Imagens da página


genius. I saw the lips move, thin mystic figures, The sight would and dry with pain, but they were have startled me at another period, filled with the words of eloquence for, as he turned away, the whole and feeling. He was a parent : be frame of the man seemed to glow implored the protection of Heaven into a strange unnatural light, and for his wife and children. I saw the the mystic figures to quiver with tears burst out in a sudden stream melancholy lustre. But this was no as he uttered the words. He was a time even for fear. The intensity of patriot: he prayed that the time terror had, by one of the anomalies might come, when true wisdom of the human mind, given me a morwould teach true humanity, and the bid courage. I should have plunged reign of force would give way to the into a herd of lions at that bour; I reign of justice. As he spoke, I should have rushed into a midnight saw a single flush of

generous and sea; I should have battled with an bold indignation redden his whole army. The agony of the thought of countenance. He had one prayer dying alone, and in famine, in frenzy

He was a Christian, In ac- exclaiming against fate and fortune, cents deep and solemn, but which where none could bear, perishing were fast sinking into the whispers by inches, leaving my name to the of death, I heard him supplicate thousand strange, contemptuous, the common father of all to visit and insulting explanations which his country with a sacred knowledge the world, that, in its soul, loves a which was not to be retarded by the sheer, would be sure to invent for rack and the scaffold, take the veil my unaccountable disappearance ; from the blinded eyes of power, and the extinction of my being in the give the light of faith and holiness, moment when life was scarcely more pure, free, and universal, to all the than opening on me; above all, one, sons of men. As he pronounced the one great engrossing thought, the words, I heard a sudden sound of hope which had been so rapidly many feet; a crowd of mufiled born, and so rapidly extinguished, figures seemed to grow out of the yet which still a cloudy combination darkness, and rush round the en. of ideas had, from time to time, even gine. I saw the victim clasped down on this night, so painfully and so to it with double chains; I heard the powerfully revived--the memory of infernal springs and wheels creaking Catalina, the tone which still vibra, to give him another round of tor. ted in my ears, an undefined impres. ture. I saw him, to the last, resign- sion that she might have been saved ed; his large eye still fixed above, from the ruin of her household, and his lips moving with unutterable that my sun, wbich had been so long prayer, his withered hands clasped obscured, would set in clearness together; his whole frame, his coun. and serenity, gave life an interest tenance, his thought, all in one bigh in my eyes of pungency indescri. aspiration for heaven. The execu- bable. tioners now applied themselves to I struggled, but numbers prevailtheir task; I saw the huge windlass ed. A cloak was thrown over my of the rack whirl round; I heard a face, a scarf was strongly bound crush, a groan that might have round my arms; and in this state I pierced to the centre of the earth. was raised from the ground, to which I found myself seized at the same I had fallen during the contest, and moment by those invisible agents of carried with difficulty to some dismisery. The reverie was gone; here tance. My first conception had been at least all was reality. I was flung that I was to be torn by the rack in forward on the bed of iron, and felt the chamber, and I tried to raise my as if life was passing away from me. remonstrance against this atrocity. Still I made one violent effort for But the cloak was only the more liberty. I grasped the mantle of an tightly pressed upon my face, and I assailant, who already had his grasp was half suffocated into a sense of round my throat. The mantle was the uselessness of appealing to either torn from his shoulders in the strug. the fears or the feelings of my murgle. A small lamp, hung from his derers. Yet I was obviously leaving breast, shewed me a form strangely this dreaded chamber. Sometimes covered with shining emblems and dragged, sometimes carried, sometimes rolled down a long succession as to my being the intended subject of steps, I was still going forward, of the revolutionary steel, I actually though why, or whither, was the felt myself so much shocked at seeproblem. The covering of my face ing this rapid termination to the exJeft my fancy to do her will, and I istence of a human being brought had my choice of every startling thus to my eyes, that, for the instant, mode of quitting the world that ever I forgot that at least a substitute had signalized the history of dungeons. been provided for me. I actually At length I felt my bearers suddenly cried out with involuntary emotion, stop. A door creaked on its hinges; and with a force which penetrated I was carried forward a few steps, the folds of the mantle, and made and then seated. The cloak was the performers in this frightful tranow taken from my eyes. The sight gedy pause in their occupation. A that met them was sufficiently 80- figure, which I had not before perlemn.

ceived, now seemed to rise from the In the centre of the room was a ground, and stalking to the front of low scaffold-on it a guillotine. the scaffold, while the wretched vice Two men, habited in long dark cloaks, tim of this cruelty still lay waiting stood at the foot of the scaffold with the blow which was to separate him drawn sabres. An executioner was from the world, he pronounced the in the act of pulling up the axe of the words,—“Let all whom the love of instrument of death; and while I sat, their country inspires, learn to revestill bound, and in no slight anxiety to rence the majesty of truth. On this know whether the whole preparation scaffold lies a traitor; he overheard were not for myself, I was not defi- the secret councils of patriotism, and cient in the full inclination to plead revealed them to the Despot. There. my privileges as a Briton; but with fore, the vengeance of the free conmy hands bound, and the heavy demned him; the power of the mantle still tight round my mouth, mighty grasped him. Thus shall the all appeal to feelings on the present betrayer of the mysteries of freedom occasion was hopeless. I sat a mute perish from the earth ; and thus shall spectator, though by no means a the lover of tyranny feel that justice tranquil one. In a few minutes a repays the chains of the Despot by movement was heard beyond a huge the axe of the law.” At these words, curtain, which hung from the roof pronounced in a solemn and sonoover a portion of this sepulchral rous voice, the trumpet sounded, the chamber. The only light was from sabres clashed again, and the blade a torch, which burned, fixed in the of the guillotine fell; a single slight scaffold, at the foot of the headsman. groan was heard, and the head All was grim and ghastly,-all the sprang off on the floor of the scafparties wore masks, and even this fold. disguise added to the gravity of Struck with horror and surprise the scene, as if the act about to be at this consummation, I plunged my perpetrated was one which rendered face in the mantle, that I might shut the actors naturally objects of hor- out, if possible, the sight and its ror or vengeance to their fellow- memory together. When I raised

But the curtain was suddenly my eyes once more, the engine of flung aside for a small space. À death, the corpse, and the execushort shrill blast of a trumpet, and tioner, had disappeared. But the a clash of arms, followed; and, ad. armed figures remained ; and in vancing from a narrow and dim pass- front of them stood the Orator, ready age, came a line of figures covered, to commence a harangue on the virlike the attendants of the guillotine, tues of republicanism. That it could in black cloaks, masked, and bearing be worth the while of this regenepikes and sabres. As they reached rator of nations to waste his elothe foot of the scaffold they divided, quence on the conversion of a simple and I saw, with increasing astonish- individual like myself, would never ment, a human form suddenly lifted have entered into my thoughts, had upon the scaffold, as suddenly seized not the address at length applied all by the attendants, and flung under its allusions directly to my circumthe axe of the guillotine. However stances, as the native of a land of pethis might have decided my doubts culiar freedom, the natural protector


to my

of human rights in every corner of cognition, by the boundless ardour
the globe, and the natural hater of of his reminiscences, when they had
tyranny of all shapes and colours. returned. He embraced me with
Something of this was romance, and more than Spanish assiduity-made
something was absurdity; but I never a hundred enquiries as
listened to public oratory with less wounds, escapes, and wrongs of
inclination to think fretfully of the all kinds - imprecated vengeance
Cicero who was employing his skill in every shape on the contrivers of
to convert me. I felt the entire dif- the artifice, by which his most ex-
ference between persuasion and pu- cellent friend had been brought into
nishment, and infinitely preferred such a state of peril, and could not
the sonorous tone of the harangue sufficiently express his rejoicing that
to the sharp short click of the steel. my name was not to be found in the
At the close, the Orator stamped volume, which he now informed me
strongly on the ground, and before was nothing less than a list of con-
me, as if by magic, rose a small altar, spirators against the royal life, under
surmounted with an open volume. the pretence of zeal for the consti-
He lighted a torch at a tripod burn. tution. “ The King is exasperated
ing with a strong perfume, and hold against those traitors,” said Altuna,
ing it above my head, as if to let in adding, with almost a shudder, that,
light through the crevices of my if by any accident, the name of his ex-
brains, summoned me to enrol my cellent friend had been found among
name among the heroes of regenera- them, let the artifice which brought
tion. As he spoke, the surrounding it there be what it might, royal ven-
group waved their sabres in the geance might have fallen too quick
air, and then pointed them at my to be anticipated. The capitan was
breast,-a significant gesture, which not much in the habit of appealing
very distinctly told me the alterna- to the saints, but on this occasion
tive of refusing to be persuaded. his piety came upon him in a flood,
The mantle was now withdrawn and he shewed himself master of a
from my lips-my hands were free. bead.roll of sanctity which unfolded
I glanced for a moment over the de. a new chapter in the accomplish-
claration, which was merely a ge- ments of my gallant protector. I was
neral pledge to live and die for prodigiously edified, and grateful in
liberty. This seemed to me suffi- proportion; his rapture at my re-
ciently innocent and commonplace, covery, for a minute more might
and I was about to put my sig- have made me figure on the block,
nature to the volume, when I heard or stand the fire ví a platoon of the
the report of a pistol which seemed royal guard on the Plaza, without
to come from the ceiling, directly much enquiry as to my national
above my head. The omen was not privileges, cancelled a whole host of
a fortunate one. I paused-it ap- eccentricities, and we were firmer
peared to be as litile admired by my friends than ever.
attendant patriots, for it produced The affair of the night was natu-
an instant hesitation among them. rally enough explained, in the trials
While my hand was yet resting on of the conspirators, which took place
the volume, I heard the voice of Al. in a few days--an extraordinary des-
tuna without; the curtain was patch of Spanish justice. They had
thrown open, and he rushed in, fol- held their meetings in the vaults ad-
lowed by some files of soldiers. A joining the building where La Cres-
brief skirmish began with the sabre- cembini gave her weekly reunions
bearers, which soon ended in the of all that was fair and fantastic in
flight of some, and the capture of Madrid-apalace of the graces where
the rest. In the tumult, the volume all the leaders of the new régime
had fallen to the ground. Altuna met weekly, for the purpose of car-
darted to where it lay, cast a rapid rying on the business of the nation
look over the signatures, and then in the old national way, under the
first appeared to have discovered garb of festivity. There patriot met

He might well, indeed, have patriot in a waltz, and laws emanated doubted my identity, torn and worn from a quadrille; there expeditions as I was by the night's work; but he were planned under cover of a game made up for any tardiness of re- of loto, and embassies were dispo

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



sed of to the silvery tones of a harp, rabble want a holiday exhibition, or blending with the still more silvery a new minister of justice wants an tones of some siren of the opera, or opportunity to shew his vigour for some exquisite compound of beauty the first time and the last; or the and the beaux arts, from the coteries priests denounce a failure in the of sea-washed Cadiz, of all cities Virgin's milk, or the annual tears of the most festive. But sterner deeds St Ursula, for the iniquity of the were done below. In all revolu- land, and the order arrives for a getions there is an under current of neral clearance of the dungeone.

darker hue, which struggles Then patriarchs with hoary heads and against the upper. The shewy pa« shaking limbs, are astonished to find triot is only the stratum of the themselves called on to be strangled surface - the dust, the clay, the for assassinations or poisonings of pebble; the solid metal of Republi. fifty years before. Families of pricanism lies at a greater depth, yet son-birds are suddenly left without ready to display itself on the first their venerable guide in the arts of opportunity of real mischief. Ora- living on the public. Wives are tors figure and flourish on the out- torn from the sides of the ancient side. But it is in the depths of the pilferers with whom they had lived mine that the explosion awaits its in the clank of the chain for the hour; then woe to the orators, and term of an honest man's natural to the fools who trusted them; the life; and the gibbet is surrounded fire-damp once touched by the spark, with octogenarian thievery, not at away go the haranguers into the ele- all distinguishable from the pilgrims ments, the conspirators against life to our Lady of Montserrat, or the are masters of the conspirators summits of the Alpuxarras; and ri. against principles, the dagger silences valling in majesty of beard and hothe quibble, the scaffold becomes nesty of principle, the most eminent the national logician, the reign of of the Franciscans and Dominicans, metaphor passes away, the reign of who escort them to the confines of reason and treason has arrived. Purgatory. Strong sense and sound blows carry My last adventure had surfeited all before them; and the ruffian, me of Spain. What had I to do with trampling the hypocrite, is master of the fates of men, who cared more the land. On the present occasion for the arrival of a packet of Havanthe rebel had rather urged himself pah cigars, than for the wealth, too rapidly into notice; and as all learning, or liberty, of half mankind? was constitution, toleration, conci- I felt a strong distaste for the grave liation, and the other softnesses of frivolity and empty pretension of public overthrow for the time, it foreign life. I longed to return to the was thought proper by the friends only country where enjoyment may of freedom to stop this too hot whirl be reconciled with manly pursuits, of the wheel, until the fitting season and where the human race does not had come. Spain hailed the dis- drop, generation after generation, corery, and the trial, with the eager- into the tomb, as useless as leaves ness of all the mobs of earth for from the tree. Yet whenever I connovelty, whether of Government, ceived the determination as compuppet shews, or hanging. But the plete, I felt a lingering reluctance to public curiosity was to be disap- quit the soil which held, living or pointed in the latter instance. In dead, a being who had fastened a Spain, no man is hanged until his most resistless fetter on my mind. crime is forgotten. The custom is To drag the chain, and find it clingimmemorial, and as such customs ing to me until the last hour of my are not to be broken through for being, seemed to be so decisively temporary convenience, the Spanish my fate, that I was the less solicitous dungeons are filled with culprits where I dragged it. My days had who have commenced trades since been suddenly and strangely cloudtheir incarceration, have married, ed. No man, by habit and by nabecome the fathers of families, and ture, more disdained romance. No carried on every course of life but man was less inclined to exbibit their old one, with every prospect himself

as a mendicant on the world's of seeing their great-grandchildren. sympathies, by the displays of a broBut the prisons grow too full, or the ken spirit. But there is no use in attempting to account for feelings hours more saw us pass through which must be experienced before the Puerto del Sol. Carthagena they can be understood; and which, was the port which I fixed on for once experienced, are known to be our embarkation. It was a detour ; among the most absorbing and over- but I had recollections, which made whelming of the human mind. the wildest valley of Murcia dearer

Thus unsettled, making daily re- to me than the perfumed plains of solutions to fly from the sounds and Granada, or the picturesque hills sights of the capital, and suffering of Catalonia. Through Murcia we them to lapse away, I was sinking accordingly drove, as fast as six mules into a feverish disgust of the world, could sweep us along. I stipulated when Altuna, of whom I had not but for one delay in our route; that seen much since our late adventure, we should leave the high-road when entered the room. He looked hag. it approached the site of what had gard and weary, he flung himself once been the seat of the unhappy into a chair, and called for wine. “I Ildefonzo family. Altuna's counteam sick," said he, "of Spain—sick of nance awoke from its dejection, as I every thing that Madrid holds---sick spoke. He complied with habitual of the sun and sky. Señor, if you courtesy, and professed that, anxious are going to leave this detestable as he was to leave Spain, and displace, I am at your service, for any tressing as the scene must be to the thing, even to the Antipodes." feelings of all who had known how

Singular as his speech was, his ap- mucho merit and loveliness were pearance amply seconded all that he buried there, he was ready to give said of his exhaustion. The gay cara- way to any wish of mine on the lier was completely lost in the hollow subject. eyed and sallow-cheeked son of dis- When we approached the valley sipation before me. I offered him the in which the palazzo had stood, all use of my purse. “I owe you money the remembrances of the hours and enough already," said he." My busi- scenes that passed there, rose on my ness is now to leave Spain as quickly mind's eye with a vividness which as I can; but whether as a volunteer almost unmanned me. As I saw the to the Americas, or a convict to the grove of elms which led to the gates blave coast, or as a mendicant round of the stately mansion-the sun tinthe world, is in the clouds yet. I come ging the few remaining battlements to ask the opinionofthe SeñorInglese." even the bill which sheltered it

“ The Señor Inglese, then, has from the northern blast, and which but one opinion," was my answer. had now exchanged its countless “ We are both the worse for staying beds of flowers for a neglected and too long in this stilling city; we shall weedy covering, brown as the surboth be the better for leaving it.” face of the desert, I half regretted

His. pallid cheek was lighted the love of painful emotion, the up with a gleam of satisfaction. “I weakness which had brought me iuto leave it to you, Altuna, who know such wilful suffering once more. But the carte du pays better than any of my companion's fortitude fully made the idlers round us, to fix in what up for any deficiency in mine. He directionweshall take our departure.” resumed his energy in erery sense

“ Then, as far from Spain as of the word; led me through the we can," was the prompt answer. ruins with the activity of an esta“I have now no ties here. This blished guide; pointed out in the morning I resigned my commission dilapidated chambers the fragments in the Guards. They are to be new- which identified them as the favourmodelled. I am weary of revolu- ed apartments of their once noble tions. They never can be more than and lovely tenants. The music a pantomime in Spain. Clowns and

rooms, the galleries of pictures and harlequins are their natural actors- statues; the banqueting hall, with its gentlemen and soldiers are too see magnificent marbles still wearing rious performers for these carica- the smoke stains of that dreadful tures of statesmanship. I leave them night; the mutilated statue of the to buffoons."

founder of the family, which had I proposed Italy. The project stood like the guardian genius of the was instantly adopted. Twelve palace at the great stair of entrance;

« AnteriorContinuar »