Part 4 out of 8
'No one,' He replied, 'is adequate to comprehending the misery of
my lot! Fate obliges me to be constantly in movement: I am not
permitted to pass more than a fortnight in the same place. I
have no Friend in the world, and from the restlessness of my
destiny I never can acquire one. Fain would I lay down my
miserable life, for I envy those who enjoy the quiet of the
Grave: But Death eludes me, and flies from my embrace. In vain
do I throw myself in the way of danger. I plunge into the Ocean;
The Waves throw me back with abhorrence upon the shore: I rush
into fire; The flames recoil at my approach: I oppose myself to
the fury of Banditti; Their swords become blunted, and break
against my breast: The hungry Tiger shudders at my approach, and
the Alligator flies from a Monster more horrible than itself.
God has set his seal upon me, and all his Creatures respect this
He put his hand to the velvet, which was bound round his
forehead. There was in his eyes an expression of fury, despair,
and malevolence, that struck horror to my very soul. An
involuntary convulsion made me shudder. The Stranger perceived
'Such is the curse imposed on me,' he continued: 'I am doomed to
inspire all who look on me with terror and detestation. You
already feel the influence of the charm, and with every
succeeding moment will feel it more. I will not add to your
sufferings by my presence. Farewell till Saturday. As soon as
the Clock strikes twelve, expect me at your chamber door.'
Having said this He departed, leaving me in astonishment at the
mysterious turn of his manner and conversation.
His assurances that I should soon be relieved from the
Apparition's visits produced a good effect upon my constitution.
Theodore, whom I rather treated as an adopted Child than a
Domestic, was surprized at his return to observe the amendment in
my looks. He congratulated me on this symptom of returning
health, and declared himself delighted at my having received so
much benefit from my conference with the Great Mogul. Upon
enquiry I found that the Stranger had already past eight days in
Ratisbon: According to his own account, therefore, He was only
to remain there six days longer. Saturday was still at the
distance of Three. Oh! with what impatience did I expect its
arrival! In the interim, the Bleeding Nun continued her
nocturnal visits; But hoping soon to be released from them
altogether, the effects which they produced on me became less
violent than before.
The wished-for night arrived. To avoid creating suspicion I
retired to bed at my usual hour: But as soon as my Attendants
had left me, I dressed myself again, and prepared for the
Stranger's reception. He entered my room upon the turn of
midnight. A small Chest was in his hand, which He placed near
the Stove. He saluted me without speaking; I returned the
compliment, observing an equal silence. He then opened his
Chest. The first thing which He produced was a small wooden
Crucifix: He sank upon his knees, gazed upon it mournfully, and
cast his eyes towards heaven. He seemed to be praying devoutly.
At length He bowed his head respectfully, kissed the Crucifix
thrice, and quitted his kneeling posture. He next drew from the
Chest a covered Goblet: With the liquor which it contained, and
which appeared to be blood, He sprinkled the floor, and then
dipping in it one end of the Crucifix, He described a circle in
the middle of the room. Round about this He placed various
reliques, sculls, thigh-bones &c; I observed, that He disposed
them all in the forms of Crosses. Lastly He took out a large
Bible, and beckoned me to follow him into the Circle. I obeyed.
'Be cautious not to utter a syllable!' whispered the Stranger;
'Step not out of the circle, and as you love yourself, dare not
to look upon my face!'
Holding the Crucifix in one hand, the Bible in the other, He
seemed to read with profound attention. The Clock struck 'One'!
As usual I heard the Spectre's steps upon the Staircase: But I
was not seized with the accustomed shivering. I waited her
approach with confidence. She entered the room, drew near the
Circle, and stopped. The Stranger muttered some words, to me
unintelligible. Then raising his head from the Book, and
extending the Crucifix towards the Ghost, He pronounced in a
voice distinct and solemn,
'Beatrice! Beatrice! Beatrice!'
'What wouldst Thou?' replied the Apparition in a hollow faltering
'What disturbs thy sleep? Why dost thou afflict and torture this
Youth? How can rest be restored to thy unquiet Spirit?'
'I dare not tell!--I must not tell!--Fain would I repose in my
Grave, but stern commands force me to prolong my punishment!'
'Knowest Thou this blood? Knowest Thou in whose veins it flowed?
Beatrice! Beatrice! In his name I charge thee to answer me!'
'I dare not disobey my taskers.'
'Darest Thou disobey Me?'
He spoke in a commanding tone, and drew the sable band from his
forehead. In spite of his injunctions to the contrary,
Curiosity would not suffer me to keep my eyes off his face: I
raised them, and beheld a burning Cross impressed upon his brow.
For the horror with which this object inspired me I cannot
account, but I never felt its equal! My senses left me for some
moments; A mysterious dread overcame my courage, and had not the
Exorciser caught my hand, I should have fallen out of the Circle.
When I recovered myself, I perceived that the burning Cross had
produced an effect no less violent upon the Spectre. Her
countenance expressed reverence, and horror, and her visionary
limbs were shaken by fear.
'Yes!' She said at length; 'I tremble at that mark!-- respect
it!--I obey you! Know then, that my bones lie still unburied:
They rot in the obscurity of Lindenberg Hole. None but this
Youth has the right of consigning them to the Grave. His own
lips have made over to me his body and his soul: Never will I
give back his promise, never shall He know a night devoid of
terror, unless He engages to collect my mouldering bones, and
deposit them in the family vault of his Andalusian Castle. Then
let thirty Masses be said for the repose of my Spirit, and I
trouble this world no more. Now let me depart! Those flames are
He let the hand drop slowly which held the Crucifix, and which
till then He had pointed towards her. The apparition bowed her
head, and her form melted into air. The Exorciser led me out of
the Circle. He replaced the Bible &c. in the Chest, and then
addressed himself to me, who stood near him speechless from
'Don Raymond, you have heard the conditions on which repose is
promised you. Be it your business to fulfil them to the letter.
For me nothing more remains than to clear up the darkness still
spread over the Spectre's History, and inform you that when
living, Beatrice bore the name of las Cisternas. She was the
great Aunt of your Grandfather: In quality of your relation,
her ashes demand respect from you, though the enormity of her
crimes must excite your abhorrence. The nature of those crimes
no one is more capable of explaining to you than myself: I was
personally acquainted with the holy Man who proscribed her
nocturnal riots in the Castle of Lindenberg, and I hold this
narrative from his own lips.
'Beatrice de las Cisternas took the veil at an early age, not by
her own choice, but at the express command of her Parents. She
was then too young to regret the pleasures of which her
profession deprived her: But no sooner did her warm and
voluptuous character begin to be developed than She abandoned
herself freely to the impulse of her passions, and seized the
first opportunity to procure their gratification. This
opportunity was at length presented, after many obstacles which
only added new force to her desires. She contrived to elope from
the Convent, and fled to Germany with the Baron Lindenberg. She
lived at his Castle several months as his avowed Concubine: All
Bavaria was scandalized by her impudent and abandoned conduct.
Her feasts vied in luxury with Cleopatra's, and Lindenberg became
the Theatre of the most unbridled debauchery. Not satisfied with
displaying the incontinence of a Prostitute, She professed
herself an Atheist: She took every opportunity to scoff at her
monastic vows, and loaded with ridicule the most sacred
ceremonies of Religion.
'Possessed of a character so depraved, She did not long confine
her affections to one object. Soon after her arrival at the
Castle, the Baron's younger Brother attracted her notice by his
strong-marked features, gigantic Stature, and Herculean limbs.
She was not of an humour to keep her inclinations long unknown;
But She found in Otto von Lindenberg her equal in depravity. He
returned her passion just sufficiently to increase it; and when
He had worked it up to the desired pitch, He fixed the price of
his love at his Brother's murder. The Wretch consented to this
horrible agreement. A night was pitched upon for perpetrating
the deed. Otto, who resided on a small Estate a few miles
distant from the Castle, promised that at One in the morning He
would be waiting for her at Lindenberg Hole; that He would bring
with him a party of chosen Friends, by whose aid He doubted not
being able to make himself Master of the Castle; and that his
next step should be the uniting her hand to his. It was this
last promise, which overruled every scruple of Beatrice, since in
spite of his affection for her, the Baron had declared positively
that He never would make her his Wife.
'The fatal night arrived. The Baron slept in the arms of his
perfidious Mistress, when the Castle-Bell struck 'One.'
Immediately Beatrice drew a dagger from underneath the pillow,
and plunged it in her Paramour's heart. The Baron uttered a
single dreadful groan, and expired. The Murderess quitted her
bed hastily, took a Lamp in one hand, in the other the bloody
dagger, and bent her course towards the cavern. The Porter dared
not to refuse opening the Gates to one more dreaded in the
Castle than its Master. Beatrice reached Lindenberg Hole
unopposed, where according to promise She found Otto waiting for
her. He received and listened to her narrative with transport:
But ere She had time to ask why He came unaccompanied, He
convinced her that He wished for no witnesses to their interview.
Anxious to conceal his share in the murder, and to free himself
from a Woman, whose violent and atrocious character made him
tremble with reason for his own safety, He had resolved on the
destruction of his wretched Agent. Rushing upon her suddenly, He
wrested the dagger from her hand: He plunged it still reeking
with his Brother's blood in her bosom, and put an end to her
existence by repeated blows.
'Otto now succeeded to the Barony of Lindenberg. The murder was
attributed solely to the fugitive Nun, and no one suspected him
to have persuaded her to the action. But though his crime was
unpunished by Man, God's justice permitted him not to enjoy in
peace his blood-stained honours. Her bones lying still unburied
in the Cave, the restless soul of Beatrice continued to inhabit
the Castle. Drest in her religious habit in memory of her vows
broken to heaven, furnished with the dagger which had drank the
blood of her Paramour, and holding the Lamp which had guided her
flying steps, every night did She stand before the Bed of Otto.
The most dreadful confusion reigned through the Castle; The
vaulted chambers resounded with shrieks and groans; And the
Spectre, as She ranged along the antique Galleries, uttered an
incoherent mixture of prayers and blasphemies. Otto was unable
to withstand the shock which He felt at this fearful Vision:
Its horror increased with every succeeding appearance: His alarm
at length became so insupportable that his heart burst, and one
morning He was found in his bed totally deprived of warmth and
animation. His death did not put an end to the nocturnal riots.
The bones of Beatrice continued to lie unburied, and her Ghost
continued to haunt the Castle.
'The domains of Lindenberg now fell to a distant Relation. But
terrified by the accounts given him of the Bleeding Nun (So was
the Spectre called by the multitude), the new Baron called to his
assistance a celebrated Exorciser. This holy Man succeeded in
obliging her to temporary repose; But though She discovered to
him her history, He was not permitted to reveal it to others, or
cause her skeleton to be removed to hallowed ground. That Office
was reserved for you, and till your coming, her Ghost was doomed
to wander about the Castle and lament the crime which She had
there committed. However, the Exorciser obliged her to silence
during his lifetime. So long as He existed, the haunted chamber
was shut up, and the Spectre was invisible. At his death which
happened in five years after, She again appeared, but only once
on every fifth year, on the same day and at the same hour when
She plunged her Knife in the heart of her sleeping Lover: She
then visited the Cavern which held her mouldering skeleton,
returned to the Castle as soon as the Clock struck 'Two,' and was
seen no more till the next five years had elapsed.
'She was doomed to suffer during the space of a Century. That
period is past. Nothing now remains but to consign to the Grave
the ashes of Beatrice. I have been the means of releasing you
from your visionary Tormentor; and amidst all the sorrows which
oppress me, to think that I have been of use to you, is some
consolation. Youth, farewell! May the Ghost of your Relation
enjoy that rest in the Tomb, which the Almighty's vengeance has
denied to me for ever!'
Here the Stranger prepared to quit the apartment.
'Stay yet one moment!' said I; 'You have satisfied my curiosity
with regard to the Spectre, but you leave me in prey to yet
greater respecting yourself. Deign to inform me, to whom I am
under such real obligations. You mention circumstances long
past, and persons long dead: You were personally acquainted with
the Exorciser, who by your own account has been deceased near a
Century. How am I to account for this? What means that burning
Cross upon your forehead, and why did the sight of it strike
such horror to my soul?'
On these points He for some time refused to satisfy me. At
length overcome by my entreaties, He consented to clear up the
whole, on condition that I would defer his explanation till the
next day. With this request I was obliged to comply, and He left
me. In the Morning my first care was to enquire after the
mysterious Stranger. Conceive my disappointment when informed
that He had already quitted Ratisbon. I dispatched messengers in
pursuit of him but in vain. No traces of the Fugitive were
discovered. Since that moment I never have heard any more of
him, and 'tis most probable that I never shall.'
(Lorenzo here interrupted his Friend's narrative.
'How?' said He; 'You have never discovered who He was, or even
formed a guess?'
'Pardon me,' replied the Marquis; 'When I related this adventure
to my Uncle, the Cardinal-Duke, He told me that He had no doubt
of this singular Man's being the celebrated Character known
universally by the name of 'the wandering Jew.' His not being
permitted to pass more than fourteen days on the same spot, the
burning Cross impressed upon his forehead, the effect which it
produced upon the Beholders, and many other circumstances give
this supposition the colour of truth. The Cardinal is fully
persuaded of it; and for my own part I am inclined to adopt the
only solution which offers itself to this riddle. I return to
the narrative from which I have digressed.')
From this period I recovered my health so rapidly as to astonish
my Physicians. The Bleeding Nun appeared no more, and I was soon
able to set out for Lindenberg. The Baron received me with open
arms. I confided to him the sequel of my adventure; and He was
not a little pleased to find that his Mansion would be no longer
troubled with the Phantom's quiennial visits. I was sorry to
perceive that absence had not weakened Donna Rodolpha's
imprudent passion. In a private conversation which I had with
her during my short stay at the Castle, She renewed her attempts
to persuade me to return her affection. Regarding her as the
primary cause of all my sufferings, I entertained for her no
other sentiment than disgust. The Skeleton of Beatrice was found
in the place which She had mentioned. This being all that I
sought at Lindenberg, I hastened to quit the Baron's domains,
equally anxious to perform the obsequies of the murdered Nun, and
escape the importunity of a Woman whom I detested. I departed,
followed by Donna Rodolpha's menaces that my contempt should not
be long unpunished.
I now bent my course towards Spain with all diligence. Lucas
with my Baggage had joined me during my abode at Lindenberg. I
arrived in my native Country without any accident, and
immediately proceeded to my Father's Castle in Andalusia. The
remains of Beatrice were deposited in the family vault, all due
ceremonies performed, and the number of Masses said which She had
required. Nothing now hindered me from employing all my
endeavours to discover the retreat of Agnes. The Baroness had
assured me that her Niece had already taken the veil: This
intelligence I suspected to have been forged by jealousy, and
hoped to find my Mistress still at liberty to accept my hand. I
enquired after her family; I found that before her Daughter could
reach Madrid, Donna Inesilla was no more: You, my dear Lorenzo,
were said to be abroad, but where I could not discover: Your
Father was in a distant Province on a visit to the Duke de
Medina, and as to Agnes, no one could or would inform me what was
become of her. Theodore, according to promise, had returned to
Strasbourg, where He found his Grandfather dead, and Marguerite
in possession of his fortune. All her persuations to remain with
her were fruitless: He quitted her a second time, and followed
me to Madrid. He exerted himself to the utmost in forwarding my
search: But our united endeavours were unattended by success.
The retreat, which concealed Agnes remained an impenetrable
mystery, and I began to abandon all hopes of recovering her.
About eight months ago I was returning to my Hotel in a
melancholy humour, having past the evening at the Play-House.
The Night was dark, and I was unaccompanied. Plunged in
reflections which were far from being agreeable, I perceived not
that three Men had followed me from the Theatre; till, on turning
into an unfrequented Street, they all attacked me at the same
time with the utmost fury. I sprang back a few paces, drew my
sword, and threw my cloak over my left arm. The obscurity of the
night was in my favour. For the most part the blows of the
Assassins, being aimed at random, failed to touch me. I at
length was fortunate enough to lay one of my Adversaries at my
feet; But before this I had already received so many wounds, and
was so warmly pressed, that my destruction would have been
inevitable, had not the clashing of swords called a Cavalier to
my assistance. He ran towards me with his sword drawn: Several
Domestics followed him with torches. His arrival made the combat
equal: Yet would not the Bravoes abandon their design till the
Servants were on the point of joining us. They then fled away,
and we lost them in the obscurity.
The Stranger now addressed himself to me with politeness, and
enquired whether I was wounded. Faint with the loss of blood, I
could scarcely thank him for his seasonable aid, and entreat him
to let some of his Servants convey me to the Hotel de las
Cisternas. I no sooner mentioned the name than He profest
himself an acquaintance of my Father's, and declared that He
would not permit my being transported to such a distance before
my wounds had been examined. He added that his House was hard
by, and begged me to accompany him thither. His manner was so
earnest, that I could not reject his offer, and leaning upon his
arm, a few minutes brought me to the Porch of a magnificent
On entering the House, an old grey-headed Domestic came to
welcome my Conductor: He enquired when the Duke, his Master,
meant to quit the Country, and was answered that He would remain
there yet some months. My Deliverer then desired the
family Surgeon to be summoned without delay. His orders were
obeyed. I was seated upon a Sopha in a noble apartment; and my
wounds being examined, they were declared to be very slight. The
Surgeon, however, advised me not to expose myself to the
night air; and the Stranger pressed me so earnestly to take a bed
in his House, that I consented to remain where I was for the
Being now left alone with my Deliverer, I took the opportunity of
thanking him in more express terms, than I had done hitherto:
But He begged me to be silent upon the subject.
'I esteem myself happy,' said He, 'in having had it in my power
to render you this little service; and I shall think myself
eternally obliged to my Daughter for detaining me so late at the
Convent of St. Clare. The high esteem in which I have ever held
the Marquis de las Cisternas, though accident has not permitted
our being so intimate as I could wish, makes me rejoice in the
opportunity of making his Son's acquaintance. I am certain that
my Brother in whose House you now are, will lament his not being
at Madrid to receive you himself: But in the Duke's absence I am
Master of the family, and may assure you in his name, that every
thing in the Hotel de Medina is perfectly at your disposal.'
Conceive my surprize, Lorenzo, at discovering in the person of my
Preserver Don Gaston de Medina: It was only to be equalled by my
secret satisfaction at the assurance that Agnes inhabited the
Convent of St. Clare. This latter sensation was not a little
weakened, when in answer to my seemingly indifferent questions He
told me that his Daughter had really taken the veil. I suffered
not my grief at this circumstance to take root in my mind: I
flattered myself with the idea that my Uncle's credit at the
Court of Rome would remove this obstacle, and that without
difficulty I should obtain for my Mistress a dispensation from
her vows. Buoyed up with this hope I calmed the uneasiness of my
bosom; and I redoubled my endeavours to appear grateful for the
attention and pleased with the society of Don Gaston.
A Domestic now entered the room, and informed me that the Bravo
whom I had wounded discovered some signs of life. I desired
that He might be carried to my Father's Hotel, and that as soon
as He recovered his voice, I would examine him respecting his
reasons for attempting my life. I was answered that He was
already able to speak, though with difficulty: Don Gaston's
curiosity made him press me to interrogate the Assassin in his
presence, but this curiosity I was by no means inclined to
gratify. One reason was, that doubting from whence the blow
came, I was unwilling to place before Don Gaston's eyes the guilt
of a Sister: Another was, that I feared to be recognized for
Alphonso d'Alvarada, and precautions taken in consequence to keep
me from the sight of Agnes. To avow my passion for his Daughter,
and endeavour to make him enter into my schemes, what I knew of
Don Gaston's character convinced me would be an imprudent step:
and considering it to be essential that He should know me for no
other than the Conde de las Cisternas, I was determined not to
let him hear the Bravo's confession. I insinuated to him, that
as I suspected a Lady to be concerned in the Business, whose name
might accidentally escape from the Assassin, it was necessary for
me to examine the Man in private. Don Gaston's delicacy would
not permit his urging the point any longer, and in consequence
the Bravo was conveyed to my Hotel.
The next Morning I took leave of my Host, who was to return to
the Duke on the same day. My wounds had been so trifling that,
except being obliged to wear my arm in a sling for a short time,
I felt no inconvenience from the night's adventure. The Surgeon
who examined the Bravo's wound declared it to be mortal: He had
just time to confess that He had been instigated to murder me by
the revengeful Donna Rodolpha, and expired in a few minutes
All my thoughts were now bent upon getting to the speech of my
lovely Nun. Theodore set himself to work, and for this time with
better success. He attacked the Gardener of St. Clare so
forcibly with bribes and promises that the Old Man was entirely
gained over to my interests; and it was settled that I should be
introduced into the Convent in the character of his Assistant.
The plan was put into execution without delay. Disguised in a
common habit, and a black patch covering one of my eyes, I was
presented to the Lady Prioress, who condescended to approve of
the Gardener's choice. I immediately entered upon my employment.
Botany having been a favourite study with me, I was by no means
at a loss in my new station. For some days I continued to work
in the Convent Garden without meeting the Object of my disguise:
On the fourth Morning I was more successful. I heard the voice
of Agnes, and was speeding towards the sound, when the sight of
the Domina stopped me. I drew back with caution, and concealed
myself behind a thick clump of Trees.
The Prioress advanced and seated herself with Agnes on a Bench
at no great distance. I heard her in an angry tone blame her
Companion's continual melancholy: She told her that to weep the
loss of any Lover in her situation was a crime; But that to weep
the loss of a faithless one was folly and absurdity in the
extreme. Agnes replied in so low a voice that I could not
distinguish her words, but I perceived that She used terms of
gentleness and submission. The conversation was interrupted by
the arrival of a young Pensioner who informed the Domina that
She was waited for in the Parlour. The old Lady rose, kissed the
cheek of Agnes, and retired. The newcomer remained. Agnes spoke
much to her in praise of somebody whom I could not make out, but
her Auditor seemed highly delighted, and interested by the
conversation. The Nun showed her several letters; the Other
perused them with evident pleasure, obtained permission to copy
them, and withdrew for that purpose to my great satisfaction.
No sooner was She out of sight, than I quitted my concealment.
Fearing to alarm my lovely Mistress, I drew near her gently,
intending to discover myself by degrees. But who for a moment
can deceive the eyes of love? She raised her head at my
approach, and recognised me in spite of my disguise at a single
glance. She rose hastily from her seat with an exclamation of
surprize, and attempted to retire; But I followed her, detained
her, and entreated to be heard. Persuaded of my falsehood She
refused to listen to me, and ordered me positively to quit the
Garden. It was now my turn to refuse. I protested that however
dangerous might be the consequences, I would not leave her till
She had heard my justification. I assured her that She had been
deceived by the artifices of her Relations; that I could convince
her beyond the power of doubt that my passion had been pure and
disinterested; and I asked her what should induce me to seek her
in the Convent, were I influenced by the selfish motives which my
Enemies had ascribed to me.
My prayers, my arguments, and vows not to quit her, till She had
promised to listen to me, united to her fears lest the Nuns
should see me with her, to her natural curiosity, and to the
effection which She still felt for me in spite of my supposed
desertion, at length prevailed. She told me that to grant my
request at that moment was impossible; But She engaged to be in
the same spot at eleven that night, and to converse with me for
the last time. Having obtained this promise I released her hand,
and She fled back with rapidity towards the Convent.
I communicated my success to my Ally, the old Gardener: He
pointed out an hiding place where I might shelter myself till
night without fear of a discovery. Thither I betook myself at
the hour when I ought to have retired with my supposed Master,
and waited impatiently for the appointed time. The chillness of
the night was in my favour, since it kept the other Nuns confined
to their Cells. Agnes alone was insensible of the inclemency of
the Air, and before eleven joined me at the spot which had
witnessed our former interview. Secure from interruption, I
related to her the true cause of my disappearing on the fatal
fifth of May. She was evidently much affected by my narrative:
When it was concluded, She confessed the injustice of her
suspicions, and blamed herself for having taken the veil through
despair at my ingratitude.
'But now it is too late to repine!' She added; 'The die is
thrown: I have pronounced my vows, and dedicated myself to the
service of heaven. I am sensible, how ill I am calculated for a
Convent. My disgust at a monastic life increases daily: Ennui
and discontent are my constant Companions; and I will not conceal
from you that the passion which I formerly felt for one so near
being my Husband is not yet extinguished in my bosom. But we
must part! Insuperable Barriers divide us from each other, and
on this side the Grave we must never meet again!'
I now exerted myself to prove that our union was not so
impossible as She seemed to think it. I vaunted to her the
Cardinal-Duke of Lerma's influence at the Court of Rome: I
assured her that I should easily obtain a dispensation from her
vows; and I doubted not but Don Gaston would coincide with my
views, when informed of my real name and long attachment. Agnes
replied that since I encouraged such an hope, I could know but
little of her Father. Liberal and kind in every other respect,
Superstition formed the only stain upon his character. Upon this
head He was inflexible; He sacrificed his dearest interests to
his scruples, and would consider it an insult to suppose him
capable of authorising his daughter to break her vows to heaven.
'But suppose,' said I interrupting her; 'Suppose that He should
disapprove of our union; Let him remain ignorant of my
proceedings, till I have rescued you from the prison in which
you are now confined. Once my Wife, you are free from his
authority: I need from him no pecuniary assistance; and when He
sees his resentment to be unavailing, He will doubtless restore
you to his favour. But let the worst happen; Should Don Gaston
be irreconcileable, my Relations will vie with each other in
making you forget his loss: and you will find in my Father a
substitute for the Parent of whom I shall deprive you.'
'Don Raymond,' replied Agnes in a firm and resolute voice, 'I
love my Father: He has treated me harshly in this one instance;
but I have received from him in every other so many proofs of
love that his affection is become necessary to my existence.
Were I to quit the Convent, He never would forgive me; nor can I
think that on his deathbed He would leave me his curse, without
shuddering at the very idea. Besides, I am conscious myself,
that my vows are binding: Wilfully did I contract my engagement
with heaven; I cannot break it without a crime. Then banish from
your mind the idea of our being ever united. I am devoted to
religion; and however I may grieve at our separation, I would
oppose obstacles myself, to what I feel would render me guilty.'
I strove to overrule these ill-grounded scruples: We were still
disputing upon the subject, when the Convent Bell summoned the
Nuns to Matins. Agnes was obliged to attend them; But She left
me not till I had compelled her to promise that on the following
night She would be at the same place at the same hour. These
meetings continued for several Weeks uninterrupted; and 'tis now,
Lorenzo, that I must implore your indulgence. Reflect upon our
situation, our youth, our long attachment: Weigh all the
circumstances which attended our assignations, and you will
confess the temptation to have been irresistible; you will even
pardon me when I acknowledge, that in an unguarded moment, the
honour of Agnes was sacrificed to my passion.'
(Lorenzo's eyes sparkled with fury: A deep crimson spread itself
over his face. He started from his seat, and attempted to draw
his sword. The Marquis was aware of his movement, and caught his
hand: He pressed it affectionately.
'My Friend! My Brother! Hear me to the conclusion! Till then
restrain your passion, and be at least convinced, that if what I
have related is criminal, the blame must fall upon me, and not
upon your Sister.'
Lorenzo suffered himself to be prevailed upon by Don Raymond's
entreaties. He resumed his place, and listened to the rest of
the narrative with a gloomy and impatient countenance. The
Marquis thus continued.)
'Scarcely was the first burst of passion past when Agnes,
recovering herself, started from my arms with horror. She called
me infamous Seducer, loaded me with the bitterest reproaches, and
beat her bosom in all the wildness of delirium. Ashamed of my
imprudence, I with difficulty found words to excuse myself. I
endeavoured to console her; I threw myself at her feet, and
entreated her forgiveness. She forced her hand from me, which I
had taken, and would have prest to my lips.
'Touch me not!' She cried with a violence which terrified me;
'Monster of perfidy and ingratitude, how have I been deceived in
you! I looked upon you as my Friend, my Protector: I trusted
myself in your hands with confidence, and relying upon your
honour, thought that mine ran no risque. And 'tis by you, whom I
adored, that I am covered with infamy! 'Tis by you that I have
been seduced into breaking my vows to God, that I am reduced to a
level with the basest of my sex! Shame upon you, Villain, you
shall never see me more!'
She started from the Bank on which She was seated. I endeavoured
to detain her; But She disengaged herself from me with violence,
and took refuge in the Convent.
I retired, filled with confusion and inquietude. The next
morning I failed not as usual to appear in the Garden; but Agnes
was no where to be seen. At night I waited for her at the place
where we generally met; I found no better success. Several days
and nights passed away in the same manner. At length I saw my
offended Mistress cross the walk on whose borders I was working:
She was accompanied by the same young Pensioner, on whose arm She
seemed from weakness obliged to support herself. She looked upon
me for a moment, but instantly turned her head away. I waited
her return; But She passed on to the Convent without paying any
attention to me, or the penitent looks with which I implored her
As soon as the Nuns were retired, the old Gardener joined me with
a sorrowful air.
'Segnor,' said He, 'it grieves me to say, that I can be no longer
of use to you. The Lady whom you used to meet has just assured
me that if I admitted you again into the Garden, She would
discover the whole business to the Lady Prioress. She bade me
tell you also, that your presence was an insult, and that if you
still possess the least respect for her, you will never attempt
to see her more. Excuse me then for informing you that I can
favour your disguise no longer. Should the Prioress be
acquainted with my conduct, She might not be contented with
dismissing me her service: Out of revenge She might accuse me of
having profaned the Convent, and cause me to be thrown into the
Prisons of the Inquisition.'
Fruitless were my attempts to conquer his resolution. He denied
me all future entrance into the Garden, and Agnes persevered in
neither letting me see or hear from her. In about a fortnight
after, a violent illness which had seized my Father obliged me to
set out for Andalusia. I hastened thither, and as I imagined,
found the Marquis at the point of death. Though on its first
appearance his complaint was declared mortal, He lingered out
several Months; during which my attendance upon him during his
malady, and the occupation of settling his affairs after his
decease, permitted not my quitting Andalusia. Within these four
days I returned to Madrid, and on arriving at my Hotel, I there
found this letter waiting for me.
(Here the Marquis unlocked the drawer of a Cabinet: He took out a
folded paper, which He presented to his Auditor. Lorenzo opened
it, and recognised his Sister's hand. The Contents were as
Into what an abyss of misery have you plunged me! Raymond, you
force me to become as criminal as yourself. I had resolved never
to see you more; if possible, to forget you; If not, only to
remember you with hate. A Being for whom I already feel a
Mother's tenderness, solicits me to pardon my Seducer, and apply
to his love for the means of preservation. Raymond, your child
lives in my bosom. I tremble at the vengeance of the Prioress; I
tremble much for myself, yet more for the innocent Creature whose
existence depends upon mine. Both of us are lost, should my
situation be discovered. Advise me then what steps to take, but
seek not to see me. The Gardener, who undertakes to deliver
this, is dismissed, and we have nothing to hope from that
quarter: The Man engaged in his place is of incorruptible
fidelity. The best means of conveying to me your answer, is by
concealing it under the great Statue of St. Francis, which stands
in the Capuchin Cathedral. Thither I go every Thursday to
confession, and shall easily have an opportunity of securing your
letter. I hear that you are now absent from Madrid; Need I
entreat you to write the very moment of your return? I will not
think it. Ah! Raymond! Mine is a cruel situation! Deceived by
my nearest Relations, compelled to embrace a profession the
duties of which I am ill-calculated to perform, conscious of the
sanctity of those duties, and seduced into violating them by One
whom I least suspected of perfidy, I am now obliged by
circumstances to chuse between death and perjury. Woman's
timidity, and maternal affection, permit me not to balance in the
choice. I feel all the guilt into which I plunge myself, when I
yield to the plan which you before proposed to me. My poor
Father's death which has taken place since we met, has removed
one obstacle. He sleeps in his grave, and I no longer dread his
anger. But from the anger of God, Oh! Raymond! who shall shield
me? Who can protect me against my conscience, against myself? I
dare not dwell upon these thoughts; They will drive me mad. I
have taken my resolution: Procure a dispensation from my vows; I
am ready to fly with you. Write to me, my Husband! Tell me,
that absence has not abated your love, tell me that you will
rescue from death your unborn Child, and its unhappy Mother. I
live in all the agonies of terror: Every eye which is fixed upon
me seems to read my secret and my shame. And you are the cause
of those agonies! Oh! When my heart first loved you, how little
did it suspect you of making it feel such pangs!
Having perused the letter, Lorenzo restored it in silence. The
Marquis replaced it in the Cabinet, and then proceeded.)
'Excessive was my joy at reading this intelligence so
earnestly-desired, so little expected. My plan was soon
arranged. When Don Gaston discovered to me his Daughter's
retreat, I entertained no doubt of her readiness to quit the
Convent: I had, therefore, entrusted the Cardinal-Duke of Lerma
with the whole affair, who immediately busied himself in
obtaining the necessary Bull. Fortunately I had afterwards
neglected to stop his proceedings. Not long since I received a
letter from him, stating that He expected daily to receive the
order from the Court of Rome. Upon this I would willingly have
relyed: But the Cardinal wrote me word, that I must find some
means of conveying Agnes out of the Convent, unknown to the
Prioress. He doubted not but this Latter would be much incensed
by losing a Person of such high rank from her society, and
consider the renunciation of Agnes as an insult to her House. He
represented her as a Woman of a violent and revengeful character,
capable of proceeding to the greatest extremities. It was
therefore to be feared, lest by confining Agnes in the Convent
She should frustrate my hopes, and render the Pope's mandate
unavailing. Influenced by this consideration, I resolved to
carry off my Mistress, and conceal her till the arrival of the
expected Bull in the Cardinal-Duke's Estate. He approved of my
design, and profest himself ready to give a shelter to the
Fugitive. I next caused the new Gardener of St. Clare to be
seized privately, and confined in my Hotel. By this means I
became Master of the Key to the Garden door, and I had now
nothing more to do than prepare Agnes for the elopement. This
was done by the letter, which you saw me deliver this Evening. I
told her in it, that I should be ready to receive her at twelve
tomorrow night, that I had secured the Key of the Garden, and
that She might depend upon a speedy release.
You have now, Lorenzo, heard the whole of my long narrative. I
have nothing to say in my excuse, save that my intentions towards
your Sister have been ever the most honourable: That it has
always been, and still is my design to make her my Wife: And
that I trust, when you consider these circumstances, our youth,
and our attachment, you will not only forgive our momentary lapse
from virtue, but will aid me in repairing my faults to Agnes, and
securing a lawful title to her person and her heart.
O You! whom Vanity's light bark conveys
On Fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply,
For ever sunk too low, or borne too high!
Who pants for glory finds but short repose,
A breath revives him, and a breath o'er-throws.
Here the Marquis concluded his adventures. Lorenzo, before He
could determine on his reply, past some moments in reflection.
At length He broke silence.
'Raymond,' said He taking his hand, 'strict honour would oblige
me to wash off in your blood the stain thrown upon my family; But
the circumstances of your case forbid me to consider you as an
Enemy. The temptation was too great to be resisted. 'Tis the
superstition of my Relations which has occasioned these
misfortunes, and they are more the Offenders than yourself and
Agnes. What has past between you cannot be recalled, but may yet
be repaired by uniting you to my Sister. You have ever been, you
still continue to be, my dearest and indeed my only Friend. I
feel for Agnes the truest affection, and there is no one on whom
I would bestow her more willingly than on yourself. Pursue then
your design. I will accompany you tomorrow night, and conduct
her myself to the House of the Cardinal. My presence will be a
sanction for her conduct, and prevent her incurring blame by her
flight from the Convent.'
The Marquis thanked him in terms by no means deficient in
gratitude. Lorenzo then informed him that He had nothing more
to apprehend from Donna Rodolpha's enmity. Five Months had
already elapsed since, in an excess of passion, She broke a
blood-vessel and expired in the course of a few hours. He then
proceeded to mention the interests of Antonia. The Marquis was
much surprized at hearing of this new Relation: His Father had
carried his hatred of Elvira to the Grave, and had never given
the least hint that He knew what was become of his eldest Son's
Widow. Don Raymond assured his friend that He was not mistaken
in supposing him ready to acknowledge his Sister-in-law and her
amiable Daughter. The preparations for the elopement would not
permit his visiting them the next day; But in the meanwhile He
desired Lorenzo to assure them of his friendship, and to supply
Elvira upon his account with any sums which She might want. This
the Youth promised to do, as soon as her abode should be known to
him: He then took leave of his future Brother, and returned to
the Palace de Medina.
The day was already on the point of breaking when the Marquis
retired to his chamber. Conscious that his narrative would take
up some hours, and wishing to secure himself from interruption
on returning to the Hotel, He ordered his Attendants not to sit
upfor him. Consequently, He was somewhat surprised on entering
his Antiroom, to find Theodore established there. The Page sat
near a Table with a pen in his hand, and was so totally occupied
by his employment that He perceived not his Lord's approach. The
Marquis stopped to observe him. Theodore wrote a few lines, then
paused, and scratched out a part of the writing: Then wrote
again, smiled, and seemed highly pleased with what He had been
about. At last He threw down his pen, sprang from his chair, and
clapped his hands together joyfully.
'There it is!' cried He aloud: 'Now they are charming!'
His transports were interrupted by a laugh from the Marquis, who
suspected the nature of his employment.
'What is so charming, Theodore?'
The Youth started, and looked round. He blushed, ran to the
Table, seized the paper on which He had been writing, and
concealed it in confusion.
'Oh! my Lord, I knew not that you were so near me. Can I be of
use to you? Lucas is already gone to bed.'
'I shall follow his example when I have given my opinion of your
'My verses, my Lord?'
'Nay, I am sure that you have been writing some, for nothing else
could have kept you awake till this time of the morning. Where
are they, Theodore? I shall like to see your composition.'
Theodore's cheeks glowed with still deeper crimson: He longed to
show his poetry, but first chose to be pressed for it.
'Indeed, my Lord, they are not worthy your attention.'
'Not these verses, which you just now declared to be so charming?
Come, come, let me see whether our opinions are the same. I
promise that you shall find in me an indulgent Critic.'
The Boy produced his paper with seeming reluctance; but the
satisfaction which sparkled in his dark expressive eyes betrayed
the vanity of his little bosom. The Marquis smiled while He
observed the emotions of an heart as yet but little skilled in
veiling its sentiments. He seated himself upon a Sopha:
Theodore, while Hope and fear contended on his anxious
countenance, waited with inquietude for his Master's decision,
while the Marquis read the following lines.
LOVE AND AGE
The night was dark; The wind blew cold;
Anacreon, grown morose and old,
Sat by his fire, and fed the chearful flame:
Sudden the Cottage-door expands,
And lo! before him Cupid stands,
Casts round a friendly glance, and greets him by his name.
'What is it Thou?' the startled Sire
In sullen tone exclaimed, while ire
With crimson flushed his pale and wrinkled cheek:
'Wouldst Thou again with amorous rage
Inflame my bosom? Steeled by age,
Vain Boy, to pierce my breast thine arrows are too weak.
'What seek You in this desart drear?
No smiles or sports inhabit here;
Ne'er did these vallies witness dalliance sweet:
Eternal winter binds the plains;
Age in my house despotic reigns,
My Garden boasts no flower, my bosom boasts no heat.
'Begone, and seek the blooming bower,
Where some ripe Virgin courts thy power,
Or bid provoking dreams flit round her bed;
On Damon's amorous breast repose;
Wanton-on Chloe's lip of rose,
Or make her blushing cheek a pillow for thy head.
'Be such thy haunts; These regions cold
Avoid! Nor think grown wise and old
This hoary head again thy yoke shall bear:
Remembering that my fairest years
By Thee were marked with sighs and tears,
I think thy friendship false, and shun the guileful snare.
'I have not yet forgot the pains
I felt, while bound in Julia's chains;
The ardent flames with which my bosom burned;
The nights I passed deprived of rest;
The jealous pangs which racked my breast;
My disappointed hopes, and passion unreturned.
'Then fly, and curse mine eyes no more!
Fly from my peaceful Cottage-door!
No day, no hour, no moment shalt Thou stay.
I know thy falsehood, scorn thy arts,
Distrust thy smiles, and fear thy darts;
Traitor, begone, and seek some other to betray!'
'Does Age, old Man, your wits confound?'
Replied the offended God, and frowned;
(His frown was sweet as is the Virgin's smile!)
'Do You to Me these words address?
To Me, who do not love you less,
Though You my friendship scorn, and pleasures past revile!
'If one proud Fair you chanced to find,
An hundred other Nymphs were kind,
Whose smiles might well for Julia's frowns atone:
But such is Man! His partial hand
Unnumbered favours writes on sand,
But stamps one little fault on solid lasting stone.
'Ingrate! Who led Thee to the wave,
At noon where Lesbia loved to lave?
Who named the bower alone where Daphne lay?
And who, when Caelia shrieked for aid,
Bad you with kisses hush the Maid?
What other was't than Love, Oh! false Anacreon, say!
'Then You could call me--''Gentle Boy!
''My only bliss! my source of joy !''--
Then You could prize me dearer than your soul!
Could kiss, and dance me on your knees;
And swear, not wine itself would please,
Had not the lip of Love first touched the flowing bowl!
'Must those sweet days return no more?
Must I for aye your loss deplore,
Banished your heart, and from your favour driven?
Ah! no; My fears that smile denies;
That heaving breast, those sparkling eyes
Declare me ever dear and all my faults forgiven.
'Again beloved, esteemed, carest,
Cupid shall in thine arms be prest,
Sport on thy knees, or on thy bosom sleep:
My Torch thine age-struck heart shall warm;
My Hand pale Winter's rage disarm,
And Youth and Spring shall here once more their revels keep.'--
A feather now of golden hue
He smiling from his pinion drew;
This to the Poet's hand the Boy commits;
And straight before Anacreon's eyes
The fairest dreams of fancy rise,
And round his favoured head wild inspiration flits.
His bosom glows with amorous fire
Eager He grasps the magic lyre;
Swift o'er the tuneful chords his fingers move:
The Feather plucked from Cupid's wing
Sweeps the too-long-neglected string,
While soft Anacreon sings the power
and praise of Love.
Soon as that name was heard, the Woods
Shook off their snows; The melting floods
Broke their cold chains, and Winter fled away.
Once more the earth was deckt with flowers;
Mild Zephyrs breathed through blooming bowers;
High towered the glorious Sun, and poured the blaze of day.
Attracted by the harmonious sound,
Sylvans and Fauns the Cot surround,
And curious crowd the Minstrel to behold:
The Wood-nymphs haste the spell to prove;
Eager They run; They list, they love,
And while They hear the strain, forget the Man is old.
Cupid, to nothing constant long,
Perched on the Harp attends the song,
Or stifles with a kiss the dulcet notes:
Now on the Poet's breast reposes,
Now twines his hoary locks with roses,
Or borne on wings of gold in wanton circle floats.
Then thus Anacreon--'I no more
At other shrine my vows will pour,
Since Cupid deigns my numbers to inspire:
From Phoebus or the blue-eyed Maid
Now shall my verse request no aid,
For Love alone shall be the Patron of my Lyre.
'In lofty strain, of earlier days,
I spread the King's or Hero's praise,
And struck the martial Chords with epic fire:
But farewell, Hero! farewell, King!
Your deeds my lips no more shall sing,
For Love alone shall be the subject of my Lyre.
The Marquis returned the paper with a smile of encouragement.
'Your little poem pleases me much,' said He; 'However, you must
not count my opinion for anything. I am no judge of verses, and
for my own part, never composed more than six lines in my life:
Those six produced so unlucky an effect that I am fully resolved
never to compose another. But I wander from my subject. I was
going to say that you cannot employ your time worse than in
making verses. An Author, whether good or bad, or between both,
is an Animal whom everybody is privileged to attack; For though
All are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to
judge them. A bad composition carries with it its own
punishment, contempt and ridicule. A good one excites envy, and
entails upon its Author a thousand mortifications. He finds
himself assailed by partial and ill-humoured Criticism: One Man
finds fault with the plan, Another with the style, a Third with
the precept, which it strives to inculcate; and they who cannot
succeed in finding fault with the Book, employ themselves in
stigmatizing its Author. They maliciously rake out from
obscurity every little circumstance which may throw ridicule
upon his private character or conduct, and aim at wounding the
Man, since They cannot hurt the Writer. In short, to enter the
lists of literature is wilfully to expose yourself to the arrows
of neglect, ridicule, envy, and disappointment. Whether you
write well or ill, be assured that you will not escape from
blame; Indeed this circumstance contains a young Author's chief
consolation: He remembers that Lope de Vega and Calderona had
unjust and envious Critics, and He modestly conceives himself to
be exactly in their predicament. But I am conscious that all
these sage observations are thrown away upon you. Authorship is
a mania to conquer which no reasons are sufficiently strong; and
you might as easily persuade me not to love, as I persuade you
not to write. However, if you cannot help being occasionally
seized with a poetical paroxysm, take at least the precaution of
communicating your verses to none but those whose partiality for
you secures their approbation.'
'Then, my Lord, you do not think these lines tolerable?' said
Theodore with an humble and dejected air.
'You mistake my meaning. As I said before, they have pleased me
much; But my regard for you makes me partial, and Others might
judge them less favourably. I must still remark that even my
prejudice in your favour does not blind me so much as to prevent
my observing several faults. For instance, you make a terrible
confusion of metaphors; You are too apt to make the strength of
your lines consist more in the words than sense; Some of the
verses only seem introduced in order to rhyme with others; and
most of the best ideas are borrowed from other Poets, though
possibly you are unconscious of the theft yourself. These faults
may occasionally be excused in a work of length; But a short Poem
must be correct and perfect.'
'All this is true, Segnor; But you should consider that I only
write for pleasure.'
'Your defects are the less excusable. Their incorrectness may be
forgiven in those who work for money, who are obliged to compleat
a given task in a given time, and are paid according to the bulk,
not value of their productions. But in those whom no necessity
forces to turn Author, who merely write for fame, and have full
leisure to polish their compositions, faults are impardonable,
and merit the sharpest arrows of criticism.'
The Marquis rose from the Sopha; the Page looked discouraged and
melancholy, and this did not escape his Master's observation.
'However' added He smiling, 'I think that these lines do you no
discredit. Your versification is tolerably easy, and your ear
seems to be just. The perusal of your little poem upon the whole
gave me much pleasure; and if it is not asking too great a
favour, I shall be highly obliged to you for a Copy.'
The Youth's countenance immediately cleared up. He perceived not
the smile, half approving, half ironical, which accompanied the
request, and He promised the Copy with great readiness. The
Marquis withdrew to his chamber, much amused by the
instantaneous effect produced upon Theodore's vanity by the
conclusion of his Criticism. He threw himself upon his Couch;
Sleep soon stole over him, and his dreams presented him with the
most flattering pictures of happiness with Agnes.
On reaching the Hotel de Medina, Lorenzo's first care was to
enquire for Letters. He found several waiting for him; but that
which He sought was not amongst them. Leonella had found it
impossible to write that evening. However, her impatience to
secure Don Christoval's heart, on which She flattered herself
with having made no slight impression, permitted her not to pass
another day without informing him where She was to be found. On
her return from the Capuchin Church, She had related to her
Sister with exultation how attentive an handsome Cavalier had
been to her; as also how his Companion had undertaken to plead
Antonia's cause with the Marquis de las Cisternas. Elvira
received this intelligence with sensations very different from
those with which it was communicated. She blamed her Sister's
imprudence in confiding her history to an absolute Stranger, and
expressed her fears lest this inconsiderate step should
prejudice the Marquis against her. The greatest of her
apprehensions She concealed in her own breast. She had observed
with inquietude that at the mention of Lorenzo, a deep blush
spread itself over her Daughter's cheek. The timid Antonia dared
not to pronounce his name: Without knowing wherefore, She felt
embarrassed when He was made the subject of discourse, and
endeavoured to change the conversation to Ambrosio. Elvira
perceived the emotions of this young bosom: In consequence, She
insisted upon Leonella's breaking her promise to the Cavaliers.
A sigh, which on hearing this order escaped from Antonia,
confirmed the wary Mother in her resolution.
Through this resolution Leonella was determined to break: She
conceived it to be inspired by envy, and that her Sister dreaded
her being elevated above her. Without imparting her design to
anyone, She took an opportunity of dispatching the following
note to Lorenzo; It was delivered to him as soon as He woke.
'Doubtless, Segnor Don Lorenzo, you have frequently accused me of
ingratitude and forgetfulness: But on the word of a Virgin, it
was out of my power to perform my promise yesterday. I know not
in what words to inform you how strange a reception my Sister
gave your kind wish to visit her. She is an odd Woman, with many
good points about her; But her jealousy of me frequently makes
her conceive notions quite unaccountable. On hearing that your
Friend had paid some little attention to me, She immediately took
the alarm: She blamed my conduct, and has absolutely forbidden
me to let you know our abode. My strong sense of gratitude for
your kind offers of service, and . . . Shall I confess it? my
desire to behold once more the too amiable Don Christoval, will
not permit my obeying her injunctions. I have therefore stolen a
moment to inform you, that we lodge in the Strada di San Iago,
four doors from the Palace d'Albornos, and nearly opposite to the
Barber's Miguel Coello. Enquire for Donna Elvira Dalfa, since in
compliance with her Father-in-law's order, my Sister continues to
be called by her maiden name. At eight this evening you will be
sure of finding us: But let not a word drop which may raise a
suspicion of my having written this letter. Should you see the
Conde d'Ossorio, tell him . . . I blush while I declare it . . .
Tell him that his presence will be but too acceptable to the
The latter sentences were written in red ink, to express the
blushes of her cheek, while She committed an outrage upon her
Lorenzo had no sooner perused this note than He set out in
search of Don Christoval. Not being able to find him in the
course of the day, He proceeded to Donna Elvira's alone, to
Leonella's infinite disappointment. The Domestic by whom He
sent up his name, having already declared his Lady to be at home,
She had no excuse for refusing his visit: Yet She consented to
receive it with much reluctance. That reluctance was increased
by the changes which his approach produced in Antonia's
countenance; nor was it by any means abated when the Youth
himself appeared. The symmetry of his person, animation of his
features, and natural elegance of his manners and address,
convinced Elvira that such a Guest must be dangerous for her
Daughter. She resolved to treat him with distant politeness, to
decline his services with gratitude for the tender of them, and
to make him feel, without offence, that his future visits would
be far from acceptable.
On his entrance He found Elvira, who was indisposed, reclining
upon a Sopha: Antonia sat by her embroidery frame, and Leonella,
in a pastoral dress, held 'Montemayor's Diana.' In spite of
her being the Mother of Antonia, Lorenzo could not help expecting
to find in Elvira Leonella's true Sister, and the Daughter of 'as
honest a painstaking Shoe-maker, as any in Cordova.' A single
glance was sufficient to undeceive him. He beheld a Woman whose
features, though impaired by time and sorrow, still bore the
marks of distinguished beauty: A serious dignity reigned upon
her countenance, but was tempered by a grace and sweetness which
rendered her truly enchanting. Lorenzo fancied that She must
have resembled her Daughter in her youth, and readily excused the
imprudence of the late Conde de las Cisternas. She desired him
to be seated, and immediately resumed her place upon the Sopha.
Antonia received him with a simple reverence, and continued her
work: Her cheeks were suffused with crimson, and She strove to
conceal her emotion by leaning over her embroidery frame. Her
Aunt also chose to play off her airs of modesty; She affected to
blush and tremble, and waited with her eyes cast down to receive,
as She expected, the compliments of Don Christoval. Finding
after some time that no sign of his approach was given, She
ventured to look round the room, and perceived with vexation that
Medina was unaccompanied. Impatience would not permit her
waiting for an explanation: Interrupting Lorenzo, who was
delivering Raymond's message, She desired to know what was become
of his Friend.
He, who thought it necessary to maintain himself in her good
graces, strove to console her under her disappointment by
committing a little violence upon truth.
'Ah! Segnora,' He replied in a melancholy voice 'How grieved will
He be at losing this opportunity of paying you his respects! A
Relation's illness has obliged him to quit Madrid in haste: But
on his return, He will doubtless seize the first moment with
transport to throw himself at your feet!'
As He said this, his eyes met those of Elvira: She punished his
falsehood sufficiently by darting at him a look expressive of
displeasure and reproach. Neither did the deceit answer his
intention. Vexed and disappointed Leonella rose from her seat,
and retired in dudgeon to her own apartment.
Lorenzo hastened to repair the fault, which had injured him in
Elvira's opinion. He related his conversation with the Marquis
respecting her: He assured her that Raymond was prepared to
acknowledge her for his Brother's Widow; and that till it was in
his power to pay his compliments to her in person, Lorenzo was
commissioned to supply his place. This intelligence relieved
Elvira from an heavy weight of uneasiness: She had now found a
Protector for the fatherless Antonia, for whose future fortunes
She had suffered the greatest apprehensions. She was not sparing
of her thanks to him who had interfered so generously in her
behalf; But still She gave him no invitation to repeat his visit.
However, when upon rising to depart He requested permission to
enquire after her health occasionally, the polite earnestness of
his manner, gratitude for his services, and respect for his
Friend the Marquis, would not admit of a refusal. She consented
reluctantly to receive him: He promised not to abuse her
goodness, and quitted the House.
Antonia was now left alone with her Mother: A temporary silence
ensued. Both wished to speak upon the same subject, but Neither
knew how to introduce it. The one felt a bashfulness which
sealed up her lips, and for which She could not account: The
other feared to find her apprehensions true, or to inspire her
Daughter with notions to which She might be still a Stranger. At
length Elvira began the conversation.
'That is a charming young Man, Antonia; I am much pleased with
him. Was He long near you yesterday in the Cathedral?'
'He quitted me not for a moment while I staid in the Church: He
gave me his seat, and was very obliging and attentive.'
'Indeed? Why then have you never mentioned his name to me? Your
Aunt lanched out in praise of his Friend, and you vaunted
Ambrosio's eloquence: But Neither said a word of Don Lorenzo's
person and accomplishments. Had not Leonella spoken of his
readiness to undertake our cause, I should not have known him to
be in existence.'
She paused. Antonia coloured, but was silent.
'Perhaps you judge him less favourably than I do. In my opinion
his figure is pleasing, his conversation sensible, and manners
engaging. Still He may have struck you differently: You may
think him disagreeable, and . . .'.
'Disagreeable? Oh! dear Mother, how should I possibly think him
so? I should be very ungrateful were I not sensible of his
kindness yesterday, and very blind if his merits had escaped me.
His figure is so graceful, so noble! His manners so gentle, yet
so manly! I never yet saw so many accomplishments united in one
person, and I doubt whether Madrid can produce his equal.'
'Why then were you so silent in praise of this Phoenix of Madrid?
Why was it concealed from me that his society had afforded you
'In truth, I know not: You ask me a question which I cannot
resolve myself. I was on the point of mentioning him a thousand
times: His name was constantly upon my lips, but when I would
have pronounced it, I wanted courage to execute my design.
However, if I did not speak of him, it was not that I thought of
him the less.'
'That I believe; But shall I tell you why you wanted courage? It
was because, accustomed to confide to me your most secret
thoughts, you knew not how to conceal, yet feared to acknowledge,
that your heart nourished a sentiment which you were conscious I
should disapprove. Come hither to me, my Child.'
Antonia quitted her embroidery frame, threw herself upon her
knees by the Sopha, and hid her face in her Mother's lap.
'Fear not, my sweet Girl! Consider me equally as your Friend and
Parent, and apprehend no reproof from me. I have read the
emotions of your bosom; you are yet ill-skilled in concealing
them, and they could not escape my attentive eye. This Lorenzo
is dangerous to your repose; He has already made an impression
upon your heart. 'Tis true that I perceive easily that your
affection is returned; But what can be the consequences of this
attachment? You are poor and friendless, my Antonia; Lorenzo is
the Heir of the Duke of Medina Celi. Even should Himself mean
honourably, his Uncle never will consent to your union; Nor
without that Uncle's consent, will I. By sad experience I know
what sorrows She must endure, who marries into a family unwilling
to receive her. Then struggle with your affection: Whatever
pains it may cost you, strive to conquer it. Your heart is
tender and susceptible: It has already received a strong
impression; But when once convinced that you should not encourage
such sentiments, I trust, that you have sufficient fortitude to
drive them from your bosom.'
Antonia kissed her hand, and promised implicit obedience. Elvira
'To prevent your passion from growing stronger, it will be
needful to prohibit Lorenzo's visits. The service which He has
rendered me permits not my forbidding them positively; But unless
I judge too favourably of his character, He will discontinue them
without taking offence, if I confess to him my reasons, and throw
myself entirely on his generosity. The next time that I see him,
I will honestly avow to him the embarrassment which his presence
occasions. How say you, my Child? Is not this measure
Antonia subscribed to every thing without hesitation, though not
without regret. Her Mother kissed her affectionately, and
retired to bed. Antonia followed her example, and vowed so
frequently never more to think of Lorenzo, that till Sleep closed
her eyes She thought of nothing else.
While this was passing at Elvira's, Lorenzo hastened to rejoin
the Marquis. Every thing was ready for the second elopement of
Agnes; and at twelve the two Friends with a Coach and four were
at the Garden wall of the Convent. Don Raymond drew out his Key,
and unlocked the door. They entered, and waited for some time in
expectation of being joined by Agnes. At length the Marquis grew
impatient: Beginning to fear that his second attempt would
succeed no better than the first, He proposed to reconnoitre the
Convent. The Friends advanced towards it. Every thing was still
and dark. The Prioress was anxious to keep the story a secret,
fearing lest the crime of one of its members should bring
disgrace upon the whole community, or that the interposition of
powerful Relations should deprive her vengeance of its intended
victim. She took care therefore to give the Lover of Agnes no
cause to suppose that his design was discovered, and his
Mistress on the point of suffering the punishment of her fault.
The same reason made her reject the idea of arresting the unknown
Seducer in the Garden; Such a proceeding would have created much
disturbance, and the disgrace of her Convent would have been
noised about Madrid. She contented herself with confining Agnes
closely; As to the Lover, She left him at liberty to pursue his
designs. What She had expected was the result. The Marquis and
Lorenzo waited in vain till the break of day: They then retired
without noise, alarmed at the failure of their plan, and ignorant
of the cause of its ill-success.
The next morning Lorenzo went to the Convent, and requested to
see his Sister. The Prioress appeared at the Grate with a
melancholy countenance: She informed him that for several days
Agnes had appeared much agitated; That She had been prest by the
Nuns in vain to reveal the cause, and apply to their tenderness
for advice and consolation; That She had obstinately persisted in
concealing the cause of her distress; But that on Thursday
Evening it had produced so violent an effect upon her
constitution, that She had fallen ill, and was actually confined
to her bed. Lorenzo did not credit a syllable of this account:
He insisted upon seeing his Sister; If She was unable to come to
the Grate, He desired to be admitted to her Cell. The Prioress
crossed herself! She was shocked at the very idea of a Man's
profane eye pervading the interior of her holy Mansion, and
professed herself astonished that Lorenzo could think of such a
thing. She told him that his request could not be granted; But
that if He returned the next day, She hoped that her beloved
Daughter would then be sufficiently recovered to join him at the
With this answer Lorenzo was obliged to retire, unsatisfied and
trembling for his Sister's safety.
He returned the next morning at an early hour. 'Agnes was worse;
The Physician had pronounced her to be in imminent danger; She
was ordered to remain quiet, and it was utterly impossible for
her to receive her Brother's visit.' Lorenzo stormed at this
answer, but there was no resource. He raved, He entreated, He
threatened: No means were left untried to obtain a sight of
Agnes. His endeavours were as fruitless as those of the day
before, and He returned in despair to the Marquis. On his side,
the Latter had spared no pains to discover what had occasioned
his plot to fail: Don Christoval, to whom the affair was now
entrusted, endeavoured to worm out the secret from the Old
Porteress of St. Clare, with whom He had formed an acquaintance;
But She was too much upon her guard, and He gained from her no
intelligence. The Marquis was almost distracted, and Lorenzo felt
scarcely less inquietude. Both were convinced that the purposed
elopement must have been discovered: They doubted not but the
malady of Agnes was a pretence, But they knew not by what means
to rescue her from the hands of the Prioress.
Regularly every day did Lorenzo visit the Convent: As regularly
was He informed that his Sister rather grew worse than better.
Certain that her indisposition was feigned, these accounts did
not alarm him: But his ignorance of her fate, and of the motives
which induced the Prioress to keep her from him, excited the most
serious uneasiness. He was still uncertain what steps He ought
to take, when the Marquis received a letter from the
Cardinal-Duke of Lerma. It inclosed the Pope's expected Bull,
ordering that Agnes should be released from her vows, and
restored to her Relations. This essential paper decided at once
the proceedings of her Friends: They resolved that Lorenzo
should carry it to the Domina without delay, and demand that his
Sister should be instantly given up to him. Against this mandate
illness could not be pleaded: It gave her Brother the power of
removing her instantly to the Palace de Medina, and He determined
to use that power on the following day.
His mind relieved from inquietude respecting his Sister, and his
Spirits raised by the hope of soon restoring her to freedom, He
now had time to give a few moments to love and to Antonia. At
the same hour as on his former visit He repaired to Donna
Elvira's: She had given orders for his admission. As soon as He
was announced, her Daughter retired with Leonella, and when He
entered the chamber, He found the Lady of the House alone. She
received him with less distance than before, and desired him to
place himself near her upon the Sopha. She then without losing
time opened her business, as had been agreed between herself and
'You must not think me ungrateful, Don Lorenzo, or forgetful how
essential are the services which you have rendered me with the
Marquis. I feel the weight of my obligations; Nothing under the
Sun should induce my taking the step to which I am now compelled
but the interest of my Child, of my beloved Antonia. My health
is declining; God only knows how soon I may be summoned before
his Throne. My Daughter will be left without Parents, and should
She lose the protection of the Cisternas family, without Friends.
She is young and artless, uninstructed in the world's perfidy,
and with charms sufficient to render her an object of seduction.
Judge then, how I must tremble at the prospect before her!
Judge how anxious I must be to keep her from their society who
may excite the yet dormant passions of her bosom. You are
amiable, Don Lorenzo: Antonia has a susceptible, a loving heart,
and is grateful for the favours conferred upon us by your
interference with the Marquis. Your presence makes me tremble:
I fear lest it should inspire her with sentiments which may
embitter the remainder of her life, or encourage her to cherish
hopes in her situation unjustifiable and futile. Pardon me when
I avow my terrors, and let my frankness plead in my excuse. I
cannot forbid you my House, for gratitude restrains me; I can
only throw myself upon your generosity, and entreat you to spare
the feelings of an anxious, of a doting Mother. Believe me when
I assure you that I lament the necessity of rejecting your
acquaintance; But there is no remedy, and Antonia's interest
obliges me to beg you to forbear your visits. By complying with
my request, you will increase the esteem which I already feel for
you, and of which everything convinces me that you are truly
'Your frankness charms me,' replied Lorenzo; 'You shall find that
in your favourable opinion of me you were not deceived. Yet I
hope that the reasons, now in my power to allege, will persuade
you to withdraw a request which I cannot obey without infinite
reluctance. I love your Daughter, love her most sincerely: I
wish for no greater happiness than to inspire her with the same
sentiments, and receive her hand at the Altar as her Husband.
'Tis true, I am not rich myself; My Father's death has left me
but little in my own possession; But my expectations justify my
pretending to the Conde de las Cisternas' Daughter.'
He was proceeding, but Elvira interrupted him.
'Ah! Don Lorenzo, you forget in that pompous title the meanness
of my origin. You forget that I have now past fourteen years in
Spain, disavowed by my Husband's family, and existing upon a
stipend barely sufficient for the support and education of my
Daughter. Nay, I have even been neglected by most of my own
Relations, who out of envy affect to doubt the reality of my
marriage. My allowance being discontinued at my Father-in-law's
death, I was reduced to the very brink of want. In this
situation I was found by my Sister, who amongst all her foibles
possesses a warm, generous, and affectionate heart. She aided me
with the little fortune which my Father left her, persuaded me to
visit Madrid, and has supported my Child and myself since our
quitting Murcia. Then consider not Antonia as descended from the
Conde de la Cisternas: Consider her as a poor and unprotected
Orphan, as the Grand-child of the Tradesman Torribio Dalfa, as
the needy Pensioner of that Tradesman's Daughter. Reflect upon
the difference between such a situation, and that of the Nephew
and Heir of the potent Duke of Medina. I believe your intentions
to be honourable; But as there are no hopes that your Uncle will
approve of the union, I foresee that the consequences of your
attachment must be fatal to my Child's repose.'
'Pardon me, Segnora; You are misinformed if you suppose the Duke
of Medina to resemble the generality of Men. His sentiments are
liberal and disinterested: He loves me well; and I have no
reason to dread his forbidding the marriage when He perceives
that my happiness depends upon Antonia. But supposing him to
refuse his sanction, what have I still to fear? My Parents are
no more; My little fortune is in my own possession: It will be
sufficient to support Antonia, and I shall exchange for her hand
Medina's Dukedom without one sigh of regret.'
'You are young and eager; It is natural for you to entertain such
ideas. But Experience has taught me to my cost that curses
accompany an unequal alliance. I married the Conde de las
Cisternas in opposition to the will of his Relations; Many an
heart-pang has punished me for the imprudent step. Whereever we
bent our course, a Father's execration pursued Gonzalvo. Poverty
overtook us, and no Friend was near to relieve our wants. Still
our mutual affection existed, but alas! not without interruption.
Accustomed to wealth and ease, ill could my Husband support the
transition to distress and indigence. He looked back with
repining to the comforts which He once enjoyed. He regretted the
situation which for my sake He had quitted; and in moments when
Despair possessed his mind, has reproached me with having made
him the Companion of want and wretchedness! He has called me his
bane! The source of his sorrows, the cause of his destruction!
Ah God! He little knew how much keener were my own heart's
reproaches! He was ignorant that I suffered trebly, for myself,
for my Children, and for him! 'Tis true that his anger seldom
lasted long: His sincere affection for me soon revived in his
heart; and then his repentance for the tears which He had made me
shed tortured me even more than his reproaches. He would throw
himself on the ground, implore my forgiveness in the most frantic
terms, and load himself with curses for being the Murderer of my
repose. Taught by experience that an union contracted against
the inclinations of families on either side must be unfortunate,
I will save my Daughter from those miseries which I have
suffered. Without your Uncle's consent, while I live, She never
shall be yours. Undoubtedly He will disapprove of the union; His
power is immense, and Antonia shall not be exposed to his anger
'His persecution? How easily may that be avoided! Let the worst
happen, it is but quitting Spain. My wealth may easily be
realised; The Indian Islands will offer us a secure retreat; I
have an estate, though not of value, in Hispaniola: Thither will
we fly, and I shall consider it to be my native Country, if it
gives me Antonia's undisturbed possession.'
'Ah! Youth, this is a fond romantic vision. Gonzalvo thought the
same. He fancied that He could leave Spain without regret; But
the moment of parting undeceived him. You know not yet what it
is to quit your native land; to quit it, never to behold it more!
You know not, what it is to exchange the scenes where you have
passed your infancy, for unknown realms and barbarous climates!
To be forgotten, utterly eternally forgotten, by the Companions
of your Youth! To see your dearest Friends, the fondest objects
of your affection, perishing with diseases incidental to Indian
atmospheres, and find yourself unable to procure for them
necessary assistance! I have felt all this! My Husband and two
sweet Babes found their Graves in Cuba: Nothing would have saved
my young Antonia but my sudden return to Spain. Ah! Don Lorenzo,
could you conceive what I suffered during my absence! Could you
know how sorely I regretted all that I left behind, and how dear
to me was the very name of Spain! I envied the winds which blew
towards it: And when the Spanish Sailor chaunted some well-known
air as He past my window, tears filled my eyes while I thought
upon my native land. Gonzalvo too . . . My Husband . . .'.
Elvira paused. Her voice faltered, and She concealed her face
with her handkerchief. After a short silence She rose from the
Sopha, and proceeded.
'Excuse my quitting you for a few moments: The remembrance of
what I have suffered has much agitated me, and I need to be
alone. Till I return peruse these lines. After my Husband's
death I found them among his papers; Had I known sooner that He
entertained such sentiments, Grief would have killed me. He
wrote these verses on his voyage to Cuba, when his mind was
clouded by sorrow, and He forgot that He had a Wife and Children.
What we are losing, ever seems to us the most precious: Gonzalvo
was quitting Spain for ever, and therefore was Spain dearer to
his eyes than all else which the World contained. Read them,
Don Lorenzo; They will give you some idea of the feelings of a
Elvira put a paper into Lorenzo's hand, and retired from the
chamber. The Youth examined the contents, and found them to be
Farewell, Oh! native Spain! Farewell for ever!
These banished eyes shall view thy coasts no more;
A mournful presage tells my heart, that never
Gonzalvo's steps again shall press thy shore.
Hushed are the winds; While soft the Vessel sailing
With gentle motion plows the unruffled Main,
I feel my bosom's boasted courage failing,
And curse the waves which bear me far from Spain.
I see it yet! Beneath yon blue clear Heaven
Still do the Spires, so well beloved, appear;
From yonder craggy point the gale of Even
Still wafts my native accents to mine ear:
Propped on some moss-crowned Rock, and gaily singing,
There in the Sun his nets the Fisher dries;
Oft have I heard the plaintive Ballad, bringing
Scenes of past joys before my sorrowing eyes.
Ah! Happy Swain! He waits the accustomed hour,
When twilight-gloom obscures the closing sky;
Then gladly seeks his loved paternal bower,
And shares the feast his native fields supply:
Friendship and Love, his Cottage Guests, receive him
With honest welcome and with smile sincere;
No threatening woes of present joys bereave him,
No sigh his bosom owns, his cheek no tear.
Ah! Happy Swain! Such bliss to me denying,
Fortune thy lot with envy bids me view;
Me, who from home and Spain an Exile flying,
Bid all I value, all I love, adieu.
No more mine ear shall list the well-known ditty
Sung by some Mountain-Girl, who tends her Goats,
Some Village-Swain imploring amorous pity,
Or Shepherd chaunting wild his rustic notes:
No more my arms a Parent's fond embraces,
No more my heart domestic calm, must know;
Far from these joys, with sighs which Memory traces,
To sultry skies, and distant climes I go.
Where Indian Suns engender new diseases,
Where snakes and tigers breed, I bend my way
To brave the feverish thirst no art appeases,
The yellow plague, and madding blaze of day:
But not to feel slow pangs consume my liver,
To die by piece-meal in the bloom of age,
My boiling blood drank by insatiate fever,
And brain delirious with the day-star's rage,
Can make me know such grief, as thus to sever
With many a bitter sigh, Dear Land, from Thee;
To feel this heart must doat on thee for ever,
And feel, that all thy joys are torn from me!
Ah me! How oft will Fancy's spells in slumber
Recall my native Country to my mind!
How oft regret will bid me sadly number
Each lost delight and dear Friend left behind!
Wild Murcia's Vales, and loved romantic bowers,
The River on whose banks a Child I played,
My Castle's antient Halls, its frowning Towers,
Each much-regretted wood, and well-known Glade,
Dreams of the land where all my wishes centre,
Thy scenes, which I am doomed no more to know,
Full oft shall Memory trace, my soul's Tormentor,
And turn each pleasure past to present woe.
But Lo! The Sun beneath the waves retires;
Night speeds apace her empire to restore:
Clouds from my sight obscure the village-spires,
Now seen but faintly, and now seen no more.
Oh! breathe not, Winds! Still be the Water's motion!
Sleep, sleep, my Bark, in silence on the Main!
So when to-morrow's light shall gild the Ocean,
Once more mine eyes shall see the coast of Spain.
Vain is the wish! My last petition scorning,
Fresh blows the Gale, and high the Billows swell:
Far shall we be before the break of Morning;
Oh! then for ever, native Spain, farewell!
Lorenzo had scarcely time to read these lines, when Elvira
returned to him: The giving a free course to her tears had
relieved her, and her spirits had regained their usual composure.
'I have nothing more to say, my Lord,' said She; 'You have heard
my apprehensions, and my reasons for begging you not to repeat
your visits. I have thrown myself in full confidence upon your
honour: I am certain that you will not prove my opinion of you
to have been too favourable.'
'But one question more, Segnora, and I leave you. Should the
Duke of Medina approve my love, would my addresses be
unacceptable to yourself and the fair Antonia?'
'I will be open with you, Don Lorenzo: There being little
probability of such an union taking place, I fear that it is
desired but too ardently by my Daughter. You have made an
impression upon her young heart, which gives me the most serious
alarm: To prevent that impression from growing stronger, I am
obliged to decline your acquaintance. For me, you may be sure
that I should rejoice at establishing my Child so advantageously.
Conscious that my constitution, impaired by grief and illness,
forbids me to expect a long continuance in this world, I tremble
at the thought of leaving her under the protection of a perfect
Stranger. The Marquis de las Cisternas is totally unknown to me:
He will marry; His Lady may look upon Antonia with an eye of
displeasure, and deprive her of her only Friend. Should the
Duke, your Uncle, give his consent, you need not doubt obtaining
mine, and my Daughter's: But without his, hope not for ours. At
all events, what ever steps you may take, what ever may be the
Duke's decision, till you know it let me beg your forbearing to
strengthen by your presence Antonia's prepossession. If the
sanction of your Relations authorises your addressing her as your
Wife, my Doors fly open to you: If that sanction is refused, be
satisfied to possess my esteem and gratitude, but remember, that
we must meet no more.'
Lorenzo promised reluctantly to conform to this decree: But He
added that He hoped soon to obtain that consent which would give
him a claim to the renewal of their acquaintance. He then
explained to her why the Marquis had not called in person, and
made no scruple of confiding to her his Sister's History. He
concluded by saying that He hoped to set Agnes at liberty the
next day; and that as soon as Don Raymond's fears were quieted
upon this subject, He would lose no time in assuring Donna Elvira
of his friendship and protection.
The Lady shook her head.
'I tremble for your Sister,' said She; 'I have heard many traits
of the Domina of St. Clare's character, from a Friend who was
educated in the same Convent with her. She reported her to be
haughty, inflexible, superstitious, and revengeful. I have since
heard that She is infatuated with the idea of rendering her
Convent the most regular in Madrid, and never forgave those whose
imprudence threw upon it the slightest stain. Though naturally
violent and severe, when her interests require it, She well knows
how to assume an appearance of benignity. She leaves no means
untried to persuade young Women of rank to become Members of her
Community: She is implacable when once incensed, and has too
much intrepidity to shrink at taking the most rigorous measures
for punishing the Offender. Doubtless, She will consider your
Sister's quitting the Convent as a disgrace thrown upon it: She
will use every artifice to avoid obeying the mandate of his
Holiness, and I shudder to think that Donna Agnes is in the
hands of this dangerous Woman.'
Lorenzo now rose to take leave. Elvira gave him her hand at
parting, which He kissed respectfully; and telling her that He
soon hoped for the permission to salute that of Antonia, He
returned to his Hotel. The Lady was perfectly satisfied with the
conversation which had past between them. She looked forward
with satisfaction to the prospect of his becoming her Son-in-
law; But Prudence bad her conceal from her Daughter's knowledge
the flattering hopes which Herself now ventured to entertain.
Scarcely was it day, and already Lorenzo was at the Convent of
St. Clare, furnished with the necessary mandate. The Nuns were
at Matins. He waited impatiently for the conclusion of the
service, and at length the Prioress appeared at the Parlour
Grate. Agnes was demanded. The old Lady replied, with a
melancholy air, that the dear Child's situation grew hourly more
dangerous; That the Physicians despaired of her life; But that
they had declared the only chance for her recovery to consist in
keeping her quiet, and not to permit those to approach her whose
presence was likely to agitate her. Not a word of all this was
believed by Lorenzo, any more than He credited the expressions of
grief and affection for Agnes, with which this account was
interlarded. To end the business, He put the Pope's Bull into
the hands of the Domina, and insisted that, ill or in health, his
Sister should be delivered to him without delay.
The Prioress received the paper with an air of humility: But no
sooner had her eye glanced over the contents, than her resentment
baffled all the efforts of Hypocrisy. A deep crimson spread
itself over her face, and She darted upon Lorenzo looks of rage
'This order is positive,' said She in a voice of anger, which She
in vain strove to disguise; 'Willingly would I obey it; But
unfortunately it is out of my power.'
Lorenzo interrupted her by an exclamation of surprize.
'I repeat it, Segnor; to obey this order is totally out of my
power. From tenderness to a Brother's feelings, I would have
communicated the sad event to you by degrees, and have prepared
you to hear it with fortitude. My measures are broken through:
This order commands me to deliver up to you the Sister Agnes
without delay; I am therefore obliged to inform you without
circumlocution, that on Friday last, She expired.'
Lorenzo started back with horror, and turned pale. A moment's
recollection convinced him that this assertion must be false,
and it restored him to himself.
'You deceive me!' said He passionately; 'But five minutes past
since you assured me that though ill She was still alive.
Produce her this instant! See her I must and will, and every
attempt to keep her from me will be unavailing.'
'You forget yourself, Segnor; You owe respect to my age as well
as my profession. Your Sister is no more. If I at first
concealed her death, it was from dreading lest an event so
unexpected should produce on you too violent an effect. In
truth, I am but ill repaid for my attention. And what interest,
I pray you, should I have in detaining her? To know her wish of
quitting our society is a sufficient reason for me to wish her
absence, and think her a disgrace to the Sisterhood of St.
Clare: But She has forfeited my affection in a manner yet more
culpable. Her crimes were great, and when you know the cause of
her death, you will doubtless rejoice, Don Lorenzo, that such a
Wretch is no longer in existence. She was taken ill on Thursday
last on returning from confession in the Capuchin Chapel. Her
malady seemed attended with strange circumstances; But She
persisted in concealing its cause: Thanks to the Virgin, we were
too ignorant to suspect it! Judge then what must have been our
consternation, our horror, when She was delivered the next day of
a stillborn Child, whom She immediately followed to the Grave.
How, Segnor? Is it possible that your countenance expresses no
surprize, no indignation? Is it possible that your Sister's
infamy was known to you, and that still She possessed your
affection? In that case, you have no need of my compassion. I
can say nothing more, except repeat my inability of obeying the
orders of his Holiness. Agnes is no more, and to convince you
that what I say is true, I swear by our blessed Saviour, that
three days have past since She was buried.'
Here She kissed a small crucifix which hung at her girdle. She
then rose from her chair, and quitted the Parlour. As She
withdrew, She cast upon Lorenzo a scornful smile.
'Farewell, Segnor,' said She; 'I know no remedy for this
accident: I fear that even a second Bull from the Pope will not
procure your Sister's resurrection.'
Lorenzo also retired, penetrated with affliction: But Don
Raymond's at the news of this event amounted to Madness. He
would not be convinced that Agnes was really dead, and continued
to insist that the Walls of St. Clare still confined her. No
arguments could make him abandon his hopes of regaining her:
Every day some fresh scheme was invented for procuring
intelligence of her, and all of them were attended with the same
On his part, Medina gave up the idea of ever seeing his Sister
more: Yet He believed that She had been taken off by unfair
means. Under this persuasion, He encouraged Don Raymond's
researches, determined, should He discover the least warrant for
his suspicions, to take a severe vengeance upon the unfeeling
Prioress. The loss of his Sister affected him sincerely; Nor was
it the least cause of his distress that propriety obliged him
for some time to defer mentioning Antonia to the Duke. In the
meanwhile his emissaries constantly surrounded Elvira's Door.
He had intelligence of all the movements of his Mistress: As She
never failed every Thursday to attend the Sermon in the Capuchin
Cathedral, He was secure of seeing her once a week, though in
compliance with his promise, He carefully shunned her
observation. Thus two long Months passed away. Still no
information was procured of Agnes: All but the Marquis credited
her death; and now Lorenzo determined to disclose his sentiments
to his Uncle. He had already dropt some hints of his intention
to marry; They had been as favourably received as He could
expect, and He harboured no doubt of the success of his
While in each other's arms entranced They lay,
They blessed the night, and curst the coming day.
The burst of transport was past: Ambrosio's lust was satisfied;
Pleasure fled, and Shame usurped her seat in his bosom. Confused
and terrified at his weakness, He drew himself from Matilda's
arms. His perjury presented itself before him: He reflected on
the scene which had just been acted, and trembled at the
consequences of a discovery. He looked forward with horror; His
heart was despondent, and became the abode of satiety and
disgust. He avoided the eyes of his Partner in frailty; A
melancholy silence prevailed, during which Both seemed busied
with disagreable reflections.
Matilda was the first to break it. She took his hand gently, and
pressed it to her burning lips.
'Ambrosio!' She murmured in a soft and trembling voice.
The Abbot started at the sound. He turned his eyes upon
Matilda's: They were filled with tears; Her cheeks were covered
with blushes, and her supplicating looks seemed to solicit his
'Dangerous Woman!' said He; 'Into what an abyss of misery have
you plunged me! Should your sex be discovered, my honour, nay my
life, must pay for the pleasure of a few moments. Fool that I
was, to trust myself to your seductions! What can now be done?
How can my offence be expiated? What atonement can purchase the
pardon of my crime? Wretched Matilda, you have destroyed my
quiet for ever!'
'To me these reproaches, Ambrosio? To me, who have sacrificed
for you the world's pleasures, the luxury of wealth, the delicacy
of sex, my Friends, my fortune, and my fame? What have you lost,
which I preserved? Have _I_ not shared in YOUR guilt? Have YOU
not shared in MY pleasure? Guilt, did I say? In what consists
ours, unless in the opinion of an ill-judging World? Let that
World be ignorant of them, and our joys become divine and
blameless! Unnatural were your vows of Celibacy; Man was not
created for such a state; And were Love a crime, God never would
have made it so sweet, so irresistible! Then banish those clouds
from your brow, my Ambrosio! Indulge in those pleasures freely,
without which life is a worthless gift: Cease to reproach me
with having taught you what is bliss, and feel equal transports
with the Woman who adores you!'
As She spoke, her eyes were filled with a delicious languor. Her
bosom panted: She twined her arms voluptuously round him, drew
him towards her, and glewed her lips to his. Ambrosio again
raged with desire: The die was thrown: His vows were already
broken; He had already committed the crime, and why should He
refrain from enjoying its reward? He clasped her to his breast
with redoubled ardour. No longer repressed by the sense of
shame, He gave a loose to his intemperate appetites. While the
fair Wanton put every invention of lust in practice, every
refinement in the art of pleasure which might heighten the bliss
of her possession, and render her Lover's transports still more
exquisite, Ambrosio rioted in delights till then unknown to him:
Swift fled the night, and the Morning blushed to behold him still
clasped in the embraces of Matilda.
Intoxicated with pleasure, the Monk rose from the Syren's
luxurious Couch. He no longer reflected with shame upon his
incontinence, or dreaded the vengeance of offended heaven. His
only fear was lest Death should rob him of enjoyments, for which
his long Fast had only given a keener edge to his appetite.
Matilda was still under the influence of poison, and the
voluptuous Monk trembled less for his Preserver's life than his
Concubine's. Deprived of her, He would not easily find another
Mistress with whom He could indulge his passions so fully, and
so safely. He therefore pressed her with earnestness to use the
means of preservation which She had declared to be in her
'Yes!' replied Matilda; 'Since you have made me feel that Life is
valuable, I will rescue mine at any rate. No dangers shall
appall me: I will look upon the consequences of my action
boldly, nor shudder at the horrors which they present. I will
think my sacrifice scarcely worthy to purchase your possession,
and remember that a moment past in your arms in this world
o'er-pays an age of punishment in the next. But before I take
this step, Ambrosio, give me your solemn oath never to enquire
by what means I shall preserve myself.'
He did so in a manner the most binding.
'I thank you, my Beloved. This precaution is necessary, for
though you know it not, you are under the command of vulgar
prejudices: The Business on which I must be employed this night,
might startle you from its singularity, and lower me in your
opinion. Tell me; Are you possessed of the Key of the low door
on the western side of the Garden?'
'The Door which opens into the burying-ground common to us and
the Sisterhood of St. Clare? I have not the Key, but can easily
'You have only this to do. Admit me into the burying-ground at
midnight; Watch while I descend into the vaults of St. Clare,
lest some prying eye should observe my actions; Leave me there
alone for an hour, and that life is safe which I dedicate to
your pleasures. To prevent creating suspicion, do not visit me
during the day. Remember the Key, and that I expect you before
twelve. Hark! I hear steps approaching! Leave me; I will
pretend to sleep.'
The Friar obeyed, and left the Cell. As He opened the door,
Father Pablos made his appearance.
'I come,' said the Latter, 'to enquire after the health of my
'Hush!' replied Ambrosio, laying his finger upon his lip; 'Speak
softly; I am just come from him. He has fallen into a profound
slumber, which doubtless will be of service to him. Do not
disturb him at present, for He wishes to repose.'
Father Pablos obeyed, and hearing the Bell ring, accompanied the
Abbot to Matins. Ambrosio felt embarrassed as He entered the
Chapel. Guilt was new to him, and He fancied that every eye
could read the transactions of the night upon his countenance.
He strove to pray; His bosom no longer glowed with devotion; His
thoughts insensibly wandered to Matilda's secret charms. But
what He wanted in purity of heart, He supplied by exterior
sanctity. The better to cloak his transgression, He redoubled
his pretensions to the semblance of virtue, and never appeared
more devoted to Heaven as since He had broken through his
engagements. Thus did He unconsciously add Hypocrisy to perjury
and incontinence; He had fallen into the latter errors from
yielding to seduction almost irresistible; But he was now guilty
of a voluntary fault by endeavouring to conceal those into which
Another had betrayed him.
The Matins concluded, Ambrosio retired to his Cell. The