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Title: Narrative and Miscellaneous Papers — Volume 1
Author: De Quincey, Thomas
Language: English
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NARRATIVE AND MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS.
VOL. I.

BY
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.



CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.


THE HOUSEHOLD WRECK
THE SPANISH NUN
FLIGHT OF A TARTAR TRIBE



THE HOUSEHOLD WRECK.


'To be weak,' we need not the great archangel's voice to tell us,
'_is to be miserable_.' All weakness is suffering and humiliation,
no matter for its mode or its subject. Beyond all other weakness,
therefore, and by a sad prerogative, as more miserable than what is
most miserable in all, that capital weakness of man which regards the
_tenure_ of his enjoyments and his power to protect, even for a
moment, the crown of flowers--flowers, at the best, how frail and few!
--which sometimes settles upon his haughty brow. There is no end, there
never will be an end, of the lamentations which ascend from earth and
the rebellious heart of her children, upon this huge opprobrium of
human pride--the everlasting mutabilities of all which man can grasp by
his power or by his aspirations, the fragility of all which he
inherits, and the hollowness visible amid the very raptures of
enjoyment to every eye which looks for a moment underneath the
draperies of the shadowy _present_, the hollowness, the blank
treachery of hollowness, upon which all the pomps and vanities of life
ultimately repose. This trite but unwearying theme, this impassioned
common-place of humanity, is the subject in every age of variation
without end, from the poet, the rhetorician, the fabulist, the
moralist, the divine, and the philosopher. All, amidst the sad vanity
of their sighs and groans, labor to put on record and to establish this
monotonous complaint, which needs not other record or evidence than
those very sighs and groans. What is life? Darkness and formless
vacancy for a beginning, or something beyond all beginning--then next a
dim lotos of human consciousness, finding itself afloat upon the bosom
of waters without a shore--then a few sunny smiles and many tears--a
little love and infinite strife--whisperings from paradise and fierce
mockeries from the anarchy of chaos--dust and ashes--and once more
darkness circling round, as if from the beginning, and in this way
rounding or making an island of our fantastic existence,--_that_
is human life; _that_ the inevitable amount of man's laughter and
his tears--of what he suffers and he does--of his motions this way and
that way--to the right or to the left--backwards or forwards--of all
his seeming realities and all his absolute negations--his shadowy
pomps and his pompous shadows--of whatsoever he thinks, finds, makes
or mars, creates or animates, loves, hates, or in dread hope
anticipates;--so it is, so it has been, so it will be, for ever and
ever.

Yet in the lowest deep there still yawns a lower deep; and in the vast
halls of man's frailty, there are separate and more gloomy chambers of
a frailty more exquisite and consummate. We account it frailty that
threescore years and ten make the upshot of man's pleasurable
existence, and that, far before that time is reached, his beauty and
his power have fallen among weeds and forgetfulness. But there is a
frailty, by comparison with which this ordinary flux of the human race
seems to have a vast duration. Cases there are, and those not rare, in
which a single week, a day, an hour sweeps away all vestiges and
landmarks of a memorable felicity; in which the ruin travels faster
than the flying showers upon the mountain-side, faster 'than a musician
scatters sounds;' in which 'it was' and 'it is not' are words of the
self-same tongue, in the self-same minute; in which the sun that at
noon beheld all sound and prosperous, long before its setting hour
looks out upon a total wreck, and sometimes upon the total abolition of
any fugitive memorial that there ever had been a vessel to be wrecked,
or a wreck to be obliterated.

These cases, though here spoken of rhetorically, are of daily
occurrence; and, though they may seem few by comparison with the
infinite millions of the species, they are many indeed, if they be
reckoned absolutely for themselves; and throughout the limits of a
whole nation, not a day passes over us but many families are robbed of
their heads, or even swallowed up in ruin themselves, or their course
turned out of the sunny beams into a dark wilderness. Shipwrecks and
nightly conflagrations are sometimes, and especially among some
nations, wholesale calamities; battles yet more so; earthquakes, the
famine, the pestilence, though rarer, are visitations yet wider in
their desolation. Sickness and commercial ill-luck, if narrower, are
more frequent scourges. And most of all, or with most darkness in its
train, comes the sickness of the brain--lunacy--which, visiting nearly
one thousand in every million, must, in every populous nation, make
many ruins in each particular day. 'Babylon in ruins,' says a great
author, 'is not so sad a sight as a human soul overthrown by lunacy.'
But there is a sadder even than _that_,--the sight of a family-ruin
wrought by crime is even more appalling. Forgery, breaches of trust,
embezzlement, of private or public funds--(a crime sadly on the
increase since the example of Fauntleroy, and the suggestion of its
great feasibility first made by him)--these enormities, followed too
often, and countersigned for their final result to the future happiness
of families, by the appalling catastrophe of suicide, must naturally,
in every wealthy nation, or wherever property and the modes of property
are much developed, constitute the vast majority of all that come under
the review of public justice. Any of these is sufficient to make
shipwreck of all peace and comfort for a family; and often, indeed, it
happens that the desolation is accomplished within the course of one
revolving sun; often the whole dire catastrophe, together with its
total consequences, is both accomplished and made known to those whom
it chiefly concerns within one and the same hour. The mighty Juggernaut
of social life, moving onwards with its everlasting thunders, pauses
not for a moment to spare--to pity--to look aside, but rushes forward
for ever, impassive as the marble in the quarry--caring not for whom it
destroys, for the how many, or for the results, direct and indirect,
whether many or few. The increasing grandeur and magnitude of the
social system, the more it multiplies and extends its victims, the more
it conceals them; and for the very same reason: just as in the Roman
amphitheatres, when they grew to the magnitude of mighty cities, (in
some instances accommodating four hundred thousand spectators, in many
a fifth part of that amount,) births and deaths became ordinary events,
which, in a small modern theatre, are rare and memorable; and exactly
as these prodigious accidents multiplied, _pari passu_, they were
disregarded and easily concealed: for curiosity was no longer excited;
the sensation attached to them was little or none.

From these terrific tragedies, which, like monsoons or tornadoes,
accomplish the work of years in an hour, not merely an impressive
lesson is derived, sometimes, perhaps, a warning, but also (and this is
of universal application) some consolation. Whatever may have been the
misfortunes or the sorrows of a man's life, he is still privileged to
regard himself and his friends as amongst the fortunate by comparison,
in so far as he has escaped these wholesale storms, either as an actor
in producing them, or a contributor to their violence--or even more
innocently, (though oftentimes not less miserably)--as a participator
in the instant ruin, or in the long arrears of suffering which they
entail.

The following story falls within the class of hasty tragedies, and
sudden desolations here described. The reader is assured that every
incident is strictly true: nothing, in that respect, has been altered;
nor, indeed, anywhere except in the conversations, of which, though the
results and general outline are known, the separate details have
necessarily been lost under the agitating circumstances which produced
them. It has been judged right and delicate to conceal the name of the
great city, and therefore of the nation in which these events occurred,
chiefly out of consideration for the descendants of one person
concerned in the narrative: otherwise, it might not have been
requisite: for it is proper to mention, that every person directly a
party to the case has been long laid in the grave: all of them, with
one solitary exception, upwards of fifty years.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was early spring in the year 17--; the day was the 6th of April; and
the weather, which had been of a wintry fierceness for the preceding
six or seven weeks--cold indeed beyond anything known for many years,
gloomy for ever, and broken by continual storms--was now by a Swedish
transformation all at once bright, genial, heavenly. So sudden and so
early a prelusion of summer, it was generally feared, could not last.
But that only made every body the more eager to lose no hour of an
enjoyment that might prove so fleeting. It seemed as if the whole
population of the place, a population among the most numerous in
Christendom, had been composed of hybernating animals suddenly awakened
by the balmy sunshine from their long winter's torpor. Through every
hour of the golden morning the streets were resonant with female
parties of young and old, the timid and the bold, nay, even of the most
delicate valetudinarians, now first tempted to lay aside their wintry
clothing together with their fireside habits, whilst the whole rural
environs of our vast city, the woodlands, and the interminable meadows
began daily to re-echo the glad voices of the young and jovial awaking
once again, like the birds and the flowers, and universal nature, to
the luxurious happiness of this most delightful season.

Happiness do I say? Yes, happiness; happiness to me above all others.
For I also in those days was among the young and the gay; I was
healthy; I was strong; I was prosperous in a worldly sense! I owed no
man a shilling; feared no man's face; shunned no man's presence. I held
a respectable station in society; I was myself, let me venture to say
it, respected generally for my personal qualities, apart from any
advantages I might draw from fortune or inheritance; I had reason to
think myself popular amongst the very slender circle of my
acquaintance; and finally, which perhaps was the crowning grace to all
these elements of happiness, I suffered not from the presence of
_ennui_, nor ever feared to suffer: for my temperament was
constitutionally ardent; I had a powerful animal sensibility; and I
knew the one great secret for maintaining its equipoise, viz., by
powerful daily exercise; and thus I lived in the light and presence,
or, (if I should not be suspected of seeking rhetorical expressions, I
would say,) in one eternal solstice of unclouded hope.

These, you will say, were blessings; these were golden elements of
felicity. They were so; and yet, with the single exception of my
healthy frame and firm animal organization, I feel that I have
mentioned hitherto nothing but what by comparison might be thought of a
vulgar quality. All the other advantages that I have enumerated, had
they been yet wanting, might have been acquired; had they been
forfeited, might have been reconquered; had they been even
irretrievably lost, might, by a philosophic effort, have been dispensed
with; compensations might have been found for any of them, many
equivalents, or if not, consolations at least, for their absence. But
now it remains to speak of other blessings too mighty to be valued, not
merely as transcending in rank and dignity all other constituents of
happiness, but for a reason far sadder than that--because, once lost,
they were incapable of restoration, and because not to be dispensed
with; blessings in which 'either we must live or have no life:' lights
to the darkness of our paths and to the infirmity of our steps--which,
once extinguished, never more on this side the gates of Paradise can
any man hope to see re-illumined for himself. Amongst these I may
mention an intellect, whether powerful or not in itself, at any rate
most elaborately cultivated; and, to say the truth, I had little other
business before me in this life than to pursue this lofty and
delightful task. I may add, as a blessing, not in the same
_positive_ sense as that which I have just mentioned, because not
of a nature to contribute so hourly to the employment of the thoughts,
but yet in this sense equal, that the absence of either would have been
an equal affliction,--namely, a conscience void of all offence. It was
little indeed that I, drawn by no necessities of situation into
temptations of that nature, had done no injury to any man. That was
fortunate; but I could not much value myself upon what was so much an
accident of my situation. Something, however, I might pretend to beyond
this _negative_ merit; for I had originally a benign nature; and,
as I advanced in years and thoughtfulness, the gratitude which
possessed me for my own exceeding happiness led me to do that by
principle and system which I had already done upon blind impulse; and
thus upon a double argument I was incapable of turning away from the
prayer of the afflicted, whatever had been the sacrifice to myself.
Hardly, perhaps, could it have been said in a sufficient sense at that
time that I was a religious man: yet, undoubtedly, I had all the
foundations within me upon which religion might hereafter have grown.
My heart overflowed with thankfulness to Providence: I had a natural
tone of unaffected piety; and thus far, at least, I might have been
called a religious man, that in the simplicity of truth I could have
exclaimed,

  'O, Abner, I fear God, and I fear none beside.'

But wherefore seek to delay ascending by a natural climax to that final
consummation and perfect crown of my felicity--that almighty blessing
which ratified their value to all the rest? Wherefore, oh! wherefore do
I shrink in miserable weakness from--what? Is it from reviving, from
calling up again into fierce and insufferable light the images and
features of a long-buried happiness? That would be a natural shrinking
and a reasonable weakness. But how escape from reviving, whether I give
it utterance or not, that which is for ever vividly before me? What
need to call into artificial light that which, whether sleeping or
waking, by night or by day, for eight-and-thirty years has seemed by
its miserable splendor to scorch my brain? Wherefore shrink from giving
language, simple vocal utterance, to that burden of anguish which by so
long an endurance has lost no atom of its weight, nor can gain any most
surely by the loudest publication? Need there can be none, after this,
to say that the priceless blessing, which I have left to the final
place in this ascending review, was the companion of my life--my
darling and youthful wife. Oh! dovelike woman! fated in an hour the
most defenceless to meet with the ravening vulture,--lamb fallen
amongst wolves,--trembling--fluttering fawn, whose path was inevitably
to be crossed by the bloody tiger;--angel, whose most innocent heart
fitted thee for too early a flight from this impure planet; if indeed
it were a necessity that thou shouldst find no rest for thy footing
except amidst thy native heavens, if indeed to leave what was not
worthy of thee were a destiny not to be evaded--a summons not to be put
by,--yet why, why, again and again I demand--why was it also necessary
that this, thy departure, so full of wo to me, should also to thyself
be heralded by the pangs of martyrdom? Sainted love, if, like the
ancient children of the Hebrews, like Meshech and Abednego, thou wert
called by divine command, whilst yet almost a child, to walk, and to
walk alone, through the fiery furnace,--wherefore then couldst not
thou, like that Meshech and that Abednego, walk unsinged by the
dreadful torment, and come forth unharmed? Why, if the sacrifice were
to be total, was it necessary to reach it by so dire a struggle? and if
the cup, the bitter cup, of final separation from those that were the
light of thy eyes and the pulse of thy heart might not be put aside,--
yet wherefore was it that thou mightest not drink it up in the natural
peace which belongs to a sinless heart?

But these are murmurings, you will say, rebellious murmurings against
the proclamations of God. Not so: I have long since submitted myself,
resigned myself, nay, even reconciled myself, perhaps, to the great
wreck of my life, in so far as it was the will of God, and according to
the weakness of my imperfect nature. But my wrath still rises, like a
towering flame, against all the earthly instruments of this ruin; I am
still at times as unresigned as ever to this tragedy, in so far as it
was the work of human malice. Vengeance, as a mission for _me_, as
a task for _my_ hands in particular, is no longer possible; the
thunderbolts of retribution have been long since launched by other
hands; and yet still it happens that at times I do--I must--I shall
perhaps to the hour of death, rise in maniac fury, and seek, in the
very impotence of vindictive madness, groping as it were in blindness
of heart, for that tiger from hell-gates that tore away my darling from
my heart. Let me pause, and interrupt this painful strain, to say a
word or two upon what she was--and how far worthy of a love more
honorable to her (that was possible) and deeper (but that was not
possible) than mine. When first I saw her, she--my Agnes--was merely a
child, not much (if anything) above sixteen. But, as in perfect
womanhood she retained a most childlike expression of countenance, so
even then in absolute childhood she put forward the blossoms and the
dignity of a woman. Never yet did my eye light upon creature that was
born of woman, nor could it enter my heart to conceive one, possessing
a figure more matchless in its proportions, more statuesque, and more
deliberately and advisedly to be characterized by no adequate word but
the word _magnificent_, (a word too often and lightly abused.) In
reality, speaking of women, I have seen many beautiful figures, but
hardly one except Agnes that could, without hyperbole, be styled truly
and memorably magnificent. Though in the first order of tall women,
yet, being full in person, and with a symmetry that was absolutely
faultless, she seemed to the random sight as little above the ordinary
height. Possibly from the dignity of her person, assisted by the
dignity of her movements, a stranger would have been disposed to call
her at a distance a woman of _commanding_ presence; but never,
after he had approached near enough to behold her face. Every thought
of artifice, of practised effect, or of haughty pretension, fled before
the childlike innocence, the sweet feminine timidity, and the more than
cherub loveliness of that countenance, which yet in its lineaments was
noble, whilst its expression was purely gentle and confiding. A shade
of pensiveness there was about her; but _that_ was in her manners,
scarcely ever in her features; and the exquisite fairness of her
complexion, enriched by the very sweetest and most delicate bloom that
ever I have beheld, should rather have allied it to a tone of
cheerfulness. Looking at this noble creature, as I first looked at her,
when yet upon the early threshold of womanhood

  'With household motions light and free,
  And steps of virgin liberty'

you might have supposed her some Hebe or young Aurora of the dawn. When
you saw only her superb figure, and its promise of womanly development,
with the measured dignity of her step, you might for a moment have
fancied her some imperial Medea of the Athenian stage--some Volumnia
from Rome,

  'Or ruling bandit's wife amidst the Grecian isles.'

 But catch one glance from her angelic countenance--and then combining
the face and the person, you would have dismissed all such fancies, and
have pronounced her a Pandora or an Eve, expressly accomplished and
held forth by nature as an exemplary model or ideal pattern for the
future female sex:--

  'A perfect woman, nobly plann'd,
  To warm, to comfort, to command:
  And yet a spirit too, and bright
  With something of an angel light.'

To this superb young woman, such as I have here sketched her, I
surrendered my heart for ever, almost from my first opportunity of
seeing her: for so natural and without disguise was her character, and
so winning the simplicity of her manners, due in part to her own native
dignity of mind, and in part to the deep solitude in which she had been
reared, that little penetration was required to put me in possession of
all her thoughts; and to win her love, not very much more than to let
her see, as see she could not avoid, in connection with that chivalrous
homage which at any rate was due to her sex and her sexual perfections,
a love for herself on my part, which was in its nature as exalted a
passion and as profoundly rooted as any merely human affection can ever
yet have been.

On the seventeenth birthday of Agnes we were married. Oh! calendar of
everlasting months--months that, like the mighty rivers, shall flow on
for ever, immortal as thou, Nile, or Danube, Euphrates, or St.
Lawrence! and ye, summer and winter, day and night, wherefore do you
bring round continually your signs, and seasons, and revolving hours,
that still point and barb the anguish of local recollections, telling
me of this and that celestial morning that never shall return, and of
too blessed expectations, travelling like yourselves through a heavenly
zodiac of changes, till at once and for ever they sank into the grave!
Often do I think of seeking for some quiet cell either in the Tropics
or in Arctic latitudes, where the changes of the year, and the external
signs corresponding to them, express themselves by no features like
those in which the same seasons are invested under our temperate
climes: so that, if knowing, we cannot at least feel the identity of
their revolutions. We were married, I have said, on the birthday--the
seventeenth birthday--of Agnes; and pretty nearly on her eighteenth it
was that she placed me at the summit of my happiness, whilst for
herself she thus completed the circle of her relations to this life's
duties, by presenting me with a son. Of this child, knowing how
wearisome to strangers is the fond exultation of parents, I shall
simply say, that he inherited his mother's beauty; the same touching
loveliness and innocence of expression, the same chiselled nose, mouth,
and chin, the same exquisite auburn hair. In many other features, not
of person merely, but also of mind and manners, as they gradually began
to open before me, this child deepened my love to him by recalling the
image of his mother; and what other image was there that I so much
wished to keep before me, whether waking or asleep? At the time to
which I am now coming but too rapidly, this child, still our only one,
and unusually premature, was within four months of completing his third
year; consequently Agnes was at that time in her twenty-first year; and
I may here add, with respect to myself, that I was in my twenty-sixth.

But, before I come to that period of wo, let me say one word on the
temper of mind which so fluent and serene a current of prosperity may
be thought to have generated. Too common a course I know it is, when
the stream of life flows with absolute tranquillity, and ruffled by no
menace of a breeze--the azure overhead never dimmed by a passing cloud,
that in such circumstances the blood stagnates: life, from excess and
plethora of sweets, becomes insipid: the spirit of action droops: and
it is oftentimes found at such seasons that slight annoyances and
molestations, or even misfortunes in a lower key, are not wholly
undesirable, as means of stimulating the lazy energies, and disturbing
a slumber which is, or soon will be, morbid in its character. I have
known myself cases not a few, where, by the very nicest gradations, and
by steps too silent and insensible for daily notice, the utmost harmony
and reciprocal love had shaded down into fretfulness and petulance,
purely from too easy a life, and because all nobler agitations that
might have ruffled the sensations occasionally, and all distresses even
on the narrowest scale that might have re-awakened the solicitudes of
love, by opening necessities for sympathy, for counsel, or for mutual
aid, had been shut out by foresight too elaborate, or by prosperity too
cloying. But all this, had it otherwise been possible with my
particular mind, and at my early age, was utterly precluded by one
remarkable peculiarity in my temper. Whether it were that I derived
from nature some jealousy and suspicion of all happiness which seems
too perfect and unalloyed--[a spirit of restless distrust, which in
ancient times often led men to throw valuable gems into the sea, in the
hope of thus propitiating the dire deity of misfortune, by voluntarily
breaking the fearful chain of prosperity, and led some of them to weep
and groan when the gems thus sacrificed were afterwards brought back to
their hand by simple fishermen, who had recovered them in the
intestines of fishes--a portentous omen, which was interpreted into a
sorrowful indication that the deity thus answered the propitiatory
appeal, and made solemn proclamation that he had rejected it]--
whether, I say, it were this spirit of jealousy awaked in me by too
steady and too profound a felicity--or whether it were that great
overthrows and calamities have some mysterious power to send forward a
dim misgiving of their advancing footsteps, and really and indeed,

  'That in to-day already walks to-morrow;'

or whether it were partly, as I have already put the case in my first
supposition, a natural instinct of distrust, but irritated and
enlivened by a particular shock of superstitious alarm; which, or
whether any of these causes it were that kept me apprehensive, and on
the watch for disastrous change, I will not here undertake to
determine. Too certain it is that I was so. I never ridded myself of an
over-mastering and brooding sense, shadowy and vague, a dim abiding
feeling (that sometimes was and sometimes was not exalted into a
conscious presentiment) of some great calamity travelling towards me;
not perhaps immediately impending--perhaps even at a great distance;
but already--dating from some secret hour--already in motion upon some
remote line of approach. This feeling I could not assuage by sharing it
with Agnes. No motive could be strong enough for persuading me to
communicate so gloomy a thought with one who, considering her extreme
healthiness, was but too remarkably prone to pensive, if not to
sorrowful, contemplations. And thus the obligation which I felt to
silence and reserve, strengthened the morbid impression I had received;
whilst the remarkable incident I have adverted to served powerfully to
rivet the superstitious chain which was continually gathering round me.
The incident was this--and before I repeat it, let me pledge my word of
honor, that I report to you the bare facts of the case, without
exaggeration, and in the simplicity of truth:--There was at that time
resident in the great city, which is the scene of my narrative, a
woman, from some part of Hungary, who pretended to the gift of looking
into futurity. She had made herself known advantageously in several of
the greatest cities of Europe, under the designation of the Hungarian
Prophetess; and very extraordinary instances were cited amongst the
highest circles of her success in the art which she professed. So ample
were the pecuniary tributes which she levied upon the hopes and the
fears, or the simple curiosity of the aristocracy, that she was thus
able to display not unfrequently a disinterestedness and a generosity,
which seemed native to her disposition, amongst the humbler classes of
her applicants; for she rejected no addresses that were made to her,
provided only they were not expressed in levity or scorn, but with
sincerity, and in a spirit of confiding respect. It happened, on one
occasion, when a nursery-servant of ours was waiting in her anteroom
for the purpose of taking her turn in consulting the prophetess
professionally, that she had witnessed a scene of consternation and
unaffected maternal grief in this Hungarian lady upon the sudden
seizure of her son, a child of four or five years old, by a spasmodic
inflammation of the throat (since called croup) peculiar to children,
and in those days not very well understood by medical men. The poor
Hungarian, who had lived chiefly in warm, or at least not damp,
climates, and had never so much as heard of this complaint, was almost
wild with alarm at the rapid increase of the symptoms which attend the
paroxysms, and especially of that loud and distressing sound which
marks the impeded respiration. Great, therefore, was her joy and
gratitude on finding from our servant that she had herself been in
attendance more than once upon cases of the same nature, but very much
more violent,--and that, consequently, she was well qualified to
suggest and to superintend all the measures of instant necessity, such
as the hot-bath, the peculiar medicines, &c., which are almost sure of
success when applied in an early stage. Staying to give her assistance
until a considerable improvement had taken place in the child, our
servant then hurried home to her mistress. Agnes, it may be imagined,
dispatched her back with such further and more precise directions as in
a very short time availed to re-establish the child in convalescence.
These practical services, and the messages of maternal sympathy
repeatedly conveyed from Agnes, had completely won the heart of the
grateful Hungarian, and she announced her intention of calling with her
little boy, to make her personal acknowledgments for the kindness which
had been shown to her. She did so, and we were as much impressed by the
sultana-like style of her Oriental beauty, as she, on her part, was
touched and captivated by the youthful loveliness of my angelic wife.
After sitting for above an hour, during which time she talked with a
simplicity and good feeling that struck us as remarkable in a person
professing an art usually connected with so much of conscious fraud,
she rose to take her leave. I must mention that she had previously had
our little boy sitting on her knee, and had at intervals thrown a hasty
glance upon the palms of his hands. On parting, Agnes, with her usual
frankness, held out her hand. The Hungarian took it with an air of sad
solemnity, pressed it fervently, and said:--'Lady, it is my part in
this life to look behind the curtain of fate; and oftentimes I see such
sights in futurity--some near, some far off--as willingly I would
_not_ see. For you, young and charming lady, looking like that
angel which you are, no destiny can be equal to your deserts. Yet
sometimes, true it is, God sees not as man sees; and he ordains, after
his unfathomable counsels, to the heavenly-minded a portion in heaven,
and to the children whom he loves a rest and a haven not built with
hands. Something that I have seen dimly warns me to look no farther.
Yet, if you desire it, I will do my office, and I will read for you
with truth the lines of fate as they are written upon your hands.'
Agnes was a little startled, or even shocked, by this solemn address;
but, in a minute or so, a mixed feeling--one half of which was
curiosity, and the other half a light-hearted mockery of her own
mysterious awe in the presence of what she had been taught to view as
either fraud or insanity--prompted her playfully to insist upon the
fullest application of the Hungarian's art to her own case; nay, she
would have the hands of our little Francis read and interpreted as well
as her own, and she desired to hear the full professional judgment
delivered without suppression or softening of its harshest awards. She
laughed whilst she said all this; but she also trembled a little. The
Hungarian first took the hand of our young child, and perused it with a
long and steady scrutiny. She said nothing, but sighed heavily as she
resigned it. She then took the hand of Agnes--looked bewildered and
aghast--then gazed piteously from Agnes to her child--and at last,
bursting into tears, began to move steadily out of the room. I followed
her hastily, and remonstrated upon this conduct, by pointing her
attention to the obvious truth--that these mysterious suppressions and
insinuations, which left all shadowy and indistinct, were far more
alarming than the most definite denunciations. Her answer yet rings in
my ear:--'Why should I make myself odious to you and to your innocent
wife? Messenger of evil I am, and have been to many; but evil I will
not prophecy to her. Watch and pray! Much may be done by effectual
prayer. Human means, fleshly arms, are vain. There is an enemy in the
house of life,' [here she quitted her palmistry for the language of
astrology;] 'there is a frightful danger at hand, both for your wife
and your child. Already on that dark ocean, over which we are all
sailing, I can see dimly the point at which the enemy's course shall
cross your wife's. There is but little interval remaining--not many
hours. All is finished; all is accomplished; and already he is almost
up with the darlings of your heart. Be vigilant, be vigilant, and yet
look not to yourself, but to Heaven, for deliverance.'

This woman was not an impostor: she spoke and uttered her oracles under
a wild sense of possession by some superior being, and of mystic
compulsion to say what she would have willingly left unsaid; and never
yet, before or since, have I seen the light of sadness settle with so
solemn an expression into human eyes as when she dropped my wife's
hand, and refused to deliver that burden of prophetic wo with which she
believed herself to be inspired.

The prophetess departed; and what mood of mind did she leave behind her
in Agnes and myself? Naturally there was a little drooping of spirits
at first; the solemnity and the heart-felt sincerity of fear and grief
which marked her demeanor, made it impossible, at the moment when we
were just fresh from their natural influences, that we should recoil
into our ordinary spirits. But with the inevitable elasticity of youth
and youthful gaiety we soon did so; we could not attempt to persuade
ourselves that there had been any conscious fraud or any attempt at
scenical effect in the Hungarian's conduct. She had no motive for
deceiving us; she had refused all offerings of money, and her whole
visit had evidently been made under an overflow of the most grateful
feelings for the attentions shown to her child. We acquitted her,
therefore, of sinister intentions; and with our feelings of jealousy,
feelings in which we had been educated, towards everything that tended
to superstition, we soon agreed to think her some gentle maniac or sad
enthusiast, suffering under some form of morbid melancholy. Forty-eight
hours, with two nights' sleep, sufficed to restore the wonted
equilibrium of our spirits; and that interval brought us onwards to the
6th of April--the day on which, as I have already said, my story
properly commences.

 On that day, on that lovely 6th of April, such as I have described it,
that 6th of April, about nine o'clock in the morning, we were seated at
breakfast near the open window--we, that is, Agnes, myself, and little
Francis; the freshness of morning spirits rested upon us; the golden
light of the morning sun illuminated the room; incense was floating
through the air from the gorgeous flowers within and without the house;
there in youthful happiness we sat gathered together, a family of love,
and there we never sat again. Never again were we three gathered
together, nor ever shall be, so long as the sun and its golden light--
the morning and the evening--the earth and its flowers endure.

Often have I occupied myself in recalling every circumstance the most
trivial of this the final morning of what merits to be called my life.
Eleven o'clock, I remember, was striking when Agnes came into my study,
and said that she would go into the city, (for we lived in a quite
rural suburb,) that she would execute some trifling commissions which
she had received from a friend in the country, and would be at home
again between one and two for a stroll which we had agreed to take in
the neighboring meadows. About twenty minutes after this she again came
into my study dressed for going abroad; for such was my admiration of
her, that I had a fancy--fancy it must have been, and yet still I felt
it to be real--that under every change she looked best; if she put on a
shawl, then a shawl became the most feminine of ornaments; if she laid
aside her shawl and her bonnet, then how nymph-like she seemed in her
undisguised and unadorned beauty! Full-dress seemed for the time to be
best, as bringing forward into relief the splendor of her person, and
allowing the exposure of her arms; a simple morning-dress, again,
seemed better still, as fitted to call out the childlike innocence of
her face, by confining the attention to that. But all these are
feelings of fond and blind affection, hanging with rapture over the
object of something too like idolatry. God knows, if that be a sin, I
was but too profound a sinner; yet sin it never was, sin it could not
be, to adore a beauty such as thine, my Agnes. Neither was it her
beauty by itself, and that only, which I sought at such times to
admire; there was a peculiar sort of double relation in which she stood
at moments of pleasurable expectation and excitement, since our little
Francis had become of an age to join our party, which made some aspects
of her character trebly interesting. She was a wife--and wife to one
whom she looked up to as her superior in understanding and in knowledge
of the world, whom, therefore, she leaned to for protection. On the
other hand, she was also a mother. Whilst, therefore, to her child she
supported the matronly part of guide, and the air of an experienced
person; to me she wore, ingenuously and without disguise, the part of a
child herself, with all the giddy hopes and unchastised imaginings of
that buoyant age. This double character, one aspect of which looks
towards her husband and one to her children, sits most gracefully upon
many a young wife whose heart is pure and innocent; and the collision
between the two separate parts imposed by duty on the one hand, by
extreme youth on the other, the one telling her that she is a
responsible head of a family and the depository of her husband's honor
in its tenderest and most vital interests, the other telling her,
through the liveliest language of animal sensibility, and through the
very pulses of her blood, that she is herself a child; this collision
gives an inexpressible charm to the whole demeanor of many a young
married woman, making her other fascinations more touching to her
husband, and deepening the admiration she excites; and the more so, as
it is a collision which cannot exist except among the very innocent.
Years, at any rate, will irresistibly remove this peculiar charm, and
gradually replace it by the graces of the matronly character. But in
Agnes this change had not yet been effected, partly from nature, and
partly from the extreme seclusion of her life. Hitherto she still
retained the unaffected expression of her childlike nature; and so
lovely in my eyes was this perfect exhibition of natural feminine
character, that she rarely or never went out alone upon any little
errand to town which might require her to rely upon her own good sense
and courage, that she did not previously come to exhibit herself before
me. Partly this was desired by me in that lover-like feeling of
admiration already explained, which leads one to court the sight of a
beloved object under every change of dress, and under all effects of
novelty. Partly it was the interest I took in that exhibition of sweet
timidity, and almost childish apprehensiveness, half disguised or
imperfectly acknowledged by herself, which (in the way I have just
explained) so touchingly contrasted with (and for that very reason so
touchingly drew forth) her matronly character. But I hear some objector
say at this point, ought not this very timidity, founded (as in part at
least it was) upon inexperience and conscious inability to face the
dangers of the world, to have suggested reasons for not leaving her to
her own protection? And does it not argue, on my part, an arrogant or
too blind a confidence in the durability of my happiness, as though
charmed against assaults, and liable to no shocks of sudden revolution?
I reply that, from the very constitution of society, and the tone of
manners in the city which we inhabited, there seemed to be a moral
impossibility that any dangers of consequence should meet her in the
course of those brief absences from my protection, which only were
possible; that even to herself any dangers, of a nature to be
anticipated under the known circumstances of the case, seemed almost
imaginary; that even _she_ acknowledged a propriety in being
trained, by slight and brief separations from my guardianship, to face
more boldly those cases of longer separation and of more absolute
consignment to her own resources which circumstances might arise to
create necessarily, and perhaps abruptly. And it is evident that, had
she been the wife of any man engaged in the duties of a profession, she
might have been summoned from the very first, and without the
possibility of any such gradual training, to the necessity of relying
almost singly upon her own courage and discretion. For the other
question, whether I did not depend too blindly and presumptuously upon
my good luck in not at least affording her my protection so long as
nothing occurred to make it impossible? I may reply, most truly, that
all my feelings ran naturally in the very opposite channel. So far from
confiding too much in my luck, in the present instance I was engaged in
a task of writing upon some points of business which could not admit of
further delay; but now, and at all times, I had a secret aversion to
seeing so gentle a creature thrown even for an hour upon her own
resources, though in situations which scarcely seemed to admit of any
occasion for taxing those resources; and often I have felt anger
towards myself for what appeared to be an irrational or effeminate
timidity, and have struggled with my own mind upon occasions like the
present, when I knew that I could not have acknowledged my tremors to a
friend without something like shame, and a fear to excite his ridicule.
No; if in anything I ran into excess, it was in this very point of
anxiety as to all that regarded my wife's security. Her good sense, her
prudence, her courage, (for courage she had in the midst of her
timidity,) her dignity of manner, the more impressive from the
childlike character of her countenance, all should have combined to
reassure me, and yet they did not. I was still anxious for her safety
to an irrational extent; and to sum up the whole in a most weighty line
of Shakspeare, I lived under the constant presence of a feeling which
only that great observer of human nature (so far as I am aware) has
ever noticed, viz., that merely the excess of my happiness made me
jealous of its ability to last, and in that extent less capable of
enjoying it; that in fact the prelibation of my tears, as a homage to
its fragility, was drawn forth by my very sense that my felicity was
too exquisite; or, in the words of the great master

  'I wept to have' [absolutely, by anticipation, shed tears in
  possessing] 'what I so feared to lose.'

Thus end my explanations, and I now pursue my narrative: Agnes, as I
have said, came into my room again before leaving the house--we
conversed for five minutes--we parted--she went out--her last words
being that she would return at half-past one o'clock; and not long
after that time, if ever mimic bells--bells of rejoicing, or bells of
mourning, are heard in desert spaces of the air, and (as some have
said) in unreal worlds, that mock our own, and repeat, for ridicule,
the vain and unprofitable motions of man, then too surely, about this
hour, began to toll the funeral knell of my earthly happiness--its
final hour had sounded.

       *       *       *       *       *

One o'clock had arrived; fifteen minutes after, I strolled into the
garden, and began to look over the little garden-gate in expectation of
every moment descrying Agnes in the distance. Half an hour passed, and
for ten minutes more I was tolerably quiet. From this time till half-
past two I became constantly more agitated--_agitated,_ perhaps,
is too strong a word--but I was restless and anxious beyond what I
should have chosen to acknowledge. Still I kept arguing, What is half
an hour? what is an hour? A thousand things might have occurred to
cause that delay, without needing to suppose any accident; or, if an
accident, why not a very trifling one? She may have slightly hurt her
foot--she may have slightly sprained her ankle. 'Oh, doubtless,' I
exclaimed to myself, 'it will be a mere trifle, or perhaps nothing at
all.' But I remember that, even whilst I was saying this, I took my hat
and walked with nervous haste into the little quiet lane upon which our
garden-gate opened. The lane led by a few turnings, and after a course
of about five hundred yards, into a broad high-road, which even at that
day had begun to assume the character of a street, and allowed an
unobstructed range of view in the direction of the city for at least a
mile. Here I stationed myself, for the air was so clear that I could
distinguish dress and figure to a much greater distance than usual.
Even on such a day, however, the remote distance was hazy and
indistinct, and at any other season I should have been diverted with
the various mistakes I made. From occasional combinations of color,
modified by light and shade, and of course powerfully assisted by the
creative state of the eye under this nervous apprehensiveness, I
continued to shape into images of Agnes forms without end, that upon
nearer approach presented the most grotesque contrasts to her
impressive appearance. But I had ceased even to comprehend the
ludicrous; my agitation was now so overruling and engrossing that I
lost even my intellectual sense of it; and now first I understood
practically and feelingly the anguish of hope alternating with
disappointment, as it may be supposed to act upon the poor shipwrecked
seaman, alone and upon a desolate coast, straining his sight for ever
to the fickle element which has betrayed him, but which only can
deliver him, and with his eyes still tracing in the far distance,

  'Ships, dim-discover'd, dropping from the clouds,'--

which a brief interval of suspense still for ever disperses into hollow
pageants of air or vapor. One deception melted away only to be
succeeded by another; still I fancied that at last to a certainty I
could descry the tall figure of Agnes, her gipsy hat, and even the
peculiar elegance of her walk. Often I went so far as to laugh at
myself, and even to tax my recent fears with unmanliness and
effeminacy, on recollecting the audible throbbings of my heart, and the
nervous palpitations which had besieged me; but these symptoms, whether
effeminate or not, began to come back tumultuously under the gloomy
doubts that succeeded almost before I had uttered this self-reproach.
Still I found myself mocked and deluded with false hopes; yet still I
renewed my quick walk, and the intensity of my watch for that radiant
form that was fated never more to be seen returning from the cruel
city.

It was nearly half-past three, and therefore close upon two hours
beyond the time fixed by Agnes for her return, when I became absolutely
incapable of supporting the further torture of suspense, and I suddenly
took the resolution of returning home and concerting with my female
servants some energetic measures, though _what_ I could hardly say,
on behalf of their mistress. On entering the garden-gate I met our
little child Francis, who unconsciously inflicted a pang upon me which
he neither could have meditated nor have understood. I passed him at
his play, perhaps even unaware of his presence, but he recalled me to
that perception by crying aloud that he had just seen his mamma.

'When--where?' I asked convulsively.

'Up stairs in her bedroom,' was his instantaneous answer.

His manner was such as forbade me to suppose that he could be joking;
and, as it was barely possible (though, for reasons well known to me,
in the highest degree improbable) that Agnes might have returned by a
by-path, which, leading through a dangerous and disreputable suburb,
would not have coincided at any one point with the public road where I
had been keeping my station. I sprang forward into the house, up
stairs, and in rapid succession into every room where it was likely
that she might be found; but everywhere there was a dead silence,
disturbed only by myself, for, in my growing confusion of thought, I
believe that I rang the bell violently in every room I entered. No such
summons, however, was needed, for the servants, two of whom at the
least were most faithful creatures, and devotedly attached to their
young mistress, stood ready of themselves to come and make inquiries of
me as soon as they became aware of the alarming fact, that I had
returned without her.

Until this moment, though having some private reasons for surprise that
she should have failed to come into the house for a minute or two at
the hour prefixed, in order to make some promised domestic arrangements
for the day, they had taken it for granted that she must have met with
me at some distance from home--and that either the extreme beauty of
the day had beguiled her of all petty household recollections, or (as a
conjecture more in harmony with past experiences) that my impatience
and solicitations had persuaded her to lay aside her own plans for the
moment at the risk of some little domestic inconvenience. Now, however,
in a single instant vanished _every_ mode of accounting for their
mistress's absence; and the consternation of our looks communicated
contagiously, by the most unerring of all languages, from each to the
other what thoughts were uppermost in our panic-stricken hearts. If to
any person it should seem that our alarm was disproportioned to the
occasion, and not justified at least by anything as yet made known to
us, let that person consider the weight due to the two following facts:
First, that from the recency of our settlement in this neighborhood,
and from the extreme seclusion of my wife's previous life at a vast
distance from the metropolis, she had positively no friends on her list
of visitors who resided in this great capital; secondly, and far above
all beside, let him remember the awful denunciations, so unexpectedly
tallying with this alarming and mysterious absence, of the Hungarian
prophetess; these had been slighted--almost dismissed from our
thoughts; but now in sudden reaction they came back upon us with a
frightful power to lacerate and to sting--the shadowy outline of a
spiritual agency, such as that which could at all predict the events,
combining in one mysterious effect, with the shadowy outline of those
very predictions. The power, that could have predicted, was as dim and
as hard to grasp as was the precise nature of the evil that had been
predicted.

An icy terror froze my blood at this moment when I looked at the
significant glances, too easily understood by me, that were exchanged
between the servants. My mouth had been for the last two hours growing
more and more parched, so that at present, from mere want of moisture,
I could not separate my lips to speak. One of the women saw the vain
efforts I was making, and hastily brought me a glass of water. With the
first recovery of speech, I asked them what little Francis had meant by
saying that he had seen his mother in her bedroom. Their reply was,
that they were as much at a loss to discover his meaning as I was; that
he had made the same assertion to them, and with so much earnestness,
that they had, all in succession, gone up stairs to look for her, and
with the fullest expectation of finding her. This was a mystery which
remained such to the very last; there was no doubt whatsoever that the
child believed himself to have seen his mother; that he could not have
seen her in her human bodily presence, there is as little doubt as
there is, alas! that in this world he never _did_ see her again.
The poor child constantly adhered to his story, and with a
circumstantiality far beyond all power of invention that could be
presumed in an artless infant. Every attempt at puzzling him or
entangling him in contradictions by means of cross-examination was but
labor thrown away; though indeed, it is true enough that for those
attempts, as will soon be seen, there was but a brief interval allowed.

Not dwelling upon this subject at present, I turned to Hannah--a woman
who held the nominal office of cook in our little establishment, but
whose real duties had been much more about her mistress's person--and
with a searching look of appeal I asked her whether, in this moment of
trial, when (as she might see) I was not so perfectly master of myself
as perhaps always to depend upon seeing what was best to be done, she
would consent to accompany me into the city, and take upon herself
those obvious considerations of policy or prudence which might but too
easily escape my mind, darkened, and likely to be darkened, as to its
power of discernment by the hurricane of affliction now too probably at
hand. She answered my appeal with the fervor I expected from what I had
already known of her character. She was a woman of a strong, fiery,
perhaps I might say of heroic mind, supported by a courage that was
absolutely indomitable, and by a strength of bodily frame very unusual
in a woman, and beyond the promise even of her person. She had suffered
as deep a wrench in her own affections as a human being can suffer; she
had lost her one sole child, a fair-haired boy of most striking beauty
and interesting disposition, at the age of seventeen, and by the worst
of all possible fates; he lived (as we did at that time) in a large
commercial city overflowing with profligacy, and with temptations of
every order; he had been led astray; culpable he had been, but by very
much the least culpable of the set into which accident had thrown him,
as regarded acts and probable intentions; and as regarded palliations
from childish years, from total inexperience, or any other alleviating
circumstances that could be urged, having everything to plead--and of
all his accomplices the only one who had anything to plead. Interest,
however, he had little or none; and whilst some hoary villains of the
party, who happened to be more powerfully befriended, were finally
allowed to escape with a punishment little more than nominal, he and
two others were selected as sacrifices to the offended laws. They
suffered capitally. All three behaved well; but the poor boy in
particular, with a courage, a resignation, and a meekness, so
distinguished and beyond his years as to attract the admiration and the
liveliest sympathy of the public universally. If strangers could feel
in that way, if the mere hardened executioner could be melted at the
final scene,--it may be judged to what a fierce and terrific height
would ascend the affliction of a doating mother, constitutionally too
fervid in her affections. I have heard an official person declare, that
the spectacle of her desolation and frantic anguish was the most
frightful thing he had ever witnessed, and so harrowing to the
feelings, that all who could by their rank venture upon such an
irregularity, absented themselves during the critical period from the
office which corresponded with the government; for, as I have said, the
affair took place in a large provincial city, at a great distance from
the capital. All who knew this woman, or who were witnesses to the
alteration which one fortnight had wrought in her person as well as her
demeanor, fancied it impossible that she could continue to live; or
that, if she did, it must be through the giving way of her reason. They
proved, however, to be mistaken; or, at least, if (as some thought) her
reason did suffer in some degree, this result showed itself in the
inequality of her temper, in moody fits of abstraction, and the morbid
energy of her manner at times under the absence of all adequate
external excitement, rather than in any positive and apparent
hallucinations of thought. The charm which had mainly carried off the
instant danger to her faculties, was doubtless the intense sympathy
which she met with. And in these offices of consolation my wife stood
foremost. For, and that was fortunate, she had found herself able,
without violence to her own sincerest opinions in the case, to offer
precisely that form of sympathy which was most soothing to the angry
irritation of the poor mother; not only had she shown a _direct_
interest in the boy, and not a mere interest of _reflection_ from
that which she took in the mother, and had expressed it by visits to
his dungeon, and by every sort of attention to his comforts which his
case called for, or the prison regulations allowed; not only had she
wept with the distracted woman as if for a brother of her own; but,
which went farther than all the rest in softening the mother's heart,
she had loudly and indignantly proclaimed her belief in the boy's
innocence, and in the same tone her sense of the crying injustice
committed as to the selection of the victims, and the proportion of the
punishment awarded. Others, in the language of a great poet,

  'Had pitied _her,_ and not her grief;'

they had either not been able to see, or, from carelessness, had
neglected to see, any peculiar wrong done to her in the matter which
occasioned her grief,--but had simply felt compassion for her as for
one summoned, in a regular course of providential and human
dispensation, to face an affliction, heavy in itself, but not heavy
from any special defect of equity. Consequently their very sympathy,
being so much built upon the assumption that an only child had offended
to the extent implied in his sentence, oftentimes clothed itself in
expressions which she felt to be not consolations but insults, and, in
fact, so many justifications of those whom it relieved her overcharged
heart to regard as the very worst of enemies. Agnes, on the other hand,
took the very same view of the case as herself; and, though otherwise
the gentlest of all gentle creatures, yet here, from the generous
fervor of her reverence for justice, and her abhorrence of oppression,
she gave herself no trouble to moderate the energy of her language: nor
did I, on my part, feeling that substantially she was in the right,
think it of importance to dispute about the exact degrees of the wrong
done or the indignation due to it. In this way it happened naturally
enough that at one and the same time, though little contemplating
either of these results, Agnes had done a prodigious service to the
poor desolate mother by breaking the force of her misery, as well as by
arming the active agencies of indignation against the depressing ones
of solitary grief, and for herself had won a most grateful and devoted
friend, who would have gone through fire and water to serve her, and
was thenceforwards most anxious for some opportunity to testify how
deep had been her sense of the goodness shown to her by her benign
young mistress, and how incapable of suffering abatement by time. It
remains to add, which I have slightly noticed before, that this woman
was of unusual personal strength: her bodily frame matched with her
intellectual: and I notice this _now_ with the more emphasis,
because I am coming rapidly upon ground where it will be seen that this
one qualification was of more summary importance to us--did us more
'yeoman's service' at a crisis the most awful--than other qualities of
greater name and pretension. _Hannah_ was this woman's Christian
name; and her name and her memory are to me amongst the most hallowed
of my earthly recollections.

One of her two fellow-servants, known technically amongst us as the
'parlor maid,' was also, but not equally, attached to her mistress; and
merely because her nature, less powerfully formed and endowed, did not
allow her to entertain or to comprehend any service equally fervid of
passion or of impassioned action. She, however, was good, affectionate,
and worthy to be trusted. But a third there was, a nursery maid, and
therefore more naturally and more immediately standing within the
confidence of her mistress--her I could not trust: her I suspected. But
of that hereafter. Meantime, Hannah, she upon whom I leaned as upon a
staff in all which respected her mistress, ran up stairs, after I had
spoken and received her answer, in order hastily to dress and prepare
herself for going out along with me to the city. I did not ask her to
be quick in her movements: I knew there was no need: and, whilst she
was absent, I took up, in one of my fretful movements of nervousness, a
book which was lying upon a side-table: the book fell open of itself at
a particular page; and in that, perhaps, there was nothing
extraordinary, for it was a little portable edition of _Paradise
Lost_; and the page was one which I must naturally have turned to
many a time: for to Agnes I had read all the great masters of
literature, especially those of modern times; so that few people knew
the high classics more familiarly: and as to the passage in question,
from its divine beauty I had read it aloud to her, perhaps, on fifty
separate occasions. All this I mention to take away any appearance of a
vulgar attempt to create omens; but still, in the very act of
confessing the simple truth, and thus weakening the marvellous
character of the anecdote, I must notice it as a strange instance of
the '_Sortes Miltonianæ_,'--that precisely at such a moment as
this I should find thrown in my way, should feel tempted to take up,
and should open, a volume containing such a passage as the following:
and observe, moreover, that although the volume, _once being taken
up_, would naturally open where it had been most frequently read,
there were, however, many passages which had been read _as_
frequently--or more so. The particular passage upon which I opened at
this moment was that most beautiful one in which the fatal morning
separation is described between Adam and his bride--that separation so
pregnant with wo, which eventually proved the occasion of the mortal
transgression--the last scene between our first parents at which both
were innocent and both were happy--although the superior intellect
already felt, and, in the slight altercation preceding this separation,
had already expressed a dim misgiving of some coming change: these are
the words, and in depth of pathos they have rarely been approached:--

  'Oft he to her his charge of quick return
  Repeated; she to him as oft engag'd
  To be returned by noon amid the bow'r,
  And all things in best order to invite
  Noon-tide repast, or afternoon's repose.
  Oh much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve!
  Of thy presumed return, event perverse!
  Thou never from that hour in Paradise
  Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose.'

'_My_ Eve!' I exclaimed, 'partner in _my_ paradise, where art thou?
_Much failing_ thou wilt not be found, nor _much deceived_; innocent in
any case thou art; but, alas! too surely by this time _hapless_, and
the victim of some diabolic wickedness.' Thus I murmured to myself;
thus I ejaculated; thus I apostrophized my Agnes; then again came a
stormier mood. I could not sit still; I could not stand in quiet; I
threw the book from me with violence against the wall; I began to hurry
backwards and forwards in a short uneasy walk, when suddenly a sound, a
step; it was the sound of the garden-gate opening, followed by a hasty
tread. Whose tread? Not for a moment could it be fancied the oread step
which belonged to that daughter of the hills--my wife, my Agnes; no, it
was the dull massy tread of a man: and immediately there came a loud
blow upon the door, and in the next moment, the bell having been found,
a furious peal of ringing. Oh coward heart! not for a lease of
immortality could I have gone forwards myself. My breath failed me; an
interval came in which respiration seemed to be stifled--the blood to
halt in its current; and then and there I recognised in myself the
force and living truth of that Scriptural description of a heart
consciously beset by evil without escape: 'Susannah _sighed_.' Yes, a
long, long sigh--a deep, deep sigh--that is, the natural language by
which the over-charged heart utters forth the wo that else would break
it. I sighed--oh how profoundly! But that did not give me power to
move. Who will go to the door? I whispered audibly. Who is at the door?
was the inaudible whisper of my heart. Then might be seen the
characteristic differences of the three women. That one, whom I
suspected, I heard raising an upper window to look out and reconnoitre.
The affectionate Rachael, on the other hand, ran eagerly down stairs;
but Hannah, half dressed, even her bosom exposed, passed her like a
storm; and before I heard any sound of opening a door, I saw from the
spot where I stood the door already wide open, and a man in the costume
of a policeman. All that he said I could not hear; but this I heard--
that I was wanted at the police office, and had better come off without
delay. He seemed then to get a glimpse of me, and to make an effort
towards coming nearer; but I slunk away, and left to Hannah the task of
drawing from him any circumstances which he might know. But apparently
there was not much to tell, or rather, said I, there is too much, the
_much_ absorbs the _many_; some one mighty evil transcends and quells
all particulars. At length the door was closed, and the man was gone.
Hannah crept slowly along the passage, and looked in hesitatingly. Her
very movements and stealthy pace testified that she had heard nothing
which, even by comparison, she could think good news. 'Tell me not now,
Hannah,' I said; 'wait till we are in the open air.' She went up stairs
again. How short seemed the time till she descended! how I longed for
further respite! 'Hannah!' I said at length when we were fairly moving
upon the road, 'Hannah! I am too sure you have nothing good to tell.
But now tell me the worst, and let that be in the fewest words
possible.'

'Sir,' she said, 'we had better wait until we reach the office; for
really I could not understand the man. He says that my mistress is
detained upon some charge; but _what_, I could not at all make
out. He was a man that knew something of you, Sir, I believe, and he
wished to be civil, and kept saying, "Oh! I dare say it will turn out
nothing at all, many such charges are made idly and carelessly, and
some maliciously." "But what charges?" I cried, and then he wanted to
speak privately to you. But I told him that of all persons he must not
speak to you, if he had anything painful to tell; for that you were too
much disturbed already, and had been for some hours, out of anxiety and
terror about my mistress, to bear much more. So, when he heard that, he
was less willing to speak freely than before. He might prove wrong, he
said; he might give offence; things might turn out far otherwise than
according to first appearances; for his part, he could not believe
anything amiss of so sweet a lady. And after all, it would be better to
wait till we reached the office.'

Thus much then was clear--Agnes was under some accusation. This was
already worse than the worst I had anticipated. 'And then,' said I,
thinking aloud to Hannah, 'one of two things is apparent to me; either
the accusation is one of pure hellish malice, without a color of
probability or the shadow of a foundation, and that way, alas! I am
driven in my fears by that Hungarian woman's prophecy; or, which but
for my desponding heart I should be more inclined to think, the charge
has grown out of my poor wife's rustic ignorance as to the usages then
recently established by law with regard to the kind of money that could
be legally tendered. This, however, was a suggestion that did not tend
to alleviate my anxiety; and my nervousness had mounted to a painful,
almost to a disabling degree, by the time we reached the office.
Already on our road thither some parties had passed us who were
conversing with eagerness upon the case: so much we collected from the
many and ardent expressions about 'the lady's beauty,' though the rest
of such words as we could catch were ill calculated to relieve my
suspense. This, then, at least, was certain--that my poor timid Agnes
had already been exhibited before a tumultuous crowd; that her name and
reputation had gone forth as a subject of discussion for the public;
and that the domestic seclusion and privacy within which it was her
matronly privilege to move had already undergone a rude violation.

The office, and all the purlieus of the office, were occupied by a
dense crowd. That, perhaps, was always the case, more or less, at this
time of day; but at present the crowd was manifestly possessed by a
more than ordinary interest; and there was a unity in this possessing
interest; all were talking on the same subject, the case in which Agnes
had so recently appeared in some character or other; and by this time
it became but too certain in the character of an accused person. Pity
was the prevailing sentiment amongst the mob; but the opinions varied
much as to the probable criminality of the prisoner. I made my way into
the office. The presiding magistrates had all retired for the
afternoon, and would not reassemble until eight o'clock in the evening.
Some clerks only or officers of the court remained, who were too much
harassed by applications for various forms and papers connected with
the routine of public business, and by other official duties which
required signatures or attestations, to find much leisure for answering
individual questions. Some, however, listened with a marked air of
attention to my earnest request for the circumstantial details of the
case, but finally referred me to a vast folio volume, in which were
entered all the charges, of whatever nature, involving any serious
tendency--in fact, all that exceeded a misdemeanor--in the regular
chronological succession according to which they came before the
magistrate. Here, in this vast calendar of guilt and misery, amidst the
_aliases_ or cant designations of ruffians, prostitutes, felons,
stood the description, at full length, Christian and surnames all
properly registered, of my Agnes--of her whose very name had always
sounded to my ears like the very echo of mountain innocence, purity,
and pastoral simplicity. Here in another column stood the name and
residence of her accuser. I shall call him _Barratt_, for that was
amongst his names, and a name by which he had at one period of his
infamous life been known to the public, though not his principal name,
or the one which he had thought fit to assume at this era. James
Barratt, then, as I shall here call him, was a haberdasher--keeping a
large and conspicuous shop in a very crowded and what was then
considered a fashionable part of the city. The charge was plain and
short. Did I live to read it? It accused Agnes M---- of having on that
morning secreted in her muff, and feloniously carried away, a valuable
piece of Mechlin lace, the property of James Barratt. And the result of
the first examination was thus communicated in a separate column,
written in red ink--'Remanded to the second day after to-morrow for
final examination.' Everything in this sin-polluted register was in
manuscript; but at night the records of each day were regularly
transferred to a printed journal, enlarged by comments and explanatory
descriptions from some one of the clerks, whose province it was to
furnish this intelligence to the public journals. On that same night,
therefore, would go forth to the world such an account of the case, and
such a description of my wife's person, as would inevitably summon to
the next exhibition of her misery, as by special invitation and
advertisement, the whole world of this vast metropolis--the idle, the
curious, the brutal, the hardened amateur in spectacles of wo, and the
benign philanthropist who frequents such scenes with the purpose of
carrying alleviation to their afflictions. All alike, whatever might be
their motives or the spirit of their actions, would rush (as to some
grand festival of curiosity and sentimental luxury) to this public
martyrdom of my innocent wife.

Meantime, what was the first thing to be done? Manifestly, to see
Agnes: her account of the affair might suggest the steps to be taken.
Prudence, therefore, at any rate, prescribed this course; and my heart
would not have tolerated any other. I applied, therefore, at once, for
information as to the proper mode of effecting this purpose without
delay. What was my horror at learning that, by a recent regulation of
all the police-offices, under the direction of the public minister who
presided over that department of the national administration, no person
could be admitted to an interview with any accused party during the
progress of the official examinations; or, in fact, until the final
committal of the prisoner for trial. This rule was supposed to be
attended by great public advantages, and had rarely been relaxed--
never, indeed, without a special interposition of the police minister
authorizing its suspension. But was the exclusion absolute and
universal? Might not, at least, a female servant, simply as the bearer
of such articles as were indispensable to female delicacy and comfort,
have access to her mistress? No; the exclusion was total and
unconditional. To argue the point was manifestly idle; the subordinate
officers had no discretion in the matter; nor, in fact, had any other
official person, whatever were his rank, except the supreme one; and to
him I neither had any obvious means of introduction, nor (in case of
obtaining such an introduction) any chance of success; for the spirit
of the rule, I foresaw it would be answered, applied with especial
force to cases like the present.

Mere human feelings of pity, sympathy with my too visible agitation,
superadded to something of perhaps reverence for the blighting misery
that was now opening its artillery upon me--for misery has a privilege,
and everywhere is felt to be a holy thing--had combined to procure for
me some attention and some indulgence hitherto. Answers had been given
with precision, explanations made at length, and anxiety shown to
satisfy my inquiries. But this could not last; the inexorable
necessities of public business coming back in a torrent upon the
official people after this momentary interruption, forbade them to
indulge any further consideration for an individual case, and I saw
that I must not stay any longer. I was rapidly coming to be regarded as
a hinderance to the movement of public affairs; and the recollection
that I might again have occasion for some appeal to these men in their
official characters, admonished me not to abuse my privilege of the
moment. After returning thanks, therefore, for the disposition shown to
oblige me, I retired.

Slowly did I and Hannah retrace our steps. Hannah sustained, in the
tone of her spirits, by the extremity of her anger, a mood of feeling
which I did not share. Indignation was to her in the stead of
consolation and hope. I, for my part, could not seek even a momentary
shelter from my tempestuous affliction in that temper of mind. The man
who could accuse my Agnes, and accuse her of such a crime, I felt to be
a monster; and in my thoughts he was already doomed to a bloody
atonement (atonement! alas! what atonement!) whenever the time arrived
that _her_ cause would not be prejudiced, or the current of public
feeling made to turn in his favor by investing him with the semblance
of an injured or suffering person. So much was settled in my thoughts
with the stern serenity of a decree issuing from a judgment-seat. But
that gave no relief, no shadow of relief, to the misery which was now
consuming me. Here was an end, in one hour, to the happiness of a life.
In one hour it had given way, root and branch--had melted like so much
frost-work, or a pageant of vapory exhalations. In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, and yet for ever and ever, I comprehended the
total ruin of my situation. The case, as others might think, was yet in
suspense; and there was room enough for very rational hopes, especially
where there was an absolute certainty of innocence. Total freedom from
all doubt on that point seemed to justify almost more than hopes. This
might be said, and most people would have been more or less consoled by
it. I was not. I felt as certain, as irredeemably, as hopelessly
certain of the final results as though I had seen the record in the
books of Heaven. 'Hope nothing,' I said to myself; 'think not of hope
in this world, but think only how best to walk steadily, and not to
reel like a creature wanting discourse of reason, or incapable of
religious hopes under the burden which it has pleased God to impose,
and which in this life cannot be shaken off. The countenance of man is
made to look upward and to the skies. Thither also point henceforwards
your heart and your thoughts. Never again let your thoughts travel
earthwards. Settle them on the heavens, to which your Agnes is already
summoned. The call is clear, and not to be mistaken. Little in
_her_ fate now depends upon you, or upon anything that man can do.
Look, therefore, to yourself; see that you make not shipwreck of your
heavenly freight because your earthly freight is lost; and miss not, by
any acts of wild and presumptuous despair, that final reunion with your
Agnes, which can only be descried through vistas that open through the
heavens.'

Such were the thoughts, thoughts often made audible, which came
spontaneously like oracles from afar, as I strode homewards with Hannah
by my side. Her, meantime, I seemed to hear; for at times I seemed and
I intended to answer her. But answer her I did not; for not ten words
of all that she said did I really and consciously hear. How I went
through that night is more entirely a blank in my memory, more entirely
a chapter of chaos and the confusion of chaos, than any other passage
the most impressive in my life. If I even slumbered for a moment, as at
intervals I did sometimes, though never sitting down, but standing or
pacing about throughout the night, and if in this way I attained a
momentary respite from self-consciousness, no sooner had I reached this
enviable state of oblivion, than some internal sting of irritation
_as_ rapidly dispersed the whole fickle fabric of sleep; and as if
the momentary trance--this fugitive beguilement of my wo--had been
conceded by a demon's subtle malice only with the purpose of barbing
the pang, by thus forcing it into a stronger relief through the
insidious peace preceding it. It is a well known and most familiar
experience to all the sons and daughters of affliction, that under no
circumstances is the piercing, lancinating torment of a recent calamity
felt so keenly as in the first moments of awaking in the morning from
the night's slumbers. Just at the very instant when the clouds of
sleep, and the whole fantastic illusions of dreaminess are dispersing,
just as the realities of life are re-assuming their steadfast forms--
re-shaping themselves--and settling anew into those fixed relations
which they are to preserve throughout the waking hours; in that
particular crisis of transition from the unreal to the real, the wo
which besieges the brain and the life-springs at the heart rushes in
afresh amongst the other crowd of realities, and has at the moment of
restoration literally the force and liveliness of a new birth--the very
same pang, and no whit feebler, as that which belonged to it when it
was first made known. From the total hush of oblivion which had buried
it and sealed it up, as it were, during the sleeping hours, it starts
into sudden life on our first awaking, and is to all intents and
purposes a new and not an old affliction--one which brings with it the
old original shock which attended its first annunciation.

That night--that first night of separation from my wife--_how_ it
passed, I know not; I know only _that_ it passed, I being in our
common bed-chamber, that holiest of all temples that are consecrated to
human attachments, whenever the heart is pure of man and woman, and the
love is strong--I being in that bedchamber, once the temple now the
sepulchre of our happiness,--I there, and my wife--my innocent wife--in
a dungeon. As the morning light began to break, somebody knocked at the
door; it was Hannah: she took my hand--misery levels all feeble
distinctions of station, sex, age--she noticed my excessive
feverishness, and gravely remonstrated with me upon the necessity there
was that I should maintain as much health as possible for the sake of
'others,' if not for myself. She then brought me some tea, which
refreshed me greatly; for I had tasted nothing at all beyond a little
water since the preceding morning's breakfast. This refreshment seemed
to relax and thaw the stiff frozen state of cheerless, rayless despair
in which I had passed the night; I became susceptible of consolation--
that consolation which lies involved in kindness and gentleness of
manner--if not susceptible more than before of any positive hope. I sat
down; and, having no witnesses to my weakness but this kind and
faithful woman, I wept, and I found a relief in tears; and she, with
the ready sympathy of woman, wept along with me. All at once she
ventured upon the circumstances (so far as she had been able to collect
them from the reports of those who had been present at the examination)
of our calamity. There was little indeed either to excite or to gratify
any interest or curiosity separate from the _personal_ interest
inevitably connected with a case to which there were two such parties
as a brutal, sensual, degraded ruffian, on one side in character of
accuser, and on the other as defendant, a meek angel of a woman, timid
and fainting from the horrors of her situation, and under the
licentious gaze of the crowd--yet, at the same time, bold in conscious
innocence, and in the very teeth of the suspicions which beset her,
winning the good opinion, as well as the good wishes of all who saw
her. There had been at this first examination little for her to say
beyond the assigning her name, age, and place of abode; and here it was
fortunate that her own excellent good sense concurred with her perfect
integrity and intuitive hatred of all indirect or crooked courses in
prompting her to an undisguised statement of the simple truth, without
a momentary hesitation or attempt either at evasion or suppression.
With equally good intentions in similar situations many a woman has
seriously injured her cause by slight evasions of the entire truth,
where nevertheless her only purpose has been the natural and ingenuous
one of seeking to save the reputation untainted of a name which she
felt to have been confided to her keeping. The purpose was an honorable
one, but erroneously pursued. Agnes fell into no such error. She
answered calmly, simply, and truly, to every question put by the
magistrates; and beyond _that_ there was little opportunity for
her to speak; the whole business of this preliminary examination being
confined to the deposition of the accuser as to the circumstances under
which he alleged the act of felonious appropriation to have taken
place. These circumstances were perfectly uninteresting, considered in
themselves; but amongst them was one which to us had the most shocking
interest, from the absolute proof thus furnished of a deep-laid plot
against Agnes. But for this one circumstance there would have been a
possibility that the whole had originated in error--error growing out
of and acting upon a nature originally suspicious, and confirmed
perhaps by an unfortunate experience. And in proportion as that was
possible, the chances increased that the accuser might, as the
examinations advanced, and the winning character of the accused party
began to develop itself, begin to see his error, and to retract his own
over-hasty suspicions. But now we saw at a glance that for this hope
there was no countenance whatever, since one solitary circumstance
sufficed to establish a conspiracy. The deposition bore--that the lace
had been secreted and afterwards detected in a muff; now it was a fact
as well known to both of us as the fact of Agnes having gone out at
all--that she had laid aside her winter's dress for the first time on
this genial sunny day. Muff she had not at the time, nor could have had
appropriately from the style of her costume in other respects. What was
the effect upon us of this remarkable discovery! Of course there died
at once the hope of any abandonment by the prosecutor of his purpose;
because here was proof of a predetermined plot. This hope died at once;
but then, as it was one which never had presented itself to my mind, I
lost nothing by which I had ever been solaced. On the other hand, it
will be obvious that a new hope at the same time arose to take its
place, viz., the reasonable one that by this single detection, if once
established, we might raise a strong presumption of conspiracy, and
moreover that, as a leading fact or clue, it might serve to guide us in
detecting others. Hannah was sanguine in this expectation; and for a
moment her hopes were contagiously exciting to mine. But the hideous
despondency which in my mind had settled upon the whole affair from the
very first, the superstitious presentiment I had of a total blight
brooding over the entire harvest of my life and its promises, (tracing
itself originally, I am almost ashamed to own, up to that prediction of
the Hungarian woman)--denied me steady light, anything--all in short
but a wandering ray of hope. It was right, of course, nay,
indispensable, that the circumstance of the muff should be strongly
insisted upon at the next examination, pressed against the prosecutor,
and sifted to the uttermost. An able lawyer would turn this to a
triumphant account; and it would be admirable as a means of pre-
engaging the good opinion as well as the sympathies of the public in
behalf of the prisoner. But, for its final effect--my conviction
remained, not to be shaken, that all would be useless; that our doom
had gone forth, and was irrevocable.

Let me not linger too much over those sad times. Morning came on as
usual; for it is strange, but true, that to the very wretched it seems
wonderful that times and seasons should keep their appointed courses in
the midst of such mighty overthrows, and such interruption to the
courses of their own wonted happiness and their habitual expectations.
Why should morning and night, why should all movements in the natural
world be so regular, whilst in the moral world all is so irregular and
anomalous? Yet the sun and the moon rise and set as usual upon the
mightiest revolutions of empire and of worldly fortune that this planet
ever beholds; and it is sometimes even a comfort to know that this will
be the case. A great criminal, sentenced to an agonizing punishment,
has derived a fortitude and a consolation from recollecting that the
day would run its inevitable course--that a day after all was
_but_ a day--that the mighty wheel of alternate light and darkness
must and would revolve--and that the evening star would rise as usual,
and shine with its untroubled lustre upon the dust and ashes of what
_had_ indeed suffered, and so recently, the most bitter pangs, but
would then have ceased to suffer. 'La Journée,' said Damien,

  'La journée sera dure, mais elle se passera.'

'----_Se passera_:' yes, that is true, I whispered to myself; my
day also, my season of trial will be hard to bear; but that also will
have an end; that also '_se passera_.' Thus I talked or thought so
long as I thought at all; for the hour was now rapidly approaching,
when thinking in any shape would for some time be at an end for me.

That day, as the morning advanced, I went again, accompanied by Hannah,
to the police court and to the prison--a vast, ancient, in parts
ruinous, and most gloomy pile of building. In those days the
administration of justice was, if not more corrupt, certainly in its
inferior departments by far more careless than it is at present, and
liable to thousands of interruptions and mal-practices, supporting
themselves upon old traditionary usages which required at least half a
century, and the shattering everywhere given to old systems by the
French Revolution, together with the universal energy of mind applied
to those subjects over the whole length and breadth of Christendom, to
approach with any effectual reforms. Knowing this, and having myself
had direct personal cognisance of various cases in which bribery had
been applied with success, I was not without considerable hope that
perhaps Hannah and myself might avail ourselves of this irregular
passport through the gates of the prison. And, had the new regulation
been of somewhat longer standing, there is little doubt that I should
have been found right; unfortunately, as yet it had all the freshness
of newborn vigor, and kept itself in remembrance by the singular
irritation it excited. Besides this, it was a pet novelty of one
particular minister, new to the possession of power, anxious to
distinguish himself, proud of his creative functions within the range
of his office, and very sensitively jealous on the point of opposition
to his mandates. Vain, therefore, on this day were all my efforts to
corrupt the jailers; and, in fact, anticipating a time when I might
have occasion to corrupt some of them for a more important purpose and
on a larger scale, I did not think it prudent to proclaim my character
beforehand as one who tampered with such means, and thus to arm against
myself those jealousies in official people, which it was so peculiarly
important that I should keep asleep.

All that day, however, I lingered about the avenues and vast courts in
the precincts of the prison, and near one particular wing of the
building, which had been pointed out to me by a jailer as the section
allotted to those who were in the situation of Agnes; that is, waiting
their final commitment for trial. The building generally he could
indicate with certainty, but he professed himself unable to indicate
the particular part of it which 'the young woman brought in on the day
previous' would be likely to occupy; consequently he could not point
out the window from which her cell (her '_cell_!' what a word!)
would be lighted. 'But, master,' he went on to say, 'I would advise
nobody to try that game.' He looked with an air so significant, and at
the same time used a gesture so indicative of private understanding,
that I at once apprehended his meaning, and assured him that he had
altogether misconstrued my drift; that, as to attempts at escape, or at
any mode of communicating with the prisoner from the outside, I trusted
all _that_ was perfectly needless; and that at any rate in my eyes
it was perfectly hopeless. 'Well, master,' he replied, 'that's neither
here nor there. You've come down handsomely, that I _will_ say;
and where a gentleman acts like a gentleman, and behaves himself as
such, I'm not the man to go and split upon him for a word. To be sure
it's quite nat'ral that a gentleman--put case that a young woman is his
fancy woman--it's nothing but nat'ral that he should want to get her
out of such an old rat-hole as this, where many's the fine-timbered
creature, both he and she, that has lain to rot, and has never got out
of the old trap at all, first or last'----'How so?' I interrupted him;
'surely they don't detain the corpses of prisoners?' 'Ay, but mind you
--put case that he or that she should die in this rat-trap before
sentence is past, why then the prison counts them as its own children,
and buries them in its own chapel--that old stack of pigeon-holes that
you see up yonder to the right hand.' So then, after all, thought I, if
my poor Agnes should, in her desolation and solitary confinement to
these wretched walls, find her frail strength give way--should the
moral horrors of her situation work their natural effect upon her
health, and she should chance to die within this dungeon, here within
this same dungeon will she lie to the resurrection, and in that case
her prison-doors have already closed upon her for ever. The man, who
perhaps had some rough kindness in his nature, though tainted by the
mercenary feelings too inevitably belonging to his situation, seemed to
guess at the character of my ruminations by the change of my
countenance, for he expressed some pity for my being 'in so much
trouble;' and it seemed to increase his respect for me that this
trouble should be directed to the case of a woman, for he appeared to
have a manly sense of the peculiar appeal made to the honor and
gallantry of man, by the mere general fact of the feebleness and the
dependence of woman. I looked at him more attentively in consequence of
the feeling tone in which he now spoke, and was surprised that I had
not more particularly noticed him before; he was a fine looking,
youngish man, with a bold Robin-hood style of figure and appearance;
and, morally speaking, he was absolutely transfigured to my eyes by the
effect worked upon him for the moment, through the simple calling up of
his better nature. However, he recurred to his cautions about the peril
in a legal sense of tampering with the windows, bolts, and bars of the
old decaying prison; which, in fact, precisely according to the degree
in which its absolute power over its prisoners was annually growing
less and less, grew more and more jealous of its own reputation, and
punished the attempts to break loose with the more severity, in exact
proportion as they were the more tempting by the chances of success. I
persisted in disowning any schemes of the sort, and especially upon the
ground of their hopelessness. But this, on the other hand, was a ground
that in his inner thoughts he treated with scorn; and I could easily
see that, with a little skilful management of opportunity, I might,
upon occasion, draw from him all the secrets he knew as to the special
points of infirmity in this old ruinous building. For the present, and
until it should certainly appear that there was some use to be derived
from this species of knowledge, I forbore to raise superfluous
suspicions by availing myself further of his communicative disposition.
Taking, however, the precaution of securing his name, together with his
particular office and designation in the prison, I parted from him as
if to go home, but in fact to resume my sad roamings up and down the
precincts of the jail.

What made these precincts much larger than otherwise they would have
been, was the circumstance that, by a usage derived from older days,
both criminal prisoners and those who were prisoners for debt, equally
fell under the custody of this huge caravanserai for the indifferent
reception of crime, of misdemeanor, and of misfortune. And those who
came under the two first titles, were lodged here through all stages of
their connection with public justice; alike when mere objects of vague
suspicion to the police, when under examination upon a specific charge,
when fully committed for trial, when convicted and under sentence,
awaiting the execution of that sentence, and, in a large proportion of
cases, even through their final stage of punishment, when it happened
to be of any nature compatible with in-door confinement. Hence it arose
that the number of those who haunted the prison gates, with or without
a title to admission, was enormous; all the relatives, or more properly
the acquaintances and connections of the criminal population within the
prison, being swelled by all the families of needy debtors who came
daily, either to offer the consolation of their society, or to diminish
their common expenditure by uniting their slender establishments. One
of the rules applied to the management of this vast multitude that were
every day candidates for admission was, that to save the endless
trouble as well as risk, perhaps, of opening and shutting the main
gates to every successive arrival, periodic intervals were fixed for
the admission by wholesale; and as these periods came round every two
hours, it would happen at many parts of the day that vast crowds
accumulated waiting for the next opening of the gate. These crowds were
assembled in two or three large outer courts, in which also were many
stalls and booths, kept there upon some local privilege of ancient
inheritance, or upon some other plea made good by gifts or bribes--some
by Jews and others by Christians, perhaps equally Jewish. Superadded to
these stationary elements of this miscellaneous population, were others
drawn thither by pure motives of curiosity, so that altogether an
almost permanent mob was gathered together in these courts; and amid
this mob it was,--from I know not what definite motive, partly because
I thought it probable that amongst these people I should hear the cause
of Agnes peculiarly the subject of conversation; and so, in fact, it
did really happen,--but partly, and even more, I believe, because I now
awfully began to shrink from solitude. Tumult I must have, and
distraction of thought. Amid this mob, I say, it was that I passed two
days. Feverish I had been from the first--and from bad to worse, in
such a case, was, at any rate, a natural progress; but, perhaps, also
amongst this crowd of the poor, the abjectly wretched, the ill-fed, the
desponding, and the dissolute, there might be very naturally a larger
body of contagion lurking than according to their mere numerical
expectations. There was at that season a very extensive depopulation
going on in some quarters of this great metropolis, and in other cities
of the same empire, by means of a very malignant typhus. This fever is
supposed to be the peculiar product of jails; and though it had not as
yet been felt as a scourge and devastator of this particular jail, or
at least the consequent mortality had been hitherto kept down to a
moderate amount, yet it was highly probable that a certain quantity of
contagion, much beyond the proportion of other popular assemblages less
uniformly wretched in their composition, was here to be found all day
long; and doubtless my excited state, and irritable habit of body, had
offered a peculiar predisposition that favored the rapid development of
this contagion. However this might be, the result was, that on the
evening of the second day which I spent in haunting the purlieus of the
prison, (consequently the night preceding the second public examination
of Agnes,) I was attacked by ardent fever in such unmitigated fury,
that before morning I had lost all command of my intellectual
faculties. For some weeks I became a pitiable maniac, and in every
sense the wreck of my former self; and seven entire weeks, together
with the better half of an eighth week, had passed over my head whilst
I lay unconscious of time and its dreadful freight of events, excepting
in so far as my disordered brain, by its fantastic coinages, created
endless mimicries and mockeries of these events--less substantial, but
oftentimes less afflicting, or less agitating. It would have been well
for me had my destiny decided that I was not to be recalled to this
world of wo. But I had no such happiness in store. I recovered, and
through twenty and eight years my groans have recorded the sorrow I
feel that I did.

       *       *       *       *       *

I shall not rehearse circumstantially, and point by point, the sad
unfolding, as it proceeded through successive revelations to me, of all
which had happened during my state of physical incapacity. When I first
became aware that my wandering senses had returned to me, and knew, by
the cessation of all throbbings, and the unutterable pains that had so
long possessed my brain, that I was now returning from the gates of
death, a sad confusion assailed me as to some indefinite cloud of evil
that had been hovering over me at the time when I first fell into a
state of insensibility. For a time I struggled vainly to recover the
lost connection of my thoughts, and I endeavored ineffectually to
address myself to sleep. I opened my eyes, but found the glare of light
painful beyond measure. Strength, however, it seemed to me that I had,
and more than enough, to raise myself out of bed. I made the attempt,
but fell back, almost giddy with the effort. At the sound of the
disturbance which I had thus made, a woman whom I did not know came
from behind a curtain, and spoke to me. Shrinking from any
communication with a stranger, especially one whose discretion I could
not estimate in making discoveries to me with the requisite caution, I
asked her simply what o'clock it was.

'Eleven in the forenoon,' she replied.

'And what day of the month?'

'The second,' was her brief answer.

I felt almost a sense of shame in adding--; 'The second! but of what
month?'

'Of June,' was the startling rejoinder.

On the 8th of April I had fallen ill, and it was now actually the 2d of
June. Oh! sickening calculation! revolting register of hours! for in
that same moment which brought back this one recollection, perhaps by
steadying my brain, rushed back in a torrent all the other dreadful
remembrances of the period, and now the more so, because, though the
event was still uncertain as regarded my knowledge, it must have become
dreadfully certain as regarded the facts of the case, and the happiness
of all who were concerned. Alas! one little circumstance too painfully
assured me that this event had not been a happy one. Had Agnes been
restored to her liberty and her home, where would she have been found
but watching at my bed-side? That too certainly I knew, and the
inference was too bitter to support.

On this same day, some hours afterwards, upon Hannah's return from the
city, I received from her, and heard with perfect calmness, the whole
sum of evil which awaited me. Little Francis--she took up her tale at
that point--'was with God:' so she expressed herself. He had died of
the same fever which had attacked me--had died and been buried nearly
five weeks before. Too probably he had caught the infection from me.
Almost--such are the caprices of human feeling--almost I could have
rejoiced that this young memorial of my vanished happiness had vanished
also. It gave me a pang, nevertheless, that the grave should thus have
closed upon him before I had seen his fair little face again. But I
steeled my heart to hear worse things than this. Next she went on to
inform me that already, on the first or second day of our calamity, she
had taken upon herself, without waiting for authority, on observing the
rapid approaches of illness in me, and arguing the state of
helplessness which would follow, to write off at once a summons in the
most urgent terms to the brother of my wife. This gentleman, whom I
shall call Pierpoint, was a high-spirited, generous young man as I have
ever known. When I say that he was a sportsman, that at one season of
the year he did little else than pursue his darling amusement of fox-
hunting, for which indeed he had almost a maniacal passion--saying
this, I shall already have prejudged him in the opinions of many, who
fancy all such persons the slaves of corporeal enjoyments. But, with
submission, the truth lies the other way. According to my experience,
people of these habits have their bodies more than usually under their
command, as being subdued by severe exercise; and their minds, neither
better nor worse on an average than those of their neighbors, are more
available from being so much more rarely clogged by morbid habits in
that uneasy yoke-fellow of the intellectual part--the body. He at all
events was a man to justify in his own person this way of thinking; for
he was a man not only of sound, but even of bold and energetic
intellect, and in all moral respects one whom any man might feel proud
to call his friend. This young man, Pierpoint, without delay obeyed the
summons; and on being made acquainted with what had already passed, the
first step he took was to call upon Barratt, and without further
question than what might ascertain his identity, he proceeded to
inflict upon him a severe horsewhipping. A worse step on his sister's
account he could not have taken. Previously to this the popular feeling
had run strongly against Barratt, but now its unity was broken. A new
element was introduced into the question: Democratic feelings were
armed against this outrage; gentlemen and nobles, it was said, thought
themselves not amenable to justice; and again, the majesty of the law
was offended at this intrusion upon an affair already under solemn
course of adjudication. Everything, however, passes away under the
healing hand of time, and this also faded from the public mind. People
remembered also that he was a brother, and in that character, at any
rate, had a right to some allowances for his intemperance; and what
quickened the oblivion of the affair was, which in itself was
sufficiently strange, that Barratt did not revive the case in the
public mind by seeking legal reparation for his injuries. It was,
however, still matter of regret that Pierpoint should have indulged
himself in this movement of passion, since undoubtedly it broke and
disturbed the else uniform stream of public indignation, by investing
the original aggressor with something like the character of an injured
person; and therefore with some set-off to plead against his own
wantonness of malice;--his malice might now assume the nobler aspect of
revenge.

Thus far, in reporting the circumstances, Hannah had dallied--thus far
I had rejoiced that she dallied, with the main burden of the wo; but
now there remained nothing to dally with any longer--and she rushed
along in her narrative, hurrying to tell--I hurrying to hear. A second,
a third examination had ensued, then a final committal--all this within
a week. By that time all the world was agitated with the case;
literally not the city only, vast as that city was, but the nation was
convulsed and divided into parties upon the question, Whether the
prosecution were one of mere malice or not? The very government of the
land was reported to be equally interested, and almost equally divided
in opinion. In this state of public feeling came the trial. Image to
yourself, oh reader, whosoever you are, the intensity of the excitement
which by that time had arisen in all people to be spectators of the
scene--then image to yourself the effect of all this, a perfect
consciousness that in herself as a centre was settled the whole mighty
interest of the exhibition--that interest again of so dubious and mixed
a character--sympathy in some with mere misfortune--sympathy in others
with female frailty and guilt, not perhaps founded upon an absolute
unwavering belief in her innocence, even amongst those who were most
loud and positive as partisans in affirming it,--and then remember that
all this hideous scenical display and notoriety settled upon one whose
very nature, constitutionally timid, recoiled with the triple agony of
womanly shame--of matronly dignity--of insulted innocence, from every
mode and shape of public display. Combine all these circumstances and
elements of the case, and you may faintly enter into the situation of
my poor Agnes. Perhaps the best way to express it at once is by
recurring to the case of a young female Christian martyr, in the early
ages of Christianity, exposed in the bloody amphitheatre of Rome or
Verona, to 'fight with wild beasts,' as it was expressed in mockery--
she to fight the lamb to fight with lions! But in reality the young
martyr _had_ a fight to maintain, and a fight (in contempt of that
cruel mockery) fiercer than the fiercest of her persecutors could have
faced perhaps--the combat with the instincts of her own shrinking,
trembling, fainting nature. Such a fight had my Agnes to maintain; and
at that time there was a large party of gentlemen in whom the
gentlemanly instinct was predominant, and who felt so powerfully the
cruel indignities of her situation, that they made a public appeal in
her behalf. One thing, and a strong one, which they said, was this:--
'We all talk and move in this case as if, because the question appears
doubtful to some people, and the accused party to some people wears a
doubtful character, it would follow that she therefore had in reality a
mixed character composed in joint proportions of the best and the worst
that is imputed to her. But let us not forget that this mixed character
belongs not to her, but to the infirmity of our human judgments--
_they_ are mixed--_they_ are dubious--but she is not--she is,
or she is not, guilty--there is no middle case--and let us consider for
a single moment, that if this young lady (as many among us heartily
believe) _is_ innocent, then and upon that supposition let us
consider how cruel we should all think the public exposure which
aggravates the other injuries (as in that case they must be thought) to
which her situation exposes her.' They went on to make some suggestions
for the officers of the court in preparing the arrangements for the
trial, and some also for the guidance of the audience, which showed the
same generous anxiety for sparing the feelings of the prisoner. If
these did not wholly succeed in repressing the open avowal of coarse
and brutal curiosity amongst the intensely vulgar, at least they
availed to diffuse amongst the neutral and indifferent part of the
public a sentiment of respect and forbearance which, emanating from
high quarters, had a very extensive influence upon most of what met the
eye or the ear of my poor wife. She, on the day of trial, was supported
by her brother; and by that time she needed support indeed. I was
reported to be dying; her little son was dead; neither had she been
allowed to see him. Perhaps these things, by weaning her from all
further care about life, might have found their natural effect in
making her indifferent to the course of the trial, or even to its
issue. And so, perhaps, in the main, they did. But at times some
lingering sense of outraged dignity, some fitful gleams of old
sympathies, 'the hectic of a moment,' came back upon her, and prevailed
over the deadening stupor of her grief. Then she shone for a moment
into a starry light--sweet and woful to remember. Then----but why
linger? I hurry to the close: she was pronounced guilty; whether by a
jury or a bench of judges, I do not say--having determined, from the
beginning, to give no hint of the land in which all these events
happened; neither is that of the slightest consequence. Guilty she was
pronounced: but sentence at that time was deferred. Ask me not, I
beseech you, about the muff or other circumstances inconsistent with
the hostile evidence. These circumstances had the testimony, you will
observe, of my own servants only; nay, as it turned out, of one servant
exclusively: _that_ naturally diminished their value. And, on the
other side, evidence was arrayed, perjury was suborned, that would have
wrecked a wilderness of simple truth trusting to its own unaided
forces. What followed? Did this judgment of the court settle the
opinion of the public? Opinion of the public! Did it settle the winds?
Did it settle the motion of the Atlantic? Wilder, fiercer, and louder
grew the cry against the wretched accuser: mighty had been the power
over the vast audience of the dignity, the affliction, the perfect
simplicity, and the Madonna beauty of the prisoner. That beauty so
childlike, and at the same time so saintly, made, besides, so touching
in its pathos by means of the abandonment--the careless abandonment and
the infinite desolation of her air and manner--would of itself, and
without further aid, have made many converts. Much more was done by the
simplicity of her statements, and the indifference with which she
neglected to improve any strong points in her own favor--the
indifference, as every heart perceived, of despairing grief. Then came
the manners on the hostile side--the haggard consciousness of guilt,
the drooping tone, the bravado and fierce strut which sought to
dissemble all this. Not one amongst all the witnesses, assembled on
that side, had (by all agreement) the bold natural tone of conscious
uprightness. Hence it could not be surprising that the storm of popular
opinion made itself heard with a louder and a louder sound. The
government itself began to be disturbed; the ministers of the sovereign
were agitated; and, had no menaces been thrown out, it was generally
understood that they would have given way to the popular voice, now
continually more distinct and clamorous. In the midst of all this
tumult, obscure murmurs began to arise that Barratt had practised the
same or similar villanies in former instances. One case in particular
was beginning to be whispered about, which at once threw a light upon
the whole affair: it was the case of a young and very beautiful married
woman, who had been on the very brink of a catastrophe such as had
befallen my own wife, when some seasonable interference, of what nature
was not known, had critically delivered her. This case arose 'like a
little cloud no bigger than a man's hand,' then spread and threatened
to burst in tempest upon the public mind, when all at once, more
suddenly even than it had arisen, it was hushed up, or in some way
disappeared. But a trifling circumstance made it possible to trace this
case:--in after times, when means offered, but unfortunately no
particular purpose of good, nor any purpose, in fact, beyond that of
curiosity, it _was_ traced; and enough was soon ascertained to
have blown to fragments any possible conspiracy emanating from this
Barratt, had that been of any further importance. However, in spite of
all that money or art could effect, a sullen growl continued to be
heard amongst the populace of villanies many and profound that had been
effected or attempted by this Barratt; and accordingly, much in the
same way as was many years afterwards practised in London, when a
hosier had caused several young people to be prosecuted to death for
passing forged bank-notes, the wrath of the people showed itself in
marking the shop for vengeance upon any favorable occasion offering
through fire or riots, and in the mean time in deserting it. These
things had been going on for some time when I awoke from my long
delirium; but the effect they had produced upon a weak and obstinate
and haughty government, or at least upon the weak and obstinate and
haughty member of the government who presided in the police
administration, was, to confirm and rivet the line of conduct which had
been made the object of popular denunciation. More energetically, more
scornfully, to express that determination of flying in the face of
public opinion and censure, four days before my awakening, Agnes had
been brought up to receive her sentence. On that same day (nay, it was
said in that same hour,) petitions, very numerously signed, and various
petitions from different ranks, different ages, different sexes, were
carried up to the throne, praying, upon manifold grounds, but all
noticing the extreme doubtfulness of the case, for an unconditional
pardon. By whose advice or influence, it was guessed easily, though
never exactly ascertained, these petitions were unanimously, almost
contemptuously rejected. And to express the contempt of public opinion
as powerfully as possible, Agnes was sentenced by the court,
reassembled in full pomp, order, and ceremonial costume, to a
punishment the severest that the laws allowed--viz. hard labor for ten
years. The people raged more than ever; threats public and private were
conveyed to the ears of the minister chiefly concerned in the
responsibility, and who had indeed, by empty and ostentatious talking,
assumed that responsibility to himself in a way that was perfectly
needless.

Thus stood matters when I awoke to consciousness: and this was the
fatal journal of the interval--interval so long as measured by my
fierce calendar of delirium--so brief measured by the huge circuit of
events which it embraced, and their mightiness for evil. Wrath, wrath
immeasurable, unimaginable, unmitigable, burned at my heart like a
cancer. The worst had come. And the thing which kills a man for action
--the living in two climates at once--a torrid and a frigid zone--of
hope and fear--that was past. Weak--suppose I were for the moment: I
felt that a day or two might bring back my strength. No miserable
tremors of hope _now_ shook my nerves: if they shook from that
inevitable rocking of the waters that follows a storm, so much might be
pardoned to the infirmity of a nature that could not lay aside its
fleshly necessities, nor altogether forego its homage to 'these frail
elements,' but which by inspiration already lived within a region where
no voices were heard but the spiritual voices of transcendent passions
--of

  'Wrongs unrevenged, and insults unredress'd.'

Six days from that time I was well--well and strong. I rose from bed; I
bathed; I dressed; dressed as if I were a bridegroom. And that
_was_ in fact a great day in my life. I was to see Agnes. Oh! yes:
permission had been obtained from the lordly minister that I should see
my wife. Is it possible? Can such condescensions exist? Yes:
solicitations from ladies, eloquent notes wet with ducal tears, these
had won from the thrice-radiant secretary, redolent of roseate attar, a
countersign to some order or other, by which I--yes I--under license of
a fop, and supervision of a jailer--was to see and for a time to
converse with my own wife.

The hour appointed for the first day's interview was eight o'clock in
the evening. On the outside of the jail all was summer light and
animation. The sports of children in the streets of mighty cities are
but sad, and too painfully recall the circumstances of freedom and
breezy nature that are not there. But still the pomp of glorious
summer, and the presence, 'not to be put by,' of the everlasting light,
that is either always present, or always dawning--these potent elements
impregnate the very city life, and the dim reflex of nature which is
found at the bottom of well-like streets, with more solemn powers to
move and to soothe in summer. I struck upon the prison gates, the first
among multitudes waiting to strike. Not because we struck, but because
the hour had sounded, suddenly the gate opened; and in we streamed. I,
as a visitor for the first time, was immediately distinguished by the
jailers, whose glance of the eye is fatally unerring. 'Who was it that
I wanted?' At the name a stir of emotion was manifest, even there: the
dry bones stirred and moved: the passions outside had long ago passed
to the interior of this gloomy prison: and not a man but had his
hypothesis on the case; not a man but had almost fought with some
comrade (many had literally fought) about the merits of their several
opinions.

If any man had expected a scene at this reunion, he would have been
disappointed. Exhaustion, and the ravages of sorrow, had left to dear
Agnes so little power of animation or of action, that her emotions were
rather to be guessed at, both for kind and for degree, than directly to
have been perceived. She was in fact a sick patient, far gone in an
illness that should properly have confined her to bed; and was as much
past the power of replying to my frenzied exclamations, as a dying
victim of fever of entering upon a strife of argument. In bed, however,
she was not. When the door opened she was discovered sitting at a table
placed against the opposite wall, her head pillowed upon her arms, and
these resting upon the table. Her beautiful long auburn hair had
escaped from its confinement, and was floating over the table and her
own person. She took no notice of the disturbance made by our entrance,
did not turn, did not raise her head, nor make an effort to do so, nor
by any sign whatever intimate that she was conscious of our presence,
until the turnkey in a respectful tone announced me. Upon that a low
groan, or rather a feeble moan, showed that she had become aware of my
presence, and relieved me from all apprehension of causing too sudden a
shock by taking her in my arms. The turnkey had now retired; we were
alone. I knelt by her side, threw my arms about her, and pressed her to
my heart. She drooped her head upon my shoulder, and lay for some time
like one who slumbered; but, alas! not as she had used to slumber. Her
breathing, which had been like that of sinless infancy, was now
frightfully short and quick; she seemed not properly to breathe, but to
gasp. This, thought I, may be sudden agitation, and in that case she
will gradually recover; half an hour will restore her. Wo is me! she
did _not_ recover; and internally I said--she never _will_
recover. The arrows have gone too deep for a frame so exquisite in its
sensibility, and already her hours are numbered.

At this first visit I said nothing to her about the past; _that_,
and the whole extent to which our communications should go, I left
rather to her own choice. At the second visit, however, upon some word
or other arising which furnished an occasion for touching on this
hateful topic, I pressed her, contrary to my own previous intention,
for as full an account of the fatal event as she could without a
distressing effort communicate. To my surprise she was silent--
gloomily--almost it might have seemed obstinately silent. A horrid
thought came into my mind; could it, might it have been possible that
my noble-minded wife, such she had ever seemed to me, was open to
temptations of this nature? Could it have been that in some moment of
infirmity, when her better angel was away from her side, she had
yielded to a sudden impulse of frailty, such as a second moment for
consideration would have resisted, but which unhappily had been
followed by no such opportunity of retrieval? I had heard of such
things. Cases there were in our own times (and not confined to one
nation), when irregular impulses of this sort were known to have
haunted and besieged natures not otherwise ignoble and base. I ran over
some of the names amongst those which were taxed with this propensity.
More than one were the names of people in a technical sense held noble.
That, nor any other consideration abated my horror. Better, I said,
better, (because more compatible with elevation of mind,) better to
have committed some bloody act--some murderous act. Dreadful was the
panic I underwent. God pardon the wrong I did; and even now I pray to
him--as though the past thing were a future thing and capable of
change--that he would forbid her for ever to know what was the
derogatory thought I had admitted. I sometimes think, by recollecting a
momentary blush that suffused her marble countenance,--I think--I fear
that she might have read what was fighting in my mind. Yet that would
admit of another explanation. If she did read the very worst, meek
saint! she suffered no complaint or sense of that injury to escape her.
It might, however, be that perception, or it might be that fear which
roused her to an effort that otherwise had seemed too revolting to
undertake. She now rehearsed the whole steps of the affair from first
to last; but the only material addition, which her narrative made to
that which the trial itself had involved, was the following:--On two
separate occasions previous to the last and fatal one, when she had
happened to walk unaccompanied by me in the city, the monster Barratt
had met her in the street. He had probably--and this was, indeed,
subsequently ascertained--at first, and for some time afterwards,
mistaken her rank, and had addressed some proposals to her, which, from
the suppressed tone of his speaking, or from her own terror and
surprise, she had not clearly understood; but enough had reached her
alarmed ear to satisfy her that they were of a nature in the last
degree licentious and insulting. Terrified and shocked rather than
indignant, for she too easily presumed the man to be a maniac, she
hurried homewards; and was rejoiced, on first venturing to look round
when close to her own gate, to perceive that the man was not following.
There, however, she was mistaken; for either on this occasion, or on
some other, he had traced her homewards. The last of these rencontres
had occurred just three months before the fatal 6th of April; and if,
in any one instance, Agnes had departed from the strict line of her
duty as a wife, or had shown a defect of judgment, it was at this
point--in not having frankly and fully reported the circumstances to
me. On the last of these occasions I had met her at the garden-gate,
and had particularly remarked that she seemed agitated; and now, at
recalling these incidents, Agnes reminded me that I had noticed that
circumstance to herself, and that she had answered me faithfully as to
the main fact. It was true she had done so; for she had said that she
had just met a lunatic who had alarmed her by fixing his attention upon
herself, and speaking to her in a ruffian manner; and it was also true
that she did sincerely regard him in that light. This led me at the
time to construe the whole affair into a casual collision with some
poor maniac escaping from his keepers, and of no future moment, having
passed by without present consequences. But had she, instead of thus
reporting her own erroneous impression, reported the entire
circumstances of the case, I should have given them a very different
interpretation. Affection for me, and fear to throw me needlessly into
a quarrel with a man of apparently brutal and violent nature--these
considerations, as too often they do with the most upright wives, had
operated to check Agnes in the perfect sincerity of her communications.
She had told nothing _but_ the truth--only, and fatally it turned
out for us both, she had not told the _whole_ truth. The very
suppression, to which she had reconciled herself, under the belief that
thus she was providing for my safety and her own consequent happiness,
had been the indirect occasion of ruin to both. It was impossible to
show displeasure under such circumstances, or under any circumstances,
to one whose self-reproaches were at any rate too bitter; but
certainly, as a general rule, every conscientious woman should resolve
to consider her husband's honor in the first case, and far before all
other regards whatsoever; to make this the first, the second, the third
law of her conduct, and his personal safety but the fourth or fifth.
Yet women, and especially when the interests of children are at stake
upon their husbands' safety, rarely indeed are able to take this Roman
view of their duties.

To return to the narrative. Agnes had not, nor could have, the most
remote suspicion of this Barratt's connection with the shop which he
had not accidentally entered; and the sudden appearance of this wretch
it was, at the very moment of finding herself charged with so vile and
degrading an offence, that contributed most of all to rob her of her
natural firmness, by suddenly revealing to her terrified heart the
depth of the conspiracy which thus yawned like a gulf below her. And
not only had this sudden horror, upon discovering a guilty design in
what before had seemed accident, and links uniting remote incidents
which else seemed casual and disconnected, greatly disturbed and
confused her manner, which confusion again had become more intense upon
her own consciousness that she _was_ confused, and that her manner
was greatly to her disadvantage; but--which was the worst effect of
all, because the rest could not operate against her, except upon those
who were present to witness it, whereas this was noted down and
recorded--so utterly did her confusion strip her of all presence of
mind, that she did not consciously notice (and consequently could not
protest against at the moment when it was most important to do so, and
most natural) the important circumstance of the muff. This capital
objection, therefore, though dwelt upon and improved to the utmost at
the trial, was looked upon by the judges as an after-thought; and
merely because it had not been seized upon by herself, and urged in the
first moments of her almost incapacitating terror on finding this
amongst the circumstances of the charge against her--as if an ingenuous
nature, in the very act of recoiling with horror from a criminal charge
the most degrading, and in the very instant of discovering, with a
perfect rapture of alarm, the too plausible appearance of probability
amongst the circumstances, would be likely to pause, and with attorney-
like dexterity, to pick out the particular circumstance that might
admit of being _proved_ to be false, when the conscience
proclaimed, though in despondence for the result, that all the
circumstances were, as to the use made of them, one tissue of
falsehoods. Agnes, who had made a powerful effort in speaking of the
case at all, found her calmness increase as she advanced; and she now
told me, that in reality there were two discoveries which she made in
the same instant, and not one only, which had disarmed her firmness and
ordinary presence of mind. One I have mentioned--the fact of Barratt,
the proprietor of the shop, being the same person who had in former
instances persecuted her in the street; but the other was even more
alarming--it has been said already that it was _not_ a pure matter
of accident that she had visited this particular shop. In reality, that
nursery-maid, of whom some mention has been made above, and in terms
expressing the suspicion with which even then I regarded her, had
persuaded her into going thither by some representations which Agnes
had already ascertained to be altogether unwarranted. Other
presumptions against this girl's fidelity crowded dimly upon my wife's
mind at the very moment of finding her eyes thus suddenly opened. And
it was not five minutes after her first examination, and in fact five
minutes after it had ceased to be of use to her, that she remembered
another circumstance which now, when combined with the sequel, told its
own tale,--the muff had been missed some little time before the 6th of
April. Search had been made for it; but, the particular occasion which
required it having passed off, this search was laid aside for the
present, in the expectation that it would soon reappear in some corner
of the house before it was wanted: then came the sunny day, which made
it no longer useful, and would perhaps have dismissed it entirely from
the recollection of all parties, until it was now brought back in this
memorable way. The name of my wife was embroidered within, upon the
lining, and it thus became a serviceable link to the hellish cabal
against her. Upon reviewing the circumstances from first to last, upon
recalling the manner of the girl at the time when the muff was missed,
and upon combining the whole with her recent deception, by which she
had misled her poor mistress into visiting this shop, Agnes began to
see the entire truth as to this servant's wicked collusion with
Barratt, though, perhaps, it might be too much to suppose her aware of
the unhappy result to which her collusion tended. All this she saw at a
glance when it was too late, for her first examination was over. This
girl, I must add, had left our house during my illness, and she had
afterwards a melancholy end.

One thing surprised me in all this. Barratt's purpose must manifestly
have been to create merely a terror in my poor wife's mind, and to stop
short of any legal consequences, in order to profit of that panic and
confusion for extorting compliances with his hideous pretensions. It
perplexed me, therefore, that he did not appear to have pursued this
manifestly his primary purpose, the other being merely a mask to
conceal his true ends, and also (as he fancied) a means for effecting
them. In this, however, I had soon occasion to find that I was
deceived. He had, but without the knowledge of Agnes, taken such steps
as were then open to him, for making overtures to her with regard to
the terms upon which he would agree to defeat the charge against her by
failing to appear. But the law had travelled too fast for him, and too
determinately; so that, by the time he supposed terror to have operated
sufficiently in favor of his views, it had already become unsafe to
venture upon such explicit proposals as he would otherwise have tried.
His own safety was now at stake, and would have been compromised by any
open or written avowal of the motives on which he had been all along
acting. In fact, at this time he was foiled by the agent in whom he
confided; but much more he had been confounded upon another point--the
prodigious interest manifested by the public. Thus it seems--that,
whilst he meditated only a snare for my poor Agnes, he had prepared one
for himself; and finally, to evade the suspicions which began to arise
powerfully as to his true motives, and thus to stave off his own ruin,
had found himself in a manner obliged to go forward and consummate the
ruin of another.

       *       *       *       *       *

The state of Agnes, as to health and bodily strength, was now becoming
such that I was forcibly warned--whatsoever I meditated doing, to do
quickly. There was this urgent reason for alarm: once conveyed into
that region of the prison in which sentences like hers were executed,
it became hopeless that I could communicate with her again. All
intercourse whatsoever, and with whomsoever, was then placed under the
most rigorous interdict; and the alarming circumstance was, that this
transfer was governed by no settled rules, but might take place at any
hour, and would certainly be precipitated by the slightest violence on
my part, the slightest indiscretion, or the slightest argument for
suspicion. Hard indeed was the part I had to play, for it was
indispensable that I should appear calm and tranquil, in order to
disarm suspicions around me, whilst continually contemplating the
possibility that I myself might be summoned to extremities which I
could not so much as trust myself to name or distinctly to conceive.
But thus stood the case: the Government, it was understood, angered by
the public opposition, resolute for the triumph of what they called
'principle,' had settled finally that the sentence should be carried
into execution. Now that she, that my Agnes, being the frail wreck that
she had become, could have stood one week of this sentence practically
and literally enforced--was a mere chimera. A few hours probably of the
experiment would have settled that question by dismissing her to the
death she longed for; but because the suffering would be short, was I
to stand by and to witness the degradation--the pollution--attempted to
be fastened upon her. What! to know that her beautiful tresses would be
shorn ignominiously--a felon's dress forced upon her--a vile taskmaster
with authority to----; blistered be the tongue that could go on to
utter, in connection with her innocent name, the vile dishonors which
were to settle upon her person! I, however, and her brother had taken
such resolutions that this result was one barely possible; and yet I
sickened (yes, literally I many times experienced the effect of
physical sickness) at contemplating our own utter childish
helplessness, and recollecting that every night during our seclusion
from the prison the last irreversible step might be taken--and in the
morning we might find a solitary cell, and the angel form that had
illuminated it gone where we could not follow, and leaving behind her
the certainty that we should see her no more. Every night, at the hour
of locking up, _she_, at least, manifestly had a fear that she saw
us for the last time; she put her arms feebly about my neck, sobbed
convulsively, and, I believe, guessed--but, if really so, did not much
reprove or quarrel with the desperate purposes which I struggled with
in regard to her own life. One thing was quite evident--that to the
peace of her latter days, now hurrying to their close, it was
indispensable that she should pass them undivided from me; and
possibly, as was afterwards alleged, when it became easy to allege any
thing, some relenting did take place in high quarters at this time; for
upon some medical reports made just now, a most seasonable indulgence
was granted, viz. that Hannah was permitted to attend her mistress
constantly; and it was also felt as a great alleviation of the horrors
belonging to this prison, that candles were now allowed throughout the
nights. But I was warned privately that these indulgences were with no
consent from the police minister; and that circumstances might soon
withdraw the momentary intercession by which we profited. With this
knowledge, we could not linger in our preparations; we had resolved
upon accomplishing an escape for Agnes, at whatever risk or price; the
main difficulty was her own extreme feebleness, which might forbid her
to co-operate with us in any degree at the critical moment; and the
main danger was--delay. We pushed forward, therefore, in our attempts
with prodigious energy, and I for my part with an energy like that of
insanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first attempt we made was upon the fidelity to his trust of the
chief jailer. He was a coarse, vulgar man, brutal in his manners, but
with vestiges of generosity in his character--though damaged a good
deal by his daily associates. Him we invited to a meeting at a tavern
in the neighborhood of the prison, disguising our names as too certain
to betray our objects, and baiting our invitation with some hints which
we had ascertained were likely to prove temptations under his immediate
circumstances. He had a graceless young son whom he was most anxious to
wean from his dissolute connections, and to steady, by placing him in
some office of no great responsibility. Upon this knowledge we framed
the terms of our invitation.

These proved to be effectual, as regarded our immediate object of
obtaining an interview of persuasion. The night was wet; and at seven
o'clock, the hour fixed for the interview, we were seated in readiness,
much perplexed to know whether he would take any notice of our
invitation. We had waited three quarters of an hour, when we heard a
heavy lumbering step ascending the stair. The door was thrown open to
its widest extent, and in the centre of the door-way stood a short
stout-built man, and the very broadest I ever beheld--staring at us
with bold inquiring eyes. His salutation was something to this effect.

'What the hell do you gay fellows want with me? What the blazes is this
humbugging letter about? My son, and be hanged! What do you know of my
son?'

Upon this overture we ventured to request that he would come in and
suffer us to shut the door, which we also locked. Next we produced the
official paper nominating his son to a small place in the customs,--
not yielding much, it was true, in the way of salary, but fortunately,
and in accordance with the known wishes of the father, unburdened with
any dangerous trust.

'Well, I suppose I must say thank ye: but what comes next? What am I to
do to pay the damages?' We informed him that for this particular little
service we asked no return.

'No, no,' said he, 'that'll not go down: that cat'll not jump. I'm not
green enough for that. So, say away--what's the damage?' We then
explained that we had certainly a favor and a great one to ask: ['Ay,
I'll be bound you have,' was his parenthesis:] but that for this we
were prepared to offer a separate remuneration; repeating that with
respect to the little place procured for his son, it had not cost us
anything, and therefore we did really and sincerely decline to receive
anything in return; satisfied that, by this little offering, we had
procured the opportunity of this present interview. At this point we
withdrew a covering from the table upon which we had previously
arranged a heap of gold coins, amounting in value to twelve hundred
English guineas: this being the entire sum which circumstances allowed
us to raise on so sudden a warning: for some landed property that we
both had was so settled and limited, that we could not convert it into
money either by way of sale, loan, or mortgage. This sum, stating to
him its exact amount, we offered to his acceptance, upon the single
condition that he would look aside, or wink hard, or (in whatever way
he chose to express it) would make, or suffer to be made, such
facilities for our liberating a female prisoner as we would point out.
He mused: full five minutes he sat deliberating without opening his
lips. At length he shocked us by saying, in a firm, decisive tone, that
left us little hope of altering his resolution,--'No: gentlemen, it's a
very fair offer, and a good deal of money for a single prisoner. I
think I can guess at the person. It's a fair offer--fair enough. But,
bless your heart! if I were to do the thing you want--why perhaps
another case might be overlooked: but this prisoner, no: there's too
much depending. No, they would turn me out of my place. Now the place
is worth more to me in the long run than what you offer: though you bid
fair enough, if it were only for my time in it. But look here: in case
I can get my son to come into harness, I'm expecting to get the office
for him after I've retired. So I can't do it. But I'll tell you what:
you've been kind to my son: and therefore I'll not say a word about it.
You're safe for me. And so good-night to you.' Saying which, and
standing no further question, he walked resolutely out of the room and
down stairs.

Two days we mourned over this failure, and scarcely knew which way to
turn for another ray of hope;--on the third morning we received
intelligence that this very jailer had been attacked by the fever,
which, after long desolating the city, had at length made its way into
the prison. In a very few days the jailer was lying without hope of
recovery: and of necessity another person was appointed to fill his
station for the present. This person I had seen, and I liked him less
by much than the one he succeeded: he had an Italian appearance, and he
wore an air of Italian subtlety and dissimulation. I was surprised to
find, on proposing the same service to him, and on the same terms, that
he made no objection whatever, but closed instantly with my offers. In
prudence, however, I had made this change in the articles: a sum equal
to two hundred English guineas, or one-sixth part of the whole money,
he was to receive beforehand as a retaining fee; but the remainder was
to be paid only to himself, or to anybody of his appointing, at the
very moment of our finding the prison gates thrown open to us. He spoke
fairly enough, and seemed to meditate no treachery; nor was there any
obvious or known interest to serve by treachery; and yet I doubted him
grievously.

The night came: it was chosen as a gala night, one of two nights
throughout the year in which the prisoners were allowed to celebrate a
great national event: and in those days of relaxed prison management
the utmost license was allowed to the rejoicing. This indulgence was
extended to prisoners of all classes, though, of course, under more
restrictions with regard to the criminal class. Ten o'clock came--the
hour at which we had been instructed to hold ourselves in readiness. We
had been long prepared. Agnes had been dressed by Hannah in such a
costume externally (a man's hat and cloak, &c.) that, from her height,
she might easily have passed amongst a mob of masquerading figures in
the debtors' halls and galleries for a young stripling. Pierpoint and
myself were also to a certain degree disguised; so far, at least, that
we should not have been recognized at any hurried glance by those of
the prison officers who had become acquainted with our persons. We were
all more or less disguised about the face; and in that age when masks
were commonly used at all hours by people of a certain rank, there
would have been nothing suspicious in any possible costume of the kind
in a night like this, if we could succeed in passing for friends of
debtors.

I am impatient of these details, and I hasten over the ground. One
entire hour passed away, and no jailer appeared. We began to despond
heavily; and Agnes, poor thing! was now the most agitated of us all. At
length eleven struck in the harsh tones of the prison-clock. A few
minutes after, we heard the sound of bolts drawing, and bars
unfastening. The jailer entered--drunk, and much disposed to be
insolent. I thought it advisable to give him another bribe, and he
resumed the fawning insinuation of his manner. He now directed us, by
passages which he pointed out, to gain the other side of the prison.
There we were to mix with the debtors and their mob of friends, and to
await his joining us, which in that crowd he could do without much
suspicion. He wished us to traverse the passages separately; but this
was impossible, for it was necessary that one of us should support
Agnes on each side. I previously persuaded her to take a small quantity
of brandy, which we rejoiced to see had given her, at this moment of
starting, a most seasonable strength and animation. The gloomy passages
were more than usually empty, for all the turnkeys were employed in a
vigilant custody of the gates, and examination of the parties going
out. So the jailer had told us, and the news alarmed us. We came at
length to a turning which brought us in sight of a strong iron gate,
that divided the two main quarters of the prison. For this we had not
been prepared. The man, however, opened the gate without a word spoken,
only putting out his hand for a fee; and in my joy, perhaps, I gave him
one imprudently large. After passing this gate, the distant uproar of
the debtors guided us to the scene of their merriment; and when there,
such was the tumult and the vast multitude assembled, that we now hoped
in good earnest to accomplish our purpose without accident. Just at
this moment the jailer appeared in the distance; he seemed looking
towards us, and at length one of our party could distinguish that he
was beckoning to us. We went forward, and found him in some agitation,
real or counterfeit. He muttered a word or two quite unintelligible
about the man at the wicket, told us we must wait a while, and he would
then see what could be done for us. We were beginning to demur, and to
express the suspicions which now too seriously arose, when he, seeing,
or affecting to see some object of alarm, pushed us with a hurried
movement into a cell opening upon the part of the gallery at which we
were now standing. Not knowing whether we really might not be
retreating from some danger, we could do no otherwise than comply with
his signals; but we were troubled at finding ourselves immediately
locked in from the outside, and thus apparently all our motions had
only sufficed to exchange one prison for another.

We were now completely in the dark, and found, by a hard breathing from
one corner of the little dormitory, that it was not unoccupied. Having
taken care to provide ourselves separately with means for striking a
light, we soon had more than one torch burning. The brilliant light
falling upon the eyes of a man who lay stretched on the iron bedstead,
woke him. It proved to be my friend the under-jailer, Ratcliffe, but no
longer holding any office in the prison. He sprang up, and a rapid
explanation took place. He had become a prisoner for debt; and on this
evening, after having caroused through the day with some friends from
the country, had retired at an early hour to sleep away his
intoxication. I on my part thought it prudent to intrust him
unreservedly with our situation and purposes, not omitting our gloomy
suspicions. Ratcliffe looked, with a pity that won my love, upon the
poor wasted Agnes. He had seen her on her first entrance into the
prison, had spoken to her, and therefore knew _from_ what she had
fallen, _to_ what. Even then he had felt for her; how much more at
this time, when he beheld, by the fierce light of the torches, her wo-
worn features!

'Who was it,' he asked eagerly, 'you made the bargain with? Manasseh?'

'The same.'

'Then I can tell you this--not a greater villain walks the earth. He is
a Jew from Portugal; he has betrayed many a man, and will many another,
unless he gets his own neck stretched, which might happen, if I told
all I know.'

'But what was it probable that this man meditated? Or how could it
profit him to betray us?'

'That's more than I can tell. He wants to get your money, and that he
doesn't know how to bring about without doing his part. But that's what
he never _will_ do, take my word for it. That would cut him out of
all chance for the head-jailer's place.' He mused a little, and then
told us that he could himself put us outside the prison walls, and
_would_ do it without fee or reward. 'But we must be quiet, or
that devil will bethink him of me. I'll wager something he thought that
I was out merry-making like the rest; and if he should chance to light
upon the truth, he'll be back in no time.' Ratcliffe then removed an
old fire-grate, at the back of which was an iron plate, that swung
round into a similar fire-place in the contiguous cell. From that, by a
removal of a few slight obstacles, we passed, by a long avenue, into
the chapel. Then he left us, whilst he went out alone to reconnoitre
his ground. Agnes was now in so pitiable a condition of weakness, as we
stood on the very brink of our final effort, that we placed her in a
pew, where she could rest as upon a sofa. Previously we had stood upon
graves, and with monuments more or less conspicuous all around us: some
raised by friends to the memory of friends--some by subscriptions in
the prison--some by children, who had risen into prosperity, to the
memory of a father, brother, or other relative, who had died in
captivity. I was grieved that these sad memorials should meet the eye
of my wife at this moment of awe and terrific anxiety. Pierpoint and I
were well armed, and all of us determined not to suffer a recapture,
now that we were free of the crowds that made resistance hopeless. This
Agnes easily perceived; and _that_, by suggesting a bloody
arbitration, did not lessen her agitation. I hoped therefore, that, by
placing her in the pew, I might at least liberate her for the moment
from the besetting memorials of sorrow and calamity. But, as if in the
very teeth of my purpose, one of the large columns which supported the
roof of the chapel, had its basis and lower part of the shaft in this
very pew. On the side of it, and just facing her as she lay reclining
on the cushions, appeared a mural tablet, with a bas-relief in white
marble, to the memory of two children, twins, who had lived and died at
the same time, and in this prison--children who had never breathed
another air than that of captivity, their parents having passed many
years within these walls, under confinement for debt. The sculptures
were not remarkable, being a trite, but not the less affecting,
representation of angels descending to receive the infants; but the
hallowed words of the inscription, distinct and legible--'Suffer little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the
kingdom of God'--met her eye, and, by the thoughts they awakened, made
me fear that she would become unequal to the exertions which yet
awaited her. At this moment Ratcliffe returned, and informed us that
all was right; and that, from the ruinous state of all the buildings
which surrounded the chapel, no difficulty remained for us, who were,
in fact, beyond the strong part of the prison, excepting at a single
door, which we should be obliged to break down. But had we any means
arranged for pursuing our flight, and turning this escape to account
when out of confinement? All that, I assured him, was provided for long
ago. We proceeded, and soon reached the door. We had one crow-bar
amongst us, but beyond that had no better weapons than the loose stones
found about some new-made graves in the chapel. Ratcliffe and
Pierpoint, both powerful men, applied themselves by turns to the door,
whilst Hannah and I supported Agnes. The door did not yield, being of
enormous strength; but the wall did, and a large mass of stone-work
fell outwards, twisting the door aside; so that, by afterwards working
with our hands, we removed stones many enough to admit of our egress.
Unfortunately this aperture was high above the ground, and it was
necessary to climb over a huge heap of loose rubbish in order to profit
by it. My brother-in-law passed first in order to receive my wife,
quite helpless at surmounting the obstacle by her own efforts, out of
my arms. He had gone through the opening, and, turning round so as to
face me, he naturally could see something that I did _not_ see.
'Look behind!' he called out rapidly. I did so, and saw the murderous
villain Manasseh with his arm uplifted, and in the act of cutting at my
wife, nearly insensible as she was, with a cutlass. The blow was not
for me, but for her, as the fugitive prisoner; and the law would have
borne him out in the act. I saw, I comprehended the whole. I groped, as
far as I could without letting my wife drop, for my pistols; but all
that I could do would have been unavailing, and too late--she would
have been murdered in my arms. But--and that was what none of us saw--
neither I, nor Pierpoint, nor the hound Manasseh--one person stood
back in the shade; one person had seen, but had not uttered a word on
seeing Manasseh advancing through the shades; one person only had
forecast the exact succession of all that was coming; me she saw
embarrassed and my hands preoccupied--Pierpoint and Ratcliffe useless
by position--and the gleam of the dog's eye directed her to his aim.
The crow-bar was leaning against the shattered wall. This she had
silently seized. One blow knocked up the sword; a second laid the
villain prostrate. At this moment appeared another of the turnkeys
advancing from the rear, for the noise of our assault upon the door had
drawn attention in the interior of the prison, from which, however, no
great number of assistants could on this dangerous night venture to
absent themselves. What followed for the next few minutes hurried
onwards, incident crowding upon incident, like the motions of a dream:
--Manasseh, lying on the ground, yelled out, 'The bell! the bell!' to
him who followed. The man understood, and made for the belfry-door
attached to the chapel; upon which Pierpoint drew a pistol, and sent
the bullet whizzing past his ear so truly, that fear made the man
obedient to the counter-orders of Pierpoint for the moment. He paused
and awaited the issue. In a moment had all cleared the wall, traversed
the waste ground beyond it, lifted Agnes over the low railing, shaken
hands with our benefactor Ratcliffe, and pushed onwards as rapidly as
we were able to the little dark lane, a quarter of a mile distant,
where had stood waiting for the last two hours a chaise-and-four.

[Ratcliffe, before my story closes, I will pursue to the last of my
acquaintance with him, according to the just claims of his services. He
had privately whispered to me, as we went along, that he could speak to
the innocence of that lady, pointing to my wife, better than anybody.
He was the person whom (as then holding an office in the prison)
Barratt had attempted to employ as agent in conveying any messages that
he found it safe to send--obscurely hinting the terms on which he would
desist from prosecution. Ratcliffe had at first undertaken the
negotiation from mere levity of character. But when the story and the
public interest spread, and after himself becoming deeply struck by the
prisoner's affliction, beauty, and reputed innocence, he had pursued it
only as a means of entrapping Barratt into such written communications
and such private confessions of the truth as might have served Agnes
effectually. He wanted the art, however, to disguise his purposes:
Barratt came to suspect him violently, and feared his evidence so far,
even for those imperfect and merely oral overtures which he had really
sent through Ratcliffe--that on the very day of the trial, he, as was
believed, though by another nominally, contrived that Ratcliffe should
be arrested for debt; and, after harassing him with intricate forms of
business, had finally caused him to be conveyed to prison. Ratcliffe
was thus involved in his own troubles at the time; and afterwards
supposed that, without written documents to support his evidence, he
could not be of much service to the re-establisment of my wife's
reputation. Six months after his services in the night-escape from the
prison, I saw him, and pressed him to take the money so justly
forfeited to him by Manasseh's perfidy. He would, however, be persuaded
to take no more than paid his debts. A second and a third time his
debts were paid by myself and Pierpoint. But the same habits of
intemperance and dissolute pleasure which led him into these debts,
finally ruined his constitution; and he died, though otherwise of a
fine generous manly nature, a martyr to dissipation at the early age of
twenty-nine. With respect to his prison confinement, it was so
frequently recurring in his life, and was alleviated by so many
indulgences, that he scarcely viewed it as a hardship: having once been
an officer of the prison, and having thus formed connections with the
whole official establishment, and done services to many of them, and
being of so convivial a turn, he was, even as a prisoner, treated with
distinction, and considered as a privileged son of the house.]

It was just striking twelve o'clock as we entered the lane where the
carriage was drawn up. Rain, about the profoundest I had ever
witnessed, was falling. Though near to midsummer, the night had been
unusually dark to begin with, and from the increasing rain had become
much more so. We could see nothing; and at first we feared that some
mistake had occurred as to the station of the carriage--in which case
we might have sought for it vainly through the intricate labyrinth of
the streets in that quarter. I first descried it by the light of a
torch, reflected powerfully from the large eyes of the leaders. All was
ready. Horse-keepers were at the horses' heads. The postilions were
mounted; each door had the steps let down: Agnes was lifted in: Hannah
and I followed: Pierpoint mounted his horse; and at the word--Oh! how
strange a word!--'_All's right_,' the horses sprang off like leopards,
a manner ill-suited to the slippery pavement of a narrow street. At
that moment, but we valued it little indeed, we heard the prison-bell
ringing out loud and clear. Thrice within the first three minutes we
had to pull up suddenly, on the brink of formidable accidents, from the
dangerous speed we maintained, and which, nevertheless, the driver had
orders to maintain, as essential to our plan. All the stoppages and
hinderances of every kind along the road had been anticipated
previously, and met by contrivance, of one kind or other; and Pierpoint
was constantly a little ahead of us to attend to anything that had been
neglected. The consequence of these arrangements was--that no person
along the road could possibly have assisted to trace us by any thing in
our appearance: for we passed all objects at too flying a pace, and
through darkness too profound, to allow of any one feature in our
equipage being distinctly noticed. Ten miles out of town, a space which
we traversed in forty-four minutes, a second relay of horses was ready;
but we carried on the same postilions throughout. Six miles ahead of
this distance we had a second relay; and with this set of horses, after
pushing two miles further along the road, we crossed by a miserable
lane five miles long, scarcely even a bridge road, into another of the
great roads from the capital; and by thus crossing the country, we came
back upon the city at a point far distant from that at which we left
it. We had performed a distance of forty-two miles in three hours, and
lost a fourth hour upon the wretched five miles of cross-road. It was,
therefore, four o'clock, and broad daylight, when we drew near the
suburbs of the city; but a most happy accident now favored us; a fog
the most intense now prevailed; nobody could see an object six feet
distant; we alighted in an uninhabited new-built street, plunged into
the fog, thus confounding our traces to any observer. We then stepped
into a hackney-coach which had been stationed at a little distance.
Thence, according to our plan, we drove to a miserable quarter of the
town, whither the poor only and the wretched resorted; mounted a gloomy
dirty staircase, and, befriended by the fog, still growing thicker and
thicker, and by the early hour of the morning, reached a house
previously hired, which, if shocking to the eye and the imagination
from its squalid appearance and its gloom, still was a home--a
sanctuary--an asylum from treachery, from captivity, from persecution.
Here Pierpoint for the present quitted us: and once more Agnes, Hannah,
and I, the shattered members of a shattered family, were thus gathered
together in a house of our own.

Yes: once again, daughter of the hills, thou sleptst as heretofore in
my encircling arms; but not again in that peace which crowned thy
innocence in those days, and should have crowned it now. Through the
whole of our flying journey, in some circumstances at its outset
strikingly recalling to me that blessed one which followed our
marriage, Agnes slept away unconscious of our movements. She slept
through all that day and the following night; and I watched over her
with as much jealousy of all that might disturb her, as a mother
watches over her new-born baby; for I hoped, I fancied, that a long--
long rest, a rest, a halcyon calm, a deep, deep Sabbath of security,
might prove healing and medicinal. I thought wrong; her breathing
became more disturbed, and sleep was now haunted by dreams; all of us,
indeed, were agitated by dreams; the past pursued me, and the present,
for high rewards had been advertised by Government to those who traced
us; and though for the moment we were secure, because we never went
abroad, and could not have been naturally sought in such a
neighborhood, still that very circumstance would eventually operate
against us. At length, every night I dreamed of our insecurity under a
thousand forms; but more often by far my dreams turned upon our wrongs;
wrath moved me rather than fear. Every night, for the greater part, I
lay painfully and elaborately involved, by deep sense of wrong,

  '--in long orations, which I pleaded
  Before unjust tribunals.'
  [Footnote: From a MS. poem of a great living Poet.]

And for poor Agnes, her also did the remembrance of mighty wrongs
occupy through vast worlds of sleep in the same way--though colored by
that tenderness which belonged to her gentler nature. One dream in
particular--a dream of sublime circumstances--she repeated to me so
movingly, with a pathos so thrilling, that by some profound sympathy it
transplanted itself to my own sleep, settled itself there, and is to
this hour a part of the fixed dream scenery which revolves at intervals
through my sleeping life. This it was:--She would hear a trumpet sound
--though perhaps as having been the prelude to the solemn entry of the
judges at a town which she had once visited in her childhood; other
preparations would follow, and at last all the solemnities of a great
trial would shape themselves and fall into settled images. The audience
was assembled, the judges were arrayed, the court was set. The prisoner
was cited. Inquest was made, witnesses were called; and false witnesses
came tumultuously to the bar. Then again a trumpet was heard, but the
trumpet of a mighty archangel; and then would roll away thick clouds
and vapors. Again the audience, but another audience, was assembled;
again the tribunal was established; again the court was set; but a
tribunal and a court--how different to her! _That_ had been
composed of men seeking indeed for truth, but themselves erring and
fallible creatures; the witnesses had been full of lies, the judges of
darkness. But here was a court composed of heavenly witnesses--here was
a righteous tribunal--and then at last a judge that could not be
deceived. The judge smote with his eye a person who sought to hide
himself in the crowd; the guilty man stepped forward; the poor prisoner
was called up to the presence of the mighty judge; suddenly the voice
of a little child was heard ascending before her. Then the trumpet
sounded once again; and then there were new heavens and a new earth;
and her tears and her agitation (for she had seen her little Francis)
awoke the poor palpitating dreamer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two months passed on: nothing could possibly be done materially to
raise the standard of those wretched accommodations which the house
offered. The dilapidated walls, the mouldering plaster, the blackened
mantel-pieces, the stained and polluted wainscots--what could be
attempted to hide or to repair all this by those who durst not venture
abroad? Yet whatever could be done, Hannah did; and, in the mean time,
very soon indeed my Agnes ceased to see or to be offended by these
objects. First of all her sight went from her; and nothing which
appealed to that sense could ever more offend her. It is to me the one
only consolation I have, that my presence and that of Hannah, with such
innocent frauds as we concerted together, made her latter days pass in
a heavenly calm, by persuading her that our security was absolute, and
that all search after us had ceased, under a belief on the part of
Government that we had gained the shelter of a foreign land. All this
was a delusion; but it was a delusion--blessed be Heaven! which lasted
exactly as long as her life, and was just commensurate with its
necessity. I hurry over the final circumstances.

There was fortunately now, even for me, no fear that the hand of any
policeman or emissary of justice could effectually disturb the latter
days of my wife; for, besides pistols always lying loaded in an inner
room, there happened to be a long narrow passage on entering the house,
which, by means of a blunderbuss, I could have swept effectually, and
cleared many times over; and I know what to do in a last extremity.
Just two months it was, to a day, since we had entered the house; and
it happened that the medical attendant upon Agnes, who awakened no
suspicion by his visits, had prescribed some opiate or anodyne which
had not come; being dark early, for it was now September, I had
ventured out to fetch it. In this I conceived there could be no danger.
On my return I saw a man examining the fastenings of the door. He made
no opposition to my entrance, nor seemed much to observe it--but I was
disturbed. Two hours after, both Hannah and I heard a noise about the
door, and voices in low conversation. It is remarkable that Agnes heard
this also--so quick had grown her hearing. She was agitated, but was
easily calmed; and at ten o'clock we were all in bed. The hand of Agnes
was in mine; so only she felt herself in security. She had been
restless for an hour, and talking at intervals in sleep. Once she
certainly wakened, for she pressed her lips to mine. Two minutes after,
I heard something in her breathing which did not please me. I rose
hastily--brought a light--raised her head--two long, long gentle
sighs, that scarcely moved the lips, were all that could be perceived.
At that moment, at that very moment, Hannah called out to me that the
door was surrounded. 'Open it!' I said; six men entered; Agnes it was
they sought; I pointed to the bed; they advanced, gazed, and walked
away in silence.

After this I wandered about, caring little for life or its affairs, and
roused only at times to think of vengeance upon all who had contributed
to lay waste my happiness. In this pursuit, however, I was confounded
as much by my own thoughts as by the difficulties of accomplishing my
purpose. To assault and murder either of the two principal agents in
this tragedy, what would it be, what other effect could it have, than
to invest them with the character of injured and suffering people, and
thus to attract a pity or a forgiveness at least to their persons which
never otherwise could have illustrated their deaths? I remembered,
indeed, the words of a sea-captain who had taken such vengeance as had
offered at the moment upon his bitter enemy and persecutor (a young
passenger on board his ship), who had informed against him at the
Custom-house on his arrival in port, and had thus effected the
confiscation of his ship, and the ruin of the captain's family. The
vengeance, and it was all that circumstances allowed, consisted in
coming behind the young man clandestinely and pushing him into the deep
waters of the dock, when, being unable to swim, he perished by
drowning. 'And the like,' said the captain, when musing on his trivial
vengeance, 'and the like happens to many an honest sailor.' Yes,
thought I, the captain was right. The momentary shock of a pistol-
bullet--what is it? Perhaps it may save the wretch after all from the
pangs of some lingering disease; and then again I shall have the
character of a murderer, if known to have shot him; he will with many
people have no such character, but at worst the character of a man too
harsh (they will say), and possibly mistaken in protecting his
property. And then, if not known as the man who shot him, where is the
shadow even of vengeance? Strange it seemed to me, and passing strange,
that I should be the person to urge arguments in behalf of letting this
man escape. For at one time I had as certainly, as inexorably, doomed
him as ever I took any resolution in my life. But the fact is, and I
began to see it upon closer view, it is not easy by any means to take
an adequate vengeance for any injury beyond a very trivial standard;
and that with common magnanimity one does not care to avenge. Whilst I
was in this mood of mind, still debating with myself whether I should
or should not contaminate my hands with the blood of this monster, and
still unable to shut my eyes upon one fact, viz. that my buried Agnes
could above all things have urged me to abstain from such acts of
violence, too evidently useless, listlessly and scarcely knowing what I
was in quest of, I strayed by accident into a church where a venerable
old man was preaching at the very moment I entered; he was either
delivering as a text, or repeating in the course of his sermon, these
words--'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' By some
accident also he fixed his eyes upon me at the moment; and this
concurrence with the subject then occupying my thoughts so much
impressed me, that I determined very seriously to review my half-formed
purposes of revenge; and well it was that I did so: for in that same
week an explosion of popular fury brought the life of this wretched
Barratt to a shocking termination, pretty much resembling the fate of
the De Witts in Holland. And the consequences to me were such, and so
full of all the consolation and indemnification which this world could
give me, that I have often shuddered since then at the narrow escape I
had had from myself intercepting this remarkable retribution. The
villain had again been attempting to play off the same hellish scheme
with a beautiful young rustic which had succeeded in the case of my
ill-fated Agnes. But the young woman in this instance had a high, and,
in fact, termagant spirit. Rustic as she was, she had been warned of
the character of the man; everybody, in fact, was familiar with the
recent tragedy. Either her lover or her brother happened to be waiting
for her outside the window. He saw in part the very tricks in the act
of perpetration by which some article or other, meant to be claimed as
stolen property, was conveyed into a parcel she had incautiously laid
down. He heard the charge against her made by Barratt, and seconded by
his creatures--heard her appeal--sprang to her aid--dragged the ruffian
into the street, when in less time than the tale could be told, and
before the police (though tolerably alert) could effectually interpose
for his rescue, the mob had so used or so abused the opportunity they
had long wished for, that he remained the mere disfigured wreck of what
had once been a man, rather than a creature with any resemblance to
humanity. I myself heard the uproar at a distance, and the shouts and
yells of savage exultation; they were sounds I shall never forget,
though I did not at that time know them for what they were, or
understood their meaning. The result, however, to me was something
beyond this, and worthy to have been purchased with my heart's blood.
Barratt still breathed; spite of his mutilations he could speak; he was
rational. One only thing he demanded--it was that his dying confession
might be taken. Two magistrates and a clergyman attended. He gave a
list of those whom he had trepanned, and had failed to trepan, by his
artifices and threats, into the sacrifice of their honor. He expired
before the record was closed, but not before he had placed my wife's
name in the latter list as the one whose injuries in his dying moments
most appalled him. This confession on the following day went into the
hands of the hostile minister, and my revenge was perfect.



THE SPANISH NUN.


Why is it that _Adventures_ are so generally repulsive to people of
meditative minds? It is for the same reason that any other want of law,
that any other anarchy is repulsive. Floating passively from action to
action, as helplessly as a withered leaf surrendered to the breath of
winds, the human spirit (out of which comes all grandeur of human
motions) is exhibited in mere _Adventures_, as either entirely laid
asleep, or as acting only by lower organs that regulate the _means_,
whilst the _ends_ are derived from alien sources, and are imperiously
predetermined. It is a case of exception, however, when even amongst
such adventures the agent reacts upon his own difficulties and
necessities by a temper of extraordinary courage, and a mind of
premature decision. Further strength arises to such an exception, if
the very moulding accidents of the life, if the very external coercions
are themselves unusually romantic. They may thus gain a separate
interest of their own. And, lastly, the whole is locked into validity
of interest, even for the psychological philosopher, by complete
authentication of its truth. In the case now brought before him, the
reader must not doubt; for no memoir exists, or personal biography,
that is so trebly authenticated by proofs and attestations direct and
collateral. From the archives of the Royal Marine at Seville, from the
autobiography or the heroine, from contemporary chronicles, and from
several official sources scattered in and out of Spain, some of them
ecclesiastical, the amplest proofs have been drawn, and may yet be
greatly extended, of the extraordinary events here recorded. M. de
Ferrer, a Spaniard of much research, and originally incredulous as to
the facts, published about seventeen years ago a selection from the
leading documents, accompanied by his _palinode_ as to their accuracy.
His materials have been since used for the basis of more than one
narrative, not inaccurate, in French, German and Spanish journals of
high authority. It is seldom the case that French writers err by
prolixity. They _have_ done so in this case. The present narrative,
which contains no sentence derived from any foreign one, has the great
advantage of close compression; my own pages, after equating the size,
being as 1 to 3 of the shortest continental form. In the mode of
narration, I am vain enough to flatter myself that the reader will find
little reason to hesitate between us. Mine at least, weary nobody;
which is more than can be always said for the continental versions.

On a night in the year 1592, (but which night is a secret liable to 365
answers,) a Spanish '_son of somebody_,' [Footnote: _i.e._ 'Hidalgo']
in the fortified town of St. Sebastian, received the disagreeable
intelligence from a nurse, that his wife had just presented him with a
daughter. No present that the poor misjudging lady could possibly have
made him was so entirely useless for any purpose of his. He had three
daughters already, which happened to be more by 2+1 than _his_
reckoning assumed as a reasonable allowance of daughters. A
supernumerary son might have been stowed away; but daughters in excess
were the very nuisance of Spain. He did, therefore, what in such cases
every proud and lazy Spanish gentleman was apt to do--he wrapped the
new little daughter, odious to his paternal eyes, in a pocket
handkerchief; and then, wrapping up his own throat with a good deal
more care, off he bolted to the neighboring convent of St. Sebastian,
not merely of that city, but also (amongst several convents) the one
dedicated to that saint. It is well that in this quarrelsome world we
quarrel furiously about tastes; since agreeing too closely about the
objects to be liked and appropriated would breed much more fighting
than is bred by disagreeing. That little human tadpole, which the old
toad of a father would not suffer to stay ten minutes in his house,
proved as welcome at the nunnery of St. Sebastian as she was odious
elsewhere. The superior of the convent was aunt, by the mother's side,
to the new-born stranger. She, therefore, kissed and blessed the little
lady. The poor nuns, who were never to have any babies of their own,
and were languishing for some amusement, perfectly doated on this
prospect of a wee pet. The superior thanked the hidalgo for his very
splendid present. The nuns thanked him each and all; until the old
crocodile actually began to cry and whimper sentimentally at what he
now perceived to be excess of munificence in himself. Munificence,
indeed, he remarked, was his foible next after parental tenderness.

What a luxury it is sometimes to a cynic that there go two words to a
bargain. In the convent of St. Sebastian all was gratitude; gratitude
(as aforesaid) to the hidalgo from all the convent for his present,
until at last the hidalgo began to express gratitude to _them_ for
their gratitude to _him_. Then came a rolling fire of thanks to
St. Sebastian; from the superior, for sending a future saint; from the
nuns, for sending such a love of a plaything; and, finally, from papa,
for sending such substantial board and well-bolted lodgings, 'from
which,' said the malicious old fellow, 'my pussy will never find her
way out to a thorny and dangerous world.' Won't she? I suspect, son of
somebody, that the next time you see 'pussy,' which may happen to be
also the last, will not be in a convent of any kind. At present, whilst
this general rendering of thanks was going on, one person only took no
part in them. That person was 'pussy,' whose little figure lay quietly
stretched out in the arms of a smiling young nun, with eyes nearly
shut, yet peering a little at the candles. Pussy said nothing. It's of
no great use to say much, when all the world is against you. But if St.
Sebastian had enabled her to speak out the whole truth, pussy
_would_ have said: 'So, Mr. Hidalgo, you have been engaging
lodgings for me; lodgings for life. Wait a little. We'll try that
question, when my claws are grown a little longer.'

Disappointment, therefore, was gathering ahead. But for the present
there was nothing of the kind. That noble old crocodile, papa, was not
in the least disappointed as regarded _his_ expectation of having
no anxiety to waste, and no money to pay, on account of his youngest
daughter. He insisted on his right to forget her; and in a week
_had_ forgotten her, never to think of her again but once. The
lady superior, as regarded _her_ demands, was equally content, and
through a course of several years; for, as often as she asked pussy if
she would be a saint, pussy replied that she would, if saints were
allowed plenty of sweetmeats. But least of all were the nuns
disappointed. Everything that they had fancied possible in a human
plaything fell short of what pussy realized in racketing, racing, and
eternal plots against the peace of the elder nuns. No fox ever kept a
hen-roost in such alarm as pussy kept the dormitory of the senior
sisters; whilst the younger ladies were run off their legs by the
eternal wiles, and had their chapel gravity discomposed, even in
chapel, by the eternal antics of this privileged little kitten.

The kitten had long ago received a baptismal name, which was Kitty;
this is Catharine, or Kate, or _Hispanice_ Catalina. It was a good
name, as it recalled her original name of pussy. And, by the way, she
had also an ancient and honorable surname, viz., _De Erauso_, which is
to this day a name rooted in Biscay. Her father, the _hidalgo_, was a
military officer in the Spanish service, and had little care whether
his kitten should turn out a wolf or a lamb, having made over the fee
simple of his own interest in the little Kate to St. Sebastian, 'to
have and to hold,' so long as Kate should keep her hold of this present
life. Kate had no apparent intention to let slip that hold, for she was
blooming as a rose-bush in June, tall and strong as a young cedar. Yet,
notwithstanding this robust health and the strength of the convent
walls, the time was drawing near when St. Sebastian's lease in Kate
must, in legal phrase, 'determine;' and any _chateaux en Espagne_, that
the Saint might have built on the cloisteral fidelity of his pet
Catalina, must suddenly give way in one hour, like many other vanities
in our own days of Spanish bonds and promises. After reaching her tenth
year, Catalina became thoughtful, and not very docile. At times she was
even headstrong and turbulent, so that the gentle sisterhood of St.
Sebastian, who had no other pet or plaything in the world, began to
weep in secret--fearing that they might have been rearing by mistake
some future tigress--for as to infancy, _that_, you know, is playful
and innocent even in the cubs of a tigress. But _there_ the ladies were
going too far. Catalina was impetuous and aspiring, but not cruel. She
was gentle, if people would let her be so. But woe to those that took
liberties with _her_! A female servant of the convent, in some
authority, one day, in passing up the aisle to matins, _wilfully_ gave
Kate a push; and in return, Kate, who never left her debts in arrear,
gave the servant for a keepsake a look which that servant carried with
her in fearful remembrance to her grave. It seemed as if Kate had
tropic blood in her veins, that continually called her away to the
tropics. It was all the fault of that 'blue rejoicing sky,' of those
purple Biscayan mountains, of that tumultuous ocean, which she beheld
daily from the nunnery gardens. Or, if only half of it was _their_
fault, the other half lay in those golden tales, streaming upwards even
into the sanctuaries of convents, like morning mists touched by
earliest sunlight, of kingdoms overshadowing a new world which had been
founded by her kinsmen with the simple aid of a horse and a lance. The
reader is to remember that this is no romance, or at least no fiction,
that he is reading; and it is proper to remind the reader of real
romances in Ariosto or our own Spenser, that such martial ladies as the
_Marfisa_, or _Bradamant_ of the first, and _Britomart_ of the other,
were really not the improbabilities that modern society imagines. Many
a stout man, as you will soon see, found that Kate, with a sabre in
hand, and well mounted, was but too serious a fact.

The day is come--the evening is come--when our poor Kate, that had for
fifteen years been so tenderly rocked in the arms of St. Sebastian and
his daughters, and that henceforth shall hardly find a breathing space
between eternal storms, must see her peaceful cell, must see the holy
chapel, for the last time. It was at vespers, it was during the
chanting of the vesper service, that she finally read the secret signal
for her departure, which long she had been looking for. It happened
that her aunt, the Lady Principal, had forgotten her breviary. As this
was in a private 'scrutoire, she did not choose to send a servant for
it, but gave the key to her niece. The niece, on opening the
'scrutoire, saw, with that rapidity of eye-glance for the one thing
needed in any great emergency, which ever attended her through life,
that _now_ was the moment for an attempt which, if neglected,
might never return. There lay the total keys, in one massive
_trousseau_, of that fortress impregnable even to armies from
without. Saint Sebastian! do you see what your pet is going to do? And
do it she will, as sure as your name is St. Sebastian. Kate went back
to her aunt with the breviary and the key; but taking good care to
leave that awful door, on whose hinge revolved her whole life,
unlocked. Delivering the two articles to the Superior, she complained
of a headache--[Ah, Kate! what did you know of headaches, except now
and then afterwards from a stray bullet, or so?]--upon which her aunt,
kissing her forehead, dismissed her to bed. Now, then, through three-
fourths of an hour Kate will have free elbow-room for unanchoring her
boat, for unshipping her oars, and for pulling ahead right out of St.
Sebastian's cove into the main ocean of life.

Catalina, the reader is to understand, does not belong to the class of
persons in whom chiefly I pretend to an interest. But everywhere one
loves energy and indomitable courage. I, for my part, admire not, by
preference, anything that points to this world. It is the child of
reverie and profounder sensibility who turns _away_ from the world as
hateful and insufficient, that engages _my_ interest: whereas Catalina
was the very model of the class fitted for facing this world, and who
express their love to it by fighting with it and kicking it from year
to year. But, always, what is best in its kind one admires, even though
the kind be disagreeable. Kate's advantages for her _role_ in this life
lay in four things, viz., in a well-built person, and a particularly
strong wrist; 2d, in a heart that nothing could appal; 3d, in a
sagacious head, never drawn aside from the _hoc age_ [from the instant
question of life] by any weakness of imagination; 4th, in a tolerably
thick skin--not literally, for she was fair and blooming, and decidedly
handsome, having such a skin as became a young woman of family in
northernmost Spain. But her sensibilities were obtuse as regarded
_some_ modes of delicacy, _some_ modes of equity, _some_ modes of the
world's opinion, and _all_ modes whatever of personal hardship. Lay a
stress on that word _some_--for, as to delicacy, she never lost sight
of the kind which peculiarly concerns her sex. Long afterwards she told
the Pope himself, when confessing without disguise her sad and infinite
wanderings to the paternal old man (and I feel convinced of her
veracity), that in this respect, even then, at middle age, she was as
pure as is a child. And, as to equity, it was only that she substituted
the equity of camps for the polished (but often more iniquitous) equity
of courts and towns. As to the third item--the world's opinion--I don't
know that you need lay a stress on _some_; for, generally speaking,
_all_ that the world did, said, or thought, was alike contemptible in
her eyes, in which, perhaps, she was not so _very_ far wrong. I must
add, though at the cost of interrupting the story by two or three more
sentences, that Catalina had also a fifth advantage, which sounds
humbly, but is really of use in a world, where even to fold and seal a
letter adroitly is not the least of accomplishments. She was a _handy_
girl. She could turn her hand to anything, of which I will give you two
memorable instances. Was there ever a girl in this world but herself
that cheated and snapped her fingers at that awful Inquisition, which
brooded over the convents of Spain, that did this without collusion
from outside, trusting to nobody, but to herself, and what? to one
needle, two hanks of thread, and a very inferior pair of scissors? For,
that the scissors were bad, though Kate does not say so in her memoirs,
I knew by an _a priori_ argument, viz., because _all_ scissors were bad
in the year 1607. Now, say all decent logicians, from a universal to a
particular _valet consequentia_, _all_ scissors were bad: _ergo_,
_some_ scissors were bad. The second instance of her handiness will
surprise you even more:--She once stood upon a scaffold, under sentence
of death--[but, understand, on the evidence of false witnesses]. Jack
Ketch was absolutely tying the knot under her ear, and the shameful man
of ropes fumbled so deplorably, that Kate (who by much nautical
experience had learned from another sort of 'Jack' how a knot _should_
be tied in this world,) lost all patience with the contemptible artist,
told him she was ashamed of him, took the rope out of his hand, and
tied the knot irreproachably herself. The crowd saluted her with a
festal roll, long and loud, of _vivas_; and this word _viva_ of good
augury--but stop; let me not anticipate.

From this sketch of Catalina's character, the reader is prepared to
understand the decision of her present proceeding. She had no time to
lose: the twilight favored her; but she must get under hiding before
pursuit commenced. Consequently she lost not one of her forty-five
minutes in picking and choosing. No _shilly-shally_ in Kate. She
saw with the eyeball of an eagle what was indispensable. Some little
money perhaps to pay the first toll-bar of life: so, out of four
shillings in Aunty's purse, she took one. You can't say _that_ was
exorbitant. Which of us wouldn't subscribe a shilling for poor Katy to
put into the first trouser pockets that ever she will wear? I remember
even yet, as a personal experience, that when first arrayed, at four
years old, in nankeen trousers, though still so far retaining
hermaphrodite relations of dress as to wear a petticoat above my
trousers, all my female friends (because they pitied me, as one that
had suffered from years of ague) filled my pockets with half-crowns, of
which I can render no account at this day. But what were my poor
pretensions by the side of Kate's? Kate was a fine blooming girl of
fifteen, with no touch of ague, and, before the next sun rises, Kate
shall draw on her first trousers, and made by her own hand; and, that
she may do so, of all the valuables in Aunty's repository she takes
nothing beside the shilling, _quantum sufficit_ of thread, one
stout needle, and (as I told you before, if you would please to
remember things) one bad pair of scissors. Now she was ready; ready to
cast off St. Sebastian's towing-rope; ready to cut and run for port
anywhere. The finishing touch of her preparations was to pick out the
proper keys: even there she showed the same discretion. She did do no
gratuitous mischief. She did not take the wine-cellar key, which would
have irritated the good father confessor; she took those keys only that
belonged to _her_, if ever keys did; for they were the keys that
locked her out from her natural birthright of liberty. 'Show me,' says
the Romish Casuist, 'her right in law to let herself out of that
nunnery.' 'Show us,' we reply, '_your_ right to lock her in.'

Right or wrong, however, in strict casuistry, Kate was resolved to let
herself out; and _did_ so; and, for fear any man should creep in whilst
vespers lasted, and steal the kitchen grate, she locked her old friends
_in_. Then she sought a shelter. The air was not cold. She hurried into
a chestnut wood, and upon withered leaves slept till dawn. Spanish diet
and youth leaves the digestion undisordered, and the slumbers light.
When the lark rose, up rose Catalina. No time to lose, for she was
still in the dress of a nun, and liable to be arrested by any man in
Spain. With her _armed_ finger, [aye, by the way, I forgot the thimble;
but Kate did _not_]--she set to work upon her amply-embroidered
petticoat. She turned it wrong side out; and with the magic that only
female hands possess, she had soon sketched and finished a dashing pair
of Wellington trousers. All other changes were made according to the
materials she possessed, and quite sufficiently to disguise the two
main perils--her sex, and her monastic dedication. What was she to do
next. Speaking of Wellington trousers would remind _us_, but could
hardly remind _her_, of Vittoria, where she dimly had heard of some
maternal relative. To Vittoria, therefore, she bent her course; and,
like the Duke of Wellington, but arriving more than two centuries
earlier, [though _he_ too is an early riser,] she gained a great
victory at that place. She had made a two days' march, baggage far in
the rear, and no provisions but wild berries; she depended for anything
better, as light-heartedly as the Duke, upon attacking, sword in hand,
storming her dear friend's entrenchments, and effecting a lodgment in
his breakfast-room, should he happen to have one. This amiable
relative, an elderly man, had but one foible, or perhaps one virtue in
this world; but _that_ he had in perfection,--it was pedantry. On that
hint Catalina spoke: she knew by heart, from the services of the
convent, a few Latin phrases. Latin!--Oh, but _that_ was charming; and
in one so young! The grave Don owned the soft impeachment; relented at
once, and clasped the hopeful young gentleman in the Wellington
trousers to his _uncular_ and rather angular breast. In this house the
yarn of life was of a mingled quality. The table was good, but that was
exactly what Kate cared little about. The amusement was of the worst
kind. It consisted chiefly in conjugating Latin verbs, especially such
as were obstinately irregular. To show him a withered frost-bitten
verb, that wanted its preterite, wanted its supines, wanted, in fact,
everything in this world, fruits or blossoms, that make a verb
desirable, was to earn the Don's gratitude for life. All day long he
was marching and countermarching his favorite brigades of verbs--verbs
frequentative, verbs inceptive, verbs desiderative--horse, foot, and
artillery; changing front, advancing from the rear, throwing out
skirmishing parties, until Kate, not given to faint, must have thought
of such a resource, as once in her life she had thought so seasonably
of a vesper headache. This was really worse than St. Sebastian's. It
reminds one of a French gayety in Thiebault or some such author, who
describes a rustic party, under equal despair, as employing themselves
in conjugating the verb _s'ennuyer,--Je m'ennuie, tu t'ennuies, il
s'ennuit; nous nous ennuyons_, &c.; thence to the imperfect--_Je
m'ennuyois, tu t'ennuyois_, &c.; thence to the imperative--_Qu'il
s'ennuye_, &c.; and so on through the whole melancholy conjugation.
Now, you know, when the time comes that, _nous nous ennuyons_, the best
course is, to part. Kate saw _that_; and she walked off from the Don's
[of whose amorous passion for defective verbs one would have wished to
know the catastrophe], and took from his mantel-piece rather move
silver than she had levied on her aunt. But the Don also was a
relative; and really he owed her a small cheque on his banker for
turning out on his field-days. A man, if he _is_ a kinsman, has no
right to bore one _gratis_.

From Vittoria, Kate was guided by a carrier to Valladolid. Luckily, as
it seemed at first, but it made little difference in the end, here, at
Valladolid, were the King and his Court. Consequently, there was plenty
of regiments and plenty of regimental bands. Attracted by one of these,
Catalina was quietly listening to the music, when some street ruffians,
in derision of the gay colors and the form of her forest-made costume--
[rascals! one would like to have seen what sort of trousers _they_
would have made with no better scissors!]--began to pelt her with
stones. Ah, my friends, of the genus _blackguard_, you little know
who it is that you are selecting for experiments. This is the one
creature of fifteen in all Spain, be the other male or female, whom
nature, and temper, and provocation have qualified for taking the
conceit out of you. This she very soon did, laying open a head or two
with a sharp stone, and letting out rather too little than too much of
bad Valladolid blood. But mark the constant villany of this world.
Certain Alguazils--very like some other Alguazils that I know nearer
home--having stood by quietly to see the friendless stranger insulted
and assaulted, now felt it their duty to apprehend the poor nun for
murderous violence: and had there been such a thing as a treadmill in
Valladolid, Kate was booked for a place on it without further inquiry.
Luckily, injustice does not _always_ prosper. A gallant young
cavalier, who had witnessed from his windows the whole affair, had seen
the provocation, and admired Catalina's behavior--equally patient at
first and bold at last--hastened into the street, pursued the officers,
forced them to release their prisoner, upon stating the circumstances
of the case, and instantly offered Catalina a situation amongst his
retinue. He was a man of birth and fortune; and the place offered, that
of an honorary page, not being at all degrading even to a 'daughter of
somebody,' was cheerfully accepted. Here Catalina spent a happy month.
She was now splendidly dressed in dark blue velvet, by a tailor that
did not work within the gloom of a chestnut forest. She and the young
cavalier, Don Francisco de Cardenas, were mutually pleased, and had
mutual confidence. All went well--when one evening, but, luckily, not
until the sun had been set so long as to make all things indistinct,
who should march into the ante-chamber of the cavalier but that sublime
of crocodiles, _Papa_, that we lost sight of fifteen years ago,
and shall never see again after this night. He had his crocodile tears
all ready for use, in working order, like a good industrious fire-
engine. It was absolutely to Catalina herself that he advanced; whom,
for many reasons, he could not be supposed to recognise--lapse of
years, male attire, twilight, were all against him. Still, she might
have the family countenance; and Kate thought he looked with a
suspicious scrutiny into her face, as he inquired for the young Don. To
avert her own face, to announce him to Don Francisco, to wish him on
the shores of that ancient river for crocodiles, the Nile, furnished
but one moment's work to the active Catalina. She lingered, however, as
her place entitled her to do, at the door of the audience chamber. She
guessed already, but in a moment she _heard_ from papa's lips what
was the nature of his errand. His daughter Catharine, he informed the
Don, had eloped from the convent of St. Sebastian, a place rich in
delight. Then he laid open the unparalleled ingratitude of such a step.
Oh, the unseen treasure that had been spent upon that girl! Oh, the
untold sums of money that he had sunk in that unhappy speculation! The
nights of sleeplessness suffered during her infancy! The fifteen years
of solicitude thrown away in schemes for her improvement! It would have
moved the heart of a stone. The _hidalgo_ wept copiously at his
own pathos. And to such a height of grandeur had he carried his Spanish
sense of the sublime, that he disdained to mention the pocket-
handkerchief which he had left at St. Sebastian's fifteen years ago, by
way of envelope for 'pussy,' and which, to the best of pussy's
knowledge, was the one sole memorandum of papa ever heard of at St.
Sebastian's. Pussy, however, saw no use in revising and correcting the
text of papa's remembrances. She showed her usual prudence, and her
usual incomparable decision. It did not appear, as yet, that she would
be reclaimed, or was at all suspected for the fugitive by her father.
For it is an instance of that singular fatality which pursued Catalina
through life, that, to her own astonishment, (as she now collected from
her father's conference,) nobody had traced her to Valladolid, nor had
her father's visit any connection with suspicious travelling in that
direction. The case was quite different. Strangely enough, her street
row had thrown her into the one sole household in all Spain that had an
official connection with St. Sebastian's. That convent had been founded
by the young cavalier's family; and, according to the usage of Spain,
the young man (as present representative of his house) was the
responsible protector of the establishment. It was not to the Don, as
harborer of his daughter, but to the Don, as _ex officio_ visitor
of the convent, that the hidalgo was appealing. Probably Kate might
have staid safely some time longer. Yet, again, this would but have
multiplied the clues for tracing her; and, finally, she would too
probably have been discovered; after which, with all his youthful
generosity, the poor Don could not have protected her. Too terrific was
the vengeance that awaited an abettor of any fugitive nun; but, above
all, if such a crime were perpetrated by an official mandatory of the
church. Yet, again, so far it was the more hazardous course to abscond,
that it almost revealed her to the young Don as the missing daughter.
Still, if it really _had_ that effect, nothing at present obliged
him to pursue her, as might have been the case a few weeks later. Kate
argued (I dare say) rightly, as she always did. Her prudence whispered
eternally, that safety there was none for her, until she had laid the
Atlantic between herself and St. Sebastian's. Life was to be for
_her_ a Bay of Biscay; and it was odds but she had first embarked
upon this billowy life from the literal Bay of Biscay. Chance ordered
otherwise. Or, as a Frenchman says with eloquent ingenuity, in
connection with this story, 'Chance is but the _pseudonyme_ of God
for those particular cases which he does not subscribe openly with his
own sign manual.' She crept up stairs to her bed-room. Simple are the
travelling preparations of those that, possessing nothing, have no
imperials to pack. She had Juvenal's qualification for carolling gaily
through a forest full of robbers; for she had nothing to lose but a
change of linen, that rode easily enough under her left arm, leaving
the right free for answering any questions of impertinent customers. As
she crept down stairs, she heard the Crocodile still weeping forth his
sorrows to the pensive ear of twilight, and to the sympathetic Don
Francisco. Now, it would not have been filial or lady-like for Kate to
do what I am going to suggest; but what a pity that some gay brother
page had not been there to turn aside into the room, armed with a
roasted potato, and, taking a sportsman's aim, to have lodged it in the
Crocodile's abominable mouth. Yet, what an anachronism! There
_were_ no roasted potatoes in Spain at that date, and very few in
England. But anger drives a man to say anything.

Catalina had seen her last of friends and enemies in Valladolid. Short
was her time there; but she had improved it so far as to make a few of
both. There was an eye or two in Valladolid that would have glared with
malice upon her, had she been seen by _all_ eyes in that city, as
she tripped through the streets in the dusk; and eyes there were that
would have softened into tears, had they seen the desolate condition of
the child, or in vision had seen the struggles that were before her.
But what's the use of wasting tears upon our Kate? Wait till to-morrow
morning at sunrise, and see if she is particularly in need of pity.
What now should a young lady do--I propose it as a subject for a prize
essay--that finds herself in Valladolid at nighfall, having no letters
of introduction, not aware of any reason great or small for preferring
any street in general, except so far as she knows of some reason for
avoiding one or two streets in particular?  The great problem I have
stated, Kate investigated as she went along; and she solved it with the
accuracy with which she ever applied to _practical_ exigencies.
Her conclusion was--that the best door to knock at in such a case was
the door where there was no need to knock at all, as being unfastened,
and open to all comers. For she argued that within such a door there
would be nothing to steal, so that, at least, you could not be mistaken
in the ark for a thief.  Then, as to stealing from _her_, they
might do that if they could.

Upon these principles, which hostile critics will in vain endeavor to
undermine, she laid her hand upon what seemed a rude stable door.  Such
it proved. There was an empty cart inside, certainly there was, but you
couldn't take _that_ away in your pocket; and there were five
loads of straw, but then of those a lady could take no more than her
_reticule_ would carry, which perhaps was allowed by the courtesy
of Spain. So Kate was right as to the difficulty of being challenged
for a thief. Closing the door as gently as she had opened it, she
dropped her person, dressed as she was, upon the nearest heap of straw.
Some ten feet further were lying two muleteers, honest and happy
enough, as compared with the lords of the bed-chamber then in
Valladolid: but still gross men, carnally deaf from eating garlic and
onions, and other horrible substances. Accordingly, they never heard
her, nor were aware, until dawn, that such a blooming person existed.
But she was aware of _them_, and of their conversation. They were
talking of an expedition for America, on the point of sailing under Don
Ferdinand de Cordova. It was to sail from some Andalusian port. That
was the very thing for _her_. At daylight she woke, and jumped up,
needing no more toilet than the birds that already were singing in the
gardens, or than the two muleteers, who, good, honest fellows, saluted
the handsome boy kindly--thinking no ill at his making free with
_their_ straw, though no leave had been asked.

With these philo-garlic men Kate took her departure. The morning was
divine: and leaving Valladolid with the transports that befitted such a
golden dawn, feeling also already, in the very obscurity of her exit,
the pledge of her escape; she cared no longer for the Crocodile, or for
St. Sebastian, or (in the way of fear) for the protector of St.
Sebastian, though of _him_ she thought with some tenderness; so
deep is the remembrance of kindness mixed with justice. Andalusia she
reached rather slowly; but many months before she was sixteen years
old, and quite in time for the expedition. St. Lucar being the port of
rendezvous for the Peruvian expedition, thither she went. All comers
were welcome on board the fleet; much more a fine young fellow like
Kate. She was at once engaged as a mate; and _her_ ship, in
particular, after doubling Cape Horn without loss, made the coast of
Peru. Paita was the port of her destination. Very near to this port
they were, when a storm threw them upon a coral reef. There was little
hope of the ship from the first, for she was unmanageable, and was not
expected to hold together for twenty-four hours. In this condition,
with death before their faces, mark what Kate did; and please to
remember it for her benefit, when she does any other little thing that
angers you. The crew lowered the long-boat. Vainly the captain
protested against this disloyal desertion of a king's ship, which might
yet perhaps be run on shore, so as to save the stores. All the crew, to
a man, deserted the captain. You may say _that_ literally; for the
single exception was _not_ a man, being our bold-hearted Kate. She
was the only sailor that refused to leave her captain, or the king of
Spain's ship. The rest pulled away for the shore, and with fair hopes
of reaching it. But one half-hour told another tale: just about that
time came a broad sheet of lightning, which, through the darkness of
evening, revealed the boat in the very act of mounting like a horse
upon an inner reef, instantly filling, and throwing out the crew, every
man of whom disappeared amongst the breakers. The night which succeeded
was gloomy for both the representatives of his Catholic Majesty. It
cannot be denied by the greatest of philosophers, that the muleteer's
stable at Valladolid was worth twenty such ships, though the stable was
_not_ insured against fire, and the ship _was_ insured against the sea
and the wind by some fellow that thought very little of his
engagements. But what's the use of sitting down to cry? That was never
any trick of Catalina's. By daybreak, she was at work with an axe
in her hand. I knew it, before ever I came to this place, in her
memoirs. I felt, as sure as if I had read it, that when day broke, we
should find Kate hard at work. Thimble or axe, trousers or raft, all
one to _her_.

The Captain, though true to his duty, seems to have desponded. He gave
no help towards the raft. Signs were speaking, however, pretty loudly
that he must do something; for notice to quit was now served pretty
liberally. Kate's raft was ready; and she encouraged the captain to
think that it would give both of them something to hold by in swimming,
if not even carry double. At this moment, when all was waiting for a
start, and the ship herself was waiting for a final lurch, to say
_Good-bye_ to the King of Spain, Kate went and did a thing which
some misjudging people will object to. She knew of a box laden with
gold coins, reputed to be the King of Spain's, and meant for
contingencies in the voyage out. This she smashed open with her axe,
and took a sum equal to one hundred guineas English; which, having well
secured in a pillow-case, she then lashed firmly to the raft. Now this,
you know, though not _flotsam_, because it would not float, was
certainly, by maritime law, '_jetsom_.' It would be the idlest of
scruples to fancy that the sea or a shark had a better right to it than
a philosopher, or a splendid girl who showed herself capable of writing
a very fair 8vo, to say nothing of her decapitating in battle several
of the king's enemies, and recovering the king's banner. No sane
moralist would hesitate to do the same thing under the same
circumstances, on board an English vessel, though the First Lord of the
Admiralty should be looking on. The raft was now thrown into the sea.
Kate jumped after it, and then entreated the captain to follow her. He
attempted it; but, wanting her youthful agility, he struck his head
against a spar, and sank like lead, giving notice below that his ship
was coming. Kate mounted the raft, and was gradually washed ashore, but
so exhausted, as to have lost all recollection. She lay for hours until
the warmth of the sun revived her. On sitting up, she saw a desolate
shore stretching both ways--nothing to eat, nothing to drink, but
fortunately the raft and the money had been thrown near her; none of
the lashings having given way--only what is the use of a guinea amongst
tangle and sea-gulls? The money she distributed amongst her pockets,
and soon found strength to rise and march forward. But which _was_
forward? and which backward? She knew by the conversation of the
sailors that Paita must be in the neighborhood; and Paita, being a
port, could not be in the inside of Peru, but, of course, somewhere on
its outside--and the outside of a maritime land must be the shore; so
that, if she kept the shore, and went far enough, she could not fail of
hitting her foot against Paita at last, in the very darkest night,
provided only she could first find out which was _up_ and which
was _down_; else she might walk her shoes off, and find herself
six thousand miles in the wrong. Here was an awkward case, all for want
of a guide-post. Still, when one thinks of Kate's prosperous horoscope,
that after so long a voyage, _she_ only, out of the total crew,
was thrown on the American shore, with one hundred and five pounds in
her purse of clear gain on the voyage, a conviction arises that she
_could_ not guess wrongly. She might have tossed up, having coins
in her pocket, _heads or tails_? but this kind of sortilege was
then coming to be thought irreligious in Christendom, as a Jewish and a
Heathen mode of questioning the dark future. She simply guessed,
therefore; and very soon a thing happened which, though adding nothing
to strengthen her guess as a true one, did much to sweeten it if it
should prove a false one. On turning a point of the shore, she came
upon a barrel of biscuit washed ashore from the ship. Biscuit is about
the best thing I know, but it is the soonest spoiled; and one would
like to hear counsel on one puzzling point, why it is that a touch of
water utterly ruins it, taking its life, and leaving a _caput
mortuum_ corpse! Upon this _caput_ Kate breakfasted, though
_her_ case was worse than mine; for any water that ever plagued
_me_ was always fresh; now _hers_ was a present from the
Pacific ocean. She, that was always prudent, packed up some of the
Catholic king's biscuit, as she had previously packed up far too little
of his gold. But in such cases a most delicate question occurs,
pressing equally on medicine and algebra. It is this: if you pack up
too much, then, by this extra burthen of salt provisions, you may
retard for days your arrival at fresh provisions; on the other hand, if
you pack up too little, you may never arrive at all. Catalina hit the
_juste milieu;_ and about twilight on the second day, she found
herself entering Paita, without having had to swim any river in her
walk.

The first thing, in such a case of distress, which a young lady does,
even if she happens to be a young gentleman, is to beautify her dress.
Kate always attended to _that_, as we know, having overlooked her
in the chestnut wood. The man she sent for was not properly a tailor,
but one who employed tailors, he himself furnishing the materials. His
name was Urquiza, a fact of very little importance to us in 1847, if it
had stood only at the head and foot of Kate's little account. But
unhappily for Kate's _début_ on this vast American stage, the case
was otherwise. Mr. Urquiza had the misfortune (equally common in the
old world and the new) of being a knave; and also a showy specious
knave. Kate, who had prospered under sea allowances of biscuit and
hardship, was now expanding in proportions. With very little vanity or
consciousness on that head, she now displayed a really fine person;
and, when drest anew in the way that became a young officer in the
Spanish service, she looked [Footnote: _'She looked,' etc_. If
ever the reader should visit Aix-la-Chapelle, he will probably feel
interest enough in the poor, wild impassioned girl, to look out for a
picture of her in that city, and the only one known _certainly_ to
be authentic. It is in the collection of Mr. Sempeller. For some time
it was supposed that the best (if not the only) portrait of her lurked
somewhere in Italy. Since the discovery of the picture at Aix-la-
Chapelle, that notion has been abandoned. But there is great reason to
believe that, both in Madrid and Rome, many portraits of her must have
been painted to meet the intense interest which arose in her history
subsequently amongst all the men of rank, military or ecclesiastical,
whether in Italy or Spain. The date of these would range between
sixteen and twenty-two years from, the period which we have now reached
(1608.)]  the representative picture of a Spanish _caballador_. It
is strange that such an appearance, and such a rank, should have
suggested to Urquiza the presumptuous idea of wishing that Kate might
become his clerk. He _did_, however wish it; for Kate wrote a
beautiful hand; and a stranger thing is, that Kate accepted his
proposal. This might arise from the difficulty of moving in those days
to any distance in Peru. The ship had been merely bringing stores to
the station of Paita; and no corps of the royal armies was readily to
be reached, whilst something must be done at once for a livelihood.
Urquiza had two mercantile establishments, one at Trujillo, to which he
repaired in person, on Kate's agreeing to undertake the management of
the other in Paita. Like the sensible girl, that we have always found
her, she demanded specific instructions for her guidance in duties so
new. Certainly she was in a fair way for seeing life. Telling her beads
at St. Sebastian's, manoeuvreing irregular verbs at Vittoria, acting as
gentleman-usher at Valladolid, serving his Spanish Majesty round Cape
Horn, fighting with storms and sharks off the coast of Peru, and now
commencing as book-keeper or _commis_ to a draper at Paita, does
she not justify the character that I myself gave her, just before
dismissing her from St. Sebastian's, of being a 'handy' girl? Mr.
Urquiza's instructions were short, easy to be understood, but rather
comic; and yet, which is odd, they led to tragic results. There were
two debtors of the shop, (_many_, it is to be hoped, but two
meriting his affectionate notice,) with respect to whom he left the
most opposite directions. The one was a very handsome lady; and the
rule as to _her_ was, that she was to have credit unlimited,
strictly unlimited. That was plain. The other customer, favored by Mr.
Urquiza's valedictory thoughts, was a young man, cousin to the handsome
lady, and bearing the name of Reyes. This youth occupied in Mr.
Urquiza's estimate the same hyperbolical rank as the handsome lady, but
on the opposite side of the equation. The rule as to _him_ was--
that he was to have _no_ credit; strictly none. In this case,
also, Kate saw no difficulty; and when she came to know Mr. Reyes a
little, she found the path of pleasure coinciding with the path of
duty. Mr. Urquiza could not be more precise in laying down the rule
than Kate was in enforcing it. But in the other case a scruple arose.
_Unlimited_ might be a word, not of Spanish law, but of Spanish
rhetoric; such as '_Live a thousand years_,' which even annuity
offices hear, and perhaps utter, without a pang. Kate, therefore, wrote
to Trujillo, expressing her honest fears, and desiring to have more
definite instructions. These were positive. If the lady chose to send
for the entire shop, her account was to be debited instantly with
_that_. She had, however, as yet, not sent for the shop, but she
began to manifest strong signs of sending for the shop _man_. Upon
the blooming young Biscayan had her roving eye settled; and she was in
a course of making up her mind to take Kate for a sweetheart. Poor Kate
saw this with a heavy heart. And, at the same time that she had a
prospect of a tender friend more than she wanted, she had become
certain of an extra enemy that she wanted quite as little. What she had
done to offend Mr. Reyes, Kate could not guess, except as to the matter
of the credit; but then, in that, she only executed her instructions.
Still Mr. Reyes was of opinion that there were two ways of executing
orders: but the main offence was unintentional on Kate's part. Reyes,
though as yet she did not know it, had himself been a candidate for the
situation of clerk; and intended probably to keep the equation
precisely as it was with respect to the allowance of credit, only to
change places with the handsome lady--keeping _her_ on the
negative side, himself on the affirmative--an arrangement that you know
could have made no sort of pecuniary difference to Urquiza.

Thus stood matters, when a party of strolling players strolled into
Paita. Kate, as a Spaniard, being one held of the Paita aristocracy,
was expected to attend. She did so; and there also was the malignant
Reyes. He came and seated himself purposely so as to shut out Kate from
all view of the stage. She, who had nothing of the bully in her nature,
and was a gentle creature when her wild Biscayan blood had not been
kindled by insult, courteously requested him to move a little; upon
which Reyes remarked that it was not in his power to oblige the clerk
as to that, but that he _could_ oblige him by cutting his throat.
The tiger that slept in Catalina wakened at once. She seized him, and
would have executed vengeance on the spot, but that a party of young
men interposed to part them. The next day, when Kate (always ready to
forget and forgive) was thinking no more of the row, Reyes passed; by
spitting at the window, and other gestures insulting to Kate, again he
roused her Spanish blood. Out she rushed, sword in hand--a duel began
in the street, and very soon Kate's sword had passed into the heart of
Reyes. Now that the mischief was done, the police were, as usual, all
alive for the pleasure of avenging it. Kate found herself suddenly in a
strong prison, and with small hopes of leaving it, except for
execution. The relations of the dead man were potent in Paita, and
clamorous for justice, so that the _corregidor_, in a case where
he saw a very poor chance of being corrupted by bribes, felt it his
duty to be sublimely incorruptible. The reader knows, however, that,
amongst the relatives of the deceased bully, was that handsome lady,
who differed as much from her cousin in her sentiments as to Kate, as
she did in the extent of her credit with Mr. Urquiza. To _her_
Kate wrote a note; and, using one of the Spanish King's gold coins for
bribing the jailor, got it safely delivered. That, perhaps, was
unnecessary; for the lady had been already on the alert, and had
summoned Urquiza from Trujillo. By some means, not very luminously
stated, and by paying proper fees in proper quarters, Kate was smuggled
out of the prison at nightfall, and smuggled into a pretty house in the
suburbs. Had she known exactly the footing she stood on as to the law,
she would have been decided. As it was, she was uneasy, and jealous of
mischief abroad; and, before supper, she understood it all. Urquiza
briefly informed his clerk, that it would be requisite for him to marry
the handsome lady. But why? Because, said Urquiza, after talking for
hours with the _corregidor_, who was infamous for obstinacy, he
had found it impossible to make him 'hear reason,' and release the
prisoner, until this compromise of marriage was suggested. But how
could public justice be pacified for the clerk's unfortunate homicide
of Reyes, by a female cousin of the deceased man engaging to love,
honor, and obey the clerk for life? Kate could not see her way through
this logic. 'Nonsense, my friend,' said Urquiza, 'you don't comprehend.
As it stands, the affair is a murder, and hanging the penalty. But, if
you marry into the murdered man's house, then it becomes a little
family murder, all quiet and comfortable amongst ourselves. What has
the _corregidor_ to do with that? or the public either? Now, let
me introduce the bride.' Supper entered at that moment, and the bride
immediately after. The thoughtfulness of Kate was narrowly observed,
and even alluded to, but politely ascribed to the natural anxieties of
a prisoner, and the very imperfect state of liberation even yet from
prison _surveillance_. Kate had, indeed, never been in so trying a
situation before. The anxieties of the farewell night at St. Sebastian
were nothing to this; because, even if she had failed _then_, a
failure might not have been always irreparable. It was but to watch and
wait. But now, at this supper table, she was not more alive to the
nature of the peril than she was to the fact, that if, before the night
closed, she did not by some means escape from it, she never
_would_ escape with life. The deception as to her sex, though
resting on no motive that pointed to these people, or at all concerned
them, would be resented as if it had. The lady would resent the case as
a mockery; and Urquiza would lose his opportunity of delivering himself
from an imperious mistress. According to the usages of the times and
country, Kate knew that in twelve hours she would be assassinated.

People of infirmer resolution would have lingered at the supper table,
for the sake of putting off the evil moment of final crisis. Not so
Kate. She had revolved the case on all its sides in a few minutes, and
had formed her resolution. This done, she was as ready for the trial at
one moment as another; and, when the lady suggested that the hardships
of a prison must have made repose desirable, Kate assented, and
instantly rose. A sort of procession formed, for the purpose of doing
honor to the interesting guest, and escorting him in pomp to his
bedroom. Kate viewed it much in the same light as the procession to
which for some days she had been expecting an invitation from the
_corregidor_. Far ahead ran the servant-woman as a sort of
outrider. Then came Urquiza, like a Pasha of two tails, who granted two
sorts of credit, viz. unlimited and none at all, bearing two wax-
lights, one in each hand, and wanting only cymbals and kettle-drums to
express emphatically the pathos of his Castilian strut. Next came the
bride, a little in advance of the clerk, but still turning obliquely
towards him, and smiling graciously into his face. Lastly, bringing up
the rear, came the prisoner--our Kate--the nun, the page, the mate, the
clerk, the homicide, the convict; and, for this day only, by particular
desire, the bridegroom elect.

It was Kate's fixed opinion, that, if for a moment she entered any
bedroom having obviously no outlet, her fate would be that of an ox
once driven within the shambles. Outside, the bullock might make some
defence with his horns; but once in, with no space for turning, he is
muffled and gagged. She carried her eye, therefore, like a hawk's,
steady, though restless, for vigilant examination of every angle she
turned. Before she entered any bedroom, she was resolved to reconnoiter
it from the doorway, and, in case of necessity, show fight at once,
before entering--as the best chance, after all, where all chances were
bad. Everything ends; and at last the procession reached the bedroom
door, the outrider having filed off to the rear. One glance sufficed to
satisfy Kate that windows there were none, and, therefore, no outlet
for escape. Treachery appeared even in _that_; and Kate, though
unfortunately without arms, was now fixed for resistance. Mr. Urquiza
entered first--'Sound the trumpets! Beat the drums!' There were, as we
know already, no windows; but a slight interruption to Mr. Urquiza's
pompous tread showed that there were steps downwards into the room.
Those, thought Kate, will suit me even better. She had watched the
unlocking of the bedroom door--she had lost nothing--she had marked
that the key was left in the lock. At this moment, the beautiful lady,
as one acquainted with the details of the house, turning with the air
of a gracious monitress, held out her fair hand to guide Kate in
careful descent of the steps. This had the air of taking out Kate to
dance; and Kate, at that same moment, answering to it by the gesture of
a modern waltzer, threw her arm behind the lady's waist, hurled her
headlong down the steps right against Mr. Urquiza, draper and
haberdasher; and then, with the speed of lightning, throwing the door
_home_ within its architrave, doubly locked the creditor and
debtor into the rat-trap which they had prepared for herself.

The affrighted out-rider fled with horror: she already knew that the
clerk had committed one homicide; a second would cost him still less
thought; and thus it happened that egress was left easy. But, when out
and free once more in the bright starry night, which way should Kate
turn? The whole city would prove but a rat-trap for her, as bad as Mr.
Urquiza's, if she was not off before morning. At a glance she
comprehended that the sea was her only chance. To the port she fled.
All was silent. Watchmen there were none. She jumped into a boat. To
use the oars was dangerous, for she had no means of muffling them. But
she contrived to hoist a sail, pushed off with a boat-hook, and was
soon stretching across the water for the mouth of the harbor before a
breeze light but favorable. Having cleared the difficulties of exit she
lay down, and unintentionally fell asleep. When she awoke the sun had
been up three or four hours; all was right otherwise; but had she not
served as a sailor, Kate would have trembled upon finding that, during
her long sleep of perhaps seven or eight hours, she had lost sight of
land; by what distance she could only guess; and in what direction, was
to some degree doubtful. All this, however, seemed a great advantage to
the bold girl, throwing her thoughts back on the enemies she had left
behind. The disadvantage was--having no breakfast, not even damaged
biscuit; and some anxiety naturally arose as to ulterior prospects a
little beyond the horizon of breakfast. But who's afraid? As sailors
whistle for a wind, Catalina really had but to whistle for anything
with energy, and it was sure to come. Like Caesar to the pilot of
Dyrrhachium, she might have said, for the comfort of her poor timorous
boat, (though destined soon to perish,) '_Catalinam vehis, et
fortunas ejus_.' Meantime, being very doubtful as to the best course
for sailing, and content if her course did but lie offshore, she
'carried on,' as sailors say, under easy sail, going, in fact, just
whither and just how the Pacific breezes suggested in the gentlest of
whispers. _All right behind_, was Kate's opinion; and, what was
better, very soon she might say, _all right ahead:_ for some hour
or two before sunset, when dinner was for once becoming, even to Kate,
the most interesting of subjects for meditation, suddenly a large ship
began to swell upon the brilliant atmosphere. In those latitudes, and
in those years, any ship was pretty sure to be Spanish: sixty years
later the odds were in favor of its being an English buccaneer; which
would have given a new direction to Kate's energy. Kate continued to
make signals with a handkerchief whiter than the crocodile's of Ann.
Dom. 1592, else it would hardly have been noticed. Perhaps, after all,
it would not, but that the ship's course carried her very nearly across
Kate's. The stranger lay-to for her. It was dark by the time Kate
steered herself under the ship's quarter; and _then_ was seen an
instance of this girl's eternal wakefulness. Something was painted on
the stern of her boat, she could not see _what;_ but she judged
that it would express some connection with the port that she had just
quitted. Now it was her wish to break the chain of traces connecting
her with such a scamp as Urquiza; since else, through his commercial
correspondence, he might disperse over Peru a portrait of herself by no
means flattering. How should she accomplish this? It was dark; and she
stood, as you may see an Etonian do at times, rocking her little boat
from side to side, until it had taken in water as much as might be
agreeable. Too much it proved for the boat's constitution, and the boat
perished of dropsy--Kate declining to tap it. She got a ducking
herself; but what cared she? Up the ship's side she went, as gaily as
ever, in those years when she was called pussy, she had raced after the
nuns of St. Sebastian; jumped upon deck, and told the first lieutenant,
when he questioned her about her adventures, quite as much truth as any
man, under the rank of admiral, had a right to expect.

This ship was full of recruits for the Spanish army, and bound to
Concepcion. Even in that destiny was an iteration, or repeating
memorial of the significance that ran through Catalina's most casual
adventures. She had enlisted amongst the soldiers; and, on reaching
port, the very first person who came off from shore was a dashing young
military officer, whom at once by his name and rank, (though she had
never consciously seen him,) she identified as her own brother. He was
splendidly situated in the service, being the Governor-General's
secretary, besides his rank as a cavalry officer; and, his errand on
board being to inspect the recruits, naturally, on reading in the roll
one of them described as a Biscayan, the ardent young man came up with
high-bred courtesy to Catalina, took the young recruit's hand with
kindness, feeling that to be a compatriot at so great a distance was to
be a sort of relative, and asked with emotion after old boyish
remembrances. There was a scriptural pathos in what followed, as if it
were some scene of domestic re-union, opening itself from patriarchal
ages. The young officer was the eldest son of the house, and had left
Spain when Catalina was only three years old. But, singularly enough,
Catalina it was, the little wild cat that he yet remembered seeing at
St. Sebastian's, upon whom his earliest inquiries settled. 'Did the
recruit know his family, the De Erausos?' O yes, every body knew
_them_. 'Did the recruit know little Catalina?' Catalina smiled,
as she replied that she did; and gave such an animated description of
the little fiery wretch, as made the officer's eye flash with gratified
tenderness, and with certainty that the recruit was no counterfeit
Biscayan. Indeed, you know, if Kate couldn't give a good description of
'Pussy,' who could? The issue of the interview was--that the officer
insisted on Kate's making a home of his quarters. He did other services
for his unknown sister. He placed her as a trooper in his own regiment,
and favored her in many a way that is open to one having authority. But
the person, after all, that did most to serve our Kate, was Kate. War
was then raging with Indians, both from Chili and Peru. Kate had always
done her duty in action; but at length, in the decisive battle of
Puren, there was an opening for doing something more. Havoc had been
made of her own squadron: most of the officers were killed, and the
standard was carried off. Kate gathered around her a small party--
galloped after the Indian column that was carrying away the trophy--
charged--saw all her own party killed--but (in spite of wounds on her
face and shoulder) succeeded in bearing away the recovered standard.
She rode up to the general and his staff; she dismounted; she rendered
up her prize; and fainted away, much less from the blinding blood, than
from the tears of joy which dimmed her eyes, as the general, waving his
sword in admiration over her head, pronounced our Kate on the spot an
_Alferez_, [Footnote: _Alferez_. This rank in the Spanish
army is, or was, on a level with the modern _sous-lieutenant_ of
France.] or standard-bearer, with a commission from the King of Spain
and the Indies. Bonny Kate! Noble Kate! I would there were not two
centuries laid between us, so that I might have the pleasure of kissing
thy fair hand.

Kate had the good sense to see the danger of revealing her sex, or her
relationship, even to her own brother. The grasp of the Church never
relaxed, never 'prescribed,' unless freely and by choice. The nun, if
discovered, would have been taken out of the horse-barracks, or the
dragoon-saddle. She had the firmness, therefore, for many years, to
resist the sisterly impulses that sometimes suggested such a
confidence. For years, and those years the most important of her life--
the years that developed her character--she lived undetected as a
brilliant cavalry officer under her brother's patronage. And the
bitterest grief in poor Kate's whole life, was the tragical (and, were
it not fully attested, one might say the ultra-scenical,) event that
dissolved their long connection. Let me spend a word of apology on poor
Kate's errors. We all commit many; both you and I, reader. No, stop;
that's not civil. You, reader, I know, are a saint; I am _not_,
though very near it. I _do_ err at long intervals; and then I
think with indulgence of the many circumstances that plead for this
poor girl. The Spanish armies of that day inherited, from the days of
Cortez and Pizarro, shining remembrances of martial prowess, and the
very worst of ethics. To think little of bloodshed, to quarrel, to
fight, to gamble, to plunder, belonged to the very atmosphere of a
camp, to its indolence, to its ancient traditions. In your own defence,
you were obliged to do such things. Besides all these grounds of evil,
the Spanish army had just there an extra demoralization from a war with
savages--faithless and bloody. Do not think, I beseech you, too much,
reader, of killing a man. That word '_kill_' is sprinkled over
every page of Kate's own autobiography. It ought not to be read by the
light of these days. Yet, how if a man that she killed were----? Hush!
It was sad; but is better hurried over in a few words. Years after this
period, a young officer one day dining with Kate, entreated her to
become his second in a duel. Such things were every-day affairs.
However, Kate had reasons for declining the service, and did so. But
the officer, as he was sullenly departing, said--that, if he were
killed, (as he thought he _should_ be,) his death would lie at
Kate's door. I do not take _his_ view of the case, and am not
moved by his rhetoric or his logic. Kate _was_, and relented. The
duel was fixed for eleven at night, under the walls of a monastery.
Unhappily the night proved unusually dark, so that the two principals
had to tie white handkerchiefs round their elbows, in order to descry
each other. In the confusion they wounded each other mortally. Upon
that, according to a usage not peculiar to Spaniards, but extending (as
doubtless the reader knows) for a century longer to our own countrymen,
the two seconds were obliged in honor to do something towards avenging
their principals. Kate had her usual fatal luck. Her sword passed sheer
through the body of her opponent: this unknown opponent falling dead,
had just breath left to cry out, 'Ah, villain, you have killed me,' in
a voice of horrific reproach; and the voice was the voice of her
brother!

The monks of the monastery, under whose silent shadows this murderous
duel had taken place, roused by the clashing of swords and the angry
shouts of combatants, issued out with torches to find one only of the
four officers surviving. Every convent and altar had a right of asylum
for a short period. According to the custom, the monks carried Kate,
insensible with anguish of mind, to the sanctuary of their chapel.
There for some days they detained her; but then, having furnished her
with a horse and some provisions, they turned her adrift. Which way
should the unhappy fugitive turn? In blindness of heart she turned
towards the sea. It was the sea that had brought her to Peru; it was
the sea that would perhaps carry her away. It was the sea that had
first showed her this land and its golden hopes; it was the sea that
ought to hide from her its fearful remembrances. The sea it was that
had twice spared her life in extremities; the sea it was that might now
if it chose, take back the bauble that it had spared in vain.


KATE'S PASSAGE OVER THE ANDES.

Three days our poor heroine followed the coast. Her horse was then
almost unable to move; and on _his_ account, she turned inland to a
thicket for grass and shelter. As she drew near to it, a voice
challenged--'_Who goes there_?' Kate answered, '_Spain_.' '_What
people_?' '_A friend_.' It was two soldiers, deserters, and almost
starving. Kate shared her provisions with these men: and, on hearing
their plan, which was to go over the Cordilleras, she agreed to join
the party. _Their_ object was the wild one of seeking the river
_Dorado_, whose waters rolled along golden sands, and whose pebbles
were emeralds. _Hers_ was to throw herself upon a line the least liable
to pursuit, and the readiest for a new chapter of life in which
oblivion might be found for the past. After a few days of incessant
climbing and fatigue, they found themselves in the regions of perpetual
snow. Summer would come as vainly to this kingdom of frost as to the
grave of her brother. No fire, but the fire of human blood in youthful
veins, could ever be kept burning in these aerial solitudes. Fuel was
rarely to be found, and kindling a secret hardly known except to
Indians. However, our Kate can do everything, and she's the girl, if
ever girl _did_ such a thing, or ever girl did _not_ such a thing, that
I back at any odds for crossing the Cordilleras. I would bet you
something now, reader, if I thought you would deposit your stakes by
return of post, (as they play at chess through the post-office,) that
Kate does the trick, that she gets down to the other side; that the
soldiers do _not_: and that the horse, if preserved at all, is
preserved in a way that will leave him very little to boast of.

The party had gathered wild berries and esculent roots at the foot of
the mountains, and the horse was of very great use in carrying them.
But this larder was soon emptied. There was nothing then to carry; so
that the horse's value, as a beast of burthen, fell cent per cent. In
fact, very soon he could not carry himself, and it became easy to
calculate when he would reach the bottom on the wrong side the
Cordilleras. He took three steps back for one upwards. A council of war
being held, the small army resolved to slaughter their horse. He,
though a member of the expedition, had no vote, and if he had the votes
would have stood three to one--majority, two against him. He was cut
into quarters; which surprises me; for, unless _one_ quarter was
considered his own share, it reminds one too much of this amongst the
many _facetiæ_ of English midshipmen, who ask (on any one of their
number looking sulky) 'if it is his intention to marry and retire from
the service upon a superannuation of £4 4s. 4 1/2d. a year, paid
quarterly by way of bothering the purser.' The purser can't do it with
the help of farthings. And as respects aliquot parts, four shares among
three persons are as incommensurable as a guinea is against any attempt
at giving change in half-crowns.  However, this was all the
preservation that the horse found.  No saltpetre or sugar could be had:
but the frost was antiseptic. And the horse was preserved in as useful
a sense as ever apricots were preserved or strawberries.

On a fire, painfully devised out of broom and withered leaves, a horse-
steak was dressed, for drink, snow as allowed _a discretion_. This
ought to have revived the party, and Kate, perhaps, it _did_. But
the poor deserters were thinly clad, and they had not the boiling heart
of Catalina.  More and more they drooped.  Kate did her best to cheer
them.  But the march was nearly at an end for _them_, and they
were going in one half hour to receive their last billet.  Yet, before
this consummation, they have a strange spectacle to see; such as few
places could show, but the upper chambers of the Cordilleras. They had
reached a billowy scene of rocky masses, large and small, looking
shockingly black on their perpendicular sides as they rose out of the
vast snowy expanse. Upon the highest of these, that was accessible,
Kate mounted to look around her, and she saw--oh, rapture at such an
hour!--a man sitting on a shelf of rock with a gun by his side. She
shouted with joy to her comrades, and ran down to communicate the
joyful news. Here was a sportsman, watching, perhaps, for an eagle; and
now they would have relief. One man's cheek kindled with the hectic of
sudden joy, and he rose eagerly to march. The other was fast sinking
under the fatal sleep that frost sends before herself as her merciful
minister of death; but hearing in his dream the tidings of relief, and
assisted by his friends, he also staggeringly arose. It could not be
three minutes' walk, Kate thought, to the station of the sportsman.
That thought supported them all. Under Kate's guidance, who had taken a
sailor's glance at the bearings, they soon unthreaded the labyrinth of
rocks so far as to bring the man within view. He had not left his
resting-place; their steps on the soundless snow, naturally, he could
not hear; and, as their road brought them upon him from the rear, still
less could he see them. Kate hailed him; but so keenly was he absorbed
in some speculation, or in the object of his watching, that he took no
notice of them, not even moving his head. Kate began to think there
would be another man to rouse from sleep. Coming close behind him, she
touched his shoulder, and said, 'My friend, are you sleeping?' Yes, he
_was_ sleeping; sleeping the sleep from which there is no awaking;
and the slight touch of Kate having disturbed the equilibrium of the
corpse, down it rolled on the snow: the frozen body rang like a hollow
iron cylinder; the face uppermost and blue with mould, mouth open,
teeth ghastly and bleaching in the frost, and a frightful grin upon the
lips. This dreadful spectacle finished the struggles of the weaker man,
who sank and died at once. The other made an effort with so much
spirit, that, in Kate's opinion, horror had acted upon him beneficially
as a stimulant. But it was not really so. It was a spasm of morbid
strength; a collapse succeeded; his blood began to freeze; he sat down
in spite of Kate, and _he_ also died without further struggle.
Gone are the poor suffering deserters; stretched and bleaching upon the
snow; and insulted discipline is avenged. Great kings have long arms;
and sycophants are ever at hand for the errand of the potent. What had
frost and snow to do with the quarrel? Yet _they_ made themselves
sycophantic servants of the King of Spain; and _they_ dogged his
deserters up to the summit of the Cordilleras, more surely than any
Spanish bloodhound, or any Spanish tirailleur's bullet.

Now is our Kate standing alone on the summits of the Andes, in solitude
that is shocking, for she is alone with her own afflicted conscience.
Twice before she had stood in solitude as deep upon the wild--wild
waters of the Pacific; but her conscience had been then untroubled.
Now, is there nobody left that can help; her horse is dead--the
soldiers are dead. There is nobody that she can speak to except God;
and very soon you will find that she _does_ speak to him; for
already on these vast aerial deserts He has been whispering to
_her_. The condition of Kate is exactly that of Coleridge's
'_Ancient Mariner_.' But possibly, reader, you may be amongst the
many careless readers that have never fully understood what that
condition was. Suffer me to enlighten you, else you ruin the story of
the mariner; and by losing all its pathos, lose half the jewels of its
beauty.

There are three readers of the 'Ancient Mariner.' The first is gross
enough to fancy all the imagery of the mariner's visions delivered by
the poet for actual facts of experience; which being impossible, the
whole pulverizes, for that reader, into a baseless fairy tale. The
second reader is wiser than _that_; he knows that the imagery is _not_
baseless; it is the imagery of febrile delirium; really seen, but not
seen as an external reality. The mariner had caught the pestilential
fever, which carried off all his mates; he only had survived--the
delirium had vanished; but the visions that had haunted the delirium
remained. 'Yes,' says the third reader, 'they remained; naturally they
did, being scorched by fever into his brain; but how did they happen to
remain on his belief as gospel truths? The delirium had vanished: why
had not the painted scenery of the delirium vanished, except as
visionary memorials of a sorrow that was cancelled? Why was it that
craziness settled upon this mariner's brain, driving him, as if he were
a Cain, or another Wandering Jew, to 'pass like night--from land to
land;' and, at uncertain intervals, wrenching him until he made
rehearsal of his errors, even at the hard price of 'holding children
from their play, and old men from the chimney corner?' [Footnote: The
beautiful words of Sir Philip Sidney, in his '_Defense of Poesie_.']
That craziness, as the _third reader_ deciphers, rose out of a deeper
soil than any bodily affection. It had its root in penitential sorrow.
Oh, bitter is the sorrow to a conscientious heart, when, too late, it
discovers the depth of a love that has been trampled under foot! This
mariner had slain the creature that, on all the earth, loved him best.
In the darkness of his cruel superstition he had done it, to save his
human brothers from a fancied inconvenience; and yet, by that very act
of cruelty, he had himself called destruction upon their heads. The
Nemesis that followed punished _him_ through _them_--him, that wronged,
through those that wrongfully he sought to benefit. That spirit who
watches over the sanctities of love is a strong angel--is a jealous
angel; and this angel it was

  'That lov'd the bird, that lov'd the man,
  That shot him with his bow.'

He it was that followed the cruel archer into silent and slumbering
seas;

  'Nine fathom deep he had follow'd him
  Through the realms of mist and snow.'

This jealous angel it was that pursued the man into noon-day darkness,
and the vision of dying oceans, into delirium, and finally, (when
recovered from disease) into an unsettled mind.

Such, also, had been the offence of Kate; such, also was the punishment
that now is dogging her steps. She, like the mariner, had slain the one
sole creature that loved her upon the whole wide earth; she, like the
mariner, for this offence, had been hunted into frost and snow--very
soon will be hunted into delirium; and from _that_ (if she escapes
with life) will be hunted into the trouble of a heart that cannot rest.
There was the excuse of one darkness for _her_; there was the
excuse of another darkness for the mariner. But, with all the excuses
that earth, and the darkness of earth, can furnish, bitter it would be
for you or me, reader, through every hour of life, waking or dreaming,
to look back upon one fatal moment when we had pierced the heart that
would have died for us. In this only the darkness had been merciful to
Kate--that it had hidden for ever from her victim the hand that slew
him. But now in such utter solitude, her thoughts ran back to their
earliest interview. She remembered with anguish, how, on first touching
the shores of America, almost the very first word that met her ear had
been from _him_, the brother whom she had killed, about the
'Pussy' of times long past; how the gallant young man had hung upon her
words, as in her native Basque she described her own mischievous little
self, of twelve years back; how his color went and came, whilst his
loving memory of the little sister was revived by her own descriptive
traits, giving back, as in a mirror, the fawn-like grace, the squirrel-
like restlessness, that once had kindled his own delighted laughter;
how he would take no denial, but showed on the spot, that, simply to
have touched--to have kissed--to have played with the little wild
thing, that glorified, by her innocence, the gloom of St. Sebastian's
cloisters, gave a _right_ to his hospitality; how, through
_him_ only, she had found a welcome in camps; how, through
_him_, she had found the avenue to honor and distinction. And yet
this brother, so loving and generous, it was that she had dismissed
from life. She paused; she turned round, as if looking back for his
grave; she saw the dreadful wildernesses of snow which already she had
traversed.

Silent they were at this season, even as in the panting heats of noon,
the Zaarrahs of the torrid zone are oftentimes silent. Dreadful was the
silence; it was the nearest thing to the silence of the grave. Graves
were at the foot of the Andes, _that_ she knew too well; graves were at
the summit of the Andes, _that_ she saw too well. And, as she gazed, a
sudden thought flashed upon her, when her eyes settled upon the corpses
of the poor deserters--could she, like _them_, have been all this while
unconsciously executing judgment upon herself? Running from a wrath
that was doubtful, into the very jaws of a wrath that was inexorable?
Flying in panic--and behold! there was no man that pursued? For the
first time in her life, Kate trembled. _Not_ for the first time, Kate
wept. Far less for the first time was it, that Kate bent her knee--that
Kate clasped her hands--that Kate prayed. But it _was_ the first time
that she prayed as _they_ pray, for whom no more hope is left but in
prayer.

Here let me pause a moment for the sake of making somebody angry. A
Frenchman, who sadly misjudges Kate, looking at her through a Parisian
opera-glass, gives it as _his_ opinion--that, because Kate first
_records_ her prayer on this occasion, therefore, now first of all
she prayed. _I_ think not so. _I_ love this Kate, blood-
stained as she is; and I could not love a woman that never bent her
knee in thankfulness or in supplication. However, we have all a right
to our own little opinion; and it is not you, '_mon cher_,' you
Frenchman, that I am angry with, but somebody else that stands behind
you. You, Frenchman, and your compatriots, I love oftentimes for your
festal gaiety of heart; and I quarrel only with your levity and that
eternal worldliness that freezes too fiercely--that absolutely blisters
with its frost--like the upper air of the Andes. _You_ speak of
Kate only as too readily you speak of all women; the instinct of a
natural scepticism being to scoff at all hidden depths of truth. Else
you are civil enough to Kate; and your '_homage_' (such as it may
happen to be) is always at the service of a woman on the shortest
notice. But behind _you_, I see a worse fellow; a gloomy fanatic;
a religious sycophant that seeks to propitiate his circle by bitterness
against the offences that are most unlike his own. And against him, I
must say one word for Kate to the too hasty reader. This villain, whom
I mark for a shot if he does not get out of the way, opens his fire on
our Kate under shelter of a lie. For there is a standing lie in the
very constitution of civil society, a _necessity_ of error,
misleading us as to the proportions of crime. Mere necessity obliges
man to create many acts into felonies, and to punish them as the
heaviest offences, which his better sense teaches him secretly to
regard as perhaps among the lightest. Those poor deserters, for
instance, were they necessarily without excuse? They might have been
oppressively used; but in critical times of war, no matter for the
individual palliations, the deserter from his colors _must_ be
shot: there is no help for it: as in extremities of general famine, we
shoot the man (alas! we are _obliged_ to shoot him) that is found
robbing the common stores in order to feed his own perishing children,
though the offence is hardly visible in the sight of God. Only
blockheads adjust their scale of guilt to the scale of human
punishments. Now, our wicked friend the fanatic, who calumniates Kate,
abuses the advantage which, for such a purpose, he derives from the
exaggerated social estimate of all violence. Personal security being so
main an object of social union, we are obliged to frown upon all modes
of violence as hostile to the central principle of that union. We are
_obliged_ to rate it, according to the universal results towards
which it tends, and scarcely at all, according to the special condition
of circumstances, in which it may originate. Hence a horror arises for
that class of offences, which is (philosophically speaking)
exaggerated; and by daily use, the ethics of a police-office translate
themselves, insensibly, into the ethics even of religious people. But I
tell that sycophantish fanatic--not this only, viz., that he abuses
unfairly, against Kate, the advantage which he has from the
_inevitably_ distorted bias of society; but also, I tell him this
second little thing, viz., that upon turning away the glass from that
one obvious aspect of Kate's character, her too fiery disposition to
vindicate all rights by violence, and viewing her in relation to
_general_ religious capacities, she was a thousand times more
promisingly endowed than himself. It is impossible to be noble in many
things, without having many points of contact with true religion. If
you deny _that_ you it is that calumniate religion. Kate
_was_ noble in many things. Her worst errors never took a shape of
self-interest or deceit. She was brave, she was generous, she was
forgiving, she bore no malice, she was full of truth--qualities that
God loves either in man or woman. She hated sycophants and dissemblers.
_I_ hate them; and more than ever at this moment on her behalf. I
wish she were but here--to give a punch on the head to that fellow who
traduces her. And, coming round again to the occasion from which this
short digression has started, viz., the question raised by the
Frenchman--whether Kate were a person likely to _pray_ under other
circumstances than those of extreme danger? I offer it as _my_
opinion that she was. Violent people are not always such from choice,
but perhaps from situation. And, though the circumstances of Kate's
position allowed her little means for realizing her own wishes, it is
certain that those wishes pointed continually to peace and an unworldly
happiness, if _that_ were possible. The stormy clouds that
enveloped her in camps, opened overhead at intervals--showing her a far
distant blue serene. She yearned, at many times, for the rest which is
not in camps or armies; and it is certain, that she ever combined with
any plans or day-dreams of tranquillity, as their most essential ally,
some aid derived from that dovelike religion which, at St. Sebastian's,
as an infant and through girlhood, she had been taught so profoundly to
adore.

Now, let us rise from this discussion of Kate against libellers, as
Kate herself is rising from prayer, and consider, in conjunction with
_her_, the character and promise of that dreadful ground which
lies immediately before her. What is to be thought of it? I could wish
we had a theodolite here, and a spirit-level, and other instruments,
for settling some important questions. Yet no: on consideration, if one
_had_ a wish allowed by that kind fairy, without whose assistance
it would be quite impossible to send, even for the spirit-level, nobody
would throw away the wish upon things so paltry. I would not put the
fairy upon any such errand: I would order the good creature to bring no
spirit-level, but a stiff glass of spirits for Kate--a palanquin, and
relays of fifty stout bearers--all drunk, in order that they might not
feel the cold. The main interest at this moment, and the main
difficulty--indeed, the 'open question' of the case--was, to ascertain
whether the ascent were yet accomplished or not; and when would the
descent commence? or had it, perhaps, long commenced? The character of
the ground, in those immediate successions that could be connected by
the eye, decided nothing; for the undulations of the level had been so
continual for miles, as to perplex any eye but an engineer's, in
attempting to judge whether, upon the whole, the tendency were upwards
or downwards. Possibly it was yet neither way; it is, indeed, probable,
that Kate had been for some time travelling along a series of terraces,
that traversed the whole breadth of the topmost area at that point of
crossing the Cordilleras, and which perhaps, but not certainly,
compensated any casual tendencies downwards by corresponding reascents.
Then came the question--how long would these terraces yet continue? and
had the ascending parts _really_ balanced the descending?--upon
_that_ seemed to rest the final chance for Kate. Because, unless
she very soon reached a lower level, and a warmer atmosphere, mere
weariness would oblige her to lie down, under a fierceness of cold,
that would not suffer her to rise after once losing the warmth of
motion; or, inversely, if she even continued in motion, mere extremity
of cold would, of itself, speedily absorb the little surplus energy for
moving, which yet remained unexhausted by weariness.

At this stage of her progress, and whilst the agonizing question seemed
yet as indeterminate as ever, Kate's struggle with despair, which had
been greatly soothed by the fervor of her prayer, revolved upon her in
deadlier blackness. All turned, she saw, upon a race against time, and
the arrears of the road; and she, poor thing! how little qualified
could _she_ be, in such a condition, for a race of any kind; and
against two such obstinate brutes as time and space! This hour of the
progress, this noontide of Kate's struggle, must have been the very
crisis of the whole. Despair was rapidly tending to ratify itself.
Hope, in any degree, would be a cordial for sustaining her efforts. But
to flounder along a dreadful chaos of snow-drifts, or snow-chasms,
towards a point of rock, which, being turned, should expose only
another interminable succession of the same character--might
_that_ be endured by ebbing spirits, by stiffening limbs, by the
ghastly darkness that was now beginning to gather upon the inner eye?
And, if once despair became triumphant, all the little arrear of
physical strength would collapse at once.

Oh! verdure of human fields, cottages of men and women, (that now
suddenly seemed all brothers and sisters,) cottages with children
around them at play, that are so far below--oh! summer and spring,
flowers and blossoms, to which, as to _his_ symbols, God has given
the gorgeous privilege of rehearsing for ever upon earth his most
mysterious perfection--Life, and the resurrections of Life--is it
indeed true, that poor Kate must never see you more? Mutteringly she
put that question to herself. But strange are the caprices of ebb and
flow in the deep fountains of human sensibilities. At this very moment,
when the utter incapacitation of despair was gathering fast at Kate's
heart, a sudden lightening shot far into her spirit, a reflux almost
supernatural, from the earliest effects of her prayer. A thought had
struck her all at once, and this thought prompted her immediately to
turn round. Perhaps it was in some blind yearning after the only
memorials of life in this frightful region, that she fixed her eye upon
a point of hilly ground by which she identified the spot near which the
three corpses were lying. The silence seemed deeper than ever. Neither
was there any phantom memorial of life for the eye or for the ear, nor
wing of bird, nor echo, nor green leaf, nor creeping thing, that moved
or stirred, upon the soundless waste. Oh, what a relief to this burthen
of silence would be a human groan! Here seemed a motive for still
darker despair. And yet, at that very moment, a pulse of joy began to
thaw the ice at her heart. It struck her, as she reviewed the ground,
that undoubtedly it had been for some time slowly descending. Her
senses were much dulled by suffering; but this thought it was,
suggested by a sudden apprehension of a continued descending movement,
which had caused her to turn round. Sight had confirmed the suggestion
first derived from her own steps. The distance attained was now
sufficient to establish the tendency. Oh, yes, yes, to a certainty she
had been descending for some time. Frightful was the spasm of joy which
whispered that the worst was over. It was as when the shadow of
midnight, that murderers had relied on, is passing away from your
beleagured shelter, and dawn will soon be manifest. It was as when a
flood, that all day long has raved against the walls of your house, has
ceased (you suddenly think) to rise; yes! measured by a golden plummet,
it _is_ sinking beyond a doubt, and the darlings of your household
are saved. Kate faced round in agitation to her proper direction. She
saw, what previously, in her stunning confusion, she had _not_
seen, that, hardly two stones' throw in advance, lay a mass of rock,
split as into a gateway. Through that opening it now became probable
that the road was lying. Hurrying forward, she passed within the
natural gates. Gates of paradise they were. Ah, what a vista did that
gateway expose before her dazzled eye? what a revelation of heavenly
promise? Full two miles long, stretched a long narrow glen, everywhere
descending, and in many parts rapidly. All was now placed beyond a
doubt. She _was_ descending--for hours, perhaps, _had_ been
descending insensibly, the mighty staircase. Yes, Kate is leaving
behind her the kingdom of frost and the victories of death. Two miles
farther there may be rest, if there is not shelter. And very soon, as
the crest of her new-born happiness, she distinguished at the other end
of that rocky vista, a pavilion-shaped mass of dark green foliage--a
belt of trees, such as we see in the lovely parks of England, but
islanded by a screen (though not everywhere occupied by the
usurpations) of a thick bushy undergrowth. Oh, verdure of dark olive
foliage, offered suddenly to fainting eyes, as if by some winged
patriarchal herald of wrath relenting--solitary Arab's tent, rising
with saintly signals of peace, in the dreadful desert, must Kate indeed
die even yet, whilst she sees but cannot reach you? Outpost on the
frontier of man's dominions, standing within life, but looking out upon
everlasting death, wilt thou hold up the anguish of thy mocking
invitation, only to betray? Never, perhaps, in this world was the line
so exquisitely grazed, that parts salvation and ruin. As the dove to
her dove-cot from the swooping hawk--as the Christian pinnace to
Christian batteries, from the bloody Mahometan corsair, so flew--so
tried to fly towards the anchoring thickets, that, alas! could not
weigh their anchors and make sail to meet her--the poor exhausted Kate
from the vengeance of pursuing frost.

And she reached them; staggering, fainting, reeling, she entered
beneath the canopy of umbrageous trees. But, as oftentimes, the Hebrew
fugitive to a city of refuge, flying for his life before the avenger of
blood, was pressed so hotly that, on entering the archway of what
seemed to _him_ the heavenly city-gate, as he kneeled in deep
thankfulness to kiss its holy merciful shadow, he could not rise again,
but sank instantly with infant weakness into sleep--sometimes to wake
no more; so sank, so collapsed upon the ground, without power to choose
her couch, and with little prospect of ever rising again to her feet,
the martial nun. She lay as luck had ordered it, with her head screened
by the undergrowth of bushes, from any gales that might arise; she lay
exactly as she sank, with her eyes up to heaven; and thus it was that
the nun saw, before falling asleep, the two sights that upon earth are
fittest for the closing eyes of a nun, whether destined to open again,
or to close for ever. She saw the interlacing of boughs overhead
forming a dome, that seemed like the dome of a cathedral. She saw
through the fretwork of the foliage, another dome, far beyond, the dome
of an evening sky, the dome of some heavenly cathedral, not built with
hands. She saw upon this upper dome the vesper lights, all alive with
pathetic grandeur of coloring from a sunset that had just been rolling
down like a chorus. She had not, till now, consciously observed the
time of day; whether it were morning, or whether it were afternoon, in
her confusion she had not distinctly known. But now she whispered to
herself--'_It is evening_:' and what lurked half unconsciously in
these words might be--'The sun, that rejoices, has finished his daily
toil; man, that labors, has finished _his_; I, that suffer, have
finished mine.' That might be what she thought, but what she
_said_ was--'It is evening; and the hour is come when the
_Angelus_ is sounding through St. Sebastian.' What made her think
of St. Sebastian, so far away in depths of space and time? Her brain
was wandering, now that her feet were _not_; and, because her eyes
had descended from the heavenly to the earthly dome, _that_ made
her think of earthly cathedrals, and of cathedral choirs, and of St.
Sebastian's chapel, with its silvery bells that carried the
_Angelus_ far into mountain recesses. Perhaps, as her wanderings
increased, she thought herself back in childhood; became 'pussy' once
again; fancied that all since then was a frightful dream; that she was
not upon the dreadful Andes, but still kneeling in the holy chapel at
vespers; still innocent as then; loved as then she had been loved; and
that all men were liars, who said her hand was ever stained with blood.
Little enough is mentioned of the delusions which possessed her; but
that little gives a key to the impulse which her palpitating heart
obeyed, and which her rambling brain for ever reproduced in multiplying
mirrors. Restlessness kept her in waking dreams for a brief half hour.
But then, fever and delirium would wait no longer; the killing
exhaustion would no longer be refused; the fever, the delirium, and the
exhaustion, swept in together with power like an army with banners; and
the nun ceased through the gathering twilight any more to watch the
cathedrals of earth, or the more solemn cathedrals that rose in the
heavens above.

All night long she slept in her verdurous St. Bernard's hospice without
awaking, and whether she would _ever_ awake seemed to depend upon
an accident. The slumber that towered above her brain was like that
fluctuating silvery column which stands in scientific tubes sinking,
rising, deepening, lightening, contracting, expanding; or like the mist
that sits, through sultry afternoons, upon the river of the American
St. Peter, sometimes rarefying for minutes into sunny gauze, sometimes
condensing for hours into palls of funeral darkness. You fancy that,
after twelve hours of _any_ sleep, she must have been refreshed;
better at least than she was last night. Ah! but sleep is not always
sent upon missions of refreshment. Sleep is sometimes the secret
chamber in which death arranges his machinery. Sleep is sometimes that
deep mysterious atmosphere, in which the human spirit is slowly
unsettling its wings for flight from earthly tenements. It is now eight
o'clock in the morning; and, to all appearance, if Kate should receive
no aid before noon, when next the sun is departing to his rest, Kate
will be departing to hers; when next the sun is holding out his golden
Christian signal to man, that the hour is come for letting his anger go
down, Kate will be sleeping away for ever into the arms of brotherly
forgiveness.

What is wanted just now for Kate, supposing Kate herself to be wanted
by this world, is, that this world would be kind enough to send her a
little brandy before it is too late. The simple truth was, and a truth
which I have known to take place in more ladies than Kate, who died or
did _not_ die, accordingly, as they had or had not an adviser like
myself, capable of giving so sound an opinion, that the jewelly star of
life had descended too far down the arch towards setting, for any
chance of re-ascending by _spontaneous_ effort. The fire was still
burning in secret, but needed to be rekindled by potent artificial
breath. It lingered, and _might_ linger, but would never culminate
again without some stimulus from earthly vineyards. [Footnote: Though
not exactly in the same circumstances as Kate, or sleeping, _à la
belle étoile_, on a declivity of the Andes, I have known (or heard
circumstantially reported) the cases of many ladies besides Kate, who
were in precisely the same critical danger of perishing for want of a
little brandy. A dessert spoonful or two would have saved them. Avaunt!
you wicked 'Temperance' medallist! repent as fast as ever you can, or,
perhaps the next time we hear of you, _anasarca_ and _hydro-
thorax_ will be running after you to punish your shocking excesses
in water. Seriously, the case is one of constant recurrence, and
constantly ending fatally from _unseasonable_ and pedantic rigor
of temperance. The fact is, that the medical profession composes the
most generous and liberal body of men amongst us; taken generally, by
much the most enlightened; but professionally, the most timid. Want of
boldness in the administration of opium, &c., though they can be bold
enough with mercury, is their besetting infirmity. And from this
infirmity females suffer most. One instance I need hardly mention, the
fatal case of an august lady, mourned by nations, with respect to whom
it was, and is, the belief of multitudes to this hour (well able to
judge), that she would have been saved by a glass of brandy; and her
attendant, who shot himself, came to think so too late--too late for
_her_, and too late for himself. Amongst many cases of the same
nature, which personally I have been acquainted with, twenty years ago,
a man, illustrious for his intellectual accomplishments, mentioned to
me that his own wife, during her first or second confinement, was
suddenly reported to him, by one of her female attendants, (who slipped
away unobserved by the medical people,) as undoubtedly sinking fast. He
hurried to her chamber, and _saw_ that it was so. The presiding
medical authority, however, was inexorable. 'Oh, by no means,' shaking
his ambrosial wig, 'any stimulant at this crisis would be fatal.' But
no authority could overrule the concurrent testimony of all symptoms,
and of all unprofessional opinions. By some pious falsehood my friend
smuggled the doctor out of the room, and immediately smuggled a glass
of brandy into the poor lady's lips. She recovered with magical power.
The doctor is now dead, and went to his grave under the delusive
persuasion--that not any vile glass of brandy, but the stern refusal of
all brandy, was the thing that saved his collapsing patient. The
patient herself, who might naturally know something of the matter, was
of a different opinion. She sided with the factious body around her
bed, (comprehending all beside the doctor,) who felt sure that death
was rapidly approaching, _barring_ that brandy. The same result in
the same appalling crisis, I have known repeatedly produced by twenty-
five drops of laudanum. An obstinate man will say--'Oh, never listen to
a non-medical man like this writer. Consult in such a case your medical
adviser.' You will, will you? Then let me tell you, that you are
missing the very logic of all I have been saying for the improvement of
blockheads, which is--that you should consult any man _but_ a
medical man, since no other man has any obstinate prejudice of
professional timidity. N. B.--I prescribe for Kate _gratis_,
because she, poor thing! has so little to give. But from other ladies,
who may have the happiness to benefit by my advice, I expect a fee--not
so large a one considering the service--a flowering plant, suppose the
_second_ best in their collection. I know it would be of no use to
ask for the _very_ best, (which else I could wish to do,) because
that would only be leading them into little fibs. I don't insist on a
_Yucca gloriosa_, or a _Magnolia speciosissima_, (I hope
there _is_ such a plant)--a rose or a violet will do. I am sure
there is such a plant as that. And if they settle their debts justly, I
shall very soon be master of the prettiest little conservatory in
England. For, treat it not as a jest, reader; no case of timid practice
is so fatally frequent.] Kate was ever lucky, though ever unfortunate;
and the world, being of my opinion that Kate was worth saving, made up
its mind about half-past eight o'clock in the morning to save her. Just
at that time, when the night was over, and its sufferings were hidden--
in one of those intermitting gleams that for a moment or two lightened
the clouds of her slumber, Kate's dull ear caught a sound that for
years had spoken a familiar language to _her_. What was it? It was
the sound, though muffled and deadened, like the ear that heard it, of
horsemen advancing. Interpreted by the tumultuous dreams of Kate, was
it the cavalry of Spain, at whose head so often she had charged the
bloody Indian scalpers? Was it, according to the legend of ancient
days, cavalry that had been sown by her brother's blood, cavalry that
rose from the ground on an inquest of retribution, and were racing up
the Andes to seize her? Her dreams that had opened sullenly to the
sound waited for no answer, but closed again into pompous darkness.
Happily, the horsemen had caught the glimpse of some bright ornament,
clasp, or aiguillette, on Kate's dress. They were hunters and foresters
from below; servants in the household of a beneficent lady; and in some
pursuit of flying game had wandered beyond their ordinary limits.
Struck by the sudden scintillation from Kate's dress played upon by the
morning sun, they rode up to the thicket. Great was their surprise,
great their pity, to see a young officer in uniform stretched within
the bushes upon the ground, and perhaps dying. Borderers from childhood
on this dreadful frontier, sacred to winter and death, they understood
the case at once. They dismounted: and with the tenderness of women,
raising the poor frozen cornet in their arms, washed her temples with
brandy, whilst one, at intervals, suffered a few drops to trickle
within her lips. As the restoration of a warm bed was now most likely
to be successful, they lifted the helpless stranger upon a horse,
walking on each side with supporting arms. Once again our Kate is in
the saddle; once again a Spanish Caballador. But Kate's bridle-hand is
deadly cold. And her spurs, that she had never unfastened since leaving
the monastic asylum, hung as idle as the flapping sail that fills
unsteadily with the breeze upon a stranded ship.

This procession had some miles to go, and over difficult ground; but at
length it reached the forest-like park and the chateau of the wealthy
proprietress. Kate was still half-frozen and speechless, except at
intervals. Heavens! can this corpse-like, languishing young woman, be
the Kate that once, in her radiant girlhood, rode with a handful of
comrades into a column of two thousand enemies, that saw her comrades
die, that persisted when all were dead, that tore from the heart of all
resistance the banner of her native Spain? Chance and change have
'written strange defeatures in her face.' Much is changed; but some
things are not changed: there is still kindness that overflows with
pity: there is still helplessness that asks for this pity without a
voice: she is now received by a Senora, not less kind than that
maternal aunt, who, on the night of her birth, first welcomed her to a
loving home; and she, the heroine of Spain, is herself as helpless now
as that little lady who, then at ten minutes of age, was kissed and
blessed by all the household of St. Sebastian.

Let us suppose Kate placed in a warm bed. Let us suppose her in a few
hours recovering steady consciousness; in a few days recovering some
power of self-support; in a fortnight able to seek the gay saloon,
where the Senora was sitting alone, and rendering thanks, with that
deep sincerity which ever characterized our wild-hearted Kate, for the
critical services received from that lady and her establishment.

This lady, a widow, was what the French call a _métisse_, the Spaniards
a _mestizza_; that is, the daughter of a genuine Spaniard, and an
Indian mother. I shall call her simply a _creole_, [Footnote:
'Creole.'--At that time the infusion of negro or African blood was
small. Consequently none of the negro hideousness was diffused. After
these intercomplexities had arisen between all complications of descent
from three original strands, European, American, African, the
distinctions of social consideration founded on them bred names so
many, that a court calendar was necessary to keep you from blundering.
As yet, the varieties were few. Meantime, the word _creole_ has always
been misapplied in our English colonies to a person (though of strictly
European blood,) simply because _born_ in the West Indies. In this
English use, it expresses the same difference as the Romans indicated
by _Hispanus_ and _Hispanicus_. The first meant a person of Spanish
blood, a native of Spain; the second, a Roman born in Spain. So of
_Germanus_ and _Germanicus_, _Italus_ and _Italicus_, _Anglus_ and
_Anglicus_, &c.; an important distinction, on which see Casaubon _apud
Scriptores. Hist. Augustan._] which will indicate her want of pure
Spanish blood sufficiently to explain her deference for those who had
it. She was a kind, liberal woman; rich rather more than needed where
there were no opera boxes to rent--a widow about fifty years old in the
wicked world's account, some forty-four in her own; and happy, above
all, in the possession of a most lovely daughter, whom even the wicked
world did not accuse of more than sixteen years. This daughter, Juana,
was--But stop--let her open the door of the saloon in which the Senora
and the cornet are conversing, and speak for herself. She did so, after
an hour had passed; which length of time, to _her_ that never had any
business whatever in her innocent life, seemed sufficient to settle the
business of the old world and the new. Had Pietro Diaz (as Catalina now
called herself) been really a Peter, and not a sham Peter, what a
vision of loveliness would have rushed upon his sensibilities as the
door opened! Do not expect me to describe her, for which, however,
there are materials extant, sleeping in archives, where they have slept
for two hundred and twenty years. It is enough that she is reported to
have united the stately tread of Andalusian women with the innocent
voluptuousness of Peruvian eyes. As to her complexion and figure, be it
known that Juana's father was a gentleman from Grenada, having in his
veins the grandest blood of all this earth, blood of Goths and Vandals,
tainted (for which Heaven be thanked!) twice over with blood of Arabs--
once through Moors, once through Jews; [Footnote: It is well known,
that the very reason why the Spanish of all nations became the most
gloomily jealous of a Jewish cross in the pedigree, was because, until
the vigilance of the Church rose into ferocity, in no nation was such a
cross so common. The hatred of fear is ever the deepest. And men hated
the Jewish taint, as once in Jerusalem they hated the leprosy, because
even whilst they raved against it, the secret proofs of it might be
detected amongst their own kindred, even as in the Temple, whilst once
a king rose in mutiny against the priesthood, (2 Chron. xxvi 16-20,)
suddenly the leprosy that dethroned him, blazed out upon his forehead.]
whilst from her grandmother, Juana drew the deep subtle melancholy and
the beautiful contours of limb which belong to the Indian race--a race
destined silently and slowly to fade from the earth. No awkwardness was
or could be in this antelope, when gliding with forest grace into the
room--no town-bred shame--nothing but the unaffected pleasure of one
who wishes to speak a fervent welcome, but knows not if she ought--the
astonishment of a Miranda, bred in utter solitude, when first beholding
a princely Ferdinand--and just so much reserve as to remind you, that
if Catalina thought fit to dissemble her sex, she did _not_. And
consider, reader, if you look back and are a great arithmetician, that
whilst the Senora had only fifty per cent of Spanish blood, Juana had
seventy-five; so that her Indian melancholy after all was swallowed up
for the present by her Vandal, by her Arab, by her Spanish fire.

Catalina, seared as she was by the world, has left it evident in her
memoirs that she was touched more than she wished to be by this
innocent child. Juana formed a brief lull for Catalina in her too
stormy existence. And if for _her_ in this life the sweet reality
of a sister had been possible, here was the sister she would have
chosen. On the other hand, what might Juana think of the cornet? To
have been thrown upon the kind hospitalities of her native home, to
have been rescued by her mother's servants from that fearful death
which, lying but a few miles off, had filled her nursery with
traditionary tragedies,--_that_ was sufficient to create an
interest in the stranger. But his bold martial demeanor, his yet
youthful style of beauty, his frank manners, his animated conversation
that reported a hundred contests with suffering and peril, wakened for
the first time her admiration. Men she had never seen before, except
menial servants, or a casual priest. But here was a gentleman, young
like herself, that rode in the cavalry of Spain--that carried the
banner of the only potentate whom Peruvians knew of--the King of the
Spains and the Indies--that had doubled Cape Horn, that had crossed the
Andes, that had suffered shipwreck, that had rocked upon fifty storms,
and had wrestled for life through fifty battles.

The reader knows all that followed. The sisterly love which Catalina
did really feel for this young mountaineer was inevitably misconstrued.
Embarrassed, but not able, from sincere affection, or almost in bare
propriety, to refuse such expressions of feeling as corresponded to the
artless and involuntary kindnesses of the ingenuous Juana, one day the
cornet was surprised by mamma in the act of encircling her daughter's
waist with his martial arm, although waltzing was premature by at least
two centuries in Peru. She taxed him instantly with dishonorably
abusing her confidence. The cornet made but a bad defence. He muttered
something about '_fraternal affection_,' about 'esteem,' and a
great deal of metaphysical words that are destined to remain
untranslated in their original Spanish. The good Senora, though she
could boast only of forty-four years' experience, was not altogether to
be '_had_' in that fashion--she was as learned as if she had been
fifty, and she brought matters to a speedy crisis. 'You are a
Spaniard,' she said, 'a gentleman, therefore; _remember_ that you
are a gentleman. This very night, if your intentions are not serious,
quit my house. Go to Tucuman; you shall command my horses and servants;
but stay no longer to increase the sorrow that already you will have
left behind you. My daughter loves you. That is sorrow enough, if you
are trifling with us. But, if not, and you also love _her_, and
can be happy in our solitary mode of life, stay with us--stay for ever.
Marry Juana with my free consent. I ask not for wealth. Mine is
sufficient for you both.' The cornet protested that the honor was one
never contemplated by _him_--that it was too great--that--. But,
of course, reader, you know that 'gammon' flourishes in Peru, amongst
the silver mines, as well as in some more boreal lands that produce
little better than copper and tin. 'Tin,' however, has its uses. The
delighted Senora overruled all objections, great and small; and she
confirmed Juana's notion that the business of two worlds could be
transacted in an hour, by settling her daughter's future happiness in
exactly twenty minutes. The poor, weak Catalina, not acting now in any
spirit of recklessness, grieving sincerely for the gulf that was
opening before her, and yet shrinking effeminately from the momentary
shock that would be inflicted by a firm adherence to her duty, clinging
to the anodyne of a short delay, allowed herself to be installed as the
lover of Juana. Considerations of convenience, however, postponed the
marriage. It was requisite to make various purchases; and for this, it
was requisite to visit Tucuman, where, also, the marriage ceremony
could be performed with more circumstantial splendor. To Tucuman,
therefore, after some weeks' interval, the whole party repaired. And at
Tucuman it was that the tragical events arose, which, whilst
interrupting such a mockery for ever, left the poor Juana still happily
deceived, and never believing for a moment that hers was a rejected or
a deluded heart.

One reporter of Mr. De Ferrer's narrative forgets his usual generosity,
when he says that the Senora's gift of her daughter to the Alferez was
not quite so disinterested as it seemed to be. Certainly it was not so
disinterested as European ignorance might fancy it: but it was quite as
much so as it ought to have been, in balancing the interests of a
child. Very true it is--that, being a genuine Spaniard, who was still
a rare creature in so vast a world as Peru, being a Spartan amongst
Helots, an Englishman amongst Savages, an Alferez would in those days
have been a natural noble. His alliance created honor for his wife and
for his descendants. Something, therefore, the cornet would add to the
family consideration. But, instead of selfishness, it argued just
regard for her daughter's interest to build upon this, as some sort of
equipoise to the wealth which her daughter would bring.

Spaniard, however, as he was, our Alferez on reaching Tucuman found no
Spaniards to mix with, but instead twelve Portuguese.

Catalina remembered the Spanish proverb--'Subtract from a Spaniard all
his good qualities, and the remainder makes a pretty fair Portuguese;'
but, as there was nobody else to gamble with, she entered freely into
their society. Very soon she suspected that there was foul play: all
modes of doctoring dice had been made familiar to _her_ by the
experience of camps. She watched; and, by the time she had lost her
final coin, she was satisfied that she had been plundered. In her first
anger she would have been glad to switch the whole dozen across the
eyes; but, as twelve to one were too great odds, she determined on
limiting her vengeance to the immediate culprit. Him she followed into
the street; and coming near enough to distinguish his profile reflected
on a wall, she continued to keep him in view from a short distance. The
light-hearted young cavalier whistled, as he went, an old Portuguese
ballad of romance; and in a quarter of an hour came up to an house, the
front door of which he began to open with a pass-key. This operation
was the signal for Catalina that the hour of vengeance had struck; and,
stepping hastily up, she tapped the Portuguese on the shoulder, saying
--'Senor, you are a robber!' The Portuguese turned coolly round, and,
seeing his gaming antagonist, replied--'Possibly, Sir; but I have no
particular fancy for being told so,' at the same time drawing his
sword. Catalina had not designed to take any advantage; and the
touching him on the shoulder, with the interchange of speeches, and the
known character of Kate, sufficiently imply it. But it is too probable
in such cases, that the party whose intention has been regularly
settled from the first, will, and must have an advantage unconsciously
over a man so abruptly thrown on his defence. However this might be,
they had not fought a minute before Catalina passed her sword through
her opponent's body; and without a groan or a sigh, the Portuguese
cavalier fell dead at his own door. Kate searched the street with her
ears, and (as far as the indistinctness of night allowed) with her
eyes. All was profoundly silent; and she was satisfied that no human
figure was in motion. What should be done with the body? A glance at
the door of the house settled _that_: Fernando had himself opened
it at the very moment when he received the summons to turn round. She
dragged the corpse in, therefore, to the foot of the staircase, put the
key by the dead man's side, and then issuing softly into the street,
drew the door close with as little noise as possible. Catalina again
paused to listen and to watch, went home to the hospitable Senora's
house, retired to bed, fell asleep, and early the next morning was
awakened by the Corregidor and four alguazils.

The lawlessness of all that followed strikingly exposes the frightful
state of criminal justice at that time, wherever Spanish law prevailed.
No evidence appeared to connect Catalina in any way with the death of
Fernando Acosta. The Portuguese gamblers, besides that perhaps they
thought lightly of such an accident, might have reasons of their own
for drawing off public attention from their pursuits in Tucuman: not
one of these men came forward openly; else the circumstances at the
gaming table, and the departure of Catalina so closely on the heels of
her opponent, would have suggested reasonable grounds for detaining her
until some further light should be obtained. As it was, her
imprisonment rested upon no colorable ground whatever, unless the
magistrate had received some anonymous information, which, however, he
never alleged. One comfort there was, meantime, in Spanish injustice:
it did not loiter. Full gallop it went over the ground: one week often
sufficed for informations--for trial--for execution; and the only bad
consequence was, that a second or a third week sometimes exposed the
disagreeable fact that everything had been 'premature;' a solemn
sacrifice had been made to offended justice, in which all was right
except as to the victim; it was the wrong man; and _that_ gave
extra trouble; for then all was to do over again, another man to be
executed, and, possibly, still to be caught.

Justice moved at her usual Spanish rate in the present case. Kate was
obliged to rise instantly; not suffered to speak to anybody in the
house, though, in going out, a door opened, and she saw the young Juana
looking out with saddest Indian expression. In one day the trial was
all finished. Catalina said (which was true) that she hardly knew
Acosta; and that people of her rank were used to attack their enemies
face to face, not by murderous surprises. The magistrates were
impressed with Catalina's answers (yet answered to _what_?) Things
were beginning to look well, when all was suddenly upset by two
witnesses, whom the reader (who is a sort of accomplice after the fact,
having been privately let into the truths of the case, and having
concealed his knowledge), will know at once to be false witnesses, but
whom the old Spanish buzwigs doated on as models of all that could be
looked for in the best. Both were very ill-looking fellows, as it was
their duty to be. And the first deposed as follows:--That through his
quarter of Tucuman, the fact was notorious of Acosta's wife being the
object of a criminal pursuit on the part of the Alferez (Catalina):
that, _doubtless_, the injured husband had surprised the prisoner,
which, of course, had led to the murder, to the staircase, to the key--
to everything, in short, that could be wished; no--stop! what am I
saying?--to everything that ought to be abominated. Finally--for he had
now settled the main question--that he had a friend who would take up
the case where he himself, from short-sightedness, was obliged to lay
it down.' This friend, the Pythias of this short-sighted Damon started
up in a frenzy of virtue at this summons, and, rushing to the front of
the alguazils, said, 'That since his friend had proved sufficiently the
fact of the Alferez having been lurking in the house, and having
murdered a man, all that rested upon _him_ to show was, how that
murderer got out of the house; which he could do satisfactorily; for
there was a balcony running along the windows on the second floor, one
of which windows he himself, lurking in a corner of the street, saw the
Alferez throw up, and from the said balcony take a flying leap into the
said street.' Evidence like this was conclusive; no defence was
listened to, nor indeed had the prisoner any to produce. The Alferez
could deny neither the staircase nor the balcony: the street is there
to this day, like the bricks in Jack Cade's Chimney, testifying all
that may be required; and, as to our friend who saw the leap, there he
was; nobody could deny _him_. The prisoner might indeed have
suggested that she never heard of Acosta's wife, nor had the existence
of such a wife been ripened even into a suspicion. But the bench were
satisfied; chopping logic was of no use; and sentence was pronounced--
that on the eighth day from the day of arrest, the Alferez should be
executed in the public square.

It was not amongst the weaknesses of Catalina--who had so often
inflicted death, and, by her own journal, thought so lightly of
inflicting it (if not under cowardly advantages)--to shrink from facing
death in her own person. Many incidents in her career show the coolness
and even gaiety with which, in any case where death was apparently
inevitable, she would have gone to meet it. But in this case she
_had_ a temptation for escaping it, which was probably in her
power. She had only to reveal the secret of her sex, and the ridiculous
witnesses, beyond whose testimony there was nothing at all against her,
must at once be covered with derision. Catalina had some liking for
fun; and a main inducement to this course was, that it would enable her
to say to the judges, 'Now you see what old fools you've made of
yourselves; every woman and child in Peru will soon be laughing at
you.' I must acknowledge my own weakness; this last temptation I could
_not_ have withstood; flesh is weak, and fun is strong. But
Catalina _did_. On consideration she fancied, that although the
particular motive for murdering Acosta would be dismissed with
laughter, still this might not clear her of the murder, which on some
_other_ motive she might have committed. But supposing that she
were cleared altogether, what most of all she feared was, that the
publication of her sex would throw a reflex light upon many past
transactions in her life--would instantly find its way to Spain--and
would probably soon bring her within the tender attentions of the
Inquisition. She kept firm to the resolution of not saving her life by
this discovery. And so far as her fate lay in her own hands, she would
(as the reader will perceive from a little incident at the scaffold)
have perished to a certainty. But even at this point, how strange a
case! A woman _falsely_ accused of an act which she really
_did_ commit! And falsely accused of a true offence upon a motive
that was impossible!

As the sun set upon the seventh day, when the hours were numbered for
the prisoner, there filed into her cell four persons in religious
habits. They came on the charitable mission of preparing the poor
convict for death. Catalina, however, watching all things narrowly,
remarked something earnest and significant in the eye of the leader, as
of one who had some secret communication to make. She contrived to
clasp this man's hands, as if in the energy of internal struggles, and
_he_ contrived to slip into hers the very smallest of billets from
poor Juana. It contained, for indeed it _could_ contain, only
these three words--'Do not confess. J.' This one caution, so simple and
so brief, was a talisman. It did not refer to any confession of the
crime; _that_ would have been assuming what Juana was neither
entitled nor disposed to assume, but, in the technical sense of the
Church, to the act of devotional confession. Catalina found a single
moment for a glance at it--understood the whole--resolutely refused to
confess, as a person unsettled in her religious opinions, that needed
spiritual instructions, and the four monks withdrew to make their
report. The principal judge, upon hearing of the prisoner's
impenitence, granted another day. At the end of _that_, no change
having occurred either in the prisoner's mind, or in the circumstances,
he issued his warrant for the execution. Accordingly, as the sun went
down, the sad procession formed within the prison. Into the great
square of Tucuman it moved, where the scaffold had been built, and the
whole city had assembled for the spectacle. Catalina steadily ascended
the ladder of the scaffold; even then she resolved not to benefit by
revealing her sex; even then it was that she expressed her scorn for
the lubberly executioner's mode of tying a knot; did it herself in a
'ship-shape,' orthodox manner; received in return the enthusiastic
plaudits of the crowd, and so far ran the risk of precipitating her
fate; for the timid magistrates, fearing a rescue from the impetuous
mob, angrily ordered the executioner to finish the scene. The clatter
of a galloping horse, however, at this instant forced them to pause.
The crowd opened a road for the agitated horseman, who was the bearer
of an order from the President of La Plata to suspend the execution
until two prisoners could be examined. The whole was the work of the
Senora and her daughter. The elder lady, having gathered informations
against the witnesses, had pursued them to La Plata. There, by her
influence with the Governor, they were arrested; recognised as old
malefactors; and in their terror had partly confessed their perjury.
Catalina was removed to La Plata; solemnly acquitted; and, by the
advice of the President, for the present the connection with the
Senora's family was postponed indefinitely.

Now was the last adventure approaching that ever Catalina should see in
the new world. Some fine sights she may yet see in Europe, but nothing
after this (_which she has recorded_) in America. Europe, if it
had ever heard of her name (which very shortly it _shall_), Kings,
Pope, Cardinals, if they were but aware of her existence (which in six
months they _shall_ be), would thirst for an introduction to our
Catalina. You hardly thought now, reader, that she was such a great
person, or anybody's pet but yours and mine. Bless you, Sir, she would
scorn to look at _us_. I tell you, royalties are languishing to
see her, or soon _will_ be. But how can this come to pass, if she
is to continue in her present obscurity? Certainly it cannot without
some great _peripetteia_ or vertiginous whirl of fortune; which,
therefore, you shall now behold taking place in one turn of her next
adventure. _That_ shall let in a light, _that_ shall throw
back a Claude Lorraine gleam over all the past, able to make Kings,
that would have cared not for her under Peruvian daylight, come to
glorify her setting beams.

The Senora--and, observe, whatever kindness she does to Catalina speaks
secretly from two hearts, her own and Juana's--had, by the advice of
Mr. President Mendonia, given sufficient money for Catalina's
travelling expenses. So far well. But Mr. M. chose to add a little
codicil to this bequest of the Senora's, never suggested by her or by
her daughter. 'Pray,' said this inquisitive President, who surely might
have found business enough in La Plata, 'Pray, Senor Pietro Diaz, did
you ever live at Concepcion? And were you ever acquainted there with
Senor Miguel de Erauso? That man, Sir, was my friend.' What a pity that
on this occasion Catalina could not venture to be candid! What a
capital speech it would have made to say--'_Friend_ were you? I
think you could hardly be _that_, with seven hundred miles between
you. But that man was _my_ friend also; and, secondly, my brother.
True it is I killed him. But if you happen to know that this was by
pure mistake in the dark, what an old rogue you must be to throw
_that_ in my teeth, which is the affliction of my life!' Again,
however, as so often in the same circumstances, Catalina thought that
it would cause more ruin than it could heal to be candid; and, indeed,
if she were really _P. Diaz, Esq. _, how came she to be brother to
the late Mr. Erauso? On consideration, also, if she could not tell
_all_, merely to have professed a fraternal connection which never
was avowed by either whilst living together, would not have brightened
the reputation of Catalina, which too surely required a scouring.
Still, from my kindness for poor Kate, I feel uncharitably towards the
president for advising Senor Pietro 'to travel for his health.' What
had _he_ to do with people's health? However, Mr. Peter, as he had
pocketed the Senora's money, thought it right to pocket also the advice
that accompanied its payment. That he might be in a condition to do so,
he went off to buy a horse. He was in luck to-day. For beside money and
advice, he obtained, at a low rate, a horse both beautiful and
serviceable for a journey. To Paz it was, a city of prosperous name,
that the cornet first moved. But Paz did not fulfil the promise of its
name. For it laid the grounds of a feud that drove our Kate out of
America.

Her first adventure was a bagatelle, and fitter for a jest-book than a
history; yet it proved no jest either, since it led to the tragedy that
followed. Riding into Paz, our gallant standard-bearer and her bonny
black horse drew all eyes, _comme de raison_, upon their separate
charms. This was inevitable amongst the indolent population of a
Spanish town; and Kate was used to it. But, having recently had a
little too much of the public attention, she felt nervous on remarking
two soldiers eyeing the handsome horse and the handsome rider, with an
attention that seemed too solemn for mere _aesthetics_. However,
Kate was not the kind of person to let anything dwell on her spirits,
especially if it took the shape of impudence; and, whistling gaily, she
was riding forward--when, who should cross her path but the Alcalde!
Ah! Alcalde, you see a person now that has a mission against you,
though quite unknown to herself. He looked so sternly, that Kate asked
if his worship had any commands. 'These men,' said the Alcalde, 'these
two soldiers, say that this horse is stolen.' To one who had so
narrowly and so lately escaped the balcony witness and his friend, it
was really no laughing matter to hear of new affidavits in preparation.
Kate was nervous, but never disconcerted. In a moment she had twitched
off a saddle-cloth on which she sat; and throwing it over the horse's
head, so as to cover up all between the ears and the mouth, she
replied, 'that she had bought and paid for the horse at La Plata. But
now, your worship, if this horse has really been stolen from these men,
they must know well of which eye it is blind; for it _can_ be only
in the right eye or the left.' One of the soldiers cried out instantly,
that it was the left eye; but the other said, 'No, no, you forget, it's
the right.' Kate maliciously called attention to this little schism.
But the men said, 'Ah, _that_ was nothing--they were hurried; but
now, on recollecting themselves, they were agreed that it was the left
eye.' Did they stand to that? 'Oh yes, positive they were, left eye,
left.'

Upon which our Kate, twitching off the horse-cloth, said gaily to the
magistrate, 'Now, Sir, please to observe that this horse has nothing
the matter with either eye.' And in fact it _was_ so. Then his
worship ordered his alguazils to apprehend the two witnesses, who
posted off to bread and water, with other reversionary advantages,
whilst Kate rode in quest of the best dinner that Paz could furnish.

This Alcalde's acquaintance, however, was not destined to drop here.
Something had appeared in the young _caballero's_ bearing, which
made it painful to have addressed him with harshness, or for a moment
to have entertained such a charge against such a person. He despatched
his cousin, therefore, Don Antonio Calderon, to offer his apologies,
and at the same time to request that the stranger, whose rank and
quality he regretted not to have known, would do him the honor to come
and dine with him. This explanation, and the fact that Don Antonio had
already proclaimed his own position as cousin to the magistrate and
nephew to the Bishop of Cuzco, obliged Catalina to say, after thanking
the gentlemen for their obliging attentions, 'I myself hold the rank of
Alferez in the service of his Catholic Majesty. I am a native of
Biscay, and I am now repairing to Cuzco on private business.' 'To
Cuzco!' exclaimed Don Antonio, 'how very fortunate! My cousin is a
Basque like you; and, like you, he starts for Cuzco to-morrow morning;
so that, if it is agreeable to you, Senor Alferez, we will travel
together.' It was settled that they should. To travel--amongst 'balcony
witnesses,' and anglers for 'blind horses'--not merely with a just man,
but with the very abstract idea and riding allegory of justice, was too
delightful to the storm-wearied cornet; and he cheerfully accompanied
Don Antonio to the house of the magistrate, called Don Pedro de
Chavarria. Distinguished was his reception; the Alcalde personally
renewed his regrets for the ridiculous scene of the two scampish
oculists, and presented him to his wife, a splendid Andalusian beauty,
to whom he had been married about a year.

This lady there is a reason for describing; and the French reporter of
Catalina's memoirs dwells upon the theme. She united, he says, the
sweetness of the German lady with the energy of the Arabian, a
combination hard to judge of. As to her feet, he adds, I say nothing;
for she had scarcely any at all. '_Je ne parle point de ses pieds,
elle n'en avait presque pas_.' 'Poor lady!' says a compassionate
rustic: 'no feet! What a shocking thing that so fine a woman should
have been so sadly mutilated!' Oh, my dear rustic, you're quite in the
wrong box. The Frenchman means this as the very highest compliment.
Beautiful, however, she must have been; and a Cinderella, I hope, not a
Cinderellula, considering that she had the inimitable walk and step of
the Andalusians, which cannot be accomplished without something of a
proportionate basis to stand upon.

The reason which there is (as I have said) for describing this lady,
arises out of her relation to the tragic events which followed. She, by
her criminal levity, was the cause of all. And I must here warn the
moralizing blunderer of two errors that he is too likely to make: 1st,
That he is invited to read some extract from a licentious amour, as if
for its own interest; 2d, Or on account of Donna Catalina's memoirs,
with a view to relieve their too martial character. I have the pleasure
to assure him of his being so utterly in the darkness of error, that
any possible change he can make in his opinions, right or left, must be
for the better: he cannot stir, but he will mend, which is a delightful
thought for the moral and blundering mind. As to the first point, what
little glimpse he obtains of a licentious amour is, as a court of
justice will sometimes show him such a glimpse, simply to make
intelligible the subsequent facts which depend upon it. Secondly, As to
the conceit, that Catalina wished to embellish her memoirs, understand
that no such practice then existed; certainly not in Spanish
literature. Her memoirs are electrifying by their facts; else, in the
manner of telling these facts, they are systematically dry.

Don Antonio Calderon was a handsome, accomplished cavalier. And in the
course of dinner, Catalina was led to judge, from the behavior to each
other of this gentleman and the lady, the Alcalde's beautiful wife,
that they had an improper understanding. This also she inferred from
the furtive language of their eyes. Her wonder was, that the Alcalde
should be so blind; though upon that point she saw reason in a day or
two to change her opinion. Some people see everything by affecting to
see nothing. The whole affair, however, was nothing at all to
_her_, and she would have dismissed it from her thoughts
altogether, but for what happened on the journey.

From the miserable roads, eight hours a day of travelling was found
quite enough for man and beast; the product of which eight hours was
from ten to twelve leagues. On the last day but one of the journey, the
travelling party, which was precisely the original dinner party,
reached a little town ten leagues short of Cuzco. The Corregidor of
this place was a friend of the Alcalde; and through _his_
influence the party obtained better accommodations than those which
they had usually had in a hovel calling itself a _venta_, or in
the sheltered corner of a barn. The Alcalde was to sleep at the
Corregidor's house; the two young cavaliers, Calderon and our Kate, had
sleeping rooms at the public _locanda_; but for the lady was
reserved a little pleasure-house in an enclosed garden. This was a
plaything of a house; but the season being summer, and the house
surrounded with tropical flowers, the lady preferred it (in spite of
its loneliness) to the damp mansion of the official grandee, who, in
her humble opinion, was quite as fusty as his mansion, and his mansion
not much less so than himself.

After dining gaily together at the _locanda_, and possibly taking a
'rise' out of his worship the Corregidor, as a repeating echo of Don
Quixote, (then growing popular in Spanish America,) the young man who
was no young officer, and the young officer who was no young man,
lounged down together to the little pavilion in the flower-garden, with
the purpose of paying their respects to the presiding belle. They were
graciously received, and had the honor of meeting there his Mustiness
the Alcalde, and his Fustiness the Corregidor; whose conversation was
surely improving, but not equally brilliant. How they got on under the
weight of two such muffs, has been a mystery for two centuries. But
they _did_ to a certainty, for the party did not break up till eleven.
_Tea and turn out_ you could not call it; for there was the _turn out_
in rigor, but not the _tea_. One thing, however, Catalina by mere
accident had an opportunity of observing, and observed with pain. The
two official gentlemen had gone down the steps into the garden.
Catalina, having forgot her hat, went back into the little vestibule to
look for it. There stood the lady and Don Antonio, exchanging a few
final words (they _were_ final) and a few final signs. Amongst the last
Kate observed distinctly this, and distinctly she understood it. First
drawing Calderon's attention to the gesture, as one of significant
pantomime, by raising her forefinger, the lady snuffed out one of the
candles. The young man answered it by a look of intelligence, and all
three passed down the steps together. The lady was disposed to take the
cool air, and accompanied them to the garden-gate; but, in passing
down the walk, Catalina noticed a second ill-omened sign that all was
not right. Two glaring eyes she distinguished amongst the shrubs for a
moment, and a rustling immediately after. 'What's that?' said the lady,
and Don Antonio answered carelessly, 'A bird flying out of the bushes.'

Catalina, as usual, had read everything. Not a wrinkle or a rustle was
lost upon _her_. And, therefore, when she reached the
_locanda_, knowing to an iota all that was coming, she did not
retire to bed, but paced before the house. She had not long to wait: in
fifteen minutes the door opened softly, and out stepped Calderon. Kate
walked forward, and faced him immediately; telling him laughingly that
it was not good for his health to go abroad on this night. The young
man showed some impatience; upon which, very seriously, Kate acquainted
him with her suspicions, and with the certainty that the Alcalde was
not so blind as he had seemed. Calderon thanked her for the
information; would be upon his guard; but, to prevent further
expostulation, he wheeled round instantly into the darkness. Catalina
was too well convinced, however, of the mischief on foot, to leave him
thus. She followed rapidly, and passed silently into the garden, almost
at the same time with Calderon. Both took their stations behind trees;
Calderon watching nothing but the burning candles, Catalina watching
circumstances to direct her movements. The candles burned brightly in
the little pavilion. Presently one was extinguished. Upon this,
Calderon pressed forward to the steps, hastily ascended them, and
passed into the vestibule. Catalina followed on his traces. What
succeeded was all one scene of continued, dreadful dumb show; different
passions of panic, or deadly struggle, or hellish malice absolutely
suffocated all articulate words.

In a moment a gurgling sound was heard, as of a wild beast attempting
vainly to yell over some creature that it was strangling. Next came a
tumbling out at the door of one black mass, which heaved and parted at
intervals into two figures, which closed, which parted again, which at
last fell down the steps together. Then appeared a figure in white. It
was the unhappy Andalusian; and she seeing the outline of Catalina's
person, ran up to her, unable to utter one syllable. Pitying the agony
of her horror, Catalina took her within her own cloak, and carried her
out at the garden gate. Calderon had by this time died; and the
maniacal Alcalde had risen up to pursue his wife. But Kate, foreseeing
what he would do, had stepped silently within the shadow of the garden
wall. Looking down the road to the town, and seeing nobody moving, the
maniac, for some purpose, went back to the house. This moment Kate used
to recover the _locanda_ with the lady still panting in horror.
What was to be done? To think of concealment in this little place was
out of the question. The Alcalde was a man of local power, and it was
certain that he would kill his wife on the spot. Kate's generosity
would not allow her to have any collusion with this murderous purpose.
At Cuzco, the principal convent was ruled by a near relative of the
Andalusian; and there she would find shelter. Kate, therefore, saddled
her horse rapidly, placed the lady behind, and rode off in the
darkness. About five miles out of the town their road was crossed by a
torrent, over which they could not hit the bridge. 'Forward!' cried the
lady; and Kate repeating the word to the horse, the docile creature
leaped down into the water. They were all sinking at first; but having
its head free, the horse swam clear of all obstacles through the
midnight darkness, and scrambled out on the opposite bank. The two
riders were dripping from the shoulders downward. But, seeing a light
twinkling from a cottage window, Kate rode up; obtained a little
refreshment, and the benefit of a fire, from a poor laboring man. From
this man she also bought a warm mantle for the lady, who, besides her
torrent bath, was dressed in a light evening robe, so that but for the
horseman's cloak of Kate she would have perished. But there was no time
to lose. They had already lost two hours from the consequences of their
cold bath. Cuzco was still eighteen miles distant; and the Alcalde's
shrewdness would at once divine this to be his wife's mark. They
remounted: very soon the silent night echoed the hoofs of a pursuing
rider; and now commenced the most frantic race, in which each party
rode as if the whole game of life were staked upon the issue. The pace
was killing: and Kate has delivered it as her opinion, in the memoirs
which she wrote, that the Alcalde was the better mounted. This may be
doubted. And certainly Kate had ridden too many years in the Spanish
cavalry to have any fear of his worship's horsemanship; but it was a
prodigious disadvantage that _her_ horse had to carry double;
while the horse ridden by her opponent was one of those belonging to
the murdered Don Antonio, and known to Kate as a powerful animal. At
length they had come within three miles at Cuzco. The road after this
descended the whole way to the city, and in some places rapidly, so as
to require a cool rider. Suddenly a deep trench appeared traversing the
whole extent of a broad heath. It was useless to evade it. To have
hesitated was to be lost. Kate saw the necessity of clearing it, but
doubted much whether her poor exhausted horse, after twenty-one miles
of work so severe, had strength for the effort. Kate's maxim, however,
which never yet had failed, both figuratively for life, and literally
for the saddle, was--to ride at everything that showed a front of
resistance. She did so now. Having come upon the trench rather too
suddenly, she wheeled round for the advantage of coming down upon it
more determinately, rode resolutely at it, and gained the opposite
bank. The hind feet of her horse were sinking back from the rottenness
of the ground; but the strong supporting bridle-hand of Kate carried
him forward; and in ten minutes more they would be in Cuzco. This being
seen by the vicious Alcalde, who had built great hopes on the trench,
he unslung his carbine, pulled up, and fired after the bonny black
horse and its bonny fair riders. But this manoeuvre would have lost his
worship any bet that he might have had depending on this admirable
steeple-chase. Had I been stakeholder, what a pleasure it would have
been, in fifteen minutes from this very vicious shot, to pay into
Kate's hands every shilling of the deposits. I would have listened to
no nonsense about referees or protests. The bullets, says Kate,
whistled round the poor clinging lady _en croupe_--luckily none
struck her; but one wounded the horse. And that settled the odds. Kate
now planted herself well in her stirrups to enter Cuzco, almost
dangerously a winner; for the horse was so maddened by the wound, and
the road so steep, that he went like blazes; and it really became
difficult for Kate to guide him with any precision through narrow
episcopal paths. Henceforwards the wounded horse required Kate's
continued attention; and yet, in the mere luxury of strife, it was
impossible for Kate to avoid turning a little in her saddle to see the
Alcalde's performance on this tight rope of the trench. His worship's
horsemanship being perhaps rather rusty, and he not perfectly
acquainted with his horse, it would have been agreeable to compromise
the case by riding round, or dismounting. But all _that_ was
impossible. The job must be done. And I am happy to report, for the
reader's satisfaction, the sequel--so far as Kate could attend the
performance. Gathering himself up for mischief, the Alcalde took a
sweep, as if ploughing out the line of some vast encampment, or tracing
the _pomærium_ for some future Rome; then, like thunder and
lightning, with arms flying aloft in the air, down he came upon the
trembling trench.

But the horse refused the leap; and, as the only compromise that
_his_ unlearned brain could suggest, he threw his worship right
over his ears, lodging him safely in a sand-heap that rose with clouds
of dust and screams of birds into the morning air. Kate had now no time
to send back her compliments in a musical halloo. The Alcalde missed
breaking his neck on this occasion very narrowly; but his neck was of
no use to him in twenty minutes more, as the reader will soon find.
Kate rode right onwards; and, coming in with a lady behind her, horse
bloody, and pace such as no hounds could have lived with, she ought to
have made a great sensation in Cuzco. But, unhappily, the people were
all in bed.

The steeple-chase into Cuzco had been a fine headlong thing,
considering the torrent, the trench, the wounded horse, the lovely
lady, with her agonizing fears, mounted behind Kate, together with the
meek dove-like dawn: but the finale crowded together the quickest
succession of changes that out of a melodrama can ever have been
witnessed. Kate reached the convent in safety; carried into the
cloisters, and delivered like a parcel the fair Andalusian. But to
rouse the servants caused delay; and on returning to the street through
the broad gateway of the convent, whom should she face but the Alcalde!
How he escaped the trench, who can tell? He had no time to write
memoirs; his horse was too illiterate. But he _had_ escaped;
temper not at all improved by that adventure, and now raised to a hell
of malignity by seeing that he had lost his prey. In the morning light
he now saw how to use his sword. He attacked Kate with fury. Both were
exhausted; and Kate, besides that she had no personal quarrel with the
Alcalde, having now accomplished her sole object in saving the lady,
would have been glad of a truce. She could with difficulty wield her
sword: and the Alcalde had so far the advantage, that he wounded Kate
severely. That roused her ancient blood. She turned on him now with
determination. At that moment in rode two servants of the Alcalde, who
took part with their master. These odds strengthened Kate's resolution,
but weakened her chances. Just then, however, rode in, and ranged
himself on Kate's side, the servant of the murdered Don Calderon. In an
instant, Kate had pushed her sword through the Alcalde, who died upon
the spot. In an instant the servant of Calderon had fled. In an instant
the Alguazils had come up. They and the servants of the Alcalde pressed
furiously on Kate, who now again was fighting for life. Against such
odds, she was rapidly losing ground; when, in an instant, on the
opposite side of the street, the great gates of the Episcopal palace
rolled open. Thither it was that Calderon's servant had fled. The
bishop and his attendants hurried across. 'Senor Caballador,' said the
bishop, 'in the name of the Virgin, I enjoin you to surrender your
sword.' 'My lord,' said Kate, 'I dare not do it with so many enemies
about me.' 'But I,' replied the bishop, 'become answerable to the law
for your safe keeping.' Upon which, with filial reverence, all parties
dropped their swords. Kate being severely wounded, the bishop led her
into his palace. In an instant came the catastrophe; Kate's discovery
could no longer be delayed; the blood flowed too rapidly; the wound was
in her bosom. She requested a private interview with the bishop; all
was known in a moment; for surgeons and attendants were summoned
hastily, and Kate had fainted. The good bishop pitied her, and had her
attended in his palace; then removed to a convent; then to a second at
Lima; and, after many months had passed, his report to the Spanish
Government at home of all the particulars, drew from the King of Spain
and from the Pope an order that the Nun should be transferred to Spain.

Yes, at length the warrior lady, the blooming cornet, this nun that is
so martial, this dragoon that is so lovely, must visit again the home
of her childhood, which now for seventeen years she has not seen. All
Spain, Portugal, Italy, rang with her adventures. Spain, from north to
south, was frantic with desire to behold her fiery child, whose girlish
romance, whose patriotic heroism electrified the national imagination.
The King of Spain must kiss his _faithful_ daughter, that would
not suffer his banner to see dishonor. The Pope must kiss his
_wandering_ daughter, that henceforwards will be a lamb travelling
back into the Christian fold. Potentates so great as these, when
_they_ speak words of love, do not speak in vain. All was
forgiven; the sacrilege, the bloodshed, the flight and the scorn of St.
Peter's keys; the pardons were made out, were signed, were sealed, and
the chanceries of earth were satisfied.

Ah! what a day of sorrow and of joy was _that_ one day, in the
first week of November, 1624, when the returning Kate drew near to the
shore of Andalusia--when, descending into the ship's barge, she was
rowed to the piers of Cadiz by bargemen in the royal liveries--when she
saw every ship, street, house, convent, church, crowded, like a day of
judgment, with human faces, with men, with women, with children, all
bending the lights of their flashing and their loving eyes upon
herself. Forty myriads of people had gathered in Cadiz alone. All
Andalusia had turned out to receive her. Ah! what joy, if she had not
looked back to the Andes, to their dreadful summits, and their more
dreadful feet. Ah! what sorrow, if she had not been forced by music,
and endless banners, and triumphant clamors, to turn away from the
Andes to the joyous shore which she approached!

Upon this shore stood, ready to receive her, in front of all this
mighty crowd, the Prime Minister of Spain, the same Conde Olivarez, who
but one year before had been so haughty and so defying to our haughty
and defying Duke of Buckingham. But a year ago the Prince of Wales was
in Spain, and he also was welcomed with triumph and great joy, but not
with the hundredth part of that enthusiasm which now met the returning
nun. And Olivarez, that had spoken so roughly to the English Duke, to
_her_ 'was sweet as summer.' [Footnote: Griffith in Shakspeare,
when vindicating, in that immortal scene with Queen Catherine, Cardinal
Wolsey.] Through endless crowds of festive compatriots he conducted her
to the King. The King folded her in his arms, and could never be
satisfied with listening to her. He sent for her continually to his
presence--he delighted in her conversation, so new, so natural, so
spirited--he settled a pension upon her at that time, of unprecedented
amount, in the case of a subaltern officer; and by _his_ desire,
because the year 1625 was a year of jubilee, she departed in a few
months from Madrid to Rome. She went through Barcelona; there and
everywhere welcomed as the lady whom the King delighted to honor. She
travelled to Rome, and all doors flew open to receive her. She was
presented to his Holiness, with letters from his most Catholic majesty.
But letters there needed none. The Pope admired her as much as all
before had done. He caused her to recite all her adventures; and what
he loved most in her account, was the sincere and sorrowing spirit in
which she described herself as neither better nor worse than she had
been. Neither proud was Kate, nor sycophantishly and falsely humble.
Urban VIII. it was that then filled the chair of St. Peter. He did not
neglect to raise his daughter's thoughts from earthly things--he
pointed her eyes to the clouds that were above the dome of St. Peter's
cathedral--he told her what the cathedral had told her in the gorgeous
clouds of the Andes and the vesper lights, how sweet a thing, how
divine a thing it was for Christ's sake to forgive all injuries, and
how he trusted that no more she would think of bloodshed. He also said
two words to her in Latin, which, if I had time to repeat a Spanish
bishop's remark to Kate some time afterwards upon those two mysterious
words, with Kate's most natural and ingenuous answer to the Bishop upon
what she supposed to be their meaning, would make the reader smile not
less than they made myself. You know that Kate _did_ understand a
little Latin, which, probably, had not been much improved by riding in
the Light Dragoons. I must find time, however, whether the press and
the compositors are in a fury or not, to mention that the Pope, in his
farewell audience to his dear daughter, whom he was to see no more,
gave her a general license to wear henceforth in all countries--even
_in partibus Infidelium_--a cavalry officer's dress--boots, spurs,
sabre, and sabretache; in fact, anything that she and the Horse Guards
might agree upon. Consequently, reader, remember for your life never to
say one word, nor suffer any tailor to say one word, against those
Wellington trousers made in the chestnut forest; for, understand that
the Papal indulgence, as to this point, runs backwards as well as
forwards; it is equally shocking and heretical to murmur against
trousers in the forgotten rear or against trousers yet to come.

From Rome, Kate returned to Spain. She even went to St. Sebastian's--to
the city, but--whether it was that her heart failed her or not--never
to the convent. She roamed up and down; everywhere she was welcome--
everywhere an honored guest; but everywhere restless. The poor and
humble never ceased from their admiration of her; and amongst the rich
and aristocratic of Spain, with the King at their head, Kate found
especial love from two classes of men. The Cardinals and Bishops all
doated upon her--as their daughter that was returning. The military men
all doated upon her--as their sister that was retiring.

Some time or other, when I am allowed more elbow-room, I will tell you
why it is that I myself love this Kate. Now, at this moment, when it is
necessary for me to close, if I allow you one question before laying
down my pen--if I say, 'Come now, be quick, ask anything you _have_ to
ask, for, in one minute, I am going to write _Finis_, after which
(unless the Queen wished it) I could not add a syllable'--twenty to
one, I guess what your question will be. You will ask me, What became
of Kate? What was her end?

Ah, reader! but, if I answer that question, you will say I have
_not_ answered it. If I tell you that secret, you will say that
the secret is still hidden. Yet, because I have promised, and because
you will be angry if I do not, let me do my best; and bad is the best.
After ten years of restlessness in Spain, with thoughts always turning
back to the Andes, Kate heard of an expedition on the point of sailing
to Spanish America. All soldiers knew _her_, so that she had
information of everything that stirred in camps. Men of the highest
military rank were going out with the expedition; but they all loved
Kate as a sister, and were delighted to hear that she would join their
mess on board ship. This ship, with others, sailed, whither finally
bound, I really forget. But, on reaching America, all the expedition
touched at _Vera Cruz_. Thither a great crowd of the military went
on shore. The leading officers made a separate party for the same
purpose. Their intention was, to have a gay happy dinner, after their
long confinement to a ship, at the chief hotel; and happy in perfection
it could not be, unless Kate would consent to join it. She, that was
ever kind to brother soldiers, agreed to do so. She descended into the
boat along with them, and in twenty minutes the boat touched the shore.
All the bevy of gay laughing officers, junior and senior, like
schoolboys escaping from school, jumped on shore, and walked hastily,
as their time was limited, up to the hotel. Arriving there, all turned
round in eagerness, saying, 'Where is our dear Kate?' Ah, yes, my dear
Kate, at that solemn moment, where, indeed, were _you_? She had
_certainly_ taken her seat in the boat: that was sure. Nobody, in
the general confusion, was certain of having seen her on coming ashore.
The sea was searched for her--the forests were ransacked. The sea made
no answer--the forests gave up no sign. I have a conjecture of my own;
but her brother soldiers were lost in sorrow and confusion, and could
never arrive even at a conjecture.

That happened two hundred and fourteen years ago! Here is the brief sum
of all:--This nun sailed from Spain to Peru, and she found no rest for
the sole of her foot. This nun sailed back from Peru to Spain, and she
found no rest for the agitations of her heart. This nun sailed again
from Spain to America, and she found--the rest which all of us find.
But where it was, could never be made known to the father of Spanish
camps, that sat in Madrid; nor to Kate's spiritual father, that sat in
Rome. Known it is to the great Father that once whispered to Kate on
the Andes; but else it has been a secret for two centuries; and to man
it remains a secret for ever and ever!



FLIGHT OF A TARTAR TRIBE.


There is no great event in modern history, or perhaps it may be said
more broadly, none in all history, from its earliest records, less
generally known, or more striking to the imagination, than the flight
eastwards of a principal Tartar nation across the boundless
_steppes_ of Asia in the latter half of the last century. The
_terminus a quo_ of this flight, and the _terminus ad quem_,
are equally magnificent; the mightiest of Christian thrones being the
one, the mightiest of Pagan the other. And the grandeur of these two
terminal objects, is harmoniously supported by the romantic
circumstances of the flight. In the abruptness of its commencement, and
the fierce velocity of its execution, we read an expression of the wild
barbaric character of the agents. In the unity of purpose connecting
this myriad of wills, and in the blind but unerring aim at a mark so
remote, there is something which recalls to the mind those Almighty
instincts that propel the migrations of the swallow, or the life-
withering marches of the locust. Then again, in the gloomy vengeance of
Russia and her vast artillery, which hung upon the rear and the skirts
of the fugitive vassals, we are reminded of Miltonic images--such, for
instance, as that of the solitary hand pursuing through desert spaces
and through ancient chaos a rebellious host, and overtaking with
volleying thunders those who believed themselves already within the
security of darkness and of distance.

We shall have occasion farther on to compare this event with other
great national catastrophes as to the magnitude of the suffering. But
it may also challenge a comparison with similar events under another
relation, viz., as to its dramatic capabilities. Few cases, perhaps, in
romance or history, can sustain a close collation with this as to the
complexity of its separate interests. The great outline of the
enterprise, taken in connection with the operative motives, hidden or
avowed, and the religious sanctions under which it was pursued, give to
the case a triple character: 1st, That of a conspiracy, with as close a
unity in the incidents, and as much of a personal interest in the
moving characters, with fine dramatic contrasts, as belongs to Venice
Preserved, or to the Fiesco of Schiller. 2dly, That of a great military
expedition offering the same romantic features of vast distances to be
traversed, vast reverses to be sustained, untried routes, enemies
obscurely ascertained, and hardships too vaguely prefigured, which mark
the Egyptian expedition of Cambyses--the anabasis of the younger Cyrus,
and the subsequent retreat of the ten thousand to the Black Sea--the
Parthian expeditions of the Romans, especially those of Crassus and
Julian--or (as more disastrous than any of them, and in point of space
as well as in amount of forces, more extensive,) the Russian anabasis
and katabasis of Napoleon. 3dly, That of a religious Exodus, authorized
by an oracle venerated throughout many nations of Asia, an Exodus,
therefore, in so far resembling the great Scriptural Exodus of the
Israelites, under Moses and Joshua, as well as in the very peculiar
distinction of carrying along with them their entire families, women,
children, slaves, their herds of cattle and of sheep, their horses and
their camels.

This triple character of the enterprise naturally invests it with a
more comprehensive interest. But the dramatic interest, which we
ascribed to it, or its fitness for a stage representation, depends
partly upon the marked variety and the strength of the personal
agencies concerned, and partly upon the succession of scenical
situations. Even the _steppes_, the camels, the tents, the snowy
and the sandy deserts, are not beyond the scale of our modern
representative powers, as often called into action in the theatres both
of Paris and London; and the series of situations unfolded, beginning
with the general conflagration on the Wolga--passing thence to the
disastrous scenes of the flight (as it literally was in its
commencement)--to the Tartar siege of the Russian fortress Koulagina--
the bloody engagement with the Cossacks in the mountain passes at
Ouchim--the surprisal by the Bashkirs and the advanced posts of the
Russian army at Torgau--the private conspiracy at this point against
the Khan--the long succession of running fights--the parting massacres
at the lake of Tengis under the eyes of the Chinese--and finally, the
tragical retribution to Zebek-Dorchi at the hunting-lodge of the
Chinese emperor;--all these situations communicate a _scenical_
animation to the wild romance, if treated dramatically; whilst a higher
and a philosophic interest belongs to it as a case of authentic
history, commemorating a great revolution for good and for evil, in the
fortunes of a whole people--a people semi-barbarous, but simple-
hearted, and of ancient descent.

On the 2lst of January, 1761, the young Prince Oubacha assumed the
sceptre of the Kalmucks upon the death of his father. Some part of the
power attached to this dignity he had already wielded since his
fourteenth year, in quality of Vice-Khan, by the express appointment,
and with the avowed support of the Russian Government. He was now about
eighteen years of age, amiable in his personal character, and not
without titles to respect in his public character as a sovereign
prince. In times more peaceable, and amongst a people more entirely
civilized, or more humanized by religion, it is even probable that he
might have discharged his high duties with considerable distinction.
But his lot was thrown upon stormy times, and a most difficult crisis
amongst tribes, whose native ferocity was exasperated by debasing forms
of superstition, and by a nationality as well as an inflated conceit of
their own merit absolutely unparalleled, whilst the circumstances of
their hard and trying position under the jealous _surveillance_ of
an irresistible lord paramount, in the person of the Russian Czar, gave
a fiercer edge to the natural unamiableness of the Kalmuck disposition,
and irritated its gloomier qualities into action under the restless
impulses of suspicion and permanent distrust. No prince could hope for
a cordial allegiance from his subjects, or a peaceful reign under the
circumstances of the case; for the dilemma in which a Kalmuck ruler
stood at present was of this nature; _wanting_ the sanction and
support of the Czar, he was inevitably too weak from without to command
confidence from his subjects, or resistance to his competitors: on the
other hand, _with_ this kind of support, and deriving his title in
any degree from the favor of the Imperial Court, he became almost in
that extent an object of hatred at home, and within the whole compass
of his own territory. He was at once an object of hatred for the past,
being a living monument of national independence, ignominiously
surrendered, and an object of jealousy for the future, as one who had
already advertised himself to be a fitting tool for the ultimate
purposes (whatsoever those might prove to be) of the Russian Court.
Coming himself to the Kalmuck sceptre under the heaviest weight of
prejudice from the unfortunate circumstances of his position, it might
have been expected that Oubacha would have been pre-eminently an object
of detestation; for besides his known dependence upon the Cabinet of
St. Petersburg, the direct line of succession had been set aside, and
the principle of inheritance violently suspended, in favor of his own
father, so recently as nineteen years before the era of his own
accession, consequently within the lively remembrance of the existing
generation. He therefore, almost equally with his father, stood within
the full current of the national prejudices, and might have anticipated
the most pointed hostility. But it was not so: such are the caprices in
human affairs, that he was even, in a moderate sense, popular,--a
benefit which wore the more cheering aspect, and the promises of
permanence, inasmuch as he owed it exclusively to his personal
qualities of kindness and affability, as well as to the beneficence of
his government. On the other hand, to balance this unlooked-for
prosperity at the outset of his reign, he met with a rival in popular
favor--almost a competitor--in the person of Zebek-Dorchi, a prince
with considerable pretensions to the throne, and, perhaps it might be
said, with equal pretensions. Zebek-Dorchi was a direct descendant of
the same royal house as himself, through a different branch. On public
grounds, his claim stood, perhaps, on a footing equally good with that
of Oubacha, whilst his personal qualities, even in those aspects which
seemed to a philosophical observer most odious and repulsive, promised
the most effectual aid to the dark purposes of an intriguer or a
conspirator, and were generally fitted to win a popular support
precisely in those points where _Oubacha_ was most defective. He
was much superior in external appearance to his rival on the throne,
and so far better qualified to win the good opinion of a semi-barbarous
people; whilst his dark intellectual qualities of Machiavelian
dissimulation, profound hypocrisy, and perfidy which knew no touch of
remorse, were admirably calculated to sustain any ground which he might
win from the simple-hearted people with whom he had to deal--and from
the frank carelessness of his unconscious competitor.

At the very outset of his treacherous career, Zebek-Dorchi was
sagacious enough to perceive that nothing could be gained by open
declaration of hostility to the reigning prince: the choice had been a
deliberate act on the part of Russia, and Elizabeth Petrowna was not
the person to recall her own favors with levity or upon slight grounds.
Openly, therefore, to have declared his enmity towards his relative on
the throne, could have had no effect but that of arming suspicions
against his own ulterior purposes in a quarter where it was most
essential to his interest that, for the present, all suspicion should
be hoodwinked. Accordingly, after much meditation, the course he took
for opening his snares was this:--He raised a rumor that his own life
was in danger from the plots of several _Saissang_, (that is,
Kalmuck nobles,) who were leagued together, under an oath to
assassinate him; and immediately after, assuming a well-counterfeited
alarm, he fled to Tcherkask, followed by sixty-five tents. From this
place he kept up a correspondence with the Imperial Court; and, by way
of soliciting his cause more effectually, he soon repaired in person to
St. Petersburg. Once admitted to personal conferences with the Cabinet,
he found no difficulty in winning over the Russian counsels to a
concurrence with some of his political views, and thus covertly
introducing the point of that wedge which was finally to accomplish his
purposes. In particular, he persuaded the Russian Government to make a
very important alteration in the constitution of the Kalmuck State
Council, which in effect reorganized the whole political condition of
the state, and disturbed the balance of power as previously adjusted.
Of this Council--in the Kalmuck language called _Sarga_--there
were eight members, called _Sargatchi;_ and hitherto it had been
the custom that these eight members should be entirely subordinate to
the Khan; holding, in fact, the ministerial character of secretaries
and assistants, but in no respect ranking as co-ordinate authorities.
That had produced some inconveniences in former reigns; and it was easy
for Zebek-Dorchi to point the jealousy of the Russian Court to others
more serious which might arise in future circumstances of war or other
contingencies. It was resolved, therefore, to place the Sargatchi
henceforward on a footing of perfect independence, and therefore (as
regarded responsibility) on a footing of equality with the Khan. Their
independence, however, had respect only to their own sovereign; for
towards Russia they were placed in a new attitude of direct duty and
accountability, by the creation in their favor of small pensions (300
roubles a year), which, however, to a Kalmuck of that day were more
considerable than might be supposed, and had a further value as marks
of honorary distinction emanating from a great Empress. Thus far the
purposes of Zebek-Dorchi were served effectually for the moment: but,
apparently, it was only for the moment; since, in the further
development of his plots, this very dependency upon Russian influence
would be the most serious obstacle in his way. There was, however,
another point carried which outweighed all inferior considerations, as
it gave him a power of setting aside discretionally whatsoever should
arise to disturb his plots: he was himself appointed President and
Controller of the _Sargatchi_. The Russian Court had been aware of
his high pretensions by birth, and hoped by this promotion to satisfy
the ambition which, in some degree, was acknowledged to be a reasonable
passion for any man occupying his situation.

Having thus completely blindfolded the Cabinet of Russia, Zebek-Dorchi
proceeded in his new character to fulfil his political mission with the
Khan of the Kalmucks. So artfully did he prepare the road for his
favorable reception at the court of this Prince, that he was at once
and universally welcomed as a public benefactor. The pensions of the
counsellors were so much additional wealth poured into the Tartar
exchequer; as to the ties of dependency thus created, experience had
not yet enlightened these simple tribes as to that result. And that he
himself should be the chief of these mercenary counsellors, was so far
from being charged upon Zebek as any offence or any ground of
suspicion, that his relative the Khan returned him hearty thanks for
his services, under the belief that he could have accepted this
appointment only with a view to keep out other and more unwelcome
pretenders, who would not have had the same motives of consanguinity or
friendship for executing its duties in a spirit of kindness to the
Kalmucks. The first use which he made of his new functions about the
Khan's person was to attack the Court of Russia, by a romantic villany
not easy to be credited, for those very acts of interference with the
council which he himself had prompted. This was a dangerous step: but
it was indispensable to his further advance upon the gloomy path which
he had traced out for himself. A triple vengeance was what he
meditated--1, Upon the Russian Cabinet for having undervalued his own
pretensions to the throne--2, upon his amiable rival for having
supplanted him--and 3, upon all those of the nobility who had
manifested their sense of his weakness by their neglect, or their sense
of his perfidious character by their suspicions. Here was a colossal
outline of wickedness; and by one in his situation, feeble (as it might
seem) for the accomplishment of its humblest parts, how was the total
edifice to be reared in its comprehensive grandeur? He, a worm as he
was, could he venture to assail the mighty behemoth of Muscovy, the
potentate who counted three hundred languages around the footsteps of
his throne, and from whose 'lion ramp' recoiled alike 'baptized and
infidel'--Christendom on the one side, strong by her intellect and her
organization, and the `Barbaric East' on the other, with her unnumbered
numbers? The match was a monstrous one; but in its very monstrosity
there lay this germ of encouragement, that it could not be suspected.
The very hopelessness of the scheme grounded his hope, and he resolved
to execute a vengeance which should involve as it were, in the unity of
a well-laid tragic fable, all whom he judged to be his enemies. That
vengeance lay in detaching from the Russian empire the whole Kalmuck
nation, and breaking up that system of intercourse which had thus far
been beneficial to both. This last was a consideration which moved him
but little. True it was that Russia to the Kalmucks had secured lands
and extensive pasturage; true it was that the Kalmucks reciprocally to
Russia had furnished a powerful cavalry. But the latter loss would be
part of his triumph, and the former might be more than compensated in
other climates under other sovereigns. Here was a scheme which, in its
final accomplishment, would avenge him bitterly on the Czarina, and in
the course of its accomplishment might furnish him with ample occasions
for removing his other enemies. It may be readily supposed indeed that
he, who could deliberately raise his eyes to the Russian autocrat as an
antagonist in single duel with himself, was not likely to feel much
anxiety about Kalmuck enemies of whatever rank. He took his resolution,
therefore, sternly and irrevocably to effect this astonishing
translation of an ancient people across the pathless deserts of Central
Asia, intersected continually by rapid rivers, rarely furnished with
bridges, and of which the fords were known only to those who might
think it for their interest to conceal them, through many nations
inhospitable or hostile; frost and snow around them, (from the
necessity of commencing their flight in the winter,) famine in their
front, and the sabre, or even the artillery of an offended and mighty
empress, hanging upon their rear for thousands of miles. But what was
to be their final mark, the port of shelter after so fearful a course
of wandering? Two things were evident: it must be some power at a great
distance from Russia, so as to make return even in that view hopeless;
and it must be a power of sufficient rank to ensure them protection
from any hostile efforts on the part of the Czarina for reclaiming
them, or for chastising their revolt. Both conditions were united
obviously in the person of Kien Long, the reigning Emperor of China,
who was farther recommended to them by his respect for the head of
their religion. To China, therefore, and as their first rendezvous to
the shadow of the great Chinese Wall, it was settled by Zebek that they
should direct their flight.

Next came the question of time; _when_ should the flight commence:--and
finally, the more delicate question as to the choice of accomplices. To
extend the knowledge of the conspiracy too far, was to insure its
betrayal to the Russian Government. Yet at some stage of the
preparations it was evident that a very extensive confidence must be
made, because in no other way could the mass of the Kalmuck population
be persuaded to furnish their families with the requisite equipments
for so long a migration. This critical step, however, it was resolved
to defer up to the latest possible moment, and, at all events, to make
no general communication on the subject until the time of departure
should be definitely settled. In the meantime, Zebek admitted only
three persons to his confidence; of whom Oubacha, the reigning prince,
was almost necessarily one; but him, from his yielding and somewhat
feeble character, he viewed rather in the light of a tool than as one
of his active accomplices. Those whom (if anybody) he admitted to an
unreserved participation in his counsels, were two only, the great
_Lama_ among the Kalmucks, and his own father-in-law, Erempel, a ruling
prince of some tribe in the neighborhood of the Caspian sea,
recommended to his favor not so much by any strength of talent
corresponding to the occasion, as by his blind devotion to himself, and
his passionate anxiety to promote the elevation of his daughter and his
son-in-law to the throne of a sovereign prince. A titular prince Zebek
already was: but this dignity, without the substantial accompaniment of
a sceptre, seemed but an empty sound to both of these ambitious rivals.
The other accomplice, whose name was Loosang-Dchaltzan, and whose rank
was that of Lama, or Kalmuck pontiff, was a person of far more
distinguished pretensions; he had something of the same gloomy and
terrific pride which marked the character of Zebek himself, manifesting
also the same energy, accompanied by the same unfaltering cruelty, and
a natural facility of dissimulation even more profound. It was by this
man that the other question was settled as to the time for giving
effect to their designs. His own pontifical character had suggested to
him, that in order to strengthen their influence with the vast mob of
simple-minded men whom they were to lead into a howling wilderness,
after persuading them to lay desolate their own ancient hearths, it was
indispensable that they should be able, in cases of extremity, to plead
the express sanction of God for their entire enterprise. This could
only be done by addressing themselves to the great head of their
religion, the Dalai-Lama of Tibet. Him they easily persuaded to
countenance their schemes: and an oracle was delivered solemnly at
Tibet, to the effect that no ultimate prosperity would attend this
great Exodus unless it were pursued through the years of the _tiger_
and the _hare_. Now, the Kalmuck custom is to distinguish their years
by attaching to each a denomination taken from one of twelve animals,
the exact order of succession being absolutely fixed, so that the cycle
revolves of course through a period of a dozen years. Consequently, if
the approaching year of the _tiger_ were suffered to escape them, in
that case the expedition must be delayed for twelve years more, within
which period, even were no other unfavorable changes to arise, it was
pretty well foreseen that the Russian Government would take the most
effectual means for bridling their vagrant propensities by a ring fence
of forts or military posts; to say nothing of the still readier plan
for securing their fidelity (a plan already talked of in all quarters),
by exacting a large body of hostages selected from the families of the
most influential nobles. On these cogent considerations, it was
solemnly determined that this terrific experiment should be made in the
next year of the _tiger_, which happened to fall upon the Christian
year 1771. With respect to the month, there was, unhappily for the
Kalmucks, even less latitude allowed to their choice than with respect
to the year. It was absolutely necessary, or it was thought so, that
the different divisions of the nation, which pastured their flocks on
both banks of the Wolga, should have the means of effecting an
instantaneous junction; because the danger of being intercepted by
flying columns of the Imperial armies was precisely the greatest at the
outset. Now, from the want of bridges, or sufficient river craft for
transporting so vast a body of men, the sole means which could be
depended upon (especially where so many women, children, and camels
were concerned,) was _ice_: and this, in a state of sufficient
firmness, could not be absolutely counted upon before the month of
January. Hence it happened that this astonishing Exodus of a whole
nation, before so much as a whisper of the design had begun to
circulate amongst those whom it most interested, before it was even
suspected that any man's wishes pointed in that direction, had been
definitively appointed for January of the year 1771. And almost up to
the Christmas of 1770, the poor simple Kalmuck herdsmen and their
families were going nightly to their peaceful beds without even
dreaming that the _fiat_ had already gone forth from their rulers which
consigned those quiet abodes, together with the peace and comfort which
reigned within them, to a withering desolation, now close at hand.

Meantime war raged on a great scale between Russia and the Sultan. And,
until the time arrived for throwing off their vassalage, it was
necessary that Oubacha should contribute his usual contingent of
martial aid. Nay, it had unfortunately become prudent that he should
contribute much more than his usual aid. Human experience gives ample
evidence that in some mysterious and unaccountable way no great design
is ever agitated, no matter how few or how faithful may be the
participators, but that some presentiment--some dim misgiving--is
kindled amongst those whom it is chiefly important to blind. And,
however it might have happened, certain it is, that already, when as
yet no syllable of the conspiracy had been breathed to any man whose
very existence was not staked upon its concealment, nevertheless, some
vague and uneasy jealousy had arisen in the Russian Cabinet as to the
future schemes of the Kalmuck Khan: and very probable it is--that, but
for the war then raging, and the consequent prudence of conciliating a
very important vassal, or, at least, of abstaining from what would
powerfully alienate him, even at that moment such measures would have
been adopted as must for ever have intercepted the Kalmuck schemes.
Slight as were the jealousies of the Imperial Court, they had not
escaped the Machiavelian eyes of Zebek and the Lama. And under their
guidance, Oubacha, bending to the circumstances of the moment, and
meeting the jealousy of the Russian Court with a policy corresponding
to their own, strove by unusual zeal to efface the Czarina's
unfavorable impressions. He enlarged the scale of his contributions;
and _that_ so prodigiously, that he absolutely carried to head-
quarters a force of 35,000 cavalry fully equipped; some go further, and
rate the amount beyond 40,000: but the smaller estimate is, at all
events, _within_ the truth.

With this magnificent array of cavalry, heavy as well as light, the
Khan went into the field under great expectations; and these he more
than realized. Having the good fortune to be concerned with so ill-
organized and disorderly a description of force as that which at all
times composed the bulk of a Turkish army, he carried victory along
with his banners; gained many partial successes; and at last, in a
pitched battle, overthrew the Turkish force opposed to him with a loss
of 5000 men left upon the field.

These splendid achievements seemed likely to operate in various ways
against the impending revolt. Oubacha had now a strong motive, in the
martial glory acquired, for continuing his connection with the empire
in whose service he had won it, and by whom only it could be fully
appreciated. He was now a great marshal of a great empire, one of the
Paladins around the imperial throne; in China he would be nobody, or
(worse than that) a mendicant-alien, prostrate at the feet, and
soliciting the precarious alms of a prince with whom he had no
connection. Besides, it might reasonably be expected that the Czarina,
grateful for the really efficient aid given by the Tartar prince, would
confer upon him such eminent rewards as might be sufficient to anchor
his hopes upon Russia, and to wean him from every possible seduction.
These were the obvious suggestions of prudence and good sense to every
man who stood neutral in the case. But they were disappointed. The
Czarina knew her obligations to the Khan, but she did not acknowledge
them. Wherefore? That is a mystery, perhaps never to be explained. So
it was, however. The Khan went unhonored; no _ukase_ ever
proclaimed his merits; and, perhaps, had he even been abundantly
recompensed by Russia, there were others who would have defeated these
tendencies to reconciliation. Erempel, Zebek, and Loosang the Lama,
were pledged life-deep to prevent any accommodation; and their efforts
were unfortunately seconded by those of their deadliest enemies. In the
Russian Court there were at that time some great nobles pre-occupied
with feelings of hatred and blind malice towards the Kalmucks, quite as
strong as any which the Kalmucks could harbor towards Russia, and not,
perhaps, so well-founded. Just as much as the Kalmucks hated the
Russian yoke, their galling assumption of authority, the marked air of
disdain, as towards a nation of ugly, stupid, and filthy barbarians,
which too generally marked the Russian bearing and language; but above
all, the insolent contempt, or even outrages which the Russian
governors or great military commandants tolerated in their followers
towards the barbarous religion and superstitious mummeries of the
Kalmuck priesthood--precisely in that extent did the ferocity of the
Russian resentment, and their wrath at seeing the trampled worm turn or
attempt a feeble retaliation, re-act upon the unfortunate Kalmucks. At
this crisis it is probable that envy and wounded pride, upon witnessing
the splendid victories of Oubacha and Momotbacha over the Turks and
Bashkirs, contributed strength to the Russian irritation. And it must
have been through the intrigues of those nobles about her person, who
chiefly smarted under these feelings, that the Czarina could ever have
lent herself to the unwise and ungrateful policy pursued at this
critical period towards the Kalmuck Khan. That Czarina was no longer
Elizabeth Petrowna, it was Catharine the Second; a princess who did not
often err so injuriously (injuriously for herself as much as for
others) in the measures of her government. She had soon ample reason
for repenting of her false policy. Meantime, how much it must have co-
operated with the other motives previously acting upon Oubacha in
sustaining his determination to revolt; and how powerfully it must have
assisted the efforts of all the Tartar chieftains in preparing the
minds of their people to feel the necessity of this difficult
enterprise, by arming their pride and their suspicions against the
Russian Government, through the keenness of their sympathy with the
wrongs of their insulted prince, may be readily imagined. It is a fact,
and it has been confessed by candid Russians themselves, when treating
of this great dismemberment, that the conduct of the Russian Cabinet
throughout the period of suspense, and during the crisis of hesitation
in the Kalmuck Council, was exactly such as was most desirable for the
purposes of the conspirators; it was such, in fact, as to set the seal
to all their machinations, by supplying distinct evidences and official
vouchers for what could otherwise have been at the most matters of
doubtful suspicion and indirect presumption.

Nevertheless, in the face of all these arguments, and even allowing
their weight so far as not at all to deny the injustice or the impolicy
of the Imperial Ministers, it is contended by many persons who have
reviewed the affair with a command of all the documents bearing on the
case, more especially the letters or minutes of Council subsequently
discovered, in the handwriting of Zebek-Dorchi, and the important
evidence of the Russian captive Weseloff, who was carried off by the
Kalmucks in their flight, that beyond all doubt Oubacha was powerless
for any purpose of impeding, or even of delaying the revolt. He
himself, indeed, was under religious obligations of the most terrific
solemnity never to flinch from the enterprise, or even to slacken in
his zeal; for Zebek-Dorchi, distrusting the firmness of his resolution
under any unusual pressure of alarm or difficulty, had, in the very
earliest stage of the conspiracy, availed himself of the Khan's well
known superstition, to engage him, by means of previous concert with
the priests and their head the Lama, in some dark and mysterious rites
of consecration, terminating in oaths under such terrific sanctions as
no Kalmuck would have courage to violate. As far, therefore, as
regarded the personal share of the Khan in what was to come, Zebek was
entirely at his ease: he knew him to be so deeply pledged by religious
terrors to the prosecution of the conspiracy, that no honors within the
Czarina's gift could have possibly shaken his adhesion: and then, as to
threats from the same quarter, he knew him to be sealed against those
fears by others of a gloomier character, and better adapted to his
peculiar temperament. For Oubacha was a brave man, as respected all
bodily enemies or the dangers of human warfare, but was as sensitive
and timid as the most superstitious of old women in facing the frowns
of a priest, or under the vague anticipations of ghostly retributions.
But had it been otherwise, and had there been any reason to apprehend
an unsteady demeanor on the part of this Prince at the approach of the
critical moment, such were the changes already effected in the state of
their domestic politics amongst the Tartars by the undermining arts of
Zebek-Dorchi, and his ally the Lama, that very little importance would
have attached to that doubt. All power was now effectually lodged in
the hands of Zebek-Dorchi. He was the true and absolute wielder of the
Kalmuck sceptre: all measures of importance were submitted to his
discretion; and nothing was finally resolved but under his dictation.
This result he had brought about in a year or two by means sufficiently
simple; first of all, by availing himself of the prejudice in his
favor, so largely diffused amongst the lowest of the Kalmucks, that his
own title to the throne, in quality of great-grandson in a direct line
from Ajouka, the most illustrious of all the Kalmuck Khans, stood upon
a better basis than that of Oubacha, who derived from a collateral
branch: secondly, with respect to that sole advantage which Oubacha
possessed above himself in the ratification of his title, by improving
this difference between their situations to the disadvantage of his
competitor, as one who had not scrupled to accept that triumph from an
alien power at the price of his independence, which he himself (as he
would have it understood) disdained to court: thirdly, by his own
talents and address, coupled with the ferocious energy of his moral
character: fourthly--and perhaps in an equal degree--by the criminal
facility and good-nature of Oubacha: finally, (which is remarkable
enough, as illustrating the character of the man,) by that very new
modelling of the Sarga or Privy Council, which he had used as a
principal topic of abuse and malicious insinuation against the Russian
Government, whilst in reality he first had suggested the alteration to
the Empress, and he chiefly appropriated the political advantages which
it was fitted to yield. For, as he was himself appointed the chief of
the Sargatchi, and as the pensions of the inferior Sargatchi passed
through his hands, whilst in effect they owed their appointments to his
nomination, it may be easily supposed that whatever power existed in
the state capable of controlling the Khan, being held by the Sarga
under its new organization, and this body being completely under his
influence, the final result was to throw all the functions of the
state, whether nominally in the Prince or in the council, substantially
into the hands of this one man: whilst, at the same time, from the
strict league which he maintained with the Lama, all the thunders of
the spiritual power were always ready to come in aid of the magistrate,
or to supply his incapacity in cases which he could not reach.

But the time was now rapidly approaching for the mighty experiment. The
day was drawing near on which the signal was to be given for raising
the standard of revolt, and by a combined movement on both sides of the
Wolga for spreading the smoke of one vast conflagration, that should
wrap in a common blaze their own huts and the stately cities of their
enemies, over the breadth and length of those great provinces in which
their flocks were dispersed. The year of the _tiger_ was now
within one little month of its commencement; the fifth morning of that
year was fixed for the fatal day, when the fortunes and happiness of a
whole nation were to be put upon the hazard of a dicer's throw; and as
yet that nation was in profound ignorance of the whole plan. The Khan,
such was the kindness of his nature, could not bring himself to make
the revelation so urgently required. It was clear, however, that this
could not be delayed; and Zebek-Dorchi took the task willingly upon
himself. But where or how should this notification be made, so as to
exclude Russian hearers? After some deliberation, the following plan
was adopted:--Couriers, it was contrived, should arrive in furious
haste, one upon the heels of another, reporting a sudden inroad of the
Kirghises and Bashkirs upon the Kalmuck lands, at a point distant about
one hundred and twenty miles. Thither all the Kalmuck families,
according to immemorial custom, were required to send a separate
representative; and there, accordingly, within three days, all
appeared. The distance, the solitary ground appointed for the
rendezvous, the rapidity of the march, all tended to make it almost
certain that no Russian could be present. Zebek-Dorchi then came
forward. He did not waste many words upon rhetoric. He unfurled an
immense sheet of parchment, visible from the outermost distance at
which any of this vast crowd could stand; the total number amounted to
eighty thousand; all saw, and many heard. They were told of the
oppressions of Russia; of her pride and haughty disdain, evidenced
towards them by a thousand acts; of her contempt for their religion; of
her determination to reduce them to absolute slavery; of the
preliminary measures she had already taken by erecting forts upon many
of the great rivers of their neighborhood; of the ulterior intentions
she thus announced to circumscribe their pastoral lands, until they
would all be obliged to renounce their flocks, and to collect in towns
like Sarepta, there to pursue mechanical and servile trades of
shoemaker, tailor, and weaver, such as the freeborn Tartar had always
disdained. 'Then again,' said the subtle prince, 'she increases her
military levies upon our population every year; we pour out our blood
as young men in her defence, or more often in support of her insolent
aggressions; and as old men, we reap nothing from our sufferings, nor
benefit by our survivorship where so many are sacrificed.' At this
point of his harangue, Zebek produced several papers, (forged, as it is
generally believed, by himself and the Lama,) containing projects of
the Russian court for a general transfer of the eldest sons, taken
_en masse_ from the greatest Kalmuck families, to the Imperial
court. 'Now let this be once accomplished,' he argued, 'and there is an
end of all useful resistance from that day forwards. Petitions we might
make, or even remonstrances; as men of words, we might play a bold
part; but for deeds, for that sort of language by which our ancestors
were used to speak; holding us by such a chain, Russia would make a
jest of our wishes,--knowing full well that we should not dare to make
any effectual movement.'

Having thus sufficiently roused the angry passions of his vast
audience, and having alarmed their fears by this pretended scheme
against their first-born, (an artifice which was indispensable to his
purpose, because it met beforehand _every_ form of amendment to
his proposal coming from the more moderate nobles, who would not
otherwise have failed to insist upon trying the effect of bold
addresses to the Empress, before resorting to any desperate extremity,)
Zebek-Dorchi opened his scheme of revolt, and, if so, of instant
revolt; since any preparations reported at St. Petersburg would be a
signal for the armies of Russia to cross into such positions from all
parts of Asia, as would effectually intercept their march. It is
remarkable, however, that, with all his audacity and his reliance upon
the momentary excitement of the Kalmucks, the subtle prince did not
venture, at this stage of his seduction, to make so startling a
proposal as that of a flight to China. All that he held out for the
present was a rapid march to the Temba or some other great river, which
they were to cross, and to take up a strong position on the further
bank, from which, as from a post of conscious security, they could hold
a bolder language to the Czarina, and one which would have a better
chance of winning a favorable audience.

These things, in the irritated condition of the simple Tartars, passed
by acclamation; and all returned homewards, to push forward with the
most furious speed the preparations for their awful undertaking. Rapid
and energetic these of necessity were; and in that degree they became
noticeable and manifest to the Russians who happened to be intermingled
with the different hordes, either on commercial errands, or as agents
officially from the Russian Government, some in a financial, others in
a diplomatic character.

Amongst these last (indeed at the head of them) was a Russian of some
distinction, by name Kichinskoi, a man memorable for his vanity, and
memorable also as one of the many victims to the Tartar revolution.
This Kichinskoi had been sent by the Empress as her envoy to overlook
the conduct of the Kalmucks; he was styled the _Grand Pristaw_, or
Great Commissioner, and was universally known amongst the Tartar tribes
by this title. His mixed character of ambassador and of political
_surveillant_, combined with the dependent state of the Kalmucks,
gave him a real weight in the Tartar councils, and might have given him
a far greater, had not his outrageous self-conceit, and his arrogant
confidence in his own authority, as due chiefly to his personal
qualities for command, led him into such harsh displays of power, and
menaces so odious to the Tartar pride, as very soon made him an object
of their profoundest malice. He had publicly insulted the Khan; and
upon making a communication to him to the effect that some reports
began to circulate, and even to reach the Empress, of a design in
agitation to fly from the Imperial dominions, he had ventured to say,--
'But this you dare not attempt; I laugh at such rumors; yes, Khan, I
laugh at them to the Empress; for you are a chained bear, and that you
know.' The Khan turned away on his heel with marked disdain; and the
Pristaw, foaming at the mouth, continued to utter, amongst those of the
Khan's attendants who staid behind, to catch his real sentiments in a
moment of unguarded passion, all that the blindest frenzy of rage could
suggest to the most presumptuous of fools. It was now ascertained that
suspicions _had_ arisen; but at the same time it was ascertained
that the Pristaw spoke no more than the truth in representing himself
to have discredited these suspicions. The fact was, that the mere
infatuation of vanity made him believe that nothing could go on
undetected by his all-piercing sagacity, and that no rebellion could
prosper when rebuked by his commanding presence. The Tartars,
therefore, pursued their preparations, confiding in the obstinate
blindness of the Grand Pristaw as in their perfect safeguard; and such
it proved--to his own ruin, as well as that of myriads beside.

Christmas arrived; and, a little before that time, courier upon courier
came dropping in, one upon the very heels of another, to St.
Petersburg, assuring the Czarina that beyond all doubt the Kalmucks
were in the very crisis of departure. These despatches came from the
Governor of Astrachan, and copies were instantly forwarded to
Kichinskoi. Now, it happened that between this governor--a Russian
named Beketoff--and the Pristaw had been an ancient feud. The very name
of Beketoff inflamed his resentment; and no sooner did he see that
hated name attached to the despatch, than he felt himself confirmed in
his former views with tenfold bigotry, and wrote instantly, in terms of
the most pointed ridicule, against the new alarmist, pledging his own
head upon the visionariness of his alarms. Beketoff, however, was not
to be put down by a few hard words, or by ridicule: he persisted in his
statements: the Russian Ministry were confounded by the obstinacy of
the disputants; and some were beginning even to treat the Governor of
Astrachan as a bore, and as the dupe of his own nervous terrors, when
the memorable day arrived, the fatal 5th of January, which for ever
terminated the dispute, and put a seal upon the earthly hopes and
fortunes of unnumbered myriads. The Governor of Astrachan was the first
to hear the news. Stung by the mixed furies of jealousy, of triumphant
vengeance, and of anxious ambition, he sprang into his sledge, and, at
the rate of three hundred miles a day, pursued his route to St.
Petersburg, rushed into the Imperial presence,--announced the total
realization of his worst predictions,--and upon the confirmation of
this intelligence by subsequent despatches from many different posts on
the Wolga, he received an imperial commission to seize the person of
his deluded enemy, and to keep him in strict captivity. These orders
were eagerly fulfilled, and the unfortunate Kichinskoi soon afterwards
expired of grief and mortification in the gloomy solitude of a dungeon;
a victim to his own immeasurable vanity, and the blinding self-
delusions of a presumption that refused all warning.

The Governor of Astrachan had been but too faithful a prophet. Perhaps
even _he_ was surprised at the suddenness with which the
verification followed his reports. Precisely on the 5th of January, the
day so solemnly appointed under religious sanctions by the Lama, the
Kalmucks on the east bank of the Wolga were seen at the earliest dawn
of day assembling by troops and squadrons, and in the tumultuous
movement of some great morning of battle. Tens of thousands continued
moving off the ground at every half-hour's interval. Women and
children, to the amount of two hundred thousand and upwards, were
placed upon wagons, or upon camels, and drew off by masses of twenty
thousand at once--placed under suitable escorts, and continually
swelled in numbers by other outlying bodies of the horde who kept
falling in at various distances upon the first and second day's march.
From sixty to eighty thousand of those who were the best mounted stayed
behind the rest of the tribes, with purposes of devastation and plunder
more violent than prudence justified, or the amiable character of the
Khan could be supposed to approve. But in this, as in other instances,
he was completely overruled by the malignant counsels of Zebek-Dorchi.
The first tempest of the desolating fury of the Tartars discharged
itself upon their own habitations. But this, as cutting off all infirm
looking backward from the hardships of their march, had been thought so
necessary a measure by all the chieftains, that even Oubacha himself
was the first to authorize the act by his own example. He seized a
torch previously prepared with materials the most durable as well as
combustible, and steadily applied it to the timbers of his own palace.
Nothing was saved from the general wreck except the portable part of
the domestic utensils, and that part of the woodwork which could be
applied to the manufacture of the long Tartar lances. This chapter in
their memorable day's work being finished, and the whole of their
villages throughout a district of ten thousand square miles in one
simultaneous blaze, the Tartars waited for further orders.

These, it was intended, should have taken a character of valedictory
vengeance, and thus have left behind to the Czarina a dreadful
commentary upon the main motives of their flight. It was the purpose of
Zebek-Dorchi that all the Russian towns, churches, and buildings of
every description, should be given up to pillage and destruction, and
such treatment applied to the defenceless inhabitants as might
naturally be expected from a fierce people already infuriated by the
spectacle of their own outrages, and by the bloody retaliations which
they must necessarily have provoked. This part of the tragedy, however,
was happily intercepted by a providential disappointment at the very
crisis of departure. It has been mentioned already that the motive for
selecting the depth of winter as the season of flight (which otherwise
was obviously the very worst possible) had been the impossibility of
effecting a junction sufficiently rapid with the tribes on the west of
the Wolga, in the absence of bridges, unless by a natural bridge of
ice. For this one advantage the Kalmuck leaders had consented to
aggravate by a thousandfold the calamities inevitable to a rapid flight
over boundless tracts of country with women, children, and herds of
cattle--for this one single advantage; and yet, after all, it was lost.
The reason never has been explained satisfactorily, but the fact was
such. Some have said that the signals were not properly concerted for
marking the moment of absolute departure; that is, for signifying
whether the settled intention of the Eastern Kalmucks might not have
been suddenly interrupted by adverse intelligence. Others have supposed
that the ice might not be equally strong on both sides of the river,
and might even be generally insecure for the treading of heavy and
heavily-laden animals such as camels. But the prevailing notion is,
that some accidental movements on the 3d and 4th of January of Russian
troops in the neighborhood of the Western Kalmucks, though really
having no reference to them or their plans, had been construed into
certain signs that all was discovered; and that the prudence of the
Western chieftains, who, from situation, had never been exposed to
those intrigues by which Zebek-Dorchi had practised upon the pride of
the Eastern tribes, now stepped in to save their people from ruin. Be
the cause what it might, it is certain that the Western Kalmucks were
in some way prevented from forming the intended junction with their
brethren of the opposite bank; and the result was, that at least one
hundred thousand of these Tartars were left behind in Russia. This
accident it was which saved their Russian neighbors universally from
the desolation which else awaited them. One general massacre and
conflagration would assuredly have surprised them, to the utter
extermination of their property, their houses, and themselves, had it
not been for this disappointment. But the Eastern chieftains did not
dare to put to hazard the safety of their brethren under the first
impulse of the Czarina's vengeance for so dreadful a tragedy; for as
they were well aware of too many circumstances by which she might
discover the concurrence of the Western people in the general scheme of
revolt, they justly feared that she would thence infer their
concurrence also in the bloody events which marked its outset.

Little did the Western Kalmucks guess what reasons they also had for
gratitude on account of an interposition so unexpected, and which at
the moment they so generally deplored. Could they but have witnessed
the thousandth part of the sufferings which overtook their Eastern
brethren in the first month of their sad flight, they would have
blessed Heaven for their own narrow escape; and yet these sufferings of
the first month were but a prelude or foretaste comparatively slight of
those which afterwards succeeded.

For now began to unroll the most awful series of calamities, and the
most extensive, which is anywhere recorded to have visited the sons and
daughters of men. It is possible that the sudden inroads of destroying
nations, such as the Huns, or the Avars, or the Mongol Tartars, may
have inflicted misery as extensive; but there the misery and the
desolation would be sudden--like the flight of volleying lightning.
Those who were spared at first would generally be spared to the end;
those who perished would perish instantly. It is possible that the
French retreat from Moscow may have made some nearer approach to this
calamity in duration, though still a feeble and miniature approach; for
the French sufferings did not commence in good earnest until about one
month from the time of leaving Moscow; and though it is true that
afterwards the vials of wrath were emptied upon the devoted army for
six or seven weeks in succession, yet what is that to this Kalmuck
tragedy, which lasted for more than as many months?  But the main
feature of horror, by which the Tartar march was distinguished from the
French, lies in the accompaniment of women [Footnote: Singular it is,
and not generally known, that Grecian women accompanied the
_Anabasis_ of the younger Cyrus and the subsequent Retreat of the
Ten Thousand. Xenophon affirms that there were 'many' women in the
Greek army--pollai aesun etairai en tosratenaeazi; and in a late stage
of that trying expedition it is evident that women were amongst the
survivors.] and children. There were both, it is true, with the French
army, but so few as to bear no visible proportion to the total numbers
concerned. The French, in short, were merely an army--a host of
professional destroyers, whose regular trade was bloodshed, and whose
regular element was danger and suffering.  But the Tartars were a
nation carrying along with them more than two hundred and fifty
thousand women and children, utterly unequal, for the most part, to any
contest with the calamities before them.  The Children of Israel were
in the same circumstances as to the accompaniment of their families;
but they were released from the pursuit of their enemies in a very
early stage of their flight; and their subsequent residence in the
Desert was not a march, but a continued halt, and under a continued
interposition of Heaven for their comfortable support. Earthquakes,
again, however comprehensive in their ravages, are shocks of a moment's
duration.  A much nearer approach made to the wide range and the long
duration of the Kalmuck tragedy may have been in a pestilence such as
that which visited Athens in the Peloponnesian war, or London in the
reign of Charles II. There also the martyrs were counted by myriads,
and the period of the desolation was counted by months. But, after all,
the total amount of destruction was on a smaller scale; and there was
this feature of alleviation to the _conscious_ pressure of the
calamity--that the misery was withdrawn from public notice into private
chambers and hospitals. The siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian and his
son, taken in its entire circumstances, comes nearest of all--for
breadth and depth of suffering, for duration, for the exasperation of
the suffering from without by internal feuds, and, finally, for that
last most appalling expression of the furnace-heat of the anguish in
its power to extinguish the natural affections even of maternal love.
But, after all, each case had circumstances of romantic misery peculiar
to itself--circumstances without precedent, and (wherever human nature
is ennobled by Christianity) it may be confidently hoped--never to be
repeated.

The first point to be reached, before any hope of repose could be
encouraged, was the river Jaik. This was not above three hundred miles
from the main point of departure on the Wolga; and if the march thither
was to be a forced one, and a severe one, it was alleged on the other
hand that the suffering would be the more brief and transient; one
summary exertion, not to be repeated, and all was achieved. Forced the
march was, and severe beyond example: there the forewarning proved
correct; but the promised rest proved a mere phantom of the wilderness
--a visionary rainbow, which fled before their hope-sick eyes, across
these interminable solitudes, for seven months of hardship and
calamity, without a pause. These sufferings, by their very nature, and
the circumstances under which they arose, were (like the scenery of the
_Steppes_) somewhat monotonous in their coloring and external
features: what variety, however, there was, will be most naturally
exhibited by tracing historically the successive stages of the general
misery, exactly as it unfolded itself under the double agency of
weakness still increasing from within, and hostile pressure from
without. Viewed in this manner, under the real order of development, it
is remarkable that these sufferings of the Tartars, though under the
moulding hands of accident, arrange themselves almost with a scenical
propriety. They seem combined, as with the skill of an artist; the
intensity of the misery advancing regularly with the advances of the
march, and the stages of the calamity corresponding to the stages of
the route; so that, upon raising the curtain which veils the great
catastrophe, we behold one vast climax of anguish, towering upwards by
regular gradations, as if constructed artificially for picturesque
effect:--a result which might not have been surprising, had it been
reasonable to anticipate the same rate of speed, and even an
accelerated rate, as prevailing through the later stages of the
expedition. But it seemed, on the contrary, most reasonable to
calculate upon a continual decrement in the rate of motion according to
the increasing distance from the head-quarters of the pursuing enemy.
This calculation, however, was defeated by the extraordinary
circumstance, that the Russian armies did not begin to close in very
fiercely upon the Kalmucks until after they had accomplished a distance
of full two thousand miles; one thousand miles further on the assaults
became even more tumultuous and murderous; and already the great
shadows of the Chinese Wall were dimly descried, when the frenzy and
_acharnement_ of the pursuers, and the bloody desperation of the
miserable fugitives had reached its uttermost extremity. Let us briefly
rehearse the main stages of the misery, and trace the ascending steps
of the tragedy, according to the great divisions of the route marked
out by the central rivers of Asia.

The first stage, we have already said, was from the Wolga to the Jaik;
the distance about three hundred miles; the time allowed seven days.
For the first week, therefore, the rate of marching averaged about
forty-three English miles a day. The weather was cold, but bracing;
and, at a more moderate pace, this part of the journey might have been
accomplished without much distress by a people as hardy as the
Kalmucks: as it was, the cattle suffered greatly from overdriving: milk
began to fail even for the children: the sheep perished by wholesale:
and the children themselves were saved only by the innumerable camels.

The Cossacks, who dwelt upon the banks of the Jaik, were the first
among the subjects of Russia to come into collision with the Kalmucks.
Great was their surprise at the suddenness of the irruption, and great
also their consternation: for, according to their settled custom, by
far the greater part of their number was absent during the winter
months at the fisheries upon the Caspian. Some who were liable to
surprise at the most exposed points, fled in crowds to the fortress of
Koulagina, which was immediately invested, and summoned by Oubacha. He
had, however, in his train only a few light pieces of artillery; and
the Russian commandant at Koulagina, being aware of the hurried
circumstances in which the Khan was placed, and that he stood upon the
very edge, as it were, of a renewed flight, felt encouraged by these
considerations to a more obstinate resistance than might else have been
advisable, with an enemy so little disposed to observe the usages of
civilized warfare. The period of his anxiety was not long: on the fifth
day of the siege, he descried from the walls a succession of Tartar
couriers, mounted upon fleet Bactrian camels, crossing the vast plains
around the fortress at a furious pace, and riding into the Kalmuck
encampment at various points. Great agitation appeared immediately to
follow; orders were soon after despatched in all directions: and it
became speedily known that upon a distant flank of the Kalmuck movement
a bloody and exterminating battle had been fought the day before, in
which one entire tribe of the Khan's dependents, numbering not less
than nine thousand fighting men, had perished to the last man. This was
the _ouloss_, or clan, called _Feka-Zechorr_, between whom and
the Cossacks there was a feud of ancient standing. In selecting,
therefore, the points of attack, on occasion of the present hasty
inroad, the Cossack chiefs were naturally eager so to direct their
efforts as to combine with the service of the Empress some
gratification to their own party hatreds; more especially as the
present was likely to be their final opportunity for revenge if the
Kalmuck evasion should prosper. Having, therefore, concentrated as
large a body of Cossack cavalry as circumstances allowed, they attacked
the hostile _ouloss_ with a precipitation which denied to it all
means for communicating with Oubacha; for the necessity of commanding
an ample range of pasturage, to meet the necessities of their vast
flocks and herds, had separated this _ouloss_ from the Khan's
head-quarters by an interval of eighty miles: and thus it was, and not
from oversight, that it came to be thrown entirely upon its own
resources. These had proved insufficient; retreat, from the exhausted
state of their horses and camels, no less than from the prodigious
encumbrances of their live stock, was absolutely out of the question:
quarter was disdained on the one side, and would not have been granted
on the other; and thus it had happened that the setting sun of that one
day (the 13th from the first opening of the revolt) threw his parting
rays upon the final agonies of an ancient _ouloss_, stretched upon
a bloody field, who on that day's dawning had held and styled
themselves an independent nation.

Universal consternation was diffused through the wide borders of the
Khan's encampment by this disastrous intelligence; not so much on
account of the numbers slain, or the total extinction of a powerful
ally, as because the position of the Cossack force was likely to put to
hazard the future advances of the Kalmucks, or at least to retard, and
hold them in check, until the heavier columns of the Russian army
should arrive upon their flanks. The siege of Koulagina was instantly
raised; and that signal, so fatal to the happiness of the women and
their children, once again resounded through the tents--the signal for
flight, and this time for a flight more rapid than ever. About one
hundred and fifty miles ahead of their present position, there arose a
tract of hilly country, forming a sort of margin to the vast, sea-like
expanse of champaign savannas, steppes, and occasionally of sandy
deserts, which stretched away on each side of this margin both
eastwards and westwards. Pretty nearly in the centre of this hilly
range, lay a narrow defile, through which passed the nearest and the
most practicable route to the river Torgai (the further bank of which
river offered the next great station of security for a general halt.)
It was the more essential to gain this pass before the Cossacks,
inasmuch as not only would the delay in forcing the pass give time to
the Russian pursuing columns for combining their attacks and for
bringing up their artillery, but also because (even if all enemies in
pursuit were thrown out of the question) it was held by those best
acquainted with the difficult and obscure geography of these pathless
steppes--that the loss of this one narrow strait amongst the hills
would have the effect of throwing them (as their only alternative in a
case where so wide a sweep of pasturage was required) upon a circuit of
at least five hundred miles extra; besides that, after all, this
circuitous route would carry them to the Torgai at a point ill fitted
for the passage of their heavy baggage. The defile in the hills,
therefore, it was resolved to gain; and yet, unless they moved upon it
with the velocity of light cavalry, there was little chance but it
would be found pre-occupied by the Cossacks. They, it is true, had
suffered greatly in the recent sanguinary action with their enemies;
but the excitement of victory, and the intense sympathy with their
unexampled triumph, had again swelled their ranks--and would probably
act with the force of a vortex to draw in their simple countrymen from
the Caspian. The question, therefore, of pre-occupation was reduced to
a race. The Cossacks were marching upon an oblique line not above fifty
miles longer than that which led to the same point from the Kalmuck
head-quarters before Koulagina: and therefore without the most furious
haste on the part of the Kalmucks, there was not a chance for them,
burdened and 'trashed' [Footnote: _'Trashed'_--This is an expressive
word used by Beaumont and Fletcher in their Bonduca, etc., to describe
the case of a person retarded and embarrassed in flight, or in pursuit,
by some encumbrance, whether thing or person, too valuable to be left
behind.] as they were, to anticipate so agile a light cavalry as the
Cossacks in seizing this important pass.

Dreadful were the feelings of the poor women on hearing this exposition
of the case. For they easily understood that too capital an interest
(the _summa rerum_) was now at stake to allow of any regard to
minor interests, or what would be considered such in their present
circumstances. The dreadful week already passed,--their inauguration in
misery,--was yet fresh in their remembrance. The scars of suffering
were impressed not only upon their memories, but upon their very
persons and the persons of their children. And they knew that where no
speed had much chance of meeting the cravings of the chieftains, no
test would be accepted, short of absolute exhaustion, that as much had
been accomplished as could be accomplished. Weseloff, the Russian
captive, has recorded the silent wretchedness with which the women and
elder boys assisted in drawing the tent-ropes. On the 5th of January
all had been animation, and the joyousness of indefinite expectation:
now, on the contrary, a brief but bitter experience had taught them to
take an amended calculation of what it was that lay before them.

One whole day and far into the succeeding night had the renewed flight
continued: the sufferings had been greater than before: for the cold
had been more intense: and many perished out of the living creatures
through every class, except only the camels--whose powers of endurance
seemed equally adapted to cold and heat. The second morning, however,
brought an alleviation to the distress. Snow had begun to fall: and
though not deep at present, it was easily foreseen that it soon would
be so; and that, as a halt would in that case become unavoidable, no
plan could be better than that of staying where they were: especially
as the same cause would check the advance of the Cossacks. Here then
was the last interval of comfort which gleamed upon the unhappy nation
during their whole migration. For ten days the snow continued to fall
with little intermission. At the end of that time keen bright frosty
weather succeeded: the drifting had ceased: in three days the smooth
expanse became firm enough to support the treading of the camels, and
the flight was recommenced. But during the halt much domestic comfort
had been enjoyed: and for the last time universal plenty. The cows and
oxen had perished in such vast numbers on the previous marches, that an
order was now issued to turn what remained to account by slaughtering
the whole, and salting whatever part should be found to exceed the
immediate consumption. This measure led to a scene of general
banqueting and even of festivity amongst all who were not incapacitated
for joyous emotions by distress of mind, by grief for the unhappy
experience of the few last days, and by anxiety for the too gloomy
future. Seventy thousand persons of all ages had already perished;
exclusively of the many thousand allies who had been cut down by the
Cossack sabre. And the losses in reversion were likely to be many more.
For rumors began now to arrive from all quarters, by the mounted
couriers whom the Khan had despatched to the rear and to each flank as
well as in advance, that large masses of the Imperial troops were
converging from all parts of Central Asia to the fords of the river
Torgai as the most convenient point for intercepting the flying tribes:
and it was already well known that a powerful division was close in
their rear, and was retarded only by the numerous artillery which had
been judged necessary to support their operations. New motives were
thus daily arising for quickening the motions of the wretched Kalmucks,
and for exhausting those who were previously but too much exhausted.

It was not until the 2d day of February that the Khan's advanced guard
came in sight of Ouchim, the defile among the hills of Moulgaldchares,
in which they anticipated so bloody an opposition from the Cossacks. A
pretty large body of these light cavalry had, in fact, pre-occupied the
pass by some hours; but the Khan having too great advantages, namely, a
strong body of infantry, who had been conveyed by sections of five on
about two hundred camels, and some pieces of light artillery which he
had not yet been forced to abandon, soon began to make a serious
impression upon this unsupported detachment; and they would probably at
any rate have retired; but at the very moment when they were making
some dispositions in that view, Zebek-Dorchi appeared upon their rear
with a body of trained riflemen, who had distinguished themselves in
the war with Turkey. These men had contrived to crawl unobserved over
the cliffs which skirted the ravine, availing themselves of the dry
beds of the summer torrents, and other inequalities of the ground, to
conceal their movement. Disorder and trepidation ensued instantly in
the Cossack files; the Khan, who had been waiting with the _elite_
of his heavy cavalry, charged furiously upon them; total overthrow
followed to the Cossacks, and a slaughter such as in some measure
avenged the recent bloody extermination of their allies, the ancient
_ouloss_ of Feka-Zechorr. The slight horses of the Cossacks were
unable to support the weight of heavy Polish dragoons and a body of
trained _cameleers_ (that is, cuirassiers mounted on camels);
hardy they were, but not strong, nor a match for their antagonists in
weight; and their extraordinary efforts through the last few days to
gain their present position, had greatly diminished their powers for
effecting an escape. Very few, in fact, _did_ escape; and the
bloody day of Ouchim became as memorable amongst the Cossacks as that
which, about twenty days before, had signalized the complete
annihilation of the Faka-Zechorr. [Footnote: There was another _ouloss_
equally strong with that of _Feka-Zechorr_, viz., that of Erketunn,
under the government of Assarcho and Machi, whom some obligations of
treaty or other hidden motives drew into the general conspiracy of
revolt. But fortunately the two chieftains found means to assure the
Governor of Astrachan, on the first outbreak of the insurrection, that
their real wishes were for maintaining the old connection with Russia.
The Cossacks, therefore, to whom the pursuit was intrusted, had
instructions to act cautiously and according to circumstances on coming
up with them. The result was, through the prudent management of
Assarcho, that the clan, without compromising their pride or
independence, made such moderate submissions as satisfied the Cossacks;
and eventually both chiefs and people received from the Czarina the
rewards and honors of exemplary fidelity.]

The road was now open to the river Igritch, and as yet even far beyond
it to the Torgau; but how long this state of things would continue, was
every day more doubtful. Certain intelligence was now received that a
large Russian army, well appointed in every arm, was advancing upon the
Torgau, under the command of General Traubenberg. This officer was to
be joined on his route by ten thousand Bashkirs, and pretty nearly the
same amount of Kirghises--both hereditary enemies of the Kalmucks--both
exasperated to a point of madness by the bloody trophies which Oubacha
and Momotbacha had, in late years, won from such of their compatriots
as served under the Sultan. The Czarina's yoke these wild nations bore
with submissive patience, but not the hands by which it had been
imposed; and, accordingly, catching with eagerness at the present
occasion offered to their vengeance, they sent an assurance to the
Czarina of their perfect obedience to her commands, and at the same
time a message significantly declaring in what spirit they meant to
execute them, viz., 'That they would not trouble her Majesty with
prisoners.'

Here then arose, as before with the Cossacks, a race for the Kalmucks
with the regular armies of Russia, and concurrently with nations as
fierce and semi-humanized as themselves, besides that they were stung
into threefold activity by the furies of mortified pride and military
abasement, under the eyes of the Turkish Sultan. The forces, and more
especially the artillery, of Russia, were far too overwhelming to
permit the thought of a regular opposition in pitched battles, even
with a less dilapidated state of their resources than they could
reasonably expect at the period of their arrival on the Torgau. In
their speed lay their only hope--in strength of foot, as before, and
not in strength of arm. Onward, therefore, the Kalmucks pressed,
marking the lines of their wide-extending march over the sad solitudes
of the steppes by a never-ending chain of corpses. The old and the
young, the sick man on his couch, the mother with her baby--all were
left behind. Sights such as these, with the many rueful aggravations
incident to the helpless condition of infancy--of disease and of female
weakness abandoned to the wolves amidst a howling wilderness, continued
to track their course through a space of full two thousand miles; for
so much at the least, it was likely to prove, including the circuits to
which they were often compelled by rivers or hostile tribes, from the
point of starting on the Wolga until they could reach their destined
halting-ground on the east bank of the Torgau. For the first seven
weeks of this march their sufferings had been embittered by the
excessive severity of the cold; and every night--so long as wood was to
be had for fires, either from the lading of the camels, or from the
desperate sacrifice of their baggage-wagons, or (as occasionally
happened) from the forests which skirted the banks of the many rivers
which crossed their path--no spectacle was more frequent than that of a
circle, composed of men, women, and children, gathered by hundreds
round a central fire, all dead and stiff at the return of morning
light. Myriads were left behind from pure exhaustion of whom none had a
chance, under the combined evils which beset them, of surviving through
the next twenty-four hours. Frost, however, and snow at length ceased
to persecute; the vast extent of the march at length brought them into
more genial latitudes, and the unusual duration of the march was
gradually bringing them into the more genial seasons of the year: Two
thousand miles had at least been traversed; February, March, April were
gone; the balmy month of May had opened; vernal sights and sounds came
from every side to comfort the heart-weary travellers; and at last, in
the latter end of May, they crossed the Torgau, and took up a position
where they hoped to find liberty to repose themselves for many weeks in
comfort as well as in security, and to draw such supplies from the
fertile neighborhood as might restore their shattered forces to a
condition for executing, with less of wreck and ruin, the large
remainder of the journey.

Yes; it was true that two thousand miles of wandering had been
completed, but in a period of nearly five months, and with the terrific
sacrifice of at least two hundred and fifty thousand souls, to say
nothing of herds and flocks past all reckoning. These had all perished:
ox, cow, horse, mule, ass, sheep, or goat, not one survived--only the
camels. These arid and adust creatures, looking like the mummies of
some antediluvian animals, without the affections or sensibilities of
flesh and blood--these only still erected their speaking eyes to the
eastern heavens, and had to all appearance come out from this long
tempest of trial unscathed and unharmed. The Khan, knowing how much he
was individually answerable for the misery which had been sustained,
must have wept tears even more bitter than those of Xerxes when he
threw his eyes over the myriads whom he had assembled: for the tears of
Xerxes were unmingled with compunction. Whatever amends were in his
power he resolved to make by sacrifices to the general good of all
personal regards; and accordingly, even at this point of their advance,
he once more deliberately brought under review the whole question of
the revolt. The question was formally debated before the Council,
whether, even at this point, they should untread their steps, and,
throwing themselves upon the Czarina's mercy, return to their old
allegiance? In that case, Oubacha professed himself willing to become
the scapegoat for the general transgression. This, he argued, was no
fantastic scheme, but even easy of accomplishment; for the unlimited
and sacred power of the Khan, so well known to the Empress, made it
absolutely iniquitous to attribute any separate responsibility to the
people--upon the Khan rested the guilt, upon the Khan would descend
the Imperial vengeance. This proposal was applauded for its generosity,
but was energetically opposed by Zebek-Dorchi. Were they to lose the
whole journey of two thousand miles? Was their misery to perish without
fruit; true it was that they had yet reached only the half-way house;
but, in that respect, the motives were evenly balanced for retreat or
for advance. Either way they would have pretty nearly the same distance
to traverse, but with this difference--that, forwards, their rout lay
through lands comparatively fertile--backwards, through a blasted
wilderness, rich only in memorials of their sorrow, and hideous to
Kalmuck eyes by the trophies of their calamity. Besides, though the
Empress might accept an excuse for the past, would she the less forbear
to suspect for the future? The Czarina's _pardon_ they might obtain,
but could they ever hope to recover her _confidence_? Doubtless there
would now be a standing presumption against them, an immortal ground of
jealousy; and a jealous government would be but another name for a
harsh one. Finally, whatever motives there ever had been for the revolt
surely remained unimpaired by anything that had occurred. In reality
the revolt was, after all, no revolt, but (strictly speaking) a return
to their old allegiance, since, not above one hundred and fifty years
ago (viz., in the year 1616,) their ancestors had revolted from the
Emperor of China. They had now tried both governments; and for them
China was the land of promise, and Russia the house of bondage.

Spite, however, of all that Zebek could say or do, the yearning of the
people was strongly in behalf of the Khan's proposal; the pardon of
their prince, they persuaded themselves, would be readily conceded by
the Empress; and there is little doubt that they would at this time
have thrown themselves gladly upon the Imperial mercy; when suddenly
all was defeated by the arrival of two envoys from Traubenberg. This
general had reached the fortress of Orsk, after a very painful march,
on the 12th of April; thence he set forwards towards Oriembourg, which
he reached upon the 1st of June, having been joined on his route at
various times through the month of May by the Kirghises and a corps of
ten thousand Bashkirs. From Oriembourg he sent forward his official
offer to the Khan, which were harsh and peremptory, holding out no
specific stipulations as to pardon or impunity, and exacting
unconditional submission as the preliminary price of any cessation from
military operations. The personal character of Traubenberg, which was
anything but energetic, and the condition of his army, disorganized in
a great measure by the length and severity of the march, made it
probable that, with a little time for negotiation, a more conciliatory
tone would have been assumed. But, unhappily for all parties, sinister
events occurred in the meantime, such as effectually put an end to
every hope of the kind.

The two envoys sent forward by Traubenberg had reported to this officer
that a distance of only ten days' march lay between his own head-
quarters and those of the Khan. Upon this fact transpiring, the
Kirghises, by their prince Nourali, and the Bashkirs, entreated the
Russian general to advance without delay. Once having placed his cannon
in position, so as to command the Kalmuck camp, the fate of the rebel
Khan and his people would be in his own hands; and they would
themselves form his advanced guard. Traubenberg, however, _why_
has not been certainly explained, refused to march, grounding his
refusal upon the condition of his army, and their absolute need of
refreshment. Long and fierce was the altercation; but at length, seeing
no chance of prevailing, and dreading above all other events the escape
of their detested enemy, the ferocious Bashkirs went off in a body by
forced marches. In six days they reached the Torgau, crossed by
swimming their horses, and fell upon the Kalmucks, who were dispersed
for many a league in search of food or provender for their camels. The
first day's action was one vast succession of independent skirmishes,
diffused over a field of thirty to forty miles in extent; one party
often breaking up into three or four, and again (according to the
accidents of ground) three or four blending into one; flight and
pursuit, rescue and total overthrow, going on simultaneously, under all
varieties of form, in all quarters of the plain. The Bashkirs had found
themselves obliged, by the scattered state of the Kalmucks, to split up
into innumerable sections; and thus, for some hours, it had been
impossible for the most practised eye to collect the general tendency
of the day's fortune. Both the Khan and Zebek-Dorchi were at one moment
made prisoners, and more than once in imminent danger of being cut
down; but at length Zebek succeeded in rallying a strong column of
infantry, which, with the support of the camel-corps on each flank,
compelled the Bashkirs to retreat. Clouds, however, of these wild
cavalry continued to arrive through the next two days and nights,
followed or accompanied by the Kirghises. These being viewed as the
advanced parties of Traubenberg's army, the Kalmuck chieftains saw no
hope of safety but in flight; and in this way it happened that a
retreat, which had so recently been brought to a pause, was resumed at
the very moment when the unhappy fugitives were anticipating a deep
repose without further molestation, the whole summer through.

It seemed as though every variety of wretchedness were predestined to
the Kalmucks; and as if their sufferings were incomplete unless they
were rounded and matured by all that the most dreadful agencies of
summer's heat could superadd to those of frost and winter. To this
sequel of their story we shall immediately revert, after first noticing
a little romantic episode which occurred at this point between Oubacha
and his unprincipled cousin Zebek-Dorchi.

There was at the time of the Kalmuck flight from the Wolga, a Russian
gentleman of some rank at the court of the Khan, whom, for political
reasons, it was thought necessary to carry along with them as a
captive. For some weeks his confinement had been very strict, and in
one or two instances cruel. But, as the increasing distance was
continually diminishing the chances of escape, and perhaps, also, as
the misery of the guards gradually withdrew their attention from all
minor interests to their own personal sufferings, the vigilance of the
custody grew more and more relaxed; until at length, upon a petition to
the Khan, Mr. Weseloff was formally restored to liberty; and it was
understood that he might use his liberty in whatever way he chose, even
for returning to Russia, if that should be his wish. Accordingly, he
was making active preparations for his journey to St. Petersburg, when
it occurred to Zebek-Dorchi that, not improbably, in some of the
battles which were then anticipated with Traubenberg, it might happen
to them to lose some prisoner of rank, in which case the Russian
Weseloff would be a pledge in their hands for negotiating an exchange.
Upon this plea, to his own severe affliction, the Russian was detained
until the further pleasure of the Khan. The Khan's name, indeed, was
used through the whole affair, but, as it seemed, with so little
concurrence on his part, that, when Weseloff in a private audience
humbly remonstrated upon the injustice done him, and the cruelty of
thus sporting with his feelings by setting him at liberty, and, as it
were, tempting him into dreams of home and restored happiness only for
the purpose of blighting them, the good-natured prince disclaimed all
participation in the affair, and went so far in proving his sincerity
as even to give him permission to effect his escape; and, as a ready
means of commencing it without raising suspicion, the Khan mentioned to
Mr. Weseloff that he had just then received a message from the Hetman
of the Bashkirs, soliciting a private interview on the banks of the
Torgau at a spot pointed out; that interview was arranged for the
coming night; and Mr. Weseloff might go in the Khan's _suite_,
which on either side was not to exceed three persons. Weseloff was a
prudent man, acquainted with the world, and he read treachery in the
very outline of this scheme, as stated by the Khan--treachery against
the Khan's person. He mused a little, and then communicated so much of
his suspicions to the Khan as might put him on his guard; but, upon
further consideration, he begged leave to decline the honor of
accompanying the Khan. The fact was, that three Kalmucks, who had
strong motives for returning to their countrymen on the west bank of
the Wolga, guessing the intentions of Weseloff, had offered to join him
in his escape. These men the Khan would probably find himself obliged
to countenance in their project; so that it became a point of honor
with Weseloff to conceal their intentions, and therefore to accomplish
the evasion from the camp, (of which the first steps only would be
hazardous,) without risking the notice of the Khan.

The district in which they were now encamped abounded, through many
hundred miles, with wild horses of a docile and beautiful breed. Each
of the four fugitives had caught from seven to ten of these spirited
creatures in the course of the last few days; this raised no suspicion;
for the rest of the Kalmucks had been making the same sort of provision
against the coming toils of their remaining route to China. These
horses were secured by halters, and hidden about dusk in the thickets
which lined the margin of the river. To these thickets, about ten at
night, the four fugitives repaired; they took a circuitous path, which
drew them as little as possible within danger of challenge from any of
the outposts or of the patrols which had been established on the
quarters where the Bashkirs lay; and in three quarters of an hour they
reached the rendezvous. The moon had now risen, the horses were
unfastened, and they were in the act of mounting, when the deep silence
of the woods was disturbed by a violent uproar, and the clashing of
arms. Weseloff fancied that he heard the voice of the Khan shouting for
assistance. He remembered the communication made by that prince in the
morning; and requesting his companions to support him, he rode off in
the direction of the sound. A very short distance brought him to an
open glade in the wood, where he beheld four men contending with a
party of at least nine or ten. Two of the four were dismounted at the
very instant of Weseloff's arrival; one of these he recognized almost
certainly as the Khan, who was fighting hand to hand, but at great
disadvantage, with two of the adverse horsemen. Seeing that no time was
to be lost, Weseloff fired, and brought down one of the two. His
companions discharged their carbines at the same moment, and then all
rushed simultaneously into the little open area. The thundering sound
of about thirty horses, all rushing at once into a narrow space, gave
the impression that a whole troop of cavalry was coming down upon the
assailants; who, accordingly, wheeled about and fled with one impulse.
Weseloff advanced to the dismounted cavalier, who, as he expected,
proved to be the Khan. The man whom Weseloff had shot was lying dead;
and both were shocked, though Weseloff at least was not surprised, on
stooping down and scrutinizing his features, to recognize a well known
confidential servant of Zebek-Dorchi. Nothing was said by either party.
The Khan rode off, escorted by Weseloff and his companions, and for
some time a dead silence prevailed. The situation of Weseloff was
delicate and critical; to leave the Khan at this point was probably to
cancel their recent services; for he might be again crossed on his
path, and again attacked by the very party from whom he had just been
delivered. Yet, on the other hand, to return to the camp was to
endanger the chances of accomplishing the escape. The Khan also was
apparently revolving all this in his mind, for at length he broke
silence, and said--'I comprehend your situation; and, under other
circumstances, I might feel it my duty to detain your companions. But
it would ill become me to do so after the important service you have
just rendered me. Let us turn a little to the left. There, where you
see the watchfire, is an outpost. Attend me so far. I am then safe. You
may turn and pursue your enterprise; for the circumstances under which
you will appear, as my escort, are sufficient to shield you from all
suspicion for the present. I regret having no better means at my
disposal for testifying my gratitude. But tell me, before we part, was
it accident only which led you to my rescue? Or had you acquired any
knowledge of the plot by which I was decoyed into this snare?' Weseloff
answered very candidly that mere accident had brought him to the spot
at which he heard the uproar, but that _having_ heard it, and
connecting it with the Khan's communication of the morning, he had then
designedly gone after the sound in a way which he certainly should not
have done at so critical a moment, unless in the expectation of finding
the Khan assaulted by assassins. A few minutes after they reached the
outpost at which it became safe to leave the Tartar chieftain; and
immediately the four fugitives commenced a flight which is perhaps
without a parallel in the annals of travelling. Each of them led six or
seven horses besides the one he rode; and by shifting from one to the
other (like the ancient _Desultors_ of the Roman circus,) so as
never to burden the same horse for more than half an hour at a time,
they continued to advance at the rate of two hundred miles in the
twenty-four hours for three days consecutively. After that time,
considering themselves beyond pursuit, they proceeded less rapidly;
though still with a velocity which staggered the belief of Weseloff's
friends in after years. He was, however, a man of high principle, and
always adhered firmly to the details of his printed report. One of the
circumstances there stated is, that they continued to pursue the route
by which the Kalmucks had fled, never for an instant finding any
difficulty in tracing it by the skeletons and other memorials of their
calamities. In particular, he mentions vast heaps of money as part of
the valuable property which it had been necessary to sacrifice. These
heaps were found lying still untouched in the deserts. From these,
Weseloff and his companions took as much as they could conveniently
carry; and this it was, with the price of their beautiful horses, which
they afterwards sold at one of the Russian military settlements for
about £15 a-piece, which eventually enabled them to pursue their
journey in Russia. This journey, as regarded Weseloff in particular,
was closed by a tragical catastrophe. He was at that time young, and
the only child of a doating mother. Her affliction under the violent
abduction of her son had been excessive, and probably had undermined
her constitution. Still she had supported it. Weseloff, giving way to
the natural impulses of his filial affection, had imprudently posted
through Russia, to his mother's house without warning of his approach.
He rushed precipitately into her presense; and she, who had stood the
shocks of sorrow, was found unequal to the shock of joy too sudden and
too acute. She died upon the spot.

We now revert to the final scenes of the Kalmuck flight. These it would
be useless to pursue circumstantially through the whole two thousand
miles of suffering which remained; for the character of that suffering
was even more monotonous than on the former half of the flight, but
also more severe. Its main elements were excessive heat, with the
accompaniments of famine and thirst, but aggravated at every step by
the murderous attacks of their cruel enemies, the Bashkirs and the
Kirghises.

These people, 'more fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea,' stuck to
the unhappy Kalmucks like a swarm of enraged hornets. And very often
whilst _they_ were attacking them in the rear, their advanced
parties and flanks were attacked with almost equal fury by the people
of the country which they were traversing; and with good reason, since
the law of self-preservation had now obliged the fugitive Tartars to
plunder provisions, and to forage wherever they passed. In this respect
their condition was a constant oscillation of wretchedness; for,
sometimes, pressed by grinding famine, they took a circuit of perhaps a
hundred miles, in order to strike into a land rich in the comforts of
life; but in such a land they were sure to find a crowded population,
of which every arm was raised in unrelenting hostility, with all the
advantages of local knowledge, and with constant preoccupation of all
the defensible positions, mountain passes, or bridges. Sometimes,
again, wearied out with this mode of suffering, they took a circuit of
perhaps a hundred miles, in order to strike into a land with few or no
inhabitants. But in such a land they were sure to meet absolute
starvation. Then, again, whether with or without this plague of
starvation, whether with or without this plague of hostility in front,
whatever might he the 'fierce varieties' of their misery in this
respect, no rest ever came to their unhappy rear; _post equitem sedet
atra cura_; it was a torment like the undying worm of conscience.
And, upon the whole, it presented a spectacle altogether unprecedented
in the history of mankind. Private and personal malignity is not
unfrequently immortal; but rare indeed is it to find the same
pertinacity of malice in a nation. And what embittered the interest
was, that the malice was reciprocal. Thus far the parties met upon
equal terms; but that equality only sharpened the sense of their dire
inequality as to other circumstances. The Bashkirs were ready to fight
'from morn to dewy eve.' The Kalmucks, on the contrary, were always
obliged to run; was it _from_ their enemies, as creatures whom
they feared? No; but _towards_ their friends--towards that final
haven of China--as what was hourly implored by their wives, and the
tears of their children. But though they fled unwillingly, too often
they fled in vain--being unwillingly recalled. There lay the torment.
Every day the Bashkirs fell upon them; every day the same unprofitable
battle was renewed; as a matter of course, the Kalmucks recalled part
of their advanced guard to fight them; every day the battle raged for
hours, and uniformly with the same result.  For, no sooner did the
Bashkirs find themselves too heavily pressed, and that the Kalmuck
march had been retarded by some hours, than they retired into the
boundless deserts where all pursuit was hopeless. But if the Kalmucks
resolved to press forward, regardless of their enemies, in that case
their attacks became so fierce and overwhelming, that the general
safety seemed likely to be brought into question; nor could any
effectual remedy be applied to the case, even for each separate day,
except by a most embarrassing halt, and by countermarches, that, to men
in their circumstances, were almost worse than death. It will not be
surprising, that the irritation of such a systematic persecution,
superadded to a previous and hereditary hatred, and accompanied by the
stinging consciousness of utter impotence as regarded all effectual
vengeance, should gradually have inflamed the Kalmuck animosity into
the wildest expression of downright madness and frenzy. Indeed, long
before the frontiers of China were approached, the hostility of both
sides had assumed the appearance much more of a warfare amongst wild
beasts than amongst creatures acknowledging the restraints of reason or
the claims of a common nature. The spectacle became too atrocious; it
was that of a host of lunatics pursued by a host of fiends.

On a fine morning in early autumn of the year 1771, Kien Long, the
Emperor of China, was pursuing his amusements in a wild frontier
district lying on the outside of the Great Wall. For many hundred
square leagues the country was desolate of inhabitants, but rich in
woods of ancient growth, and overrun with game of every description. In
a central spot of this solitary region, the Emperor had built a
gorgeous hunting-lodge, to which he resorted annually for recreation
and relief from the cares of government. Led onwards in pursuit of
game, he had rambled to a distance of two hundred miles or more from
this lodge, followed at a little distance by a sufficient military
escort, and every night pitching his tent in a different situation,
until at length he had arrived on the very margin of the vast central
deserts of Asia. [Footnote: All the circumstances are learned from a
long state paper upon the subject of this Kalmuck migration, drawn up
in the Chinese language by the Emperor himself. Parts of this paper
have been translated by the Jesuit missionaries. The Emperor states the
whole motives of his conduct and the chief incidents at great length.]
Here he was standing, by accident, at an opening of his pavilion,
enjoying the morning sunshine, when suddenly to the westward there
arose a vast cloudy vapor, which by degrees expanded, mounted, and
seemed to be slowly diffusing itself over the whole face of the
heavens. By-and-by this vast sheet of mist began to thicken towards the
horizon, and to roll forward in billowy volumes. The Emperor's suite
assembled from all quarters. The silver trumpets were sounded in the
rear, and from all the glades and forest avenues began to trot forward
towards the pavilion the yagers, half cavalry, half huntsmen, who
composed the Imperial escort. Conjecture was on the stretch to divine
the cause of this phenomenon, and the interest continually increased,
in proportion as simple curiosity gradually deepened into the anxiety
of uncertain danger. At first it had been imagined that some vast
troops of deer, or other wild animals of the chase, had been disturbed
in their forest haunts by the Emperor's movements, or possibly by wild
beasts prowling for prey, and might be fetching a compass by way of re-
entering the forest grounds at some remoter points secure from
molestation. But this conjecture was dissipated by the slow increase of
the cloud, and the steadiness of its motion. In the course of two hours
the vast phenomenon had advanced to a point which was judged to be
within five miles of the spectators, though all calculations of
distance were difficult, and often fallacious, when applied to the
endless expanses of the Tartar deserts. Through the next hour, during
which the gentle morning breeze had a little freshened, the dusty vapor
had developed itself far and wide into the appearance of huge aerial
draperies, hanging in mighty volumes from the sky to the earth; and at
particular points, where the eddies of the breeze acted upon the
pendulous skirts of these aerial curtains rents were perceived,
sometimes taking the form of regular arches, portals, and windows,
through which began dimly to gleam the heads of camels 'indorsed'
[Footnote: _Camels 'indorsed;'_--'And elephants indorsed with
towers.' MILTON in _Paradise Regained_.] with human beings--and at
intervals the moving of men and horses, in tumultuous array--and then,
through other openings or vistas, at far distant points, the flashing
of polished arms. But sometimes, as the wind slackened or died away,
all those openings, of whatever form, in the cloudy pall, would slowly
close, and for a time the whole pageant was shut up from view; although
the growing din, the clamors, the shrieks and groans, ascending from
infuriated myriads, reported, in a language not to be misunderstood,
what was going on behind the cloudy screen.

It was in fact the Kalmuck host, now in the last extremities of their
exhaustion, and very fast approaching to that final stage of privation
and intense misery, beyond which few or none could have lived, but
also, happily for themselves, fast approaching (in a literal sense)
that final stage of their long pilgrimage, at which they would meet
hospitality on a scale of royal magnificence, and full protection from
their enemies. These enemies, however, as yet still were hanging on
their rear as fiercely as ever, though this day was destined to be the
last of their hideous persecution. The Khan had, in fact, sent forward
couriers with all the requisite statements and petitions, addressed to
the Emperor of China. These had been duly received, and preparations
made in consequence to welcome the Kalmucks with the most paternal
benevolence. But as these couriers had been despatched from the Torgau
at the moment of arrival thither, and before the advance of Traubenberg
had made it necessary for the Khan to order a hasty renewal of the
flight, the Emperor had not looked for their arrival on their frontier
until full three months after the present time. The Khan had indeed
expressly notified his intention to pass the summer heats on the banks
of the Torgau, and to recommence his retreat about the beginning of
September. The subsequent change of plan being unknown to Kien Long,
left him for some time in doubt as to the true interpretation to be put
upon this mighty apparition in the desert; but at length the savage
clamors of hostile fury, and the clangor of weapons, unveiled to the
Emperor the true nature of those unexpected calamities which had so
prematurely precipitated the Kalmuck measure.

Apprehending the real state of affairs, the Emperor instantly perceived
that the first act of his fatherly care for these erring children (as
he esteemed them) now returning to their ancient obedience, must be--
to deliver them from their pursuers. And this was less difficult than
might have been supposed. Not many miles in the rear was a body of well
appointed cavalry, with a strong detachment of artillery, who always
attended the Emperor's motions. These were hastily summoned. Meantime
it occurred to the train of courtiers that some danger might arise to
the Emperor's person from the proximity of a lawless enemy; and
accordingly he was induced to retire a little to the rear. It soon
appeared, however, to those who watched the vapory shroud in the
desert, that its motion was not such as would argue the direction of
the march to be exactly upon the pavilion, but rather in a diagonal
line, making an angle of full forty-five degrees with that line in
which the Imperial _cortège_ had been standing, and therefore with
a distance continually increasing. Those who knew the country judged
that the Kalmucks were making for a large fresh-water lake about seven
or eight miles distant; they were right; and to that point the Imperial
cavalry was ordered up; and it was precisely in that spot, and about
three hours after and at noon-day on the 8th of September, that the
great Exodus of the Kalmuck Tartars was brought to a final close, and
with a scene of such memorable and hellish fury, as formed an
appropriate winding-up to an expedition in all its parts and details so
awfully disastrous. The Emperor was not personally present, or at least
he saw whatever he _did_ see from too great a distance to
discriminate its individual features; but he records in his written
memorial the report made to him of this scene by some of his own
officers.

The lake of Tengis, near the frightful desert of Kobi, lay in a hollow
amongst hills of a moderate height, ranging generally from two to three
thousand feet high. About eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the Chinese
cavalry reached the summit of a road which led through a cradle-like
dip in the mountains right down upon the margin of the lake. From this
pass, elevated about two thousand feet above the level of the water,
they continued to descend, by a very winding and difficult road, for an
hour and a half; and during the whole of this descent they were
compelled to be inactive spectators of the fiendish spectacle below.
The Kalmucks, reduced by this time from about six hundred thousand
souls to two hundred thousand, and after enduring for two months and a
half the miseries we have previously described--outrageous heat,
famine, and the destroying scimitar of the Kirghises and the Bashkirs,
had for the last ten days been traversing a hideous desert, where no
vestiges were seen of vegetation, and no drop of water could be found.
Camels and men were already so overladen, that it was a mere
impossibility that they should carry a tolerable sufficiency for the
passage of this frightful wilderness. On the eighth day the wretched
daily allowance, which had been continually diminishing, failed
entirely; and thus for two days of insupportable fatigue, the horrors
of thirst had been carried to the fiercest extremity. Upon this last
morning, at the sight of the hills and the forest scenery, which
announced to those who acted as guides the neighborhood of the lake of
Tengis, all the people rushed along with maddening eagerness to the
anticipated solace. The day grew hotter and hotter, the people more and
more exhausted, and gradually, in the general rush forwards to the
lake, all discipline and command were lost--all attempts to preserve a
rear-guard were neglected--the wild Bashkirs rode in amongst the
encumbered people, and slaughtered them by wholesale, and almost
without resistance. Screams and tumultuous shouts proclaimed the
progress of the massacre; but none heeded--none halted; all alike,
pauper or noble, continued to rush on with maniacal haste to the
waters--all with faces blackened by the heat preying upon the liver,
and with tongue drooping from the mouth. The cruel Bashkir was affected
by the same misery, and manifested the same symptoms of his misery as
the wretched Kalmuck; the murderer was oftentimes in the same frantic
misery as his murdered victim--many indeed (an ordinary effect of
thirst) in both nations had become lunatic--and in this state, whilst
mere multitude and condensation of bodies alone opposed any check to
the destroying scimitar and the trampling hoof, the lake was reached;
and to that the whole vast body of enemies rushed, and together
continued to rush, forgetful of all things at that moment but of one
almighty instinct. This absorption of the thoughts in one maddening
appetite lasted for a single minute; but in the next arose the final
scene of parting vengeance. Far and wide the waters of the solitary
lake were instantly dyed red with blood and gore; here rode a party of
savage Bashkirs, hewing off heads as fast as the swathes fall before
the mower's scythe; there stood unarmed Kalmucks in a death-grapple
with their detested foes, both up to the middle in water, and
oftentimes both sinking together below the surface, from weakness, or
from struggles, and perishing in each other's arms. Did the Bashkirs at
any point collect into a cluster for the sake of giving impetus to the
assault? Thither were the camels driven in fiercely by those who rode
them, generally women or boys; and even these quiet creatures were
forced into a share in this carnival of murder, by trampling down as
many as they could strike prostrate with the lash of their fore-legs.
Every moment the water grew more polluted: and yet every moment fresh
myriads came up to the lake and rushed in, not able to resist their
frantic thirst, and swallowing large draughts of water, visibly
contaminated with the blood of their slaughtered compatriots.
Wheresoever the lake was shallow enough to allow of men raising their
heads above the water, there for scores of acres were to be seen all
forms of ghastly fear, of agonizing struggle, of spasm, of convulsion,
of mortal conflict, death, and the fear of death--revenge, and the
lunacy of revenge--hatred, and the frenzy of hatred--until the neutral
spectators, of whom there were not a few, now descending the eastern
side of the lake, at length averted their eyes in horror. This horror,
which seemed incapable of further addition, was, however, increased by
an unexpected incident. The Bashkirs, beginning to perceive here and
there the approach of the Chinese cavalry, felt it prudent--wheresoever
they were sufficiently at leisure from the passions of the murderous
scene--to gather into bodies. This was noticed by the governor of a
small Chinese fort, built upon an eminence above the lake; and
immediately he threw in a broadside, which spread havoc amongst the
Bashkir tribe. As often as the Bashkirs collected into 'globes' and
'turms' as their only means of meeting the long line of descending
Chinese cavalry--so often did the Chinese governor of the fort pour in
his exterminating broadside; until at length the lake at the lower end,
became one vast seething cauldron of human bloodshed and carnage. The
Chinese cavalry had reached the foot of the hills: the Bashkirs,
attentive to their movements, had formed; skirmishes had been fought:
and, with a quick sense that the contest was henceforwards rapidly
becoming hopeless, the Bashkirs and Kirghises began to retire. The
pursuit was not as vigorous as the Kalmuck hatred would have desired.
But, at the same time, the very gloomiest hatred could not but find, in
their own dreadful experience of the Asiatic deserts, and in the
certainty that these wretched Bashkirs had to repeat that same
experience a second time, for thousands of miles, as the price exacted
by a retributary Providence for their vindictive cruelty--not the very
gloomiest of the Kalmucks, or the least reflecting, but found in all
this a retaliatory chastisement more complete and absolute than any
which their swords and lances could have obtained, or human vengeance
could have devised.

Here ends the tale of the Kalmuck wanderings in the Desert; for any
subsequent marches which awaited them, were neither long nor painful.
Every possible alleviation and refreshment for their exhausted bodies
had been already provided by Kien Long with the most princely
munificence; and lands of great fertility were immediately assigned to
them in ample extent along the river Ily, not very far from the point
at which they had first emerged from the wilderness of Kobi. But the
beneficent attention of the Chinese Emperor may be best stated in his
own words, as translated into French by one of the Jesuit
missionaries:--"La nation des Torgotes (_savoir les Kalmuques_) arriva
à Ily, toute _delabree_, n'ayant ni de quoi vivre, ni de quoi se vêtir.
Je l'avais prévu; et j'avais ordonné de faire en tout genre les
provisions nécessaires pour pouvoir les secourir promptement; c'est ce
qui a été exécuté. On a fait la division des terres; et on a assigné à
chaque famille une portion suffisante pour pouvoir servir à son
entretien, soit en la cultivant, soit en y nourissant des bestiaux. On
a donne a chaque particulier des étoffes pour l'habiller, des grains
pour se nourrir pendant l'espace d'une année, des ustensiles pour le
ménage et d'autres choses nécessaires: et outre cela plusieurs onces
d'argent, pour se pourvoir de ce qu'on aurait pu oublier. On a désigné
des lieux particuliers, fertiles en pâturages; et on leur a donné des
boeufs, moutons, &c. pour qu'ils pussent dans la suite travailler par
euxmêmes a leur entretien et à leur bienêtre."

These are the words of the Emperor himself, speaking in his own person
of his own paternal cares; but another Chinese, treating the same
subject, records the munificence of this prince in terms which proclaim
still more forcibly the disinterested generosity which prompted, and
the delicate considerateness which conducted this extensive bounty. He
has been speaking of the Kalmucks, and he goes on thus:--"Lorsqu'ils
arrivèrent sur nos frontières (au nombre de plusieurs centaines de
mille), quoique la fatigue extrême, la faim, la soif, et toutes les
autres incommodités inséparables d'une très-longue et très pénible
route en eussent fait périr presque autant, ils étaient réduits a la
dernière misère: ils manquaient de tout. Il" (viz. l'Empereur, Kien
Long) "leur fit préparer des logemens conformes a leur manière de
vivre; il leur fit distribuer des aliments et des habits; il leur fit
donner des boeufs, des moutons, et des ustensiles, pour les mettre en
état de former des troupeaux et de cultiver la terre, _et tout cela à
ses propres frais_, qui se sont montés à des sommes immenses, sans
compter l'argent qu'il a donné à chaque chef-de-famille, pour pourvoir
à la subsistance de sa femme et de ses enfans."

Thus, after their memorable year of misery, the Kalmucks were replaced
in territorial possessions, and in comfort equal perhaps, or even
superior, to that which they had enjoyed in Russia, and with superior
political advantages. But, if equal or superior, their condition was no
longer the same; if not in degree, their social prosperity had altered
in quality; for instead of being a purely pastoral and vagrant people,
they were now in circumstances which obliged them to become essentially
dependent upon agriculture; and thus far raised in social rank, that by
the natural course of their habits and the necessities of life they
were effectually reclaimed from roving, and from the savage customs
connected with so unsettled a life. They gained also in political
privileges, chiefly through the immunity from military service which
their new relations enabled them to obtain. These were circumstances of
advantage and gain. But one great disadvantage there was, amply to
overbalance all other possible gain; the chances were lost or were
removed to an incalculable distance for their conversion to
Christianity, without which in these times there is no absolute advance
possible on the path of true civilization.

One word remains to be said upon the _personal_ interests
concerned in this great drama. The catastrophe in this respect was
remarkable and complete. Oubacha, with all his goodness and incapacity
of suspecting, had, since the mysterious affair on the banks of the
Torgau, felt his mind alienated from his cousin; he revolted from the
man that would have murdered him; and he had displayed his caution so
visibly as to provoke a reaction in the bearing of Zebek-Dorchi, and a
displeasure which all his dissimulation could not hide. This had
produced a feud, which, by keeping them aloof, had probably saved the
life of Oubacha; for the friendship of Zebek-Dorchi was more fatal than
his open enmity. After the settlement on the Ily this feud continued to
advance, until it came under the notice of the Emperor, on occasion of
a visit which all the Tartar chieftains made to his Majesty at his
hunting-lodge in 1772. The Emperor informed himself accurately of all
the particulars connected with the transaction--of all the rights and
claims put forward--and of the way in which they would severally affect
the interests of the Kalmuck people. The consequence was, that he
adopted the cause of Oubacha, and repressed the pretensions of Zebek-
Dorchi, who, on his part, so deeply resented this discountenance to his
ambitious projects, that in conjunction with other chiefs he had the
presumption even to weave nets of treason against the Emperor himself.
Plots were laid--were detected--were baffled--counterplots were
constructed upon the same basis, and with the benefit of the
opportunities thus offered.

Finally, Zebek-Dorchi was invited to the imperial lodge, together with
all his accomplices; and under the skilful management of the Chinese
nobles in the Emperor's establishment, the murderous artifices of these
Tartar chieftains were made to recoil upon themselves; and the whole of
them perished by assassination at a great imperial banquet. For the
Chinese morality is exactly of that kind which approves in everything
the _lex talionis:_--

  ----'lex nec justior ulla est (as _they_ think)
  Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.'

So perished Zebek-Dorchi, the author and originator of the great Tartar
_Exodus_. Oubacha, meantime, and his people, were gradually
recovering from the effects of their misery, and repairing their
losses. Peace and prosperity, under the gentle rule of a fatherly lord
paramount, re-dawned upon the tribes; their household _lares_,
after so harsh a translation to distant climates, found again a happy
reinstatement in what had in fact been their primitive abodes; they
found themselves settled in quiet sylvan scenes, rich in all the
luxuries of life, and endowed with the perfect loveliness of Arcadian
beauty. But from the hills of this favored land and even from the level
grounds as they approach its western border, they still look out upon
that fearful wilderness which once beheld a nation in agony--the utter
extirpation of nearly half a million from amongst its numbers, and, for
the remainder, a storm of misery so fierce, that in the end (as
happened also at Athens during the Peloponnesian war from a different
form of misery) very many lost their memory; all records of their past
life were wiped out as with a sponge--utterly erased and cancelled; and
many others lost their reason; some in a gentle form of pensive
melancholy, some in a more restless form of feverish delirium and
nervous agitation, and others in the fixed forms of tempestuous mania,
raving frenzy, or moping idiocy. Two great commemorative monuments
arose in after years to mark the depth and permanence of the awe--the
sacred and reverential grief with which all persons looked back upon
the dread calamities attached to the year of the Tiger--all who had
either personally shared in those calamities, and had themselves drunk
from that cup of sorrow, or who had effectually been made witnesses to
their results, and associated with their relief; two great monuments,
we say; first of all, one in the religious solemnity, enjoined by the
Dalai Lama, called in the Tartar language a _Romanang_, that is, a
national commemoration, with music the most rich and solemn, of all the
souls who departed to the rest of Paradise from the afflictions of the
Desert: this took place about six years after the arrival in China.
Secondly, another more durable and more commensurate to the scale of
the calamity and to the grandeur of this national Exodus, in the mighty
columns of granite and brass, erected by the Emperor Kien Long, near
the banks of the Ily: these columns stand upon the very margin of the
_steppes_; and they bear a short but emphatic inscription
[Footnote: This inscription has been slightly altered in one or two
phrases, and particularly in adapting to the Christian era the
Emperor's expressions for the year of the original Exodus from China
and the retrogressive Exodus from Russia. With respect to the
designation adopted for the Russian Emperor, either it is built upon
some confusion between him and the Byzantine Caesars, as though the
former, being of the same religion with the latter (and occupying in
part the same longitudes, though in different latitudes) might be
considered as his modern successor; or else it refers simply to the
Greek form of Christianity professed by the Russian Emperor and
Church.] to the following effect:--

By the Will of God
Here, upon the Brink of these Deserts,
Which from this Point begin and stretch away
Pathless, treeless, waterless,
For thousands of miles--and along the margins of many mighty Nations,
Rested from their labors and from great afflictions
Under the shadow of the Chinese Wall,
And by the favor of KIEN LONG, God's Lieutenant upon Earth,
The ancient Children of the Wilderness--the Torgote Tartars
Flying before the wrath of the Grecian Czar,
Wandering Sheep who had strayed away from the Celestial Empire in the
year 1616,
But are now mercifully gathered again, after infinite sorrow,
Into the fold of their forgiving Shepherd.
Hallowed be the spot for ever,
and
Hallowed be the day--September 8, 1771!
Amen.





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