Part 1 out of 8
Bean- Many oddball caps, hyphens,
punctuation. Ancient spellings. Adjusted the commas in a big way,
and some hyphens. Left the spellings alone, unless an OCR error.
Think I got 2 spaces after most of the periods,!,?. Went over
this one twice- first time I've done that in over 100 of these
books- another round wouldn't hurt, if somebody has a hardcopy.
This Etext prepared by Charles E. Keller
THE MONK - A ROMANCE
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque.
Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power,
Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.
IMITATION OF HORACE
Ep. 20.--B. 1.
Methinks, Oh! vain ill-judging Book,
I see thee cast a wishful look,
Where reputations won and lost are
In famous row called Paternoster.
Incensed to find your precious olio
Buried in unexplored port-folio,
You scorn the prudent lock and key,
And pant well bound and gilt to see
Your Volume in the window set
Of Stockdale, Hookham, or Debrett.
Go then, and pass that dangerous bourn
Whence never Book can back return:
And when you find, condemned, despised,
Neglected, blamed, and criticised,
Abuse from All who read you fall,
(If haply you be read at all
Sorely will you your folly sigh at,
And wish for me, and home, and quiet.
Assuming now a conjuror's office, I
Thus on your future Fortune prophesy:--
Soon as your novelty is o'er,
And you are young and new no more,
In some dark dirty corner thrown,
Mouldy with damps, with cobwebs strown,
Your leaves shall be the Book-worm's prey;
Or sent to Chandler-Shop away,
And doomed to suffer public scandal,
Shall line the trunk, or wrap the candle!
But should you meet with approbation,
And some one find an inclination
To ask, by natural transition
Respecting me and my condition;
That I am one, the enquirer teach,
Nor very poor, nor very rich;
Of passions strong, of hasty nature,
Of graceless form and dwarfish stature;
By few approved, and few approving;
Extreme in hating and in loving;
Abhorring all whom I dislike,
Adoring who my fancy strike;
In forming judgements never long,
And for the most part judging wrong;
In friendship firm, but still believing
Others are treacherous and deceiving,
And thinking in the present aera
That Friendship is a pure chimaera:
More passionate no creature living,
Proud, obstinate, and unforgiving,
But yet for those who kindness show,
Ready through fire and smoke to go.
Again, should it be asked your page,
'Pray, what may be the author's age?'
Your faults, no doubt, will make it clear,
I scarce have seen my twentieth year,
Which passed, kind Reader, on my word,
While England's Throne held George the Third.
Now then your venturous course pursue:
Go, my delight! Dear Book, adieu!
Oct. 28, 1794. M. G. L.
The first idea of this Romance was suggested by the story of the
Santon Barsisa, related in The Guardian.--The Bleeding Nun is a
tradition still credited in many parts of Germany; and I have
been told that the ruins of the Castle of Lauenstein, which She
is supposed to haunt, may yet be seen upon the borders of
Thuringia.--The Water-King, from the third to the twelfth stanza,
is the fragment of an original Danish Ballad--And Belerma and
Durandarte is translated from some stanzas to be found in a
collection of old Spanish poetry, which contains also the popular
song of Gayferos and Melesindra, mentioned in Don Quixote.--I
have now made a full avowal of all the plagiarisms of which I am
aware myself; but I doubt not, many more may be found, of which I
am at present totally unconscious.
----Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; Scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone.
Measure for Measure.
Scarcely had the Abbey Bell tolled for five minutes,and already
was the Church of the Capuchins thronged with Auditors. Do not
encourage the idea that the Crowd was assembled either from
motives of piety or thirst of information. But very few were
influenced by those reasons; and in a city where superstition
reigns with such despotic sway as in Madrid, to seek for true
devotion would be a fruitless attempt. The Audience now
assembled in the Capuchin Church was collected by various causes,
but all of them were foreign to the ostensible motive. The Women
came to show themselves, the Men to see the Women: Some were
attracted by curiosity to hear an Orator so celebrated; Some came
because they had no better means of employing their time till the
play began; Some, from being assured that it would be impossible
to find places in the Church; and one half of Madrid was brought
thither by expecting to meet the other half. The only persons
truly anxious to hear the Preacher were a few antiquated
devotees, and half a dozen rival Orators, determined to find
fault with and ridicule the discourse. As to the remainder of
the Audience, the Sermon might have been omitted altogether,
certainly without their being disappointed, and very probably
without their perceiving the omission.
Whatever was the occasion, it is at least certain that the
Capuchin Church had never witnessed a more numerous assembly.
Every corner was filled, every seat was occupied. The very
Statues which ornamented the long aisles were pressed into the
service. Boys suspended themselves upon the wings of Cherubims;
St. Francis and St. Mark bore each a spectator on his shoulders;
and St. Agatha found herself under the necessity of carrying
double. The consequence was, that in spite of all their hurry
and expedition, our two newcomers, on entering the Church, looked
round in vain for places.
However, the old Woman continued to move forwards. In vain were
exclamations of displeasure vented against her from all sides:
In vain was She addressed with--'I assure you, Segnora, there are
no places here.'-- 'I beg, Segnora, that you will not crowd me so
intolerably!'--'Segnora, you cannot pass this way. Bless me!
How can people be so troublesome!'--The old Woman was obstinate,
and on She went. By dint of perseverance and two brawny arms She
made a passage through the Crowd, and managed to bustle herself
into the very body of the Church, at no great distance from the
Pulpit. Her companion had followed her with timidity and in
silence, profiting by the exertions of her conductress.
'Holy Virgin!' exclaimed the old Woman in a tone of
disappointment, while She threw a glance of enquiry round her;
'Holy Virgin! What heat! What a Crowd! I wonder what can be the
meaning of all this. I believe we must return: There is no such
thing as a seat to be had, and nobody seems kind enough to
accommodate us with theirs.'
This broad hint attracted the notice of two Cavaliers, who
occupied stools on the right hand, and were leaning their backs
against the seventh column from the Pulpit. Both were young, and
richly habited. Hearing this appeal to their politeness
pronounced in a female voice, they interrupted their conversation
to look at the speaker. She had thrown up her veil in order to
take a clearer look round the Cathedral. Her hair was red, and
She squinted. The Cavaliers turned round, and renewed their
'By all means,' replied the old Woman's companion; 'By all means,
Leonella, let us return home immediately; The heat is excessive,
and I am terrified at such a crowd.'
These words were pronounced in a tone of unexampled sweetness.
The Cavaliers again broke off their discourse, but for this time
they were not contented with looking up: Both started
involuntarily from their seats, and turned themselves towards the
The voice came from a female, the delicacy and elegance of whose
figure inspired the Youths with the most lively curiosity to view
the face to which it belonged. This satisfaction was denied
them. Her features were hidden by a thick veil; But struggling
through the crowd had deranged it sufficiently to discover a neck
which for symmetry and beauty might have vied with the Medicean
Venus. It was of the most dazzling whiteness, and received
additional charms from being shaded by the tresses of her long
fair hair, which descended in ringlets to her waist. Her figure
was rather below than above the middle size: It was light and
airy as that of an Hamadryad. Her bosom was carefully veiled.
Her dress was white; it was fastened by a blue sash, and just
permitted to peep out from under it a little foot of the most
delicate proportions. A chaplet of large grains hung upon her
arm, and her face was covered with a veil of thick black gauze.
Such was the female, to whom the youngest of the Cavaliers now
offered his seat, while the other thought it necessary to pay the
same attention to her companion.
The old Lady with many expressions of gratitude, but without much
difficulty, accepted the offer, and seated herself: The young
one followed her example, but made no other compliment than a
simple and graceful reverence. Don Lorenzo (such was the
Cavalier's name, whose seat She had accepted) placed himself near
her; But first He whispered a few words in his Friend's ear, who
immediately took the hint, and endeavoured to draw off the old
Woman's attention from her lovely charge.
'You are doubtless lately arrived at Madrid,' said Lorenzo to his
fair Neighbour; 'It is impossible that such charms should have
long remained unobserved; and had not this been your first public
appearance, the envy of the Women and adoration of the Men would
have rendered you already sufficiently remarkable.'
He paused, in expectation of an answer. As his speech did not
absolutely require one, the Lady did not open her lips: After a
few moments He resumed his discourse:
'Am I wrong in supposing you to be a Stranger to Madrid?'
The Lady hesitated; and at last, in so low a voice as to be
scarcely intelligible, She made shift to answer,-- 'No, Segnor.'
'Do you intend making a stay of any length?'
'I should esteem myself fortunate, were it in my power to
contribute to making your abode agreeable. I am well known at
Madrid, and my Family has some interest at Court. If I can be of
any service, you cannot honour or oblige me more than by
permitting me to be of use to you.'--'Surely,' said He to
himself, 'She cannot answer that by a monosyllable; now She must
say something to me.'
Lorenzo was deceived, for the Lady answered only by a bow.
By this time He had discovered that his Neighbour was not very
conversible; But whether her silence proceeded from pride,
discretion, timidity, or idiotism, He was still unable to decide.
After a pause of some minutes--'It is certainly from your being a
Stranger,' said He, 'and as yet unacquainted with our customs,
that you continue to wear your veil. Permit me to remove it.'
At the same time He advanced his hand towards the Gauze: The
Lady raised hers to prevent him.
'I never unveil in public, Segnor.'
'And where is the harm, I pray you?' interrupted her Companion
somewhat sharply; 'Do not you see that the other Ladies have all
laid their veils aside, to do honour no doubt to the holy place
in which we are? I have taken off mine already; and surely if I
expose my features to general observation, you have no cause to
put yourself in such a wonderful alarm! Blessed Maria! Here is a
fuss and a bustle about a chit's face! Come, come, Child!
Uncover it; I warrant you that nobody will run away with it from
'Dear aunt, it is not the custom in Murcia.'
'Murcia, indeed! Holy St. Barbara, what does that signify? You
are always putting me in mind of that villainous Province. If it
is the custom in Madrid, that is all that we ought to mind, and
therefore I desire you to take off your veil immediately. Obey
me this moment Antonia, for you know that I cannot bear
Her niece was silent, but made no further opposition to Don
Lorenzo's efforts, who, armed with the Aunt's sanction hastened
to remove the Gauze. What a Seraph's head presented itself to
his admiration! Yet it was rather bewitching than beautiful; It
wasnot so lovely from regularity of features as from sweetness
and sensibility of Countenance. The several parts of her face
considered separately, many of them were far from handsome; but
when examined together, the whole was adorable. Her skin though
fair was not entirely without freckles; Her eyes were not very
large, nor their lashes particularly long. But then her lips
were of the most rosy freshness; Her fair and undulating hair,
confined by a simple ribband, poured itself below her waist in a
profusion of ringlets; Her throat was full and beautiful in the
extreme; Her hand and arm were formed with the most perfect
symmetry; Her mild blue eyes seemed an heaven of sweetness, and
the crystal in which they moved sparkled with all the brilliance
of Diamonds: She appeared to be scarcely fifteen; An arch smile,
playing round her mouth, declared her to be possessed of
liveliness, which excess of timidity at present represt; She
looked round her with a bashful glance; and whenever her eyes
accidentally met Lorenzo's, She dropt them hastily upon her
Rosary; Her cheek was immediately suffused with blushes, and She
began to tell her beads; though her manner evidently showed that
She knew not what She was about.
Lorenzo gazed upon her with mingled surprise and admiration; but
the Aunt thought it necessary to apologize for Antonia's
' 'Tis a young Creature,' said She, 'who is totally ignorant of
the world. She has been brought up in an old Castle in Murcia;
with no other Society than her Mother's, who, God help her! has
no more sense, good Soul, than is necessary to carry her Soup to
her mouth. Yet She is my own Sister, both by Father and Mother.'
'And has so little sense?' said Don Christoval with feigned
astonishment; 'How very Extraordinary!'
'Very true, Segnor; Is it not strange? However, such is the
fact; and yet only to see the luck of some people! A young
Nobleman, of the very first quality, took it into his head that
Elvira had some pretensions to Beauty--As to pretensions, in
truth, She had always enough of THEM; But as to Beauty. . . .!
If I had only taken half the pains to set myself off which She
did. . . .! But this is neither here nor there. As I was
saying, Segnor, a young Nobleman fell in love with her, and
married her unknown to his Father. Their union remained a secret
near three years, But at last it came to the ears of the old
Marquis, who, as you may well suppose, was not much pleased with
the intelligence. Away He posted in all haste to Cordova,
determined to seize Elvira, and send her away to some place or
other, where She would never be heard of more. Holy St. Paul!
How He stormed on finding that She had escaped him, had joined
her Husband, and that they had embarked together for the Indies.
He swore at us all, as if the Evil Spirit had possessed him; He
threw my Father into prison, as honest a painstaking Shoe-maker
as any in Cordova; and when He went away, He had the cruelty to
take from us my Sister's little Boy, then scarcely two years old,
and whom in the abruptness of her flight, She had been obliged to
leave behind her. I suppose, that the poor little Wretch met
with bitter bad treatment from him, for in a few months after, we
received intelligence of his death.'
'Why, this was a most terrible old Fellow, Segnora!'
'Oh! shocking! and a Man so totally devoid of taste! Why, would
you believe it, Segnor? When I attempted to pacify him, He
cursed me for a Witch, and wished that to punish the Count, my
Sister might become as ugly as myself! Ugly indeed! I like him
'Ridiculous', cried Don Christoval; 'Doubtless the Count would
have thought himself fortunate, had he been permitted to exchange
the one Sister for the other.'
'Oh! Christ! Segnor, you are really too polite. However, I am
heartily glad that the Conde was of a different way of thinking.
A mighty pretty piece of business, to be sure, Elvira has made of
it! After broiling and stewing in the Indies for thirteen long
years, her Husband dies, and She returns to Spain, without an
House to hide her head, or money to procure her one! This
Antonia was then but an Infant, and her only remaining Child.
She found that her Father-in-Law had married again, that he was
irreconcileable to the Conde, and that his second Wife had
produced him a Son, who is reported to be a very fine young Man.
The old Marquis refused to see my Sister or her Child; But sent
her word that on condition of never hearing any more of her, He
would assign her a small pension, and She might live in an old
Castle which He possessed in Murcia; This had been the favourite
habitation of his eldest Son; But since his flight from Spain,
the old Marquis could not bear the place, but let it fall to ruin
and confusion--My Sister accepted the proposal; She retired to
Murcia, and has remained there till within the last Month.'
'And what brings her now to Madrid?' enquired Don Lorenzo, whom
admiration of the young Antonia compelled to take a lively
interest in the talkative old Woman's narration.
'Alas! Segnor, her Father-in-Law being lately dead, the Steward
of his Murcian Estates has refused to pay her pension any longer.
With the design of supplicating his Son to renew it, She is now
come to Madrid; But I doubt, that She might have saved herself
the trouble! You young Noblemen have always enough to do with
your money, and are not very often disposed to throw it away upon
old Women. I advised my Sister to send Antonia with her
petition; But She would not hear of such a thing. She is so
obstinate! Well! She will find herself the worse for not
following my counsels: the Girl has a good pretty face, and
possibly might have done much.'
'Ah! Segnora,' interrupted Don Christoval, counterfeiting a
passionate air; 'If a pretty face will do the business, why has
not your Sister recourse to you?'
'Oh! Jesus! my Lord, I swear you quite overpower me with your
gallantry! But I promise you that I am too well aware of the
danger of such Expeditions to trust myself in a young Nobleman's
power! No, no; I have as yet preserved my reputation without
blemish or reproach, and I always knew how to keep the Men at a
'Of that, Segnora, I have not the least doubt. But permit me to
ask you; Have you then any aversion to Matrimony?'
'That is an home question. I cannot but confess, that if an
amiable Cavalier was to present himself. . . .'
Here She intended to throw a tender and significant look upon Don
Christoval; But, as She unluckily happened to squint most
abominably, the glance fell directly upon his Companion: Lorenzo
took the compliment to himself, and answered it by a profound
'May I enquire,' said He, 'the name of the Marquis?'
'The Marquis de las Cisternas.'
'I know him intimately well. He is not at present in Madrid, but
is expected here daily. He is one of the best of Men; and if the
lovely Antonia will permit me to be her Advocate with him, I
doubt not my being able to make a favourable report of her
Antonia raised her blue eyes, and silently thanked him for the
offer by a smile of inexpressible sweetness. Leonella's
satisfaction was much more loud and audible: Indeed, as her Niece
was generally silent in her company, She thought it incumbent
upon her to talk enough for both: This She managed without
difficulty, for She very seldom found herself deficient in words.
'Oh! Segnor!' She cried; 'You will lay our whole family under the
most signal obligations! I accept your offer with all possible
gratitude, and return you a thousand thanks for the generosity of
your proposal. Antonia, why do not you speak, Child? While the
Cavalier says all sorts of civil things to you, you sit like a
Statue, and never utter a syllable of thanks, either bad, good,
'My dear Aunt, I am very sensible that. . . .'
'Fye, Niece! How often have I told you, that you never should
interrupt a Person who is speaking!? When did you ever know me
do such a thing? Are these your Murcian manners? Mercy on me!
I shall never be able to make this Girl any thing like a Person
of good breeding. But pray, Segnor,' She continued, addressing
herself to Don Christoval, 'inform me, why such a Crowd is
assembled today in this Cathedral?'
'Can you possibly be ignorant, that Ambrosio, Abbot of this
Monastery, pronounces a Sermon in this Church every Thursday?
All Madrid rings with his praises. As yet He has preached but
thrice; But all who have heard him are so delighted with his
eloquence, that it is as difficult to obtain a place at Church,
as at the first representation of a new Comedy. His fame
certainly must have reached your ears--'
'Alas! Segnor, till yesterday I never had the good fortune to see
Madrid; and at Cordova we are so little informed of what is
passing in the rest of the world, that the name of Ambrosio has
never been mentioned in its precincts.'
'You will find it in every one's mouth at Madrid. He seems to
have fascinated the Inhabitants; and not having attended his
Sermons myself, I am astonished at the Enthusiasm which He has
excited. The adoration paid him both by Young and Old, by Man
and Woman is unexampled. The Grandees load him with presents;
Their Wives refuse to have any other Confessor, and he is known
through all the city by the name of the ''Man of Holiness''.'
'Undoubtedly, Segnor, He is of noble origin--'
'That point still remains undecided. The late Superior of the
Capuchins found him while yet an Infant at the Abbey door. All
attempts to discover who had left him there were vain, and the
Child himself could give no account of his Parents. He was
educated in the Monastery, where He has remained ever since. He
early showed a strong inclination for study and retirement, and
as soon as He was of a proper age, He pronounced his vows. No
one has ever appeared to claim him, or clear up the mystery which
conceals his birth; and the Monks, who find their account in the
favour which is shewn to their establishment from respect to him,
have not hesitated to publish that He is a present to them from
the Virgin. In truth the singular austerity of his life gives
some countenance to the report. He is now thirty years old,
every hour of which period has been passed in study, total
seclusion from the world, and mortification of the flesh. Till
these last three weeks, when He was chosen superior of the
Society to which He belongs, He had never been on the outside of
the Abbey walls: Even now He never quits them except on
Thursdays, when He delivers a discourse in this Cathedral which
all Madrid assembles to hear. His knowledge is said to be the
most profound, his eloquence the most persuasive. In the whole
course of his life He has never been known to transgress a single
rule of his order; The smallest stain is not to be discovered
upon his character; and He is reported to be so strict an
observer of Chastity, that He knows not in what consists the
difference of Man and Woman. The common People therefore esteem
him to be a Saint.'
'Does that make a Saint?' enquired Antonia; 'Bless me! Then am I
'Holy St. Barbara!' exclaimed Leonella; 'What a question! Fye,
Child, Fye! These are not fit subjects for young Women to
handle. You should not seem to remember that there is such a
thing as a Man in the world, and you ought to imagine every body
to be of the same sex with yourself. I should like to see you
give people to understand, that you know that a Man has no
breasts, and no hips, and no . . .'.
Luckily for Antonia's ignorance which her Aunt's lecture would
soon have dispelled, an universal murmur through the Church
announced the Preacher's arrival. Donna Leonella rose from her
seat to take a better view of him, and Antonia followed her
He was a Man of noble port and commanding presence. His stature
was lofty, and his features uncommonly handsome. His Nose was
aquiline, his eyes large black and sparkling, and his dark brows
almost joined together. His complexion was of a deep but clear
Brown; Study and watching had entirely deprived his cheek of
colour. Tranquillity reigned upon his smooth unwrinkled
forehead; and Content, expressed upon every feature, seemed to
announce the Man equally unacquainted with cares and crimes. He
bowed himself with humility to the audience: Still there was a
certain severity in his look and manner that inspired universal
awe, and few could sustain the glance of his eye at once fiery
and penetrating. Such was Ambrosio, Abbot of the Capuchins, and
surnamed, 'The Man of Holiness'.
Antonia, while She gazed upon him eagerly, felt a pleasure
fluttering in her bosom which till then had been unknown to her,
and for which She in vain endeavoured to account. She waited
with impatience till the Sermon should begin; and when at length
the Friar spoke, the sound of his voice seemed to penetrate into
her very soul. Though no other of the Spectators felt such
violent sensations as did the young Antonia, yet every one
listened with interest and emotion. They who were insensible to
Religion's merits, were still enchanted with Ambrosio's oratory.
All found their attention irresistibly attracted while He spoke,
and the most profound silence reigned through the crowded Aisles.
Even Lorenzo could not resist the charm: He forgot that Antonia
was seated near him, and listened to the Preacher with undivided
In language nervous, clear, and simple, the Monk expatiated on
the beauties of Religion. He explained some abstruse parts of
the sacred writings in a style that carried with it universal
conviction. His voice at once distinct and deep was fraught with
all the terrors of the Tempest, while He inveighed against the
vices of humanity, and described the punishments reserved for
them in a future state. Every Hearer looked back upon his past
offences, and trembled: The Thunder seemed to roll, whose bolt
was destined to crush him, and the abyss of eternal destruction
to open before his feet. But when Ambrosio, changing his theme,
spoke of the excellence of an unsullied conscience, of the
glorious prospect which Eternity presented to the Soul untainted
with reproach, and of the recompense which awaited it in the
regions of everlasting glory, His Auditors felt their scattered
spirits insensibly return. They threw themselves with confidence
upon the mercy of their Judge; They hung with delight upon the
consoling words of the Preacher; and while his full voice swelled
into melody, They were transported to those happy regions which
He painted to their imaginations in colours so brilliant and
The discourse was of considerable length; Yet when it concluded,
the Audience grieved that it had not lasted longer. Though the
Monk had ceased to speak, enthusiastic silence still prevailed
through the Church: At length the charm gradually dissolving,
the general admiration was expressed in audible terms. As
Ambrosio descended from the Pulpit, His Auditors crowded round
him, loaded him with blessings, threw themselves at his feet, and
kissed the hem of his Garment. He passed on slowly with his
hands crossed devoutly upon his bosom, to the door opening into
the Abbey Chapel, at which his Monks waited to receive him. He
ascended the Steps, and then turning towards his Followers,
addressed to them a few words of gratitude, and exhortation.
While He spoke, his Rosary, composed of large grains of amber,
fell from his hand, and dropped among the surrounding multitude.
It was seized eagerly, and immediately divided amidst the
Spectators. Whoever became possessor of a Bead, preserved it as
a sacred relique; and had it been the Chaplet of thrice-blessed
St. Francis himself, it could not have been disputed with greater
vivacity. The Abbot, smiling at their eagerness, pronounced his
benediction, and quitted the Church, while humility dwelt upon
every feature. Dwelt She also in his heart?
Antonia's eyes followed him with anxiety. As the Door closed
after him, it seemed to her as had she lost some one essential to
her happiness. A tear stole in silence down her cheek.
'He is separated from the world!' said She to herself; 'Perhaps,
I shall never see him more!'
As she wiped away the tear, Lorenzo observed her action.
'Are you satisfied with our Orator?' said He; 'Or do you think
that Madrid overrates his talents?'
Antonia's heart was so filled with admiration for the Monk, that
She eagerly seized the opportunity of speaking of him: Besides,
as She now no longer considered Lorenzo as an absolute Stranger,
She was less embarrassed by her excessive timidity.
'Oh! He far exceeds all my expectations,' answered She; 'Till
this moment I had no idea of the powers of eloquence. But when
He spoke, his voice inspired me with such interest, such esteem,
I might almost say such affection for him, that I am myself
astonished at the acuteness of my feelings.'
Lorenzo smiled at the strength of her expressions.
'You are young and just entering into life,' said He; 'Your
heart, new to the world and full of warmth and sensibility,
receives its first impressions with eagerness. Artless yourself,
you suspect not others of deceit; and viewing the world through
the medium of your own truth and innocence, you fancy all who
surround you to deserve your confidence and esteem. What pity,
that these gay visions must soon be dissipated! What pity, that
you must soon discover the baseness of mankind, and guard against
your fellow-creatures as against your Foes!'
'Alas! Segnor,' replied Antonia; 'The misfortunes of my Parents
have already placed before me but too many sad examples of the
perfidy of the world! Yet surely in the present instance the
warmth of sympathy cannot have deceived me.'
'In the present instance, I allow that it has not. Ambrosio's
character is perfectly without reproach; and a Man who has passed
the whole of his life within the walls of a Convent cannot have
found the opportunity to be guilty, even were He possessed of the
inclination. But now, when, obliged by the duties of his
situation, He must enter occasionally into the world, and be
thrown into the way of temptation, it is now that it behoves him
to show the brilliance of his virtue. The trial is dangerous; He
is just at that period of life when the passions are most
vigorous, unbridled, and despotic; His established reputation
will mark him out to Seduction as an illustrious Victim; Novelty
will give additional charms to the allurements of pleasure; and
even the Talents with which Nature has endowed him will
contribute to his ruin, by facilitating the means of obtaining
his object. Very few would return victorious from a contest so
'Ah! surely Ambrosio will be one of those few.'
'Of that I have myself no doubt: By all accounts He is an
exception to mankind in general, and Envy would seek in vain for
a blot upon his character.'
'Segnor, you delight me by this assurance! It encourages me to
indulge my prepossession in his favour; and you know not with
what pain I should have repressed the sentiment! Ah! dearest
Aunt, entreat my Mother to choose him for our Confessor.'
'I entreat her?' replied Leonella; 'I promise you that I shall do
no such thing. I do not like this same Ambrosio in the least; He
has a look of severity about him that made me tremble from head
to foot: Were He my Confessor, I should never have the courage
to avow one half of my peccadilloes, and then I should be in a
rare condition! I never saw such a stern-looking Mortal, and
hope that I never shall see such another. His description of the
Devil, God bless us! almost terrified me out of my wits, and when
He spoke about Sinners He seemed as if He was ready to eat them.'
'You are right, Segnora,' answered Don Christoval; 'Too great
severity is said to be Ambrosio's only fault. Exempted himself
from human failings, He is not sufficiently indulgent to those of
others; and though strictly just and disinterested in his
decisions, his government of the Monks has already shown some
proofs of his inflexibility. But the crowd is nearly dissipated:
Will you permit us to attend you home?'
'Oh! Christ! Segnor,' exclaimed Leonella affecting to blush; 'I
would not suffer such a thing for the Universe! If I came home
attended by so gallant a Cavalier, My Sister is so scrupulous
that She would read me an hour's lecture, and I should never hear
the last of it. Besides, I rather wish you not to make your
proposals just at present.'
'My proposals? I assure you, Segnora. . . .'
'Oh! Segnor, I believe that your assurances of impatience are all
very true; But really I must desire a little respite. It would
not be quite so delicate in me to accept your hand at first
'Accept my hand? As I hope to live and breathe. . . .'
'Oh! dear Segnor, press me no further, if you love me! I shall
consider your obedience as a proof of your affection; You shall
hear from me tomorrow, and so farewell. But pray, Cavaliers,
may I not enquire your names?'
'My Friend's,' replied Lorenzo, 'is the Conde d'Ossorio, and mine
Lorenzo de Medina.'
' 'Tis sufficient. Well, Don Lorenzo, I shall acquaint my Sister
with your obliging offer, and let you know the result with all
expedition. Where may I send to you?'
'I am always to be found at the Medina Palace.'
'You may depend upon hearing from me. Farewell, Cavaliers.
Segnor Conde, let me entreat you to moderate the excessive ardour
of your passion: However, to prove to you that I am not
displeased with you, and prevent your abandoning yourself to
despair, receive this mark of my affection, and sometimes bestow
a thought upon the absent Leonella.'
As She said this, She extended a lean and wrinkled hand; which
her supposed Admirer kissed with such sorry grace and constraint
so evident, that Lorenzo with difficulty repressed his
inclination to laugh. Leonella then hastened to quit the Church;
The lovely Antonia followed her in silence; but when She reached
the Porch, She turned involuntarily, and cast back her eyes
towards Lorenzo. He bowed to her, as bidding her farewell; She
returned the compliment, and hastily withdrew.
'So, Lorenzo!' said Don Christoval as soon as they were alone,
'You have procured me an agreeable Intrigue! To favour your
designs upon Antonia, I obligingly make a few civil speeches
which mean nothing to the Aunt, and at the end of an hour I find
myself upon the brink of Matrimony! How will you reward me for
having suffered so grievously for your sake? What can repay me
for having kissed the leathern paw of that confounded old Witch?
Diavolo! She has left such a scent upon my lips that I shall
smell of garlick for this month to come! As I pass along the
Prado, I shall be taken for a walking Omelet, or some large Onion
running to seed!'
'I confess, my poor Count,' replied Lorenzo, 'that your service
has been attended with danger; Yet am I so far from supposing it
be past all endurance that I shall probably solicit you to carry
on your amours still further.'
'From that petition I conclude that the little Antonia has made
some impression upon you.'
'I cannot express to you how much I am charmed with her. Since
my Father's death, My Uncle the Duke de Medina, has signified to
me his wishes to see me married; I have till now eluded his
hints, and refused to understand them; But what I have seen this
Evening. . . .'
'Well? What have you seen this Evening? Why surely, Don
Lorenzo, You cannot be mad enough to think of making a Wife out
of this Grand-daughter of ''as honest a painstaking Shoe-maker
as any in Cordova''?'
'You forget, that She is also the Grand-daughter of the late
Marquis de las Cisternas; But without disputing about birth and
titles, I must assure you, that I never beheld a Woman so
interesting as Antonia.'
'Very possibly; But you cannot mean to marry her?'
'Why not, my dear Conde? I shall have wealth enough for both of
us, and you know that my Uncle thinks liberally upon the subject.
From what I have seen of Raymond de las Cisternas, I am certain
that he will readily acknowledge Antonia for his Niece. Her
birth therefore will be no objection to my offering her my hand.
I should be a Villain could I think of her on any other terms
than marriage; and in truth She seems possessed of every quality
requisite to make me happy in a Wife. Young, lovely, gentle,
sensible. . . .'
'Sensible? Why, She said nothing but ''Yes,'' and ''No''.'
'She did not say much more, I must confess--But then She always
said ''Yes,'' or ''No,'' in the right place.'
'Did She so? Oh! your most obedient! That is using a right
Lover's argument, and I dare dispute no longer with so profound a
Casuist. Suppose we adjourn to the Comedy?'
'It is out of my power. I only arrived last night at Madrid, and
have not yet had an opportunity of seeing my Sister; You know
that her Convent is in this Street, and I was going thither when
the Crowd which I saw thronging into this Church excited my
curiosity to know what was the matter. I shall now pursue my
first intention, and probably pass the Evening with my Sister at
the Parlour grate.'
'Your Sister in a Convent, say you? Oh! very true, I had
forgotten. And how does Donna Agnes? I am amazed, Don Lorenzo,
how you could possibly think of immuring so charming a Girl
within the walls of a Cloister!'
'I think of it, Don Christoval? How can you suspect me of such
barbarity? You are conscious that She took the veil by her own
desire, and that particular circumstances made her wish for a
seclusion from the World. I used every means in my power to
induce her to change her resolution; The endeavour was fruitless,
and I lost a Sister!'
'The luckier fellow you; I think, Lorenzo, you were a
considerable gainer by that loss: If I remember right, Donna
Agnes had a portion of ten thousand pistoles, half of which
reverted to your Lordship. By St. Jago! I wish that I had fifty
Sisters in the same predicament. I should consent to losing them
every soul without much heart-burning--'
'How, Conde?' said Lorenzo in an angry voice; 'Do you suppose me
base enough to have influenced my Sister's retirement? Do you
suppose that the despicable wish to make myself Master of her
fortune could. . . .'
'Admirable! Courage, Don Lorenzo! Now the Man is all in a
blaze. God grant that Antonia may soften that fiery temper, or
we shall certainly cut each other's throat before the Month is
over! However, to prevent such a tragical Catastrophe for the
present, I shall make a retreat, and leave you Master of the
field. Farewell, my Knight of Mount Aetna! Moderate that
inflammable disposition, and remember that whenever it is
necessary to make love to yonder Harridan, you may reckon upon my
He said, and darted out of the Cathedral.
'How wild-brained!' said Lorenzo; 'With so excellent an heart,
what pity that He possesses so little solidity of judgment!'
The night was now fast advancing. The Lamps were not yet
lighted. The faint beams of the rising Moon scarcely could
pierce through the gothic obscurity of the Church. Lorenzo found
himself unable to quit the Spot. The void left in his bosom by
Antonia's absence, and his Sister's sacrifice which Don
Christoval had just recalled to his imagination, created that
melancholy of mind which accorded but too well with the
religious gloom surrounding him. He was still leaning against
the seventh column from the Pulpit. A soft and cooling air
breathed along the solitary Aisles: The Moonbeams darting into
the Church through painted windows tinged the fretted roofs and
massy pillars with a thousand various tints of light and colours:
Universal silence prevailed around, only interrupted by the
occasional closing of Doors in the adjoining Abbey.
The calm of the hour and solitude of the place contributed to
nourish Lorenzo's disposition to melancholy. He threw himself
upon a seat which stood near him, and abandoned himself to the
delusions of his fancy. He thought of his union with Antonia; He
thought of the obstacles which might oppose his wishes; and a
thousand changing visions floated before his fancy, sad 'tis
true, but not unpleasing. Sleep insensibly stole over him, and
the tranquil solemnity of his mind when awake for a while
continued to influence his slumbers.
He still fancied himself to be in the Church of the Capuchins;
but it was no longer dark and solitary. Multitudes of silver
Lamps shed splendour from the vaulted Roof; Accompanied by the
captivating chaunt of distant choristers, the Organ's melody
swelled through the Church; The Altar seemed decorated as for
some distinguished feast; It was surrounded by a brilliant
Company; and near it stood Antonia arrayed in bridal white, and
blushing with all the charms of Virgin Modesty.
Half hoping, half fearing, Lorenzo gazed upon the scene before
him. Sudden the door leading to the Abbey unclosed, and He saw,
attended by a long train of Monks, the Preacher advance to whom
He had just listened with so much admiration. He drew near
'And where is the Bridegroom?' said the imaginary Friar.
Antonia seemed to look round the Church with anxiety.
Involuntarily the Youth advanced a few steps from his
concealment. She saw him; The blush of pleasure glowed upon her
cheek; With a graceful motion of her hand She beckoned to him to
advance. He disobeyed not the command; He flew towards her, and
threw himself at her feet.
She retreated for a moment; Then gazing upon him with unutterable
delight;--'Yes!' She exclaimed, 'My Bridegroom! My destined
Bridegroom!' She said, and hastened to throw herself into his
arms; But before He had time to receive her, an Unknown rushed
between them. His form was gigantic; His complexion was swarthy,
His eyes fierce and terrible; his Mouth breathed out volumes of
fire; and on his forehead was written in legible
characters--'Pride! Lust! Inhumanity!'
Antonia shrieked. The Monster clasped her in his arms, and
springing with her upon the Altar, tortured her with his odious
caresses. She endeavoured in vain to escape from his embrace.
Lorenzo flew to her succour, but ere He had time to reach her, a
loud burst of thunder was heard. Instantly the Cathedral seemed
crumbling into pieces; The Monks betook themselves to flight,
shrieking fearfully; The Lamps were extinguished, the Altar sank
down, and in its place appeared an abyss vomiting forth clouds of
flame. Uttering a loud and terrible cry the Monster plunged into
the Gulph, and in his fall attempted to drag Antonia with him.
He strove in vain. Animated by supernatural powers She
disengaged herself from his embrace; But her white Robe was left
in his possession. Instantly a wing of brilliant splendour
spread itself from either of Antonia's arms. She darted upwards,
and while ascending cried to Lorenzo,
'Friend! we shall meet above!'
At the same moment the Roof of the Cathedral opened; Harmonious
voices pealed along the Vaults; and the glory into which Antonia
was received was composed of rays of such dazzling brightness,
that Lorenzo was unable to sustain the gaze. His sight failed,
and He sank upon the ground.
When He woke, He found himself extended upon the pavement of the
Church: It was Illuminated, and the chaunt of Hymns sounded from
a distance. For a while Lorenzo could not persuade himself that
what He had just witnessed had been a dream, so strong an
impression had it made upon his fancy. A little recollection
convinced him of its fallacy: The Lamps had been lighted during
his sleep, and the music which he heard was occasioned by the
Monks, who were celebrating their Vespers in the Abbey Chapel.
Lorenzo rose, and prepared to bend his steps towards his Sister's
Convent. His mind fully occupied by the singularity of his
dream, He already drew near the Porch, when his attention was
attracted by perceiving a Shadow moving upon the opposite wall.
He looked curiously round, and soon descried a Man wrapped up in
his Cloak, who seemed carefully examining whether his actions
were observed. Very few people are exempt from the influence of
curiosity. The Unknown seemed anxious to conceal his business in
the Cathedral, and it was this very circumstance, which made
Lorenzo wish to discover what He was about.
Our Hero was conscious that He had no right to pry into the
secrets of this unknown Cavalier.
'I will go,' said Lorenzo. And Lorenzo stayed, where He was.
The shadow thrown by the Column, effectually concealed him from
the Stranger, who continued to advance with caution. At length
He drew a letter from beneath his cloak, and hastily placed it
beneath a Colossal Statue of St. Francis. Then retiring with
precipitation, He concealed himself in a part of the Church at a
considerable distance from that in which the Image stood.
'So!' said Lorenzo to himself; 'This is only some foolish love
affair. I believe, I may as well be gone, for I can do no good
In truth till that moment it never came into his head that He
could do any good in it; But He thought it necessary to make some
little excuse to himself for having indulged his curiosity. He
now made a second attempt to retire from the Church: For this
time He gained the Porch without meeting with any impediment; But
it was destined that He should pay it another visit that night.
As He descended the steps leading into the Street, a Cavalier
rushed against him with such violence, that Both were nearly
overturned by the concussion. Lorenzo put his hand to his sword.
'How now, Segnor?' said He; 'What mean you by this rudeness?'
'Ha! Is it you, Medina?' replied the Newcomer, whom Lorenzo by
his voice now recognized for Don Christoval; 'You are the
luckiest Fellow in the Universe, not to have left the Church
before my return. In, in! my dear Lad! They will be here
'Who will be here?'
'The old Hen and all her pretty little Chickens! In, I say, and
then you shall know the whole History.'
Lorenzo followed him into the Cathedral, and they concealed
themselves behind the Statue of St. Francis.
'And now,' said our Hero, 'may I take the liberty of asking, what
is the meaning of all this haste and rapture?'
'Oh! Lorenzo, we shall see such a glorious sight! The Prioress
of St. Clare and her whole train of Nuns are coming hither. You
are to know, that the pious Father Ambrosio (The Lord reward him
for it!) will upon no account move out of his own precincts: It
being absolutely necessary for every fashionable Convent to have
him for its Confessor, the Nuns are in consequence obliged to
visit him at the Abbey; since when the Mountain will not come to
Mahomet, Mahomet must needs go to the Mountain. Now the Prioress
of St. Clare, the better to escape the gaze of such impure eyes
as belong to yourself and your humble Servant, thinks proper to
bring her holy flock to confession in the Dusk: She is to be
admitted into the Abbey Chapel by yon private door. The
Porteress of St. Clare, who is a worthy old Soul and a particular
Friend of mine, has just assured me of their being here in a few
moments. There is news for you, you Rogue! We shall see some of
the prettiest faces in Madrid!'
'In truth, Christoval, we shall do no such thing. The Nuns are
'No! No! I know better. On entering a place of worship, they
ever take off their veils from respect to the Saint to whom 'tis
dedicated. But Hark! They are coming! Silence, silence!
Observe, and be convinced.'
'Good!' said Lorenzo to himself; 'I may possibly discover to whom
the vows are addressed of this mysterious Stranger.'
Scarcely had Don Christoval ceased to speak, when the Domina of
St. Clare appeared, followed by a long procession of Nuns. Each
upon entering the Church took off her veil. The Prioress crossed
her hands upon her bosom, and made a profound reverence as She
passed the Statue of St. Francis, the Patron of this Cathedral.
The Nuns followed her example, and several moved onwards without
having satisfied Lorenzo's curiosity. He almost began to despair
of seeing the mystery cleared up, when in paying her respects to
St. Francis, one of the Nuns happened to drop her Rosary. As She
stooped to pick it up, the light flashed full upon her face. At
the same moment She dexterously removed the letter from beneath
the Image, placed it in her bosom, and hastened to resume her
rank in the procession.
'Ha!' said Christoval in a low voice; 'Here we have some little
Intrigue, no doubt.'
'Agnes, by heaven!' cried Lorenzo.
'What, your Sister? Diavolo! Then somebody, I suppose, will
have to pay for our peeping.'
'And shall pay for it without delay,' replied the incensed
The pious procession had now entered the Abbey; The Door was
already closed upon it. The Unknown immediately quitted his
concealment and hastened to leave the Church: Ere He could
effect his intention, He descried Medina stationed in his
passage. The Stranger hastily retreated, and drew his Hat over
'Attempt not to fly me!' exclaimed Lorenzo; 'I will know who you
are, and what were the contents of that Letter.'
'Of that Letter?' repeated the Unknown. 'And by what title do
you ask the question?'
'By a title of which I am now ashamed; But it becomes not you to
question me. Either reply circumstantially to my demands, or
answer me with your Sword.'
'The latter method will be the shortest,' rejoined the Other,
drawing his Rapier; 'Come on, Segnor Bravo! I am ready!'
Burning with rage, Lorenzo hastened to the attack: The
Antagonists had already exchanged several passes before
Christoval, who at that moment had more sense than either of
them, could throw himself between their weapons.
'Hold! Hold! Medina!' He exclaimed; 'Remember the consequences
of shedding blood on consecrated ground!'
The Stranger immediately dropped his Sword.
'Medina?' He cried; 'Great God, is it possible! Lorenzo, have you
quite forgotten Raymond de las Cisternas?'
Lorenzo's astonishment increased with every succeeding moment.
Raymond advanced towards him, but with a look of suspicion He
drew back his hand, which the Other was preparing to take.
'You here, Marquis? What is the meaning of all this? You
engaged in a clandestine correspondence with my Sister, whose
affections. . . .'
'Have ever been, and still are mine. But this is no fit place
for an explanation. Accompany me to my Hotel, and you shall know
every thing. Who is that with you?'
'One whom I believe you to have seen before,' replied Don
Christoval, 'though probably not at Church.'
'The Conde d'Ossorio?'
'Exactly so, Marquis.'
'I have no objection to entrusting you with my secret, for I am
sure that I may depend upon your silence.'
'Then your opinion of me is better than my own, and therefore I
must beg leave to decline your confidence. Do you go your own
way, and I shall go mine. Marquis, where are you to be found?'
'As usual, at the Hotel de las Cisternas; But remember, that I am
incognito, and that if you wish to see me, you must ask for
'Good! Good! Farewell, Cavaliers!' said Don Christoval, and
'You, Marquis,' said Lorenzo in the accent of surprise; 'You,
'Even so, Lorenzo: But unless you have already heard my story
from your Sister, I have much to relate that will astonish you.
Follow me, therefore, to my Hotel without delay.'
At this moment the Porter of the Capuchins entered the Cathedral
to lock up the doors for the night. The two Noblemen instantly
withdrew, and hastened with all speed to the Palace de las
'Well, Antonia!' said the Aunt, as soon as She had quitted the
Church; 'What think you of our Gallants? Don Lorenzo really
seems a very obliging good sort of young Man: He paid you some
attention, and nobody knows what may come of it. But as to Don
Christoval, I protest to you, He is the very Phoenix of
politeness. So gallant! so well-bred! So sensible, and so
pathetic! Well! If ever Man can prevail upon me to break my vow
never to marry, it will be that Don Christoval. You see, Niece,
that every thing turns out exactly as I told you: The very
moment that I produced myself in Madrid, I knew that I should be
surrounded by Admirers. When I took off my veil, did you see,
Antonia, what an effect the action had upon the Conde? And when
I presented him my hand, did you observe the air of passion with
which He kissed it? If ever I witnessed real love, I then saw it
impressed upon Don Christoval's countenance!'
Now Antonia had observed the air, with which Don Christoval had
kissed this same hand; But as She drew conclusions from it
somewhat different from her Aunt's, She was wise enough to hold
her tongue. As this is the only instance known of a Woman's ever
having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here.
The old Lady continued her discourse to Antonia in the same
strain, till they gained the Street in which was their Lodging.
Here a Crowd collected before their door permitted them not to
approach it; and placing themselves on the opposite side of the
Street, they endeavoured to make out what had drawn all these
people together. After some minutes the Crowd formed itself into
a Circle; And now Antonia perceived in the midst of it a Woman of
extraordinary height, who whirled herself repeatedly round and
round, using all sorts of extravagant gestures. Her dress was
composed of shreds of various-coloured silks and Linens
fantastically arranged, yet not entirely without taste. Her head
was covered with a kind of Turban, ornamented with vine leaves
and wild flowers. She seemed much sun-burnt, and her complexion
was of a deep olive: Her eyes looked fiery and strange; and in
her hand She bore a long black Rod, with which She at intervals
traced a variety of singular figures upon the ground, round about
which She danced in all the eccentric attitudes of folly and
delirium. Suddenly She broke off her dance, whirled herself
round thrice with rapidity, and after a moment's pause She sang
the following Ballad.
THE GYPSY'S SONG
Come, cross my hand! My art surpasses
All that did ever Mortal know;
Come, Maidens, come! My magic glasses
Your future Husband's form can show:
For 'tis to me the power is given
Unclosed the book of Fate to see;
To read the fixed resolves of heaven,
And dive into futurity.
I guide the pale Moon's silver waggon;
The winds in magic bonds I hold;
I charm to sleep the crimson Dragon,
Who loves to watch o'er buried gold:
Fenced round with spells, unhurt I venture
Their sabbath strange where Witches keep;
Fearless the Sorcerer's circle enter,
And woundless tread on snakes asleep.
Lo! Here are charms of mighty power!
This makes secure an Husband's truth
And this composed at midnight hour
Will force to love the coldest Youth:
If any Maid too much has granted,
Her loss this Philtre will repair;
This blooms a cheek where red is wanted,
And this will make a brown girl fair!
Then silent hear, while I discover
What I in Fortune's mirror view;
And each, when many a year is over,
Shall own the Gypsy's sayings true.
'Dear Aunt!' said Antonia when the Stranger had finished, 'Is She
'Mad? Not She, Child; She is only wicked. She is a Gypsy, a
sort of Vagabond, whose sole occupation is to run about the
country telling lyes, and pilfering from those who come by their
money honestly. Out upon such Vermin! If I were King of Spain,
every one of them should be burnt alive who was found in my
dominions after the next three weeks.'
These words were pronounced so audibly that they reached the
Gypsy's ears. She immediately pierced through the Crowd and
made towards the Ladies. She saluted them thrice in the Eastern
fashion, and then addressed herself to Antonia.
'Lady! gentle Lady! Know,
I your future fate can show;
Give your hand, and do not fear;
Lady! gentle Lady! hear!'
'Dearest Aunt!' said Antonia, 'Indulge me this once! Let me have
my fortune told me!'
'Nonsense, Child! She will tell you nothing but falsehoods.'
'No matter; Let me at least hear what She has to say. Do, my dear
Aunt! Oblige me, I beseech you!'
'Well, well! Antonia, since you are so bent upon the thing, . . .
Here, good Woman, you shall see the hands of both of us. There
is money for you, and now let me hear my fortune.'
As She said this, She drew off her glove, and presented her hand;
The Gypsy looked at it for a moment, and then made this reply.
'Your fortune? You are now so old,
Good Dame, that 'tis already told:
Yet for your money, in a trice
I will repay you in advice.
Astonished at your childish vanity,
Your Friends alltax you with insanity,
And grieve to see you use your art
To catch some youthful Lover's heart.
Believe me, Dame, when all is done,
Your age will still be fifty one;
And Men will rarely take an hint
Of love, from two grey eyes that squint.
Take then my counsels; Lay aside
Your paint and patches, lust and pride,
And on the Poor those sums bestow,
Which now are spent on useless show.
Think on your Maker, not a Suitor;
Think on your past faults, not on future;
And think Time's Scythe will quickly mow
The few red hairs, which deck your brow.
The audience rang with laughter during the Gypsy's address;
and--'fifty one,'--'squinting eyes,' 'red hair,' --'paint and
patches,' &c. were bandied from mouth to mouth. Leonella was
almost choaked with passion, and loaded her malicious Adviser
with the bitterest reproaches. The swarthy Prophetess for some
time listened to her with a contemptuous smile: at length She
made her a short answer, and then turned to Antonia.
'Peace, Lady! What I said was true;
And now, my lovely Maid, to you;
Give me your hand, and let me see
Your future doom, and heaven's decree.'
In imitation of Leonella, Antonia drew off her glove, and
presented her white hand to the Gypsy, who having gazed upon it
for some time with a mingled expression of pity and astonishment,
pronounced her Oracle in the following words.
'Jesus! what a palm is there!
Chaste, and gentle, young and fair,
Perfect mind and form possessing,
You would be some good Man's blessing:
But Alas! This line discovers,
That destruction o'er you hovers;
Lustful Man and crafty Devil
Will combine to work your evil;
And from earth by sorrows driven,
Soon your Soul must speed to heaven.
Yet your sufferings to delay,
Well remember what I say.
When you One more virtuous see
Than belongs to Man to be,
One, whose self no crimes assailing,
Pities not his Neighbour's Failing,
Call the Gypsy's words to mind:
Though He seem so good and kind,
Fair Exteriors oft will hide
Hearts, that swell with lust and pride!
Lovely Maid, with tears I leave you!
Let not my prediction grieve you;
Rather with submission bending
Calmly wait distress impending,
And expect eternal bliss
In a better world than this.
Having said this, the Gypsy again whirled herself round thrice,
and then hastened out of the Street with frantic gesture. The
Crowd followed her; and Elvira's door being now unembarrassed
Leonella entered the House out of honour with the Gypsy, with her
Niece, and with the People; In short with every body, but herself
and her charming Cavalier. The Gypsy's predictions had also
considerably affected Antonia; But the impression soon wore off,
and in a few hours She had forgotten the adventure as totally as
had it never taken place.
Forse se tu gustassi una sol volta
La millesima parte delle gioje,
Che gusta un cor amato riamando,
Diresti ripentita sospirando,
Perduto e tutto il tempo
Che in amar non si sponde.
Hadst Thou but tasted once the thousandth part
Of joys, which bless the loved and loving heart,
Your words repentant and your sighs would prove,
Lost is the time which is not past in love.
The monks having attended their Abbot to the door of his Cell, He
dismissed them with an air of conscious superiority in which
Humility's semblance combated with the reality of pride.
He was no sooner alone, than He gave free loose to the indulgence
of his vanity. When He remembered the Enthusiasm which his
discourse had excited, his heart swelled with rapture, and his
imagination presented him with splendid visions of
aggrandizement. He looked round him with exultation, and Pride
told him loudly that He was superior to the rest of his
'Who,' thought He; 'Who but myself has passed the ordeal of
Youth, yet sees no single stain upon his conscience? Who else
has subdued the violence of strong passions and an impetuous
temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to
voluntary retirement? I seek for such a Man in vain. I see no
one but myself possessed of such resolution. Religion cannot
boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my discourse
produce upon its Auditors! How they crowded round me! How they
loaded me with benedictions, and pronounced me the sole
uncorrupted Pillar of the Church! What then now is left for me
to do? Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my
Brothers as I have hitherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May
I not be tempted from those paths which till now I have pursued
without one moment's wandering? Am I not a Man, whose nature is
frail, and prone to error? I must now abandon the solitude of my
retreat; The fairest and noblest Dames of Madrid continually
present themselves at the Abbey, and will use no other Confessor.
I must accustom my eyes to Objects of temptation, and expose
myself to the seduction of luxury and desire. Should I meet in
that world which I am constrained to enter some lovely Female,
lovely . . . as you, Madona. . . .!'
As He said this, He fixed his eyes upon a picture of the Virgin,
which was suspended opposite to him: This for two years had been
the Object of his increasing wonder and adoration. He paused,
and gazed upon it with delight.
'What Beauty in that countenance!' He continued after a silence
of some minutes; 'How graceful is the turn of that head! What
sweetness, yet what majesty in her divine eyes! How softly her
cheek reclines upon her hand! Can the Rose vie with the blush of
that cheek? Can the Lily rival the whiteness of that hand? Oh!
if such a Creature existed, and existed but for me! Were I
permitted to twine round my fingers those golden ringlets, and
press with my lips the treasures of that snowy bosom! Gracious
God, should I then resist the temptation? Should I not barter
for a single embrace the reward of my sufferings for thirty
years? Should I not abandon. . . . Fool that I am! Whither do
I suffer my admiration of this picture to hurry me? Away, impure
ideas! Let me remember that Woman is for ever lost to me.
Never was Mortal formed so perfect as this picture. But even did
such exist, the trial might be too mighty for a common virtue,
but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation. Temptation, did I
say? To me it would be none. What charms me, when ideal and
considered as a superior Being, would disgust me, become Woman
and tainted with all the failings of Mortality. It is not the
Woman's beauty that fills me with such enthusiasm; It is the
Painter's skill that I admire, it is the Divinity that I adore!
Are not the passions dead in my bosom? Have I not freed myself
from the frailty of Mankind? Fear not, Ambrosio! Take
confidence in the strength of your virtue. Enter boldly into a
world to whose failings you are superior; Reflect that you are
now exempted from Humanity's defects, and defy all the arts of
the Spirits of Darkness. They shall know you for what you are!'
Here his Reverie was interrupted by three soft knocks at the door
of his Cell. With difficulty did the Abbot awake from his
delirium. The knocking was repeated.
'Who is there?' said Ambrosio at length.
'It is only Rosario,' replied a gentle voice.
'Enter! Enter, my Son!'
The Door was immediately opened, and Rosario appeared with a
small basket in his hand.
Rosario was a young Novice belonging to the Monastery, who in
three Months intended to make his profession. A sort of mystery
enveloped this Youth which rendered him at once an object of
interest and curiosity. His hatred of society, his profound
melancholy, his rigid observation of the duties of his order, and
his voluntary seclusion from the world at his age so unusual,
attracted the notice of the whole fraternity. He seemed fearful
of being recognised, and no one had ever seen his face. His head
was continually muffled up in his Cowl; Yet such of his features
as accident discovered, appeared the most beautiful and noble.
Rosario was the only name by which He was known in the Monastery.
No one knew from whence He came, and when questioned in the
subject He preserved a profound silence. A Stranger, whose rich
habit and magnificent equipage declared him to be of
distinguished rank, had engaged the Monks to receive a Novice,
and had deposited the necessary sums. The next day He returned
with Rosario, and from that time no more had been heard of him.
The Youth had carefully avoided the company of the Monks: He
answered their civilities with sweetness, but reserve, and
evidently showed that his inclination led him to solitude. To
this general rule the Superior was the only exception. To him He
looked up with a respect approaching idolatry: He sought his
company with the most attentive assiduity, and eagerly seized
every means to ingratiate himself in his favour. In the Abbot's
society his Heart seemed to be at ease, and an air of gaiety
pervaded his whole manners and discourse. Ambrosio on his side
did not feel less attracted towards the Youth; With him alone did
He lay aside his habitual severity. When He spoke to him, He
insensibly assumed a tone milder than was usual to him; and no
voice sounded so sweet to him as did Rosario's. He repayed the
Youth's attentions by instructing him in various sciences; The
Novice received his lessons with docility; Ambrosio was every day
more charmed with the vivacity of his Genius, the simplicity of
his manners, and the rectitude of his heart: In short He loved
him with all the affection of a Father. He could not help
sometimes indulging a desire secretly to see the face of his
Pupil; But his rule of self-denial extended even to curiosity,
and prevented him from communicating his wishes to the Youth.
'Pardon my intrusion, Father,' said Rosario, while He placed his
basket upon the Table; 'I come to you a Suppliant. Hearing that
a dear Friend is dangerously ill, I entreat your prayers for his
recovery. If supplications can prevail upon heaven to spare him,
surely yours must be efficacious.'
'Whatever depends upon me, my Son, you know that you may command.
What is your Friend's name?'
'Vincentio della Ronda.'
' 'Tis sufficient. I will not forget him in my prayers, and may
our thrice-blessed St. Francis deign to listen to my
intercession!--What have you in your basket, Rosario?'
'A few of those flowers, reverend Father, which I have observed
to be most acceptable to you. Will you permit my arranging them
in your chamber?'
'Your attentions charm me, my Son.'
While Rosario dispersed the contents of his Basket in small
Vases placed for that purpose in various parts of the room, the
Abbot thus continued the conversation.
'I saw you not in the Church this evening, Rosario.'
'Yet I was present, Father. I am too grateful for your
protection to lose an opportunity of witnessing your Triumph.'
'Alas! Rosario, I have but little cause to triumph: The Saint
spoke by my mouth; To him belongs all the merit. It seems then
you were contented with my discourse?'
'Contented, say you? Oh! you surpassed yourself! Never did I
hear such eloquence . . . save once!'
Here the Novice heaved an involuntary sigh.
'When was that once?' demanded the Abbot.
'When you preached upon the sudden indisposition of our late
'I remember it: That is more than two years ago. And were you
present? I knew you not at that time, Rosario.'
' 'Tis true, Father; and would to God! I had expired, ere I
beheld that day! What sufferings, what sorrows should I have
'Sufferings at your age, Rosario?'
'Aye, Father; Sufferings, which if known to you, would equally
raise your anger and compassion! Sufferings, which form at once
the torment and pleasure of my existence! Yet in this retreat my
bosom would feel tranquil, were it not for the tortures of
apprehension. Oh God! Oh God! how cruel is a life of
fear!--Father! I have given up all; I have abandoned the world
and its delights for ever: Nothing now remains, Nothing now has
charms for me, but your friendship, but your affection. If I
lose that, Father! Oh! if I lose that, tremble at the effects of
'You apprehend the loss of my friendship? How has my conduct
justified this fear? Know me better, Rosario, and think me
worthy of your confidence. What are your sufferings? Reveal
them to me, and believe that if 'tis in my power to relieve them.
. . .'
'Ah! 'tis in no one's power but yours. Yet I must not let you
know them. You would hate me for my avowal! You would drive me
from your presence with scorn and ignominy!'
'My Son, I conjure you! I entreat you!'
'For pity's sake, enquire no further! I must not . . . I dare
not . . . Hark! The Bell rings for Vespers! Father, your
benediction, and I leave you!'
As He said this, He threw himself upon his knees and received
the blessing which He demanded. Then pressing the Abbot's hand
to his lips, He started from the ground and hastily quitted the
apartment. Soon after Ambrosio descended to Vespers (which were
celebrated in a small chapel belonging to the Abbey), filled with
surprise at the singularity of the Youth's behaviour.
Vespers being over, the Monks retired to their respective Cells.
The Abbot alone remained in the Chapel to receive the Nuns of St.
Clare. He had not been long seated in the confessional chair
before the Prioress made her appearance. Each of the Nuns was
heard in her turn, while the Others waited with the Domina in the
adjoining Vestry. Ambrosio listened to the confessions with
attention, made many exhortations, enjoined penance proportioned
to each offence, and for some time every thing went on as usual:
till at last one of the Nuns, conspicuous from the nobleness of
her air and elegance of her figure, carelessly permitted a letter
to fall from her bosom. She was retiring, unconscious of her
loss. Ambrosio supposed it to have been written by some one of
her Relations, and picked it up intending to restore it to her.
'Stay, Daughter,' said He; 'You have let fall. . . .'
At this moment, the paper being already open, his eye
involuntarily read the first words. He started back with
surprise! The Nun had turned round on hearing his voice: She
perceived her letter in his hand, and uttering a shriek of
terror, flew hastily to regain it.
'Hold!' said the Friar in a tone of severity; 'Daughter, I must
read this letter.'
'Then I am lost!' She exclaimed clasping her hands together
All colour instantly faded from her face; she trembled with
agitation, and was obliged to fold her arms round a Pillar of the
Chapel to save herself from sinking upon the floor. In the
meanwhile the Abbot read the following lines.
'All is ready for your escape, my dearest Agnes. At twelve
tomorrow night I shall expect to find you at the Garden door: I
have obtained the Key, and a few hours will suffice to place you
in a secure asylum. Let no mistaken scruples induce you to
reject the certain means of preserving yourself and the innocent
Creature whom you nourish in your bosom. Remember that you had
promised to be mine, long ere you engaged yourself to the church;
that your situation will soon be evident to the prying eyes of
your Companions; and that flight is the only means of avoiding
the effects of their malevolent resentment. Farewell, my Agnes!
my dear and destined Wife! Fail not to be at the Garden door at
As soon as He had finished, Ambrosio bent an eye stern and angry
upon the imprudent Nun.
'This letter must to the Prioress!' said He, and passed her.
His words sounded like thunder to her ears: She awoke from her
torpidity only to be sensible of the dangers of her situation.
She followed him hastily, and detained him by his garment.
'Stay! Oh! stay!' She cried in the accents of despair, while She
threw herself at the Friar's feet, and bathed them with her
tears. 'Father, compassionate my youth! Look with indulgence on
a Woman's weakness, and deign to conceal my frailty! The
remainder of my life shall be employed in expiating this single
fault, and your lenity will bring back a soul to heaven!'
'Amazing confidence! What! Shall St. Clare's Convent become the
retreat of Prostitutes? Shall I suffer the Church of Christ to
cherish in its bosom debauchery and shame? Unworthy Wretch! such
lenity would make me your accomplice. Mercy would here be
criminal. You have abandoned yourself to a Seducer's lust; You
have defiled the sacred habit by your impurity; and still dare
you think yourself deserving my compassion? Hence, nor detain me
longer! Where is the Lady Prioress?' He added, raising his
'Hold! Father, Hold! Hear me but for one moment! Tax me not with
impurity, nor think that I have erred from the warmth of
temperament. Long before I took the veil, Raymond was Master of
my heart: He inspired me with the purest, the most
irreproachable passion, and was on the point of becoming my
lawful husband. An horrible adventure, and the treachery of a
Relation, separated us from each other: I believed him for ever
lost to me, and threw myself into a Convent from motives of
despair. Accident again united us; I could not refuse myself the
melancholy pleasure of mingling my tears with his: We met
nightly in the Gardens of St. Clare, and in an unguarded moment I
violated my vows of Chastity. I shall soon become a Mother:
Reverend Ambrosio, take compassion on me; take compassion on the
innocent Being whose existence is attached to mine. If you
discover my imprudence to the Domina, both of us are lost: The
punishment which the laws of St. Clare assign to Unfortunates
like myself is most severe and cruel. Worthy, worthy Father!
Let not your own untainted conscience render you unfeeling
towards those less able to withstand temptation! Let not mercy
be the only virtue of which your heart is unsusceptible! Pity
me, most reverend! Restore my letter, nor doom me to inevitable
'Your boldness confounds me! Shall I conceal your crime, I whom
you have deceived by your feigned confession? No, Daughter, no!
I will render you a more essential service. I will rescue you
from perdition in spite of yourself; Penance and mortification
shall expiate your offence, and Severity force you back to the
paths of holiness. What; Ho! Mother St. Agatha!'
'Father! By all that is sacred, by all that is most dear to you,
I supplicate, I entreat. . . .'
'Release me! I will not hear you. Where is the Domina? Mother
St. Agatha, where are you?'
The door of the Vestry opened, and the Prioress entered the
Chapel, followed by her Nuns.
'Cruel! Cruel!' exclaimed Agnes, relinquishing her hold.
Wild and desperate, She threw herself upon the ground, beating
her bosom and rending her veil in all the delirium of despair.
The Nuns gazed with astonishment upon the scene before them. The
Friar now presented the fatal paper to the Prioress, informed her
of the manner in which he had found it, and added, that it was
her business to decide, what penance the delinquent merited.
While She perused the letter, the Domina's countenance grew
inflamed with passion. What! Such a crime committed in her
Convent, and made known to Ambrosio, to the Idol of Madrid, to
the Man whom She was most anxious to impress with the opinion of
the strictness and regularity of her House! Words were
inadequate to express her fury. She was silent, and darted upon
the prostrate Nun looks of menace and malignity.
'Away with her to the Convent!' said She at length to some of her
Two of the oldest Nuns now approaching Agnes, raised her forcibly
from the ground, and prepared to conduct her from the Chapel.
'What!' She exclaimed suddenly shaking off their hold with
distracted gestures; 'Is all hope then lost? Already do you drag
me to punishment? Where are you, Raymond? Oh! save me! save
Then casting upon the Abbot a frantic look, 'Hear me!' She
continued; 'Man of an hard heart! Hear me, Proud, Stern, and
Cruel! You could have saved me; you could have restored me to
happiness and virtue, but would not! You are the destroyer of my
Soul; You are my Murderer, and on you fall the curse of my death
and my unborn Infant's! Insolent in your yet-unshaken virtue,
you disdained the prayers of a Penitent; But God will show mercy,
though you show none. And where is the merit of your boasted
virtue? What temptations have you vanquished? Coward! you have
fled from it, not opposed seduction. But the day of Trial will
arrive! Oh! then when you yield to impetuous passions! when you
feel that Man is weak, and born to err; When shuddering you look
back upon your crimes, and solicit with terror the mercy of your
God, Oh! in that fearful moment think upon me! Think upon your
Cruelty! Think upon Agnes, and despair of pardon!'
As She uttered these last words, her strength was exhausted, and
She sank inanimate upon the bosom of a Nun who stood near her.
She was immediately conveyed from the Chapel, and her Companions
Ambrosio had not listened to her reproaches without emotion. A
secret pang at his heart made him feel, that He had treated this
Unfortunate with too great severity. He therefore detained the
Prioress and ventured to pronounce some words in favour of the
'The violence of her despair,' said He, 'proves, that at least
Vice is not become familiar to her. Perhaps by treating her with
somewhat less rigour than is generally practised, and mitigating
in some degree the accustomed penance. . . .'
'Mitigate it, Father?' interrupted the Lady Prioress; 'Not I,
believe me. The laws of our order are strict and severe; they
have fallen into disuse of late, But the crime of Agnes shows me
the necessity of their revival. I go to signify my intention to
the Convent, and Agnes shall be the first to feel the rigour of
those laws, which shall be obeyed to the very letter. Father,
Thus saying, She hastened out of the Chapel.
'I have done my duty,' said Ambrosio to himself.
Still did He not feel perfectly satisfied by this reflection. To
dissipate the unpleasant ideas which this scene had excited in
him, upon quitting the Chapel He descended into the Abbey Garden.
In all Madrid there was no spot more beautiful or better
regulated. It was laid out with the most exquisite taste; The
choicest flowers adorned it in the height of luxuriance, and
though artfully arranged, seemed only planted by the hand of
Nature: Fountains, springing from basons of white Marble, cooled
the air with perpetual showers; and the Walls were entirely
covered by Jessamine, vines, and Honeysuckles. The hour now
added to the beauty of the scene. The full Moon, ranging through
a blue and cloudless sky, shed upon the trees a trembling lustre,
and the waters of the fountains sparkled in the silver beam: A
gentle breeze breathed the fragrance of Orange-blossoms along the
Alleys; and the Nightingale poured forth her melodious murmur
from the shelter of an artificial wilderness. Thither the Abbot
bent his steps.
In the bosom of this little Grove stood a rustic Grotto, formed
in imitation of an Hermitage. The walls were constructed of
roots of trees, and the interstices filled up with Moss and Ivy.
Seats of Turf were placed on either side, and a natural Cascade
fell from the Rock above. Buried in himself the Monk approached
the spot. The universal calm had communicated itself to his
bosom, and a voluptuous tranquillity spread languor through his
He reached the Hermitage, and was entering to repose himself,
when He stopped on perceiving it to be already occupied.
Extended upon one of the Banks lay a man in a melancholy posture.
His head was supported upon his arm, and He seemed lost in
mediation. The Monk drew nearer, and recognised Rosario: He
watched him in silence, and entered not the Hermitage. After
some minutes the Youth raised his eyes, and fixed them mournfully
upon the opposite Wall.
'Yes!' said He with a deep and plaintive sigh; 'I feel all the
happiness of thy situation, all the misery of my own! Happy were
I, could I think like Thee! Could I look like Thee with disgust
upon Mankind, could bury myself for ever in some impenetrable
solitude, and forget that the world holds Beings deserving to be
loved! Oh God! What a blessing would Misanthropy be to me!'
'That is a singular thought, Rosario,' said the Abbot, entering
'You here, reverend Father?' cried the Novice.
At the same time starting from his place in confusion, He drew
his Cowl hastily over his face. Ambrosio seated himself upon the
Bank, and obliged the Youth to place himself by him.
'You must not indulge this disposition to melancholy,' said He;
'What can possibly have made you view in so desirable a light,
Misanthropy, of all sentiments the most hateful?'
'The perusal of these Verses, Father, which till now had escaped
my observation. The Brightness of the Moonbeams permitted my
reading them; and Oh! how I envy the feelings of the Writer!'
As He said this, He pointed to a marble Tablet fixed against the
opposite Wall: On it were engraved the following lines.
INSCRIPTION IN AN HERMITAGE
Who-e'er Thou art these lines now reading,
Think not, though from the world receding
I joy my lonely days to lead in
This Desart drear,
That with remorse aconscience bleeding
Hath led me here.
No thought of guilt my bosom sowrs:
Free-willed I fled from courtly bowers;
For well I saw in Halls and Towers
That Lust and Pride,
The Arch-Fiend's dearest darkest Powers,
In state preside.
I saw Mankind with vice incrusted;
I saw that Honour's sword was rusted;
That few for aught but folly lusted;
That He was still deceiv'd, who trusted
In Love or Friend;
And hither came with Men disgusted
My life to end.
In this lone Cave, in garments lowly,
Alike a Foe to noisy folly,
And brow-bent gloomy melancholy
I wear away
My life, and in my office holy
Consume the day.
Content and comfort bless me more in
This Grot, than e'er I felt before in
A Palace, and with thoughts still soaring
To God on high,
Each night and morn with voice imploring
This wish I sigh.
'Let me, Oh! Lord! from life retire,
Unknown each guilty worldly fire,
Remorseful throb, or loose desire;
And when I die,
Let me in this belief expire,
''To God I fly''!'
Stranger, if full of youth and riot
As yet no grief has marred thy quiet,
Thou haply throw'st a scornful eye at
The Hermit's prayer:
But if Thou hast a cause to sigh at
Thy fault, or care;
If Thou hast known false Love's vexation,
Or hast been exil'd from thy Nation,
Or guilt affrights thy contemplation,
And makes thee pine,
Oh! how must Thou lament thy station,
And envy mine!
'Were it possible' said the Friar, 'for Man to be so totally
wrapped up in himself as to live in absolute seclusion from human
nature, and could yet feel the contented tranquillity which these
lines express, I allow that the situation would be more
desirable, than to live in a world so pregnant with every vice
and every folly. But this never can be the case. This
inscription was merely placed here for the ornament of the
Grotto, and the sentiments and the Hermit are equally imaginary.
Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to
the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly
forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind,
the Misanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become an Hermit,
and buries himself in the Cavern of some gloomy Rock. While Hate
inflames his bosom, possibly He may feel contented with his
situation: But when his passions begin to cool; when Time has
mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which He bore with
him to his solitude, think you that Content becomes his
Companion? Ah! no, Rosario. No longer sustained by the violence
of his passions, He feels all the monotony of his way of living,
and his heart becomes the prey of Ennui and weariness. He looks
round, and finds himself alone in the Universe: The love of
society revives in his bosom, and He pants to return to that
world which He has abandoned. Nature loses all her charms in his
eyes: No one is near him to point out her beauties, or share in
his admiration of her excellence and variety. Propped upon the
fragment of some Rock, He gazes upon the tumbling waterfall with
a vacant eye, He views without emotion the glory of the setting
Sun. Slowly He returns to his Cell at Evening, for no one there
is anxious for his arrival; He has no comfort in his solitary
unsavoury meal: He throws himself upon his couch of Moss
despondent and dissatisfied, and wakes only to pass a day as
joyless, as monotonous as the former.'
'You amaze me, Father! Suppose that circumstances condemned you
to solitude; Would not the duties of Religion and the
consciousness of a life well spent communicate to your heart that
calm which. . . .'
'I should deceive myself, did I fancy that they could. I am
convinced of the contrary, and that all my fortitude would not
prevent me from yielding to melancholy and disgust. After
consuming the day in study, if you knew my pleasure at meeting my
Brethren in the Evening! After passing many a long hour in
solitude, if I could express to you the joy which I feel at once
more beholding a fellow-Creature! 'Tis in this particular that I
place the principal merit of a Monastic Institution. It secludes
Man from the temptations of Vice; It procures that leisure
necessary for the proper service of the Supreme; It spares him
the mortification of witnessing the crimes of the worldly, and
yet permits him to enjoy the blessings of society. And do you,
Rosario, do YOU envy an Hermit's life? Can you be thus blind to
the happiness of your situation? Reflect upon it for a moment.
This Abbey is become your Asylum: Your regularity, your
gentleness, your talents have rendered you the object of
universal esteem: You are secluded from the world which you
profess to hate; yet you remain in possession of the benefits of
society, and that a society composed of the most estimable of
'Father! Father! 'tis that which causes my Torment! Happy had
it been for me, had my life been passed among the vicious and
abandoned! Had I never heard pronounced the name of Virtue! 'Tis
my unbounded adoration of religion; 'Tis my soul's exquisite
sensibility of the beauty of fair and good, that loads me with
shame! that hurries me to perdition! Oh! that I had never seen
these Abbey walls!'
'How, Rosario? When we last conversed, you spoke in a different
tone. Is my friendship then become of such little consequence?
Had you never seen these Abbey walls, you never had seen me:
Can that really be your wish?'
'Had never seen you?' repeated the Novice, starting from the
Bank, and grasping the Friar's hand with a frantic air; 'You?
You? Would to God, that lightning had blasted them, before you
ever met my eyes! Would to God! that I were never to see you
more, and could forget that I had ever seen you!'
With these words He flew hastily from the Grotto. Ambrosio
remained in his former attitude, reflecting on the Youth's
unaccountable behaviour. He was inclined to suspect the
derangement of his senses: yet the general tenor of his conduct,
the connexion of his ideas, and calmness of his demeanour till
the moment of his quitting the Grotto, seemed to discountenance
this conjecture. After a few minutes Rosario returned. He again
seated himself upon the Bank: He reclined his cheek upon one
hand, and with the other wiped away the tears which trickled from
his eyes at intervals.
The Monk looked upon him with compassion, and forbore to
interrupt his meditations. Both observed for some time a
profound silence. The Nightingale had now taken her station upon
an Orange Tree fronting the Hermitage, and poured forth a strain
the most melancholy and melodious. Rosario raised his head, and
listened to her with attention.
'It was thus,' said He, with a deep-drawn sigh; 'It was thus,
that during the last month of her unhappy life, my Sister used to
sit listening to the Nightingale. Poor Matilda! She sleeps in
the Grave, and her broken heart throbs no more with passion.'
'You had a Sister?'
'You say right, that I HAD; Alas! I have one no longer. She
sunk beneath the weight of her sorrows in the very spring of
'What were those sorrows?'
'They will not excite YOUR pity: YOU know not the power of those
irresistible, those fatal sentiments, to which her Heart was a
prey. Father, She loved unfortunately. A passion for One
endowed with every virtue, for a Man, Oh! rather let me say, for
a divinity, proved the bane of her existence. His noble form,
his spotless character, his various talents, his wisdom solid,
wonderful, and glorious, might have warmed the bosom of the most
insensible. My Sister saw him, and dared to love though She
never dared to hope.'
'If her love was so well bestowed, what forbad her to hope the
obtaining of its object?'
'Father, before He knew her, Julian had already plighted his vows
to a Bride most fair, most heavenly! Yet still my Sister loved,
and for the Husband's sake She doted upon the Wife. One morning
She found means to escape from our Father's House: Arrayed in
humble weeds She offered herself as a Domestic to the Consort of
her Beloved, and was accepted. She was now continually in his
presence: She strove to ingratiate herself into his favour: She
succeeded. Her attentions attracted Julian's notice; The
virtuous are ever grateful, and He distinguished Matilda above
the rest of her Companions.'
'And did not your Parents seek for her? Did they submit tamely
to their loss, nor attempt to recover their wandering Daughter?'
'Ere they could find her, She discovered herself. Her love grew
too violent for concealment; Yet She wished not for Julian's
person, She ambitioned but a share of his heart. In an unguarded
moment She confessed her affection. What was the return?
Doating upon his Wife, and believing that a look of pity bestowed
upon another was a theft from what He owed to her, He drove