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The Monk by Matthew Lewis

Part 5 out of 8

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pleasures which He had just tasted for the first time were still
impressed upon his mind. His brain was bewildered, and presented
a confused Chaos of remorse, voluptuousness, inquietude, and
fear. He looked back with regret to that peace of soul, that
security of virtue, which till then had been his portion. He had
indulged in excesses whose very idea but four and twenty hours
before He had recoiled at with horror. He shuddered at
reflecting that a trifling indiscretion on his part, or on
Matilda's, would overturn that fabric of reputation which it had
cost him thirty years to erect, and render him the abhorrence of
that People of whom He was then the Idol. Conscience painted to
him in glaring colours his perjury and weakness; Apprehension
magnified to him the horrors of punishment, and He already
fancied himself in the prisons of the Inquisition. To these
tormenting ideas succeeded Matilda's beauty, and those delicious
lessons which, once learnt, can never be forgotten. A single
glance thrown upon these reconciled him with himself. He
considered the pleasures of the former night to have been
purchased at an easy price by the sacrifice of innocence and
honour. Their very remembrance filled his soul with ecstacy; He
cursed his foolish vanity, which had induced him to waste in
obscurity the bloom of life, ignorant of the blessings of Love
and Woman. He determined at all events to continue his commerce
with Matilda, and called every argument to his aid which might
confirm his resolution. He asked himself, provided his
irregularity was unknown, in what would his fault consist, and
what consequences He had to apprehend? By adhering strictly to
every rule of his order save Chastity, He doubted not to retain
the esteem of Men, and even the protection of heaven. He trusted
easily to be forgiven so slight and natural a deviation from his
vows: But He forgot that having pronounced those vows,
Incontinence, in Laymen the most venial of errors, became in his
person the most heinous of crimes.

Once decided upon his future conduct, his mind became more easy.
He threw himself upon his bed, and strove by sleeping to recruit
his strength exhausted by his nocturnal excesses. He awoke
refreshed, and eager for a repetition of his pleasures. Obedient
to Matilda's order, He visited not her Cell during the day.
Father Pablos mentioned in the Refectory that Rosario had at
length been prevailed upon to follow his prescription; But that
the medicine had not produced the slightest effect, and that He
believed no mortal skill could rescue him from the Grave. With
this opinion the Abbot agreed, and affected to lament the
untimely fate of a Youth, whose talents had appeared so

The night arrived. Ambrosio had taken care to procure from the
Porter the Key of the low door opening into the Cemetery.
Furnished with this, when all was silent in the Monastery, He
quitted his Cell, and hastened to Matilda's. She had left her
bed, and was drest before his arrival.

'I have been expecting you with impatience,' said She; 'My life
depends upon these moments. Have you the Key?'

'I have.'

'Away then to the garden. We have no time to lose. Follow me!'

She took a small covered Basket from the Table. Bearing this in
one hand, and the Lamp, which was flaming upon the Hearth, in the
other, She hastened from the Cell. Ambrosio followed her. Both
maintained a profound silence. She moved on with quick but
cautious steps, passed through the Cloisters, and reached the
Western side of the Garden. Her eyes flashed with a fire and
wildness which impressed the Monk at once with awe and horror.
A determined desperate courage reigned upon her brow. She gave
the Lamp to Ambrosio; Then taking from him the Key, She unlocked
the low Door, and entered the Cemetery. It was a vast and
spacious Square planted with yew trees: Half of it belonged to
the Abbey; The other half was the property of the Sisterhood of
St. Clare, and was protected by a roof of Stone. The Division
was marked by an iron railing, the wicket of which was generally
left unlocked.

Thither Matilda bent her course. She opened the wicket and
sought for the door leading to the subterraneous Vaults, where
reposed the mouldering Bodies of the Votaries of St. Clare. The
night was perfectly dark; Neither Moon or Stars were visible.
Luckily there was not a breath of Wind, and the Friar bore his
Lamp in full security: By the assistance of its beams, the door
of the Sepulchre was soon discovered. It was sunk within the
hollow of a wall, and almost concealed by thick festoons of ivy
hanging over it. Three steps of rough-hewn Stone conducted to
it, and Matilda was on the point of descending them when She
suddenly started back.

'There are People in the Vaults!' She whispered to the Monk;
'Conceal yourself till they are past.

She took refuge behind a lofty and magnificent Tomb, erected in
honour of the Convent's Foundress. Ambrosio followed her
example, carefully hiding his Lamp lest its beams should betray
them. But a few moments had elapsed when the Door was pushed
open leading to the subterraneous Caverns. Rays of light
proceeded up the Staircase: They enabled the concealed
Spectators to observe two Females drest in religious habits, who
seemed engaged in earnest conversation. The Abbot had no
difficulty to recognize the Prioress of St. Clare in the first,
and one of the elder Nuns in her Companion.

'Every thing is prepared,' said the Prioress; 'Her fate shall be
decided tomorrow. All her tears and sighs will be unavailing.
No! In five and twenty years that I have been Superior of this
Convent, never did I witness a transaction more infamous!'

'You must expect much opposition to your will;' the Other replied
in a milder voice; 'Agnes has many Friends in the Convent, and in
particular the Mother St. Ursula will espouse her cause most
warmly. In truth, She merits to have Friends; and I wish I
could prevail upon you to consider her youth, and her peculiar
situation. She seems sensible of her fault; The excess of her
grief proves her penitence, and I am convinced that her tears
flow more from contrition than fear of punishment. Reverend
Mother, would you be persuaded to mitigate the severity of your
sentence, would you but deign to overlook this first
transgression, I offer myself as the pledge of her future

'Overlook it, say you? Mother Camilla, you amaze me! What?
After disgracing me in the presence of Madrid's Idol, of the very
Man on whom I most wished to impress an idea of the strictness of
my discipline? How despicable must I have appeared to the
reverend Abbot! No, Mother, No! I never can forgive the insult.
I cannot better convince Ambrosio that I abhor such crimes, than
by punishing that of Agnes with all the rigour of which our
severe laws admit. Cease then your supplications; They will all
be unavailing. My resolution is taken: Tomorrow Agnes shall be
made a terrible example of my justice and resentment.'

The Mother Camilla seemed not to give up the point, but by this
time the Nuns were out of hearing. The Prioress unlocked the
door which communicated with St. Clare's Chapel, and having
entered with her Companion, closed it again after them.

Matilda now asked, who was this Agnes with whom the Prioress was
thus incensed, and what connexion She could have with Ambrosio.
He related her adventure; and He added, that since that time his
ideas having undergone a thorough revolution, He now felt much
compassion for the unfortunate Nun.

'I design,' said He, 'to request an audience of the Domina
tomorrow, and use every means of obtaining a mitigation of her

'Beware of what you do!' interrupted Matilda; 'Your sudden change
of sentiment may naturally create surprize, and may give birth to
suspicions which it is most our interest to avoid. Rather,
redouble your outward austerity, and thunder out menaces against
the errors of others, the better to conceal your own. Abandon
the Nun to her fate. Your interfering might be dangerous, and
her imprudence merits to be punished: She is unworthy to enjoy
Love's pleasures, who has not wit enough to conceal them. But in
discussing this trifling subject I waste moments which are
precious. The night flies apace, and much must be done before
morning. The Nuns are retired; All is safe. Give me the Lamp,
Ambrosio. I must descend alone into these Caverns: Wait here,
and if any one approaches, warn me by your voice; But as you
value your existence, presume not to follow me. Your life would
fall a victim to your imprudent curiosity.'

Thus saying She advanced towards the Sepulchre, still holding her
Lamp in one hand, and her little Basket in the other. She
touched the door: It turned slowly upon its grating hinges, and
a narrow winding staircase of black marble presented itself to
her eyes. She descended it. Ambrosio remained above, watching
the faint beams of the Lamp as they still proceeded up the
stairs. They disappeared, and He found himself in total

Left to himself He could not reflect without surprize on the
sudden change in Matilda's character and sentiments. But a few
days had past since She appeared the mildest and softest of her
sex, devoted to his will, and looking up to him as to a superior
Being. Now She assumed a sort of courage and manliness in her
manners and discourse but ill-calculated to please him. She
spoke no longer to insinuate, but command: He found himself
unable to cope with her in argument, and was unwillingly
obliged to confess the superiority of her judgment. Every moment
convinced him of the astonishing powers of her mind: But what
She gained in the opinion of the Man, She lost with interest in
the affection of the Lover. He regretted Rosario, the fond, the
gentle, and submissive: He grieved that Matilda preferred the
virtues of his sex to those of her own; and when He thought of
her expressions respecting the devoted Nun, He could not help
blaming them as cruel and unfeminine. Pity is a sentiment so
natural, so appropriate to the female character, that it is
scarcely a merit for a Woman to possess it, but to be without it
is a grievous crime. Ambrosio could not easily forgive his
Mistress for being deficient in this amiable quality. However,
though he blamed her insensibility, He felt the truth of her
observations; and though He pitied sincerely the unfortunate
Agnes, He resolved to drop the idea of interposing in her behalf.

Near an hour had elapsed, since Matilda descended into the
Caverns; Still She returned not. Ambrosio's curiosity was
excited. He drew near the Staircase. He listened. All was
silent, except that at intervals He caught the sound of Matilda's
voice, as it wound along the subteraneous passages, and was
re-echoed by the Sepulchre's vaulted roofs. She was at too great
a distance for him to distinguish her words, and ere they reached
him they were deadened into a low murmur. He longed to penetrate
into this mystery. He resolved to disobey her injunctions and
follow her into the Cavern. He advanced to the Staircase; He
had already descended some steps when his courage failed him.
He remembered Matilda's menaces if He infringed her orders, and
his bosom was filled with a secret unaccountable awe. He
returned up the stairs, resumed his former station, and waited
impatiently for the conclusion of this adventure.

Suddenly He was sensible of a violent shock: An earthquake
rocked the ground. The Columns which supported the roof under
which He stood were so strongly shaken, that every moment
menaced him with its fall, and at the same moment He heard a loud
and tremendous burst of thunder. It ceased, and his eyes being
fixed upon the Staircase, He saw a bright column of light flash
along the Caverns beneath. It was seen but for an instant. No
sooner did it disappear, than all was once more quiet and
obscure. Profound Darkness again surrounded him, and the silence
of night was only broken by the whirring Bat, as She flitted
slowly by him.

With every instant Ambrosio's amazement increased. Another hour
elapsed, after which the same light again appeared and was lost
again as suddenly. It was accompanied by a strain of sweet but
solemn Music, which as it stole through the Vaults below,
inspired the Monk with mingled delight and terror. It had not
long been hushed, when He heard Matilda's steps upon the
Staircase. She ascended from the Cavern; The most lively joy
animated her beautiful features.

'Did you see any thing?' She asked.

'Twice I saw a column of light flash up the Staircase.'

'Nothing else?'


'The Morning is on the point of breaking. Let us retire to the
Abbey, lest daylight should betray us.'

With a light step She hastened from the burying-ground. She
regained her Cell, and the curious Abbot still accompanied her.
She closed the door, and disembarrassed herself of her Lamp and

'I have succeeded!' She cried, throwing herself upon his bosom:
'Succeeded beyond my fondest hopes! I shall live, Ambrosio,
shall live for you! The step which I shuddered at taking
proves to me a source of joys inexpressible! Oh! that I dared
communicate those joys to you! Oh! that I were permitted to
share with you my power, and raise you as high above the level of
your sex, as one bold deed has exalted me above mine!'

'And what prevents you, Matilda?' interrupted the Friar; 'Why is
your business in the Cavern made a secret? Do you think me
undeserving of your confidence? Matilda, I must doubt the truth
of your affection, while you have joys in which I am forbidden to

'You reproach me with injustice. I grieve sincerely that I am
obliged to conceal from you my happiness. But I am not to blame:
The fault lies not in me, but in yourself, my Ambrosio! You are
still too much the Monk. Your mind is enslaved by the prejudices
of Education; And Superstition might make you shudder at the idea
of that which experience has taught me to prize and value. At
present you are unfit to be trusted with a secret of such
importance: But the strength of your judgment; and the curiosity
which I rejoice to see sparkling in your eyes, makes me hope
that you will one day deserve my confidence. Till that period
arrives, restrain your impatience. Remember that you have given
me your solemn oath never to enquire into this night's
adventures. I insist upon your keeping this oath: For though'
She added smiling, while She sealed his lips with a wanton kiss;
'Though I forgive your breaking your vows to heaven, I expect you
to keep your vows to me.'

The Friar returned the embrace which had set his blood on fire.
The luxurious and unbounded excesses of the former night were
renewed, and they separated not till the Bell rang for Matins.

The same pleasures were frequently repeated. The Monks rejoiced
in the feigned Rosario's unexpected recovery, and none of them
suspected his real sex. The Abbot possessed his Mistress in
tranquillity, and perceiving his frailty unsuspected, abandoned
himself to his passions in full security. Shame and remorse no
longer tormented him. Frequent repetitions made him familiar
with sin, and his bosom became proof against the stings of
Conscience. In these sentiments He was encouraged by Matilda;
But She soon was aware that She had satiated her Lover by the
unbounded freedom of her caresses. Her charms becoming
accustomed to him, they ceased to excite the same desires which
at first they had inspired. The delirium of passion being past,
He had leisure to observe every trifling defect: Where none were
to be found, Satiety made him fancy them. The Monk was glutted
with the fullness of pleasure: A Week had scarcely elapsed
before He was wearied of his Paramour: His warm constitution
still made him seek in her arms the gratification of his lust:
But when the moment of passion was over, He quitted her with
disgust, and his humour, naturally inconstant, made him sigh
impatiently for variety.

Possession, which cloys Man, only increases the affection of
Woman. Matilda with every succeeding day grew more attached to
the Friar. Since He had obtained her favours, He was become
dearer to her than ever, and She felt grateful to him for the
pleasures in which they had equally been Sharers. Unfortunately
as her passion grew ardent, Ambrosio's grew cold; The very marks
of her fondness excited his disgust, and its excess served to
extinguish the flame which already burned but feebly in his
bosom. Matilda could not but remark that her society seemed to
him daily less agreeable: He was inattentive while She spoke:
her musical talents, which She possessed in perfection, had lost
the power of amusing him; Or if He deigned to praise them, his
compliments were evidently forced and cold. He no longer gazed
upon her with affection, or applauded her sentiments with a
Lover's partiality. This Matilda well perceived, and redoubled
her efforts to revive those sentiments which He once had felt.
She could not but fail, since He considered as importunities the
pains which She took to please him, and was disgusted by the very
means which She used to recall the Wanderer. Still, however,
their illicit Commerce continued: But it was clear that He was
led to her arms, not by love, but the cravings of brutal
appetite. His constitution made a Woman necessary to him, and
Matilda was the only one with whom He could indulge his passions
safely: In spite of her beauty, He gazed upon every other Female
with more desire; But fearing that his Hypocrisy should be made
public, He confined his inclinations to his own breast.

It was by no means his nature to be timid: But his education had
impressed his mind with fear so strongly, that apprehension was
now become part of his character. Had his Youth been passed in
the world, He would have shown himself possessed of many
brilliant and manly qualities. He was naturally enterprizing,
firm, and fearless: He had a Warrior's heart, and He might have
shone with splendour at the head of an Army. There was no want
of generosity in his nature: The Wretched never failed to find
in him a compassionate Auditor: His abilities were quick and
shining, and his judgment, vast, solid, and decisive. With such
qualifications He would have been an ornament to his Country:
That He possessed them, He had given proofs in his earliest
infancy, and his Parents had beheld his dawning virtues with the
fondest delight and admiration. Unfortunately, while yet a Child
He was deprived of those Parents. He fell into the power of a
Relation whose only wish about him was never to hear of him
more; For that purpose He gave him in charge to his Friend, the
former Superior of the Capuchins. The Abbot, a very Monk, used
all his endeavours to persuade the Boy that happiness existed
not without the walls of a Convent. He succeeded fully. To
deserve admittance into the order of St. Francis was Ambrosio's
highest ambition. His Instructors carefully repressed those
virtues whose grandeur and disinterestedness were ill-suited to
the Cloister. Instead of universal benevolence, He adopted a
selfish partiality for his own particular establishment: He was
taught to consider compassion for the errors of Others as a crime
of the blackest dye: The noble frankness of his temper was
exchanged for servile humility; and in order to break his natural
spirit, the Monks terrified his young mind by placing before him
all the horrors with which Superstition could furnish them: They
painted to him the torments of the Damned in colours the most
dark, terrible, and fantastic, and threatened him at the
slightest fault with eternal perdition. No wonder that his
imagination constantly dwelling upon these fearful objects should
have rendered his character timid and apprehensive. Add to this,
that his long absence from the great world, and total
unacquaintance with the common dangers of life, made him form of
them an idea far more dismal than the reality. While the Monks
were busied in rooting out his virtues and narrowing his
sentiments, they allowed every vice which had fallen to his
share to arrive at full perfection. He was suffered to be
proud, vain, ambitious, and disdainful: He was jealous of his
Equals, and despised all merit but his own: He was implacable
when offended, and cruel in his revenge. Still in spite of the
pains taken to pervert them, his natural good qualities would
occasionally break through the gloom cast over them so carefully:

At such times the contest for superiority between his real and
acquired character was striking and unaccountable to those
unacquainted with his original disposition. He pronounced the
most severe sentences upon Offenders, which, the moment after,
Compassion induced him to mitigate: He undertook the most daring
enterprizes, which the fear of their consequences soon obliged
him to abandon: His inborn genius darted a brilliant light upon
subjects the most obscure; and almost instantaneously his
Superstition replunged them in darkness more profound than that
from which they had just been rescued. His Brother Monks,
regarding him as a Superior Being, remarked not this
contradiction in their Idol's conduct. They were persuaded that
what He did must be right, and supposed him to have good reasons
for changing his resolutions. The fact was, that the different
sentiments with which Education and Nature had inspired him
were combating in his bosom: It remained for his passions, which
as yet no opportunity had called into play, to decide the
victory. Unfortunately his passions were the very worst Judges,
to whom He could possibly have applied. His monastic seclusion
had till now been in his favour, since it gave him no room for
discovering his bad qualities. The superiority of his talents
raised him too far above his Companions to permit his being
jealous of them: His exemplary piety, persuasive eloquence, and
pleasing manners had secured him universal Esteem, and
consequently He had no injuries to revenge: His Ambition was
justified by his acknowledged merit, and his pride considered as
no more than proper confidence. He never saw, much less
conversed with, the other sex: He was ignorant of the pleasures
in Woman's power to bestow, and if He read in the course of his

'That Men were fond, He smiled, and wondered how!'

For a time, spare diet, frequent watching, and severe penance
cooled and represt the natural warmth of his constitution: But
no sooner did opportunity present itself, no sooner did He catch
a glimpse of joys to which He was still a Stranger, than
Religion's barriers were too feeble to resist the overwhelming
torrent of his desires. All impediments yielded before the force
of his temperament, warm, sanguine, and voluptuous in the excess.

As yet his other passions lay dormant; But they only needed to be
once awakened, to display themselves with violence as great and

He continued to be the admiration of Madrid. The Enthusiasm
created by his eloquence seemed rather to increase than diminish.

Every Thursday, which was the only day when He appeared in
public, the Capuchin Cathedral was crowded with Auditors, and
his discourse was always received with the same approbation. He
was named Confessor to all the chief families in Madrid; and no
one was counted fashionable who was injoined penance by any
other than Ambrosio. In his resolution of never stirring out of
his Convent, He still persisted. This circumstance created a
still greater opinion of his sanctity and self-denial. Above
all, the Women sang forth his praises loudly, less influenced by
devotion than by his noble countenance, majestic air, and
well-turned, graceful figure. The Abbey door was thronged with
Carriages from morning to night; and the noblest and fairest
Dames of Madrid confessed to the Abbot their secret peccadilloes.

The eyes of the luxurious Friar devoured their charms: Had his
Penitents consulted those Interpreters, He would have needed no
other means of expressing his desires. For his misfortune, they
were so strongly persuaded of his continence, that the
possibility of his harbouring indecent thoughts never once
entered their imaginations. The climate's heat, 'tis well known,
operates with no small influence upon the constitutions of the
Spanish Ladies: But the most abandoned would have thought it an
easier task to inspire with passion the marble Statue of St.
Francis than the cold and rigid heart of the immaculate Ambrosio.

On his part, the Friar was little acquainted with the depravity
of the world; He suspected not that but few of his Penitents
would have rejected his addresses. Yet had He been better
instructed on this head, the danger attending such an attempt
would have sealed up his lips in silence. He knew that it would
be difficult for a Woman to keep a secret so strange and so
important as his frailty; and He even trembled lest Matilda
should betray him. Anxious to preserve a reputation which was
infinitely dear to him, He saw all the risque of committing it to
the power of some vain giddy Female; and as the Beauties of
Madrid affected only his senses without touching his heart, He
forgot them as soon as they were out of his sight. The danger of
discovery, the fear of being repulsed, the loss of reputation,
all these considerations counselled him to stifle his desires:
And though He now felt for it the most perfect indifference, He
was necessitated to confine himself to Matilda's person.

One morning, the confluence of Penitents was greater than usual.
He was detained in the Confessional Chair till a late hour. At
length the crowd was dispatched, and He prepared to quit the
Chapel, when two Females entered and drew near him with
humility. They threw up their veils, and the youngest entreated
him to listen to her for a few moments. The melody of her voice,
of that voice to which no Man ever listened without interest,
immediately caught Ambrosio's attention. He stopped. The
Petitioner seemed bowed down with affliction: Her cheeks were
pale, her eyes dimmed with tears, and her hair fell in disorder
over her face and bosom. Still her countenance was so sweet, so
innocent, so heavenly, as might have charmed an heart less
susceptible, than that which panted in the Abbot's breast. With
more than usual softness of manner He desired her to proceed, and
heard her speak as follows with an emotion which increased every

'Reverend Father, you see an Unfortunate, threatened with the
loss of her dearest, of almost her only Friend! My Mother, my
excellent Mother lies upon the bed of sickness. A sudden and
dreadful malady seized her last night; and so rapid has been its
progress, that the Physicians despair of her life. Human aid
fails me; Nothing remains for me but to implore the mercy of
Heaven. Father, all Madrid rings with the report of your piety
and virtue. Deign to remember my Mother in your prayers:
Perhaps they may prevail on the Almighty to spare her; and should
that be the case, I engage myself every Thursday in the next
three Months to illuminate the Shrine of St. Francis in his

'So!' thought the Monk; 'Here we have a second Vincentio della
Ronda. Rosario's adventure began thus,' and He wished secretly
that this might have the same conclusion.

He acceded to the request. The Petitioner returned him thanks
with every mark of gratitude, and then continued.

'I have yet another favour to ask. We are Strangers in Madrid;
My Mother needs a Confessor, and knows not to whom She should
apply. We understand that you never quit the Abbey, and Alas! my
poor Mother is unable to come hither! If you would have the
goodness, reverend Father, to name a proper person, whose wise
and pious consolations may soften the agonies of my Parent's
deathbed, you will confer an everlasting favour upon hearts not

With this petition also the Monk complied. Indeed, what petition
would He have refused, if urged in such enchanting accents? The
suppliant was so interesting! Her voice was so sweet, so
harmonious! Her very tears became her, and her affliction seemed
to add new lustre to her charms. He promised to send to her a
Confessor that same Evening, and begged her to leave her address.
The Companion presented him with a Card on which it was written,
and then withdrew with the fair Petitioner, who pronounced
before her departure a thousand benedictions on the Abbot's
goodness. His eyes followed her out of the Chapel. It was not
till She was out of sight that He examined the Card, on which He
read the following words.

'Donna Elvira Dalfa, Strada di San Iago, four doors from the
Palace d'Albornos.'

The Suppliant was no other than Antonia, and Leonella was her
Companion. The Latter had not consented without difficulty to
accompany her Niece to the Abbey: Ambrosio had inspired her with
such awe that She trembled at the very sight of him. Her fears
had conquered even her natural loquacity, and while in his
presence She uttered not a single syllable.

The Monk retired to his Cell, whither He was pursued by Antonia's
image. He felt a thousand new emotions springing in his bosom,
and He trembled to examine into the cause which gave them birth.
They were totally different from those inspired by Matilda, when
She first declared her sex and her affection. He felt not the
provocation of lust; No voluptuous desires rioted in his bosom;
Nor did a burning imagination picture to him the charms which
Modesty had veiled from his eyes. On the contrary, what He now
felt was a mingled sentiment of tenderness, admiration, and
respect. A soft and delicious melancholy infused itself into his
soul, and He would not have exchanged it for the most lively
transports of joy. Society now disgusted him: He delighted in
solitude, which permitted his indulging the visions of Fancy:
His thoughts were all gentle, sad, and soothing, and the whole
wide world presented him with no other object than Antonia.

'Happy Man!' He exclaimed in his romantic enthusiasm; 'Happy Man,
who is destined to possess the heart of that lovely Girl! What
delicacy in her features! What elegance in her form! How
enchanting was the timid innocence of her eyes, and how different
from the wanton expression, the wild luxurious fire which
sparkles in Matilda's! Oh! sweeter must one kiss be snatched
from the rosy lips of the First, than all the full and lustful
favours bestowed so freely by the Second. Matilda gluts me with
enjoyment even to loathing, forces me to her arms, apes the
Harlot, and glories in her prostitution. Disgusting! Did She
know the inexpressible charm of Modesty, how irresistibly it
enthralls the heart of Man, how firmly it chains him to the
Throne of Beauty, She never would have thrown it off. What would
be too dear a price for this lovely Girl's affections? What
would I refuse to sacrifice, could I be released from my vows,
and permitted to declare my love in the sight of earth and
heaven? While I strove to inspire her with tenderness, with
friendship and esteem, how tranquil and undisturbed would the
hours roll away! Gracious God! To see her blue downcast eyes
beam upon mine with timid fondness! To sit for days, for years
listening to that gentle voice! To acquire the right of obliging
her, and hear the artless expressions of her gratitude! To watch
the emotions of her spotless heart! To encourage each dawning
virtue! To share in her joy when happy, to kiss away her tears
when distrest, and to see her fly to my arms for comfort and
support! Yes; If there is perfect bliss on earth, 'tis his lot
alone, who becomes that Angel's Husband.'

While his fancy coined these ideas, He paced his Cell with a
disordered air. His eyes were fixed upon vacancy: His head
reclined upon his shoulder; A tear rolled down his cheek, while
He reflected that the vision of happiness for him could never be

'She is lost to me!' He continued; 'By marriage She cannot be
mine: And to seduce such innocence, to use the confidence
reposed in me to work her ruin. . . . Oh! it would be a crime,
blacker than yet the world ever witnessed! Fear not, lovely
Girl! Your virtue runs no risque from me. Not for Indies would
I make that gentle bosom know the tortures of remorse.'

Again He paced his chamber hastily. Then stopping, his eye fell
upon the picture of his once-admired Madona. He tore it with
indignation from the wall: He threw it on the ground, and
spurned it from him with his foot.

'The Prostitute!'

Unfortunate Matilda! Her Paramour forgot that for his sake alone
She had forfeited her claim to virtue; and his only reason for
despising her was that She had loved him much too well.

He threw himself into a Chair which stood near the Table. He
saw the card with Elvira's address. He took it up, and it
brought to his recollection his promise respecting a Confessor.
He passed a few minutes in doubt: But Antonia's Empire over him
was already too much decided to permit his making a long
resistance to the idea which struck him. He resolved to be the
Confessor himself. He could leave the Abbey unobserved without
difficulty: By wrapping up his head in his Cowl He hoped to pass
through the Streets without being recognised: By taking these
precautions, and by recommending secrecy to Elvira's family, He
doubted not to keep Madrid in ignorance that He had broken his
vow never to see the outside of the Abbey walls. Matilda was the
only person whose vigilance He dreaded: But by informing her at
the Refectory that during the whole of that day, Business would
confine him to his Cell, He thought himself secure from her
wakeful jealousy. Accordingly, at the hours when the Spaniards
are generally taking their Siesta, He ventured to quit the Abbey
by a private door, the Key of which was in his possession. The
Cowl of his habit was thrown over his face: From the heat of the
weather the Streets were almost totally deserted: The Monk met
with few people, found the Strada di San Iago, and arrived
without accident at Donna Elvira's door. He rang, was admitted,
and immediately ushered into an upper apartment.

It was here that He ran the greatest risque of a discovery. Had
Leonella been at home, She would have recognized him directly:
Her communicative disposition would never have permitted her to
rest till all Madrid was informed that Ambrosio had ventured out
of the Abbey, and visited her Sister. Fortune here stood the
Monk's Friend. On Leonella's return home, She found a letter
instructing her that a Cousin was just dead, who had left what
little He possessed between Herself and Elvira. To secure this
bequest She was obliged to set out for Cordova without losing a
moment. Amidst all her foibles her heart was truly warm and
affectionate, and She was unwilling to quit her Sister in so
dangerous a state. But Elvira insisted upon her taking the
journey, conscious that in her Daughter's forlorn situation no
increase of fortune, however trifling, ought to be neglected.
Accordingly, Leonella left Madrid, sincerely grieved at her
Sister's illness, and giving some few sighs to the memory of the
amiable but inconstant Don Christoval. She was fully persuaded
that at first She had made a terrible breach in his heart: But
hearing nothing more of him, She supposed that He had quitted the
pursuit, disgusted by the lowness of her origin, and knowing upon
other terms than marriage He had nothing to hope from such a
Dragon of Virtue as She professed herself; Or else, that being
naturally capricious and changeable, the remembrance of her
charms had been effaced from the Conde's heart by those of some
newer Beauty. Whatever was the cause of her losing him, She
lamented it sorely. She strove in vain, as She assured every
body who was kind enough to listen to her, to tear his image from
her too susceptible heart. She affected the airs of a lovesick
Virgin, and carried them all to the most ridiculous excess. She
heaved lamentable sighs, walked with her arms folded, uttered
long soliloquies, and her discourse generally turned upon some
forsaken Maid who expired of a broken heart! Her fiery locks
were always ornamented with a garland of willow; Every evening
She was seen straying upon the Banks of a rivulet by Moonlight;
and She declared herself a violent Admirer of murmuring Streams
and Nightingales;

'Of lonely haunts, and twilight Groves,
'Places which pale Passion loves!'

Such was the state of Leonella's mind, when obliged to quit
Madrid. Elvira was out of patience at all these follies, and
endeavoured at persuading her to act like a reasonable Woman.
Her advice was thrown away: Leonella assured her at parting that
nothing could make her forget the perfidious Don Christoval. In
this point She was fortunately mistaken. An honest Youth of
Cordova, Journeyman to an Apothecary, found that her fortune
would be sufficient to set him up in a genteel Shop of his own:
In consequence of this reflection He avowed himself her Admirer.
Leonella was not inflexible. The ardour of his sighs melted her
heart, and She soon consented to make him the happiest of
Mankind. She wrote to inform her Sister of her marriage; But,
for reasons which will be explained hereafter, Elvira never
answered her letter.

Ambrosio was conducted into the Antichamber to that where
Elvira was reposing. The Female Domestic who had admitted him
left him alone while She announced his arrival to her Mistress.
Antonia, who had been by her Mother's Bedside, immediately came
to him.

'Pardon me, Father,' said She, advancing towards him; when
recognizing his features, She stopped suddenly, and uttered a cry
of joy. 'Is it possible!' She continued;

'Do not my eyes deceive me? Has the worthy Ambrosio broken
through his resolution, that He may soften the agonies of the
best of Women? What pleasure will this visit give my Mother!
Let me not delay for a moment the comfort which your piety and
wisdom will afford her.'

Thus saying, She opened the chamber door, presented to her Mother
her distinguished Visitor, and having placed an armed-chair by
the side of the Bed, withdrew into another department.

Elvira was highly gratified by this visit: Her expectations had
been raised high by general report, but She found them far
exceeded. Ambrosio, endowed by nature with powers of pleasing,
exerted them to the utmost while conversing with Antonia's
Mother. With persuasive eloquence He calmed every fear, and
dissipated every scruple: He bad her reflect on the infinite
mercy of her Judge, despoiled Death of his darts and terrors, and
taught her to view without shrinking the abyss of eternity, on
whose brink She then stood. Elvira was absorbed in attention and
delight: While She listened to his exhortations, confidence and
comfort stole insensibly into her mind. She unbosomed to him
without hesitation her cares and apprehensions. The latter
respecting a future life He had already quieted: And He now
removed the former, which She felt for the concerns of this. She
trembled for Antonia. She had none to whose care She could
recommend her, save to the Marquis de las Cisternas and her
Sister Leonella. The protection of the One was very uncertain;
and as to the Other, though fond of her Niece, Leonella was so
thoughtless and vain as to make her an improper person to have
the sole direction of a Girl so young and ignorant of the World.
The Friar no sooner learnt the cause of her alarms than He
begged her to make herself easy upon that head. He doubted not
being able to secure for Antonia a safe refuge in the House of
one of his Penitents, the Marchioness of Villa-Franca: This was
a Lady of acknowledged virtue, remarkable for strict principles
and extensive charity. Should accident deprive her of this
resource, He engaged to procure Antonia a reception in some
respectable Convent: That is to say, in quality of boarder; for
Elvira had declared herself no Friend to a monastic life, and the
Monk was either candid or complaisant enough to allow that her
disapprobation was not unfounded.

These proofs of the interest which He felt for her completely
won Elvira's heart. In thanking him She exhausted every
expression which Gratitude could furnish, and protested that now
She should resign herself with tranquillity to the Grave.
Ambrosio rose to take leave: He promised to return the next day
at the same hour, but requested that his visits might be kept

'I am unwilling' said He, 'that my breaking through a rule
imposed by necessity should be generally known. Had I not
resolved never to quit my Convent, except upon circumstances as
urgent as that which has conducted me to your door, I should be
frequently summoned upon insignificant occasions: That time
would be engrossed by the Curious, the Unoccupied, and the
fanciful, which I now pass at the Bedside of the Sick, in
comforting the expiring Penitent, and clearing the passage to
Eternity from Thorns.'

Elvira commended equally his prudence and compassion, promising
to conceal carefully the honour of his visits. The Monk then
gave her his benediction, and retired from the chamber.

In the Antiroom He found Antonia: He could not refuse himself
the pleasure of passing a few moments in her society. He bad her
take comfort, for that her Mother seemed composed and tranquil,
and He hoped that She might yet do well. He enquired who
attended her, and engaged to send the Physician of his Convent to
see her, one of the most skilful in Madrid. He then launched out
in Elvira's commendation, praised her purity and fortitude of
mind, and declared that She had inspired him with the highest
esteem and reverence. Antonia's innocent heart swelled with
gratitude: Joy danced in her eyes, where a tear still sparkled.
The hopes which He gave her of her Mother's recovery, the lively
interest which He seemed to feel for her, and the flattering way
in which She was mentioned by him, added to the report of his
judgment and virtue, and to the impression made upon her by his
eloquence, confirmed the favourable opinion with which his first,
appearance had inspired Antonia. She replied with diffidence,
but without restraint: She feared not to relate to him all her
little sorrows, all her little fears and anxieties; and She
thanked him for his goodness with all the genuine warmth which
favours kindle in a young and innocent heart. Such alone know
how to estimate benefits at their full value. They who are
conscious of Mankind's perfidy and selfishness, ever receive an
obligation with apprehension and distrust: They suspect that
some secret motive must lurk behind it: They express their
thanks with restraint and caution, and fear to praise a kind
action to its full extent, aware that some future day a return
may be required. Not so Antonia; She thought the world was
composed only of those who resembled her, and that vice existed,
was to her still a secret. The Monk had been of service to her;
He said that He wished her well; She was grateful for his
kindness, and thought that no terms were strong enough to be the
vehicle of her thanks. With what delight did Ambrosio listen to
the declaration of her artless gratitude! The natural grace of
her manners, the unequalled sweetness of her voice, her modest
vivacity, her unstudied elegance, her expressive countenance, and
intelligent eyes united to inspire him with pleasure and
admiration, While the solidity and correctness of her remarks
received additional beauty from the unaffected simplicity of the
language in which they were conveyed.

Ambrosio was at length obliged to tear himself from this
conversation which possessed for him but too many charms. He
repeated to Antonia his wishes that his visits should not be
made known, which desire She promised to observe. He then
quitted the House, while his Enchantress hastened to her Mother,
ignorant of the mischief which her Beauty had caused. She was
eager to know Elvira's opinion of the Man whom She had praised in
such enthusiastic terms, and was delighted to find it equally
favourable, if not even more so, than her own.

'Even before He spoke,' said Elvira, 'I was prejudiced in his
favour: The fervour of his exhortations, dignity of his manner,
and closeness of his reasoning, were very far from inducing me to
alter my opinion. His fine and full-toned voice struck me
particularly; But surely, Antonia, I have heard it before. It
seemed perfectly familiar to my ear. Either I must have known
the Abbot in former times, or his voice bears a wonderful
resemblance to that of some other, to whom I have often listened.

There were certain tones which touched my very heart, and made me
feel sensations so singular, that I strive in vain to account for

'My dearest Mother, it produced the same effect upon me: Yet
certainly neither of us ever heard his voice till we came to
Madrid. I suspect that what we attribute to his voice, really
proceeds from his pleasant manners, which forbid our considering
him as a Stranger. I know not why, but I feel more at my ease
while conversing with him than I usually do with people who are
unknown to me. I feared not to repeat to him all my childish
thoughts; and somehow I felt confident that He would hear my
folly with indulgence. Oh! I was not deceived in him! He
listened to me with such an air of kindness and attention! He
answered me with such gentleness, such condescension! He did not
call me an Infant, and treat me with contempt, as our cross old
Confessor at the Castle used to do. I verily believe that if I
had lived in Murcia a thousand years, I never should have liked
that fat old Father Dominic!'

'I confess that Father Dominic had not the most pleasing manners
in the world; But He was honest, friendly, and well-meaning.'

'Ah! my dear Mother, those qualities are so common!'

'God grant, my Child, that Experience may not teach you to think
them rare and precious: I have found them but too much so! But
tell me, Antonia; Why is it impossible for me to have seen the
Abbot before?'

'Because since the moment when He entered the Abbey, He has never
been on the outside of its walls. He told me just now, that from
his ignorance of the Streets, He had some difficulty to find the
Strada di San Iago, though so near the Abbey.'

'All this is possible, and still I may have seen him BEFORE He
entered the Abbey: In order to come out, it was rather necessary
that He should first go in.'

'Holy Virgin! As you say, that is very true.--Oh! But might He
not have been born in the Abbey?'

Elvira smiled.

'Why, not very easily.'

'Stay, Stay! Now I recollect how it was. He was put into the
Abbey quite a Child; The common People say that He fell from
heaven, and was sent as a present to the Capuchins by the

'That was very kind of her. And so He fell from heaven, Antonia?

He must have had a terrible tumble.'

'Many do not credit this, and I fancy, my dear Mother, that I
must number you among the Unbelievers. Indeed, as our Landlady
told my Aunt, the general idea is that his Parents, being poor
and unable to maintain him, left him just born at the Abbey door.
The late Superior from pure charity had him educated in the
Convent, and He proved to be a model of virtue, and piety, and
learning, and I know not what else besides: In consequence, He
was first received as a Brother of the order, and not long ago
was chosen Abbot. However, whether this account or the other is
the true one, at least all agree that when the Monks took him
under their care, He could not speak: Therefore, you could not
have heard his voice before He entered the Monastery, because at
that time He had no voice at all.'

'Upon my word, Antonia, you argue very closely! Your conclusions
are infallible! I did not suspect you of being so able a

'Ah! You are mocking me! But so much the better. It delights me
to see you in spirits: Besides you seem tranquil and easy, and I
hope that you will have no more convulsions. Oh! I was sure the
Abbot's visit would do you good!'

'It has indeed done me good, my Child. He has quieted my mind
upon some points which agitated me, and I already feel the
effects of his attention. My eyes grow heavy, and I think I can
sleep a little. Draw the curtains, my Antonia: But if I should
not wake before midnight, do not sit up with me, I charge you.'

Antonia promised to obey her, and having received her blessing
drew the curtains of the Bed. She then seated herself in silence
at her embroidery frame, and beguiled the hours with building
Castles in the air. Her spirits were enlivened by the evident
change for the better in Elvira, and her fancy presented her with
visions bright and pleasing. In these dreams Ambrosio made no
despicable figure. She thought of him with joy and gratitude;
But for every idea which fell to the Friar's share, at least two
were unconsciously bestowed upon Lorenzo. Thus passed the time,
till the Bell in the neighbouring Steeple of the Capuchin
Cathedral announced the hour of midnight: Antonia remembered her
Mother's injunctions, and obeyed them, though with reluctance.
She undrew the curtains with caution. Elvira was enjoying a
profound and quiet slumber; Her cheek glowed with health's
returning colours: A smile declared that her dreams were
pleasant, and as Antonia bent over her, She fancied that She
heard her name pronounced. She kissed her Mother's forehead
softly, and retired to her chamber. There She knelt before a
Statue of St. Rosolia, her Patroness; She recommended herself to
the protection of heaven, and as had been her custom from
infancy, concluded her devotions by chaunting the following


Now all is hushed; The solemn chime
No longer swells the nightly gale:
Thy awful presence, Hour sublime,
With spotless heart once more I hail.

'Tis now the moment still and dread,
When Sorcerers use their baleful power;
When Graves give up their buried dead
To profit by the sanctioned hour:

From guilt and guilty thoughts secure,
To duty and devotion true,
With bosom light and conscience pure,
Repose, thy gentle aid I woo.

Good Angels, take my thanks, that still
The snares of vice I view with scorn;
Thanks, that to-night as free from ill
I sleep, as when I woke at morn.

Yet may not my unconscious breast
Harbour some guilt to me unknown?
Some wish impure, which unreprest
You blush to see, and I to own?

If such there be, in gentle dream
Instruct my feet to shun the snare;
Bid truth upon my errors beam,
And deign to make me still your care.

Chase from my peaceful bed away
The witching Spell, a foe to rest,
The nightly Goblin, wanton Fay,
The Ghost in pain, and Fiend unblest:

Let not the Tempter in mine ear
Pour lessons of unhallowed joy;
Let not the Night-mare, wandering near
My Couch, the calm of sleep destroy;

Let not some horrid dream affright
With strange fantastic forms mine eyes;
But rather bid some vision bright
Display the blissof yonder skies.

Show me the crystal Domes of Heaven,
The worlds of light where Angels lie;
Shew me the lot to Mortals given,
Who guiltless live, who guiltless die.

Then show me how a seat to gain
Amidst those blissful realms of
Air; Teach me to shun each guilty stain,
And guide me to the good and fair.

So every morn and night, my Voice
To heaven the grateful strain shall raise;
In You as Guardian Powers rejoice,
Good Angels, and exalt your praise:

So will I strive with zealous fire
Each vice to shun, each fault correct;
Will love the lessons you inspire,
And Prize the virtues you protect.

Then when at length by high command
My body seeks the Grave's repose,
When Death draws nigh with friendly hand
My failing Pilgrim eyes to close;

Pleased that my soul has 'scaped the wreck,
Sighless will I my life resign,
And yield to God my Spirit back,
As pure as when it first was mine.

Having finished her usual devotions, Antonia retired to bed.
Sleep soon stole over her senses; and for several hours She
enjoyed that calm repose which innocence alone can know, and for
which many a Monarch with pleasure would exchange his Crown.


----Ah! how dark
These long-extended realms and rueful wastes;
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was Chaos ere the Infant Sun
Was rolled together, or had tried its beams
Athwart the gloom profound!
The sickly Taper
By glimmering through thy low-browed misty vaults,
Furred round with mouldy damps, and ropy slime,
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make
Thy night more irksome!

Returned undiscovered to the Abbey, Ambrosio's mind was filled
with the most pleasing images. He was wilfully blind to the
danger of exposing himself to Antonia's charms: He only
remembered the pleasure which her society had afforded him, and
rejoiced in the prospect of that pleasure being repeated. He
failed not to profit by Elvira's indisposition to obtain a sight
of her Daughter every day. At first He bounded his wishes to
inspire Antonia with friendship: But no sooner was He convinced
that She felt that sentiment in its fullest extent, than his aim
became more decided, and his attentions assumed a warmer colour.
The innocent familiarity with which She treated him, encouraged
his desires: Grown used to her modesty, it no longer commanded
the same respect and awe: He still admired it, but it only made
him more anxious to deprive her of that quality which formed her
principal charm. Warmth of passion, and natural penetration, of
which latter unfortunately both for himself and Antonia He
possessed an ample share, supplied a knowledge of the arts of
seduction. He easily distinguished the emotions which were
favourable to his designs, and seized every means with avidity of
infusing corruption into Antonia's bosom. This He found no easy
matter. Extreme simplicity prevented her from perceiving the aim
to which the Monk's insinuations tended; But the excellent morals
which She owed to Elvira's care, the solidity and correctness of
her understanding, and a strong sense of what was right implanted
in her heart by Nature, made her feel that his precepts must be
faulty. By a few simple words She frequently overthrew the whole
bulk of his sophistical arguments, and made him conscious how
weak they were when opposed to Virtue and Truth. On such
occasion He took refuge in his eloquence; He overpowered her
with a torrent of Philosophical paradoxes, to which, not
understanding them, it was impossible for her to reply; And thus
though He did not convince her that his reasoning was just, He at
least prevented her from discovering it to be false. He
perceived that her respect for his judgment augmented daily, and
doubted not with time to bring her to the point desired.

He was not unconscious that his attempts were highly criminal:
He saw clearly the baseness of seducing the innocent Girl: But
his passion was too violent to permit his abandoning his design.
He resolved to pursue it, let the consequences be what they
might. He depended upon finding Antonia in some unguarded
moment; And seeing no other Man admitted into her society, nor
hearing any mentioned either by her or by Elvira, He imagined
that her young heart was still unoccupied. While He waited for
the opportunity of satisfying his unwarrantable lust, every day
increased his coldness for Matilda. Not a little was this
occasioned by the consciousness of his faults to her. To hide
them from her He was not sufficiently master of himself: Yet He
dreaded lest, in a transport of jealous rage, She should betray
the secret on which his character and even his life depended.
Matilda could not but remark his indifference: He was conscious
that She remarked it, and fearing her reproaches, shunned her
studiously. Yet when He could not avoid her, her mildness might
have convinced him that He had nothing to dread from her
resentment. She had resumed the character of the gentle
interesting Rosario: She taxed him not with ingratitude; But her
eyes filled with involuntary tears, and the soft melancholy of
her countenance and voice uttered complaints far more touching
than words could have conveyed. Ambrosio was not unmoved by her
sorrow; But unable to remove its cause, He forbore to show that
it affected him. As her conduct convinced him that He needed not
fear her vengeance, He continued to neglect her, and avoided her
company with care. Matilda saw that She in vain attempted to
regain his affections: Yet She stifled the impulse of
resentment, and continued to treat her inconstant Lover with her
former fondness and attention.

By degrees Elvira's constitution recovered itself. She was no
longer troubled with convulsions, and Antonia ceased to tremble
for her Mother. Ambrosio beheld this reestablishment with
displeasure. He saw that Elvira's knowledge of the world would
not be the Dupe of his sanctified demeanour, and that She would
easily perceive his views upon her Daughter. He resolved
therefore, before She quitted her chamber, to try the extent of
his influence over the innocent Antonia.

One evening, when He had found Elvira almost perfectly restored
to health, He quitted her earlier than was his usual custom. Not
finding Antonia in the Antichamber, He ventured to follow her
to her own. It was only separated from her Mother's by a Closet,
in which Flora, the Waiting-Woman, generally slept. Antonia sat
upon a Sopha with her back towards the door, and read
attentively. She heard not his approach, till He had seated
himself by her. She started, and welcomed him with a look of
pleasure: Then rising, She would have conducted him to the
sitting-room; But Ambrosio taking her hand, obliged her by gentle
violence to resume her place. She complied without difficulty:
She knew not that there was more impropriety in conversing with
him in one room than another. She thought herself equally secure
of his principles and her own, and having replaced herself upon
the Sopha, She began to prattle to him with her usual ease and

He examined the Book which She had been reading, and had now
placed upon the Table. It was the Bible.

'How!' said the Friar to himself; 'Antonia reads the Bible, and
is still so ignorant?'

But, upon a further inspection, He found that Elvira had made
exactly the same remark. That prudent Mother, while She admired
the beauties of the sacred writings, was convinced that,
unrestricted, no reading more improper could be permitted a young
Woman. Many of the narratives can only tend to excite ideas the
worst calculated for a female breast: Every thing is called
plainly and roundly by its name; and the annals of a Brothel
would scarcely furnish a greater choice of indecent expressions.
Yet this is the Book which young Women are recommended to study;
which is put into the hands of Children, able to comprehend
little more than those passages of which they had better remain
ignorant; and which but too frequently inculcates the first
rudiments of vice, and gives the first alarm to the still
sleeping passions. Of this was Elvira so fully convinced, that
She would have preferred putting into her Daughter's hands
'Amadis de Gaul,' or 'The Valiant Champion, Tirante the
White;' and would sooner have authorised her studying the lewd
exploits of 'Don Galaor,' or the lascivious jokes of the
'Damsel Plazer di mi vida.' She had in consequence made two
resolutions respecting the Bible. The first was that Antonia
should not read it till She was of an age to feel its beauties,
and profit by its morality: The second, that it should be copied
out with her own hand, and all improper passages either altered
or omitted. She had adhered to this determination, and such was
the Bible which Antonia was reading: It had been lately
delivered to her, and She perused it with an avidity, with a
delight that was inexpressible. Ambrosio perceived his mistake,
and replaced the Book upon the Table.

Antonia spoke of her Mother's health with all the enthusiastic
joy of a youthful heart.

'I admire your filial affection,' said the Abbot; 'It proves the
excellence and sensibility of your character; It promises a
treasure to him whom Heaven has destined to possess your
affections. The Breast, so capable of fondness for a Parent,
what will it feel for a Lover? Nay, perhaps, what feels it for
one even now? Tell me, my lovely Daughter; Have you known what
it is to love? Answer me with sincerity: Forget my habit, and
consider me only as a Friend.'

'What it is to love?' said She, repeating his question; 'Oh! yes,
undoubtedly; I have loved many, many People.'

'That is not what I mean. The love of which I speak can be felt
only for one. Have you never seen the Man whom you wished to be
your Husband?'

'Oh! No, indeed!'

This was an untruth, but She was unconscious of its falsehood:
She knew not the nature of her sentiments for Lorenzo; and never
having seen him since his first visit to Elvira, with every day
his Image grew less feebly impressed upon her bosom. Besides,
She thought of an Husband with all a Virgin's terror, and
negatived the Friar's demand without a moment's hesitation.

'And do you not long to see that Man, Antonia? Do you feel no
void in your heart which you fain would have filled up? Do you
heave no sighs for the absence of some one dear to you, but who
that some one is, you know not? Perceive you not that what
formerly could please, has charms for you no longer? That a
thousand new wishes, new ideas, new sensations, have sprang in
your bosom, only to be felt, never to be described? Or while you
fill every other heart with passion, is it possible that your own
remains insensible and cold? It cannot be! That melting eye,
that blushing cheek, that enchanting voluptuous melancholy which
at times overspreads your features, all these marks belye your
words. You love, Antonia, and in vain would hide it from me.'

'Father, you amaze me! What is this love of which you speak? I
neither know its nature, nor if I felt it, why I should conceal
the sentiment.'

'Have you seen no Man, Antonia, whom though never seen before,
you seemed long to have sought? Whose form, though a Stranger's,
was familiar to your eyes? The sound of whose voice soothed you,
pleased you, penetrated to your very soul? In whose presence you
rejoiced, for whose absence you lamented? With whom your heart
seemed to expand, and in whose bosom with confidence unbounded
you reposed the cares of your own? Have you not felt all this,

'Certainly I have: The first time that I saw you, I felt it.'

Ambrosio started. Scarcely dared He credit his hearing.

'Me, Antonia?' He cried, his eyes sparkling with delight and
impatience, while He seized her hand, and pressed it rapturously
to his lips. 'Me, Antonia? You felt these sentiments for me?'

'Even with more strength than you have described. The very
moment that I beheld you, I felt so pleased, so interested! I
waited so eagerly to catch the sound of your voice, and when I
heard it, it seemed so sweet! It spoke to me a language till
then so unknown! Methought, it told me a thousand things which I
wished to hear! It seemed as if I had long known you; as if I
had a right to your friendship, your advice, and your protection.

I wept when you departed, and longed for the time which should
restore you to my sight.'

'Antonia! my charming Antonia!' exclaimed the Monk, and caught
her to his bosom; 'Can I believe my senses? Repeat it to me, my
sweet Girl! Tell me again that you love me, that you love me
truly and tenderly!'

'Indeed, I do: Let my Mother be excepted, and the world holds no
one more dear to me!'

At this frank avowal Ambrosio no longer possessed himself; Wild
with desire, He clasped the blushing Trembler in his arms. He
fastened his lips greedily upon hers, sucked in her pure
delicious breath, violated with his bold hand the treasures of
her bosom, and wound around him her soft and yielding limbs.
Startled, alarmed, and confused at his action, surprize at first
deprived her of the power of resistance. At length recovering
herself, She strove to escape from his embrace.

'Father! . . . . Ambrosio!' She cried; 'Release me, for God's

But the licentious Monk heeded not her prayers: He persisted in
his design, and proceeded to take still greater liberties.
Antonia prayed, wept, and struggled: Terrified to the extreme,
though at what She knew not, She exerted all her strength to
repulse the Friar, and was on the point of shrieking for
assistance when the chamber door was suddenly thrown open.
Ambrosio had just sufficient presence of mind to be sensible of
his danger. Reluctantly He quitted his prey, and started hastily
from the Couch. Antonia uttered an exclamation of joy, flew
towards the door, and found herself clasped in the arms of her

Alarmed at some of the Abbot's speeches, which Antonia had
innocently repeated, Elvira resolved to ascertain the truth of
her suspicions. She had known enough of Mankind not to be
imposed upon by the Monk's reputed virtue. She reflected on
several circumstances, which though trifling, on being put
together seemed to authorize her fears. His frequent visits,
which as far as She could see, were confined to her family; His
evident emotion, whenever She spoke of Antonia; His being in the
full prime and heat of Manhood; and above all, his pernicious
philosophy communicated to her by Antonia, and which accorded but
ill with his conversation in her presence, all these
circumstances inspired her with doubts respecting the purity of
Ambrosio's friendship. In consequence, She resolved, when He
should next be alone with Antonia, to endeavour at surprizing
him. Her plan had succeeded. 'Tis true, that when She entered
the room, He had already abandoned his prey; But the disorder of
her Daughter's dress, and the shame and confusion stamped upon
the Friar's countenance, sufficed to prove that her suspicions
were but too well-founded. However, She was too prudent to make
those suspicions known. She judged that to unmask the Imposter
would be no easy matter, the public being so much prejudiced in
his favour: and having but few Friends, She thought it dangerous
to make herself so powerful an Enemy. She affected therefore not
to remark his agitation, seated herself tranquilly upon the
Sopha, assigned some trifling reason for having quitted her room
unexpectedly, and conversed on various subjects with seeming
confidence and ease.

Reassured by her behaviour, the Monk began to recover himself.
He strove to answer Elvira without appearing embarrassed: But He
was still too great a novice in dissimulation, and He felt that
He must look confused and awkward. He soon broke off the
conversation, and rose to depart. What was his vexation, when on
taking leave, Elvira told him in polite terms, that being now
perfectly reestablished, She thought it an injustice to deprive
Others of his company, who might be more in need of it! She
assured him of her eternal gratitude, for the benefit which
during her illness She had derived from his society and
exhortations: And She lamented that her domestic affairs, as
well as the multitude of business which his situation must of
necessity impose upon him, would in future deprive her of the
pleasure of his visits. Though delivered in the mildest language
this hint was too plain to be mistaken. Still, He was preparing
to put in a remonstrance when an expressive look from Elvira
stopped him short. He dared not press her to receive him, for
her manner convinced him that He was discovered: He submitted
without reply, took an hasty leave, and retired to the Abbey, his
heart filled with rage and shame, with bitterness and

Antonia's mind felt relieved by his departure; Yet She could not
help lamenting that She was never to see him more. Elvira also
felt a secret sorrow; She had received too much pleasure from
thinking him her Friend, not to regret the necessity of changing
her opinion: But her mind was too much accustomed to the fallacy
of worldly friendships to permit her present disappointment to
weigh upon it long. She now endeavoured to make her Daughter
aware of the risque which She had ran: But She was obliged to
treat the subject with caution, lest in removing the bandage of
ignorance, the veil of innocence should be rent away. She
therefore contented herself with warning Antonia to be upon her
guard, and ordering her, should the Abbot persist in his visits,
never to receive them but in company. With this injunction
Antonia promised to comply.

Ambrosio hastened to his Cell. He closed the door after him, and
threw himself upon the bed in despair. The impulse of desire, the
stings of disappointment, the shame of detection, and the fear of
being publicly unmasked, rendered his bosom a scene of the most
horrible confusion. He knew not what course to pursue. Debarred
the presence of Antonia, He had no hopes of satisfying that
passion which was now become a part of his existence. He
reflected that his secret was in a Woman's power: He trembled
with apprehension when He beheld the precipice before him, and
with rage, when He thought that had it not been for Elvira, He
should now have possessed the object of his desires. With the
direct imprecations He vowed vengeance against her; He swore
that, cost what it would, He still would possess Antonia.
Starting from the Bed, He paced the chamber with disordered
steps, howled with impotent fury, dashed himself violently
against the walls, and indulged all the transports of rage and

He was still under the influence of this storm of passions when
He heard a gentle knock at the door of his Cell. Conscious that
his voice must have been heard, He dared not refuse admittance to
the Importuner: He strove to compose himself, and to hide his
agitation. Having in some degree succeeded, He drew back the
bolt: The door opened, and Matilda appeared.

At this precise moment there was no one with whose presence He
could better have dispensed. He had not sufficient command over
himself to conceal his vexation. He started back, and frowned.

'I am busy,' said He in a stern and hasty tone; 'Leave me!'

Matilda heeded him not: She again fastened the door, and then
advanced towards him with an air gentle and supplicating.

'Forgive me, Ambrosio,' said She; 'For your own sake I must not
obey you. Fear no complaints from me; I come not to reproach you
with your ingratitude. I pardon you from my heart, and since
your love can no longer be mine, I request the next best gift,
your confidence and friendship. We cannot force our
inclinations; The little beauty which you once saw in me has
perished with its novelty, and if it can no longer excite desire,
mine is the fault, not yours. But why persist in shunning me?
Why such anxiety to fly my presence? You have sorrows, but will
not permit me to share them; You have disappointments, but will
not accept my comfort; You have wishes, but forbid my aiding your
pursuits. 'Tis of this which I complain, not of your
indifference to my person. I have given up the claims of the
Mistress, but nothing shall prevail on me to give up those of the

Her mildness had an instantaneous effect upon Ambrosio's

'Generous Matilda!' He replied, taking her hand, 'How far do you
rise superior to the foibles of your sex! Yes, I accept your
offer. I have need of an adviser, and a Confident: In you I
find every needful quality united. But to aid my pursuits . . .
. Ah! Matilda, it lies not in your power!'

'It lies in no one's power but mine. Ambrosio, your secret is
none to me; Your every step, your every action has been observed
by my attentive eye. You love.'


'Why conceal it from me? Fear not the little jealousy which
taints the generality of Women: My soul disdains so despicable a
passion. You love, Ambrosio; Antonia Dalfa is the object of your
flame. I know every circumstance respecting your passion: Every
conversation has been repeated to me. I have been informed of
your attempt to enjoy Antonia's person, your disappointment, and
dismission from Elvira's House. You now despair of possessing
your Mistress; But I come to revive your hopes, and point out the
road to success.'

'To success? Oh! impossible!'

'To them who dare nothing is impossible. Rely upon me, and you
may yet be happy. The time is come, Ambrosio, when regard for
your comfort and tranquillity compels me to reveal a part of my
History, with which you are still unacquainted. Listen, and do
not interrupt me: Should my confession disgust you, remember
that in making it my sole aim is to satisfy your wishes, and
restore that peace to your heart which at present has abandoned
it. I formerly mentioned that my Guardian was a Man of uncommon
knowledge: He took pains to instil that knowledge into my infant
mind. Among the various sciences which curiosity had induced him
to explore, He neglected not that which by most is esteemed
impious, and by many chimerical. I speak of those arts which
relate to the world of Spirits. His deep researches into causes
and effects, his unwearied application to the study of natural
philosophy, his profound and unlimited knowledge of the
properties and virtues of every gem which enriches the deep, of
every herb which the earth produces, at length procured him the
distinction which He had sought so long, so earnestly. His
curiosity was fully slaked, his ambition amply gratified. He
gave laws to the elements; He could reverse the order of nature;
His eye read the mandates of futurity, and the infernal Spirits
were submissive to his commands. Why shrink you from me? I
understand that enquiring look. Your suspicions are right,
though your terrors are unfounded. My Guardian concealed not
from me his most precious acquisition. Yet had I never seen YOU,
I should never have exerted my power. Like you I shuddered at
the thoughts of Magic: Like you I had formed a terrible idea of
the consequences of raising a daemon. To preserve that life
which your love had taught me to prize, I had recourse to means
which I trembled at employing. You remember that night which I
past in St. Clare's Sepulchre? Then was it that, surrounded by
mouldering bodies, I dared to perform those mystic rites which
summoned to my aid a fallen Angel. Judge what must have been my
joy at discovering that my terrors were imaginary: I saw the
Daemon obedient to my orders, I saw him trembling at my frown,
and found that, instead of selling my soul to a Master, my
courage had purchased for myself a Slave.'

'Rash Matilda! What have you done? You have doomed yourself to
endless perdition; You have bartered for momentary power eternal
happiness! If on witchcraft depends the fruition of my desires,
I renounce your aid most absolutely. The consequences are too
horrible: I doat upon Antonia, but am not so blinded by lust as
to sacrifice for her enjoyment my existence both in this world
and the next.'

'Ridiculous prejudices! Oh! blush, Ambrosio, blush at being
subjected to their dominion. Where is the risque of accepting my
offers? What should induce my persuading you to this step,
except the wish of restoring you to happiness and quiet. If
there is danger, it must fall upon me: It is I who invoke the
ministry of the Spirits; Mine therefore will be the crime, and
yours the profit. But danger there is none: The Enemy of
Mankind is my Slave, not my Sovereign. Is there no difference
between giving and receiving laws, between serving and
commanding? Awake from your idle dreams, Ambrosio! Throw from
you these terrors so ill-suited to a soul like yours; Leave them
for common Men, and dare to be happy! Accompany me this night to
St. Clare's Sepulchre, witness my incantations, and Antonia is
your own.'

'To obtain her by such means I neither can, or will. Cease then
to persuade me, for I dare not employ Hell's agency.

'You DARE not? How have you deceived me! That mind which I
esteemed so great and valiant, proves to be feeble, puerile, and
grovelling, a slave to vulgar errors, and weaker than a Woman's.'

'What? Though conscious of the danger, wilfully shall I expose
myself to the Seducer's arts? Shall I renounce for ever my title
to salvation? Shall my eyes seek a sight which I know will
blast them? No, no, Matilda; I will not ally myself with God's

'Are you then God's Friend at present? Have you not broken your
engagements with him, renounced his service, and abandoned
yourself to the impulse of your passions? Are you not planning
the destruction of innocence, the ruin of a Creature whom He
formed in the mould of Angels? If not of Daemons, whose aid
would you invoke to forward this laudable design? Will the
Seraphims protect it, conduct Antonia to your arms, and sanction
with their ministry your illicit pleasures? Absurd! But I am
not deceived, Ambrosio! It is not virtue which makes you reject
my offer: You WOULD accept it, but you dare not. 'Tis not the
crime which holds your hand, but the punishment; 'Tis not respect
for God which restrains you, but the terror of his vengeance!
Fain would you offend him in secret, but you tremble to profess
yourself his Foe. Now shame on the coward soul, which wants the
courage either to be a firm Friend or open Enemy!'

'To look upon guilt with horror, Matilda, is in itself a merit:
In this respect I glory to confess myself a Coward. Though my
passions have made me deviate from her laws, I still feel in my
heart an innate love of virtue. But it ill becomes you to tax me
with my perjury: You, who first seduced me to violate my vows;
You, who first rouzed my sleeping vices, made me feel the weight
of Religion's chains, and bad me be convinced that guilt had
pleasures. Yet though my principles have yielded to the force of
temperament, I still have sufficient grace to shudder at Sorcery,
and avoid a crime so monstrous, so unpardonable!'

'Unpardonable, say you? Where then is your constant boast of the
Almighty's infinite mercy? Has He of late set bounds to it?
Receives He no longer a Sinner with joy? You injure him,
Ambrosio; You will always have time to repent, and He have
goodness to forgive. Afford him a glorious opportunity to exert
that goodness: The greater your crime, the greater his merit in
pardoning. Away then with these childish scruples: Be persuaded
to your good, and follow me to the Sepulchre.'

'Oh! cease, Matilda! That scoffing tone, that bold and impious
language, is horrible in every mouth, but most so in a Woman's.
Let us drop a conversation which excites no other sentiments
than horror and disgust. I will not follow you to the Sepulchre,
or accept the services of your infernal Agents. Antonia shall be
mine, but mine by human means.'

'Then yours She will never be! You are banished her presence;
Her Mother has opened her eyes to your designs, and She is now
upon her guard against them. Nay more, She loves another. A
Youth of distinguished merit possesses her heart, and unless you
interfere, a few days will make her his Bride. This intelligence
was brought me by my invisible Servants, to whom I had recourse
on first perceiving your indifference. They watched your every
action, related to me all that past at Elvira's, and inspired me
with the idea of favouring your designs. Their reports have been
my only comfort. Though you shunned my presence, all your
proceedings were known to me: Nay, I was constantly with you in
some degree, thanks to this precious gift!'

With these words She drew from beneath her habit a mirror of
polished steel, the borders of which were marked with various
strange and unknown characters.

'Amidst all my sorrows, amidst all my regrets for your coldness,
I was sustained from despair by the virtues of this Talisman. On
pronouncing certain words, the Person appears in it on whom the
Observer's thoughts are bent: thus though _I_ was exiled from
YOUR sight, you, Ambrosio, were ever present to mine.'

The Friar's curiosity was excited strongly.

'What you relate is incredible! Matilda, are you not amusing
yourself with my credulity?'

'Be your own eyes the Judge.'

She put the Mirror into his hand. Curiosity induced him to take
it, and Love, to wish that Antonia might appear. Matilda
pronounced the magic words. Immediately, a thick smoke rose from
the characters traced upon the borders, and spread itself over
the surface. It dispersed again gradually; A confused mixture of
colours and images presented themselves to the Friar's eyes,
which at length arranging themselves in their proper places, He
beheld in miniature Antonia's lovely form.

The scene was a small closet belonging to her apartment. She was
undressing to bathe herself. The long tresses of her hair were
already bound up. The amorous Monk had full opportunity to
observe the voluptuous contours and admirable symmetry of her
person. She threw off her last garment, and advancing to the
Bath prepared for her, She put her foot into the water. It
struck cold, and She drew it back again. Though unconscious of
being observed, an inbred sense of modesty induced her to veil
her charms; and She stood hesitating upon the brink, in the
attitude of the Venus de Medicis. At this moment a tame Linnet
flew towards her, nestled its head between her breasts, and
nibbled them in wanton play. The smiling Antonia strove in vain
to shake off the Bird, and at length raised her hands to drive it
from its delightful harbour. Ambrosio could bear no more: His
desires were worked up to phrenzy.

'I yield!' He cried, dashing the mirror upon the ground:
'Matilda, I follow you! Do with me what you will!'

She waited not to hear his consent repeated. It was already
midnight. She flew to her Cell, and soon returned with her
little basket and the Key of the Cemetery, which had remained in
her possession since her first visit to the Vaults. She gave the
Monk no time for reflection.

'Come!' She said, and took his hand; 'Follow me, and witness the
effects of your resolve!'

This said, She drew him hastily along. They passed into the
Burying-ground unobserved, opened the door of the Sepulchre, and
found themselves at the head of the subterraneous Staircase. As
yet the beams of the full Moon had guided their steps, but that
resource now failed them. Matilda had neglected to provide
herself with a Lamp. Still holding Ambrosio's hand She descended
the marble steps; But the profound obscurity with which they were
overspread obliged them to walk slow and cautiously.

'You tremble!' said Matilda to her Companion; 'Fear not; The
destined spot is near.'

They reached the foot of the Staircase, and continued to
proceed, feeling their way along the Walls. On turning a corner
suddenly, they descried faint gleams of light which seemed
burning at a distance. Thither they bent their steps: The rays
proceeded from a small sepulchral Lamp which flamed unceasingly
before the Statue of St. Clare. It tinged with dim and cheerless
beams the massy Columns which supported the Roof, but was too
feeble to dissipate the thick gloom in which the Vaults above
were buried.

Matilda took the Lamp.

'Wait for me!' said She to the Friar; 'In a few moments I am here

With these words She hastened into one of the passages which
branched in various directions from this spot, and formed a sort
of Labyrinth. Ambrosio was now left alone: Darkness the most
profound surrounded him, and encouraged the doubts which began
to revive in his bosom. He had been hurried away by the delirium
of the moment: The shame of betraying his terrors, while in
Matilda's presence, had induced him to repress them; But now that
he was abandoned to himself, they resumed their former
ascendancy. He trembled at the scene which He was soon to
witness. He knew not how far the delusions of Magic might
operate upon his mind, and possibly might force him to some deed
whose commission would make the breach between himself and Heaven
irreparable. In this fearful dilemma, He would have implored
God's assistance, but was conscious that He had forfeited all
claim to such protection. Gladly would He have returned to the
Abbey; But as He had past through innumerable Caverns and winding
passages, the attempt of regaining the Stairs was hopeless. His
fate was determined: No possibility of escape presented itself:
He therefore combated his apprehensions, and called every
argument to his succour, which might enable him to support the
trying scene with fortitude. He reflected that Antonia would be
the reward of his daring: He inflamed his imagination by
enumerating her charms. He persuaded himself that (as Matilda
had observed), He always should have time sufficient for
repentance, and that as He employed HER assistance, not that of
the Daemons, the crime of Sorcery could not be laid to his
charge. He had read much respecting witchcraft: He understood
that unless a formal Act was signed renouncing his claim to
salvation, Satan would have no power over him. He was fully
determined not to execute any such act, whatever threats might be
used, or advantages held out to him.

Such were his meditations while waiting for Matilda. They were
interrupted by a low murmur which seemed at no great distance
from him. He was startled. He listened. Some minutes past in
silence, after which the murmur was repeated. It appeared to be
the groaning of one in pain. In any other situation, this
circumstance would only have excited his attention and curiosity:

In the present, his predominant sensation was that of terror. His
imagination totally engrossed by the ideas of sorcery and
Spirits, He fancied that some unquiet Ghost was wandering near
him; or else that Matilda had fallen a Victim to her presumption,
and was perishing under the cruel fangs of the Daemons. The
noise seemed not to approach, but continued to be heard at
intervals. Sometimes it became more audible, doubtless as the
sufferings of the person who uttered the groans became
more acute and insupportable. Ambrosio now and then thought
that He could distinguish accents; and once in particular He was
almost convinced that He heard a faint voice exclaim,

'God! Oh! God! No hope! No succour!'

Yet deeper groans followed these words. They died away
gradually, and universal silence again prevailed.

'What can this mean?' thought the bewildered Monk.

At that moment an idea which flashed into his mind, almost
petrified him with horror. He started, and shuddered at himself.

'Should it be possible!' He groaned involuntarily; 'Should it but
be possible, Oh! what a Monster am I!'

He wished to resolve his doubts, and to repair his fault, if it
were not too late already: But these generous and compassionate
sentiments were soon put to flight by the return of Matilda. He
forgot the groaning Sufferer, and remembered nothing but the
danger and embarrassment of his own situation. The light of the
returning Lamp gilded the walls, and in a few moments after
Matilda stood beside him. She had quitted her religious habit:
She was now cloathed in a long sable Robe, on which was traced in
gold embroidery a variety of unknown characters: It was fastened
by a girdle of precious stones, in which was fixed a poignard.
Her neck and arms were uncovered. In her hand She bore a golden
wand. Her hair was loose and flowed wildly upon her shoulders;
Her eyes sparkled with terrific expression; and her whole
Demeanour was calculated to inspire the beholder with awe and

'Follow me!' She said to the Monk in a low and solemn voice; 'All
is ready!'

His limbs trembled, while He obeyed her. She led him through
various narrow passages; and on every side as they past along,
the beams of the Lamp displayed none but the most revolting
objects; Skulls, Bones, Graves, and Images whose eyes seemed to
glare on them with horror and surprize. At length they reached a
spacious Cavern, whose lofty roof the eye sought in vain to
discover. A profound obscurity hovered through the void. Damp
vapours struck cold to the Friar's heart; and He listened sadly
to the blast while it howled along the lonely Vaults. Here
Matilda stopped. She turned to Ambrosio. His cheeks and lips
were pale with apprehension. By a glance of mingled scorn and
anger She reproved his pusillanimity, but She spoke not. She
placed the Lamp upon the ground, near the Basket. She motioned
that Ambrosio should be silent, and began the mysterious rites.
She drew a circle round him, another round herself, and then
taking a small Phial from the Basket, poured a few drops upon the
ground before her. She bent over the place, muttered some
indistinct sentences, and immediately a pale sulphurous flame
arose from the ground. It increased by degrees, and at length
spread its waves over the whole surface, the circles alone
excepted in which stood Matilda and the Monk. It then ascended
the huge Columns of unhewn stone, glided along the roof, and
formed the Cavern into an immense chamber totally covered with
blue trembling fire. It emitted no heat: On the contrary, the
extreme chillness of the place seemed to augment with every
moment. Matilda continued her incantations: At intervals She
took various articles from the Basket, the nature and name of
most of which were unknown to the Friar: But among the few which
He distinguished, He particularly observed three human fingers,
and an Agnus Dei which She broke in pieces. She threw them all
into the flames which burned before her, and they were instantly

The Monk beheld her with anxious curiosity. Suddenly She uttered
a loud and piercing shriek. She appeared to be seized with an
access of delirium; She tore her hair, beat her bosom, used the
most frantic gestures, and drawing the poignard from her girdle
plunged it into her left arm. The blood gushed out plentifully,
and as She stood on the brink of the circle, She took care that
it should fall on the outside. The flames retired from the spot
on which the blood was pouring. A volume of dark clouds rose
slowly from the ensanguined earth, and ascended gradually, till
it reached the vault of the Cavern. At the same time a clap of
thunder was heard: The echo pealed fearfully along the
subterraneous passages, and the ground shook beneath the feet of
the Enchantress.

It was now that Ambrosio repented of his rashness. The solemn
singularity of the charm had prepared him for something strange
and horrible. He waited with fear for the Spirit's appearance,
whose coming was announced by thunder and earthquakes. He looked
wildly round him, expecting that some dreadful Apparition would
meet his eyes, the sight of which would drive him mad. A cold
shivering seized his body, and He sank upon one knee, unable to
support himself.

'He comes!' exclaimed Matilda in a joyful accent.

Ambrosio started, and expected the Daemon with terror. What was
his surprize, when the Thunder ceasing to roll, a full strain of
melodious Music sounded in the air. At the same time the cloud
dispersed, and He beheld a Figure more beautiful than Fancy's
pencil ever drew. It was a Youth seemingly scarce eighteen, the
perfection of whose form and face was unrivalled. He was
perfectly naked: A bright Star sparkled upon his forehead; Two
crimson wings extended themselves from his shoulders; and his
silken locks were confined by a band of many-coloured fires,
which played round his head, formed themselves into a variety of
figures, and shone with a brilliance far surpassing that of
precious Stones. Circlets of Diamonds were fastened round his
arms and ankles, and in his right hand He bore a silver branch,
imitating Myrtle. His form shone with dazzling glory: He was
surrounded by clouds of rose-coloured light, and at the moment
that He appeared, a refreshing air breathed perfumes through the
Cavern. Enchanted at a vision so contrary to his expectations,
Ambrosio gazed upon the Spirit with delight and wonder: Yet
however beautiful the Figure, He could not but remark a wildness
in the Daemon's eyes, and a mysterious melancholy impressed upon
his features, betraying the Fallen Angel, and inspiring the
Spectators with secret awe.

The Music ceased. Matilda addressed herself to the Spirit: She
spoke in a language unintelligible to the Monk, and was answered
in the same. She seemed to insist upon something which the
Daemon was unwilling to grant. He frequently darted upon
Ambrosio angry glances, and at such times the Friar's heart sank
within him. Matilda appeared to grow incensed. She spoke in a
loud and commanding tone, and her gestures declared that She was
threatening him with her vengeance. Her menaces had the desired
effect: The Spirit sank upon his knee, and with a submissive air
presented to her the branch of Myrtle. No sooner had She
received it, than the Music was again heard; A thick cloud spread
itself over the Apparition; The blue flames disappeared, and
total obscurity reigned through the Cave. The Abbot moved not
from his place: His faculties were all bound up in pleasure,
anxiety, and surprize. At length the darkness dispersing, He
perceived Matilda standing near him in her religious habit, with
the Myrtle in her hand. No traces of the incantation, and the
Vaults were only illuminated by the faint rays of the sepulchral

'I have succeeded,' said Matilda, 'though with more difficulty
than I expected. Lucifer, whom I summoned to my assistance, was
at first unwilling to obey my commands: To enforce his compliance
I was constrained to have recourse to my strongest charms. They
have produced the desired effect, but I have engaged never more
to invoke his agency in your favour. Beware then, how you employ
an opportunity which never will return. My magic arts will now
be of no use to you: In future you can only hope for
supernatural aid by invoking the Daemons yourself, and accepting
the conditions of their service. This you will never do: You
want strength of mind to force them to obedience, and unless you
pay their established price, they will not be your voluntary
Servants. In this one instance they consent to obey you: I offer
you the means of enjoying your Mistress, and be careful not to
lose the opportunity. Receive this constellated Myrtle: While
you bear this in your hand, every door will fly open to you. It
will procure you access tomorrow night to Antonia's chamber:
Then breathe upon it thrice, pronounce her name, and place it
upon her pillow. A death-like slumber will immediately seize
upon her, and deprive her of the power of resisting your
attempts. Sleep will hold her till break of Morning. In this
state you may satisfy your desires without danger of being
discovered; since when daylight shall dispel the effects of the
enchantment, Antonia will perceive her dishonour, but be ignorant
of the Ravisher. Be happy then, my Ambrosio, and let this
service convince you that my friendship is disinterested and
pure. The night must be near expiring: Let us return to the
Abbey, lest our absence should create surprize.'

The Abbot received the talisman with silent gratitude. His ideas
were too much bewildered by the adventures of the night to
permit his expressing his thanks audibly, or indeed as yet to
feel the whole value of her present. Matilda took up her Lamp
and Basket, and guided her Companion from the mysterious Cavern.
She restored the Lamp to its former place, and continued her
route in darkness, till She reached the foot of the Staircase.
The first beams of the rising Sun darting down it facilitated the
ascent. Matilda and the Abbot hastened out of the Sepulchre,
closed the door after them, and soon regained the Abbey's western
Cloister. No one met them, and they retired unobserved to their
respective Cells.

The confusion of Ambrosio's mind now began to appease. He
rejoiced in the fortunate issue of his adventure, and reflecting
upon the virtues of the Myrtle, looked upon Antonia as already in
his power. Imagination retraced to him those secret charms
betrayed to him by the Enchanted Mirror, and He waited with
impatience for the approach of midnight.



The crickets sing, and Man's o'er-laboured sense
Repairs itself by rest: Our Tarquin thus
Did softly press the rushes, ere He wakened
The chastity He wounded--Cytherea,
How bravely thou becom'st thy bed! Fresh Lily!
And whiter than the sheets!

All the researches of the Marquis de las Cisternas proved vain:
Agnes was lost to him for ever. Despair produced so violent an
effect upon his constitution, that the consequence was a long and
severe illness. This prevented him from visiting Elvira as He
had intended; and She being ignorant of the cause of his neglect,
it gave her no trifling uneasiness. His Sister's death had
prevented Lorenzo from communicating to his Uncle his designs
respecting Antonia: The injunctions of her Mother forbad his
presenting himself to her without the Duke's consent; and as She
heard no more of him or his proposals, Elvira conjectured that He
had either met with a better match, or had been commanded to give
up all thoughts of her Daughter. Every day made her more uneasy
respecting Antonia's fate: While She retained the Abbot's
protection, She bore with fortitude the disappointment of her
hopes with regard to Lorenzo and the Marquis. That resource now
failed her. She was convinced that Ambrosio had meditated her
Daughter's ruin: And when She reflected that her death would
leave Antonia friendless and unprotected in a world so base, so
perfidious and depraved, her heart swelled with the bitterness of
apprehension. At such times She would sit for hours gazing upon
the lovely Girl; and seeming to listen to her innocent prattle,
while in reality her thoughts dwelt upon the sorrows into which
a moment would suffice to plunge her. Then She would clasp her
in her arms suddenly, lean her head upon her Daughter's bosom,
and bedew it with her tears.

An event was in preparation which, had She known it, would have
relieved her from her inquietude. Lorenzo now waited only for a
favourable opportunity to inform the Duke of his intended
marriage: However, a circumstance which occurred at this period,
obliged him to delay his explanation for a few days longer.

Don Raymond's malady seemed to gain ground. Lorenzo was
constantly at his bedside, and treated him with a tenderness
truly fraternal. Both the cause and effects of the disorder were
highly afflicting to the Brother of Agnes: yet Theodore's grief
was scarcely less sincere. That amiable Boy quitted not his
Master for a moment, and put every means in practice to console
and alleviate his sufferings. The Marquis had conceived so
rooted an affection for his deceased Mistress, that it was
evident to all that He never could survive her loss: Nothing
could have prevented him from sinking under his grief but the
persuasion of her being still alive, and in need of his
assistance. Though convinced of its falsehood, his Attendants
encouraged him in a belief which formed his only comfort. He
was assured daily that fresh perquisitions were making
respecting the fate of Agnes: Stories were invented recounting
the various attempts made to get admittance into the Convent; and
circumstances were related which, though they did not promise her
absolute recovery, at least were sufficient to keep his hopes
alive. The Marquis constantly fell into the most terrible excess
of passion when informed of the failure of these supposed
attempts. Still He would not credit that the succeeding ones
would have the same fate, but flattered himself that the next
would prove more fortunate.

Theodore was the only one who exerted himself to realize his
Master's Chimoeras. He was eternally busied in planning schemes
for entering the Convent, or at least of obtaining from the Nuns
some intelligence of Agnes. To execute these schemes was the
only inducement which could prevail on him to quit Don Raymond.
He became a very Proteus, changing his shape every day; but all
his metamorphoses were to very little purpose: He regularly
returned to the Palace de las Cisternas without any intelligence
to confirm his Master's hopes. One day He took it into his head
to disguise himself as a Beggar. He put a patch over his left
eye, took his Guitar in hand, and posted himself at the Gate of
the Convent.

'If Agnes is really confined in the Convent,' thought He, 'and
hears my voice, She will recollect it, and possibly may find
means to let me know that She is here.'

With this idea He mingled with a crowd of Beggars who assembled
daily at the Gate of St. Clare to receive Soup, which the Nuns
were accustomed to distribute at twelve o'clock. All were
provided with jugs or bowls to carry it away; But as Theodore had
no utensil of this kind, He begged leave to eat his portion at
the Convent door. This was granted without difficulty: His
sweet voice, and in spite of his patched eye, his engaging
countenance, won the heart of the good old Porteress, who, aided
by a Lay-Sister, was busied in serving to each his Mess.
Theodore was bad to stay till the Others should depart, and
promised that his request should then be granted. The Youth
desired no better, since it was not to eat Soup that He presented
himself at the Convent. He thanked the Porteress for her
permission, retired from the Door, and seating himself upon a
large stone, amused himself in tuning his Guitar while the
Beggars were served.

As soon as the Crowd was gone, Theodore was beckoned to the Gate,
and desired to come in. He obeyed with infinite readiness, but
affected great respect at passing the hallowed Threshold, and to
be much daunted by the presence of the Reverend Ladies. His
feigned timidity flattered the vanity of the Nuns, who
endeavoured to reassure him. The Porteress took him into her
awn little Parlour: In the meanwhile, the Lay-Sister went to
the Kitchen, and soon returned with a double portion of Soup, of
better quality than what was given to the Beggars. His Hostess
added some fruits and confections from her own private store, and
Both encouraged the Youth to dine heartily. To all these
attentions He replied with much seeming gratitude, and abundance
of blessings upon his benefactresses. While He ate, the Nuns
admired the delicacy of his features, the beauty of his hair, and
the sweetness and grace which accompanied all his actions. They
lamented to each other in whispers, that so charming a Youth
should be exposed to the seductions of the World, and agreed,
that He would be a worthy Pillar of the Catholic Church. They
concluded their conference by resolving that Heaven would be
rendered a real service if they entreated the Prioress to
intercede with Ambrosio for the Beggar's admission into the order
of Capuchins.

This being determined, the Porteress, who was a person of great
influence in the Convent, posted away in all haste to the
Domina's Cell. Here She made so flaming a narrative of
Theodore's merits that the old Lady grew curious to see him.
Accordingly, the Porteress was commissioned to convey him to the
Parlour grate. In the interim, the supposed Beggar was sifting
the Lay-Sister with respect to the fate of Agnes: Her evidence
only corroborated the Domina's assertions. She said that Agnes
had been taken ill on returning from confession, had never
quitted her bed from that moment, and that She had herself been
present at the Funeral. She even attested having seen her dead
body, and assisted with her own hands in adjusting it upon the
Bier. This account discouraged Theodore: Yet as He had pushed
the adventure so far, He resolved to witness its conclusion.

The Porteress now returned, and ordered him to follow her. He
obeyed, and was conducted into the Parlour, where the Lady
Prioress was already posted at the Grate. The Nuns surrounded
her, who all flocked with eagerness to a scene which promised
some diversion. Theodore saluted them with profound respect, and
his presence had the power to smooth for a moment even the stern
brow of the Superior. She asked several questions respecting his
Parents, his religion, and what had reduced him to a state of
Beggary. To these demands his answers were perfectly
satisfactory and perfectly false. He was then asked his opinion
of a monastic life: He replied in terms of high estimation and
respect for it. Upon this, the Prioress told him that his
obtaining an entrance into a religious order was not impossible;

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