Page images
PDF
EPUB

scription of criminals were strangled beforehand.monly supposed to have belonged to the punishOf those who were broken alive, none were de- ment. The weight of the body was borne by a nied the coup-de-grace for the final stroke. This ledge which projected from the middle of the upwas a blow on the pit of the stomach, with the in- right beam, and not by the hands and feet, which tention, seldom defeated, of putting an end to the were probably found unequal to the strain. The tortures of the victim. Rarely after the blow of frailty of man's frame comes at last to be its grace did he continue to breathe-more rarely to own defence ; but enough remained to preserve feel.

Yet upon the ground of this feature in the the preëminence of torture to the cross. The punishment of the wheel Mr. Alison declares he is process of nailing was exquisite torment, and yet tempted to forget all the cruelties of the Revolu- worse in what ensued than in the actual infliction. tion, and exclaim with Byron, “ Arise, ye Goths, The spikes rankled, the wounds inflamed, the loand glut your ire !” But assuming the truth of cal injury produced a general fever, the fever a the misstatements which he has adopted from a most intolerable thirst; but the misery of miseries writer of French memoirs, was it because ruffians to the sufferer was, while raeked with agony, to who had inflicted greater suffering than they en- be fastened in a position which did not permit him dured were put to death by methods repudiated in even to writhe. Every attempt to relieve the a humaner age, or, if he pleases, though it was muscles, every instinctive movement of anguish, not the case, repudiated at the time by the aveng- only served to drag the lacerated flesh, and wake ers, whom events proved to be more sanguinary up new and acuter pangs; and this torture, which than the laws-was it on this account that kings must have been continually aggravated, until adand nobles should be brought to the scaffold, inno- vancing death began to lay it to sleep, lasted on cent men, women, and children butchered by thou- an average two or three days. sands, the church be overthrown, property confis- Several punishments allied to crucifixion, but cated—that massacre, war, havoc, and ruin should which differed in the method of fastening the body, desolate the land ? Feelings find vent in exagger- were once common, and are not entirely obsolete. ated language, and we should not be critical upon Whether men are nailed to a cross, hung up with an expression of sympathy, though extravagant in hooks, or fixed upon stakes, there is a strong resentiment and offensive in form, unless these out- semblance in the suffering produced ; and any difbursts of spurious indignation had pervaded the ferential circumstance which adds to the torture, whole of Mr. Alison's account of the French Rev- also curtails it. Maundrell has given from hearolution. There are, it is true, abundance of pas- say an account of impalement as practised at Tripsages of an opposite description, for the jarring oli, which would throw its rivals into the shade. elements of hot and cold are poured out indiscrim- A post the size of a man's leg, sharpened at the inately, and left to mingle as they may.

top, was placed in the ground, and when the point Worse than the halter, axe, or wheel, was the had been inserted between the legs of the victim, fire which, as typical of the flames of hell, was he was drawn on, as a joint of meat upon a spit, employed in the blindness of theological fury to until the stake carne through at the shoulders. In consume the foremost of the pilgrims to heaven. this condition he would sometimes sit for a day The legs of Bishop Hooper were charred, and his and a night, and by smoking, drinking, and talkbody scorched, before he was fully enveloped in ing, endeavor to beguile the weary time. Maunthe fire, which a wind blew aside, nor was it till drell is a trustworthy traveller, but on this occathe pile had been twice replenished that he bowed sion he was certainly deceived, or the anatomy of his head and gave up the ghost. A similar mis- man has degenerated since. A race of beings fortune attended Ridley. An excess of fagots who could endure a post the size of a leg to travhindered the flames ascending, and his extremities erse their vitals, and be alive at the close—who, were in ashes when his body was unsinged. Rid- yet more, could sit for four-and-twenty hours, enley yielded slightly to the dictates of nature, and gaged in festive occupations, no matter with how struggled at the height of his protracted anguish. slight a relish, while pierced from end to end with Hooper remained immovable as the stake to which a staff more clumsy than that of Goliath's spearhe was chained. For three quarters of an hour a race of beings so tenacious of life, and insensible his patience was proof against the fury of the to pain, would require punishments to be heightflames, and he died at'length as quietly as a child ened to meet the callousness of their structure; in its bed. But the pain of burning is of fearful but with our delicate organization, too rough a intensity, and the meek endurance of these heroes usage breaks the golden cord. Nature has set at the stake was the triumph of mind over the tor- bounds to the cruelty of man, for torture carried tures of the flesh.

beyond a certain point defeats itself. Sorrow The Head, the Hope, the Supporter of those occupies a larger space in our minds than it does who gave their bodies to be burnt, drank himself in our existence. Time, who in our happier hours of a bitterer cup. Of all the devices of cruel imag- put on wings and flew like the wind, in our misery ination, crucifixion is the masterpiece. Other toils heavily with leaden feet ; but though he may pains are sharper for a time, but none are at once lag he cannot stop, and, when every other alleviaso agonizing and so long. One aggravation, how- tion is gone, this will always remain to sustain ever, was wanting which, owing to the want of patience under aggravated turments—that there knowledge in painters, is still, we believe, com- must be a speedy abatement or a speedy release.

We have been accompanying the body in its progress to the grave. We had meant next to retrace our steps, and observe the workings of the mind in its approach to the boundary which divides time from eternity ; but this subject is, we find, too extensive to be made an appendage.

From the Presbyterian. Caprices. New York, 1849, Robert Carter &

Brothers : Philadelphia, William S. Martien. 12mo. pp. 154.

The first caprice of the author is his adopting one of the very briefest titles we have ever seen in a new book, which said title, like a sign-board, is too often used to exaggerate the quality of the articles to be found within ; and then the very term caprices might repel the reader as setting forth things with which he had rather not meddle. The second caprice is no less remarkable. The book has not a line of preface, introduction, or advertisement, and not the remotest clue is furnished to those who are curious about authors' names. Passing over these, we dive into the midst of the caprices, and if we are not mistaken, we have found ourselves, although without introduction, in the best company. According to our estimate of the muses, the unknown author is a poet-one who has felt the true afflatus. In these brief and occasional productions of his muse, he has evinced the possession of a chaste imagination, the pictures of which are drawn with vigor and spirit. All the pieces are good, without being of uniform merit, and although we occasionally detect a false rhyme, and, peradventure, some other faults, we are ready to venture some of these stanzas side by side with some of the best of Longfellow's, which they more resemble than those of any other poet. We indicate the lines beginning “ Rest?—there is no such thing," as felicitous, and there is more of the same quality; and “ The Blue Beard chambers of the heart,” we copy at large, as a thrilling, graphic, and truly poetical portraiture of a blood-stained conscience.

Mould upon the ceiling,

Mould upon the floor,
Windows barred and double-barred,

Opening never more ;
Spiders in the corners,

Spiders on the shelves,
Weaving frail and endless webs

Back upon themselves ;
Weaving, ever weaving,

Weaving in the gloom,
Till the drooping drapery

Trails about the room.
Waken not the echo,

Nor the bat that cling3

In the curious crevices

Of the panelings. Waken not the echo,

It will haunt your ear, Wall and ceiling whispering

Words you would not hear.
Hist: the 'spectres gather,

Gather in the dark,
Where a breath hath brushed away

Dust from off a mark ;
Dust of weary winters,

Dust of solemn years,
Dust that deepens in the silence,

As the minute wears.
On the shelf and wainscot,

Window-bars and wall, Covering infinite devices,

With its stealthy fall. Hist! the spectres gather,

Break, and group again, Wreathing, writhing, gibbering

Round that fearful stain ;Blood upon the panels,

Blood upon the floor,
Blood, that baffles wear and washing,

Red forever more.
See—they pause and listen,

Where the bat that clings,
Stirs within the crevices

Of the panelings.
See—they pause and listen,

Listen through the air ;
How the eager life has struggled,

That was taken there;
See—they pause and listen,

Listen in the gloom ;
For a startled breath is sighing,

Sighing through the room,
Sighing in the corners,

Sighing on the floor,
Sighing through the window-bars,

That open never more.
Waken not those whispers ;

They will pain your ears ; Waken not the dust that deepens

Through the solemn years— Deepens in the silence,

Deepens in the dark; Covering closer, as it gathers,

Many a fearful mark. Hist! the spectres gather,

Break, and group again, Wreathing, writhing, gibbering,

Round that fearful stain :Blood upon the panels,

Blood upon the floor, Blood that baffles wear and washing,

Red forever more.

mit, whose child that was in the cradle. She CHAPTER XVI.—THE GOVERNOR's soirée.

replied it was her own; and then, uncovering its When one has been riding for several hours, face a little more, asked me if I did not think it whether in a carriage or on horseback, it is often like her. agreeable to take a stroll on foot, especially * Very," I replied, “ for it is as beautiful as through the streets of a strange town, where an angel.” everything one sees is new. This opinion I Without noticing the compliment to herself, shared in common with the Dalmatian and the which, however, was not meant to be a compliMilanese ; so, having ordered a late dinner, which ment, since it was the simple truth, she exmight as well have been called supper, we sallied claimed :forth to see the lions of Nove.

“You say true, sir--it is like an angel; and All travellers have celebrated the beauty of an when you came up I was singing a hymn to the Italian evening. The air you breathe seems to Virgin as a thanksgiving for the blessing. I do be an intoxicating fluid, which induces some de- so twenty times a day—I am so happy!” gree of soft languor, while it excites and exhil- “ And where is its father ?" I inquired. arates. It is difficult to explain the feeling. “ He has just gone down into the town," she There is a sort of perfume floating about you, answered, “ to buy something for me; he is so which is neither that of groves nor gardens, nor good. You must stay till he comes back-he yet of artificial composition. It appears to de- will be here presently.' scend from above, and to impregnate every parti- Just at that moment I made the discovery that cle of the atmosphere ; which, at the same time, my companions had disappeared. But it did not is radiant with golden light, and put into a gentle, signify. I was determined to wait till the husundulating motion by the breeze.

band came back, provided he did not make a very It is delicious, when certain trains of thought long stay; and proceeded with the conversation. come over you, to slip away from company, and Do many strangers pass through Nove?"! be alone ; but it is best when accident effects the said I. purpose for you. As we walked along, I could I don't know ; I seldom go out, except when hear through the open windows the rocking of I take the bambino into the fields.”' cradles, and the sweetest lullabies sung over half- And how long have you been married ?” sleeping infants.

No sound in nature is so sweet “ Just a year and five weeks last Tuesday; and as a mother's voice, when she is hushing the yet it already seems an age, I have enjoyed so child of her love to rest. There is something much happiness in it." seraphic in it. All the charities, and loves, and “ Then you have not heard the Spanish provhappiness of our earliest years rise up from the erb, that a year of pleasure passes like a fleetdepth of the past, as we listen. We fancy that ing dream, while a moment of misfortune seems Heaven is listening with us, and pouring abun-an age of pain.' dant blessings on the scene. Oh, how sacred a “ I don't know what misfortune means. I thing a mother is ! What religion is in her have never lost a person I loved. My father and love! How she prays, and yearns, and watches mother are living, with all my brothers and sisover the cradle, looking forward and backward ters, all younger than I, and all at home. through time, weaving bright destinies for her “ And so you think,” said I, that happiness child, or dreaming of moments when her own lengthens time?"! soul was first steeped in the Elysium of delight, Oh, very much,” she replied ; “ for though, and the baby she is now gazing on began to be. as you see, I am young, still I almost fancy I

Turning a corner, we entered a street, down have lived forever. I can't tell when I began to which the sun was throwing a flood of glory, think—when I began to feel—when I began to sheathing the walls and eaves with gold, and be happy. I have always been happy! Did glittering with dazzling brightness on the case you ever look on the water at sunset, and observe

At the entrance of a lofty porle cochére, how the sun's wake stretches away into the dissat a young woman, with a cradle by her side, tance, till you don't know where it ends; but it is which she rocked occasionally with her right foot, all golden and glittering, and, though every wavekeeping time with the other on the ground. She let seems like the other, they are all bright—all was gathering up a rent in a white lace veil, alive with pleasure? It has been exactly so with which hung in graceful folds over her dark dress, my life-nothing but one endless streak of sunand added greatly to the interest of her figure. shine. But look," cried she, “ there is my husIn a low, sweet voice, she murmured, rather than band. Ah ! see how he smiles as he comes along ; sung, a hymn to the Virgin. I stood still to look he is so glad to come back to me. Dear Giuat the picture. At first her various avocations seppe,” said she as he approached, “here is prevented her from noticing me ; but when she a strange gentleman who has been admiring our did, pointing to an empty chair on the other side child, and to whom I have been saying I don't of the cradle, she politely invited me to sit down. know what.” I did not wait for a second invitation, but imme- Gieuseppe was a fine fellow, and seemed to be diately taking the proffered chair, began the con- quite as proud as his wife of the little boy who versation by inquiring, very superfluously, I ad-constituted so large a portion of their happiness.

[ocr errors]

ܕܕ ܕ

ments.

[ocr errors]

me.

He had been out buying something for supper, he house entered, and, with a sweetness and a grace said. He had it in his hand in a little basket, altogether irresistible, insisted on our entering the and invited me to join them. I sincerely wished salon. When we did, Carlotta rose, and, coming I could, but my travelling companions would have half across the room to meet me, exclaimed, thought it unkind; so, bidding the happy pair a “How very fortunate! Mamma and I were good evening, and promising to call if I ever just saying how much we should have liked you again passed through Nove, I took my leave to be here. But we were not aware you knew not, however, without kissing the young Giu- the governor.” seppe, who took it, wrapt in balmy slumbers, In reply, I related to her the manner of our without waking. At the end of the street I met introduction ; at which she laughed very heartily, my friends, who were coming back in search of and then took me over to repeat it to Madame

•We then continued our walk, and, shortly B- Never, perhaps, did three greater Guys after sunset, reached the square, where, from the make their appearance at a party.

We were windows of a large, fine house, we heard strains covered with dust from head to foot, had been of very delicious music, issuing like a flood. The smoking cigars, and, for my own part, with my Milanese affected a great passion for singing ; so, long beard and northern costume, I must have requesting us to wait a moment, he stepped appeared the strangest of all figures. The govtowards the door of the house, which stood wide ernor's lady was puzzled, and, in the course of open, and, entering the hall, found there a soldier, the evening, asked Carlotta if I were not an Afriwho informed him it was the governor's house, cano. There is, in the Italians, an innate taste adding, with extraordinary politeness, thiat he which enables them to do everything with grace. might go up stairs into an unoccupied room, and The apartment in which we were now assembled listen to the music, if he liked.

was full of elegance. The lamps, from which “ The governor,” said he, * is a very good the light was diffused on all sides, were modelled gentleman ; and I know I shall not offend him by after the antique. The furniture was rich, withtaking the liberty to invite you."

out being gaudy; and the dresses and figures of “But I have two friends waiting for me in the the women superb. Upon the whole, the men square,'' answered the Milanese.

were less striking. Possibly I am incompetent 56 Ask them in also," said the soldier. to comprehend the physiognomies of musical men,

When our free and easy friend came out, and which always appear to me wanting in expression, related the circumstance to us, we laughed heart- especially in countries like Piedmont, where the ily ; because, in the first place, we could hear the political feeling is not permitted to develop itself, music much better where we were, and, secondly, and impart grandeur and decision to the countebecause we thought the soldier was exceeding his nance. Men are there musical, because they can duty, and that we should, probably, be ejected be nothing else. It helps to plunge them into very unceremoniously by the governor when he that dreamy state in which a slave should pass his came to learn how matters stood. Upon the days—humming, whispering, crowding round assurance of our Carbonaro, however, that it pianos—fanning ladies' faces, and talking nonwould be all right, we entered the house, and sense. It is a woful existence, worse than that were conducted by the soldier up stairs into a led in many departments of Dante's Hell; and small room adjoining that in which the party yet men exist for ages under such circumstances ! were assembled. Here, he said, we might sit as And the women, what are they born to? Let long as we pleased ; and when we were tired, we Iago explain for me" To suckle fools, and had only to come down stairs, and he would let chronicle small beer.”

At that moment there was a lady sing- It is a godsend in the country to catch four or ing; and it immediately struck me that I had five strangers at once, just to break the monotony heard her voice before. It was so rich, so full, of life. Persons who circulate perpetually among so sweet, there could be, I thought, but one such each other gradually subside into a sort of aniin the world. It must be it was-Carlotta's. Imate clocks, that go on ticking for years, neithe I trembled slightly. This, then, was perhaps her louder nor lower, beside each other. Tick, tick, hoine--this her father's house ; and here I should tick, from morning till night, without the slightlose her company.

My speculations were cut est variation. They may be very good people, short by the entrance of the governor, who ap- altogether, and, as the phrase is, without vice; proached us with a smile and a bow, and begged but their conversation is like ratsbane, and enough we would do him the honor to join his party, to kill one with a single dose—and yet, as I have which consisted, he said, of a few musical friends said, it does not kill, but only induces mental got together in a hurry to hear a lady who had lethargy, in which state men reach the age of just arrived in Nove. We excused ourselves on Methuselah. Yet their existence, methinks, very the ground of being covered with the dust of the much resembles that of a toad in a stone; they road ; and, at the same time, made a thousand turn about, they hum, they mutter, they dream, apologies for the liberty we had taken. He felt they lie for ease now on this side, and now on that, quite gratified, he said, that we should have done and their blood congeals within them into a sort him so much honor. Finding his persuasions of virtuous paste, which has no more motion in it unavailing, he left us ; and we were beginning to than a standing pool. think of beating a retreat, when the lady of thel At supper,

Carlotta could not avoid whispering

Us out.

to me,

66

66

added she,

“What would you take to settle down often made me forget whether we were going up here at Nove for the rest of your life?"

or down hill, whether the prospect was pictuNothing short of yourself,”' I replied ; “ but resque or otherwise-in short, everything but with you, I could settle anywhere, and be happy." ourselves. We picked up at Nove a new set of

I doubt it," answered she; “and I frankly companions, consisting of an English officer and confess that I don't believe either you or any one his family, who intended to proceed with us as else could make me happy long in a place like far as Genoa. They were all of them very agreethis. A night and a single party exhaust all its able ; and the father, who had often gone the road vitality. I am glad we are to be off to-morrow." before, proposed, when we became tolerably famil

This was one side of the picture. Shortly iar, that we should spend the following Sunday after, I found myself beside the lady of the house, at a lovely village in the Apennines, where, he who asked me what pleasure I could find in wan- said, he had once staid a whole day. We then dering about the world, leaving all my friends, began to compare notes, and found that we had breaking all my old associations, “and laying in,” for some time been neighbors, he having lived at

a store of restlessness for the remain- a chateau near Morges, while I was at Lausanne. der of yonr days.” She said she had never quit-Of that chateau he related many curious particted Nove, which every year acquired fresh charms ulars, of which, at the present moment, I only for her.

remember the following. As he spoke Italian In its quiet little churchyard,” said she, “ all perfectly, he related it in that language, for the my forefathers lie buried ; and I often go there to benefit of Carlotta and her mamma :count them over, and sit down and shed tears of “One night," he said, " in the depth of winpleasure on their graves. What tranquillity we ter, having staid up late in my library, I retired enjoy! what a blissful ignorance of all that passes late to bed. The snow had been falling for in the great world! My husband is contented hours, so that the whole country round was with me, and I with him ; and neither of us would deeply covered with it. A strong wind, meanchange our situation for the best in Italy. We while, was blowing, and beating the fakes against have three dear little children asleep ; and if you my window, which shook and ratiled and concould but see their happy faces when they first spired, with uneasy thoughts, keep me awake. awake and kiss me in the morning! They send The old clock of the chateau had already told a thrill of delight through my whole frame ; and twelve, and one, and two ; and still I could not morning and evening, on my knees, I offer up sleep. There is an odd sensation produced, even only this prayer, that such as my state now is, it in the neighborhood of the Alps, by a snow-storm. may continue forever.

With all the friends you which seems to be engaged in wrapping a windsee here, we have been familiar from childhood. ing-sheet around the earth, and preparing it for The women were brought up in the same con- its everlasting rest. I had a blazing wood-fire in vent; the men went to school with my husband. my room ; and I got out of bed every now and We are like one family. We pray in the same then to cast fresh logs upon it, and keep myself church, we shall all be buried in the same church- comfortable. Now and then, too, I went to the yard ; and we hope,” added she, with a sweet window, and looked out. There was nothing to smile, “ that we shall all hereafter meet in the be seen, for the snow fell so thick that it filled the same heaven."

air, and allowed no passage for a single ray of God grant it!” cried I, greatly touched by light, though the moon was at that moment shinthe earnestness of her manner. I felt my spirit ing, I knew, on the backs of the clouds, and rebuked, and saw that happiness may be tasted rendering them luminous for the wandering spireverywhere, though, not, perhaps, by one who its of the Alps. Presently I heard the bell of has once known what it is to wander and be the castle sound faintly, as it shook the snow off alone, and craves the excitement of perpetual its back, and tried to thaw itself with motion. change.

Ding, dong, it went, with a chill and low sound ; My friend the Carbonaro had been trying hard which, however, wakened my man Francois, who, all the evening to get up a flirtation with a musi- in anything but the best humor in the world, cal young lady, but without success. The Dal- dressed, and descended to the gate. Presently I matian listened to the music almost in silence, but heard him knocking at my bed-room door. yet appeared to enjoy the evening much. It was 6. What do you want, Francois ? inquired I. one o'clock in the morning when we returned to w. If you please, sir,' answered he, here are our inn, where innumerable oaths had been show- two young women who wish to speak with you.' ered on

us by cooks and waiters for ordering "With me,' I exclaimed, at such an hour a dinner, and not coming back to eat it, though, as this ? Tell them I am in bed, Francois, and of course, it was not forgotten next morning in that they had better come to-morrow.' the bill.

They say, sir,' answered Francois, that

Mr. Duff is dead, and that they must speak with CHAPTER XVII.-“ MONSIEUR DUFF EST MORT.

you.' It is a great pity that pleasure should be so "• Mr. Duff!' cried I ; "Mr. Duff!- Who is monotonous, otherwise I should never grow weary this Mr. Duff ?' of relating my conversations with Carlotta, which "• Don't know, sir,' answered Francois ; ' but

« PreviousContinue »