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Title: Melmoth the Wanderer Vol 3 (of 4)
Author: Maturin, Charles Robert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Transcriber’s Notes:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible, including inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, and
    punctuation. Some corrections of spelling and punctuation have been
    made. They are listed at the end of the text.

    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.



  MELMOTH
  THE
  WANDERER:
  A
  TALE.

  BY THE AUTHOR OF “BERTRAM,” &c.

  IN FOUR VOLUMES.

  VOL. III.

  EDINBURGH:
  PRINTED FOR ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND COMPANY,
  AND HURST, ROBINSON, AND CO. CHEAPSIDE,
  LONDON.

  1820.



MELMOTH.



CHAPTER XII.

    Juravi lingua, mentem injuratam gero.----
    Who brought you first acquainted with the devil?

    SHIRLEY’S ST PATRICK FOR IRELAND.


“I ran on till I had no longer breath or strength, (without perceiving
that I was in a dark passage), till I was stopt by a door. In falling
against it, I burst it open, and found myself in a low dark room. When I
raised myself, for I had fallen on my hands and knees, I looked round,
and saw something so singular, as to suspend even my personal anxiety
and terror for a moment.

“The room was very small; and I could perceive by the rents, that I had
not only broken open a door, but a large curtain which hung before it,
whose ample folds still afforded me concealment if I required it. There
was no one in the room, and I had time to study its singular furniture
at leisure.

“There was a table covered with cloth; on it were placed a vessel of a
singular construction, a book, into whose pages I looked, but could not
make out a single letter. I therefore wisely took it for a book of
magic, and closed it with a feeling of exculpatory horror. (It happened
to be a copy of the Hebrew Bible, marked with the Samaritan points).
There was a knife too; and a cock was fastened to the leg of the table,
whose loud crows announced his impatience of further constraint(1).

  (1) Quilibet postea paterfamilias, cum _gallo_ præ manibus, in medium
  primus prodit. * * * * * * * *

  Deinde expiationem aggreditur et capiti suo ter gallum allidit,
  singulosque ictus his vocibus prosequitur. Hic Gallus sit permutio pro
  me, &c. * * * * * * * Gallo deinde imponens manus, eum statim mactat,
  &c.

  Vide Buxtorf, as quoted in Dr Magee (Bishop of Raphoe’s) work on the
  atonement. Cumberland in his Observer, I think, mentions the discovery
  to have been reserved for the feast of the Passover. It is just as
  probable it was made on the day of expiation.

“I felt that this apparatus was somewhat singular--it looked like a
preparation for a sacrifice. I shuddered, and wrapt myself in the
volumes of the drapery which hung before the door my fall had broken
open. A dim lamp, suspended from the ceiling, discovered to me all these
objects, and enabled me to observe what followed almost immediately. A
man of middle age, but whose physiognomy had something peculiar in it,
even to the eye of a Spaniard, from the clustering darkness of his
eye-brows, his prominent nose, and a certain lustre in the balls of his
eyes, entered the room, knelt before the table, kissed the book that lay
on it, and read from it some sentences that were to precede, as I
imagined, some horrible sacrifice;--felt the edge of the knife, knelt
again, uttered some words which I did not understand, (as they were in
the language of that book), and then called aloud on some one by the
name of Manasseh-ben-Solomon. No one answered. He sighed, passed his
hand over his eyes with the air of a man who is asking pardon of himself
for a short forgetfulness, and then pronounced the name of “Antonio.” A
young man immediately entered, and answered, “Did you call me,
Father?”--But while he spoke, he threw a hollow and wandering glance on
the singular furniture of the room.

“I called you, my son, and why did you not answer me?”--“I did not hear
you, father--I mean, I did not think it was on me you called. I heard
only a name I was never called by before. When you said ‘Antonio,’ I
obeyed you--I came.”--“But _that_ is the name by which you must in
future be called and be known, to me at least, unless you prefer
another.--You shall have your choice.”--“My father, I shall adopt
whatever name you choose.”--“No; the choice of your new name must be
your own--you must, for the future, either adopt the name you have
heard, or another.”--“What other, Sir?”--“_That of parricide._” The
youth shuddered with horror, less at the words than at the expression
that accompanied them; and, after looking at his father for some time in
a posture of tremulous and supplicating inquiry, he burst into tears.
The father seized the moment. He grasped the arms of his son, “My child,
I gave you life, and you may repay the gift--my life is in your power.
You think me a Catholic--I have brought you up as one for the
preservation of our mutual lives, in a country where the confession of
the true faith would infallibly cost both. I am one of that unhappy race
every where stigmatized and spoken against, yet on whose industry and
talent the ungrateful country that anathematizes us, depends for half
the sources of its national prosperity. I am a Jew, “an Israelite,” one
of those to whom, even by the confession of a Christian apostle,
“pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving
of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the
fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh--” Here he paused, not
willing to go on with a quotation that would have contradicted his
sentiments. He added, “The Messias will come, whether suffering or
triumphant(2). I am a Jew. I called you at the hour of your birth by the
name of Manasseh-ben-Solomon. I called on you by that name, which I felt
had clung to the bottom of my heart from that hour, and which, echoing
from its abyss, I almost hoped you would have recognized. It was a
dream, but will you not, my beloved child, realize that dream? Will you
not?--will you not? The God of your fathers is waiting to embrace
you--and your father is at your feet, imploring you to follow the faith
of your father Abraham, the prophet Moses, and all the holy prophets who
are with God, and who look down on this moment of your soul’s
vacillation between the abominable idolatries of those who not only
adore the Son of the carpenter, but even impiously compel you to fall
down before the image of the woman his mother, and adore her by the
blasphemous name of Mother of God,--and the pure voice of those who call
on you to worship the God of your fathers, the God of ages, the eternal
God of heaven and earth, without son or mother, without child or
descendant, (as impiously presumed in their blasphemous creed), without
even worshipper, save those who, like me, sacrifice their hearts to him
in solitude, at the risk of those hearts being PIERCED BY THEIR OWN
CHILDREN.”

  (2) The Jews believe in two Messias, a suffering and a triumphant one,
  to reconcile the prophecies with their own expectations.

“At these words, the young man, overcome by all he saw and heard, and
quite unprepared for this sudden transition from Catholicism to Judaism,
burst into tears. The father seized the moment, “My child, you are now
to profess yourself the slave of these idolaters, who are cursed in the
law of Moses, and by the commandment of God,--or to enrol yourself among
the faithful, whose rest shall be in the bosom of Abraham, and who,
reposing there, shall see the unbelieving crawling over the burning
ashes of hell, and supplicate you in vain for a drop of water, according
to the legends of their own prophet. And does not such a picture excite
your pride to deny them a drop?”--“I would not deny them a drop,” sobbed
the youth, “I would give them these tears.”--“Reserve them for your
father’s grave,” added the Jew, “for to the grave you have doomed me.--I
have lived, sparing, watching, temporizing, with these accursed
idolaters, for _you_. And now--and now you reject a God who is alone
able to save, and a father kneeling to implore you to accept that
salvation.”--“No, I do not,” said the bewildered youth.--“What, then, do
you determine?--I am at your feet to know your resolution. Behold, the
mysterious instruments of your initiation are ready. There is the
uncorrupted book of Moses, the prophet of God, as these idolaters
themselves confess. There are all the preparations for the year of
expiation--determine whether those rites shall now dedicate you to the
true God, or seize your father, (who has put his life into your hands),
and drag him by the throat into the prisons of the Inquisition. You
may--you can--_will you?_”

“In prostrate and tremulous agony, the father held up his locked hands
to his child. I seized the moment--despair had made me reckless. I
understood not a word of what was said, except the reference to the
Inquisition. I seized on that last word--I grasped, in my despair, at
the heart of father and child. I rushed from behind the curtain, and
exclaiming, “If he does not betray you to the Inquisition, _I will_.” I
fell at his feet. This mixture of defiance and prostration, my squalid
figure, my inquisitorial habit, and my bursting on this secret and
solemn interview, struck the Jew with a horror he vainly gasped to
express, till, rising from my knees, on which I had fallen from my
weakness, I added, “Yes, I will betray you to the Inquisition, unless
you instantly promise to shelter me from it.” The Jew glanced at my
dress, perceived his danger and mine, and, with a _physical_ presence of
mind unparalleled, except in a man under strong impressions of mental
excitation and personal danger, bustled about to remove every trace of
the expiatory sacrifice, and of my inquisitorial costume, in a moment.
In the same breath he called aloud for _Rebekah_, to remove the vessels
from the table; bid _Antonio_ quit the apartment, and hastened to clothe
me in some dress that he had snatched from a wardrobe collected from
centuries; while he tore off my inquisitorial dress with a violence that
left me actually naked, and the habit in rags.

“There was something at once fearful and ludicrous in the scene that
followed. Rebekah, an old Jewish woman, came at his call; but, seeing a
third person, retreated in terror, while her master, in his confusion,
called her in vain by her _Christian_ name of Maria. Obliged to remove
the table alone, he overthrew it, and broke the leg of the unfortunate
animal fastened to it, who, not to be without his share in the tumult,
uttered the most shrill and intolerable screams, while the Jew,
snatching up the sacrificial knife, repeated eagerly, “Statim mactat
gallum,” and put the wretched bird out of its pain; then, trembling at
this open avowal of his Judaism, he sat down amid the ruins of the
overthrown table, the fragments of the broken vessels, and the remains
of the martyred cock. He gazed at me with a look of stupified and
ludicrous inanity, and demanded in delirious tones, what “my lords the
Inquisitors had pleased to visit his humble but highly-honoured mansion
for?” I was scarce less deranged than he was; and, though we both spoke
the same language, and were forced by circumstances into the same
strange and desperate confidence with each other, we really needed, for
the first half-hour, a rational interpreter of our exclamations, starts
of fear, and bursts of disclosure. At last our mutual terror acted
honestly between us, and we understood each other. The end of the matter
was, that, in less than an hour, I felt myself clad in a comfortable
garment, seated at a table amply spread, watched over by my involuntary
host, and watching him in turn with red wolfish eyes, which glanced from
his board to his person, as if I could, at a moment’s hint of danger
from _his_ treachery, have changed my meal, and feasted on his
life-blood. No such danger occurred,--my host was more afraid of me than
I had reason to be of him, and for many causes. He was a Jew _innate_,
an impostor,--a wretch, who, drawing sustenance from the bosom of our
holy mother the church, had turned her nutriment to poison, and
attempted to infuse that poison into the lips of his son. I was but a
fugitive from the Inquisition,--a prisoner, who had a kind of
instinctive and very venial dislike to giving the Inquisitors the
trouble of lighting the faggots for _me_, which would be much better
employed in consuming the adherent to the law of Moses. In fact,
impartiality considered, there was every thing in my favour, and the Jew
just acted as if he felt so,--but all this I ascribed to his terrors of
the Inquisition.

“That night I slept,--I know not how or where. I had wild dreams before
I slept, if I did sleep; and after,--such visions,--such _things_,
passed in dread and stern reality before me. I have often in my memory
searched for the traces of the first night I passed under the roof of
the Jew, but can find nothing,--nothing except a conviction of my utter
insanity. It might not have been so,--I know not how it was. I remember
his lighting me up a narrow stair, and my asking him, was he lighting me
_down_ the steps of the dungeons of the Inquisition?--his throwing open
a door, and my asking him, was it the door of the torture-room?--his
attempting to undress me, and my exclaiming, “Do not bind me too
tight,--I know I must suffer, but be merciful;”--his throwing me on the
bed, while I shrieked, “Well, you have bound me on the rack,
then?--strain it hard, that I may forget myself the sooner; but let your
surgeon not be near to watch my pulse,--let it cease to throb, and let
me cease to suffer.” I remember no more for many days, though I have
struggled to do so, and caught from time to time glimpses of thoughts
better lost. Oh, Sir, there are some _criminals of the imagination_,
whom if we could plunge into the _oubliettes_ of its magnificent but
lightly-based fabric, its lord would reign more happy. * * * * * * *

“Many days elapsed, indeed, before the Jew began to feel his immunity
somewhat dearly purchased, by the additional maintenance of a
troublesome, and, I fear, a deranged inmate. He took the first
opportunity that the recovery of my intellect offered, of hinting this
to me, and inquired mildly what I purposed to do, and where I meant to
go. This question for the first time opened to my view that range of
hopeless and interminable desolation that lay before me,--the
Inquisition had laid waste the whole track of life, as with fire and
sword. I had not a spot to stand on, a meal to earn, a hand to grasp, a
voice to greet, a roof to crouch under, in the whole realm of Spain.

“You are not to learn, Sir, that the power of the Inquisition, like that
of death, separates you, by its single touch, from all mortal relations.
From the moment its grasp has seized you, all human hands unlock their
hold of yours,--you have no longer father, mother, sister, or child. The
most devoted and affectionate of all those relatives, who, in the
natural intercourse of human life, would have laid their hands under
your feet to procure you a smoother passage over its roughnesses, would
be the first to grasp the faggot that was to reduce you to ashes, if the
Inquisition were to demand the sacrifice. I knew all this; and I felt,
besides, that, had I never been a prisoner in the Inquisition, I was an
isolated being, rejected by father and mother,--the involuntary murderer
of my brother, the only being on earth who loved me, or whom I could
love or profit by,--that being who seemed to flash across my brief
_human_ existence, to illuminate and to blast. The bolt had perished
with the victim. In Spain it was impossible for me to live without
detection, unless I plunged myself into an imprisonment as profound and
hopeless as that of the Inquisition. And, if a miracle were wrought to
convey me out of Spain, ignorant as I was of the language, the habits,
and the modes of obtaining subsistence, in that or any other country,
how could I support myself even for a day. Absolute famine stared me in
the face, and a sense of degradation accompanying my consciousness of my
own utter and desolate helplessness, was the keenest shaft in the
quiver, whose contents were lodged in my heart. My consequence was
actually lessened in my own eyes, by ceasing to become the victim of
persecution, by which I had suffered so long. _While people think it
worth their while to torment us, we are never without some dignity,
though painful and imaginary._ Even in the Inquisition I belonged to
somebody,--I was watched and guarded;--now, I was the outcast of the
whole earth, and I wept with equal bitterness and depression at the
hopeless vastness of the desert I had to traverse.

“The Jew, not at all disturbed by these feelings, went daily out for
intelligence, and returned one evening in such raptures, that I could
easily discover he had ascertained his own safety at least, if not mine.
He informed me that the current report in Madrid was, that I had
perished in the fall of the burning ruins on the night of the fire. He
added, that this report had received additional currency and strength
from the fact, that the bodies of those who had perished by the fall of
the arch, were, when discovered, so defaced by fire, and so crushed by
the massive fragments, as to be utterly undistinguishable;--their
remains had been collected, however, and mine were supposed to be among
the number. A mass had been performed for them, and _their cinders,
occupying but a single coffin_(3), were interred in the vaults of the
Dominican church, while some of the first families of Spain, in the
deepest mourning, and their faces veiled, testified their grief in
silence for those whom they would have shuddered to acknowledge their
mortal relationship to, had they been still living. Certainly a lump of
cinders was no longer an object even of religious hostility. My mother,
he added, was among the number of mourners, but with a veil so long and
thick, and attendance so few, that it would have been impossible to have
known the Duchess di Monçada, but for the whisper that her appearance
there had been enjoined for penance. He added, what gave me more perfect
satisfaction, that the holy office was very glad to accredit the story
of my death; they wished me to be believed dead, and what the
Inquisition wishes to be believed, is rarely denied belief in Madrid.
This signing my certificate of death, was to me the best security for
life. In the communicativeness of his joy, which had expanded his heart,
if not his hospitality, the Jew, as I swallowed my bread and water, (for
my stomach still loathed all animal food), informed me that there was a
procession to take place that evening, the most solemn and superb ever
witnessed in Madrid. The holy office was to appear in all the pomp and
plenitude of its glory, accompanied by the standards of St Dominic and
the cross, while all the ecclesiastical orders in Madrid were to attend
with their appropriate insignia, invested by a strong military guard,
(which, for some reason or other, was judged necessary or proper), and,
attended by the whole populace of Madrid, was to proceed to the
principal church to humiliate themselves for the recent calamity they
had undergone, and implore the saints to be more personally active in
the event of a future conflagration.

  (3) This extraordinary fact occurred after the dreadful fire which
  consumed sixteen persons in one house, in Stephen’s Green, Dublin,
  1816. The writer of this heard the screams of sufferers whom it was
  impossible to save, for an hour and a half.

“The evening came on--the Jew left me; and, under an impression at once
unaccountable and irresistible, I ascended to the highest apartment in
his house, and, with a beating heart, listened for the toll of the bells
that was to announce the commencement of the ceremony. I had not long to
wait. At the close of twilight, every steeple in the city was vibrating
with the tolls of their well-plied bells. I was in an upper room of the
house. There was but one window; but, hiding myself behind the blind,
which I withdrew from time to time, I had a full view of the spectacle.
The house of the Jew looked out on an open space, through which the
procession was to pass, and which was already so filled, that I wondered
how the procession could ever make its way through such a wedged and
impenetrable mass. At last, I could distinguish a motion like that of a
distant power, giving a kind of indefinite impulse to the vast body that
rolled and blackened beneath me, like the ocean under the first and
far-felt agitations of the storm.

“The crowd rocked and reeled, but did not seem to give way an inch. The
procession commenced. I could see it approach, marked as it was by the
crucifix, banner, and taper--(for they had reserved the procession till
a late hour, to give it the imposing effect of torch-light.) And I saw
the multitude at a vast distance give way at once. Then came on the
stream of the procession, rushing, like a magnificent river, between two
banks of human bodies, who kept as regular and strict distance, as if
they had been ramparts of stone,--the banners, and crucifixes, and
tapers, appearing like the crests of foam on advancing billows,
sometimes rising, sometimes sinking. At last they came on, and the whole
grandeur of the procession burst on my view, and nothing was ever more
imposing, or more magnificent. The habits of the ecclesiastics, the
glare of the torches struggling with the dying twilight, and seeming to
say to heaven, We have a sun though yours is set;--the solemn and
resolute look of the whole party, who trod as if their march were on the
bodies of kings, and looked as if they would have said, What is the
sceptre to the cross?--the black crucifix itself, trembling in the rear,
attended by the banner of St Dominick, with its awful inscription.--It
was a sight to convert all hearts, and I exulted I was a Catholic.
Suddenly a tumult seemed to arise among the crowd--I knew not from what
it could arise--all seemed so pleased and so elated.

“I drew away the blind, and saw, by torch-light, among a crowd of
officials who clustered round the standard of St Dominick, the figure of
my companion. His story was well known. At first a faint hiss was heard,
then a wild and smothered howl. Then I heard voices among the crowd
repeat, in audible sounds, “What is this for? Why do they ask why the
Inquisition has been half-burned?--why the virgin has withdrawn her
protection?--why the saints turn away their faces from us?--when a
parricide marches among the officials of the Inquisition. Are the hands
that have cut a father’s throat fit to support the banner of the cross?”
These were the words but of a few at first, but the whisper spread
rapidly among the crowd; and fierce looks were darted, and hands were
clenched and raised, and some stooped to the earth for stones. The
procession went on, however, and every one knelt to the crucifixes as
they advanced, held aloft by the priests. But the murmurs increased too,
and the words, “parricide, profanation, and victim,” resounded on every
side, even from those who knelt in the mire as the cross passed by. The
murmur increased--it could no longer be mistaken for that of adoration.
The foremost priests paused in terror ill concealed--and this seemed the
signal for the terrible scene that was about to follow. An officer
belonging to the guard at this time ventured to intimate to the chief
Inquisitor the danger that might be apprehended, but was dismissed with
the short and sullen answer, “Move on--the servants of Christ have
nothing to fear.” The procession attempted to proceed, but their
progress was obstructed by the multitude, who now seemed bent on some
deadly purpose. A few stones were thrown; but the moment the priests
raised their crucifixes, the multitude were on their knees again, still,
however, holding the stones in their hands. The military officers again
addressed the chief Inquisitor, and intreated his permission to disperse
the crowd. They received the same dull and stern answer, “The cross is
sufficient for the protection of its servants--whatever fears you may
feel, I feel none.” Incensed at the reply, a young officer sprung on his
horse, which he had quitted from respect while addressing the Suprema,
and was in a moment levelled by the blow of a stone that fractured his
skull. He turned his blood-swimming eyes on the Inquisitor, and died.
The multitude raised a wild shout, and pressed closer. Their intentions
were now too plain. They pressed close on that part of the procession
among which their victim was placed. Again, and in the most urgent
terms, the officers implored leave to disperse the crowd, or at least
cover the retreat of the obnoxious object to some neighbouring church,
or even to the walls of the Inquisition. And the wretched man himself,
with loud outcries, (as he saw the danger thickening around him), joined
in their petition. The Suprema, though looking pale, bated not a jot of
his pride. “These are my arms!” he exclaimed, pointing to the crucifixes,
“and their inscription is εν-τουτω-νικα. I forbid a sword to be drawn,
or a musket to be levelled. On, in the name of God.” And on they
attempted to move, but the pressure now rendered it impossible. The
multitude, unrepressed by the military, became ungovernable; the crosses
reeled and rocked like standards in a battle; the ecclesiastics, in
confusion and terror, pressed on each other. Amid that vast mass, every
particle of which seemed in motion, there was but one emphatic and
discriminate movement--that which bore a certain part of the crowd
strait on to the spot where their victim, though inclosed and inwrapt by
all that is formidable in earthly, and all that is awful in spiritual
power--sheltered by the crucifix and the sword--stood trembling to the
bottom of his soul. The Suprema saw his error too late, and now called
loudly on the military to advance, and disperse the crowd by any means.
They attempted to obey him; but by this time they were mingled among the
crowd themselves. All order had ceased; and besides, there appeared a
kind of indisposition to this service, from the very first, among the
military. They attempted to charge, however; but, entangled as they were
among the crowd, who clung round their horses hoofs, it was impossible
for them even to form, and the first shower of stones threw them into
total confusion. The danger increased every moment, for one spirit now
seemed to animate the whole multitude. What had been the stifled growl
of a few, was now the audible yell of all--“Give him to us--we must have
him;” and they tossed and roared like a thousand waves assailing a
wreck. As the military retreated, a hundred priests instantly closed
round the unhappy man, and with generous despair exposed themselves to
the fury of the multitude. While the Suprema, hastening to the dreadful
spot, stood in the front of the priests, with the cross uplifted,--his
face was like that of the dead, but his eye had not lost a single flash
of its fire, nor his voice a tone of its pride. It was in vain; the
multitude proceeded calmly, and even respectfully, (when not resisted),
to remove all that obstructed their progress; in doing so, they took
every care of the persons of priests whom they were compelled to remove,
repeatedly asking their pardon for the violence they were guilty of. And
this tranquillity of resolved vengeance was the most direful indication
of its never desisting till its purpose was accomplished. The last ring
was broken--the last resister overcome. Amid yells like those of a
thousand tigers, the victim was seized and dragged forth, grasping in
both hands fragments of the robes of those he had clung to in vain, and
holding them up in the impotence of despair.

“The cry was hushed for a moment, as they felt him in their talons, and
gazed on him with thirsty eyes. Then it was renewed, and the work of
blood began. They dashed him to the earth--tore him up again--flung him
into the air--tossed him from hand to hand, as a bull gores the howling
mastiff with horns right and left. Bloody, defaced, blackened with
earth, and battered with stones, he struggled and roared among them,
till a loud cry announced the hope of a termination to a scene alike
horrible to humanity, and disgraceful to civilization. The military,
strongly reinforced, came galloping on, and all the ecclesiastics, with
torn habits, and broken crucifixes, following fast in the rear,--all
eager in the cause of human nature--all on fire to prevent this base and
barbarous disgrace to the name of Christianity and of human nature.

“Alas! this interference only hastened the horrible catastrophe. There
was but a shorter space for the multitude to work their furious will. I
saw, I felt, but I cannot describe, the last moments of this horrible
scene. Dragged from the mud and stones, they dashed a mangled lump of
flesh right against the door of the house where I was. With his tongue
hanging from his lacerated mouth, like that of a baited bull; with one
eye torn from the socket, and dangling on his bloody cheek; with a
fracture in every limb, and a wound for every pore, he still howled for
“life--life--life--mercy!” till a stone, aimed by some pitying hand,
struck him down. He fell, trodden in one moment into sanguine and
discoloured mud by a thousand feet. The cavalry came on, charging with
fury. The crowd, saturated with cruelty and blood, gave way in grim
silence. But they had not left a joint of his little finger--a hair of
his head--a slip of his skin. Had Spain mortgaged all her reliques from
Madrid to Monserrat, from the Pyrennees to Gibraltar, she could not have
recovered the paring of a nail to canonize. The officer who headed the
troop dashed his horse’s hoofs into a bloody formless mass, and
demanded, “Where was the victim?” He was answered, “Beneath your horse’s
feet(4);” and they departed. * * * * * * * * *

  (4) This circumstance occurred in Ireland 1797, after the murder of
  the unfortunate Dr Hamilton. The officer was answered, on inquiring
  what was that heap of mud at his horse’s feet,--“The man you came
  for.”

“It is a fact, Sir, that while witnessing this horrible execution, I
felt all the effects vulgarly ascribed to fascination. I shuddered at
the first movement--the dull and deep whisper among the crowd. I
shrieked involuntarily when the first decisive movements began among
them; but when at last the human shapeless carrion was dashed against
the door, I echoed the wild shouts of the multitude with a kind of
savage instinct. I bounded--I clasped my hands for a moment--then I
echoed the screams of the thing that seemed no longer to live, but still
could scream; and I screamed aloud and wildly for life--life--and mercy!
One face was turned towards me as I shrieked in unconscious tones. The
glance, fixed on me for a moment, was in a moment withdrawn. The flash
of the well-known eyes made no impression on me then. My existence was
so purely mechanical, that, without the least consciousness of my own
danger, (scarce less than that of the victim, had I been detected), I
remained uttering shout for shout, and scream for scream--offering
worlds in imagination to be able to remove from the window, yet feeling
as if every shriek I uttered was as a nail that fastened me to
it--dropping my eye-lids, and feeling as if a hand held them open, or
cut them away--forcing me to gaze on all that passed below, like
Regulus, with his lids cut off, compelled to gaze on the sun that
withered up his eye-balls--till sense, and sight, and soul, failed me,
and I fell grasping by the bars of the window, and mimicking, in my
horrid trance, the shouts of the multitude, and the yell of the
devoted(5). I actually for a moment believed myself the object of their
cruelty. The drama of terror has the irresistible power of converting
its audience into its victims.

  (5) In the year 1803, when Emmett’s insurrection broke out in
  Dublin--(_the fact_ from which this account is drawn was related to me
  by an eye-witness)--Lord Kilwarden, in passing through Thomas Street,
  was dragged from his carriage, and murdered in the most horrid manner.
  Pike after pike was thrust through his body, till at last he was
  _nailed to a door_, and called out to his murderers to “put him out of
  his pain.” At this moment, a shoemaker, who lodged in the garret of an
  opposite house, was drawn to the window by the horrible cries he
  heard. He stood at the window, gasping with horror, his wife
  attempting vainly to drag him away. He saw the last blow struck--he
  heard the last groan uttered, as the sufferer cried, “put me out of
  pain,” while sixty pikes were thrusting at him. The man stood at his
  window as if nailed to it; and when dragged from it, became--an _idiot
  for life_.

“The Jew had kept apart from the tumult of the night. He had, I suppose,
been saying within himself, in the language of your admirable poet,

    “Oh, Father Abraham, what these Christians are!”

But when he returned at a late hour, he was struck with horror at the
state in which he found me. I was delirious,--raving, and all he could
say or do to soothe me, was in vain. My imagination had been fearfully
impressed, and the consternation of the poor Jew was, I have been told,
equally ludicrous and dismal. In his terror, he forgot all the technical
formality of the Christian names by which he had uniformly signalized
his household, since his residence in Madrid at least. He called aloud
on Manasseh-ben-Solomon his son, and Rebekah his maid, to assist in
holding me. “Oh, Father Abraham, my ruin is certain, this maniac will
discover all, and Manasseh-ben-Solomon, my son, will die uncircumcised.”

“These words operating on my delirium, I started up, and, grasping the
Jew by the throat, arraigned him as a prisoner of the Inquisition. The
terrified wretch, falling on his knees, vociferated, “My cock,--my
cock,--my cock! oh! I am undone!” Then, grasping my knees, “I am no
Jew,--my son, Manasseh-ben-Solomon, is a Christian; you will not betray
him, you will not betray _me_,--me who have saved your life.
Manasseh,--I mean Antonio,--Rebekah,--no, Maria, help me to hold him. Oh
God of Abraham, my cock, and my sacrifice of expiation, and this maniac
to burst on the recesses of our privacy, to tear open the veil of the
tabernacle!”--“Shut the tabernacle,” said Rebekah, the old domestic whom
I have before mentioned; “yea, shut the tabernacle, and close up the
veils thereof, for behold there be men knocking at the door,--men who
are children of Belial, and they knock with staff and stone; and,
verily, they are about to break in the door, and demolish the carved
work thereof with axes and hammers.”--“Thou liest,” said the Jew, in
much perturbation: “there is no carved work thereabout, nor dare they
break it down with axes and hammers; peradventure it is but an assault
of the children of Belial, in their rioting and drunkenness. I pray
thee, Rebekah, to watch the door, and keep off the sons of Belial, even
the sons of the mighty of the sinful city--the city of Madrid, while I
remove this blaspheming carrion, who struggleth with me,--yea,
struggleth mightily,” (and struggle I did mightily). But, as I
struggled, the knocks at the door became louder and stronger; and, as I
was carried off, the Jew continued to repeat, “Set thy face against
them, Rebekah; yea, set thy face like a flint.” As he retired, Rebekah
exclaimed, “Behold I have set my back against them, for my face now
availeth not. My back is that which I will oppose, and verily I shall
prevail.”--“I pray thee, Rebekah,” cried the Jew, “oppose thy FACE unto
them, and verily that shall prevail. Try not the adversary with thy
back, but oppose thy face unto them; and behold, if they are men, they
shall flee, even though they were a thousand, at the rebuke of one. I
pray thee try thy face once more, Rebekah, while I send this scape-goat
into the wilderness. Surely thy face is enough to drive away those who
knocked by night at the door of that house in Gibeah, in the matter of
the wife of the Benjamite.” The knocking all this time increased.
“Behold my back is broken,” cried Rebekah, giving up her watch and ward,
“for, of a verity, the weapons of the mighty do smite the lintels and
door-posts; and mine arms are not steel, neither are my ribs iron, and
behold I fail,--yea, I fail, and fall backwards into the hands of the
uncircumcised.” And so saying, she fell backwards as the door gave way,
and fell not, as she feared, into the hands of the uncircumcised, but
into those of two of her countrymen, who, it appeared, had some
extraordinary reason for this late visit and forcible entrance.

“The Jew, apprized who they were, quitted me, after securing the door,
and sat up the greater part of the night, in earnest conversation with
his visitors. Whatever was their subject, it left traces of the most
intense anxiety on the countenance of the Jew the next morning. He went
out early, did not return till a late hour, and then hastened to the
room I occupied, and expressed the utmost delight at finding me sane and
composed. Candles were placed on the table, Rebekah dismissed, the door
secured, and the Jew, after taking many uneasy turns about the narrow
apartment, and often clearing his throat, at length sat down, and
ventured to entrust me with the cause of his perturbation, in which,
with the fatal consciousness of the unhappy, I already began to feel _I_
must have a share. He told me, that though the report of my death, so
universally credited through Madrid, had at first set his mind at ease,
there was now a wild story, which, with all its falsehood and
impossibility, might, in its circulation, menace us with the most
fearful consequences. He asked me, was it possible I could have been so
imprudent as to expose myself to view on the day of that horrible
execution? and when I confessed that I had stood at a window, and had
involuntarily uttered cries that I feared might have reached some ears,
he wrung his hands, and a sweat of consternation burst out on his pallid
features. When he recovered himself, he told me it was universally
believed that my spectre had appeared on that terrible occasion,--that I
had been seen hovering in the air, to witness the sufferings of the
dying wretch,--and that my voice had been heard summoning him to his
eternal doom. He added, that this story, possessing all the credibility
of superstition, was now repeated by a thousand mouths; and whatever
contempt might be attached to its absurdity, it would infallibly operate
as a hint to the restless vigilance, and unrelaxing industry of the holy
office, and might ultimately lead to my discovery. He therefore was
about to disclose to me a secret, the knowledge of which would enable me
to remain in perfect security even in the centre of Madrid, until some
means might be devised of effecting my escape, and procuring me the
means of subsistence in some Protestant country, beyond the reach of the
Inquisition.

“As he was about to disclose this secret on which the safety of both
depended, and which I bent in speechless agony to hear, a knock was
heard at the door, very unlike the knocks of the preceding night. It was
single, solemn, peremptory,--and followed by a demand to open the doors
of the house in the name of the most holy Inquisition. At these terrible
words, the wretched Jew flung himself on his knees, blew out the
candles, called on the names of the twelve patriarchs, and slipped a
large rosary on his arm, in less time than it is possible to conceive
any human frame could go through such a variety of movements. The knock
was repeated,--I stood paralyzed; but the Jew, springing on his feet,
raised one of the boards of the floor in a moment, and, with a motion
between convulsion and instinct, pointed to me to descend. I did so, and
found myself in a moment in darkness and in safety.

“I had descended but a few steps, on the last of which I stood
trembling, when the officers of the Inquisition entered the room, and
stalked over the very board that concealed me. I could hear every word
that passed. “Don Fernan,” said an officer to the Jew, who re-entered
with them, after respectfully opening the door, “why were we not
admitted sooner?”--“Holy Father,” said the trembling Jew, “my only
domestic, Maria, is old and deaf, the youth my son is in his bed, and I
was myself engaged in my devotions.”--“It seems you can perform them in
the dark,” said another, pointing to the candles, which the Jew was
re-lighting.--“When the eye of God is on me, most reverend fathers, I am
never in darkness.”--“The eye of God _is_ on you,” said the officer,
sternly seating himself; “and so is another eye, to which he has deputed
the sleepless vigilance and resistless penetration of his own,--the eye
of the holy office. Don Fernan di Nunez,” the name by which the Jew
went, “you are not ignorant of the indulgence extended by the church, to
those who have renounced the errors of that accursed and misbelieving
race from which you are descended, but you must be also aware of its
incessant vigilance being directed towards such individuals, from the
suspicion necessarily attached to their doubtful conversion, and
possible relapse. We know that the black blood of Grenada flowed in the
tainted veins of your ancestry, and that not more than four centuries
have elapsed, since your forefathers trampled on that cross before which
you are now prostrate. You are an old man, Don Fernan, but not an _old
Christian_; and, under these circumstances, it behoves the holy office
to have a watchful scrutiny over your conduct.”

“The unfortunate Jew, invoking all the saints, protested he would feel
the strictest scrutiny with which the holy office might honour him, as a
ground of obligation and a matter of thanksgiving,--renouncing at the
same time the creed of his race in terms of such exaggeration and
vehemence, as made me tremble for his probable sincerity in any creed,
and his fidelity to me. The officers of the Inquisition, taking little
notice of his protestations, went on to inform him of the object of
their visit. They stated that a wild and incredible tale of the spectre
of a deceased prisoner of the Inquisition having been seen hovering in
the air near his house, had suggested to the wisdom of the holy office,
that the living individual might be concealed within its walls.

“I could not see the trepidation of the Jew, but I could feel the
vibration of the boards on which he stood communicated to the steps that
supported me. In a choaked and tremulous voice, he implored the officers
to search every apartment of his house, and to raze it to the ground,
and inter him under its dust, if aught were found in it which a faithful
and orthodox son of the church might not harbour. “That shall doubtless
be done,” said the officer, taking him at his word with the utmost _sang
froid_; “but, in the mean time, suffer me to apprize you, Don Fernan, of
the peril you incur, if at any future time, however remote, it shall be
discovered that you harboured or aided in concealing a prisoner of the
Inquisition, and an enemy of the holy church,--the very first and
lightest part of that penalty will be your dwelling being razed to the
ground.” The Inquisitor raised his voice, and paused with emphatic
deliberation between every clause of the following sentences, measuring
as it were the effect of his blows on the increasing terror of his
auditor. “You will be conveyed to our prison, under the suspected
character of a relapsed Jew. Your son will be committed to a convent, to
remove him from the pestilential influence of your presence;--and your
whole property shall be confiscated, to the last stone in your walls,
the last garment on your person, and the last denier in your purse.”

“The poor Jew, who had marked the gradations of his fear by groans more
audible and prolonged at the end of every tremendous denunciatory
clause, at the mention of confiscation so total and desolating, lost all
self-possession, and, ejaculating--“Oh Father Abraham, and all the holy
prophets!”--fell, as I conjectured from the sound, prostrate on the
floor. I gave myself up for lost. Exclusive of his pusillanimity, the
words he had uttered were enough to betray him to the officers of the
Inquisition; and, without a moment’s hesitation between the danger of
falling into their hands, and plunging into the darkness of the recess
into which I had descended, I staggered down a few remaining steps, and
attempted to feel my way along a passage, in which they seemed to
terminate.



CHAPTER XIII.

    There sat a spirit in the vault,
    In shape, in hue, in lineaments, like life.

    SOUTHEY’S THALABA.


“I am convinced, that, had the passage been as long and intricate as any
that ever an antiquarian pursued to discover the tomb of Cheops in the
Pyramids, I would have rushed on in the blindness of my desperation,
till famine or exhaustion had compelled me to pause. But I had no such
peril to encounter,--the floor of the passage was smooth, and the walls
were matted, and though I proceeded in darkness, I proceeded in safety;
and provided my progress removed me far enough from the pursuit or
discovery of the Inquisition, I scarcely cared how it might terminate.

“Amid this temporary magnanimity of despair, this state of mind which
unites the extremes of courage and pusillanimity, I saw a faint light.
Faint it was, but it was distinct,--I saw clearly it was light. Great
God! what a revulsion in my blood and heart, in all my physical and
mental feelings, did this sun of my world of darkness create! I venture
to say, that my speed in approaching it was in the proportion of one
hundred steps to one, compared to my crawling progress in the preceding
darkness. As I approached, I could discover that the light gleamed
through the broad crevices of a door, which, disjointed by subterranean
damps, gave me as full a view of the apartment within, as if it were
opened to me by the inmate. Through one of these crevices, before which
I knelt in a mixture of exhaustion and curiosity, I could reconnoitre
the whole of the interior.

“It was a large apartment, hung with dark-coloured baize within four
feet of the floor, and this intermediate part was thickly matted,
probably to intercept the subterranean damps. In the centre of the room
stood a table covered with black cloth; it supported an iron lamp of an
antique and singular form, by whose light I had been directed, and was
now enabled to descry furniture that appeared sufficiently
extraordinary. There were, amid maps and globes, several instruments, of
which my ignorance did not permit me then to know the use,--some, I have
since learned, were anatomical; there was an electrifying machine, and a
curious _model of a rack_ in ivory; there were few books, but several
scrolls of parchment, inscribed with large characters in red and
ochre-coloured ink; and around the room were placed _four_ skeletons,
not in cases, but in a kind of upright coffin, that gave their bony
emptiness a kind of ghastly and imperative prominence, as if they were
the real and rightful tenants of that singular apartment. Interspersed
between them were the stuffed figures of animals I knew not then the
names of,--an alligator,--some gigantic bones, which I took for those of
Sampson, but which turned out to be fragments of those of the
Mammoth,--and antlers, which in my terror I believed to be those of the
devil, but afterwards learned to be those of an Elk. Then I saw figures
smaller, but not less horrible,--human and brute abortions, in all their
states of anomalous and deformed construction, not preserved in spirits,
but standing in the ghastly nakedness of their white diminutive bones;
these I conceived to be the attendant imps of some infernal ceremony,
which the grand wizard, who now burst on my sight, was to preside over.

“At the end of the table sat an old man, wrapped in a long robe; his
head was covered with a black velvet cap, with a broad border of furs,
his spectacles were of such a size as almost to hide his face, and he
turned over some scrolls of parchment with an anxious and trembling
hand; then seizing a scull that lay on the table, and grasping it in
fingers hardly less bony, and not less yellow, seemed to apostrophize it
in the most earnest manner. All my personal fears were lost in the
thought of my being the involuntary witness of some infernal orgie. I
was still kneeling at the door, when my long suspended respiration burst
forth in a groan, which reached the figure seated at the table in a
moment. Habitual vigilance supplied all the defects of age on the part
of the listener. It was but the sensation of a moment to feel the door
thrown open, my arm seized by an arm powerful though withered by age,
and myself, as I thought, in the talons of a demon.

“The door was closed and bolted. An awful figure stood over me, (for I
had fallen on the floor), and thundered out, “Who art thou, and why art
thou here?” I knew not what to answer, and gazed with a fixed and
speechless look on the skeletons and the other furniture of this
terrible vault. “Hold,” said the voice, “if thou art indeed exhausted,
and needest refreshment, drink of this cup, and thou shalt be refreshed
as with wine; verily, it shall come into thy bowels as water, and as oil
into thy bones,”--and as he spoke he offered to me a cup with some
liquid in it. I repelled him and his drink, which I had not a doubt was
some magical drug, with horror unutterable; and losing all other fears
in the overwhelming one of becoming a slave of Satan, and a victim of
one of his agents, as I believed this extraordinary figure, I called on
the name of the Saviour and the saints, and, crossing myself at every
sentence, exclaimed, “No, tempter, keep your infernal potions for the
leprous lips of your imps, or swallow them yourself. I have but this
moment escaped from the hands of the Inquisition, and a million times
rather would I return and yield myself their victim, than consent to
become yours,--your tender-mercies are the only cruelties I dread. Even
in the prison of the holy office, where the faggots appeared to be lit
before my eyes, and the chain already fastened round my body to bind it
to the stake, I was sustained by a power that enabled me to embrace
objects so terrible to nature, sooner than escape them at the price of
my salvation. The choice was offered me, and I made my election,--and so
would I do were it to be offered a thousand times, though the last were
at the stake, and the fire already kindling.”

Here the Spaniard paused in some agitation. In the enthusiasm of his
narration, he had in some degree disclosed that secret which he had
declared was incommunicable, except in confessing to a priest. Melmoth,
who, from the narrative of Stanton, had been prepared to suspect
something of this, did not think prudent to press him for a farther
disclosure, and waited in silence till his emotion had subsided, without
remark or question. Monçada at length resumed his narrative.

“While I was speaking, the old man viewed me with a look of calm
surprise, that made me ashamed of my fears, even before I had ceased to
utter them. “What!” said he at length, fixing apparently on some
expressions that struck him, “art thou escaped from the arm that dealeth
its blow in darkness, even the arm of the Inquisition? Art thou that
Nazarene youth who sought refuge in the house of our brother Solomon,
the son of Hilkiah, who is called Fernan Nunez by the idolaters in this
land of his captivity? Verily I trusted thou shouldst this night have
eat of my bread, and drank of my cup, and been unto me as a scribe, for
our brother Solomon testified concerning thee, saying, His pen is even
as the pen of a ready writer.”

“I gazed at him in astonishment. Some vague recollections of Solomon’s
being about to disclose some safe and secret retreat wandered over my
mind; and, while trembling at the singular apartment in which we were
seated, and the employment in which he seemed engaged, I yet felt a hope
hover about my heart, which his knowledge of my situation appeared to
justify. “Sit down,” said he, observing with compassion that I was
sinking alike under the exhaustion of fatigue and the distraction of
terror; “sit down, and eat a morsel of bread, and drink a cup of wine,
and comfort thine heart, for thou seemest to be as one who hath escaped
from the snare of the fowler, and from the dart of the hunter.” I obeyed
him involuntarily. I needed the refreshment he offered, and was about to
partake of it, when an irresistible feeling of repugnance and horror
overcame me; and, as I thrust away the food he offered me, I pointed to
the objects around me as the cause of my reluctance. He looked round for
a moment, as doubting whether objects so familiar to him, could be
repulsive to a stranger, and then shaking his head, “Thou art a fool,”
said he, “but thou art a Nazarene, and I pity thee; verily, those who
had the teaching of thy youth, not only have shut the book of knowledge
to thee, but have forgot to open it for themselves. Were not thy
masters, the Jesuits, masters also of the healing art, and art thou not
acquainted with the sight of its ordinary implements? Eat, I pray thee,
and be satisfied that none of these will hurt thee. Yonder dead bones
cannot weigh out or withhold thy food; nor can they bind thy joints, or
strain them with iron, or rend them with steel, as would the living arms
that were stretched forth to seize thee as their prey. And, as the Lord
of hosts liveth, their prey wouldst thou have been, and a prey unto
their iron and steel, were it not for the shelter of the roof of
Adonijah to-night.”

“I took some of the food he offered me, crossing myself at every
mouthful, and drank the wine, which the feverish thirst of terror and
anxiety made me swallow like water, but not without an internal prayer
that it might not be converted into some deleterious and diabolical
poison. The Jew Adonijah observed me with increasing compassion and
contempt.--“What,” said he, “appals thee? Were I possessed of the powers
the superstition of thy sect ascribes to me, might I not make thee a
banquet for fiends, instead of offering thee food? Might I not bring
from the caverns of the earth the voices of those that “peep and
mutter,” instead of speaking unto thee with the voice of man? Thou art
in my power, yet have I no power or will to hurt thee. And dost thou,
who art escaped from the dungeons of the Inquisition, look as one that
feareth on the things that thou seest around thee, the furniture of the
cell of a secluded leach? Within this apartment I have passed the term
of sixty years, and dost thou shudder to visit it for a moment? These be
the skeletons of bodies, but in the den thou hast escaped from were the
skeletons of perished souls. Here are relics of the wrecks or the
caprices of nature, but thou art come from where the cruelty of man,
permanent and persevering, unrelenting and unmitigated, hath never
failed to leave the proofs of its power in abortive intellects, crippled
frames, distorted creeds, and ossified hearts. Moreover, there are
around thee parchments and charts scrawled as it were with the blood of
man, but, were it even so, could a thousand such volumes cause such
terror to the human eye, as a page of the history of thy prison, written
as it is in blood, drawn, not from the frozen veins of the dead, but
from the bursting hearts of the living. Eat, Nazarene, there is no
poison in thy food,--drink, there is no drug in thy cup. Darest thou
promise thyself that in the prison of the Inquisition, or even in the
cells of the Jesuits? Eat and drink without fear in the vault, even in
the vault of Adonijah the Jew. If thou daredst to have done so in the
dwellings of the Nazarenes, I had never beheld thee here. Hast thou
fed?” he added, and I bowed. “Hast thou drank of the cup I gave thee?”
my torturing thirst returned, and I gave him back the cup. He smiled,
but the smile of age,--the smile of lips over which more than an hundred
years have passed, has an expression more repulsive and hideous than can
be deemed; it is never the smile of pleasure,--it is a _frown of the
mouth_, and I shrunk before its grim wrinkles, as the Jew Adonijah
added, “If thou hast eat and drank, it is time for thee to rest. Come to
thy bed, it may be harder than they have given thee in thy prison, but
behold it shall be safer. Come and rest thee there, it may be that the
adversary and the enemy shall not there find thee out.”

“I followed him through passages so devious and intricate, that,
bewildered as I was with the events of the night, they forced on my
memory the well-known fact, that in Madrid the Jews have subterranean
passages to each other’s habitations, which have hitherto baffled all
the industry of the Inquisition. I slept that night, or rather day, (for
the sun had risen), on a pallet laid on the floor of a room, small,
lofty, and matted half-way up the walls. One narrow and grated window
admitted the light of the sun, that arose after that eventful night; and
amid the sweet sound of bells, and the still sweeter of human life,
awake and in motion around me, I sunk into a slumber that was unbroken
even by a dream, till the day was closing; or, in the language of
Adonijah, “till the shadows of the evening were upon the face of all the
earth.”



CHAPTER XIV.

    Unde iratos deos timent, qui sic propitios merentur?

    SENECA.


“When I awoke, he was standing by my pallet. “Arise,” said he, “eat and
drink, that thy strength may return unto thee.” He pointed to a small
table as he spoke, which was covered with food of the plainest kind, and
dressed with the utmost simplicity. Yet he seemed to think an apology
was necessary for the indulgence of this temperate fare. “I myself,”
said he, “eat not the flesh of any animal, save on the new moons and the
feasts, yet the days of the years of my life have been one hundred and
seven; sixty of which have been passed in the chamber where thou sawest
me. Rarely do I ascend to the upper chamber of this house, save on
occasions like this, or peradventure to pray, with my window open
towards the east, for the turning away wrath from Jacob, and the turning
again the captivity of Zion. Well saith the ethnic leach,

    “Aer exclusus confert ad longevitatem.”

“Such hath been my life, as I tell thee. The light of heaven hath been
hidden from mine eyes, and the voice of man is as the voice of a
stranger in mine ears, save those of some of mine own nation, who weep
for the affliction of Israel; yet the silver cord is not loosed, nor the
golden bowl broken; and though mine eye be waxing dim, my natural force
is not abated.” (As he spoke, my eyes hung in reverence on the hoary
majesty of his patriarchal figure, and I felt as if I beheld an embodied
representation of the old law in all its stern simplicity--the unbending
grandeur, and primeval antiquity.) “Hast thou eaten, and art full?
Arise, then, and follow me.”

“We descended to the vault, where I found the lamp was always burning.
And Adonijah, pointing to the parchments that lay on the table, said,
“This is the matter wherein I need thy help; the collection and
transcription whereof hath been the labour of more than half a life,
prolonged beyond the bounds allotted to mortality; but,” pointing to his
sunk and blood-shot eyes, “those that look out of the windows begin to
be darkened, and I feel that I need help from the quick hand and clear
eye of youth. Wherefore, it being certified unto me by our brother, that
thou wert a youth who couldst handle the pen of a scribe, and, moreover,
wast in need of a city of refuge, and a strong wall of defence, against
the laying-in-wait of thy brethren round about thee, I was willing that
thou shouldst come under my roof, and eat of such things as I set before
thee, and such as thy soul desireth, excepting only the abominable
things forbidden in the law of the prophet; and shouldst, moreover,
receive wages as an hired servant.”

“You will perhaps smile, Sir; but even in my wretched situation, I felt
a slight but painful flush tinge my cheek, at the thought of a
Christian, and a peer of Spain, becoming the amanuensis of a Jew for
hire. Adonijah continued, “Then, when my task is completed, then will I
be gathered to my fathers, trusting surely in the Hope of Israel, that
mine eyes shall “behold the King in his beauty,--they shall see the land
that is very far off.” And peradventure,” he added, in a voice that
grief rendered solemn, mellow, and tremulous, “peradventure there shall
I meet in bliss, those with whom I parted in woe--even thou, Zachariah,
the son of my loins, and thou, Leah, the wife of my bosom;”
apostrophizing two of the silent skeletons that stood near. “And in the
presence of the God of our fathers, the redeemed of Zion shall meet--and
meet as those who are to part no more for ever and ever.” At these
words, he closed his eyes, lifted up his hands, and appeared to be
absorbed in mental prayer. Grief had perhaps subdued my prejudices--it
had certainly softened my heart--and at this moment I half-believed that
a Jew might find entrance and adoption amid the family and fold of the
blessed. This sentiment operated on my human sympathies, and I inquired,
with unfeigned anxiety, after the fate of Solomon the Jew, whose
misfortune in harbouring me had exposed him to the visit of the
Inquisitors. “Be at peace,” said Adonijah, waving his bony and wrinkled
hand, as if dismissing a subject below his present feelings, “our
brother Solomon is in no peril of death; neither shall his goods be
taken for a spoil. If our adversaries are mighty in power, so are we
mighty also to deal with them by our wealth or our wisdom. Thy flight
they never can trace, thy existence on the face of the earth shall also
be unknown to them, so thou wilt hearken to me, and heed my words.”

“I could not speak, but my expression of mute and imploring anxiety
spoke for me. “Thou didst use words,” said Adonijah, “last night,
whereof, though I remember not all the purport, the sound yet maketh
mine ears to tingle; even mine, which have not vibrated to such sounds
for four times the space of thy youthful years. Thou saidst thou wert
beset by a power that tempted thee to renounce the Most High, whom Jew
and Christian alike profess to worship; and that thou didst declare,
that were the fires kindled around thee, thou wouldst spit at the
tempter, and trample on the offer, though thy foot pressed the coal
which the sons of Dominick were lighting beneath its naked sole.”--“I
did,” I cried, “I did--and I would--So help me God in mine extremity.”

“Adonijah paused for a moment, as if considering whether this were a
burst of passion, or a proof of mental energy. He seemed at last
inclined to believe it the latter, though all men of far-advanced age
are apt to distrust any marks of emotion as a demonstration rather of
weakness than of sincerity. “Then,” said he, after a long and solemn
pause, “then thou shalt know the secret that hath been a burthen to the
soul of Adonijah, even as his hopeless solitude is a burthen to the soul
of him who traverseth the desert, none accompanying him with step, or
cheering him with voice. From my youth upward, even until now, have I
laboured, and behold the time of my deliverance is at hand; yea, and
shall be accomplished speedily.

“In the days of my childhood, a rumour reached mine ears, even mine, of
a being sent abroad on the earth to tempt Jew and Nazarene, and even the
disciples of Mohammed, whose name is accursed in the mouth of our
nation, with offers of deliverance at their utmost need and extremity,
so they would do that which my lips dare not utter, even though there be
no ear to receive it but thine. Thou shudderest--well, then, thou art
sincere, at least, in thy faith of errors. I listened to the tale, and
mine ears received it, even as the soul of the thirsty drinketh in
rivers of water, for my mind was full of the vain fantasies of the
Gentile fables, and I longed, in the perverseness of my spirit, to see,
yea, and to consort with, yea, and to deal with, the evil one in his
strength. Like our fathers in the wilderness, I despised angel’s food,
and lusted after forbidden meats, even the meats of the Egyptian
sorcerers. And my presumption was rebuked as thou seest:--childless,
wifeless, friendless, at the last period of an existence prolonged
beyond the bounds of nature, am I now left, and, save thee alone,
without one to record its events. I will not trouble thee now with the
tale of my eventful life, farther than to tell thee, that the skeletons
thou tremblest to behold, were once clothed in flesh far fairer than
thine. They are those of my wife and child, whose history thou must not
now hear--but those of the two others thou must both hear and relate.”
And he pointed to the two other skeletons opposite, in their upright
cases. “On my return to my country, even Spain, if a Jew can be said to
have a country, I set myself down on this seat, and, lighted by this
lamp, I took in my hand the pen of a scribe, and vowed by a vow, that
this lamp should not expire, nor this seat be forsaken, nor this vault
untenanted, until that the record is written in a book, and sealed as
with the king’s signet. But, behold, I was traced by those who are keen
of scent, and quick of pursuit, even the sons of Dominick. And they
seized me, and laid my feet fast in the bonds; but my writings they
could not read, because they were traced in a character unknown to this
idolatrous people. And behold, after a space they set me free, finding
no cause of offence in me; and they bade me depart, and trouble them no
more. Then vowed I a vow unto the God of Israel, who had delivered me
from their thraldom, that none but he who could read these characters
should ever transcribe them. Moreover, I prayed, and said, O Lord God of
Israel! who knowest that we are the sheep of thy fold, and our enemies
as wolves round about us, and as lions who roar for their evening prey,
grant, that a Nazarene escaped from their hands, and fleeing unto us,
even as a bird chased from her nest, may put to shame the weapons of the
mighty, and laugh them to scorn. Grant also, Lord God of Jacob, that he
may be exposed to the snare of the enemy, even as those of whom I have
written, and that he may spit at it with his mouth, and spurn at it with
his feet, and trample on the ensnarer, even as they have trampled; and
then shall my soul, even mine, have peace at the last. Thus I
prayed--and my prayer was heard, for behold, _thou_ art here.”

“As I heard these words, a horrid foreboding, like a night-mare of the
heart, hung heavily on me. I looked alternately at the withering
speaker, and the hopeless task. To bear about that horrible secret
inurned in my heart, was not that enough? but to be compelled to scatter
its ashes abroad, and to rake into the dust of others for the same
purpose of unhallowed exposure, revolted me beyond feeling and
utterance. As my eye fell listlessly on the manuscripts, I saw they
contained only _the Spanish language_ written in _the Greek
characters_--a mode of writing that, I easily conceived, must have been
as unintelligible to the officers of the Inquisition, as the
Hieroglyphics of the Egyptian priests. Their ignorance, sheltered by
their pride, and that still more strongly fortified by the impenetrable
secresy attached to their most minute proceedings, made them hesitate to
entrust to any one the circumstance of their being in possession of
manuscript which they could not decypher. So they returned the papers to
Adonijah, and, in his own language, “Behold, he abode in safety.” But to
me this was a task of horror unspeakable. I felt myself as an added link
to the chain, the end of which, held by an invisible hand, was drawing
me to perdition; and I was now to become the recorder of my own
condemnation.

“As I turned over the leaves with a trembling hand, the towering form of
Adonijah seemed dilated with preternatural emotion. “And what dost thou
tremble at, child of the dust?” he exclaimed, “if thou hast been
tempted, so have they--if thou hast resisted, so have they--if they are
at rest, so shalt thou be. There is not a pang of soul or body thou hast
undergone, or canst undergo, that they have not suffered before thy
birth was dreamt of. Boy, thy hand trembles over pages it is unworthy to
touch, yet still I must employ thee, for I need thee. Miserable link of
necessity, that binds together minds so uncongenial! I would that the
ocean were my ink, and the rock my page, and mine arm, even mine, the
pen that should write thereon letters that should last like those on the
written mountains for ever and ever--even the mount of Sinai, and those
that still bear the record, “Israel hath passed the flood(6).” As he
spoke, I again turned over the manuscripts. “Does thy hand tremble
still?” said Adonijah; “and dost thou still hesitate to record the story
of those whose destiny a link, wondrous, invisible, and indissoluble,
has bound to thine. Behold, there are those near thee, who, though they
have no longer a tongue, speak to thee with that eloquence which is
stronger than all the eloquence of living tongues. Behold, there are
those around thee, whose mute and motionless arms of bone plead to thee
as no arms of flesh ever pleaded. Behold, there are those who, being
speechless, yet speak--who, being dead, are yet alive--who, though in
the abyss of eternity, are yet around thee, and call on thee, as with a
mortal voice. Hear them!--take the pen in thine hand, and write.” I took
the pen in my hand, but could not write a line. Adonijah, in a transport
of ecstasy, snatching a skeleton from its receptacle, placed it before
me. “Tell him thy story thyself, peradventure he will believe thee, and
record it.” And supporting the skeleton with one hand, he pointed with
the other, as bleached and bony as that of the dead, to the manuscript
that lay before me.

  (6) Written mountains, _i. e._ rocks inscribed with characters
  recordative of some remarkable event, are well known to every oriental
  traveller. I think it is in the notes of Dr Coke, on the book of
  Exodus, that I have met with the circumstance alluded to above. A rock
  near the Red Sea is said once to have borne the inscription, “Israel
  hath passed the flood.”

“It was a night of storms in the world above us; and, far below the
surface of the earth as we were, the murmur of the winds, sighing
through the passages, came on my ear like the voices of the
departed,--like the pleadings of the dead. Involuntarily I fixed my eye
on the manuscript I was to copy, and never withdrew till I had finished
its extraordinary contents.



Tale of the Indians.


“There is an island in the Indian sea, not many leagues from the mouth
of the Hoogly, which, from the peculiarity of its situation and internal
circumstances, long remained unknown to Europeans, and unvisited by the
natives of the contiguous islands, except on remarkable occasions. It is
surrounded by shallows that render the approach of any vessel of weight
impracticable, and fortified by rocks that threatened danger to the
slight canoes of the natives, but it was rendered still more formidable
by the terrors with which superstition had invested it. There was a
tradition that the first temple to the black goddess Seeva(7), had been
erected there; and her hideous idol, with its collar of human sculls,
forked tongues darting from its twenty serpent mouths, and seated on a
matted coil of adders, had there first received the bloody homage of the
mutilated limbs and immolated infants of her worshippers.

  (7) Vide Maurice’s Indian Antiquities.

“The temple had been overthrown, and the island half depopulated, by an
earthquake, that agitated all the shores of India. It was rebuilt,
however, by the zeal of the worshippers, who again began to re-visit the
island, when a tufaun of fury unparalleled even in those fierce
latitudes, burst over the devoted spot. The pagoda was burnt to ashes by
the lightning; the inhabitants, their dwellings, and their plantations,
swept away as with the besom of destruction, and not a trace of
humanity, cultivation, or life, remained in the desolate isle. The
devotees consulted their imagination for the cause of these calamities;
and, while seated under the shade of their cocoa-trees they told their
long strings of coloured beads, they ascribed it to the wrath of the
goddess Seeva at the increasing popularity of the worship of Juggernaut.
They asserted that her image had been seen ascending amid the blaze of
lightning that consumed her shrine and blasted her worshippers as they
clung to it for protection, and firmly believed she had withdrawn to
some happier isle, where she might enjoy her feast of flesh, and draught
of blood, unmolested by the worship of a rival deity. So the island
remained desolate, and without inhabitant for years.

“The crews of European vessels, assured by the natives that there was
neither animal, or vegetable, or water, to be found on its surface,
forbore to visit; and the Indian of other isles, as he passed it in his
canoe, threw a glance of melancholy fear at its desolation, and flung
something overboard to propitiate the wrath of Seeva.

“The island, thus left to itself, became vigorously luxuriant, as some
neglected children improve in health and strength, while pampered
darlings die under excessive nurture. Flowers bloomed, and foliage
thickened, without a hand to pluck, a step to trace, or a lip to taste
them, when some fishermen, (who had been driven by a strong current
toward the isle, and worked with oar and sail in vain to avoid its
dreaded shore), after making a thousand prayers to propitiate Seeva,
were compelled to approach within an oar’s length of it; and, on their
return in unexpected safety, reported they had heard sounds so
exquisite, that some other goddess, milder than Seeva, must have fixed
on that spot for her residence. The younger fishermen added to this
account, that they had beheld a female figure of supernatural
loveliness, glide and disappear amid the foliage which now luxuriantly
overshadowed the rocks; and, in the spirit of Indian devotees, they
hesitated not to call this delicious vision an incarnated emanation of
Vishnu, in a lovelier form than ever he had appeared before,--at least
far beyond that which he assumed, when he made one of his avatars in the
figure of a tiger.

“The inhabitants of the islands, as superstitious as they were
imaginative, deified the vision of the isles after their manner. The old
devotees, while invoking her, stuck close to the bloody rites of Seeva
and Haree, and muttered many a horrid vow over their beads, which they
took care to render effectual by striking sharp reeds into their arms,
and tinging every bead with blood as they spoke. The young women rowed
their light canoes as near as they dared to the haunted isle, making
vows to Camdeo(8), and sending their paper vessels, lit with wax, and
filled with flowers, towards its coast, where they hoped their darling
deity was about to fix his residence. The young men also, at least those
who were in love and fond of music, rowed close to the island to solicit
the god Krishnoo(9) to sanctify it by his presence; and not knowing what
to offer to the deity, they sung their wild airs standing high on the
prow of the canoe, and at last threw a figure of wax, with a kind of
lyre in its hand, towards the shore of the desolate isle.

  (8) The Cupid of the Indian mythology.

  (9) The Indian Apollo.

“For many a night these canoes might be seen glancing past each other
over the darkened sea, like _shooting stars of the deep_, with their
lighted paper lanthorns, and their offerings of flowers and fruits, left
by some trembling hand on the sands, or hung by a bolder one in baskets
of cane on the rocks; and still the simple islanders felt joy and
devotion united in this “voluntary humility.” It was observed, however,
that the worshippers departed with very different impressions of the
object of their adoration. The women all clung to their oars in
breathless admiration of the sweet sounds that issued from the isle; and
when that ceased they departed, murmuring over in their huts those
“notes angelical,” to which their own language furnished no appropriate
sounds. The men rested long on their oars, to catch a glimpse of the
form which, by the report of the fishermen, wandered there; and, when
disappointed, they rowed home sadly.

“Gradually the isle lost its bad character for terror; and in spite of
some old devotees, who told their blood-discoloured beads, and talked of
Seeva and Haree, and even held burning splinters of wood to their
scorched hands, and stuck sharp pieces of iron, which they had purchased
or stolen from the crews of European vessels, in the most fleshy and
sensitive parts of their bodies,--and, moreover, talked of suspending
themselves from trees with the head downwards, till they were consumed
by insects, or calcined by the sun, or rendered delirious by their
position,--in spite of all this, which must have been very affecting,
the young people went on their own way,--the girls offering their
wreaths to Camdeo, and the youths invoking Krishnoo, till the devotees,
in despair, vowed to visit this accursed island, which had set every
body mad, and find out how the unknown deity was to be recognised and
propitiated; and whether flowers, and fruits, and love-vows, and the
beatings of young hearts, were to be substituted for the orthodox and
legitimate offering of nails grown into the hands till they appeared
through their backs, and _setons_ of ropes inserted into the sides, on
which the religionist danced his dance of agony, till the ropes or his
patience failed. In a word, they were determined to find out what this
deity was, who demanded no suffering from her worshippers,--and they
fulfilled their resolution in a manner worthy of their purpose.

“One hundred and forty beings, crippled by the austerities of their
religion, unable to manage sail or oar, embarked in a canoe to reach
what they called the accursed isle. The natives, intoxicated with the
belief of their sanctity, stripped themselves naked, to push their boat
through the surf, and then, making their _salams_, implored them to use
oars at least. The devotees, all too intent on their beads, and too well
satisfied of their importance in the eyes of their favourite deities, to
admit a doubt of their safety, set off in triumph,--and the consequence
may be easily conjectured. The boat soon filled and sunk, and the crew
perished without a single sigh of lamentation, except that they had not
feasted the alligators in the sacred waters of the Ganges, or perished
at least under the shadow of the domes of the _holy city_ of Benares, in
either of which cases their salvation must have been unquestionable.

“This circumstance, apparently so untoward, operated favourably on the
popularity of the new worship. The old system lost ground every day.
Hands, instead of being scorched over the fire, were employed only in
gathering flowers. Nails (with which it was the custom of the devotees
to lard their persons) actually fell in price; and a man might sit at
his ease on his hams with as safe a conscience, and as fair a character,
as if fourscore of them occupied the interval between. On the other
hand, fruits were every day scattered on the shores of the favourite
isle; flowers, too, blushed on its rocks, in all the dazzling luxuriance
of colouring with which the Flora of the East delights to array herself.
There was that brilliant and superb lily, which, to this day,
illustrates the comparison between it and Solomon, who, in all his
glory, was not arrayed like one of them. There was the rose unfolding
its “paradise of leaves,” and the scarlet blossom of the bombex, which
an English traveller has voluptuously described as banqueting the eye
with “its mass of vegetable splendour” unparalleled. And the female
votarists at last began to imitate some of “those sounds and sweet airs”
that every breeze seemed to waft to their ears, with increasing strength
of melody, as they floated in their canoes round this isle of
enchantment.

“At length one circumstance occurred that put its sanctity of character,
and that of its inmate, out of all doubt. A young Indian who had in vain
offered to his beloved the mystical bouquet, in which the arrangement of
the flowers is made to express love, rowed his canoe to the island, to
learn his fate from its supposed inhabitant; and as he rowed, composed a
song, which expressed that his mistress despised him, as if he were a
Paria, but that he would love her though he were descended from the head
of Brahma;--that her skin was more polished than the marble steps by
which you descend to the tank of a Rajah, and her eyes brighter than any
whose glances were watched by presumptuous strangers through the rents
of the embroidered purdah(10) of a Nawaub;--that she was loftier in his
eyes than the black pagoda of Juggernaut, and more brilliant than the
trident of the temple of Maha-deva, when it sparkled in the beams of the
moon. And as both these objects were visible to his eyes from the shore,
as he rowed on in the soft and glorious serenity of an Indian night, no
wonder they found a place in his verse. Finally, he promised, that if
she was propitious to his suit, he would build her a hut, raised four
feet above the ground to avoid the serpents;--that her dwelling should
be overshadowed by the boughs of the tamarind; and that while she slept,
he would drive the musquitoes from her with a fan, composed of the
leaves of the first flowers which she accepted as a testimony of his
passion.

  (10) The curtain behind which women are concealed.

“It so happened, that the same night, the young female, whose reserve
had been the result of any thing but indifference, attended by two of
her companions, rowed her canoe to the same spot, with the view of
discovering whether the vows of her lover were sincere. They arrived
about the same time; and though it was now twilight, and the
superstition of these timid beings gave a darker tinge to the shadows
that surrounded them, they ventured to land; and, bearing their baskets
of flowers in trembling hands, advanced to hang them on the ruins of the
pagoda, amid which it was presumed the new goddess had fixed her abode.
They proceeded, not without difficulty, through thickets of flowers that
had sprung spontaneously in the uncultivated soil--not without fear that
a tiger might spring on them at every step, till they recollected that
those animals chose generally the large jungles for their retreat, and
seldom harboured amid flowers. Still less was the alligator to be
dreaded, amid the narrow streams that they could cross without tinging
their ancles with its pure water. The tamarind, the cocoa, and the
palm-tree, shed their blossoms, and exhaled their odours, and waved
their leaves, over the head of the trembling votarist as she approached
the ruin of the pagoda. It had been a massive square building, erected
amid rocks, that, by a caprice of nature not uncommon in the Indian
isles, occupied its centre, and appeared the consequence of some
volcanic explosion. The earthquake that had overthrown it, had mingled
the rocks and ruins together in a shapeless and deformed mass, which
seemed to bear alike the traces of the impotence of art and nature, when
prostrated by the power that has formed and can annihilate both. There
were pillars, wrought with singular characters, heaped amid stones that
bore no impress but that of some fearful and violent action of nature,
that seemed to say, Mortals, write your lines with the chisel, I write
my hieroglyphics in fire. There were the disjointed piles of stones
carved into the form of snakes, on which the hideous idol of Seeva had
once been seated; and close to them the rose was bursting through the
earth which occupied the fissures of the rock, as if nature preached a
milder theology, and deputed her darling flower as her missionary to her
children. The idol itself had fallen, and lay in fragments. The horrid
mouth was still visible, into which human hearts had been formerly
inserted. But now, the beautiful peacocks, with their rain-bow trains
and arched necks, were feeding their young amid the branches of the
tamarind that overhung the blackened fragments. The young Indians
advanced with diminished fear, for there was neither sight or sound to
inspire the fear that attends the approach to the presence of a
spiritual being--all was calm, still, and dark. Yet their feet trod with
involuntary lightness as they advanced to these ruins, which combined
the devastations of nature with those of the human passions, perhaps
more bloody and wild than the former. Near the ruins there had formerly
been a tank, as is usual, near the pagodas, both for the purposes of
refreshment and purification; but the steps were now broken, and the
water was stagnated. The young Indians, however, took up a few drops,
invoked the “goddess of the isle,” and approached the only remaining
arch. The exterior front of this building had been constructed of stone,
but its interior had been hollowed out of the rock; and its recesses
resembled, in some degree, those in the island of Elephanta. There were
monstrous figures carved in stone, some adhering to the rock, others
detached from it, all frowning in their shapeless and gigantic
hideousness, and giving to the eye of superstition the terrible
representation of “_gods of stone_.”

“Two of the young votarists, who were distinguished for their courage,
advanced and performed a kind of wild dance before the ruins of the
ancient gods, as they called them, and invoked (as they might) the new
resident of the isle to be propitious to the vows of their companion,
who advanced to hang her wreath of flowers round the broken remains of
an idol half-defaced and half-hidden among the fragments of stone, but
clustered over with that rich vegetation which seems, in oriental
countries, to announce the eternal triumph of nature amid the ruins of
art. Every year renews the rose, but what year shall see a pyramid
rebuilt? As the young Indian hung her wreath on the shapeless stone, a
voice murmured, “There is a _withered_ flower there.”--“Yes--yes--there
is,” answered the votarist, “and that withered flower is an emblem of my
heart. I have cherished many roses, but suffered one to wither that was
the sweetest to me of all the wreath. Wilt thou revive him for me,
unknown goddess, and my wreath shall no longer be a dishonour to thy
shrine?”--“Wilt _thou_ revive the rose by placing it in the warmth of
thy bosom,” said the young lover, appearing from behind the fragments of
rock and ruin that had sheltered him, and from which he had uttered his
oracular reply, and listened with delight to the emblematical but
intelligible language of his beloved. “Wilt thou revive the rose?” he
asked, in the triumph of love, as he clasped her to his bosom. The young
Indian, yielding at once to love and superstition, seemed half-melting
in his embrace, when, in a moment, she uttered a wild shriek, repelled
him with all her strength, and crouched in an uncouth posture of fear,
while she pointed with one quivering hand to a figure that appeared, at
that moment, in the perspective of that tumultuous and indefinite heap
of stone. The lover, unalarmed by the shriek of his mistress, was
advancing to catch her in his arms, when his eye fell on the object that
had struck hers, and he sunk on his face to the earth, in mute
adoration.

“The form was that of a female, but such as they had never before
beheld, for her skin was perfectly white, (at least in their eyes, who
had never seen any but the dark-red tint of the natives of the Bengalese
islands). Her drapery (as well as they could see) consisted only of
flowers, whose rich colours and fantastic grouping harmonized well with
the peacock’s feathers twined among them, and altogether composed a
feathery fan of wild drapery, which, in truth, beseemed an “island
goddess.” Her long hair, of a colour they had never beheld before, pale
auburn, flowed to her feet, and was fantastically entwined with the
flowers and the feathers that formed her dress. On her head was a
coronal of shells, of hue and lustre unknown except in the Indian
seas--the purple and the green vied with the amethyst, and the emerald.
On her white bare shoulder a loxia was perched, and round her neck was
hung a string of their pearl--like eggs, so pure and pellucid, that the
first sovereign in Europe might have exchanged her richest necklace of
pearls for them. Her arms and feet were perfectly bare, and her step had
a goddess-like rapidity and lightness, that affected the imagination of
the Indians as much as the extraordinary colour of her skin and hair.
The young lovers sunk in awe before this vision as it passed before
their eyes. While they prostrated themselves, a delicious sound trembled
on their ears. The beautiful vision spoke to them, but it was in a
language they did not understand; and this confirming their belief that
it was the language of the gods, they prostrated themselves to her
again. At that moment, the loxia, springing from her shoulder, came
fluttering towards them. “He is going to seek for fire-flies to light
his cell(11),” said the Indians to each other. But the bird, who, with
an intelligence peculiar to his species, understood and adopted the
predilection of the fair being he belonged to, for the fresh flowers in
which he saw her arrayed every day, darted at the withered rose-bud in
the wreath of the young Indian; and, striking his slender beak through
it, laid it at her feet. The omen was interpreted auspiciously by the
lovers, and, bending once more to the earth, they rowed back to their
island, but no longer in separate canoes. The lover steered that of his
mistress, while she sat beside him in silence; and the young people who
accompanied them chaunted verses in praise of the _white_ goddess, and
the island sacred to her and to lovers.

  (11) From the fire-flies being so often found in the nest of the
  loxia, the Indians imagine he illuminates his nest with them. It is
  more likely they are the food of his young.



CHAPTER XV.

    But tell me to what saint, I pray,
      What martyr, or what angel bright,
    Is dedicate this holy day,
      Which brings you here so gaily dight?

    Dost thou not, simple Palmer, know,
      What every child can tell thee here?--
    Nor saint nor angel claims this show,
      But the bright season of the year.

    QUEEN-HOO HALL, BY STRUTT.


“The sole and beautiful inmate of the isle, though disturbed at the
appearance of her worshippers, soon recovered her tranquillity. She
could not be conscious of fear, for nothing of that world in which she
lived had ever borne a hostile appearance to her. The sun and the
shade--the flowers and foliage--the tamarinds and figs that prolonged
her delightful existence--the water that she drank, wondering at the
beautiful being who seemed to drink whenever she did--the peacocks, who
spread out their rich and radiant plumage the moment they beheld
her--and the loxia, who perched on her shoulder and hand as she walked,
and answered her sweet voice with imitative chirpings--all these were
her friends, and she knew none but these.

“The human forms that sometimes approached the island, caused her a
slight emotion; but it was rather that of curiosity than alarm; and
their gestures were so expressive of reverence and mildness, their
offerings of flowers, in which she delighted, so acceptable, and their
visits so silent and peaceful, that she saw them without reluctance, and
only wondered, as they rowed away, how they could move on the water in
safety; and how creatures so dark, and with features so unattractive,
happened to _grow_ amid the beautiful flowers they presented to her as
the productions of their abode. The elements might be supposed to have
impressed her imagination with some terrible ideas; but the periodical
regularity of these phænomena, in the climate she inhabited, divested
them of their terrors to one who had been accustomed to them, as to the
alternation of night and day--who could not remember the fearful
impression of the first, and, above all, who had never heard any terror
of them expressed _by another_,--perhaps the primitive cause of fear in
most minds. Pain she had never felt--of death she had no idea--how,
then, could she become acquainted with fear?

“When a north-wester, as it is termed, visited the island, with all its
terrific accompaniments of midnight darkness, clouds of suffocating
dust, and thunders like the trumpet of doom, she stood amid the leafy
colonnades of the banyan-tree, ignorant of her danger, watching the
cowering wings and drooping heads of the birds, and the ludicrous terror
of the monkies, as they skipt from branch to branch with their young.
When the lightning struck a tree, she gazed as a child would on a
fire-work played off for its amusement; but the next day she wept, when
she saw the leaves would no longer grow on the blasted trunk. When the
rains descended in torrents, the ruins of the pagoda afforded her a
shelter; and she sat listening to the rushing of the mighty waters, and
the murmurs of the troubled deep, till her soul took its colour from the
sombrous and magnificent imagery around her, and she believed herself
precipitated to earth with the deluge--borne downward, like a leaf, by a
cataract--engulphed in the depths of the ocean--rising again to light on
the swell of the enormous billows, as if she were heaved on the back of
a whale--deafened with the roar--giddy with the rush--till terror and
delight embraced in that fearful exercise of imagination. So she lived
like a flower amid sun and storm, blooming in the light, and bending to
the shower, and drawing the elements of her sweet and wild existence
from both. And both seemed to mingle their influences kindly for her, as
if she was a thing that nature loved, even in her angry mood, and gave a
commission to the storm to nurture her, and to the deluge to spare the
ark of her innocence, as it floated over the waters. This existence of
felicity, half physical, half imaginative, but neither intellectual or
impassioned, had continued till the seventeenth year of this beautiful
and mild being, when a circumstance occurred that changed its hue for
ever.

“On the evening of the day after the Indians had departed, Immalee, for
that was the name her votarists had given her, was standing on the
shore, when a being approached her unlike any she had ever beheld. The
colour of his face and hands resembled her own more than those she was
accustomed to see, but his garments, (which were European), from their
square uncouthness, their shapelessness, and their disfiguring
projection about the hips, (it was the fashion of the year 1680), gave
her a mixed sensation of ridicule, disgust, and wonder, which her
beautiful features could express only by a smile--that smile, a _native
of the face_ from which not even surprise could banish it.

“The stranger approached, and the beautiful vision approached also, but
not like an European female with low and graceful bendings, still less
like an Indian girl with her low salams, but like a young fawn, all
animation, timidity, confidence, and cowardice, expressed in almost a
single action. She sprung from the sands--ran to her favourite
tree;--returned again with her guard of peacocks, who expanded their
superb trains with a kind of instinctive motion, as if they felt the
danger that menaced their protectress, and, clapping her hands with
exultation, seemed to invite them to share in the delight she felt in
gazing at the _new flower that had grown in the sand_.

“The stranger advanced, and, to Immalee’s utter astonishment, addressed
her in the language which she herself had retained some words of since
her infancy, and had endeavoured in vain to make her peacocks, parrots,
and loxias, answer her in corresponding sounds. But her language, from
want of practice, had become so limited, that she was delighted to hear
its most unmeaning sounds uttered by human lips; and when he said,
according to the form of the times, “How do you, fair maid?” she
answered, “God made me,” from the words of the Christian Catechism that
had been breathed into her infant lip. “God never made a fairer
creature,” replied the stranger, grasping her hand, and fixing on her
eyes that still burn in the sockets of that arch-deceiver. “Oh yes!”
answered Immalee, “he made many things more beautiful. The rose is
redder than I am--the palm-tree is taller than I am--and the wave is
bluer than I am;--but they all change, and I never change. I have grown
taller and stronger, though the rose fades every six moons; and the rock
splits to let in the bats, when the earth shakes; and the waves fight in
their anger till they turn grey, and far different from the beautiful
colour they have when the moon comes dancing on them, and sending all
the young, broken branches of her light to kiss my feet, as I stand on
the soft sand. I have tried to gather them every night, but they all
broke in my hand the moment I dipt it into water.”--“And have you fared
better with the stars?” said the stranger smiling.--“No,” answered the
innocent being, “the stars are the flowers of heaven, and the rays of
the moon the boughs and branches; but though they are so bright, they
only blossom in the night,--and I love better the flowers that I can
gather, and twine in my hair. When I have been all night wooing a star,
and it has listened and descended, springing downwards like a peacock
from its nest, it has hid itself often afterwards playfully amid the
mangoes and tamarinds where it fell; and though I have searched for it
till the moon looked wan and weary of lighting me, I never could find
it. But where do you come from?--you are not scaly and voiceless like
those who grow in the waters, and show their strange shapes as I sit on
the shore at sun-set;--nor are you red and diminutive like those who
come over the waters to me from other worlds, in houses that can live on
the deep, and walk so swiftly, with their legs plunged in the water.
Where do you come from?--you are not so bright as the stars that live in
the blue sea above me, nor so deformed as those that toss in the darker
sea at my feet. Where did you grow, and how came you here?--there is not
a canoe on the sand; and though the shells bear the fish that live in
them so lightly over the waters, they never would bear me. When I placed
my foot on their scolloped edge of crimson and purple, they sunk into
the sand.”--“Beautiful creature,” said the stranger, “I come from a
world where there are thousands like me.”--“That is impossible,” said
Immalee, “for I live here alone, and other worlds must be like
this.”--“What I tell you is true, however,” said the stranger. Immalee
paused for a moment, as if making the first effort of reflection--an
exertion painful enough to a being whose existence was composed of
felicitous tacts and unreflecting instincts--and then exclaimed, “We
both must have grown in the world of voices, for I know what you say
better than the chirp of the loxia, or the cry of the peacock. That must
be a delightful world where they all speak--what would I give that my
roses grew in the world of answers!”

“At this moment the stranger made certain signals of hunger, which
Immalee understood in a moment, and told him to follow her to where the
tamarind and the fig were shedding their fruit--where the stream was so
clear, you could count the purple shells in its bed--and where she would
scoop for him in the cocoa-shell the cool waters that flowed beneath the
shade of the mango. As they went, she gave him all the information about
herself that she could. She told him that she was the daughter of a
palm-tree, under whose shade she had been first conscious of existence,
but that her poor father had been long withered and dead--that she was
very old, having seen many roses decay on their stalks; and though they
were succeeded by others, she did not love them so well as the first,
which were a great deal larger and brighter--that, in fact, every thing
had grown smaller latterly, for she was now able to reach to the fruit
which formerly she was compelled to wait for till it dropt on the
ground;--but that the water was grown taller, for once she was forced to
drink it on her hands and knees, and now she could scoop it in a
cocoa-shell. Finally, she added, she was much older than the moon, for
she had seen it waste away till it was dimmer than the light of a
fire-fly; and the moon that was lighting them now would decline too, and
its successor be so small, that she would never again give it the name
she had given to the first--Sun of the Night. “But,” said her companion,
“how are you able to speak a language you never learned from your loxias
and peacocks?”--“I will tell you,” said Immalee, with an air of
solemnity, which her beauty and innocence made at once ludicrous and
imposing, and in which she betrayed a slight tendency to that wish to
mystify that distinguishes her delightful sex,--“there came a spirit to
me from the world of voices, and it whispered to me sounds that I never
have forgotten, long, long before I was born.”--“Really?” said the
stranger. “Oh yes!--long before I could gather a fig, or gather the
water in my hand, and that must be before I was born. When I _was_ born,
I was not so high as the rose-bud, at which I tried to catch, now I am
as near the moon as the palm-tree--sometimes I catch her beams sooner
than he does, therefore I must be very old, and very high.” At these
words, the stranger, with an expression indescribable, leaned against a
tree. He viewed that lovely and helpless being, while he refused the
fruits and water she offered him, with a look, that, for the first time,
intimated compassion. The stranger feeling did not dwell long in a
mansion it was unused to. The expression was soon exchanged for that
half-ironical, half-diabolical glance Immalee could not understand. “And
you live here alone,” he said, “and you have lived in this beautiful
place without a companion?”--“Oh no!” said Immalee, “I have a companion
more beautiful than all the flowers in the isle. There is not a
rose-leaf that drops in the river so bright as its cheek. My friend
lives under the water, but its colours are so bright. It kisses me too,
but its lips are very cold; and when I kiss it, it seems to dance, and
its beauty is all broken into a thousand faces, that come smiling at me
like little stars. But, though my friend has a thousand faces, and I
have but one, still there is one thing that troubles me. There is but
one stream where it meets me, and that is where are no shadows from the
trees--and I never can catch it but when the sun is bright. Then when I
catch it in the stream, I kiss it on my knees; but my friend has grown
so tall, that sometimes I wish it were smaller. Its lips spread so much
wider, that I give it a thousand kisses for one that I get.” “Is your
friend male or female,” said the stranger.--“What is that?” answered
Immalee.--“I mean, of what sex is your friend?”

“But to this question he could obtain no satisfactory answer; and it was
not till his return the next day, when he revisited the isle, that he
discovered Immalee’s friend was what he suspected. He found this
innocent and lovely being bending over a stream that reflected her
image, and wooing it with a thousand wild and graceful attitudes of
joyful fondness. The stranger gazed at her for some time, and thoughts
it would be difficult for man to penetrate into, threw their varying
expression over his features for a moment. It was the first of his
intended victims he had ever beheld with compunction. The joy, too, with
which Immalee received him, almost brought back human feelings to a
heart that had long renounced them; and, for a moment, he experienced a
sensation like that of his master when he visited paradise,--pity for
the flowers he resolved to wither for ever. He looked at her as she
fluttered round him with outspread arms and dancing eyes; and sighed,
while she welcomed him in tones of such wild sweetness, as suited a
being who had hitherto conversed with nothing but the melody of birds
and the murmur of waters. With all her ignorance, however, she could not
help testifying her amazement at his arriving at the isle without any
visible means of conveyance. He evaded answering her on this point, but
said, “Immalee, I come from a world wholly unlike that you inhabit, amid
inanimate flowers, and unthinking birds. I come from a world where all,
as I do, think and speak.” Immalee was speechless with wonder and
delight for some time; at length she exclaimed, “Oh, how they must love
each other! even I love my poor birds and flowers, and the trees that
shade, and the waters that sing to me!” The stranger smiled. “In all
that world, perhaps there is not another being beautiful and innocent as
you. It is a world of suffering, guilt, and care.” It was with much
difficulty she was made to comprehend the meaning of these words, but
when she did, she exclaimed, “Oh, that I could live in that world, for I
would make every one happy!”--“But you could not, Immalee,” said the
stranger; “this world is of such extent that it would take your whole
life to traverse it, and, during your progress, you never could be
conversant with more than a small number of sufferers at a time, and the
evils they undergo are in many instances such as you or no human power
could relieve.” At these words, Immalee burst into an agony of tears.
“Weak, but lovely being,” said the stranger, “could your tears heal the
corrosions of disease?--cool the burning throb of a cancered
heart?--wash the pale slime from the clinging lips of famine?--or, more
than all, quench the fire of forbidden passion?” Immalee paused aghast
at this enumeration, and could only faulter out, that wherever she went,
she would bring her flowers and sunshine among the healthy, and they
should all sit under the shade of her own tamarind. That for disease and
death, she had long been accustomed to see flowers wither and die their
beautiful death of nature. “And perhaps,” she added, after a reflective
pause, “as I have often known them to retain their delicious odour even
after they were faded, perhaps _what thinks_ may live too after the form
has faded, and that is a thought of joy.” Of passion, she said she knew
nothing, and could propose no remedy for an evil she was unconscious of.
She had seen flowers fade with the season, but could not imagine why the
flower should destroy itself. “But did you never trace a worm in the
flower?” said the stranger, with the sophistry of corruption. “Yes,”
answered Immalee, “but the worm was not the native of the flower; its
own leaves never could have hurt it.” This led to a discussion, which
Immalee’s impregnable innocence, though combined with ardent curiosity
and quick apprehension, rendered perfectly harmless to her. Her playful
and desultory answers,--her restless eccentricity of imagination,--her
keen and piercing, though ill-poised intellectual weapons,--and, above
all, her instinctive and unfailing _tact_ in matters of right and wrong,
formed altogether an array that discomfited and baffled the tempter more
than if he had been compelled to encounter half the _wranglers_ of the
European academies of that day. In the logic of the schools he was
well-versed, but in this logic of the heart and of nature, he was
“ignorance itself.” It is said, that the “awless lion” crouches before
“a maid in the pride of her purity.” The tempter was departing gloomily,
when he saw tears start from the bright eyes of Immalee, and caught a
wild and dark omen from her innocent grief. “And you weep, Immalee?”
“Yes,” said the beautiful being, “I always weep when I see the sun set
in clouds; and will you, the sun of my heart, set in darkness too? and
will you not rise again? will you not?” and, with the graceful
confidence of pure innocence, she pressed her red delicious lip to his
hand as she spoke. “Will you not? I shall never love my roses and
peacocks if you do not return, for they cannot speak to me as you do,
nor can I give them one thought, but you can give me many. Oh, I would
like to have many thoughts about _the world that suffers_, from which
you came; and I believe you came from it, for, till I saw you, I never
felt a pain that was not pleasure; but now, it is all pain when I think
you will not return.”--“I will return,” said the stranger, “beautiful
Immalee, and will shew you, at my return, a glimpse of that world from
which I come, and in which you will soon be an inmate.”--“But shall I
see you there,” said Immalee, “otherwise how shall I _talk
thoughts_?”--“Oh yes,--oh certainly.”--“But why do you repeat the same
words twice; _your once_ would have been enough.”--“Well then,
yes.”--“Then take this rose from me, and let us inhale its odour
together, as I say to my friend in the fountain, when I bend to kiss
_it_; but my friend withdraws _its_ rose before I have tasted it, and I
leave mine on the water. Will you not take my rose,” said the beautiful
suppliant, bending towards him. “I will,” said the stranger; and he took
a flower from the cluster Immalee held out to him. It was a withered
one. He snatched it, and hid it in his breast. “And will you go without
a canoe across that dark sea?” said Immalee.--“We shall meet again, and
meet in the _world of suffering_,” said the stranger.--“Thank you,--oh,
thank you,” repeated Immalee, as she saw him plunge fearless amid the
surf. The stranger answered only, “We shall meet again.” Twice, as he
parted, he threw a glance at the beautiful and isolated being; a
lingering of humanity trembled round his heart,--but he tore the
withered rose from his bosom, and to the waved arm and angel-smile of
Immalee, he answered, “We shall meet again.”



CHAPTER XVI.

    Più non ho la dolce speranza.

    DIDONE.


“Seven mornings and evenings Immalee paced the sands of her lonely isle,
without seeing the stranger. She had still his promise to console her,
that they should meet in the world of suffering; and this she repeated
to herself as if it was full of hope and consolation. In this interval
she tried to educate herself for her introduction into this world, and
it was beautiful to see her attempting, from vegetable and animal
analogies, to form some image of the incomprehensible destiny of man. In
the shade she watched the withering flower.--“The blood that ran red
through its veins yesterday is purple to-day, and will be black and dry
to-morrow,” she said; “but it feels no pain--it dies patiently,--and the
ranunculus and tulip near it are untouched by grief for their companion,
or their colours would not be so resplendent. But can it be thus in the
world that thinks? Could I see _him_ wither and die, without withering
and dying along with him. Oh no! when that flower fades, I will be the
dew that falls over him!”

“She attempted to enlarge her comprehension, by observing the animal
world. A young loxia had fallen dead from its pendent nest; and Immalee,
looking into the aperture which that intelligent bird forms at the lower
extremity of the nest to secure it from birds of prey, perceived the old
ones with fire-flies in their small beaks, their young one lying dead
before them. At this sight Immalee burst into tears.--“Ah! you cannot
weep,” she said, “what an advantage I have over you! You eat, though
your young one, your own one, is dead; but could I ever drink of the
milk of the cocoa, if _he_ could no longer taste it? I begin to
comprehend what he said--to think, then, is to suffer--and a world of
thought must be a world of pain! But how delicious are these tears!
Formerly I wept for pleasure--but there is a pain sweeter than pleasure,
that I never felt till I beheld _him_. Oh! who would not think, to have
the joy of tears?”

“But Immalee did not occupy this interval solely in reflection; a new
anxiety began to agitate her; and in the intervals of her meditation and
her tears, she searched with avidity for the most glowing and
fantastically wreathed shells to deck her arms and hair with. She
changed her drapery of flowers every day, and never thought them fresh
after the first hour; then she filled her largest shells with the most
limpid water, and her hollow cocoa nuts with the most delicious figs,
interspersed with roses, and arranged them picturesquely on the stone
bench of the ruined pagoda. The time, however, passed over without the
arrival of the stranger, and Immalee, on visiting her fairy banquet the
next day, wept over the withered fruit, but dried her eyes, and hastened
to replace them.

“She was thus employed on the eighth morning, when she saw the stranger
approach; and the wild and innocent delight with which she bounded
towards him, excited in him for a moment a feeling of gloomy and
reluctant compunction, which Immalee’s quick susceptibility traced in
his pausing step and averted eye. She stood trembling in lovely and
pleading diffidence, as if intreating pardon for an unconscious offence,
and asking permission to approach by the very attitude in which she
forbore it, while tears stood in her eyes ready to fall at another
repelling motion. This sight “whetted his almost blunted purpose.” She
must learn to suffer, to qualify her to become my pupil, he thought.
“Immalee, you weep,” he added, approaching her. “Oh yes!” said Immalee,
smiling like a spring morning through her tears; “you are to teach me to
suffer, and I shall soon be very fit for your world--but I had rather
weep for you, than smile on a thousand roses.”--“Immalee,” said the
stranger, repelling the tenderness that melted him in spite of himself,
“Immalee, I come to shew you something of the world of thought you are
so anxious to inhabit, and of which you must soon become an inmate.
Ascend this hill where the palm-trees are clustering, and you shall see
a glimpse of part of it.”--“But I would like to see the whole, and all
at once!” said Immalee, with the natural avidity of thirsty and unfed
intellect, that believes it can swallow all things, and digest all
things. “The whole, and all at once!” said her conductor, turning to
smile at her as she bounded after him, breathless and glowing with newly
excited feeling. “I doubt the part you will see to-night will be more
than enough to satiate even your curiosity.” As he spoke he drew a tube
from his vest, and bid her apply it to her sight. The Indian obeyed him;
but, after gazing a moment, uttered the emphatic exclamation, “I am
there!--or are they here?” and sunk on the earth in a frenzy of delight.
She rose again in a moment, and eagerly seizing the telescope, applied
it in a wrong direction, which disclosed merely the sea to her view, and
exclaimed sadly, “Gone!--gone--all that beautiful world lived and died
in a moment--all that I love die so--my dearest roses live not half so
long as those I neglect--you were absent for seven moons since I first
saw you, and the beautiful world lived only a moment.”

“The stranger again directed the telescope towards the shore of India,
from which they were not far distant, and Immalee again exclaimed in
rapture, “Alive and more beautiful than ever!--all living, thinking
things!--their _very walk thinks_. No mute fishes, and senseless trees,
but wonderful rocks(12), on which they look with pride, as if they were
the works of their own hands. Beautiful rocks! how I love the perfect
straitness of your sides, and the crisped and flower-like knots of your
decorated tops! Oh that flowers grew, and birds fluttered round you, and
then I would prefer you even to the rocks under which I watch the
setting sun! Oh what a world must that be where nothing is natural, and
every thing beautiful!--thought must have done all that. But, how
_little every thing is_!--thought should have made every thing
larger--_thought should be a god_. But,” she added with quick
intelligence and self-accusing diffidence, “perhaps I am wrong.
Sometimes I have thought I could lay my hand on the top of a palm-tree,
but when, after a long, long time, I came close to it, I could not have
reached its lowest leaf were I ten times higher than I am. Perhaps your
beautiful world may grow higher as I approach it.”--“Hold, Immalee,”
said the stranger, taking the telescope from her hands, “to enjoy this
sight you should understand it.”--“Oh yes!” said Immalee, with
submissive anxiety, as the world of sense rapidly lost ground in her
imagination against the new-found world of mind,--“yes--let me
think.”--“Immalee, have you any religion?” said the visitor, as an
indescribable feeling of pain made his pale brow still paler. Immalee,
quick in understanding and sympathising with physical feeling, darted
away at these words, returned in a moment with a banyan leaf, with which
she wiped the drops from his livid forehead; and then seating herself at
his feet, in an attitude of profound but eager attention, repeated,
“_Religion!_ what is that? is it a new thought?”--“It is the
consciousness of a Being superior to all worlds and their inhabitants,
because he is the Maker of all, and will be their judge--of a Being whom
we cannot see, but in whose power and presence we must believe, though
invisible--of one who is every where unseen; always acting, though never
in motion; hearing all things, but never heard.” Immalee interrupted
with an air of distraction--“Hold! too many thoughts will kill me--let
me pause. I have seen the shower that came to refresh the rose-tree beat
it to the earth.” After an effort of solemn recollection, she added,
“The voice of dreams told me something like that before I was born, but
it is so long ago,--sometimes I have had thoughts within me like that
voice. I have thought I loved the things around me too much, and that I
should love things _beyond_ me--flowers that could not fade, and a sun
that never sets. I could have sprung, like a bird into the air, after
such a thought--but there was no one to shew me that path upward.” And
the young enthusiast lifted towards heaven eyes in which trembled the
tears of ecstatic imaginings, and then turned their mute pleadings on
the stranger.

  (12) Intellige “buildings.”

“It is right,” he continued, “not only to have thoughts of this Being,
but to express them by some outward acts. The inhabitants of the world
you are about to see, call this, _worship_,--and they have adopted (a
Satanic smile curled his lip as he spoke) very different modes; so
different, that, in fact, there is but one point in which they all
agree--that of making their religion a torment;--the religion of some
prompting them to torture themselves, and the religion of some prompting
them to torture others. Though, as I observed, they all agree in this
important point, yet unhappily they differ so much about the mode, that
there has been much disturbance about it in the world that thinks.”--“In
the world that _thinks_!” repeated Immalee, “Impossible! Surely they
must know that a difference cannot be acceptable to Him who is
One.”--“And have you then adopted no mode of expressing your thoughts of
this Being, that is, of worshipping him?” said the stranger.--“I smile
when the sun rises in its beauty, and I weep when I see the evening star
rise,” said Immalee.--“And do you recoil at the inconsistencies of
varied modes of worship, and yet you yourself employ smiles and tears in
your address to the Deity?”--“I do,--for they are both the expressions
of joy with me,” said the poor Indian; “the sun is as happy when he
smiles through the rain-clouds, as when he burns in the mid-height of
heaven, in the fierceness of his beauty; and I am happy whether I smile
or I weep.”--“Those whom you are about to see,” said the stranger,
offering her the telescope, “are as remote in their forms of worship as
smiles from tears; but they are not, like you, equally happy in both.”
Immalee applied her eye to the telescope, and exclaimed in rapture at
what she saw. “What do you see?” said the stranger. Immalee described
what she saw with many imperfect expressions, which, perhaps, may be
rendered more intelligible by the explanatory words of the stranger.

“You see,” said he, “the coast of India, the shores of the world near
you.--There is the black pagoda of Juggernaut, that enormous building on
which your eye is first fixed. Beside it stands a Turkish mosque--you
may distinguish it by a figure like that of the half-moon. It is the
will of him who rules that world, that its inhabitants should worship
him by that sign(13). At a small distance you may see a low building
with a trident on its summit--that is the temple of Maha-deva, one of
the ancient goddesses of the country.”--“But the houses are nothing to
me,” said Immalee, “shew me the living things that go there. The houses
are not half so beautiful as the rocks on the shore, draperied all over
with sea-weeds and mosses, and shaded by the distant palm-tree and
cocoa.”--“But those buildings,” said the tempter, “are indicative of the
various modes of thinking of those who frequent them. If it is into
their thoughts you wish to look, you must see them expressed by their
actions. In their dealings with each other, men are generally deceitful,
but in their dealings with their gods, they are tolerably sincere in the
expression of the character they assign them in their imaginations. If
that character be formidable, they express fear; if it be one of
cruelty, they indicate it by the sufferings they inflict on themselves;
if it be gloomy, the image of the god is faithfully reflected in the
visage of the worshipper. Look and judge.”

  (13) Tippoo Saib wished to substitute the Mohamedan for the Indian
  mythology throughout his dominions. This circumstance, though long
  antedated, is therefore imaginable.

“Immalee looked and saw a vast sandy plain, with the dark pagoda of
Juggernaut in the perspective. On this plain lay the bones of a thousand
skeletons, bleaching in the burning and unmoistened air. A thousand
human bodies, hardly more alive, and scarce less emaciated, were
trailing their charred and blackened bodies over the sands, to perish
under the shadow of the temple, hopeless of ever reaching that of its
walls.

“Multitudes of them dropt dead as they crawled. Multitudes still living,
faintly waved their hands, to scare the vultures that hovered nearer and
nearer at every swoop, and scooped the poor remnants of flesh from the
living bones of the screaming victim, and retreated, with an answering
scream of disappointment at the scanty and tasteless morsel they had
torn away.

“Many tried, in their false and fanatic zeal, to double their torments,
by crawling through the sands on their hands and knees; but hands
through the backs of which the nails had grown, and knees worn literally
to the bone, struggled but feebly amid the sands and the skeletons, and
the bodies that were soon to be skeletons, and the vultures that were to
make them so.

“Immalee withheld her breath, as if she inhaled the abominable effluvia
of this mass of putrefaction, which is said to desolate the shores near
the temple of Juggernaut, like a pestilence.

“Close to this fearful scene, came on a pageant, whose splendour made a
brilliant and terrible contrast to the loathsome and withering
desolation of animal and intellectual life, amid which its pomp came
towering, and sparkling, and trembling on. An enormous fabric, more
resembling a moving palace than a triumphal car, supported the inshrined
image of Juggernaut, and was dragged forward by the united strength of a
thousand human bodies, priests, victims, brahmins, faqueers and all. In
spite of this huge force, the impulse was so unequal, that the whole
edifice rocked and tottered from time to time, and this singular union
of instability and splendour, of trembling decadence and terrific glory,
gave a faithful image of the meretricious exterior, and internal
hollowness, of idolatrous religion. As the procession moved on,
sparkling amid desolation, and triumphant amid death, multitudes rushed
forward from time to time, to prostrate themselves under the wheels of
the enormous machine, which crushed them to atoms in a moment, and
passed on;--others “cut themselves with knives and lancets after their
manner,” and not believing themselves worthy to perish beneath the
wheels of the idol’s chariot, sought to propitiate him by dying the
tracks of those wheels with their blood;--their relatives and friends
shouted with delight as they saw the streams of blood dye the car and
its line of progress, and hoped for an interest in these voluntary
sacrifices, with as much energy, and perhaps as much reason, as the
Catholic votarist does in the penance of St Bruno, or the ex-oculation
of St Lucia, or the martyrdom of St Ursula and her eleven thousand
virgins, which, being interpreted, means the martyrdom of a single
female named _Undecimilla_, which the Catholic legends read _Undecim
Mille_.

“The procession went on, amid that mixture of rites that characterizes
idolatry in all countries,--half resplendent, half horrible--appealing
to nature while they rebel against her--mingling flowers with blood, and
casting alternately a screaming infant, or a garland of roses, beneath
the car of the idol.

“Such was the picture that presented to the strained, incredulous eyes
of Immalee, those mingled features of magnificence and horror,--of joy
and suffering,--of crushed flowers and mangled bodies,--of magnificence
calling on torture for its triumph,--and the steam of blood and the
incense of the rose, inhaled at once by the triumphant nostrils of an
incarnate demon, who rode amid the wrecks of nature and the spoils of
the heart! Immalee gazed on in horrid curiosity. She saw, by the aid of
the telescope, a boy seated on the front of the moving temple, who
“perfected the praise” of the loathsome idol, with all the outrageous
lubricities of the Phallic worship. From the slightest consciousness of
the meaning of this phenomenon, her unimaginable purity protected her as
with a shield. It was in vain that the tempter plied her with questions,
and hints of explanation, and offers of illustration. He found her
chill, indifferent, and even incurious. He gnashed his teeth and gnawed
his lip _en parenthese_. But when she saw mothers cast their infants
under the wheels of the car, and then turn to watch the wild and wanton
dance of the Almahs, and appear, by their open lips and clapped hands,
to keep time to the sound of the silver bells that tinkled round their
slight ankles, while their infants were writhing in their dying
agony,--she dropt the telescope in horror, and exclaimed, “The world
that thinks does not feel. I never saw the rose kill the bud!”

“But look again,” said the tempter, “to that square building of stone,
round which a few stragglers are collected, and whose summit is
surmounted by a trident,--that is the temple of Maha-deva, a goddess who
possesses neither the power or the popularity of the great idol
Juggernaut. Mark how her worshippers approach her.” Immalee looked, and
saw women offering flowers, fruits, and perfumes; and some young girls
brought birds in cages, whom they set free; others, after making vows
for the safety of some absent, sent a small and gaudy boat of paper,
illuminated with wax, down the stream of an adjacent river, with
injunctions never to sink till it reached him.

“Immalee smiled with pleasure at the rites of this harmless and elegant
superstition. “This is not the religion of torment,” said she.--“Look
again,” said the stranger. She did, and beheld those very women whose
hands had been employed in liberating birds from their cages,
suspending, on the branches of the trees which shadowed the temple of
Maha-deva, baskets containing their new-born infants, who were left
there to perish with hunger, or be devoured by the birds, while their
mothers danced and sung in honour of the goddess.

“Others were occupied in conveying, apparently with the most zealous and
tender watchfulness, their aged parents to the banks of the river,
where, after assisting them to perform their ablations, with all the
intensity of filial and divine piety, they left them half immersed in
the water, to be devoured by alligators, who did not suffer their
wretched prey to linger in long expectation of their horrible death;
while others were deposited in the jungles near the banks of the river,
where they met with a fate as certain and as horrible, from the tigers
who infested it, and whose yell soon hushed the feeble wail of their
unresisting victims.

“Immalee sunk on the earth at this spectacle, and clasping both hands
over her eyes, remained speechless with grief and horror.

“Look yet again,” said the stranger, “the rites of all religions are not
so bloody.” Once more she looked, and saw a Turkish mosque, towering in
all the splendour that accompanied the first introduction of the
religion of Mahomet among the Hindoos. It reared its gilded domes, and
carved minarets, and crescented pinnacles, rich with all the profusion
which the decorative imagination of Oriental architecture, at once light
and luxuriant, gorgeous and aerial, delights to lavish on its favourite
works.

“A group of stately Turks were approaching the mosque, at the call of
the muezzin. Around the building arose neither tree nor shrub; it
borrowed neither shade nor ornament from nature; it had none of those
soft and graduating shades and hues, which seem to unite the works of
God and the creature for the glory of the former, and calls on the
inventive magnificence of art, and the spontaneous loveliness of nature,
to magnify the Author of both; it stood the independent work and emblem
of vigorous hands and proud minds, such as appeared to belong to those
who now approached it as worshippers. Their finely featured and
thoughtful countenances, their majestic habits, and lofty figures,
formed an imposing contrast to the unintellectual expression, the
crouching posture, and the half naked squalidness of some poor Hindoos,
who, seated on their hams, were eating their mess of rice, as the
stately Turks passed on to their devotions. Immalee viewed them with a
feeling of awe and pleasure, and began to think there might be some good
in the religion professed by these noble-looking beings. But, before
they entered the mosque, they spurned and spit at the unoffending and
terrified Hindoos; they struck them with the flats of their sabres, and,
terming them dogs of idolaters, they cursed them in the name of God and
the prophet. Immalee, revolted and indignant at the sight, though she
could not hear the words that accompanied it, demanded the reason of it.
“Their religion,” said the stranger, “binds them to hate all who do not
worship as they do.”--“Alas!” said Immalee, weeping, “is not that hatred
which their religion teaches, a proof that theirs is the worst? But
why,” she added, her features illuminated with all the wild and
sparkling intelligence of wonder, while flushed with recent fears, “why
do I not see among them some of those lovelier beings, whose habits
differ from theirs, and whom you call women? Why do they not worship
also; or have they a milder religion of their own?”--“_That_ religion,”
replied the stranger, “is not very favourable to those beings, of whom
you are the loveliest; it teaches that men shall have different
companions in the world of souls; nor does it clearly intimate that
women shall ever arrive there. Hence you may see some of these excluded
beings wandering amid those stones that designate the place of their
dead, repeating prayers for the dead whom they dare not hope to join;
and others, who are old and indigent, seated at the doors of the mosque,
reading aloud passages from a book lying on their knees, (which they
call the Koran), with the hope of soliciting alms, not of exciting
devotion.” At these desolating words, Immalee, who had in vain looked to
any of these systems for that hope or solace which her pure spirit and
vivid imagination alike thirsted for, felt a recoiling of the soul
unutterable at religion thus painted to her, and exhibiting only a
frightful picture of blood and cruelty, of the inversion of every
principle of nature, and the disruption of every tie of the heart.

“She flung herself on the ground, and exclaiming, “There is no God, if
there be none but theirs!” then, starting up as if to take a last view,
in the desperate hope that all was an illusion, she discovered a small
obscure building overshaded by palm-trees, and surmounted by a cross;
and struck by the unobtrusive simplicity of its appearance, and the
scanty number and peaceable demeanour of the few who were approaching
it, she exclaimed, that this must be a new religion, and eagerly
demanded its name and rites. The stranger evinced some uneasiness at the
discovery she had made, and testified still more reluctance to answer
the questions which it suggested; but they were pressed with such
restless and coaxing importunity, and the beautiful being who urged them
made such an artless transition from profound and meditative grief to
childish, yet intelligent curiosity, that it was not in man, or more or
less than man, to resist her.

“Her glowing features, as she turned them toward him, with an expression
half impatient, half pleading, were indeed those “(14)of a stilled
infant smiling through its tears.” Perhaps, too, another cause might
have operated on this prophet of curses, and made him utter a blessing
where he meant malediction; but into this we dare not inquire, nor will
it ever be fully known till the day when all secrets must be disclosed.
However it was, he felt himself compelled to tell her it was a new
religion, the religion of Christ, whose rites and worshippers she
beheld. “But what are the rites?” asked Immalee. “Do they murder their
children, or their parents, to prove their love to God? Do they hang
them on baskets to perish, or leave them on the banks of rivers to be
devoured by fierce and hideous animals?”--“The religion they profess
forbids that,” said the stranger, with reluctant truth; “it requires
them to honour their parents, and to cherish their children.”--“But why
do they not spurn from the entrance to their church those who do not
think as they do?”--“Because their religion enjoins them to be mild,
benevolent, and tolerant; and neither to reject or disdain those who
have not attained its purer light.”--“But why is there no splendour or
magnificence in their worship; nothing grand or attractive?”--“Because
they know that God cannot be acceptably worshipped but by pure hearts
and crimeless hands; and though their religion gives every hope to the
penitent guilty, it flatters none with false promises of external
devotion supplying the homage of the heart; or artificial and
picturesque religion standing in the place of that single devotion to
God, before whose throne, though the proudest temples erected to his
honour crumble into dust, the heart burns on the altar still, an
inextinguishable and acceptable victim.”

  (14) I trust the absurdity of this quotation here will be forgiven for
  its beauty. It is borrowed from Miss Baillie, the first dramatic poet
  of the age.

“As he spoke, (perhaps constrained by a higher power), Immalee bowed her
glowing face to the earth, and then raising it with the look of a
new-born angel, exclaimed, “Christ shall be my God, and I will be a
Christian!” Again she bowed in the deep prostration which indicates the
united submission of soul and body, and remained in this attitude of
absorption so long, that, when she rose, she did not perceive the
absence of her companion.--“He fled murmuring, and with him fled the
shades of night.”



CHAPTER XVII.

    “Why, I did say something about getting a licence from the Cadi.”

    BLUE BEARD.


“The visits of the stranger were interrupted for some time, and when he
returned, it seemed as if their purpose was no longer the same. He no
longer attempted to corrupt her principles, or sophisticate her
understanding, or mystify her views of religion. On the latter subject
he was quite silent, seemed to regret he had ever touched on it, and not
all her restless avidity of knowledge, or caressing importunity of
manner, could extract from him another syllable on the subject. He
repayed her amply, however, by the rich, varied, and copious stores of a
mind, furnished with matter apparently beyond the power of human
experience to have collected, confined, as it is, within the limits of
threescore years and ten. But this never struck Immalee; she took “no
note of time;” and the tale of yesterday, or the record of past
centuries, were synchronized in a mind to which facts and dates were
alike unknown; and which was alike unacquainted with the graduating
shades of manner, and the linked progress of events.

“They often sat on the shore of the isle in the evening, where Immalee
always prepared a seat of moss for her visitor, and gazed together on
the blue deep in silence; for Immalee’s newly-awaked intellect and heart
felt that bankruptcy of language, which profound feeling will impress on
the most cultivated intellect, and which, in her case, was increased
alike by her innocence and her ignorance; and her visitor had perhaps
reasons still stronger for his silence. This silence, however, was often
broken. There was not a vessel that sailed in the distance which did not
suggest an eager question from Immalee, and did not draw a slow and
extorted reply from the stranger. His knowledge was immense, various,
and profound, (but this was rather a subject of delight than of
curiosity to his beautiful pupil); and from the Indian canoe, rowed by
naked natives, to the splendid, and clumsy, and ill-managed vessels of
the Rajahs, that floated like huge and gilded fish tumbling in uncouth
and shapeless mirth on the wave, to the gallant and well-manned vessels
of Europe, that came on like the gods of ocean bringing fertility and
knowledge, the discoveries of art, and the blessings of civilization,
wherever their sails were unfurled and their anchors dropt,--he could
tell her all,--describe the destination of every vessel,--the feelings,
characters, and national habits of the many-minded inmates,--and enlarge
her knowledge to a degree which books never could have done; for
colloquial communication is always the most vivid and impressive medium,
and lips have a prescriptive right to be the first intelligencers in
instruction and in love.

“Perhaps this extraordinary being, with regard to whom the laws of
mortality and the feelings of nature seemed to be alike suspended, felt
a kind of sad and wild repose from the destiny that immitigably pursued
him, in the society of Immalee. We know not, and can never tell, what
sensations her innocent and helpless beauty inspired him with, but the
result was, that he ceased to regard her as his victim; and, when seated
beside her listening to her questions, or answering them, seemed to
enjoy the few lucid intervals of his insane and morbid existence. Absent
from her, he returned to the world to torture and to tempt in the
mad-house where the Englishman Stanton was tossing on his straw----”

“Hold!” said Melmoth; “what name have you mentioned?”--“Have patience
with me, Senhor,” said Monçada, who did not like interruption; “have
patience, and you will find we are all beads strung on the same string.
Why should we jar against each other? our union is indissoluble.” He
proceeded with the story of the unhappy Indian, as recorded in the
parchments of Adonijah, which he had been compelled to copy, and of
which he was anxious to impress every line and letter on his listener,
to substantiate his own extraordinary story.

“When absent from her, his purpose was what I have described; but while
present, that purpose seemed suspended; he gazed often on her with eyes
whose wild and fierce lustre was quenched in a dew that he hastily wiped
away, and gazed on her again. While he sat near her on the flowers she
had collected for him,--while he looked on those timid and rosy lips
that waited his signal to speak, like buds that did not dare to blow
till the sun shone on them,--while he heard accents issue from those
lips which he felt it would be as impossible to pervert as it would be
to teach the nightingale blasphemy,--he sunk down beside her, passed his
hand over his livid brow, and, wiping off some cold drops, thought for a
moment he was not the Cain of the moral world, and that the brand was
effaced,--at least for a moment. The habitual and impervious gloom of
his soul soon returned. He felt again the gnawings of the worm that
never dies, and the scorchings of the fire that is never to be quenched.
He turned the fatal light of his dark eyes on the only being who never
shrunk from their expression, for her innocence made her fearless. He
looked intensely at her, while rage, despair, and pity, convulsed his
heart; and as he beheld the confiding and conciliating smile with which
this gentle being met a look that might have withered the heart of the
boldest within him,--a Semele gazing in supplicating love on the
lightnings that were to blast her,--one human drop dimmed their
portentous lustre, as its softened rays fell on her. Turning fiercely
away, he flung his view on the ocean, as if to find, in the sight of
human life, some fuel for the fire that was consuming his vitals. The
ocean, that lay calm and bright before them as a sea of jasper, never
reflected two more different countenances, or sent more opposite
feelings to two hearts. Over Immalee’s, it breathed that deep and
delicious reverie, which those forms of nature that unite tranquillity
and profundity diffuse over souls whose innocence gives them a right to
an unmingled and exclusive enjoyment of nature. None but crimeless and
unimpassioned minds ever truly enjoyed earth, ocean, and heaven. At our
first transgression, nature expels us, as it did our first parents, from
her paradise for ever.

“To the stranger the view was fraught with far different visions. He
viewed it as a tiger views a forest abounding with prey; there might be
the storm and the wreck; or, if the elements were obstinately calm,
there might be the gaudy and gilded pleasure barge, in which a Rajah and
the beautiful women of his haram were inhaling the sea breeze under
canopies of silk and gold, overturned by the unskilfulness of their
rowers, and their plunge, and struggle, and dying agony, amid the smile
and beauty of the calm ocean, produce one of those contrasts in which
his fierce spirit delighted. Or, were even this denied, he could watch
the vessels as they floated by, and, from the skiff to the huge trader,
be sure that every one bore its freight of woe and crime. There came on
the European vessels full of the passions and crimes of another
world,--of its sateless cupidity, remorseless cruelty, its intelligence,
all awake and ministrant in the cause of its evil passions, and its very
refinement operating as a stimulant to more inventive indulgence, and
more systematized vice. He saw them approach to traffic for “gold, and
silver, and the souls of men;”--to grasp, with breathless rapacity, the
gems and precious produce of those luxuriant climates, and deny the
inhabitants the rice that supported their inoffensive existence;--to
discharge the load of their crimes, their lust and their avarice, and
after ravaging the land, and plundering the natives, depart, leaving
behind them famine, despair, and execration; and bearing with them back
to Europe, blasted constitutions, inflamed passions, ulcerated hearts,
and consciences that could not endure the extinction of a light in their
sleeping apartment.

“Such were the objects for which he watched; and one evening, when
solicited by Immalee’s incessant questions about the worlds to which the
vessels were hastening, or to which they were returning, he gave her a
description of the world, after his manner, in a spirit of mingled
derision, malignity, and impatient bitterness at the innocence of her
curiosity. There was a mixture of fiendish acrimony, biting irony, and
fearful truth, in his wild sketch, which was often interrupted by the
cries of astonishment, grief, and terror, from his hearer. “They come,”
said he, pointing to the European vessels, “from a world where the only
study of the inhabitants is how to increase their own sufferings, and
those of others, to the utmost possible degree; and, considering they
have only had 4000 years practice at the task, it must be allowed they
are tolerable proficients.”--“But is it possible?”--“You shall judge. In
aid, doubtless, of this desirable object, they have been all originally
gifted with imperfect constitutions and evil passions; and, not to be
ungrateful, they pass their lives in contriving how to augment the
infirmities of the one, and aggravate the acerbities of the other. They
are not like you, Immalee, a being who breathes amid roses, and subsists
only on the juices of fruits, and the lymph of the pure element. In
order to render their thinking powers more gross, and their spirits more
fiery, they devour animals, and torture from abused vegetables a drink,
that, without quenching thirst, has the power of extinguishing reason,
inflaming passion, and shortening life--the best result of all--for life
under such circumstances owes its only felicity to the shortness of its
duration.”

“Immalee shuddered at the mention of animal food, as the most delicate
European would at the mention of a cannibal feast; and while tears
trembled in her beautiful eyes, she turned them wistfully on her
peacocks with an expression that made the stranger smile. “Some,” said
he, by way of consolation, “have a taste by no means so
sophisticated,--they content themselves at their need with the flesh of
their fellow-creatures; and as human life is always miserable, and
animal life never so, (except from elementary causes), one would imagine
this the most humane and salutary way of at once gratifying the
appetite, and diminishing the mass of human suffering. But as these
people pique themselves on their ingenuity in aggravating the sufferings
of their situation, they leave thousands of human beings yearly to
perish by hunger and grief, and amuse themselves in feeding on animals,
whom, by depriving of existence, they deprive of the only pleasure their
condition has allotted them. When they have thus, by unnatural diet and
outrageous stimulation, happily succeeded in corrupting infirmity into
disease, and exasperating passion into madness, they proceed to exhibit
the proofs of their success, with an expertness and consistency truly
admirable. They do not, like you, Immalee, live in the lovely
independence of nature--lying on the earth, and sleeping with all the
eyes of heaven unveiled to watch you--treading the same grass till your
light step feels a friend in every blade it presses--and conversing with
flowers, till you feel yourself and them children of the united family
of nature, whose mutual language of love you have almost learned to
speak to each other--no, to effect their purpose, their food, which is
of itself poison, must be rendered more fatal by the air they inhale;
and therefore the more civilized crowd all together into a space which
their own respiration, and the exhalation of their bodies, renders
pestilential, and which gives a celerity inconceivable to the
circulation of disease and mortality. Four thousand of them will live
together in a space smaller than the last and lightest colonnade of your
young banyan-tree, in order, doubtless, to increase the effects of fœtid
air, artificial heat, unnatural habits, and impracticable exercise. The
result of these judicious precautions is just what may be guessed. The
most trifling complaint becomes immediately infectious, and, during the
ravages of the pestilence, which this habit generates, ten thousand
lives a-day are the customary sacrifice to the habit of living in
cities.”--“But they die in the arms of those they love,” said Immalee,
whose tears flowed fast at this recital; “and is not that better than
even _life_ in solitude,--as mine was before I beheld you?”

“The stranger was too intent on his description to heed her. “To these
cities they resort nominally for security and protection, but really for
the sole purpose to which their existence is devoted,--that of
aggravating its miseries by every ingenuity of refinement. For example,
those who live in uncontrasted and untantalized misery, can hardly feel
it--suffering becomes their habit, and they feel no more jealousy of
their situation than the bat, who clings in blind and famishing
stupefaction to the cleft of a rock, feels of the situation of the
butterfly, who drinks of the dew, and bathes in the bloom of every
flower. But the people of the _other worlds_ have invented, by means of
living in cities, a new and singular mode of aggravating human
wretchedness--that of contrasting it with the wild and wanton excess of
superfluous and extravagant splendour.”

“Here the stranger had incredible difficulty to make Immalee comprehend
how there could be an unequal division of the means of existence; and
when he had done his utmost to explain it to her, she continued to
repeat, (her white finger on her scarlet lip, and her small foot beating
the moss), in a kind of pouting inquietude, “Why should some have more
than they can eat, and others nothing to eat?”--“This,” continued the
stranger, “is the most exquisite refinement on that art of torture which
those beings are so expert in--to place misery by the side of
opulence--to bid the wretch who dies for want feed on the sound of the
splendid equipages which shake his hovel as they pass, but leave no
relief behind--to bid the industrious, the ingenious, and the
imaginative, starve, while bloated mediocrity pants from excess--to bid
the dying sufferer feel that life might be prolonged by one drop of that
exciting liquor, which, wasted, produces only sickness or madness in
those whose lives it undermines;--to do this is their principal object,
and it is fully attained. The sufferer through whose rags the wind of
winter blows, like arrows lodging in every pore--whose tears freeze
before they fall--whose soul is as dreary as the night under whose cope
his resting-place must be--whose glued and clammy lips are unable to
receive the food which famine, lying like a burning coal at his vitals,
craves--and who, amid the horrors of a houseless winter, might prefer
its desolation to that of the den that abuses the name of home--without
food--without light--where the howlings of the storm are answered by the
fiercer cries of hunger--and he must stumble to his murky and strawless
nook over the bodies of his children, who have sunk on the floor, not
for rest, but despair. Such a being, is he not sufficiently miserable?”

“Immalee’s shudderings were her only answer, (though of many parts of
his description she had a very imperfect idea). “No, he is not enough so
yet,” pursued the stranger, pressing the picture on her; “let his steps,
that know not where they wander, conduct him to the gates of the
affluent and the luxurious--let him feel that plenty and mirth are
removed from him but by the interval of a wall, and yet more distant
than if severed by worlds--let him feel that while _his_ world is
darkness and cold, the eyes of those within are aching with the blaze of
light, and hands relaxed by artificial heat, are soliciting with fans
the refreshment of a breeze--let him feel that every groan he utters is
answered by a song or a laugh--and let him die on the steps of the
mansion, while his last conscious pang is aggravated by the thought,
that the price of the hundredth part of the luxuries that lie untasted
before heedless beauty and sated epicurism, would have protracted his
existence, while it poisons theirs--let him _die of want on the
threshold of a banquet-hall_, and then admire with me the ingenuity that
displays itself in this new combination of misery. The inventive
activity of the people of the world, in the multiplication of calamity,
is inexhaustibly fertile in resources. Not satisfied with diseases and
famine, with sterility of the earth, and tempests of the air, they must
have laws and marriages, and kings and tax-gatherers, and wars and
fetes, and every variety of artificial misery inconceivable to you.”

“Immalee, overpowered by this torrent of words, to her unintelligible
words, in vain asked a connected explanation of them. The demon of his
superhuman misanthropy had now fully possessed him, and not even the
tones of a voice as sweet as the strings of David’s harp, had power to
expel the evil one. So he went on flinging about his fire-brands and
arrows, and then saying, “Am I not in sport? These people(15),” said he,
“have made unto themselves kings, that is, beings whom they voluntarily
invest with the privilege of draining, by taxation, whatever wealth
their vices have left to the rich, and whatever means of subsistence
their want has left to the poor, till their extortion is cursed from the
castle to the cottage--and this to support a few pampered favourites,
who are harnessed by silken reins to the car, which they drag over the
prostrate bodies of the multitude. Sometimes exhausted by the monotony
of perpetual fruition, which has no parallel even in the monotony of
suffering, (for the latter has at least the excitement of hope, which is
for ever denied to the former), they amuse themselves by making war,
that is, collecting the greatest number of human beings that can be
bribed to the task, to cut the throats of a less, equal, or greater
number of beings, bribed in the same manner for the same purpose. These
creatures have not the least cause of enmity to each other--they do not
know, they never beheld each other. Perhaps they might, under other
circumstances, wish each other well, as far as human malignity would
suffer them; but from the moment they are hired for legalized massacre,
hatred is their duty, and murder their delight. The man who would feel
reluctance to destroy the reptile that crawls in his path, will equip
himself with metals fabricated for the purpose of destruction, and smile
to see it stained with the blood of a being, whose existence and
happiness he would have sacrificed his own to promote, under other
circumstances. So strong is this habit of aggravating misery under
artificial circumstances, that it has been known, when in a sea-fight a
vessel has blown up, (here a long explanation was owed to Immalee, which
may be spared the reader), the people of that world have plunged into
the water to save, at the risk of their own lives, the lives of those
with whom they were grappling amid fire and blood a moment before, and
whom, though they would sacrifice to their passions, their pride refused
to sacrifice to the elements.”--“Oh that is beautiful!--that is
glorious!” said Immalee, clasping her white hands; “I could bear all you
describe to see that sight!”

  (15) As, by a mode of criticism equally false and unjust, the worst
  sentiments of my worst characters, (from the ravings of Bertram to the
  blasphemies of Cardonneau), have been represented as _my own_, I must
  here trespass so far on the patience of the reader as to assure him,
  that the sentiments ascribed to the stranger are diametrically
  opposite to mine, and that I have purposely put them into the mouth of
  an agent of the enemy of mankind.

“Her smile of innocent delight, her spontaneous burst of high-toned
feeling, had the usual effect of adding a darker shade to the frown of
the stranger, and a sterner curve to the repulsive contraction of his
upper lip, which was never raised but to express hostility or contempt.

“But what do the kings do?” said Immalee, “while they are making men
kill each other for nothing?”--“You are ignorant, Immalee,” said the
stranger, “very ignorant, or you would not have said it was for
_nothing_. Some of them fight for ten inches of barren sand--some for
the dominion of the salt wave--some for any thing--and some for
nothing--but all for pay and poverty, and occasional excitement, and the
love of action, and the love of change, and the dread of home, and the
consciousness of evil passions, and the hope of death, and the
admiration of the showy dress in which they are to perish. The best of
the jest is, they contrive not only to reconcile themselves to these
cruel and wicked absurdities, but to dignify them with the most imposing
names their perverted language supplies--the names of fame, of glory, of
recording memory, and admiring posterity.

“Thus a wretch whom want, idleness, or intemperance, drives to this
reckless and heart-withering business,--who leaves his wife and children
to the mercy of strangers, or to famish, (terms nearly synonimous), the
moment he has assumed the blushing badge that privileges massacre,
becomes, in the imagination of this intoxicated people, the defender of
his country, entitled to her gratitude and to her praise. The idle
stripling, who hates the cultivation of intellect, and despises the
meanness of occupation, feels, perhaps, a taste for arraying his person
in colours as gaudy as the parrot’s or the peacock’s; and this
effeminate propensity is baptised by the prostituted name of the love of
glory--and this complication of motives borrowed from vanity and from
vice, from the fear of distress, the wantonness of idleness, and the
appetite for mischief, finds one convenient and sheltering appellation
in the single sound--patriotism. And those beings who never knew one
generous impulse, one independent feeling, ignorant of either the
principles or the justice of the cause for which they contend, and
wholly uninterested in the result, except so far as it involves the
concerns of their own vanity, cupidity, and avarice, are, while living,
hailed by the infatuated world as its benefactors, and when dead,
canonized as its martyrs. He died in his country’s cause, is the epitaph
inscribed by the rash hand of indiscriminating eulogy on the grave of
ten thousand, who had ten thousand different motives for their choice
and their fate,--who might have lived to be their country’s enemies if
they had not _happened_ to fall in her defence,--and whose love of their
country, if fairly analysed, was, under its various forms of vanity,
restlessness, the love of tumult, or the love of show--purely love of
themselves. There let them rest--nothing but the wish to disabuse their
idolaters, who prompt the sacrifice, and then applaud the victim they
have made, could have tempted me to dwell thus long on beings as
mischievous in their lives, as they are insignificant in their death.

“Another amusement of these people, so ingenious in multiplying the
sufferings of their destiny, is what they call law. They pretend to find
in this a security for their persons and their properties--with how much
justice, their own felicitous experience must inform them! Of the
security it gives to the latter, judge, Immalee, when I tell you, that
you might spend your life in their courts, without being able to prove
that those roses you have gathered and twined in your hair were your
own--that you might starve for this day’s meal, while proving your right
to a property which must incontestibly be yours, on the condition of
your being able to fast on a few years, and survive to enjoy it--and
that, finally, with the sentiments of all upright men, the opinions of
the judges of the land, and the fullest conviction of your own
conscience in your favour, you cannot obtain the possession of what you
and all feel to be your own, while your antagonist can start an
objection, purchase a fraud, or invent a lie. So pleadings go on, and
years are wasted, and property consumed, and hearts broken,--and law
triumphs. One of its most admirable triumphs is in that ingenuity by
which it contrives to convert a difficulty into an impossibility, and
punish a man for not doing what it has rendered impracticable for him to
do.

“When he is unable to pay his debts, it deprives him of liberty and
credit, to insure that inability still further; and while destitute
alike of the means of subsistence, or the power of satisfying his
creditors, he is enabled, by this righteous arrangement, to console
himself, at least, with the reflection, that he can injure his creditor
as much as he has suffered from him--that certain loss is the reward of
immitigable cruelty--and that, while he famishes in prison, the page in
which his debt is recorded rots away faster than his body; and the angel
of death, with one obliterating sweep of his wing, cancels misery and
debt, and presents, grinning in horrid triumph, the release of debtor
and debt, signed by a hand that makes the judges tremble on their
seats.”--“But they have religion,” said the poor Indian, trembling at
this horrible description; “they have that religion which you shewed
me--its mild and peaceful spirit--its quietness and resignation--no
blood--no cruelty.”--“Yes,--true,” said the stranger, with some
reluctance, “they have religion; for in their zeal for suffering, they
feel the torments of one world not enough, unless aggravated by the
terrors of another. They have such a religion, but what use have they
made of it? Intent on their settled purpose of discovering misery
wherever it could be traced, and inventing it where it could not, they
have found, even in the pure pages of that book, which, they presume to
say, contains their title to peace on earth, and happiness hereafter, a
right to hate, plunder, and murder each other. Here they have been
compelled to exercise an extraordinary share of perverted ingenuity. The
book contains nothing but what is good, and evil must be the minds, and
hard the labour of those evil minds, to extort a tinge from it to colour
their pretensions withal. But mark, in pursuance of their great object,
(the aggravation of general misery), mark how subtilly they have
wrought. They call themselves by various names, to excite passions
suitable to the names they bear. Thus some forbid the perusal of that
book to their disciples, and others assert, that from the exclusive
study of its pages alone, can the hope of salvation be learned or
substantiated. It is singular, however, that with all their ingenuity,
they have never been able to extract a subject of difference from the
_essential_ contents of that book, to which they all appeal--so they
proceed after their manner.

“They never dare to dispute that it contains irresistible
injunctions,----that those who believe in it should live in habits of
peace, benevolence, and harmony,--that they should love each other in
prosperity, and assist each other in adversity. They dare not deny that
the spirit that book inculcates and inspires, is a spirit whose fruits
are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, mildness, and truth. On these
points they never presumed to differ.--They are too plain to be denied,
so they contrive to make matter of difference out of the various habits
they wear; and they cut each other’s throats for the love of God, on the
important subject(16), whether their jackets should be red or white--or
whether their priests should be arrayed in silk ribbons(17), or white
linen(18), or black household garments(19)--or whether they should
immerse their children in water, or sprinkle them with a few drops of
it--or whether they should partake of the memorials of the death of him
they all profess to love, standing or on their knees--or---- But I weary
you with this display of human wickedness and absurdity. One point is
plain, they all agree that the language of the book is, “Love one
another,” while they all translate that language, “Hate one another.”
But as they can find neither materials or excuse from that book, they
search for them in their own minds,--and there they are never at a loss,
for human minds are inexhaustible in malignity and hostility; and when
they borrow the name of that book to sanction them, the deification of
their passions becomes a duty, and their worst impulses are hallowed and
practised as virtues.”--“Are there no parents or children in these
horrible worlds?” said Immalee, turning her tearful eyes on this
traducer of humanity; “none that love each other as I loved the tree
under which I was first conscious of existence, or the flowers that grew
with me?”--“Parents?--children?” said the stranger; “Oh yes! There are
fathers who instruct their sons----” And his voice was lost--he
struggled to recover it.

  (16) The Catholics and Protestants were thus distinguished in the wars
  of the League.

  (17) Catholics.

  (18) Protestants.

  (19) Dissenters.

“After a long pause, he said, “There are some kind parents among those
sophisticated people.”--“And who are they?” said Immalee, whose heart
throbbed spontaneously at the mention of kindliness.--“Those,” said the
stranger, with a withering smile, “who murder their children at the hour
of their birth, or, by medical art, dismiss them before they have seen
the light; and, in so doing, they give the only credible evidence of
parental affection.”

“He ceased, and Immalee remained silent in melancholy meditation on what
she had heard. The acrid and searing irony of his language had made no
impression on one with whom “speech was truth,” and who could have no
idea why a circuitous mode of conveying meaning could be adopted, when
even a direct one was often attended with difficulty to herself. But she
could understand, that he had spoken much of evil and of suffering,
names unknown to her before she beheld him, and she turned on him a
glance that seemed at once to thank and reproach him for her painful
initiation into the mysteries of a new existence. She had, indeed,
tasted of the tree of knowledge, and her eyes were opened, but its fruit
was bitter to her taste, and her looks conveyed a kind of mild and
melancholy gratitude, that would have wrung the heart for giving its
first lesson of pain to the heart of a being so beautiful, so gentle,
and so innocent. The stranger marked this blended expression, and
exulted.

“He had distorted life thus to her imagination, perhaps with the purpose
of terrifying her from a nearer view of it; perhaps in the wild hope of
keeping her for ever in this solitude, where he might sometimes see her,
and catch, from the atmosphere of purity that surrounded her, the only
breeze that floated over the burning desert of his own existence. This
hope was strengthened by the obvious impression his discourse had made
on her. The sparkling intelligence,--the breathless curiosity,--the
vivid gratitude of her former expression,--were all extinguished, and
her down cast and thoughtful eyes were full of tears.

“Has my conversation wearied you, Immalee?” said he.--“It has grieved
me, yet I wish to listen still,” answered the Indian. “I love to hear
the murmur of the stream, though the crocodile may be beneath the
waves.”--“Perhaps you wish to encounter the people of this world, so
full of crime and misfortune.”--“I do, for it is the world you came
from, and when you return to it all will be happy but me.”--“And is it,
then, in my power to confer happiness?” said her companion; “is it for
this purpose I wander among mankind?” A mingled and indefinable
expression of derision, malevolence, and despair, overspread his
features, as he added, “You do me too much honour, in devising for me an
occupation so mild and so congenial to my spirit.”

“Immalee, whose eyes were averted, did not see this expression, and she
replied, “I know not, but you have taught me the joy of grief; before I
saw you I only smiled, but since I saw you, I weep, and my tears are
delicious. Oh! they are far different from those I shed for the setting
sun, or the faded rose! And yet I know not--” And the poor Indian,
oppressed by emotions she could neither understand or express, clasped
her hands on her bosom, as if to hide the secret of its new
palpitations, and, with the instinctive diffidence of her purity,
signified the change of her feelings, by retiring a few steps from her
companion, and casting on the earth eyes which could contain their tears
no longer. The stranger appeared troubled,--an emotion new to himself
agitated him for a moment,--then a smile of self-disdain curled his lip,
as if he reproached himself for the indulgence of human feeling even for
a moment. Again his features relaxed, as he turned to the bending and
averted form of Immalee, and he seemed like one conscious of agony of
soul himself, yet inclined to sport with the agony of another’s. This
union of inward despair and outward levity is not unnatural. Smiles are
the legitimate offspring of happiness, but laughter is often the
misbegotten child of madness, that mocks its parent to her face. With
such an expression he turned towards her, and asked, “But what is your
meaning, Immalee?”--A long pause followed this question, and at length
the Indian answered, “I know not,” with that natural and delicious art
which teaches the sex to disclose their meaning in words that seem to
contradict it. “I know not,” means, “I know too well.” Her companion
understood this, and enjoyed his anticipated triumph. “And why do your
tears flow, Immalee?”--“I know not,” said the poor Indian, and her tears
flowed faster at the question.

“At these words, or rather at these tears, the stranger forgot himself
for a moment. He felt that melancholy triumph which the conqueror is
unable to enjoy; that triumph which announces a victory over the
weakness of others, obtained at the expence of a greater weakness in
ourselves. A human feeling, in spite of him, pervaded his whole soul, as
he said, in accents of involuntary softness, “What would you have me do,
Immalee?” The difficulty of speaking a language that might be at once
intelligible and reserved,--that might convey her wishes without
betraying her heart,--and the unknown nature of her new emotions, made
Immalee faulter long before she could answer, “Stay with me,--return not
to that world of evil and sorrow.--Here the flowers will always bloom,
and the sun be as bright as on the first day I beheld you.--Why will you
go back to the world to think and to be unhappy?” The wild and
discordant laugh of her companion, startled and silenced her. “Poor
girl,” he exclaimed, with that mixture of bitterness and commiseration,
that at once terrifies and humiliates; “and is this the destiny I am to
fulfil?--to listen to the chirping of birds, and watch the opening of
buds? Is this to be my lot?” and with another wild burst of unnatural
laughter, he flung away the hand which Immalee had extended to him as
she had finished her simple appeal.--“Yes, doubtless, I am well fitted
for such a fate, and such a partner. Tell me,” he added, with still
wilder fierceness, “tell me from what line of my features,--from what
accent of my voice,--from what sentiment of my discourse, have you
extracted the foundation of a hope that insults me with the view of
felicity?” Immalee, who might have replied, “I understand a fury in your
words, but not your words,” had yet sufficient aid from her maiden
pride, and female penetration, to discover that she was rejected by the
stranger; and a brief emotion of indignant grief struggled with the
tenderness of her exposed and devoted heart. She paused a moment, and
then checking her tears, said, in her firmest tones, “Go, then, to your
world,--since you wish to be unhappy--go!--Alas! it is not necessary to
go there to be unhappy, for I must be so here. Go,--but take with you
these roses, for they will all wither when you are gone!--take with you
these shells, for I shall no longer love to wear them when you no longer
see them!” And as she spoke, with simple, but emphatic action, she
untwined from her bosom and hair the shells and flowers with which they
were adorned, and threw them at his feet; then turning to throw one
glance of proud and melancholy grief at him, she was retiring. “Stay,
Immalee,--stay, and hear me for a moment,” said the stranger; and he
would, at that moment, have perhaps discovered the ineffable and
forbidden secret of his destiny, but Immalee, in silence, which her look
of profound grief made eloquent, shook sadly her averted head, and
departed.



CHAPTER XVIII.

    Miseram me omnia terrent, et maris sonitus, et scopuli, et solitudo,
    et sanctitudo Apollinis.

    LATIN PLAY.


“Many days elapsed before the stranger revisited the isle. How he was
occupied, or what feelings agitated him in the interval, it would be
beyond human conjecture to discover. Perhaps he sometimes exulted in the
misery he had inflicted,--perhaps he sometimes pitied it. His stormy
mind was like an ocean that had swallowed a thousand wrecks of gallant
ships, and now seemed to dally with the loss of a little slender skiff,
that could hardly make way on its surface in the profoundest calm.
Impelled, however, by malignity, or tenderness, or curiosity, or
weariness of artificial life, so vividly contrasted by the unadulterated
existence of Immalee, into whose pure elements nothing but flowers and
fragrance, the sparkling of the heavens, and the odours of earth, had
transfused their essence--or, possibly, by a motive more powerful than
all,--_his own will_; which, never analysed, and hardly ever confessed
to be the ruling principle of our actions, governs nine-tenths of
them.--He returned to the shore of the haunted isle, the name by which
it was distinguished by those who knew not how to classify the new
goddess who was supposed to inhabit it, and who were as much puzzled by
this new specimen in their theology, as Linnæus himself could have been
by a non-descript in botany. Alas! the varieties in moral botany far
exceed the wildest anomalies of those in the natural. However it was,
the stranger returned to the isle. But he had to traverse many paths,
where human foot but his had never been, and to rend away branches that
seemed to tremble at a human touch, and to cross streams into which no
foot but his had ever been dipped, before he could discover where
Immalee had concealed herself.

“Concealment, however, was not in her thoughts. When he found her, she
was leaning against a rock; the ocean was pouring its eternal murmur of
waters at her feet; she had chosen the most desolate spot she could
find;--there was neither flower or shrub near her;--the calcined rocks,
the offspring of volcano--the restless roar of the sea, whose waves
almost touched her small foot, that seemed by its heedless protrusion at
once to court and neglect danger--these objects were all that surrounded
her. The first time he had beheld her, she was embowered amid flowers
and odours, amid all the glorious luxuries of vegetable and animal
nature; the roses and the peacocks seemed emulous which should expand
their leaves or their plumes, as a shade to that loveliness which seemed
to hover between them, alternately borrowing the fragrance of the one,
and the hues of the other. Now she stood as if deserted even by nature,
whose child she was; the rock was her resting-place, and the ocean
seemed the bed where she purposed to rest; she had no shells on her
bosom, no roses in her hair--her character seemed to have changed with
her feelings; she no longer loved all that is beautiful in nature; she
seemed, by an anticipation of her destiny, to make alliance with all
that is awful and ominous. She had begun to love the rocks and the
ocean, the thunder of the wave, and the sterility of the sand,--awful
objects, the incessant recurrence of whose very sound seems intended to
remind us of grief and of eternity. Their restless monotony of
repetition, corresponds with the beatings of a heart which asks its
destiny from the phenomena of nature, and feels the answer is--“Misery.”

“Those who love may seek the luxuries of the garden, and inhale added
intoxication from its perfumes, which seem the offerings of nature on
that altar which is already erected and burning in the heart of the
worshipper;--but let those who _have_ loved seek the shores of the
ocean, and they shall have their answer too.

“There was a sad and troubled air about her, as she stood so lonely,
that seemed at once to express the conflict of her internal emotions,
and to reflect the gloom and agitation of the physical objects around
her; for nature was preparing for one of those awful convulsions--one of
those abortive throes of desolation, that seems to announce a more
perfect wrath to come; and while it blasts the vegetation, and burns up
the soil of some visited portion, seems to proclaim in the murmur of its
receding thunders, that it will return in that day, when the universe
shall pass away as a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat,
and return to fulfil the dreadful promise, which its partial and
initiatory devastation has left incomplete. Is there a peal of thunder
that does not mutter a menace, “For _me_, the dissolution of the world
is reserved, I depart, but I shall return?” Is there a flash of
lightning that does not say, _visibly_, if not audibly, “Sinner, I
cannot now penetrate the recesses of your soul; but how will you
encounter my glare, when the hand of the judge is armed with me, and my
penetrating glance displays you to the view of assembled worlds?”

“The evening was very dark; heavy clouds, rolling on like the forces of
an hostile army, obscured the horizon from east to west. There was a
bright but ghastly blue in the heaven above, like that in the eye of the
dying, where the last forces of life are collected, while its powers are
rapidly forsaking the frame, and feeling their extinguishment must
shortly be. There was not a breath of air to heave the ocean,--the trees
drooped without a whisper to woo their branches or their buds,--the
birds had retired, with that instinct which teaches them to avoid the
fearful encounter of the elements, and nestled with cowering wings and
drooping heads among their favourite trees. There was not a human sound
in the isle; the very rivulet seemed to tremble at its own tinklings,
and its small waves flowed as if a subterranean hand arrested and
impeded their motion. Nature, in these grand and terrific operations,
seems in some degree to assimilate herself to a parent, whose most
fearful denunciations are preceded by an awful silence, or rather to a
judge, whose final sentence is _felt_ with less horror than the pause
that intervenes before it is pronounced.

“Immalee gazed on the awful scene by which she was surrounded, without
any emotion derived from physical causes. To her, light and darkness had
hitherto been the same; she loved the sun for its lustre, and the
lightning for its transitory brilliancy, and the ocean for its sonorous
music, and the tempest for the agitation which it gave to the trees,
under whose bending and welcoming shadow she danced, in time kept by the
murmur of their leaves, that hung low, as if to crown their votarist.
And she loved the night, when all was still, but what she was accustomed
to call the music of a thousand streams, that made the stars rise from
their beds, to sparkle and nod to that wild melody.

“Such she had been. Now, her eye was intently fixed on the declining
light, and the approaching darkness,--that preternatural gloom, that
seems to say to the brightest and most beautiful of the works of God,
“Give place to me, thou shalt shine no more.”

“The darkness increased, and the clouds collected like an army that had
mustered its utmost force, and stood in obdured and collected strength
against the struggling light of heaven. A broad, red, and dusky line of
gloomy light, gathered round the horizon, like an usurper watching the
throne of an abdicated sovereign, and expanding its portentous circle,
sent forth alternately flashes of lightning, pale and red;--the murmur
of the sea increased, and the arcades of the banyan-tree, that had
struck its patriarchal root not five hundred paces from where Immalee
stood, resounded the deep and almost unearthly murmur of the approaching
storm through all its colonnades; the primeval trunk rocked and groaned,
and the everlasting fibres seemed to withdraw their grasp from the
earth, and quiver in air at the sound. Nature, with every voice she
could inspire from earth, or air, or water, announced danger to her
children.

“That was the moment the stranger chose to approach Immalee; of danger
he was insensible, of fear he was unconscious; his miserable destiny had
exempted him from both, but what had it left him? No hope--but that of
plunging others into his own condemnation. No fear--but that his victim
might escape him. Yet with all his diabolical heartlessness, he _did_
feel some relentings of his human nature, as he beheld the young Indian;
her cheek was pale, but her eye was fixed, and her figure, turned from
him, (as if she preferred to encounter the tremendous rage of the
storm), seemed to him to say, “Let me fall into the hands of God, and
not into those of man.”

“This attitude, so unintentionally assumed by Immalee, and so little
expressive of her real feelings, restored all the malignant energies of
the stranger’s feelings; the former evil purposes of his heart, and the
habitual character of his dark and fiendish pursuit, rushed back on him.
Amid this contrasted scene of the convulsive rage of nature, and the
passive helplessness of her unsheltered loveliness, he felt a glow of
excitement, like that which pervaded him, when the fearful powers of his
“charmed life” enabled him to penetrate the cells of a madhouse, or the
dungeons of an Inquisition.

“He saw this pure being surrounded by the terrors of nature, and felt a
wild and terrible conviction, that though the lightning might blast her
in a moment, yet there was a bolt more burning and more fatal, which was
wielded by his own hand, and which, if he could aim it aright, must
transfix her very soul.

“Armed with all his malignity and all his power, he approached Immalee,
armed only with her purity, and standing like the reflected beam of the
last ray of light on whose extinction she was gazing. There was a
contrast in her form and her situation, that might have touched any
feelings but those of the wanderer.

“The light of her figure shining out amid the darkness that enveloped
her,--its undulating softness rendered still softer to the eye by the
rock against which it reclined,--its softness, brightness, and
flexibility, presenting a kind of playful hostility to the tremendous
aspect of nature overcharged with wrath and ruin.

“The stranger approached her unobserved; his steps were unheard amid the
rush of the ocean, and the deep, portentous murmur of the elements; but,
as he advanced, he heard sounds that perhaps operated on his feelings as
the whispers of Eve to her flowers on the organs of the serpent. Both
knew their power, and felt their time. Amid the fast approaching terrors
of a storm, more terrible than any she had ever witnessed, the poor
Indian, unconscious, or perhaps insensible of its dangers, was singing
her wild song of desperation and love to the echoes of the advancing
storm. Some words of this strain of despair and passion reached the ear
of the stranger. They were thus:

“The night is growing dark--but what is that to the darkness that his
absence has cast on my soul? The lightnings are glancing round me--but
what are they to the gleam of his eye when he parted from me in anger?

“I lived but in the light of his presence--why should I not die when
that light is withdrawn? Anger of the clouds, what have I to fear from
you? You may scorch me to dust, as I have seen you scorch the branches
of the eternal trees--but the trunk still remained, and my heart will be
his for ever.

“Roar on, terrible ocean! thy waves, which I cannot count, can never
wash his image from my soul,--thou dashest a thousand waves against a
rock, but the rock is unmoved--and so would be my heart amid the
calamities of the world with which he threatens me,--whose dangers I
never would have known but for him, and whose dangers for him I will
encounter.”

“She paused in her wild song, and then renewed it, regardless alike of
the terrors of the elements, and the possible presence of one whose
subtle and poisonous potency was more fatal than all the elements in
their united wrath.

“When we first met, my bosom was covered with roses--now it is shaded
with the dark leaves of the ocynum. When he saw me first, the living
things all loved me--now I care not whether they love me or not--I have
forgot to love them. When he came to the isle every night, I hoped the
moon would be bright--now I care not whether she rises or sets, whether
she is clouded or bright. Before he came, every thing loved me, and I
had more things to love than I could reckon by the hairs of my head--now
I feel I can love but one, and that one has deserted me. Since I have
seen him all things have changed. The flowers have not the colours they
once had--there is no music in the flow of the waters--the stars do not
smile on me from heaven as they did,--and I myself begin to love the
storm better than the calm.”

“As she ended her melancholy strain, she turned from the spot where the
increasing fury of the storm made it no longer possible for her to
stand, and turning, met the gaze of the stranger fixed on her. A
suffusion, the most rich and vivid, mantled over her from brow to bosom;
she did not utter her usual exclamation of joy at his sight, but, with
averted eyes and faultering step, followed him as he pointed her to seek
shelter amid the ruins of the pagoda. They approached it in silence;
and, amid the convulsions and fury of nature, it was singular to see two
beings walk on together without exchanging a word of apprehension, or
feeling a thought of danger,--the one armed by despair, the other by
innocence. Immalee would rather have sought the shelter of her favourite
banyan-tree, but the stranger tried to make her comprehend, that her
danger would be much greater there than in the spot he pointed out to
her. “Danger!” said the Indian, while a bright and wild smile irradiated
her features; “can there be danger when you are near me?”--“Is there,
then, no danger in my presence?--few have met me without dreading, and
without feeling it too!” and his countenance, as he spoke, grew darker
than the heaven at which he scowled. “Immalee,” he added, in a voice
still deeper and more thrilling, from the unwonted operation of human
emotion in its tones; “Immalee, you cannot be weak enough to believe
that I have power of controuling the elements? If I had,” he continued,
“by the heaven that is frowning at me, the first exertion of my power
should be to collect the most swift and deadly of the lightnings that
are hissing around us, and transfix you where you stand!”--“Me?”
repeated the trembling Indian, her cheek growing paler at his words, and
the voice in which they were uttered, than at the redoubling fury of the
storm, amid whose pauses she scarce heard them.--“Yes--you--you--lovely
as you are, and innocent, and pure, before a fire more deadly consumes
your existence, and drinks your heart-blood--before you are longer
exposed to a danger a thousand times more fatal than those with which
the elements menace you--the danger of my accursed and miserable
presence!”

“Immalee, unconscious of his meaning, but trembling with impassioned
grief at the agitation with which he spoke, approached him to soothe the
emotion of which she knew neither the name or the cause. Through the
fractures of the ruin the red and ragged lightnings disclosed, from time
to time, a glimpse of her figure,--her dishevelled hair,--her pallid and
appealing look,--her locked hands, and the imploring bend of her slight
form, as if she was asking pardon for a crime of which she was
unconscious,--and soliciting an interest in griefs not her own. All
around her wild, unearthly, and terrible,--the floor strewed with
fragments of stone, and mounds of sand,--the vast masses of ruined
architecture, whose formation seemed the work of no human hand, and
whose destruction appeared the sport of demons,--the yawning fissures of
the arched and ponderous roof, through which heaven darkened and blazed
alternately with a gloom that wrapt every thing, or a light more fearful
than that gloom.--All around her gave to her form, when it was momently
visible, a relief so strong and so touching, that it might have
immortalized the hand who had sketched her as the embodied presence of
an angel who had descended to the regions of woe and wrath,--of darkness
and of fire, on a message of reconciliation,--and descended in vain.

“The stranger threw on her, as she bent before him, one of those looks
that, but her own, no mortal eye had yet encountered unappalled. Its
expression seemed only to inspire a higher feeling of devotedness in the
victim. Perhaps an involuntary sentiment of terror mingled itself with
that expression, as this beautiful being sunk on her knees before her
writhing and distracted enemy; and, by the silent supplication of her
attitude, seemed to implore him to have mercy on himself. As the
lightnings flashed around her,--as the earth trembled beneath her white
and slender feet,--as the elements seemed all sworn to the destruction
of every living thing, and marched on from heaven to the accomplishment
of their purpose, with _Væ victis_ written and legible to every eye, in
the broad unfolded banners of that resplendent and sulphurous light that
seemed to display the _day of hell_--the feelings of the devoted Indian
seemed concentrated on the ill-chosen object of their idolatry alone.
Her graduating attitudes beautifully, but painfully, expressed the
submission of a female heart devoted to its object, to his frailties,
his passions, and his very crimes. When subdued by the image of power,
which the mind of man exercises over that of woman, that impulse becomes
irresistibly humiliating. Immalee had at first bowed to conciliate her
beloved, and her spirit had taught her frame that first inclination. In
her next stage of suffering, she had sunk on her knees, and, remaining
at a distance from him, she had trusted to this state of prostration to
produce that effect on his heart which those who love always hope
_compassion_ may produce,--that illegitimate child of love, often more
cherished than its parent. In her last efforts she clung to his
hand--she pressed her pale lips to it, and was about to utter a few
words--her voice failed her, but her fast dropping tears _spoke_ to the
hand which she held,--and its grasp, which for a moment convulsively
returned hers, and then flung it away, answered her.

“The Indian remained prostrate and aghast. “Immalee,” said the stranger,
in a struggling voice, “Do you wish me to tell you the feelings with
which my presence should inspire you?”--“No--no--no!” said the Indian,
applying her white and delicate hands to her ears, and then clasping
them on her bosom; “I feel them too much.”--“Hate me--curse me!” said
the stranger, not heeding her, and stamping till the reverberation of
his steps on the hollow and loosened stones almost contended with the
thunder; “hate me, for I hate you--I hate all things that live--all
things that are dead--I am myself hated and hateful!”--“Not by me,” said
the poor Indian, feeling, through the blindness of her tears, for his
averted hand. “Yes, by you, if you knew whose I am, and whom I serve.”
Immalee aroused her newly-excited energies of heart and intellect to
answer this appeal. “Who you are, I know not--but I am yours.--Whom you
serve, I know not--but him will _I_ serve--I will be yours for ever.
Forsake me if you will, but when I am dead, come back to this isle, and
say to yourself, The roses have bloomed and faded--the streams have
flowed and been dried up--the rocks have been removed from their
places--and the lights of heaven have altered in their courses,--but
there was one who never changed, and she is not here!”

“As she spoke the enthusiasm of passion struggling with grief, she
added, “You have told me you possess the happy art of writing
thought.--Do not write one thought on my grave, for one word traced by
your hand would revive me. Do not weep, for one tear would make me live
again, perhaps to draw a tear from you.”--“Immalee!” said the stranger.
The Indian looked up, and, with a mingled feeling of grief, amazement,
and compunction, beheld him shed tears. The next moment he dashed them
away with the hand of despair; and, grinding his teeth, burst into that
wild shriek of bitter and convulsive laughter that announces the object
of its derision is ourselves.

“Immalee, whose feelings were almost exhausted, trembled in silence at
his feet. “Hear me, wretched girl!” he cried in tones that seemed
alternately tremulous with malignity and compassion, with habitual
hostility and involuntary softness; “hear me! I know the secret
sentiment you struggle with better than the innocent heart of which it
is the inmate knows it. Suppress, banish, destroy it. Crush it as you
would a young reptile before its growth had made it loathsome to the
eye, and poisonous to existence!”--“I never crushed even a reptile in my
life,” answered Immalee, unconscious that this matter-of-fact answer was
equally applicable in another sense. “You love, then,” said the
stranger; “but,” after a long and ominous pause, “do you know whom it is
you love?”--“You!” said the Indian, with that purity of truth that
consecrates the impulse it yields to, and would blush more for the
sophistications of art than the confidence of nature; “you! You have
taught me to think, to feel, and to weep.”--“And you love me for this?”
said her companion, with an expression half irony, half commiseration.
“Think, Immalee, for a moment, how unsuitable, how unworthy, is the
object of the feelings you lavish on him. A being unattractive in his
form, repulsive in his habits, separated from life and humanity by a
gulph impassable; a disinherited child of nature, who goes about to
curse or to tempt his more prosperous brethren; one who----what
withholds me from disclosing all?”

“At this moment a flash of such vivid and terrific brightness as no
human sight could sustain, gleamed through the ruins, pouring through
every fissure instant and intolerable light. Immalee, overcome by terror
and emotion, remained on her knees, her hands closely clasped over her
aching eyes.

“For a few moments that she remained thus, she thought she heard other
sounds near her, and that the stranger was answering a voice that spoke
to him. She heard him say, as the thunder rolled to a distance, “This
hour is mine, not thine--begone, and trouble me not.” When she looked up
again, all trace of human emotion was gone from his expression. The dry
and burning eye of despair that he fixed on her, seemed never to have
owned a tear; the hand with which he grasped her, seemed never to have
felt the flow of blood, or the throb of a pulse; amid the intense and
increasing heat of an atmosphere that appeared on fire, its touch was as
cold as that of the dead.

“Mercy!” cried the trembling Indian, as she in vain endeavoured to read
a human feeling in those eyes of stone, to which her own tearful and
appealing ones were uplifted--“mercy!” And while she uttered the word,
she knew not what she deprecated or dreaded.

“The stranger answered not a word, relaxed not a muscle; it seemed as if
he felt her not with the hands that grasped her,--as if he saw her not
with the eyes that glared fixedly and coldly on her. He bore, or rather
dragged, her to the vast arch that had once been the entrance to the
pagoda, but which, now shattered and ruinous, resembled more the
gulphing yawn of a cavern that harbours the inmates of the desert, than
a work wrought by the hands of man, and devoted to the worship of a
deity. “You have called for mercy,” said her companion, in a voice that
froze her blood even under the burning atmosphere, whose air she could
scarce respire. “You have cried for mercy, and mercy you shall have.
Mercy has not been dealt to me, but I have courted my horrible destiny,
and my reward is just and sure. Look forth, trembler--look forth,--I
command thee!” And he stamped with an air of authority and impatience
that completed the terror of the delicate and impassioned being who
shuddered in his grasp, and felt half-dead at his frown.

“In obedience to his command, she removed the long tresses of her auburn
hair, which had vainly swept, in luxuriant and fruitless redundance, the
rock on which the steps of him she adored had been fixed. With that
mixture of the docility of the child, and the mild submission of woman,
she attempted to comply with his demand, but her eyes, filled with
tears, could not encounter the withering horrors of the scene before
her. She wiped those brilliant eyes with hairs that were every day
bathed in the pure and crystal lymph, and seemed, as she tried to gaze
on the desolation, like some bright and shivering spirit, who, for its
further purification, or perhaps for the enlargement of the knowledge
necessary for its destination, is compelled to witness some evidence of
the Almighty’s wrath, unintelligible in its first operations, but
doubtless salutary in its final results.

“Thus looking and thus feeling, Immalee shudderingly approached the
entrance of that building, which, blending the ruins of nature with
those of art, seemed to announce the power of desolation over both, and
to intimate that the primeval rock, untouched and unmodulated by human
hands, and thrown upwards perhaps by some volcanic eruption, perhaps
deposited there by some meteoric discharge, and the gigantic columns of
stone, whose erection had been the work of two centuries,--were alike
dust beneath the feet of that tremendous conqueror, whose victories
alone are without noise and without resistance, and the progress of
whose triumph is marked by tears instead of blood.

“Immalee, as she gazed around her, felt, for the first time, terror at
the aspect of nature. Formerly, she had considered all its phenomena as
equally splendid or terrific. And her childish, though active
imagination, seemed to consecrate alike the sun-light and the storm, to
the devotion of a heart, on whose pure altar the flowers and the fires
of nature flung their undivided offering.

“But since she had seen the stranger, new emotions had pervaded her
young heart. She learned to weep and to fear; and perhaps she saw, in
the fearful aspect of the heavens, the developement of that mysterious
terror, which always trembles at the bottom of the hearts of those who
dare to love.

“How often does nature thus become an involuntary interpreter between us
and our feelings! Is the murmur of the ocean without a meaning?--Is the
roll of the thunder without a voice?--Is the blasted spot on which the
rage of both has been exhausted without its lesson?--Do not they all
tell us some mysterious secret, which we have in vain searched our
hearts for?--Do we not find in them, an answer to those questions with
which we are for ever importuning the mute oracle of our destiny?--Alas!
how deceitful and inadequate we feel the language of man, after love and
grief have made us acquainted with that of nature!--the only one,
perhaps, capable of a corresponding sign for those emotions, under which
all human expression faints. What a difference between _words without
meaning_, and that _meaning without words_, which the sublime phenomena
of nature, the rocks and the ocean, the moon and the twilight, convey to
those who have “ears to hear.”

“How eloquent of truth is nature in her very silence! How fertile of
reflections amid her profoundest desolations! But the desolation now
presented to the eyes of Immalee, was that which is calculated to cause
terror, not reflection. Earth and heaven, the sea and the dry land,
seemed mingling together, and about to replunge into chaos. The ocean,
deserting its eternal bed, dashed its waves, whose white surf gleamed
through the darkness, far into the shores of the isle. They came on like
the crests of a thousand warriors, plumed and tossing in their pride,
and, like them, perishing in the moment of victory. There was a fearful
inversion of the natural appearance of earth and sea, as if all the
barriers of nature were broken, and all her laws reversed.

“The waves deserting their station, left, from time to time, the sands
as dry as those of the desert; and the trees and shrubs tossed and
heaved in ceaseless agitation, like the waves of a midnight storm. There
was no light, but a livid grey that sickened the eye to behold, except
when the bright red lightning burst out like the eye of a fiend,
glancing over the work of ruin, and closing as it beheld it completed.

“Amid this scene stood two beings, one whose appealing loveliness seemed
to have found favour with the elements even in their wrath, and one
whose fearless and obdurate eye appeared to defy them. “Immalee,” he
cried, “is this a place or an hour to talk of love!--all nature is
appalled--heaven is dark--the animals have hid themselves--and the very
shrubs, as they wave and shrink, seem alive with terror.”--“It is an
hour to implore protection,” said the Indian, clinging to him timidly.
“Look up,” said the stranger, while his own fixed and fearless eye
seemed to return flash for flash to the baffled and insulted elements;
“Look up, and if you cannot resist the impulses of your heart, let me at
least point out a fitter object for them. Love,” he cried, extending his
arm towards the dim and troubled sky, “love the storm in its might of
destruction--seek alliance with those swift and perilous travellers of
the groaning air,--the meteor that rends, and the thunder that shakes
it! Court, for sheltering tenderness, those masses of dense and rolling
cloud,--the baseless mountains of heaven! Woo the kisses of the fiery
lightnings, to quench themselves on your smouldering bosom! Seek all
that is terrible in nature for your companions and your lover!--woo them
to burn and blast you--perish in their fierce embrace, and you will be
happier, far happier, than if you lived in mine! _Lived!_--Oh who can be
mine and live! Hear me, Immalee!” he cried, while he held her hands
locked in his--while his eyes, rivetted on her, sent forth a light of
intolerable lustre--while a new feeling of indefinite enthusiasm seemed
for a moment to thrill his whole frame, and new-modulate the tone of his
nature; “Hear me! If you will be mine, it must be amid a scene like this
for ever--amid fire and darkness--amid hatred and despair--amid----” and
his voice swelling to a demoniac shriek of rage and horror, and his arms
extended, as if to grapple with the fearful objects of some imaginary
struggle, he was rushing from the arch under which they stood, lost in
the picture which his guilt and despair had drawn, and whose images he
was for ever doomed to behold.

“The slender form that had clung to him was, by this sudden movement,
prostrated at his feet; and, with a voice choaked with terror, yet with
that perfect devotedness which never issued but from the heart and lip
of woman, she answered his frightful questions with the simple demand,
“_Will you be there?_”--“Yes!--THERE I must be, and for ever! And _will_
you, and _dare_ you, be with me?” And a kind of wild and terrible energy
nerved his frame, and strengthened his voice, as he spoke and cowered
over pale and prostrate loveliness, that seemed in profound and reckless
humiliation to court its own destruction, as if a dove exposed its
breast, without flight or struggle, to the beak of a vulture. “Well,
then,” said the stranger, while a brief convulsion crossed his pale
visage, “amid thunder I wed thee--bride of perdition! mine shalt thou be
for ever! Come, and let us attest our nuptials before the reeling altar
of nature, with the lightnings of heaven for our bed-lights, and the
curse of nature for our marriage-benediction!” The Indian shrieked in
terror, not at his words, which she did not understand, but at the
expression which accompanied them. “Come,” he repeated, “while the
darkness yet is witness to our ineffable and eternal union.” Immalee,
pale, terrified, but resolute, retreated from him.

“At this moment the storm, which had obscured the heavens and ravaged
the earth, passed away with the rapidity common in those climates, where
the visitation of an hour does its work of destruction unimpeded, and is
instantly succeeded by the smiling lights and brilliant skies of which
mortal curiosity in vain asks the question, Whether they gleam in
triumph or in consolation over the mischief they witness?

“As the stranger spoke, the clouds passed away, carrying their
diminished burden of wrath and terror where sufferings were to be
inflicted, and terrors to be undergone, by the natives of other
climes--and the bright moon burst forth with a glory unknown in European
climes. The heavens were as blue as the waves of the ocean, which they
seemed to reflect; and the stars burst forth with a kind of indignant
and aggravated brilliancy, as if they resented the usurpation of the
storm, and asserted the eternal predominance of nature over the casual
influences of the storms that obscured her. Such, perhaps, will be the
developement of the moral world. We shall be told why we suffered, and
for what; but a bright and blessed lustre shall follow the storm, and
all shall yet be light.

“The young Indian caught from this object an omen alike auspicious to
her imagination and her heart. She burst from him--she rushed into the
light of nature, whose glory seemed like the promise of redemption,
gleaming amid the darkness of the fall. She pointed to the moon, that
sun of the eastern nights, whose broad and brilliant light fell like a
mantle of glory over rock and ruin, over tree and flower.

“Wed me by this light,” cried Immalee, “and I will be yours for ever!”
And her beautiful countenance reflected the full light of the glorious
planet that rode bright through the cloudless heaven--and her white and
naked arms, extended towards it, seemed like two pure attesting pledges
of the union. “Wed me by this light,” she repeated, sinking on her
knees, “and I will be yours for ever!”

“As she spoke, the stranger approached, moved with what feelings no
mortal thought can discover. At that moment a trifling phenomenon
interfered to alter her destiny. A darkened cloud at that moment covered
the moon--it seemed as if the departed storm collected in wrathful haste
the last dark fold of its tremendous drapery, and was about to pass away
for ever.

“The eyes of the stranger flashed on Immalee the brightest rays of
mingled fondness and ferocity. He pointed to the darkness,--“WED ME BY
THIS LIGHT!” he exclaimed, “_and you shall be mine for ever and ever!_”
Immalee, shuddering at the grasp in which he held her, and trying in
vain to watch the expression of his countenance, yet felt enough of her
danger to tear herself from him. “Farewell for ever!” exclaimed the
stranger, as he rushed from her.

“Immalee, exhausted by emotion and terror, had fallen senseless on the
sands that filled the path to the ruined pagoda. He returned--he raised
her in his arms--her long dark hair streamed over them like the drooping
banners of a defeated army--her arms sunk down as if declining the
support they seemed to implore--her cold and colourless cheek rested on
his shoulder.

“Is she dead?” he murmured. “Well, be it so--let her perish--let her be
any thing _but mine_!” He flung his senseless burden on the sands, and
departed--nor did he ever revisit the island.



CHAPTER XIX.

    Que donne le monde aux siens plus souvent,
                                    Echo _Vent_.
    Que dois-je vaincre ici, sans jamais relacher,
                                    Echo _la chair_.
    Qui fit le cause des maux, qui me sont survenus,
                                    Echo _Venus_.
    Que faut dire après d’une telle infidelle,
                                    Echo _Fi d’elle_.

    _MAGDALENIADE, by Father Pierre de St Louis._


“Three years had elapsed since the parting of Immalee and the stranger,
when one evening the attention of some Spanish gentlemen, who were
walking in a public place in Madrid, was arrested by a figure that
passed them, habited in the dress of the country, (only without a
sword), and walking very slowly. They stopt by a kind of simultaneous
movement, and seemed to ask each other, with silent looks, what had been
the cause of the impression this person’s appearance had made on them.
There was nothing remarkable in his figure,--his demeanour was quiet; it
was the singular expression of his countenance which had struck them
with a sensation they could neither define or account for.

“As they paused, the person returned alone, and walking slowly--and they
again encountered that singular expression of the features, (the eyes
particularly), which no human glance could meet unappalled. Accustomed
to look on and converse with all things revolting to nature and to
man,--for ever exploring the mad-house, the jail, or the
Inquisition,--the den of famine, the dungeon of crime, or the death-bed
of despair,--his eyes had acquired a light and a language of their
own--a light that none could gaze on, and a language that few dare
understand.

“As he passed slowly by them, they observed two others whose attention
was apparently fixed on the same singular object, for they stood
pointing after him, and speaking to each other with gestures of strong
and obvious emotion. The curiosity of the groupe for once overcame the
restraint of Spanish reserve, and approaching the two cavaliers, they
inquired if the singular personage who had passed was not the subject of
their conversation, and the cause of the emotion which appeared to
accompany it. The others replied in the affirmative, and hinted at their
knowledge of circumstances in the character and history of that
extraordinary being that might justify even stronger marks of emotion at
his presence. This hint operated still more strongly on their
curiosity--the circle of listeners began to deepen. Some of them, it
appeared, had, or pretended to have, some information relative to this
extraordinary subject. And that kind of desultory conversation
commenced, whose principal ingredients are a plentiful proportion of
ignorance, curiosity, and fear, mingled with some small allowance of
information and truth;--that conversation, vague, unsatisfactory, but
not uninteresting, to which every speaker is welcome to contribute his
share of baseless report,--wild conjecture,--anecdote the more
incredible the better credited,--and conclusion the more falsely drawn
the more likely to carry home conviction.

“The conversation passed very much in language incoherent as this:--“But
why, if he be what he is described, what he is known to be,--why is he
not seized by order of government?--why is he not immured in the
Inquisition?”--“He has been often in the prison of the holy
office--oftener, perhaps, than the holy fathers wished,” said another.
“But it is a well-known fact, that whatever transpired on his
examination, he was liberated almost immediately.” Another added, “That
the stranger had been in almost every prison in Europe, but had always
contrived either to defeat or defy the power in whose grasp he appeared
to be inclosed,--and to be active in his purposes of mischief in the
remotest parts of Europe at the moment he was supposed to be expiating
them in others.” Another demanded, “If it was known to what country he
belonged?” and was answered, “He is said to be a native of Ireland--(a
country that no one knows, and which the natives are particularly
reluctant to dwell in from various causes)--and his name is Melmoth.”
The Spaniard had great difficulty in expressing the _theta_,
unpronounceable by continental lips. “Another, who had an appearance of
more intelligence than the rest, added the extraordinary fact of the
stranger’s being seen in various and distant parts of the earth within a
time in which no power merely human could be supposed to traverse
them--that his marked and fearful habit was every where to seek out the
most wretched, or the most profligate, of the community among which he
flung himself--what was his object in seeking them was unknown.”--“It is
well known,” said a deep-toned voice, falling on the ears of the
startled listeners like the toll of a strong but muffled bell,--“it is
well known both to him and them.”

“It was now twilight, but the eyes of all could distinguish the figure
of the stranger as he passed; and some even averred they could see the
ominous lustre of those eyes which never rose on human destiny but as
planets of woe. The groupe paused for some time to watch the retreat of
the figure that had produced on them the effect of the torpedo. It
departed slowly,--no one offered it molestation.

“I have heard,” said one of the company, “that a delicious music
precedes the approach of this person when his destined victim,--the
being whom he is permitted to tempt or to torture,--is about to appear
or to approach him. I have heard a strange tale of such music being
heard; and--Holy Mary be our guide! did you ever hear such
sounds?”--“Where--what?--” and the astonished listeners took off their
hats, unclasped their mantles, “opened their lips, and drew in their
breath,” in delicious ecstasy at the sounds that floated round them. “No
wonder,” said a young gallant of the party, “no wonder that such sounds
harbinger the approach of a being so heavenly. She deals with the good
spirits; and the blessed saints alone could send such music from above
to welcome her.” As he spoke, all eyes were turned to a figure, which,
though moving among a groupe of brilliant and attractive females,
appeared the only one among them on whom the eye could rest with pure
and undivided light and love. She did not catch observation--observation
caught her, and was proud of its prize.

“At the approach of a large party of females, there was all that anxious
and flattering preparation among the cavaliers,--all that eager
arrangement of capas, and hats, and plumes,--that characterized the
manners of a nation still half-feudal, and always gallant and
chivalrous. These preliminary movements were answered by corresponding
ones on the part of the fair and fatal host approaching. The creaking of
their large fans--the tremulous and purposely-delayed adjustment of
their floating veils, whose partial concealment flattered the
imagination beyond the most full and ostentatious disclosure of the
charms they seemed jealous of--the folds of the mantilla, of whose
graceful falls, and complicated manœuvres, and coquettish undulations,
the Spanish women know how to avail themselves so well--all these
announced an attack, which the cavaliers, according to the modes of
gallantry in that day (1683), were well prepared to meet and parry.

“But, amid the bright host that advanced against them, there was one
whose arms were not artificial, and the effect of whose singular and
simple attractions made a strong contrast to the studied arrangements of
her associates. If her fan moved, it was only to collect air--if she
arranged her veil, it was only to hide her face--if she adjusted her
mantilla, it was but to hide that form, whose exquisite symmetry defied
the voluminous drapery of even that day to conceal it. Men of the
loosest gallantry fell back as she approached, with involuntary awe--the
libertine who looked on her was half-converted--the susceptible beheld
her as one who realized that vision of imagination that must never be
embodied here--and the unfortunate as one whose sight alone was
consolation--the old, as they gazed on her, dreamt of their youth--and
the young for the first time dreamt of love--the only love which
deserves the name--that which purity alone can inspire, and perfect
purity alone can reward.

“As she mingled among the gay groupes that filled the place, one might
observe a certain air that distinguished her from every female
there,--not by pretension to superiority, (of that her unequalled
loveliness must have acquitted her, even to the vainest of the groupe),
but by an untainted, unsophisticated character, diffusing itself over
look and motion, and even thought--turning wildness into grace--giving
an emphasis to a single exclamation, that made polished sentences sound
trifling--for ever trespassing against etiquette with vivid and fearless
enthusiasm, and apologizing the next moment with such timid and graceful
repentance, that one doubted whether the offence or the apology were
most delightful.

“She presented altogether a singular contrast to the measured tones, the
mincing gait, and the organized uniformity of dress, and manner, and
look, and feeling, of the females about her. The harness of art was upon
every limb and feature from their birth, and its trappings concealed or
crippled every movement which nature had designed for graceful. But in
the movement of this young female, there was a bounding elasticity, a
springiness, a luxuriant and conscious vitality, that made every action
the expression of thought; and then, as she shrunk from the disclosure,
made it the more exquisite interpreter of feeling. There was around her
a mingled light of innocence and majesty, never united but in _her_ sex.
Men may long retain, and even confirm, the character of power which
nature has stamped on their frames, but they very soon forfeit their
claim to the expression of innocence.

“Amid the vivid and eccentric graces of a form that seemed like a comet
in the world of beauty, bound by no laws, or by laws that she alone
understood and obeyed, there was a shade of melancholy, that, to a
superficial observer, seemed transitory and assumed, perhaps as a
studied relief to the glowing colours of a picture so brilliant, but
which, to other eyes, announced, that with all the energies of intellect
occupied,--with all the instincts of sense excited,--the heart had as
yet no inmate, and wanted one.

“The groupe who had been conversing about the stranger, felt their
attention irresistibly attracted by this object; and the low murmur of
their fearful whispers was converted into broken exclamations of delight
and wonder, as the fair vision passed them. She had not long done so,
when the stranger was seen slowly returning, seeming, as before, known
to all, but knowing none. As the female party turned, they encountered
him. His emphatic glance selected and centered in one alone. She saw him
too, recognized him, and, uttering a wild shriek, fell on the earth
senseless.

“The tumult occasioned by this accident, which so many witnessed, and
none knew the cause of, for some moments drew off the attention of all
from the stranger--all were occupied either in assisting or inquiring
after the lady who had fainted. She was borne to her carriage by more
assistants than she needed or wished for--and just as she was lifted
into it, the voice of some one near her uttered the word “Immalee!” She
recognized the voice, and turned, with a look of anguish and a feeble
cry, towards the direction from which it proceeded. Those around her had
heard the sound,--but as they did not understand its meaning, or know to
whom it was addressed, they ascribed the lady’s emotion to
indisposition, and hastened to place her in her carriage. It drove away,
but the stranger pursued its course with his eyes--the company
dispersed, he remained alone--twilight faded into darkness--he appeared
not to notice the change--a few still continued lingering at the
extremity of the walk to mark him--they were wholly unmarked by him.

“One who remained the longest said, that he saw him use the action of
one who wipes away a tear hastily. To his eyes the tear of penitence was
denied for ever. Could this have been the tear of passion? If so, how
much woe did it announce to its object!



CHAPTER XX.

    Oh what was love made for, if ’tis not the same
    Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame!
    I know not, I ask not, what guilt’s in thine heart,
    I but know I must love thee, whatever thou art.

    MOORE.


“The next day, the young female who had excited so much interest the
preceding evening, was to quit Madrid, to pass a few weeks at a villa
belonging to her family, at a short distance from the city. That family,
including all the company, consisted of her mother Donna Clara di
Aliaga, the wife of a wealthy merchant, who was monthly expected to
return from the Indies; her brother Don Fernan di Aliaga, and several
servants; for these wealthy citizens, conscious of their opulence and
formerly high descent, piqued themselves upon travelling with no less
ceremony and pompous tardiness than accompanied the progress of a
grandee. So the old square-built, lumbering carriage, moved on like a
hearse; the coachman sat fast asleep on the box; and the six black
horses crawled at a pace like the progress of time when he visits
affliction. Beside the carriage rode Fernan di Aliaga and his servants,
with umbrellas and huge spectacles; and within it were placed Donna
Clara and her daughter. The interior of this arrangement was the
counterpart of its external appearance,--all announced dullness,
formality, and withering monotony.

“Donna Clara was a woman of a cold and grave temper, with all the
solemnity of a Spaniard, and all the austerity of a bigot. Don Fernan
presented that union of fiery passion and saturnic manners not unusual
among Spaniards. His dull and selfish pride was wounded by the
recollection of his family having been in trade; and, looking on the
unrivalled beauty of his sister as a possible means of his obtaining an
alliance with a family of rank, he viewed her with that kind of selfish
partiality as little honourable to him who feels it, as to her who was
its object.

“And it was amid such beings that the vivid and susceptible Immalee, the
daughter of nature, “the gay creature of the elements,” was doomed to
wither away the richly-coloured and exquisitely-scented flower of an
existence so ungenially transplanted. Her singular destiny seemed to
have removed her from a physical wilderness, to place her in a moral
one. And, perhaps, her last state was worse than her first.

“It is certain that the gloomiest prospect presents nothing so chilling
as the aspect of human faces, in which we try in vain to trace one
corresponding expression; and the sterility of nature itself is luxury
compared to the sterility of human hearts, which communicate all the
desolation they feel.

“They had been some time on their way, when Donna Clara, who never spoke
till after a long preface of silence, perhaps to give what she said a
weight it might otherwise have wanted, said, with oracular deliberation,
“Daughter, I hear you fainted in the public walks last night--did you
meet with any thing that surprised or terrified you?”--“No,
Madam.”--“What, then, could be the cause of the emotion you betrayed at
the sight, as I am told--I know nothing--of a personage of extraordinary
demeanour?”--“Oh, I cannot, dare not tell!” said Isidora, dropping her
veil over her burning cheek. Then the irrepressible ingenuousness of her
former nature, rushing over her heart and frame like a flood, she sunk
from the cushion on which she sat at Donna Clara’s feet, exclaiming,
“Oh, mother, I will tell you all!”--“No!” said Donna Clara, repelling
her with a cold feeling of offended pride; “no!--there is no occasion. I
seek no confidence withheld and bestowed in the same breath; nor do I
like these violent emotions--they are unmaidenly. Your duties as a child
are easily understood--they are merely perfect obedience, profound
submission, and unbroken silence, except when you are addressed by me,
your brother, or Father Jose. Surely no duties were ever more easily
performed--rise, then, and cease to weep. If your conscience disturbs
you, accuse yourself to Father Jose, who will, no doubt, inflict a
penance proportioned to the enormity of your offence. I trust only he
will not err on the side of indulgence.” And so saying, Donna Clara, who
had never uttered so long a speech before, reclined back on her cushion,
and began to tell her beads with much devotion, till the arrival of the
carriage at its destination awoke her from a profound and peaceful
sleep.

“It was near noon, and dinner in a cool low apartment near the garden
awaited only the approach of Father Jose, the confessor. He arrived
at length. He was a man of an imposing figure, mounted on a stately
mule. His features, at first view, bore strong traces of thought;
but, on closer examination, those traces seemed rather the result of
physical conformation, than of any intellectual exercise. The channel
was open, but the stream had not been directed there. However, though
defective in education, and somewhat narrow in mind, Father Jose was
a good man, and meant well. He loved power, and he was devoted to
the interests of the Catholic church; but he had frequently doubts,
(which he kept to himself), of the absolute necessity of celibacy,
and he felt (strange effect!) a chill all over him when he heard of
the fires of an _auto da fe_. Dinner was concluded; the fruit and
wine, the latter untasted by the females, were on the table,--the
choicest of them placed before Father Jose,--when Isidora, after a
profound reverence to her mother and the priest, retired, as usual,
to her apartment. Donna Clara turned to the confessor with a look
that demanded to be answered. “It is her hour for siesta,” said the
priest, helping himself to a bunch of grapes. “No, Father, no!” said
Donna Clara sadly; “her maid informs me she does not retire to sleep.
She was, alas! too well accustomed to that burning climate where she
was lost in her infancy, to feel the heat as a Christian should. No,
she retires neither to pray or sleep, after the devout custom of
Spanish women, but, I fear, to”---- “To do what?” said the priest,
with horror in his voice--“To think, I fear,” said Donna Clara; “for
often I observe, on her return, the traces of tears on her face. I
tremble, Father, lest those tears be shed for that heathen land, that
region of Satan, where her youth was past.”--“I’ll give her a penance,”
said Father Jose, “that will save her the trouble of shedding tears
on the score of memory at least--these grapes are delicious.”--“But,
Father,” pursued Donna Clara, with all the weak but restless anxiety of
a superstitious mind, “though you have made me easy on that subject,
I still am wretched. Oh, Father, how she will talk sometimes!--like a
creature self-taught, that needed neither director or confessor but
her own heart.”--“How!” exclaimed Father Jose, “need neither confessor
or director!--she must be beside herself.”--“Oh, Father,” continued
Donna Clara, “she will say things in her mild and unanswerable manner,
that, armed with all my authority, I”---- “How--how is that?” said the
priest, in a tone of severity--“does she deny any of the tenets of the
holy Catholic church?”--“No! no! no!” said the terrified Donna Clara
crossing herself. “How then?”--“Why, she speaks in a manner in which
I never heard you, reverend Father, or any of the reverend brethren,
whom my devotion to the holy church has led me to hear, speak before.
It is in vain I tell her that true religion consists in hearing
mass--in going to confession--in performing penance--in observing
the fasts and vigils--in undergoing mortification and abstinence--in
believing all that the holy church teaches--and hating, detesting,
abhorring, and execrating----” “Enough, daughter--enough,” said Father
Jose; “there can be no doubt of the orthodoxy of your creed?”--“I
trust not, holy Father,” said the anxious Donna Clara. “I were an
infidel to doubt it,” interposed the priest; “I might as well deny
this fruit to be exquisite, or this glass of Malaga to be worthy the
table of his Holiness the Pope, if he feasted all the Cardinals. But
how, daughter, as touching the supposed or apprehended defalcations
in Donna Isidora’s creed?”--“Holy Father, I have already explained my
own religious sentiments.”--“Yes--yes--we have had enough of them; now
for your daughter’s.”--“She will sometimes say,” said Donna Clara,
bursting into tears--“she will say, but never till greatly urged, that
religion ought to be a system whose spirit was universal love. Do you
understand any thing of that, Father?”--“Humph--humph!”--“That it must
be something that bound all who professed it to habits of benevolence,
gentleness, and humility, under every difference of creed and of
form.”--“Humph--humph!”--“Father,” said Donna Clara, a little piqued
at the apparent indifference with which Father Jose listened to her
communications, and resolved to rouse him by some terrific evidence of
the truth of her suspicions, “Father, I have heard her dare to express
a hope that the heretics in the train of the English ambassador might
not be everlastingly”---- “Hush!--I must not hear such sounds, or it
might be my duty to take severer notice of these lapses. However,
daughter,” continued Father Jose, “thus far I will venture for your
consolation. As sure as this fine peach is in my hand--another, if you
please--and as sure as I shall finish this other glass of Malaga”--here
a long pause attested the fulfilment of the pledge--“so sure”--and
Father Jose turned the inverted glass on the table--“Madonna Isidora
has--has the elements of a Christian in her, however improbable it may
seem to you--I swear it to you by the habit I wear;--for the rest, a
little penance--a----I shall consider of it. And now, daughter, when
your son Don Fernan has finished his siesta,--as there is no reason to
suspect him of retiring to _think_,--please to inform him I am ready to
continue the game of chess which we commenced four months ago. I have
pushed my pawn to the last square but one, and the next step gives me
a queen.”--“Has the game continued so long?” said Donna Clara. “Long!”
repeated the priest, “Aye, and may continue much longer--we have never
played more than three hours a-day on an average.”

“He then retired to sleep, and the evening was passed by the priest and
Don Fernan, in profound silence at their chess--by Donna Clara, in
silence equally profound, at her tapestry--and by Isidora at the
casement, which the intolerable heat had compelled them to leave open,
in gazing at the lustre of the moon, and inhaling the odour of the
tube-rose, and watching the expanding leaves of the night-blowing
cereus. The physical luxuries of her former existence seemed renewed by
these objects. The intense blue of the heavens, and the burning planet
that stood in sole glory in their centre, might have vied with all that
lavish and refulgent opulence of light in which nature arrays an Indian
night. Below, too, there were flowers and fragrance; colours, like
veiled beauty, mellowed, not hid; and dews that hung on every leaf,
trembling and sparkling like the tears of spirits, that wept to take
leave of the flowers.

“The breeze, indeed, though redolent of the breath of the orange
blossom, the jasmine, and the rose, had not the rich and balmy odour
that scents the Indian air by night.

    Ενθα νησον μακαρων Αυραι περιπνεουσιν.

“Except this, what was not there that might not renew the delicious
dream of her former existence, and make her believe herself again the
queen of that fairy isle?--One image was wanting--an image whose absence
made that paradise of islands, and all the odorous and flowery luxury of
a moonlight garden in Spain, alike deserts to her. In her heart alone
could she hope to meet that image,--to herself alone did she dare to
repeat his name, and those wild and sweet songs of his country(20) which
he had taught her in his happier moods. And so strange was the contrast
between her former and present existence,--so subdued was she by
constraint and coldness,--so often had she been told that every thing
she did, said, or thought, was wrong,--that she began to yield up the
evidences of her senses, to avoid the perpetual persecutions of teazing
and imperious mediocrity, and considered the appearance of the stranger
as one of those visions that formed the trouble and joy of her dreamy
and illusive existence.

  (20) Ireland.

“I am surprised, sister,” said Fernan, whom Father Jose’s gaining his
queen had put in unusually bad humour--“I am surprised that you never
busy yourself, as young maidens use, at your needle, or in some quaint
niceties of your sex.”--“Or in reading some devout book,” said Donna
Clara, raising her eyes one moment from her tapestry, and then dropping
them again; “there is the legend of that (21)Polish saint, born, like
_her_, in a land of darkness, yet chosen to be a vessel----I have
forgot his name, reverend Father.”--“Check to the king,” said Father
Jose in reply. “You regard nothing but watching a few flowers, or
hanging over your lute, or gazing at the moon,” continued Fernan, vexed
alike at the success of his antagonist and the silence of Isidora. “She
is eminent in alms-deeds and works of charity,” said the good-natured
priest. “I was summoned to a miserable hovel near your villa, Madonna
Clara, to a dying sinner, a beggar rotting on rotten straw!”--“Jesu!”
cried Donna Clara with involuntary horror, “I washed the feet of
thirteen beggars, on my knees in my father’s hall, the week before my
marriage with her honoured father, and I never could abide the sight
of a beggar since.”--“Associations are sometimes indelibly strong,”
said the priest drily;--then he added, “I went as was my duty, but your
daughter was there before me. She had gone uncalled, and was uttering
the sweetest words of consolation from a homily, which a certain poor
priest, who shall be nameless, had lent her from his humble store.”

  (21) I have read the legend of this Polish saint, which is circulated
  in Dublin, and find recorded among the indisputable proofs of his
  vocation, that he infallibly swooned if an indecent expression was
  uttered in his presence--_when in his nurse’s arms!_

“Isidora blushed at this anonymous vanity, while she mildly smiled or
wept at the harassings of Don Fernan, and the heartless austerity of
her mother. “I heard her as I entered the hovel; and, by the habit
I wear, I paused on the threshold with delight. Her first words
were----Check-mate!” he exclaimed, forgetting his homily in his
triumph, and pointing, with appealing eye, and emphatic finger, to the
desperate state of his adversary’s king. “That was a very extraordinary
exclamation!” said the literal Donna Clara, who had never raised her
eyes from her work.--“I did not think my daughter was so fond of chess
as to burst into the house of a dying beggar with such a phrase in her
mouth.”--“It was I said it, Madonna,” said the priest, reverting to his
game, on which he hung with soul and eye intent on his recent victory.
“Holy saints!” said Donna Clara, still more and more perplexed, “I
thought the usual phrase on such occasions was _pax vobiscum_, or”----
Before Father Jose could reply, a shriek from Isidora pierced the ears
of every one. All gathered round her in a moment, reinforced by four
female attendants and two pages, whom the unusual sound had summoned
from the antichamber. Isidora had not fainted; she still stood among
them pale as death, speechless, her eye wandering round the groupe that
encircled her, without seeming to distinguish them. But she retained
that presence of mind which never deserts woman where a secret is
to be guarded, and she neither pointed with finger, or glanced with
eye, towards the casement, where the cause of her alarm had presented
itself. Pressed with a thousand questions, she appeared incapable of
answering them, and, declining assistance, leaned against the casement
for support.

“Donna Clara was now advancing with measured step to proffer a bottle of
curious essences, which she drew from a pocket of a depth beyond
calculation, when one of the female attendants, aware of her favourite
habits, proposed reviving her by the scent of the flowers that clustered
round the frame of the casement; and collecting a handful of roses,
offered them to Isidora. The sight and scent of these beautiful flowers,
revived the former associations of Isidora; and, waving away her
attendant, she exclaimed, “There are no roses like those which
surrounded me when he beheld me first!”--“He!--who, daughter?” said the
alarmed Donna Clara. “Speak, I charge you, sister,” said the irritable
Fernan, “to whom do you allude?”--“She raves,” said the priest, whose
habitual penetration discovered there was a secret,--and whose
professional jealousy decided that no one, not mother or brother, should
share it with him; “she raves--ye are to blame--forbear to hang round
and to question her. Madonna, retire to rest, and the saints watch round
your bed!” Isidora, bending thankfully for this permission, retired to
her apartment; and father Jose for an hour appeared to contend with the
suspicious fears of Donna Clara, and the sullen irritability of Fernan,
merely that he might induce them, in the heat of controversy, to betray
all they knew or dreaded, that he might strengthen his own conjectures,
and establish his own power by the discovery.

    “Scire volunt secreta domus, et inde timeri.”

And this desire is not only natural but necessary, in a being from whose
heart his profession has torn every tie of nature and of passion; and if
it generates malignity, ambition, and the wish for mischief, it is the
system, not the individual, we must blame.

“Madonna,” said the Father, “you are always urging your zeal for the
Catholic church--and you, Senhor, are always reminding me of the honour
of your family--I am anxious for both--and how can the interests of both
be better secured than by Donna Isidora taking the veil?”--“The wish of
my soul!” cried Donna Clara, clasping her hands, and closing her eyes,
as if she witnessed her daughter’s apotheosis. “I will never hear of it,
Father,” said Fernan; “my sister’s beauty and wealth entitle _me_ to
claim alliance with the first families in Spain--their baboon shapes and
copper-coloured visages might be redeemed for a century by such a graft
on the stock, and the blood of which they boast would not be
impoverished by a transfusion of the _aurum potabile_ of ours into
it.”--“You forget, son,” said the priest, “the extraordinary
circumstances attendant on the early part of your sister’s life. There
are many of our Catholic nobility who would rather see the black blood
of the banished Moors, or the proscribed Jews, flow in the veins of
their descendants, than that of one who”---- Here a mysterious whisper
drew from Donna Clara a shudder of distress and consternation, and from
her son an impatient motion of angry incredulity. “I do not credit a
word of it,” said the latter; “you wish that my sister should take the
veil, and therefore you credit and circulate the monstrous
invention.”--“Take heed, son, I conjure you,” said the trembling Donna
Clara. “Take you heed, Madam, that you do not sacrifice your daughter to
an unfounded and incredible fiction.”--“Fiction!” repeated Father
Jose--“Senhor, I forgive your illiberal reflections on me,--but let me
remind you, that the same immunity will not be extended to the insult
you offer to the Catholic faith.”--“Reverend Father,” said the terrified
Fernan, “the Catholic church has not a more devoted and unworthy
professor on earth than myself.”--“I do believe the latter,” said the
priest. “You admit all that the holy church teaches to be irrefragably
true?”--“To be sure I do.”--“Then you must admit that the islands in the
Indian seas are particularly under the influence of the devil?”--“I do,
if the church requires me so to believe.”--“And that he possessed a
peculiar sway over that island where your sister was lost in her
infancy?”--“I do not see how that follows,” said Fernan, making a sudden
stand at this premise of the Sorites. “Not see how that follows!”
repeated Father Jose, crossing himself;

    “Excæcavit oculos eorum ne viderent.

But why waste I my Latin and logic on thee, who art incapable of both?
Mark me, I will use but one unanswerable argument, the which whoso
gainsayeth is a--gainsayer--that’s all. The Inquisition at Goa knows the
truth of what I have asserted, and who will dare deny it now?”--“Not
I!--not I!” exclaimed Donna Clara; “nor, I am sure, will this stubborn
boy. Son, I adjure you, make haste to believe what the reverend Father
has told you.”--“I am believing as fast as I can,” answered Don Fernan,
in the tone of one who is reluctantly swallowing a distasteful mess;
“but my faith will be choaked if you don’t allow it time to swallow. As
for digestion,” he muttered, “let that come when it pleases
God.”--“Daughter,” said the priest, who well knew the _mollia tempora
fandi_, and saw that the sullen and angry Fernan could not well bear
more at present; “daughter, it is enough--we must lead with gentleness
those whose steps find stumbling-blocks in the paths of grace. Pray with
me, daughter, that your son’s eyes may yet be opened to the glory and
felicity of his sister’s vocation to a state where the exhaustless
copiousness of divine benignity places the happy inmates above all those
mean and mundane anxieties, those petty and local wants,
which----Ah!--hem--verily I feel some of those wants myself at this
moment. I am hoarse with speaking; and the intense heat of this night
hath so exhausted my strength, that methinks the wing of a partridge
would be no unseasonable refreshment.”

“At a sign from Donna Clara, a salver with wine appeared, and a
partridge that might have provoked the French prelate to renew his meal
once more, spite of his horror of _toujours perdrix_. “See, daughter,
see how much I am exhausted in this distressing controversy--well may I
say, the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”--“Then you and the zeal
of the house will soon be _quit_,” muttered Fernan as he retired. And
drawing the folds of his mantle over his shoulder, he threw a glance of
wonder at the happy facility with which the priest discussed the wings
and breast of his favourite bird,--whispering alternately words of
admonition to Donna Clara, and muttering something about the omission of
pimento and lemon.

“Father,” said Don Fernan, stalking back from the door, and fronting
the priest--“Father, I have a favour to ask of you.”--“Glad, were
it in my power to comply with it,” said Father Jose, turning over
the skeleton of the fowl; “but you see here is only the thigh, and
that somewhat bare.”--“It is not of that I speak or think, reverend
Father,” said Fernan, with a smile; “I have but to request, that you
will not renew the subject of my sister’s vocation till the return
of my father.”--“Certainly not, son, certainly not. Ah! you know the
time to ask a favour--you know I never could refuse you at a moment
like this, when my heart is warmed, and softened, and expanded,
by--by--by the evidences of your contrition and humiliation, and all
that your devout mother, and your zealous spiritual friend, could hope
or wish for. In truth, it overcomes me--these tears--I do not often
weep but on occasions like these, and then I weep abundantly, and am
compelled to recruit my lack of moisture thus.”--“Fetch more wine,”
said Donna Clara.--The order was obeyed.--“Good night, Father,” said
Don Fernan.--“The saints watch round you, my son! Oh I am exhausted!--I
sink in this struggle! The night is hot, and requires wine to slake my
thirst--and wine is a provocative, and requires food to take away its
deleterious and damnable qualities--and food, especially partridge,
which is a hot and stimulative nutritive, requires drink again to
absorb or neutralize its exciting qualities. Observe me, Donna Clara--I
speak as to the learned. There is stimulation, and there is absorption;
the causes of which are manifold, and the effects such as----I am not
bound to tell you at present.”--“Reverend Father,” said the admiring
Donna Clara, not guessing, in the least, from what source all this
eloquence flowed, “I trespassed on your time merely to ask a favour
also.”--“Ask and ’tis granted,” said Father Jose, with a protrusion of
his foot as proud as that of Sixtus himself. “It is merely to know,
will not all the inhabitants of those accursed Indian isles be damned
everlastingly?”--“Damned everlastingly, and without doubt,” returned
the priest. “Now my mind is easy,” rejoined the lady, “and I shall
sleep in peace to-night.”

“Sleep, however, did not visit her so soon as she expected, for an hour
after she knocked at Father Jose’s door, repeating, “Damned to all
eternity, Father, did you not say?”--“Be damned to all eternity!” said
the priest, tossing on his feverish bed, and dreaming, in the intervals
of his troubled sleep, of Don Fernan coming to confession with a drawn
sword, and Donna Clara with a bottle of Xeres in her hand, which she
swallowed at a draught, while his parched lips were gaping for a drop in
vain,--and of the Inquisition being established in an island off the
coast of Bengal, and a huge partridge seated with a cap on at the end of
a table covered with black, as chief Inquisitor,--and various and
monstrous chimeras, the abortive births of repletion and indigestion.

“Donna Clara, catching only the last words, returned to her apartment
with light step and gladdened heart, and, full of pious consolation,
renewed her devotions before the image of the virgin in her apartment,
at each side of whose niche two wax tapers were burning, till the cool
morning breeze made it possible for her to retire with some hope of
rest.

“Isidora, in her apartment, was equally sleepless; and she, too, had
prostrated herself before the sacred image, but with different thoughts.
Her feverish and dreamy existence, composed of wild and irreconcileable
contrasts between the forms of the present, and the visions of the
past,--the difference between all that she felt within, and all that she
saw around her,--between the impassioned life of recollection, and the
monotonous one of reality,--was becoming too much for a heart bursting
with undirected sensibilities, and a head giddy from vicissitudes that
would have deeply tried much firmer faculties.

“She remained for some time repeating the usual number of ave’s, to
which she added the litany of the Virgin, without any corresponding
impulses of solace or illumination, till at length, feeling that her
prayers were not the expressions of her heart, and dreading this
heterodoxy of the heart more than the violation of the ritual, she
ventured to address the image of the Virgin in language of her own.

“Mild and beautiful Spirit!” she cried, prostrating herself before the
figure--“you whose lips alone have smiled on me since I reached your
Christian land,--you whose countenance I have sometimes imagined to
belong to those who dwelt in the stars of my own Indian sky,--hear me,
and be not angry with me! Let me lose all feeling of my present
existence, or all memory of the past! Why do my former thoughts return?
They once made me happy, now they are thorns in my heart! Why do they
retain their power since their nature is altered? I cannot be what I
was--Oh, let me then no longer remember it! Let me, if possible, see,
feel, and think as those around me do! Alas! I feel it is much easier to
descend to their level than to raise them to mine. Time, constraint, and
dullness, may do much for me, but what time could ever operate such a
change on them! It would be like looking for the pearls at the bottom of
the stagnant ponds which art has dug in their gardens. No, mother of the
Deity! divine and mysterious woman, no!--they never shall see another
throb of my burning heart. Let it consume in its own fires before a drop
of their cold compassion extinguishes them! Mother divine! are not
burning hearts, then, worthiest of thee?--and does not the love of
nature assimilate itself to the love of God! True, we may love without
religion, but can we be religious without love? Yet, mother divine! dry
up my heart, since there is no longer a channel for its streams to flow
through!--or turn all those streams into the river, narrow and cold,
that holds its course on to eternity! Why should I think or feel, since
life requires only duties that no feeling suggests, and apathy that no
reflection disturbs? Here let me rest!--it is indeed the end of
enjoyment, but it is also the end of suffering; and a thousand tears are
a price too dear for the single smile which is sold for them in the
commerce of life. Alas! it is better to wander in perpetual sterility
than to be tortured with the remembrance of flowers that have withered,
and odours that have died for ever.” Then a gush of uncontroulable
emotion overwhelming her, she again bowed before the Virgin. “Yes, help
me to banish every image from my soul but his--his alone! Let my heart
be like this lonely apartment, consecrated by the presence of one sole
image, and illuminated only by that light which affection kindles before
the object of its adoration, and worships it by for ever!”

“In an agony of enthusiasm she continued to kneel before the image; and
when she rose, the silence of her apartment, and the calm smile of the
celestial figure, seemed at once a contrast and a reproach to this
excess of morbid indulgence. That smile appeared to her like a frown. It
is certain, that in agitation we can feel no solace from features that
express only profound tranquillity. We would rather wish corresponding
agitation, even hostility--any thing but a calm that neutralizes and
absorbs us. It is the answer of the rock to the wave--we collect, foam,
dash, and disperse ourselves against it, and retire broken, shattered,
and murmuring to the echoes of our disappointment.

“From the tranquil and hopeless aspect of the divinity, smiling on the
misery it neither consoles or relieves, and intimating in that smile the
profound and pulseless apathy of inaccessible elevation, coldly hinting
that humanity must cease to be, before it can cease to suffer--from this
the sufferer rushed for consolation to nature, whose ceaseless agitation
seems to correspond with the vicissitudes of human destiny and the
emotions of the human heart--whose alternation of storms and calms,--of
clouds and sun-light,--of terrors and delights--seems to keep a kind of
mysterious measure of ineffable harmony with that instrument whose
chords are doomed alternately to the thrill of agony and rapture, till
the hand of death sweeps over all the strings, and silences them for
ever.--With such a feeling, Isidora leaned against her casement, gasped
for a breath of air, which the burning night did not grant, and thought
how, on such a night in her Indian isle, she could plunge into the
stream shaded by her beloved tamarind, or even venture amid the still
and silvery waves of the ocean, laughing at the broken beams of the
moonlight, as her light form dimpled the waters--snatching with smiling
delight the brilliant, tortuous, and enamelled shells that seemed to woo
her white footsteps as she turned to the shore. Now all was different.
The duties of the bath had been performed, but with a parade of soaps,
perfumes, and, above all, attendants, who, though of her own sex, gave
Isidora an unspeakable degree of disgust at the operation. The sponges
and odours sickened her unsophisticated senses, and the presence of
another human being seemed to close up every pore.

“She had felt no refreshment from the bath, or from her prayers--she
sought it at her casement, but there also in vain. The moon was as
bright as the sun of colder climates, and the heavens were all in a
blaze with her light. She seemed like a gallant vessel ploughing the
bright and trackless ocean alone, while a thousand stars burned in the
wake of her quiet glory, like attendant vessels pursuing their course to
undiscovered worlds, and pointing them out to the mortal eye that
lingered on their course, and loved their light.

“Such was the scene above, but what a contrast to the scene below! The
glorious and unbounded light fell on an inclosure of stiff parterres,
cropped myrtles and orange-trees in tubs, and quadrangular ponds, and
bowers of trellis-work, and nature tortured a thousand ways, and
indignant and repulsive under her tortures every way.

“Isidora looked and wept. Tears had now become her language when
alone--it was a language she dared not utter before her family. Suddenly
she saw one of the moonlight alleys darkened by an approaching figure.
It advanced--it uttered her name--the name she remembered and loved--the
name of Immalee! “Ah!” she exclaimed, leaning from the casement, “is
there then one who recognizes me by that name?”--“It is only by that
name I can address you,” answered the voice of the stranger--“I have not
yet the honour of being acquainted with the name your Christian friends
have given you.”--“They call me Isidora, but do you still call me
Immalee. But how is it,” she added in a trembling voice,--her fears for
his safety overcoming all her sudden and innocent joy at his sight--“how
is it that you are here?--here, where no human being is ever beheld but
the inmates of the mansion--how did you cross the garden wall?--how did
you come from India? Oh! retire for your own safety! I am among those
whom I cannot trust or love. My mother is severe--my brother is violent.
Oh! how did you obtain entrance into the garden?--How is it,” she added
in a broken voice, “that you risk so much to see one whom you have
forgotten so long?”--“Fair Neophyte, beautiful Christian,” answered the
stranger, with a diabolical sneer, “be it known to you that I regard
bolts, and bars, and walls, as much as I did the breakers and rocks of
your Indian isle--that I can go where, and retire when I please, without
leave asked or taken of your brother’s mastiffs, or Toledos, or
spring-guns, and in utter defiance of your mother’s advanced guard of
duennas, armed in spectacles, and flanked with a double ammunition of
rosaries, with beads as large as----” “Hush!--hush!--do not utter such
impious sounds--I am taught to revere those holy things. But is it
you?--and did I indeed see you last night, or was it a thought such as
visits me in dreams, and wraps me again in visions of that beautiful and
blessed isle where first I----Oh that I never had seen you!”--“Lovely
Christian! be reconciled to your horrible destiny. You saw me last
night--I crossed your path twice when you were sparkling among the
brightest and most beautiful of all Madrid. It was me you saw--I
rivetted your eye--I transfixed your slender frame as with a flash of
lightning--you fell fainting and withered under my burning glance. It
was me you saw--me, the disturber of your angelical existence in that
isle of paradise--the hunter of your form and your steps, even amid the
complicated and artificial tracks in which you have been concealed by
the false forms of the existence you have embraced!”--“Embraced!--Oh no!
they seized on me--they dragged me here--they made me a Christian. They
told me all was for my salvation, for my happiness here and
hereafter--and I trust it will, for I have been so miserable ever since,
that I ought to be happy somewhere.”--“Happy,” repeated the stranger
with his withering sneer--“and are you not happy now? The delicacy of
your exquisite frame is no longer exposed to the rage of the
elements--the fine and feminine luxury of your taste is solicited and
indulged by a thousand inventions of art--your bed is of down--your
chamber hung with tapestry. Whether the moon be bright or dark, six wax
tapers burn in your chamber all night. Whether the skies be bright or
cloudy,--whether the earth be clothed with flowers, deformed with
tempests,--the art of the limner has surrounded you with “a new heaven
and a new earth;” and you may bask in suns that never set, while the
heavens are dark to other eyes,--and luxuriate amid landscapes and
flowers, while half your fellow-creatures are perishing amid snows and
tempests!” (Such was the overflowing acrimony of this being, that he
could not speak of the beneficence of nature, or the luxuries of art,
without interweaving something that seemed like a satire on, or a scorn
of both.) “You also have intellectual beings to converse with instead of
the chirpings of loxias, and the chatterings of monkeys.”--“I have not
found the conversation I encounter much more intelligible or
significant,” murmured Isidora, but the stranger did not appear to hear
her. “You are surrounded by every thing that can flatter the senses,
intoxicate the imagination, or expand the heart. All these indulgences
must make you forget the voluptuous but unrefined liberty of your former
existence.”--“The birds in my mother’s cages,” said Isidora, “are for
ever pecking at their gilded bars, and trampling on the clear seeds and
limpid water they are supplied with--would they not rather rest in the
mossy trunk of a doddered oak, and drink of whatever stream they met,
and be at liberty, at all the risk of poorer food and fouler
drink--would they not rather do any thing than break their bills against
gilded wires?”--“Then you do not feel your new existence in this
Christian land so likely to surfeit you with delight as you once
thought? For shame, Immalee--shame on your ingratitude and caprice! Do
you remember when from your Indian isle you caught a glimpse of the
Christian worship, and were entranced at the sight?”--“I remember all
that ever passed in that isle. My life formerly was all
anticipation,--now it is all retrospection. _The life of the happy is
all hopes,--that of the unfortunate all memory._ Yes, I remember
catching a glimpse of that religion so beautiful and pure; and when they
brought me to a Christian land, I thought I should have found them all
Christians.”--“And what did you find them, then, Immalee?”--“Only
Catholics.”--“Are you aware of the danger of the words you utter? Do you
know that in this country to hint a doubt of Catholicism and
Christianity being the same, would consign you to the flames as a
heretic incorrigible? Your mother, so lately known to you as a mother,
would bind your hands when the covered litter came for its victim; and
your father, though he has never yet beheld you, would buy with his last
ducat the faggots that were to consume you to ashes; and all your
relations in their gala robes would shout their hallelujahs to your
dying screams of torture. Do you know that the Christianity of these
countries is diametrically opposite to the Christianity of that world of
which you caught a gleam, and which you may see recorded in the pages of
your Bible, if you are permitted to read it?”

“Isidora wept, and confessed she had not found Christianity what
she had at first believed it; but with her wild and eccentric
ingenuousness, she accused herself the next moment of her
confession,--and she added, “I am so ignorant in this new world,--I
have so much to learn,--my senses so often deceive me,--and my habits
and perceptions so different from what they ought to be--I mean from
what those around me are--that I should not speak or think but as I
am taught. Perhaps, after some years of instruction and suffering, I
may be able to discover that happiness cannot exist in this new world,
and Christianity is not so remote from Catholicism as it appears to
me now.”--“And have you not found yourself happy in this new world
of intelligence and luxury?” said Melmoth, in a tone of involuntary
softness. “I have at times.”--“What times?”--“When the weary day
was over, and my dreams bore me back to that island of enchantment.
Sleep is to me like some bark rowed by visionary pilots, that wafts
me to shores of beauty and blessedness,--and all night long I revel
in my dreams with spirits. Again I live among flowers and odours--a
thousand voices sing to me from the brooks and the breezes--the air
is all alive and eloquent with invisible melodists--I walk amid a
breathing atmosphere, and living and loving inanimation--blossoms that
shed themselves beneath my steps--and streams that tremble to kiss my
feet, and then retire; and then return again, wasting themselves in
fondness before me, and touching me, as my lips press the holy images
they have taught me to worship here!”--“Does no other image ever visit
your dreams, Immalee?”--“I need not tell you,” said Isidora, with
that singular mixture of natural firmness, and partial obscuration of
intellect,--the combined result of her original and native character,
and extraordinary circumstances of her early existence--“I need not
tell you--you know you are with me every night!”--“Me?”--“Yes, you;
you are for ever in that canoe that bears me to the Indian isle--you
gaze on me, but your expression is so changed, that I dare not speak
to you--we fly over the seas in a moment, but you are for ever at the
helm, though you never land--the moment the paradise isle appears, you
disappear; and as we return, the ocean is all dark, and our course is
as dark and swift as the storm that sweeps them--you look at me, but
never speak--Oh yes! you are with me every night!”--“But, Immalee,
these are all dreams--idle dreams. _I_ row you over the Indian seas
from Spain!--this is all a vision of your imagination.”--“Is it a dream
that I see you now?” said Isidora--“is it a dream that I talk with
you?--Tell me, for my senses are bewildered; and it appears to me no
less strange, that you should be here in Spain, than that I should be
in my native island. Alas! in the life that I now lead, dreams have
become realities, and realities seem only like dreams. How is it you
are here, if indeed you are here?--how is it that you have wandered
so far to see me? How many oceans you must have crossed, how many
isles you must have seen, and none like that where I first beheld
you! But is it you indeed I behold? I thought I saw you last night,
but I had rather trust even my dreams than my senses. I believed you
only a visitor of that isle of visions, and a haunter of the visions
that recall it--but are you in truth a living being, and one whom
I may hope to behold in this land of cold realities and Christian
horrors?”--“Beautiful Immalee, or Isidora, or whatever other name
your Indian worshippers, or Christian god-fathers and god-mothers,
have called you by, I pray you listen to me, while I expound a few
mysteries to you.” And Melmoth, as he spoke, flung himself on a bed
of hyacinths and tulips that displayed their glowing flowers, and
sent up their odorous breath right under Isidora’s casement. “Oh you
will destroy my flowers!” cried she, while a reminiscence of her
former picturesque existence, when flowers were the companions alike
of her imagination and her pure heart, awoke her exclamation. “It is
my vocation--I pray you pardon me!” said Melmoth, as he basked on the
crushed flowers, and darted his withering sneer and scowling glance
at Isidora. “I am commissioned to trample on and bruise every flower
in the natural and moral world--hyacinths, hearts, and bagatelles
of that kind, just as they occur. And now, Donna Isidora, with as
long an _et cetera_ as you or your sponsors could wish, and with no
possible offence to the herald, here I am to-night--and where I shall
be to-morrow night, depends on your choice. I would as soon be on the
Indian seas, where your dreams send me rowing every night, or crashing
through the ice near the Poles, or ploughing with my naked corse, (if
corses have feeling), through the billows of that ocean where I must
one day (a day that has neither sun or moon, neither commencement or
termination), plough forever, and reap despair!”--“Hush!--hush!--Oh
forbear such horrid sounds! Are you indeed he whom I saw in the isle?
Are you he, inwoven ever since that moment with my prayers, my hopes,
my heart? Are you that being upon whom hope subsisted, when life itself
was failing? On my passage to this Christian land, I suffered much. I
was so ill you would have pitied me--the clothes they put on me--the
language they made me speak--the religion they made me believe--the
country they brought me to--Oh _you_!--you alone!--the thought--the
image of you, could alone have supported me! I loved, and to love is
to live. Amid the disruption of every natural tie,--amid the loss
of that delicious existence which seems a dream, and which still
fills my dreams, and makes sleep a second existence,--I have thought
of you--have dreamt of you--have loved you!”--“Loved me?--no being
yet loved me but pledged me in tears.”--“And have I not wept?” said
Isidora--“believe these tears--they are not the first I have shed, nor
I fear will be the last, since I owe the first to you.” And she wept as
she spoke. “Well,” said the wanderer, with a bitter and self-satirizing
laugh, “I shall be persuaded at last that I am “a marvellous proper
man.” Well, if it must be so, happy man be his dole! And when shall
the auspicious day, beautiful Immalee, _still_ beautiful Isidora, in
spite of your Christian name, (to which I have a most anti-catholic
objection)--when shall that bright day dawn on your long slumbering
eye-lashes, and waken them with kisses, and beams, and light, and love,
and all the paraphernalia with which folly arrays misery previous to
their union--that glittering and empoisoned drapery that well resembles
what of old Dejanira sent to her husband--when shall the day of bliss
be?” And he laughed with that horrible convulsion that mingles the
expression of levity with that of despair, and leaves the listener no
doubt whether there is more despair in laughter, or more laughter in
despair. “I understand you not,” said the pure and timid Isidora; “and
if you would not terrify me to madness, laugh no more--no more, at
least, in that fearful way!”--“_I cannot weep_,” said Melmoth, fixing
on her his dry and burning eyes, strikingly visible in the moonlight;
“the fountain of tears has been long dried up within me, like that of
every other human blessing.”--“I can weep for both,” said Isidora, “if
that be all.” And her tears flowed fast, as much from memory as from
grief--and when those sources are united, God and the sufferer only
know how fast and bitterly they fall. “Reserve them for our nuptial
hour, my lovely bride,” said Melmoth to himself; “you will have
occasion for them then.”

“There was a custom then, however indelicate and repulsive it may sound
to modern ears, for ladies who were doubtful of the intentions of their
lovers to demand of them the proof of their purity and honour, by
requiring an appeal to their family, and a solemn union under the
sanction of the church. Perhaps there was more genuine spirit of truth
and chastity in this, than in all the ambiguous flirtation that is
carried on with an ill-understood and mysterious dependence on
principles that have never been defined, and fidelity that has never
been removed. When the lady in the Italian tragedy(22) asks her lover,
almost at their first interview, if his intentions are honourable, and
requires, as the proof of their being so, that he shall espouse her
immediately, does she not utter a language more unsophisticated, more
intelligible, more _heartedly_ pure, than all the romantic and
incredible reliance that other females are supposed to place in the
volatility of impulse,--in that wild and extemporaneous feeling,--that
“house on the sands,”--which never has its foundation in the immoveable
depths of the heart. Yielding to this feeling, Isidora, in a voice that
faultered at its own accents, murmured, “If you love me, seek me no more
clandestinely. My mother is good, though she is austere--my brother is
kind, though he is passionate--my father--I have never seen him! I know
not what to say, but if he be _my_ father, he will love you. Meet me in
their presence, and I will no longer feel pain and shame mingled with
the delight of seeing you. Invoke the sanction of the church, and then,
perhaps,”---- “Perhaps!” retorted Melmoth; “You have learned the
European ‘perhaps!’--the art of suspending the meaning of an emphatic
word--of affecting to draw the curtain of the heart at the moment you
drop its folds closer and closer--of bidding us despair at the moment
you intend we should feel hope!”--“Oh no!--no!” answered the innocent
being; “I am _truth_. I am Immalee when I speak to you,--though to all
others in this country, which they call Christian, I am Isidora. When I
loved you first, I had only one heart to consult,--now there are many,
and some who have not hearts like mine. But if you love me, you can bend
to them as I have done--you can love their God, their home, their hopes,
and their country. Even with _you_ I could not be happy, unless you
adored the cross to which your hand first pointed my wandering sight,
and the religion which you reluctantly confessed was the most beautiful
and beneficent on earth.”--“Did I confess that?” echoed Melmoth; “It
must have been _reluctantly_ indeed. Beautiful Immalee! I am a convert
to you;” and he stifled a Satanic laugh as he spoke; “to your new
religion, and your beauty, and your Spanish birth and nomenclature, and
every thing that you would wish. I will incontinently wait on your pious
mother, and angry brother, and all your relatives, testy, proud, and
ridiculous as they may be. I will encounter the starched ruffs, and
rustling manteaus, and whale-boned fardingales of the females, from your
good mother down to the oldest duenna who sits spectacled, and armed
with bobbin, on her inaccessible and untempted sopha; and the twirled
whiskers, plumed hats, and shouldered capas of all your male relatives.
And I will drink chocolate, and strut among them; and when they refer me
to your mustachoed man of law, with his thread-bare cloke of black
velvet over his shoulder, his long quill in his hand, and his soul in
three sheets of wide-spread parchment, I will dower you in the most
ample territory ever settled on a bride.”--“Oh let it be, then, in that
land of music and sunshine where we first met! One spot where I might
set my foot amid its flowers, is worth all the cultivated earth of
Europe!” said Isidora.--“No!--it shall be in a territory with which your
bearded men of law are far better acquainted, and which even your pious
mother and proud family must acknowledge my claim to, when they shall
hear it asserted and explained. Perchance they may be joint-tenants with
_me_ there; and yet (strange to say!) they will never litigate my
exclusive title to possession.”--“I understand nothing of this,” said
Isidora; “but I feel I am transgressing the decorums of a Spanish female
and a Christian, in holding this conference with you any longer. If you
think as you once thought,--if you feel as _I_ must feel for
ever,--there needs not this discussion, which only perplexes and
terrifies. What have I to do with this territory of which you speak?
That _you_ are its possessor, is its only value in my eyes!”--“What have
you to do with it?” repeated Melmoth; “Oh, you know not how much you may
have to do with it and me yet! In other cases, the possession of the
territory is the security for the man,--but here the man is the security
for the everlasting possession of the territory. Mine heirs must inherit
it for ever and ever, if they hold by my tenure. Listen to me, beautiful
Immalee, or Christian, or whatever other name you choose to be called
by! Nature, your first sponsor, baptized you with the dews of Indian
roses--your Christian sponsors, of course, spared not water, salt, or
oil, to wash away the stain of nature from your regenerated frame--and
your last sponsor, if you will submit to the rite, will anoint you with
a new chrism. But of that hereafter. Listen to me while I announce to
you the wealth, the population, the magnificence of that region to which
I will endower you. The rulers of the earth are there--all of them.
There be the heroes, and the sovereigns, and the tyrants. There are
their riches, and pomp, and power--Oh what a glorious accumulation!--and
they have thrones, and crowns, and pedestals, and trophies of fire, that
burn for ever and ever, and the light of their glory blazes eternally.
There are all you read of in story, your Alexanders and Cæsars, your
Ptolemies and Pharaohs. There be the princes of the East, the Nimrods,
the Belshazzars, and the Holoferneses of their day. There are the
princes of the North, the Odins, the Attilas, (named by your church the
scourge of God), the Alarics, and all those nameless and
name-undeserving barbarians, who, under various titles and claims,
ravaged and ruined the earth they came to conquer. There be the
sovereigns of the South, and East, and West, the Mahommedans, the
Caliphs, the Saracens, the Moors, with all their gorgeous pretensions
and ornaments--the crescent, the Koran, and the horse-tail--the trump,
the gong, and the atabal, (or to suit it to your Christianised ear,
lovely Neophyte!) ‘the noise of the captains, and the shoutings.’ There
be also those triple-crowned chieftains of the West, who hide their
shorn heads under a diadem, and for every hair they shave, demand the
life of a sovereign--who, pretending to humility, trample on
power--whose title is, Servant of servants--and whose claim and
recognizance is, Lord of lords. Oh! you will not lack company in that
bright region, for bright it will be!--and what matter whether its light
be borrowed from the gleam of sulphur, or the trembling light of the
moon, by which I see you look so pale?”--“I look pale!” said Isidora
gasping; “I _feel_ pale! I know not the meaning of your words, but I
know it must be horrible. Speak no more of that region, with its pride,
its wickedness, and its splendour! I am willing to follow you to
deserts, to solitudes, which human step never trod but yours, and where
mine shall trace, with sole fidelity, the print of yours. Amid
loneliness I was born; amid loneliness I could die. Let me but, wherever
I live, and whenever I die, be yours!--and for the place, it matters
not, let it be even”---- and she shivered involuntarily as she spoke;
“Let it be even”---- “Even--_where_?” asked Melmoth, while a wild
feeling of triumph in the devotedness of this unfortunate female, and of
horror at the destination which she was unconsciously imprecating on
herself, mingled in the question. “Even where you are to be,” answered
the devoted Isidora, “let me be there! and there I must be happy, as in
the isle of flowers and sun-light, where I first beheld you. Oh! there
are no flowers so balmy and roseate as those that once blew there! There
are no waters so musical, or breezes so fragrant, as those that I
listened to and inhaled, when I thought that they repeated to me the
echo of your steps, or the melody of your voice--that _human music_ the
first I ever heard, and which, when I cease to hear”---- “You will hear
much better!” interrupted Melmoth; “the voices of ten thousand--ten
millions of spirits--beings whose tones are immortal, without cessation,
without pause, without interval!”--“Oh that will be glorious!” said
Isidora, clasping her hands; “the only language I have learned in this
new world worth speaking, is the language of music. I caught some
imperfect sounds from birds in my first world, but in my second world
they taught me music; and the misery they have taught me, hardly makes a
balance against that new and delicious language.”--“But think,” rejoined
Melmoth, “if your taste for music be indeed so exquisite, how it will be
indulged, how it will be enlarged, in hearing those voices accompanied
and re-echoed by the thunders of ten thousand billows of fire, lashing
against rocks which eternal despair has turned into adamant! They talk
of the music of the spheres!--Dream of the music of those living orbs
turning on their axis of fire for ever and ever, and ever singing as
they shine, like your brethren the Christians, who had the honour to
illuminate Nero’s garden in Rome on a rejoicing night.”--“You make me
tremble!”--“Tremble!--a strange effect of fire. Fie! what a coyness is
this! I have promised, on your arrival at your new territory, all that
is mighty and magnificent,--all that is splendid and voluptuous--the
sovereign and the sensualist--the inebriated monarch and the pampered
slave--the bed of roses and the canopy of fire!”--“And is this the home
to which you invite me?”--“It is--it is. Come, and be mine!--myriads of
voices summon you--hear and obey them! Their voices thunder in the
echoes of mine--their fires flash from my eyes, and blaze in my heart.
Hear me, Isidora, my beloved, hear me! I woo you in earnest, and for
ever! Oh how trivial are the ties by which mortal lovers are bound,
compared to those in which you and I shall be bound to eternity! Fear
not the want of a numerous and splendid society. I have enumerated
sovereigns, and pontiffs, and heroes,--and if you should condescend to
remember the trivial amusements of your present sejour, you will have
enough to revive its associations. You love music, and doubtless you
will have most of the musicians who have chromatized since the first
essays of Tubal Cain to Lully, who beat himself to death at one of his
own oratorios, or operas, I don’t know which. They will have a singular
accompaniment--the eternal roar of a sea of fire makes a profound bass
to the chorus of millions of singers in torture!”--“What is the meaning
of this horrible description?” said the trembling Isidora; “your words
are riddles to me. Do you jest with me for the sake of tormenting, or of
laughing at me?”--“Laughing!” repeated her wild visitor; “that is an
exquisite hint--_vive la bagatelle!_ Let us laugh for ever!--we shall
have enough to keep us in countenance. There will be all that ever have
dared to laugh on earth--the singers, the dancers, the gay, the
voluptuous, the brilliant, the beloved--all who have ever dared to
mistake their destiny, so far as to imagine that enjoyment was not a
crime, or that a smile was not an infringement of their duty as
sufferers. All such must expiate their error under circumstances which
will probably compel the most inveterate disciple of Democritus, the
most _inextinguishable laugher_ among them, to allow that _there_, at
least, ‘laughter is madness.’”--“I do not understand you,” said Isidora,
listening to him with that sinking of the heart which is produced by a
combined and painful feeling of ignorance and terror. “Not understand
me?” repeated Melmoth, with that sarcastic frigidity of countenance
which frightfully contrasted the burning intelligence of his eyes, that
seemed like the fires of a volcano bursting out amid masses of snow
heaped up to its very edge; “not understand me!--are you not, then, fond
of music?”--“I am.”--“Of dancing, too, my graceful, beautiful love?”--“I
_was_.”--“What is the meaning of the different emphasis you give to
those answers?”--“I love music--I must love it for ever--it is the
language of recollection. A single strain of it wafts me back to the
dreamy blessedness, the enchanted existence, of my own--own isle. Of
dancing I cannot say so much. I have _learnt_ dancing--but I _felt_
music. I shall never forget the hour when I heard it for the first time,
and imagined it was the language which Christians spoke to each other. I
have heard them speak a different language since.”--“Doubtless their
language is not always melody, particularly when they address each other
on controverted points in religion. Indeed, I can conceive nothing less
a-kin to harmony than the debate of a Dominican and Franciscan on the
respective efficacy of the cowl of the order, to ascertain the salvation
of him who happens to die in it. But have you no other reason for
_being_ fond of music, and for only _having been_ fond of dancing? Nay,
let me have ‘your most exquisite reason.’”

  (22) Alluding possibly to “Romeo and Juliet.”

“It seemed as if this unhappy being was impelled by his ineffable
destiny to deride the misery he inflicted, in proportion to its
bitterness. His sarcastic levity bore a direct and fearful proportion to
his despair. Perhaps this is also the case in circumstances and
characters less atrocious. A mirth which is not gaiety is often the mask
which hides the convulsed and distorted features of agony--and laughter,
which never yet was the expression of rapture, has often been the only
intelligible language of madness and misery. Extacy only
smiles,--despair laughs. It seemed, too, as if no keenness of ironical
insult, no menace of portentous darkness, had power to revolt the
feelings, or alarm the apprehensions, of the devoted being to whom they
were addressed. Her “most exquisite reasons,” demanded in a tone of
ruthless irony, were given in one whose exquisite and tender melody
seemed still to retain the modulation on which its first sounds had been
formed,--that of the song of birds, mingled with the murmur of waters.

“I love music, because when I hear it I think of you. I have ceased to
love dancing, though I was at first intoxicated with it, because, when
dancing, I have sometimes forgot you. When I listen to music, your image
floats on every note,--I hear you in every sound. The most inarticulate
murmurs that I produce on my guitar (for I am very ignorant) are like a
spell of melody that raises a form indescribable--not you, but _my idea
of you_. In your presence, though that seems necessary to my existence,
I have never felt that exquisite delight that I have experienced in that
of your image, when music has called it up from the recesses of my
heart. Music seems to me like the voice of religion summoning to
remember and worship the God of my heart. Dancing appears like a
momentary apostasy, almost a profanation.”--“That, indeed, is a sweet
and subtle reason,” answered Melmoth, “and one that, of course, has but
one failure,--that of not being sufficiently flattering to the hearer.
And so my image floats on the rich and tremulous waves of melody one
moment, like a god of the overflowing billows of music, triumphing in
their swells, and graceful even in their falls,--and the next moment
appears, like the dancing demon of your operas, grinning at you between
the brilliant movement of your fandangoes, and flinging the withering
foam of his black and convulsed lips into the cup where you pledge at
your banquetting. Well--dancing--music--let them go together! It seems
that my image is equally mischievous in both--in one you are tortured by
reminiscence, and in the other by remorse. Suppose that image is
withdrawn from you for ever,--suppose that it were possible to break the
tie that unites us, and whose vision has entered into the soul of
both.”--“You may suppose it,” said Isidora, with maiden pride and tender
grief blended in her voice; “and if you do, believe that I will try to
suppose it too; the effort will not cost much,--nothing but--my life!”

“As Melmoth beheld this blessed and beautiful being, once so refined
amid nature, and now so natural amid refinement, still possessing all
the soft luxuriance of her first angelic nature, amid the artificial
atmosphere where her sweets were uninhaled, and her brilliant tints
doomed to wither unappreciated,--where her pure and sublime devotedness
of heart was doomed to beat like a wave against a rock,--exhaust its
murmurs,--and expire;--As he felt this, and gazed on her, he cursed
himself; and then, with the selfishness of hopeless misery, he felt that
the curse might, by dividing it, be diminished.

“Isidora!” he whispered in the softest tones he could assume,
approaching the casement, at which his pale and beautiful victim stood;
“Isidora! will you then be mine?”--“What shall I say?” said Isidora; “if
love requires the answer, I have said enough; if only vanity, I have
said too much.”--“Vanity! beautiful trifler, you know not what you say;
the accusing angel himself might blot out that article from the
catalogue of my sins. It is one of my prohibited and impossible
offences; it is an earthly feeling, and therefore one which I can
neither participate or enjoy. Certain it is that I feel some share of
human pride at this moment.”--“Pride! at what? Since I have known you, I
have felt no pride but that of supreme devotedness,--that
self-annihilating pride which renders the victim prouder of its wreath,
than the sacrificer of his office.”--“But I feel another pride,”
answered Melmoth, and in a proud tone he spoke it,--“a pride, which,
like that of the storm that visited the ancient cities, whose
destruction you may have read of, while it blasts, withers, and encrusts
paintings, gems, music, and festivity, grasping them in its talons of
annihilation, exclaims, Perish to all the world, perhaps beyond the
period of its existence, but live to me in darkness and in corruption!
Preserve all the exquisite modulation of your forms! all the
indestructible brilliancy of your colouring!--but preserve it for me
alone!--me, the single, pulseless, eyeless, heartless embracer of an
unfertile bride,--the brooder over the dark and unproductive nest of
eternal sterility,--the mountain whose lava of internal fire has
stifled, and indurated, and inclosed for ever, all that was the joy of
earth, the felicity of life, and the hope of futurity!”

“As he spoke, his expression was at once so convulsed and so derisive,
so indicative of malignity and levity, so thrilling to the heart, while
it withered every fibre it touched and wrung, that Isidora, with all her
innocent and helpless devotedness, could not avoid shuddering before
this fearful being, while, in trembling and unappeaseable solicitude,
she demanded, “Will you then be mine? Or what am I to understand from
your terrible words? Alas! _my_ heart has never enveloped itself in
mysteries--never has the light of its truth burst forth amid the
thunderings and burnings in which you have issued the law of my
destiny.”--“Will you then be mine, Isidora?”--“Consult my parents. Wed
me by the rites, and in the face of the church, of which I am an
unworthy member, and I will be yours for ever.”--“_For ever!_” repeated
Melmoth; “well-spoken, _my_ bride. You will then be mine _for
ever_?--will you, Isidora?”--“Yes!--yes!--I have said so. But the sun is
about to rise, I feel the increasing perfume of the orange blossoms, and
the coolness of the morning air. Begone--I have staid too long here--the
domestics may be about, and observe you--begone, I implore you.”--“I
go--but one word--for to me the rising of the sun, and the appearance of
your domestics, and every thing in heaven above, and earth beneath, is
equally unimportant. Let the sun stay below the horizon and wait for me.
_You are mine!_”--“Yes, I am yours; but you must solicit my
family.”--“Oh, doubtless!--solicitation is so congenial to my
habits.”--“And”---- “Well, what?--you hesitate.”--“I hesitate,” said the
ingenuous and timid Isidora, “because”---- “Well?”--“Because,” she
added, bursting into tears, “those with whom you speak will not utter to
God language like mine. They will speak to you of wealth and dower; they
will inquire about that region where you have told me your rich and wide
possessions are held; and should they ask me of them, how shall I
answer?”

“At these words, Melmoth approached as close as possible to the
casement, and uttered a certain word which Isidora did not at first
appear to hear, or understand--trembling she repeated her request. In a
still lower tone the answer was returned. Incredulous, and hoping that
the answer had deceived her, she again repeated her petition. A
withering monosyllable, not to be told, thundered in her ears,--and she
shrieked as she closed the casement. Alas! the casement only shut out
the form of the stranger--not his image.



CHAPTER XXI.

    He saw the eternal fire that keeps,
    In the unfathomable deeps,
    Its power for ever, and made a sign
    To the morning prince divine;
    Who came across the sulphurous flood,
    Obedient to the master-call,
    And in angel-beauty stood,
    High on his star-lit pedestal.


“In this part of the manuscript, which I read in the vault of Adonijah
the Jew,” said Monçada, continuing his narrative, “there were several
pages destroyed, and the contents of many following wholly
obliterated--nor could Adonijah supply the deficiency. From the next
pages that were legible, it appeared that Isidora imprudently continued
to permit her mysterious visitor to frequent the garden at night, and to
converse with him from the casement, though unable to prevail on him to
declare himself to her family, and perhaps conscious that his
declaration would not be too favourably received. Such, at least,
appeared to be the meaning of the next lines I could decypher.

“She had renewed, in these nightly conferences, her former visionary
existence. Her whole day was but a long thought of the hour at which she
expected to see him. In the day-time she was silent, pensive,
abstracted, feeding on thought--with the evening her spirits perceptibly
though softly rose, like those of one who has a secret and
incommunicable store of delight; and her mind became like that flower
that unfolds its leaves, and diffuses its odours, only on the approach
of night.

“The season favoured this fatal delusion. It was that rage of summer
when we begin to respire only towards evening, and the balmy and
brilliant night is our day. The day itself is passed in a languid and
feverish doze. At night alone she existed,--at her moon-lit casement
alone she breathed freely; and never did the moonlight fall on a
lovelier form, or gild a more angelic brow, or gleam on eyes that
returned more pure and congenial rays. The mutual and friendly light
seemed like the correspondence of spirits who glided on the alternate
beams, and, passing from the glow of the planet to the glory of a mortal
eye, felt that to reside in either was heaven. * * * * * * * *

“She lingered at that casement till she imagined that the clipped and
artificially straitened treillage of the garden was the luxuriant and
undulating foliage of the trees of her paradise isle--that the flowers
had the same odour as that of the untrained and spontaneous roses that
once showered their leaves under her naked feet--that the birds sung to
her as they had once done when the vesper-hymn of her pure heart
ascended along with their closing notes, and formed the holiest and most
acceptable anthem that perhaps ever wooed the evening-breeze to waft it
to heaven.

“This delusion would soon cease. The stiff and stern monotony of the
parterre, where even the productions of nature held their place as if
under the constraint of duty, forced the conviction of its unnatural
regularity on her eye and soul, and she turned to heaven for relief. Who
does not, even in the first sweet agony of passion? Then we tell that
tale to heaven which we would not trust to the ear of mortal--and in the
withering hour that must come to all whose love is only mortal, we again
call on that heaven which we have intrusted with our secret, to send us
back one bright messenger of consolation on those thousand rays that its
bright, and cold, and passionless orbs, are for ever pouring on the
earth as if in mockery. We ask, but is the petition heard or answered?
We weep, but do not we feel that those tears are like rain falling on
the sea? _Mare infructuosum._ No matter. Revelation assures us there is
a period coming, when all petitions suited to our state shall be
granted, and when “tears shall be wiped from all eyes.” In revelation,
then, let us trust--in any thing but our own hearts. But Isidora had not
yet learned that theology of the skies, whose text is, “Let us go into
the house of mourning.” To her still the night was day, and her sun was
the “moon walking in its brightness.” When she beheld it, the
recollections of the isle rushed on her heart like a flood; and a figure
soon appeared to recal and to realize them.

“That figure appeared to her every night without disturbance or
interruption; and though her knowledge of the severe restraint and
regularity of the household caused her some surprise at the facility
with which Melmoth apparently defied both, and visited the garden every
night, yet such was the influence of her former dream-like and romantic
existence, that his continued presence, under circumstances so
extraordinary, never drew from her a question with regard to the means
by which he was enabled to surmount difficulties insurmountable to all
others.

“There were, indeed, two extraordinary circumstances attendant on these
meetings. Though seeing each other again in Spain, after an interval of
three years elapsing since they had parted on the shores of an isle in
the Indian sea, neither had ever inquired what circumstances could have
led to a meeting so unexpected and extraordinary. On Isidora’s part this
incurious feeling was easily accounted for. Her former existence had
been one of such a fabulous and fantastic character, that the improbable
had become familiar to her,--and the familiar only, improbable. Wonders
were her natural element; and she felt, perhaps, less surprised at
seeing Melmoth in Spain, than when she first beheld him treading the
sands of her lonely island. With Melmoth the cause was different, though
the effect was the same. His destiny forbid alike curiosity or surprise.
The world could show him no greater marvel than his own existence; and
the facility with which he himself passed from region to region,
mingling with, yet distinct from all his species, like a wearied and
uninterested spectator rambling through the various seats of some vast
theatre, where he knows none of the audience, would have prevented his
feeling astonishment, had he encountered Isidora on the summit of the
Andes.

“During a month, through the course of which she had tacitly permitted
these nightly visits beneath her casement--(at a distance which indeed
might have defied Spanish jealousy itself to devise matter of suspicion
out of,--the balcony of her window being nearly fourteen feet above the
level of the garden, where Melmoth stood)--during this month, Isidora
rapidly, but imperceptibly, graduated through those stages of feeling
which all who love have alike experienced, whether the stream of passion
be smooth or obstructed. In the first, she was full of anxiety to speak
and to listen, to hear and to be heard. She had all the wonders of her
new existence to relate; and perhaps that indefinite and unselfish hope
of magnifying herself in the eyes of him she loved, which induces us in
our first encounter to display all the eloquence, all the powers, all
the attractions we possess, not with the pride of a competitor, but with
the humiliation of a victim. The conquered city displays all its wealth
in hopes of propitiating the conqueror. It decorates him with all its
spoils, and feels prouder to behold him arrayed in them, than when she
wore them in triumph herself. That is the first bright hour of
excitement, of trembling, but hopeful and felicitous anxiety. Then we
think we never can display enough of talent, of imagination, of all that
can interest, of all that can dazzle. We pride ourselves in the homage
we receive from society, from the hope of sacrificing that homage to our
beloved--we feel a pure and almost spiritualized delight in our own
praises, from imagining they render us more worthy of meriting _his_,
from whom we have received the _grace_ of love to deserve them--we
glorify ourselves, that we may be enabled to render back the glory to
him from whom we received it, and for whom we have kept it in trust,
only to tender it back with that rich and accumulated interest of the
heart, of which we would pay the uttermost farthing, if the payment
exacted the last vibration of its fibres,--the last drop of its blood.
No saint who ever viewed a miracle performed by himself with a holy and
self-annihilating abstraction from _seity_, has perhaps felt a purer
sentiment of perfect devotedness, than the female who, in her first
hours of love, offers, at the feet of her worshipped one, the brilliant
wreath of music, painting, and eloquence,--and only hopes, with an
unuttered sigh, that the rose of love will not be unnoticed in the
garland.

“Oh! how delicious it is to such a being (and such was Isidora) to touch
her harp amid crowds, and watch, when the noisy and tasteless bravoes
have ceased, for the heart-drawn sigh of _the one_, to whom alone her
soul, not her fingers, have played,--and whose single sigh is heard, and
heard alone, amid the plaudits of thousands! Yet how delicious to her to
whisper to herself, “I heard his sigh, but he has heard the applause!”

“And when she glides through the dance, and in touching, with easy and
accustomed grace, the hands of many, she feels there is but one hand
whose touch she can recognize; and, waiting for its thrilling and
life-like vibration, moves on like a statue, cold and graceful, till the
Pygmalion-touch warms her into woman, and the marble melts into flesh
under the hands of the resistless moulder. And her movements betray, at
that moment, the unwonted and half-unconscious impulses of that fair
image to which love had given life, and who luxuriated in the vivid and
newly-tried enjoyment of that animation which the passion of her lover
had breathed into her frame. And when the splendid portfolio is
displayed, or the richly-wrought tapestry expanded by outstretched arms,
and cavaliers gaze, and ladies envy, and every eye is busy in
examination, and every tongue loud in praise, just in the inverted
proportion of the ability of the one to scrutinize with accuracy, and
the other to applaud with taste--then to throw round the secret silent
glance, that searches for that eye whose light alone, to her intoxicated
gaze, contains all judgment, all taste, all feeling--for that lip whose
very censure would be dearer than the applause of a world!--To hear,
with soft and submissive tranquillity, censure and remark, praise and
comment, but to turn for ever the appealing look to one who alone can
understand, and whose swiftly-answering glance can alone reward
it!--This--this had been Isidora’s hope. Even in the isle where he first
saw her in the infancy of her intellect, she had felt the consciousness
of superior powers, which were then her solace, not her pride. Her value
for herself rose with her devotion to him. Her passion became her pride;
and the enlarged resources of her mind, (for Christianity under its most
corrupt form enlarges every mind), made her at first believe, that to
behold her admired as she was for her loveliness, her talents, and her
wealth, would compel this proudest and most eccentric of beings to
prostrate himself before her, or at least to acknowledge the power of
those acquirements which she had so painfully been arrived at the
knowledge of, since her involuntary introduction into European society.

“This had been her hope during the earlier period of his visits; but
innocent and flattering to its object as it was, she was disappointed.
To Melmoth “nothing was new under the sun.” Talent was to him a burden.
He knew more than man could tell him, or woman either. Accomplishments
were a bauble--the rattle teazed his ear, and he flung it away. Beauty
was a flower he looked on only to scorn, and touched only to wither.
Wealth and distinction he appreciated as they deserved, but not with the
placid disdain of the philosopher, or the holy abstraction of the saint,
but with that “fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,”
to which he believed their possessors irreversibly devoted, and to the
infliction of which he looked forward with perhaps a feeling like that
of those executioners who, at the command of Mithridates, poured the
melted ore of his golden chains down the throat of the Roman ambassador.

“With such feelings, and others that cannot be told, Melmoth experienced
an indescribable relief from the eternal fire that was already kindled
within him, in the perfect and unsullied freshness of what may be called
the untrodden verdure of Immalee’s heart,--for she was Immalee still to
him. She was the Oasis of his desert--the fountain at which he drank,
and forgot his passage over the burning sands--and the _burning_ sands
to which his passage must conduct him. He sat under the shade of the
gourd, and forgot the worm was working at its root;--perhaps the undying
worm that gnawed, and coiled, and festered in his own heart, might have
made him forget the corrosions of that he himself had sown in hers.

“Isidora, before the second week of their interview, had lowered her
pretensions. She had given up the hope to interest or to dazzle--that
hope which is twin-born with love in the purest female heart. She now
had concentrated all her hopes, and all her heart, no longer in the
ambition _to be_ beloved, but in the sole wish _to_ love. She no longer
alluded to the enlargement of her faculties, the acquisition of new
powers, and the expansion and cultivation of her taste. She ceased to
speak--she sought only to listen--then her wish subsided into that quiet
listening for his form alone, which seemed to transfer the office of
hearing into the eyes, or rather, to identify both. She saw him long
before he appeared,--and heard him though he did not speak. They have
been in each other’s presence for the short hours of a Spanish summer’s
night,--Isidora’s eyes alternately fixed on the sun-like moon, and on
her mysterious lover,--while he, without uttering a word, leaned against
the pillars of her balcony, or the trunk of the giant myrtle-tree, which
cast the shade he loved, even by night, over his portentous
expression,--and they never uttered a word to each other, till the
waving of Isidora’s hand, as the dawn appeared, was the tacit signal for
their parting.

“This is the marked graduation of profound feeling. Language is no
longer necessary to those whose beating hearts converse audibly--whose
eyes, even by moonlight, are more intelligible to each other’s stolen
and shadowed glances, than the broad converse of face to face in the
brightest sunshine--to whom, in the exquisite inversion of earthly
feeling and habit, darkness is light, and silence eloquence.

“At their last interviews, Isidora sometimes spoke,--but it was only to
remind her lover, in a soft and chastened tone, of a promise which it
seems he had at one time made of disclosing himself to her parents, and
demanding her at their hands. Something she murmured also of her
declining health--her exhausted spirits--her breaking heart--the long
delay--the hope deferred--the mysterious meeting; and while she spoke
she wept, but hid her tears from him.

“It is thus, Oh God! we are doomed (and justly doomed when we fix our
hearts on any thing below thee) to feel those hearts repelled like the
dove who hovered over the shoreless ocean, and found not a spot where
her foot might rest,--not a green leaf to bring back in her beak. Oh
that the ark of mercy may open to such souls, and receive them from that
stormy world of deluge and of wrath, with which they are unable to
contend, and where they can find no resting-place!

“Isidora now had arrived at the last stage of that painful pilgrimage
through which she had been led by a stern and reluctant guide.

“In its first, with the innocent and venial art of woman, she had tried
to interest him by the display of her new acquirements, without the
consciousness that they were not new to him. The harmony of civilized
society, of which she was at once weary and proud, was discord to his
ear. He had examined all the strings that formed this curious but
ill-constructed instrument, and found them all false.

“In the second, she was satisfied with merely beholding him. His
presence formed the atmosphere of her existence--in it alone she
breathed. She said to herself, as evening approached, “I shall see
him!”--and the burden of life rolled from her heart as she internally
uttered the words. The constraint, the gloom, the monotony of her
existence, vanished like clouds at the sun, or rather like those clouds
assuming such gorgeous and resplendent colours, that they seemed to have
been painted by the finger of happiness itself. The brilliant hue
diffused itself over every object of her eye and heart. Her mother
appeared no longer a cold and gloomy bigot, and even her brother seemed
kind. There was not a tree in the garden whose foliage was not illumined
as by the light of a setting sun; and the breeze spoke to her in a voice
whose melody was borrowed from her own heart.

“When at length she saw him,--when she said to herself, He is
there,--she felt as if all the felicity of earth was comprised in that
single sensation,--at least she felt that all her own was. She no longer
indulged the wish to attract or to subdue him--absorbed in his
existence, she forgot her own--immersed in the consciousness of her own
felicity, she lost the wish, or rather the pride, of BESTOWING it. In
the impassioned revelry of the heart, she flung the pearl of existence
into the draught in which she pledged her lover, and saw it melt away
without a sigh. But now she was beginning to feel, that for this
intensity of feeling, this profound devotedness, she was entitled at
least to an honourable acknowledgement on the part of her lover; and
that the mysterious delay in which her existence was wasted, might make
that acknowledgement come perhaps too late. She expressed this to him;
but to these appeals, (not the least affecting of which had no language
but that of looks), he replied only by a profound but uneasy silence, or
by a levity whose wild and frightful sallies had something in them still
more alarming.

“At times he appeared even to insult the heart over which he had
triumphed, and to affect to doubt his conquest with the air of one who
is revelling in its certainty, and who mocks the captive by asking “if
it is really in chains?”

“You do not love?” he would say;--“you cannot love _me_ at least. Love,
in your happy Christian country, must be the result of cultivated
taste,--of harmonized habits,--of a felicitous congeniality of
pursuits,--of thought, and hopes, and feelings, that, in the sublime
language of the Jewish poet, (prophet I meant), ‘tell and certify to
each other; and though they have neither speech or language, a voice is
heard among them.’ You cannot love a being repulsive in his
appearance,--eccentric in his habits,--wild and unsearchable in his
feelings,--and inaccessible in the settled purpose of his fearful and
fearless existence. No,” he added in a melancholy and decided tone of
voice, “you cannot love me under the circumstances of your new
existence. Once----but that is past.--You are now a baptized daughter of
the Catholic church,--the member of a civilized community,--the child of
a family that knows not the stranger. What, then, is there between me
and thee, Isidora, or, as your Fra Jose would phrase it, (if he knows so
much Greek), τι εμοι και σοι.”--“I loved you,” answered the Spanish
maiden, speaking in the same pure, firm, and tender voice in which she
had spoken when she first was the sole goddess of her fairy and flowery
isle; “I loved you before I was a Christian. They have changed my
creed--but they never can change my heart. I love you still--I will
be yours for ever! On the shore of the desolate isle,--from the
grated window of my Christian prison,--I utter the same sounds. What
can woman, what can man, in all the boasted superiority of his
character and feeling, (which I have learned only since I became a
Christian, or an European), do more? You but insult me when you appear
to doubt that feeling, which you may wish to have analysed, because you
do not experience or cannot comprehend it. Tell me, then, _what it is to
love?_ I defy all your eloquence, all your sophistry, to answer the
question as truly as I can. If you would wish to know what is love,
inquire not at the tongue of man, but at the heart of woman.”--“What is
love?” said Melmoth; “is that the question?”--“You doubt that I love,”
said Isidora--“tell me, then, what is love?”--“You have imposed on me a
task,” said Melmoth smiling, but not in mirth, “so congenial to my
feelings and habits of thought, that the execution will doubtless be
inimitable. To love, beautiful Isidora, is to live in a world of the
heart’s own creation--all whose forms and colours are as brilliant as
they are deceptive and unreal. To those who love there is neither day or
night, summer or winter, society or solitude. They have but two eras in
their delicious but visionary existence,--and those are thus marked in
the heart’s calendar--_presence_--_absence_. These are the substitutes
for all the distinctions of nature and society. The world to them
contains but one individual,--and that individual is to them the world
as well as its single inmate. The atmosphere of his presence is the only
air they can breathe in,--and the light of his eye the only sun of their
creation, in whose rays they bask and live.”--“Then I love,” said
Isidora internally. “To love,” pursued Melmoth, “is to live in an
existence of perpetual contradictions--to feel that absence is
insupportable, and yet be doomed to experience the presence of the
object as almost equally so--to be full of ten thousand thoughts while
he is absent, the confession of which we dream will render our next
meeting delicious, yet when the hour of meeting arrives, to feel
ourselves, by a timidity alike oppressive and unaccountable, robbed of
the power of expressing one--to be eloquent in his absence, and dumb in
his presence--to watch for the hour of his return as for the dawn of a
new existence, yet when it arrives, to feel all those powers suspended
which we imagined it would restore to energy--_to be the statue that
meets the sun, but without the music his presence should draw from
it_--to watch for the light of his looks, as a traveller in the deserts
looks for the rising of the sun; and when it bursts on our awakened
world, to sink fainting under its overwhelming and intolerable glory,
and almost wish it were night again--this is love!”--“Then I believe I
love,” said Isidora half audibly. “To feel,” added Melmoth with
increasing energy, “that our existence is so absorbed in his, that we
have lost all consciousness but of his presence--all sympathy but of his
enjoyments--all sense of suffering but when he suffers--_to be_ only
because _he is_--and to have no other use of being but to devote it to
him, while our humiliation increases in proportion to our devotedness;
and the lower you bow before your idol, the prostrations seem less and
less worthy of being the expression of your devotion,--till you are only
_his_, when you are not yourself--To feel that to the sacrifice of
yourself, all other sacrifices are inferior; and in it, therefore, all
other sacrifices must be included. That she who loves, must remember no
longer her individual existence, her natural existence--that she must
consider parents, country, nature, society, religion itself--(you
tremble, Immalee--Isidora I would say)--only as grains of incense flung
on the altar of the heart, to burn and exhale their sacrificed odours
there.”--“Then I do love,” said Isidora; and she wept and trembled
indeed at this terrible confession--“for I have forgot the ties they
told me were natural,--the country of which they said I was a native. I
will renounce, if it must be so, parents,--country,--the habits which I
have acquired,--the thoughts which I have learnt,--the religion which
I----Oh no! my God! my Saviour!” she exclaimed, darting from the
casement, and clinging to the crucifix--“No! I will never renounce
you!--I will never renounce you!--you will not forsake me in the hour of
death!--you will not desert me in the moment of trial!--you will not
forsake me at this moment!”

“By the wax-lights that burned in her apartment, Melmoth could see her
prostrate before the sacred image. He could see that devotion of the
heart which made it throb almost visibly in the white and palpitating
bosom--the clasped hands that seemed imploring aid against that
rebellious heart, whose beatings they vainly struggled to repress; and
then, locked and upraised, asked forgiveness from heaven for their
fruitless opposition. He could see the wild but profound devotion with
which she clung to the crucifix,--and he shuddered to behold it. He
never gazed on that symbol,--his eyes were immediately averted;--yet now
he looked long and intently at her as she knelt before it. He seemed to
suspend the diabolical instinct that governed his existence, and to view
her for the pure pleasure of sight. Her prostrate figure,--her rich
robes that floated round her like drapery round an inviolate
shrine,--her locks of light streaming over her naked shoulders,--her
small white hands locked in agony of prayer,--the purity of expression
that seemed to identify the agent with the employment, and made one
believe they saw not a suppliant, but the embodied spirit of
supplication, and feel, that lips like those had never held communion
with aught below heaven.--All this Melmoth beheld; and feeling that in
this he could never participate, he turned away his head in stern and
bitter agony,--and the moon-beam that met his burning eye saw no tear
there.

“Had he looked a moment longer, he might have beheld a change in the
expression of Isidora too flattering to his pride, if not to his heart.
He might have marked all that profound and perilous absorption of the
soul, when it is determined to penetrate the mysteries of love or of
religion, and chuse “whom it will serve”--that _pause_ on the brink of
an abyss, in which all its energies, its passions, and its powers, are
to be immersed--that pause, while the balance is trembling (and we
tremble with it) between God and man.

“In a few moments, Isidora arose from before the cross. There was more
composure, more elevation in her air. There was also that air of
decision which an unreserved appeal to the Searcher of hearts never
fails to communicate even to the weakest of those he has made.

“Melmoth, returning to his station beneath the casement, looked on her
for some time with a mixture of compassion and wonder--feelings that he
hasted to repel, as he eagerly demanded, “What proof are you ready to
give of _that_ love I have described--of that which alone deserves the
name?”--“Every proof,” answered Isidora firmly, “that the most devoted
of the daughters of man can give--my heart and hand,--my resolution to
be yours amid mystery and grief,--to follow you in exile and loneliness
(if it must be) through the world!”

“As she spoke, there was a light in her eye,--a glow on her brow,--an
expansive and irradiated sublimity around her figure,--that made it
appear like the rare and glorious vision of the personified union of
passion and purity,--as if those eternal rivals had agreed to reconcile
their claims, to meet on the confines of their respective dominions, and
had selected the form of Isidora as the temple in which their league
might be hallowed, and their union consummated--and never were the
opposite divinities so deliciously lodged. They forgot their ancient
feuds, and agreed to dwell there for ever.

“There was a grandeur, too, about her slender form, that seemed to
announce that pride of purity,--that confidence in external weakness,
and internal energy,--that conquest without armour,--that victory over
the victor, which makes the latter blush at his triumph, and compels him
to bow to the standard of the besieged fortress at the moment of its
surrender. She stood like a woman devoted, but not humiliated by her
devotion--uniting tenderness with magnanimity--willing to sacrifice
every thing to her lover, but that which must lessen the value of the
sacrifice in his eyes--willing to be the victim, but feeling worthy to
be the priestess.

“Melmoth gazed on her as she stood. One generous, one human feeling,
throbbed in his veins, and thrilled in his heart. He saw her in her
beauty,--her devotedness,--her pure and perfect innocence,--her sole
feeling for one who could not, by the fearful power of his unnatural
existence, feel for mortal being. He turned aside, and did not weep; or
if he did, wiped away his tears, as a fiend might do, with his burning
talons, when he sees a new victim arrive for torture; and, _repenting of
his repentance_, rends away _the blot_ of compunction, and arms himself
for his task of renewed infliction.

“Well, then, Isidora, you will give me no proof of your love? Is that
what I must understand?”--“Demand,” answered the innocent and
high-souled Isidora, “any proof that woman ought to give--more is not in
human power--less would render the proof of no value!”

“Such was the impression that these words made on Melmoth, whose heart,
however, plunged in unutterable crimes, had never been polluted by
sensuality, that he started from the spot where he stood,--gazed on her
for a moment,--and then exclaimed, “Well! you have given me proofs of
love unquestionable! It remains for me to give you a proof of that love
which I have described--of that love which only _you_ could inspire--of
that love which, under happier circumstances, I might---- But no
matter--it is not my business to analyse the feeling, but to give the
proof.” He extended his arm toward the casement at which she
stood.--“Would you then consent to unite your destiny with mine? Would
you indeed be mine amid mystery and sorrow? Would you follow me from
land to sea, and from sea to land,--a restless, homeless, devoted
being,--with the brand on your brow, and the curse on your name? Would
you indeed _be mine_?--my own--my only Immalee?”--“I would--I
will!”--“Then,” answered Melmoth, “on this spot receive the proof of my
eternal gratitude. On this spot I renounce your sight!--I disannul your
engagement!--I fly from you for ever!” And as he spoke, he disappeared.



CHAPTER XXII.

    I’ll not wed Paris,--Romeo is my husband.

    SHAKESPEARE.


“Isidora was so accustomed to the wild exclamations and (to her)
unintelligible allusions of her mysterious lover, that she felt no
unwonted alarm at his singular language, and abrupt departure. There was
nothing in either more menacing or formidable than she had often
witnessed; and she recollected, that after these paroxysms, he often
re-appeared in a mood comparatively tranquil. She felt sustained,
therefore, by this reflection,--and perhaps by that mysterious
conviction impressed on the hearts of those who love profoundly--that
passion must always be united with suffering; and she seemed to hear,
with a kind of melancholy submission to the fatality of love, that her
lot was to suffer from lips that were sure to verify the oracle. The
disappearance, therefore, of Melmoth, gave her less surprise than a
summons from her mother a few hours after, which was delivered in these
words: “Madonna Isidora, your lady-mother desires your presence in the
tapestried chamber--having received intelligence by a certain express,
which she deems fitting you should be acquainted withal.”

“Isidora had been in some degree prepared for extraordinary intelligence
by an extraordinary bustle in this grave and quiet household. She had
heard steps passing, and voices resounding, but

    “She wist not what they were,”

and thought not of what they meant. She imagined that her mother might
have some communication to make about some intricate point of conscience
which Fra Jose had not discussed to her satisfaction, from which she
would make an instant transition to the levity visible in the mode in
which one attendant damsel arranged her hair, and the suspected sound of
a ghitarra under the window of another, and then fly off at a tangent to
inquire how the capons were fed, and why the eggs and Muscadine had not
been duly prepared for Fra Jose’s supper. Then would she fret about the
family clock not chiming synchronically with the bells of the
neighbouring church where she performed her devotions. And finally, she
fretted about every thing, from the fattening of the “pullen,” and the
preparation for the olio, up to the increasing feuds between the
Molinists and Jansenists, which had already visited Spain, and the
deadly dispute between the Dominican and Franciscan orders, relative to
the habit in which it was most effective to salvation for the dying body
of the sinner to be wrapped. So between her kitchen and her
oratory,--her prayers to the saints, and her scoldings to her
servants,--her devotion and her anger,--Donna Clara continued to keep
herself and domestics in a perpetual state of interesting occupation and
gentle excitement.

“Something of this Isidora expected on the summons, and she was,
therefore, surprised to see Donna Clara seated at her writing desk,--a
large and fairly written manuscript of a letter extended before
her,--and to hear words thereafter uttered thus: “Daughter, I have sent
for you, that you might with me partake of the pleasure these lines
should afford both; and that you may do so, I desire you to sit and hear
while they are read to you.”

“Donna Clara, as she uttered these words, was seated in a monstrous
high-backed chair, of which she actually seemed a part, so wooden was
her figure, so moveless her features, so lack-lustre her eyes.

“Isidora curtsied low, and sat on one of the cushions with which the
room was heaped,--while a spectacled duenna, enthroned on another
cushion at the right hand of Donna Clara, read, with sundry pauses and
some difficulty, the following letter, which Donna Clara had just
received from her husband, who had landed, not _at Ossuna_(23), but at a
real sea-port town in Spain, and was now on his way to join his family.

    “DONNA CLARA,

    “It is about a year since I received your letter advising me of the
    recovery of our daughter, whom we believed lost with her nurse on
    her voyage to India when an infant, to which I would sooner have
    replied, were I not otherwise hindered by concerns of business.

    “I would have you understand, that I rejoice not so much that I have
    recovered a daughter, as that heaven hath regained a soul and a
    subject, as it were, _e faucibus Draconis--e profundis
    Barathri_--the which terms Fra Jose will make plain to your weaker
    comprehension.

    “I trust that, through the ministry of that devout servant of God
    and the church, she is now become as complete a Catholic in all
    points necessary, absolute, doubtful, or incomprehensible,--formal,
    essential, venial, and indispensible, as becomes the daughter of an
    old Christian such as I (though unworthy of that honour) boast
    myself to be. Moreover, I expect to find her, as a Spanish maiden
    should be, equipped and accomplished with all the virtues pertaining
    to that character, especially those of discretion and reserve. The
    which qualities, as I have always perceived to reside in you, so I
    hope you have laboured to transfer to her,--a transfer by which the
    receiver is enriched, and the giver not impoverished.

    “Finally, as maidens should be rewarded for their chastity and
    reserve by being joined in wedlock with a worthy husband, so it is
    the duty of a careful father to provide such a one for his daughter,
    that she do not pass her marriageable age, and sit in discontent and
    squalidness at home, as one overlooked of the other sex. My fatherly
    care, therefore, moving me, I shall bring with me one who is to be
    her husband, Don Gregorio Montilla, of whose qualifications I have
    not now leisure to speak, but whom I expect she will receive as
    becomes the dutiful daughter, and you as the obedient wife, of

    FRANCISCO DI ALIAGA.”

  (23) Vide Don Quixote, Vol. II. Smollet’s Translation.

“You have heard your father’s letter, daughter,” said Donna Clara,
placing herself as in act to speak, “and doubtless sit silent in
expectation of hearing from me a rehearsal of the duties pertaining to
the state on which you are so soon to enter, and which, I take it, are
three; that is to say, obedience, silence, and thriftiness. And first of
the first, which, as I conceive, divides itself into thirteen
heads,”---- “Holy saints!” said the duenna under her breath, “how pale
Madonna Isidora grows!”--“First of the first,” continued Donna Clara,
clearing her throat, elevating her spectacles with one hand, and fixing
three demonstrative fingers of the other on a huge clasped volume,
containing the life of St Francis Xavier, that lay on the desk before
her,--“as touching the thirteen heads into which the first divides
itself, the eleven first, I take it, are the most profitable--the two
last I shall leave you to be instructed in by your husband. First,
then,”---- Here she was interrupted by a slight noise, which did not,
however, draw her attention, till she was startled by a scream from the
duenna, who exclaimed, “The Virgin be my protection! Madonna Isidora has
fainted!”

“Donna Clara lowered her spectacles, glanced at the figure of her
daughter, who had fallen from her cushion, and lay breathless on the
floor, and, after a short pause, replied, “She _has_ fainted. Raise
her.--Call for assistance, and apply some cold water, or bear her into
the open air. I fear I have lost the mark in the life of this holy
saint,” muttered Donna Clara when alone; “this comes of this foolish
business of love and marriage. I never loved in my life, thank the
saints!--and as to marriage, that is according to the will of God and of
our parents.”

“The unfortunate Isidora was lifted from the floor, conveyed into the
open air, whose breath had the same effect on her still elementary
existence, that water was said to have on that of the _ombre pez_,
(man-fish), of whom the popular traditions of Barcelona were at that
time, and still have been, rife.

“She recovered; and sending an apology to Donna Clara for her sudden
indisposition, intreated her attendants to leave her, as she wished to
be alone. Alone!--that is a word to which those who love annex but one
idea,--that of being in society with one who is their all. She wished in
this (to her) terrible emergency, to ask counsel of him whose image was
ever present to her, and whose voice she heard with the mind’s ear
distinctly even in absence.

“The crisis was indeed one calculated to try a female heart; and
Isidora’s, with its potency of feeling, opposed to utter destitution of
judgment and of experience,--its native habits of resolution and
self-direction, and its acquired ones of timidity and diffidence almost
to despondency,--became the victim of emotions, whose struggle seemed at
first to threaten her reason.

“Her former independent and instinctive existence revived in her heart
at some moments, and suggested to her resolutions wild and desperate,
but such as the most timid females have been known, under the pressure
of a fearful exigency, to purpose, and even to execute. Then the
constraint of her new habits,--the severity of her factitious
existence,--and the solemn power of her newly-learned but deeply-felt
religion,--made her renounce all thoughts of resistance or opposition,
as offences against heaven.

“Her former feelings, her new duties, beat in terrible conflict against
her heart; and, trembling at the isthmus on which she stood, she felt
it, under the influence of opposing tides, narrowing every moment under
her feet.

“This was a dreadful day to her. She had sufficient time for reflection,
but she had within her the conviction that reflection could be of no
use,--that the circumstances in which she was placed, not her own
thoughts, must decide for her,--and that, situated as she was, mental
power was no match for physical.

“There is not, perhaps, a more painful exercise of the mind than that of
treading, with weary and impatient pace, the entire round of thought,
and arriving at the same conclusion for ever; then setting out again
with increased speed and diminished strength, and again returning to the
very same spot--of sending out all our faculties on a voyage of
discovery, and seeing them all return empty, and watch the wrecks as
they drift helplessly along, and sink before the eye that hailed their
outward expedition with joy and confidence.

“All that day she thought how it was possible to liberate herself from
her situation, while the feeling that liberation was impossible clung to
the bottom of her heart; and this sensation of the energies of the soul
in all their strength, being in vain opposed to imbecillity and
mediocrity, when aided by circumstances, is one productive alike of
melancholy and of irritation. We feel, like prisoners in romance, bound
by threads to which the power of magic has given the force of adamant.

“To those whose minds incline them rather to observe, than to sympathize
with the varieties of human feeling, it would have been interesting to
watch the restless agony of Isidora, contrasted with the cold and serene
satisfaction of her mother, who employed the whole of the day in
composing, with the assistance of Fra Jose, what Juvenal calls “_verbosa
et grandis epistola_,” in answer to that of her husband; and to conceive
how two human beings, apparently of similarly-constructed organs, and
destined apparently to sympathize with each other, could draw from the
same fountain waters sweet and bitter.

“On her plea of continued indisposition, Isidora was excused from
appearing before her mother during the remainder of the day. The night
came on,--the night, which, by concealing the artificial objects and
manners which surrounded her, restored to her, in some degree, the
consciousness of her former existence, and gave her a sense of
independence she never felt by day. The absence of Melmoth increased her
anxiety. She began to apprehend that his departure was intended to be
final, and her heart sunk at the thought.

“To the mere reader of romance, it may seem incredible that a female of
Isidora’s energy and devotedness should feel anxiety or terror in a
situation so common to a heroine. She has only to stand proof against
all the importunities and authority of her family, and announce her
desperate resolution to share the destiny of a mysterious and
unacknowledged lover. All this sounds very plausible and interesting.
Romances have been written and read, whose interest arose from the noble
and impossible defiance of the heroine to all powers human and
superhuman alike. But neither the writers or readers seem ever to have
taken into account the thousand petty external causes that operate on
human agency with a force, if not more powerful, far more effective than
the grand internal motive which makes so grand a figure in romance, and
so rare and trivial a one in common life.

“Isidora would have died for him she loved. At the stake or the scaffold
she would have avowed her passion, and triumphed in perishing as its
victim. The mind can collect itself for one great effort, but it is
exhausted by the eternally-recurring necessity of domestic
conflicts,--victories by which she must lose, and defeats by which she
might gain the praise of perseverance, and feel such gain was loss. The
last single and terrible effort of the Jewish champion, in which he and
his enemies perished together, must have been a luxury compared to his
blind drudgery in his mill.

“Before Isidora lay that painful and perpetual struggle of fettered
strength with persecuting weakness, which, if the truth were told, would
divest half the heroines of romance of the power or wish to contend
against the difficulties that beset them. Her mansion was a prison--she
had no power (and if she possessed the power, would never have exercised
it) of obtaining an unpermitted or unobserved egress from the doors of
the house for one moment. Thus her escape was completely barred; and had
every door in the house been thrown open, she would have felt like a
bird on its first flight from the cage, without a spray that she dared
to rest on. Such was her prospect, even if she could effect her
escape--at home it was worse.

“The stern and cold tone of authority in which her father’s letter was
written, gave her but little hope that in her father she would find a
friend. Then the feeble and yet imperious mediocrity of her mother--the
selfish and arrogant temper of Fernan--the powerful influence and
incessant documentising of Fra Jose, whose good-nature was no match for
his love of authority--the daily domestic persecution--that vinegar that
would wear out any rock--the being compelled to listen day after day to
the same exhausting repetition of exhortation, chiding, reproach, and
menace, or seek refuge in her chamber, to waste the weary hours in
loneliness and tears--this strife maintained by one strong indeed in
purpose, but feeble in power, against so many all sworn to work their
will, and have their way--this perpetual conflict with evils so trivial
in the items, but so heavy in the amount, to those who have the debt to
pay daily and hourly,--was too much for the resolution of Isidora, and
she wept in hopeless despondency, as she felt that already her courage
shrunk from the encounter, and knew not what concessions might be
extorted from her increasing inability of resistance.

“Oh!” she cried, clasping her hands in the extremity of her distress,
“Oh that he were but here to direct, to counsel me!--that he were here
even no longer as my lover, but only as my adviser!”

“It is said that a certain power is always at hand to facilitate the
wishes that the individual forms for his own injury; and so it should
seem in the present instance,--for she had scarce uttered these words,
when the shadow of Melmoth was seen darkening the garden walk,--and the
next moment he was beneath the casement. As she saw him approach, she
uttered a cry of mingled joy and fear, which he hushed by making a
signal of silence with his hand, and then whispered, “I know it all!”

“Isidora was silent. She had nothing but her recent distress to
communicate,--and of that, it appeared, he was already apprized. She
waited, therefore, in mute anxiety for some words of counsel or of
comfort. “I know all!” continued Melmoth; “your father has landed in
Spain--he brings with him your destined husband. The fixed purpose of
your whole family, as obstinate as they are weak, it will be bootless in
you to resist; and this day fortnight will see you the bride of
Montilla.”--“I will first be the bride of the grave,” said Isidora, with
perfect and fearful calmness.

“At these words, Melmoth advanced and gazed on her more closely. Any
thing of intense and terrible resolution,--of feeling or action in
extremity,--made harmony with the powerful but disordered chords of his
soul. He required her to repeat the words--she did so, with quivering
lip, but unfaultering voice. He advanced still nearer to gaze on her as
she spoke. It was a beautiful and fearful sight to see her as she
stood;--her marble face--her moveless features--her eyes in which burned
the fixed and livid light of despair, like a lamp in a sepulchral
vault--the lips that half opened, and remaining unclosed, appeared as if
the speaker was unconscious of the words that had escaped them, or
rather, as if they had burst forth by involuntary and incontroulable
impulse;--so she stood, like a statue, at her casement, the moonlight
giving her white drapery the appearance of stone, and her wrought-up and
determined mind lending the same rigidity to her expression. Melmoth
himself felt confounded--appalled he could not feel. He retreated, and
then returning, demanded, “Is this your resolution, Isidora?--and have
you indeed resolution to”---- “To die!” answered Isidora, with the same
unaltered accent,--the same calm expression,--and seeming, as she spake,
capable of all she expressed; and this union, in the same slight and
tender form, of those eternal competitors, energy and fragility, beauty
and death, made every human pulse in Melmoth’s frame beat with a
throbbing unknown before. “Can you, then,” he said, with averted head,
and in a tone that seemed ashamed of its own softness--“Can you, then,
die for him you will not live for?”--“I have said I will die sooner than
be the bride of Montilla,” answered Isidora. “Of death I know nothing,
nor do I know much of life--but I would rather perish, than be the
perjured wife of the man I cannot love.”--“And why can you not love
him?” said Melmoth, toying with the heart he held in his hand, like a
mischievous boy with a bird, around whose leg he has fastened a
string.--“Because I can love but one. You were the first human being I
ever saw who could teach me language, and who taught me feeling. Your
image is for ever before me, present or absent, sleeping or waking. I
have seen fairer forms,--I have listened to softer voices,--I might have
met gentler hearts,--but the first, the indelible image, is written on
mine, and its characters will never be effaced till that heart is a clod
of the valley. I loved you not for comeliness,--I loved you not for gay
deportment, or fond language, or all that is said to be lovely in the
eye of woman,--I loved you because you were my _first_,--the sole
connecting link between the human world and my heart,--the being who
brought me acquainted with that wondrous instrument that lay unknown and
untouched within and me, whose chords, as long as they vibrate, will
disdain to obey any touch but that of their first mover--because your
image is mixed in my imagination with all the glories of nature--because
your voice, when I heard it first, was something in accordance with the
murmur of the ocean, and the music of the stars. And still its tones
recal the unimaginable blessedness of those scenes where first I heard
it,--and still I listen to it like an exile who hears the music of his
native country in a land that is very far off,--because nature and
passion, memory and hope, alike cling round your image; and amid the
light of my former existence, and the gloom of my present, there is but
one form that retains its reality and its power through light and shade.
I am like one who has traversed many climates, and looks but to one sun
as the light of all, whether bright or obscure. I have loved once--and
for ever!” Then, trembling at the words she uttered, she added, with
that sweet mixture of maiden pride and purity that redeems while it
pledges the hostage of the heart, “The feelings I have entrusted you
with may be abused, but never alienated.”--“And these are your _real_
feelings?” said Melmoth, pausing long, and moving his frame like one
agitated by deep and uneasy thoughts. “Real!” repeated Isidora, with
some transient glow on her cheek--“real! Can I utter any thing but what
is real? Can I so soon forget my existence?” Melmoth looked up once more
as she spoke--“If such is your resolution,--if such be your feelings
indeed,”---- “And they are!--they are!” exclaimed Isidora, her tears
bursting through the slender fingers, which, after extending towards
him, she clasped over her burning eyes. “Then look to the alternative
that awaits you!” said Melmoth slowly, bringing out the words with
difficulty, and, as it appeared, with some feeling for his victim; “a
union with the man you cannot love,--or the perpetual hostility, the
wearying, wasting, almost annihilating persecution of your family! Think
of days that”---- “Oh let me not think!” cried Isidora, wringing her
white and slender hands; “tell me--tell me what may be done to escape
them!”--“Now, in good troth,” answered Melmoth, knitting his brows with
a most cogitative wrinkle, while it was impossible to discover whether
his predominant expression was that of irony or profound and sincere
feeling--“I know not what resource you have unless you wed me.”--“Wed
you!” cried Isidora, retreating from the window--“Wed you!” and she
clasped her hands over her pale forehead;--and at this moment, when the
hope of her heart, the thread on which her existence was suspended, was
within her reach, she trembled to touch it. “Wed you!--but how is that
possible?”--“All things are possible to those who love,” said Melmoth,
with his sardonic smile, which was hid by the shades of the night. “And
you will wed me, then, by the rites of the church of which I am a
member?”--“Aye! or of any other!”--“Oh speak not so wildly!--say not
_aye_ in that horrible voice! Will you wed me as a Christian maiden
should be wed?--Will you love me as a Christian wife should be loved? My
former existence was like a dream,--but now I am awake. If I unite my
destiny to yours,--if I abandon my family, my country, my”---- “If you
do, how will you be the loser?--your family harasses and confines
you--your country would shout to see you at the stake, for you have some
heretical feelings about you, Isidora. And for the rest”---- “God!” said
the poor victim, clasping her hands, and looking upwards, “God, aid me
in this extremity!”--“If I am to wait here only as a witness to your
devotions,” said Melmoth with sullen asperity, “my stay will not be
long.”--“You cannot leave me, then, to struggle with fear and perplexity
alone! How is it possible for me to escape, even if”---- “By whatever
means I possess of entering this place and retiring unobserved,--by the
same you may effect your escape. If you have resolution, the effort will
cost you little,--if love,--nothing. Speak, shall I be here at this hour
to-morrow night, to conduct you to liberty and”---- Safety he would have
added, but his voice faultered. “_To-morrow night_,” said Isidora, after
a long pause, and in accents almost inarticulate. She closed the
casement as she spoke, and Melmoth slowly departed.

END OF THIRD VOLUME.



    Transcriber’s Note:

    The following is a list of corrections made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

 CHILDREN.
 CHILDREN.”

 say to heaven, We have a sun though your’s is set;--the solemn and
 say to heaven, We have a sun though yours is set;--the solemn and

 the last garment on your person, and the last denier in your purse.
 the last garment on your person, and the last denier in your purse.”

 matted coil of adders, had there first recieved the bloody homage of the
 matted coil of adders, had there first received the bloody homage of the

 For many a night these canoes might be seen glancing past each other
 “For many a night these canoes might be seen glancing past each other

 regularity of these phœnomena, in the climate she inhabited, divested
 regularity of these phænomena, in the climate she inhabited, divested

 But to this question he could obtain no satisfactory answer; and it was
 “But to this question he could obtain no satisfactory answer; and it was

 smile at her as she bounded after him, breathles and glowing with newly
 smile at her as she bounded after him, breathless and glowing with newly

 torn away.”
 torn away.

 surmounted by a trident.--that is the temple of Maha-deva, a goddess who
 surmounted by a trident,--that is the temple of Maha-deva, a goddess who

 made such an an artless transition from profound and meditative grief to
 made such an artless transition from profound and meditative grief to

 Her glowing features, as she turned them toward him, with an expression
 “Her glowing features, as she turned them toward him, with an expression

 CHAPTER XIV.
 CHAPTER XVII.

 important subject(16), whether their iackets should be red or white--or
 important subject(16), whether their jackets should be red or white--or

 CHAPTER XVII.
 CHAPTER XVIII.

 than that gloom.--All around her gave to her form, when it it was momently
 than that gloom.--All around her gave to her form, when it was momently

 The waves deserting their station, left, from time to time, the sands
 “The waves deserting their station, left, from time to time, the sands

 pale, terrified, but resolute, retreated from him.”
 pale, terrified, but resolute, retreated from him.

 CHAPTER XVII.
 CHAPTER XIX.

 to welcome her. As he spoke, all eyes were turned to a figure, which,
 to welcome her.” As he spoke, all eyes were turned to a figure, which,

 At the approach of a large party of females, there was all that anxious
 “At the approach of a large party of females, there was all that anxious

 CHAPTER XVIII.
 CHAPTER XX.

 “Excæcavit oculos eorum ne viderent.”
 “Excæcavit oculos eorum ne viderent.

 subsisted, when life itself was failing? On my passsage to this Christian
 subsisted, when life itself was failing? On my passage to this Christian

 first I ever heard, and which, when I cease to hear’---- “You will hear
 first I ever heard, and which, when I cease to hear”---- “You will hear

 CHAPTER XIX.
 CHAPTER XXI.

 CHAPTER XX.
 CHAPTER XXII.

 Molinists and Jausenists, which had already visited Spain, and the
 Molinists and Jansenists, which had already visited Spain, and the





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