my fear was greatly increased, and I had almost let
the candles fall out of my hand. The Prior, who, by his extreme piety
and strength of faith, is wholly protected from any such fear of ghosts,
took me by the arm. "Now," said he, "let us go, and speak with Brother
Medardus." We entered accordingly, and found our brother, who for some
time past had been in very weak health, already dying. He could no
longer speak, and breathed with great difficulty. The Prior assisted
him; and I went to ring the great bell, and awaken the brethren. "Rise
up--rise up," cried I in a loud voice; "Brother Medardus is on the point
of death." They all attended on the instant, so that not one of our
number was wanting, and stood, with consecrated candles in their hands,
round the couch of the dying man, every one feeling for him deep regret
and compassion. Leonardus commanded that he should be laid on a bier,
carried down to the church, and placed before the high altar, which was
accordingly done. There, to our utter astonishment, he recovered, and
began to speak. Leonardus, after confession and absolution had been
regularly gone through, administered the last unction. Thereupon, while
the Prior continued with the dying man, consoling and supporting him, we
betook ourselves to the choir, and sang the usual dirge for the soul's
weal of our departing brother. On the following day, namely, on the 5th
September, 17--, exactly as the convent clock struck twelve, Brother
Medardus expired in the arms of the Prior. We remarked that it was
precisely on the same day, and at the same hour, in the preceding year,
that the nun Rosalia, in a horrible manner, just after she had taken the
vows, had been murdered.

At the funeral, during the requiem also, the following circumstance
occurred. We perceived that the air was strongly perfumed by roses, and
on looking round, saw, that to the celebrated picture of St Rosalia's
martyrdom, painted by an old unknown Italian artist, (which was
purchased for a large sum by our convent, in Rome,) there was a large
garland affixed, of the finest and freshest roses, which at this late
season had become very rare. The porter said, that early in the morning
a ragged, very miserable-looking beggar, unobserved by any of us, had
climbed up to the picture, and hung on it this wreath. The same beggar
made his appearance before the funeral was over, and forced his way
among the brethren. We intended to order him away; but when Leonardus
had sharply looked at, and seemed to recognize him, he was allowed, by
the Prior's order, to remain. He was afterwards, by his earnest
entreaty, received as a lay-monk into the convent, by the name of
Brother Peter, as he had been in the world called Peter Schönfeld; and
we granted him this honoured name so much the more readily, as he was
always very quiet and well-behaved, only now and then made strange
grimaces, and laughed very absurdly, which, however, as it could not be
called sinful, only served for our diversion. The Prior said, that
Brother Peter's intellectual light was quenched and obscured by the
vapours of folly, so that nothing in this world appeared to him without
being strangely caricatured and metamorphosed. We scarcely understood
what the learned Prior meant by these allusions, but perceived that he
had known something of the former life of our lay-brother Peter, which
induced him charitably to admit the poor man among us.

Thus to the manuscript, which is said to contain an account of our late
brother's life, (but which I have not read,) I have added, not without
labour, and all to the greater glory of God and our religion, this
circumstantial history of his death. Peace to the soul of Medardus, and
may the Almighty one day call him to a blessed resurrection, and receive
him into the choir of the saints, for his death was indeed very pious!


THE END.


    EDINBURGH:
    Printed by James Ballantyne and Co.





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