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Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers, Vol. I. by Thomas De Quincey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first point to be reached, before any hope of repose could be
encouraged, was the river Jaik. This was not above three hundred miles
from the main point of departure on the Wolga; and if the march thither
was to be a forced one, and a severe one, it was alleged on the other
hand that the suffering would be the more brief and transient; one
summary exertion, not to be repeated, and all was achieved. Forced the

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