« PreviousContinue »
she had played a secret part. She still feared "No, on the contrary ; I said that I saw her that the influence of the Count-duke would save for the first time a few days since, when she betbe life of Don Alonzo.
stowed charity upon me. My reply did not appear One day, to the surprise of our two mendicants, to give him much satisfaction, for he threw himPaco Rosales was commanded to the palace, self back in bis arm-chair, and with a sigh, and a where he was to be admitted to a private audience wave of his royal hand, he condescendingly said with the King, after bigh-mass ; nevertheless lie to me, “That will do, begone. did not return till late in the evening.
“ Thou art a foot taller, since then," said To. “The King spoke to me!" cried he, boisterously valito, “but thou shouldst have thanked his bursting into the room where his companion sat | Majesty for all bis favours.” patiently awaiting for him.
• He did not give me time. I suppose he “Tell me all about it, then," answered Tovalito, thought I had been standing too long already. But quietly; "thou art now as proud as any grandee. what thinkest thou now of our fortunes, friend
First, I had to wait seven hours,' replied | Toralito? We have an income of six thousand Paco, hastening to take off bis doublet of fine reals. Shall we ever be able to spend so much black cloth, his stiff ruff, and his shoes with moncy? It would be impossible.” rosettes ; “the gentleman who conducted me left “Why so ? why should not we live as comfortme in a large saloon where there were as many ably and as idly as many others." paintings as at Notre Dame de Guadaloupe. But "Hold thy peace," interrupted Paco, “if we all those fine pictures do not represent the Acts of are overleard, no one will give us anything." the Apostles, nor the lives of the Saints. But “I see we shall pass our lives at the door of nevertheless, they were not to be despised, and I Notre Dame, after all,” said Tovalito, “take it could not help admiring one or two of them. I all-in-all, it is as good a place as any other ; in the was not alone, however, so I was ashamed to look winter we can warm ourselves in the sun, and in too much at all the splendour that surrounded me. summer we can cool ourselves under the porch, Besides, I confess I forgot myself, and actually provided there is any air. Is not this all that we held out my lat to some fine cavaliers who were want ? And with our money we can found a pero walking up and down waiting their turn, I sup. petual mass for the repose of our souls,” said pose, to be admitted. Fortunately for me they Tovalito sarcastically. mistook my meaning, and politely returned my “Yes," said Paco, with simplicity, “it is cersalute.”
tainly better not to enjoy it till after our deaths." “ The force of habit," returned Tovalito.
At these words he finished divesting himself of “At last the gentleman returned," resumed his court dress, which, much to his internal satisPaco, “and he led me through a long suite of faction, he replaced by his old rags. rooms, till we reached the King's cabinet. There “I am ready,” said he, "we may now go out I saw a pale, slight man, dressed in black, who did and see what we can pick up on the Prado." not appear to notice me.
He had no ornaments The two friends then sauntered on through the on him, and his doublet was as plain as my own. suburb of Alocha, till they reached a long, narrow, Who could have guessed that it was the King him. dirty lane, at the end of which rose the State self ? I should not have known it if the gentleman prison, a heavy, gloomy old edifice, where the con. had not said, Sire, here is the man your Majesty demned prisoners of the inquisition were confined. wished to see.' Then I threw myself flat on my In one of the darkest and deepest of its under face before the King ; but I found tbat I had made ground cells was Don Alonzo imprisoned. a mistake, for the gentleman giving me a gentle Whilst the two mendicants stood looking at kick whispered me to rise and go on my knees. I its gloomy and melancholy walls, the door opened, soon scrambled up again and kneeling down, as ill and a procession of monks with their arms crossed luck would have it, held out my bat, which the and their leads bent upon their breasts, entered gentleman perceiving, he kindly took it from me, one after another, in regular file. When the last and put it where I could not reach it. As you of them bad disappeared, and the door was again may suppose, I felt rather uncomfortable, and closed, Paco observed to his companion that the wished myself back on the steps of Notre Dame reverend Capucian fathers had gone to shrive the de Guadaloupe.”
poor condemned prisoners for the last time before "It is easy to see, Paco, that thou wert not their execution. born to greatness," said Tovalito drily ;
“ The same idea struck me," said Tovalito,
“when I saw them telling their beads so de“Well, then, the King, instead of questioning voutly." me about those papers, as I expected, asked me if “I suppose it is fixed for to-morrow." I had ever known Donna Theresa anywhere else “Yes,” interrupted a voice near them, “ tobut at Madrid. Thou mayst imagine how em- morrow, at day-break, Don Alonzo is to mount barrassed I was when I felt that I should either the scaffold, and die the death of a traitor." tell a lie to the King, my master, or betray the The mendicants started, turned round, and whole truth of what I knew.”
bebeld Theresa. She was dressed entirely in “ Miserable creature ; thou hast revealed all.” | black, and a crape veil covered her head and
THE STATE PRISON.
shoulders, completely concealing her face ; but from my home? Do you forget the Dominican Paco Rosales instantly recognised her peculiar church where we stood together plighted by the voice, and guessing the motive of her visit to that most sacred and solemn vows, before the altar of part of the Prado, be asked her if he or his friend our God? We were then about to be united in could be of any use to her.
the presence of the dead, but the hour struck that Yes,” replied she, “ye can escort me to the was to separate us in this world, and rend the prison. I have an order from the King which earthly ties that bound my heart to thine. Once will open every door in it to me, or any one I more we stand together in the presence of the may choose to take with me. Be here, therefore, dead; but not now, as then, when it was I who this evening a little before dusk. You shall not stood dishonoured and disgraced before men ; con. have to wait for me."
demned, cast off, disowned by my family, with no other resource than to lie down and die, or live to endure worse torments than death. But I have
lived through all my miseries. I have struggled CHAPTER XVI.
to retain my vital powers, I have braved the anger of my God--the contempt of men; I have hardened
my heart against all appeals of softness, or of That same night Theresa, followed by Paco Ro- pity, and braced my nerves for an hour dearer to sales and Tovalito, entered the State prison. A me than life – the hour of revenge. It is come." dead silence reigned around this horrible place The expression of her ghastly countenance as where so many unfortunate beings dragged out she pronounced these horrible and impious words their miserable lives, shut in from the rest of the was terrible. The monks, appalled and terrorworld by the strong barriers of human invention. stricken, bad drawn nearer to the scene, and stood The air within the vaults was chill and damp, and listening in painful curiosity whilst she spoke. The as Theresa followed the intricate windings of the old duke, who had also recognised Theresa, hastily turnkey, who went before her with the lantern in arose and in a loud and angry voice commanded his band, the cold struck to her heart, and she her to quit the chapel. sbivered as in the depth of winter. After passing · Signor Duke," said she with hauteur, five or six doors, and traversing a dark, humid have met before this. I threw anyself on my court, she arrived at the entrance of the chapel, knees at your feet and implored you for more than where the condemned criminal passed the eve of my life--my honour. You repulsed me with cold his execution in prayer with his confessor. disdain ; you then thought to destroy with im
The wax tapers on the altar threw a wan, and punity the peace and reputation of a poor, weak, glimmering light over this melancholy scene. A unprotected girl. You were harsh, unpitying, unfew Capucian friars, standing up in the choir, merciful ; you insulted and trampled upon me, and chanted the funeral service for the dead; Don then left me alone to the scorn and jest of the Alonzo, kneeling before a prie-dieu, with a black world. But the bruised worm has turned, Sir velvet pall thrown over him, repeated the responses Duke, and stung thee to the beart.
I am rein a low but unshaken voice. Seated in a stall a venged. It is I who have delivered thy son few paces from this group, was an old man with Alonzo de Guzman up to justice. It is I who his face buried in his hands; but the sudden, ner- send him to the scaffold.” vous starts, and convulsive motion of his body, “His blood then be upon thy head,” cried the bespoke the cruel agonies of his mind. This man Duke, as overcome by the violence of contending was the father of the condemned, the Duke de feelings, he sunk back in his seat insensible to all Medina Sidonia, arrived the day before ; he had else around him. obtained permission to take his last leave of his There was a momentary silence, which was at unfortunate son.
length broken by Don Alonzo, who appeared to Theresa, advancing bastily to where Don Alonzo be reanimated by some painful emotion. “Theresa,” was kneeling, suddenly threw back her veil, and said he, raising his mournful eyes to her face, “all stood confronting her perjured lover.
human passions give way before death; there is “Don Alonzo," cried she, in a deep tone, “do neither love nor hate in the heart, and all memory you recognise me ?”
of the past, except repentance for its sins, lies At the sound of this voice he started to his buried in the awful future. You whom I have feet, the pall dropped from his shoulders, and be betrayed, forgive me, as I forgive you in these my stood like one resuscitated from the tomb; a mor. last moments." tal paleness overspread his face, his handsome At these words the young girl's heart melted, features worked with mental agony, and his wan and bursting into tears she threw herself on ber lips moved in unuttered and broken words as he knees before him. “Alas !" cried she in wild gazed at the apparition before him.
despair, was it for this I have lived for this “Yes, it is I, Theresa,” resumed she; “I see borne the torments of my horrible lise. Is this you bave not forgotten me, nor have I forgotten the revenge for which I have prayed, toiled, for you, as my presence here bears witness. But do which I have sacrificed my peace, my honour, ny you also remember that night when you tore me self-esteem. Oli! fool, wretch that I am! It
recoils upon myself; and God has only heard my hate and gratified revenge, but deep and terrible prayer as a punishment for my guilt. All the
The veil had fallen from her eyes, and sufferings of my life never equalled these of this she beheld her crime in all its natural deformity; terrible night. Ob ! Alonzo, pardon me, pardon and her guilty soul trembled in the presence of
her lifeless victim. She called upon God to end But he appeared no longer to hear her ; engaged her sufferings—to strike her dead upon the spot; in prayer with the monks, his face was turned but it was His merciful will that she should still towards the altar, and he seemed to forget her live to atone for her sins by a life of prayer and very existence. The two mendicants crouched in contrition, a distant corner of the chapel, and looked with She was borne from the cell by the two menpity and horror on the scene before them.
dicants back to the chapel, where the monks had « Alonzo," she cried again frantically ; but he again assembled, and were praying for the dead. turned not, and she fell on the flags, where she
The following morning, as Paco Rosales, and remained for some time silent and motionless. At his friend Tovalito, were going towards the Prado this moment there was a slight commotion in the
to see what had become of Theresa, whom they church, and two monks going up to the duke, had left the night before in the prison, they were who although quite stupified and more like a corpse surprieed to see her coming towards them. than a living man, was still sitting upright in his stall -- led him unresistingly between them through to ?" said Paco.
“Merciful heaven, lady! where are you going a small door which opened into the vestry. The other monks immediately surrounded Don Alonzo,
“To where God calls me,” replied she. “Fareand conducted him from the chapel through an
well, Paco, for ever. Say a prayer for me at Notre opposite door into a long, narrow, dark passage,
Dame de los Desemparados." leading into one of the prison chambers.
The mendicants, grateful for her charity At this sight Theresa started up, and with a themselves, and feariug that she meditated some wild cry rushed into the passage. Paco Rosales act of violence upon herself, followed her. For and Tovalito followed her, but she was already four-and-twenty hours she traversed the road froin beyond their reach, and bad gained the cell, Madrid to Aranjuez, without eating a morsel of where a deed of horror met her awe struck food till she arrived at the convent of L'Etroite.
Observance. The door being open for morning gaze.
The lifeless body of Don Alonzo lay stretched prayers, she entered. When it again closed, the upon the flags. The king in his clemency had two friends were far on their way to Madrid. spared him the shame of a public execution. He Two months after this, the convent bell tolled was strangled in his cell.
for the departed soul of one of the sisters of the Theresa looked upon her work--her deed of order of Saint Francois. Sister Frances fiendish vengeance-not in the spirit of vindictive found dead in her cell,
“Sir, we had talk."--Dr. Johnson.
“ The honourablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and then to moderate again, and pass to somewhat else."-Lord Bacon.
" THE FIRST MILD DAY OF MARCII.” do this sort of thing; when we creep round fires, One of the flattering unctions that I lay to my and jostle each other, amid all manner of convensoulwben it strikes me that I am becoming tionalities, till we grow worldly-minded. When morally seedy is, that I find I have not lost the Spring comes we improve, weget back our old selves; child's capacity of wonder. Thank Heaven for we are shocked at the profanities of our winterly that! As years pass by, our little lives become bivouac, and, springing up, begin (that is, try to crowded with trifles, our spiritual hearing is deaf- begin, or fancy we begin, or try to fancy we begin) ened with all manner of world.buzzings, and per- a new march in the " Way to the blessed Life.' haps some day, to our horror, we catch ourselves I suppose it is that in the Spring we feel some doing what a little while ago we should bavs dis- of our limitations less. There seems more room carded a friend for doing, -cutting jokes about for what transcendental people call “communion our most sacred personal concerns ; flouting some with the Infinite” out of doors than within doors, embalmed treasure which we had erewhile wrapped and especially in fine weather. One seels inderound with saintly-white thoughts, and laid away in pendent of shelter, of the roofs and walls that so a cave of memory, to be stolen to at choice times. oiten “ do a prison make,” and all the trumpery But I think it is generally in the wiuter that we little amenities and commodities that help on the
flagging life in the cold. One feels that it is man who takes a country walk with an eye to blessing enough to exist, when the world is put- stocking a vivarium, or painting a picture, or filling ting on its beautiful garments afresh, and the feel- a hortus siccus, is, (other things being equal, and ing grows and grows through the summer and the supposing him not a machine) likely to see more autumn, until it declines in the first October chill, of what the mere contemplatist wants to see than and then drops away altogether with the first fog be is who has nothing to do but to look out for or raw rain.
suggestive aspects of natural beauty, and catechise But the wonder of the change which the true at his leisure the universal life around him. opening of the year brings to us all, more or less, There is one very important matter, however, is ever new to a tolerably healthy mind. I have which your avowed anti-sentimentalist is too apt felt it so keenly this year that I cannot help to ignore. It is, that the simple question, towards writing about it, though the sensation of returning any given “ frame or feeling," whether about Spring is not by any means favourable to writing nature, or what is above or within nature, must in a general way. If one could sing like the birds be-Is the mood or sensation a normal one-one now with as little intrusion of ulterior views—which, upon the balance of a mass of human exor bud like the trees—that would be something to periences, and the considerations drawn from the the purpose. It is small satisfaction to be merely nature of the case, appears quite natural ? If so, able to record the bare fact that, Spring being here, there is an end; the “ frame or feeling" must be you feel Spring-like; that all true and beautiful right, and must be allowed fair swing. And it is things seem suddenly to have become truer to you, absurd to demand tokens of its value in its imme. that the choicest passages of your life are being diate influence upon conduct. It may be safely lived over again by you in a sort of waking dream, asserted that our best moments, whether of thought that when you compose yourself to sleep at night, or feeling, are those of which the fructification is you think how beautifully the sunshine will greet slow. you to morrow morning when you come down to It were a nice question to determine between the breakfast, how it will brighten the book and the laxity of sentimentalism, and the tyranny of utilitamanuscript, and how cheerful you will feel on sit- rian hard-headedness, in this matter of " frames and ting down to work. All this, however, is true. feelings” — to determine, I mean, which is the more Not less true, perhaps, is it, that you felt rather mischievous. The mere suggestion of the questoo cheerful for work, the next morning, and were tion brings to my mind certain incidents in certain irresistibly drawn into the fields to watch the wind remote country circles where " frames and feelchafing the great pond, and the boys teasing the ings” were a perpetual topic, and where the listray goat, and the impounded donkey looking at terature commonly called “sentimeni al" has the horizon with the unaccountable desolation pe always had a hard fight for it. Do you know culiar to the donkey physiognomy-and, in fact, Graveley ? No, I will be bound you do not. that you “wasted” one of “ the first mild days Graveley, under which name I include both Great of March."
Graveley and Little Graveley, was a rural district where there were two very small communities of very worthy dissenters, and one church. with a
very wicked parson. You have not the least idea, " FRAMES AND FEELINGS." This expression will be familiar enough to a large number of my readers. If, among certain classes “HOW LETTERS FLOURISHED IN GRAVELEY.” of Dissenters, I had spoken of an alteration in Bur flourish they did-in their own unsentimental my ecclesiastical environment producing any change way. Though sentimentalism got a footing in my sensations, such as the Spring produces in at last, as you will A great deal goes the sensations of every one, I should probably have ou in small, out-of-the-way places. Every cirbeen cautioned against “resting in frames and cle is a world of its own, where the Grand Drama feelings,” i. e., against a sentimental piety. A is acted in little, with less promptitude in the man who takes care of his mind and his morals, scene-shifting, fewer properties and decorations, whether he be Christian or Turk, or neither, need and to a smaller auditory, but with much the same not be above taking a leaf out of this book. It is incident and dialogue as on the boards of the well not to rest in “ frames and feelings ;” not to “Theatre Royal,” before which the historian, the let your moral status be at the mercy of the ba- novelist, and the moralist sit in their perpetual rometer, like Launcelot Smith's, in his “pantheis- private boxes, taking notes and printing them. tic” stage. It is good, in general, to hold the I have often been struck with the vividness reins of your moods, and the lesson, however attending the representations at Graveley, which Lrite, deserves frequent repetition in these days of | is, of course, only a sample of such quaint, morbid introversion. have not the least doubt country places. The truth is, the supernumeraries that you or I would have been all the better off are so few, and the chorus makes so little noise for the enjoyment of “ the first mild day of March" in these minor houses, these barns where “the abroad, if we had had some objective pursuit for play” is not only “the thing," but all “the between-wbiles. I have often noticed that the thing," that the leading characters, the types,
till I tell you,
HOW LETTERS FLOURISHED IN GRAVELEY.
stand out, and you hear all they say, and see all | individual had to succumb to the grand laws of they do. There is no mistaking the villain of the compensation, just like inferior mortals; for what piece, or the desolate father, or the forlorn one he gained in literary dignity he invariably lost in singing “Willow, willow, willow, ah, poor me !" practical prestige, and was considered almost on In other words, in a small circle, the interest of the road to ruin in an agrarian point of view. life is both concentrated and patent. Everybody Everything he did on bis farm was dubious, and he knows everybody, and there is not a bustling could not look grave in company without hearing crowd in which the greatest body is nobody till titters among the girls (girls did titter in Graveley), you look for him.
and whispers of “moonraking” and “star.gaziog" I would rather not venture to guess the popu- among the practical people. If the blank versifier lation of Graveley. The clown when asked how and culprit was a lady, her cheeses were subjected large the stone flung at him was, said it was a to the most trenchant criticism allowed by the code round stone, a sizeable sort of stone-if he must of Graveleyian etiquette, and the heels of her own be exact, it was about as big as a lump of chalk and her childrens' stockings were inspected with or a potato. In the same spirit, I would observe unsleeping vigilance by perennial juries of matrons. of the population of Graveley, major and minor, I account for the superlative estimation in which that it was about as numerous as the quarterly blank verse was held at Graveley by supposing that meeting for the dispatch of business at the literary the Graveleyians had made the discovery whicb institution of your own highly favoured suburb, others, both more and less cultivated, have often which you are particularly requested to attend. made besides-namely, that though to a neophyte Yet, besides knowing of more romances transacted the trick of rhyming appears something very proin Graveley, and in connection with Graveley, than found and mysterious indeed, the jingle of his bells I have picked up in the streets of London during really stimulates Pegasus to new paces—that the a much longer residence, I have been much sound so frequently helps the sense as to comstruck, not only with the vividness there of cer. pensate you for the trouble you may now and then tain phases of societarian development, the regu- have in finding an amiably disposed mate for a larity with which they seemed to follow their word like parallelopipedon; that, consequently, leaders, and cluster round a punctum saliens of there is presumably more of the pure afflatus where personal character, but also with the number of there is no rhyme, supposing the work to be creillustrative instances which any particular ditably turned out.
developement aforded+just as in that wide, wide taho three leading Graveleyian classics were Dr.
world, which is round like an orange, slightly Dodd's “Prison Thoughts,” Bloomfield, and flattened at the poles.
Susannah Harrison, and I am unable to say which I am thinking at the moment of the literature of was most prized, most imitated, or most quoted Graveley, native and imported—the home produce from. Any quotation you might hear in Graveley and the foreign article. I cannot say much for its society which did not come from one of these was art or its science; but its poetry, its philosophy, sure to be from Milton—at least you were told its belles-lettres in general, I can vouch for. I so. A very well-sounding passage, wanting a could name its Plato and its Aspasia, and say parent, was sure to be fathered on Blind John. something of its Academus. The Muses flourished I think I have just heard of a Graveleyian who in Graveley on over.fed pork and heavy dumplings, once quoted Shakespere, or professed to do so and every third breast, male or female, was a gush- but I regard the anecdote as apocryphal, more ing fount of nectareous verse. We all know of especially as I know the popular horror of anything Mr. Hiram Adolphus Hawkins, in “ Kavanagh,” dramatic was so excessive, that the fact of Milton who “spoke blank verse in the bosom of his having written “Samson Agonistes" and "Comus, family;" at Graveley, verse was limited to corres- was often mentioned to his discredit, and only the pondence and to occasional effusions of pleasantry immense prestige of his name and of his great or passion--only correspondence was incessant, topic, secured him his place in Graveleyian affecand the occasional effusions were almost hourly. tions. And it is a remarkable instance of instinctive good I have by me a bundle of faded manuscript taste in this generation of sweet singers that, unlike miscellanies, among which are contributions from the reckless Hawkins, they usually abstained from almost every pen in Graveley-good, bad, and blank verse, on the ground of its extreme difficulty. indifferent, and almost all of them in verse, chiefly Whenever they attempted it, the "piece" (the pastoral and serious. I say almost, because there Graveleyian name for a poem-every poem was a is a considerable sprinkling of recipes for dropsy, " piece") was solemnly headed with the words, asthma, and rheumatism; and there are a few “Wrote in blank verse," strongly underlined, to ladies' letters, in which the leading topics are incall attention to the audacity of the flight. If the variably births, deaths, and marriages, and final composition was esteemed successful, the poet was perseverance. Among the lyrics of the minor forthwith a marked man (or woman), and was pocts of Graveley, I find one, the production of a appealed to the next time any question arose be young mother, whose strong-minded infant had tiveen relatives and antecedents, or concerning the testified objections to his par.'nt attending public earth's distance from the sun. But the felicitous l worship twice a day. The poem displays all the