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with instant death if he does not withdraw. The astonished youth retires, musing on this strange scene. His curiosity is awakened, and he learns part of Falkland's history from an old confidential steward—how that his master was once the gayest of the gay, and had achieved honour and fame abroad, till on his return he was persecuted with a malignant destiny. His nearest neighbour, Tyrrel, a man of estate equal to his own, but of coarse and violent mind and temper, became jealous of Falkland's superior talents and accomplishments, and conceived a deadly enmity at him. The series of events detailing the progress of this mutual hatred —particularly the episode of Miss Melville—is developed with great skill, but all is creditable to the high-minded and chivalrous Falkland. The conduct of Tyrrel becomes at length so atrocious, that the country gentlemen shun his society. He intrudes himself, however, into a rural assembly, an altercation ensues, and Falkland indignantly upbraids him, and bids him begone. Amidst the hootings and reproaches of the assembly, Tyrrel retires, but soon returns inflamed with liquor, and with one blow of his muscular arm levels Falkland to the ground. His violence is repeated, till he is again forced to retreat. This complication of ignominy, base, humiliating, and public, stung the proud and sensitive Falkland to the soul: he left the room; but one other event closed the transactions of that memorable evening–Tyrrel was found dead in the street, having been murdered—stabbed with a knife —at the distance of a few yards from the assembly house. From this crisis in Falkland's history commenced his gloomy and unsociable melancholy —life became a burden to him. A private investigation was made into the circumstances of the murder; but Falkland, after a lofty and eloquent denial of all knowledge of the crime, was discharged with every circumstance of honour, and amidst the plaudits of the people. A few weeks afterwards, a peasant, named Hawkins, and his son were taken up on some slight suspicion, tried, condemned, and executed for the murder. Justice was satisfied, but a deepening gloom had settled on the solitary Falkland. Williams heard all this, and joined in pitying the noble sufferer; but the question occurred to him, —was it possible, after all, that his master should be the murderer? The idea took entire possession of his mind. He determined to place himself as a watch upon Falkland—a perpetual stimulus urged him on. Circumstances, also, were constantly occurring to feed his morbid inquisitiveness. At length a fire broke out in the house during Falkland's absence, and Williams was led to the room containing the mysterious trunk. With the energy of uncontrollable passion he forced it open, and was in the act of lifting up the lid, when Falkland entered, wild, breathless, and distraction in his looks. The first act of the infuriate master was to present a pistol at the head of the youth, but he instantly changed his resolution, and ordered him to withdraw. Next day Falkland disclosed the secret. “I am the blackest of villains; I am the murderer of Tyrrel; I am the assassin of the Hawkinses!' He made Williams swear never to disclose the secret, on pain of death or worse. “I am, said Falkland, ‘as much the fool of fame as ever; I cling to it as my last breath: though I be the blackest of villains, I will leave behind me a spotless and illustrious name: there is no crime so malignant, no scene of blood so horrible, in which that object cannot engage me. Williams took the oath and submitted. His spirit, however, revolted at the servile submission that : required of him, and in time he escaped *
from the house. He was speedily taken, and accused at the instance of Falkland of abstracting valuable property from the trunk he had forced open on the day of the fire. He was cast into prison. The interior of the prison, and its wretched inmates, are then described with great minuteness. Williams, to whom the confinement became intolerable, escaped. He is first robbed and then sheltered by a band of robbers—he is forced to flee for his life—assumes different disguises—is again in prison, and again escapes; but misery and injustice meet him at every step. He had innocently fastened on himself a second enemy, a villain named Gines, who from a highwayman had become a thief-taker; and the incessant exertions of this fellow, tracking him from place to place like a blood-hound, are related with uncommon spirit and effect. The whole of these adventures possess an enchaining interest, and cannot be perused without breathless anxiety. The innocence of Williams, and the manifestations of his character—artless, buoyant, and fast maturing under this stern discipline-irresistibly attract and carry forward the reader. The connection of Falkland and Williams is at last wound up in one scene of overpowering interest, in which the latter comes forward publicly as the accuser of his former master. The place is the hall of a magistrate of the metropolitan town of Falkland's county.
[Concluding Scene of Caleb Williams.]
I can conceive of no shock greater than that I received from the sight of Mr Falkland. His appearance on the last occasion on which we met had been haggard, ghostlike, and wild, energy in his gestures, and frenzy in his aspect. It was now the appearance of a corpse. He was brought in in a chair, unable to stand, fatigued and almost destroyed by the journey he had just taken. His visage was colourless; his limbs destitute of motion, almost of life. His head reclined upon his bosom, except that now and then he lifted it up, and opened his eyes with a languid glance, immediately after which he sank back into his former apparent insensibility. He seemed not to have three hours to live. He had kept his chamber for several weeks, but the summons of the magistrate had been delivered to him at his bedside, his orders respecting letters and written papers being so peremptory that no one dared to disobey them. Upon reading the paper, he was seized with a very dangerous fit; but as soon as he recovered, he insisted upon being conveyed, with all practicable expedition, to the place of appointment. Falkland, in the most helpless state, was still Falkland, firm in command, and capable to extort obedience from every one that approached him.
What a sight was this to me! * * Here was Falkland, solemnly brought before a magistrate to answer to a charge of murder. Here I stood, having already declared myself the author of the charge, gravely and sacredly pledged to support it. This was my situation; and thus situated I was called upon immediately to act. My whole frame shook. I would eagerly have consented that that moment should have been the last of my existence. I, however, believed that the conduct now most indispensably incumbent on me was to lay the emotions of my soul naked before my hearers. I looked first at Mr Falkland, and then at the magistrate and attendants, and then at Mr Falkland again. My voice was suffocated with agony. I began: ‘Would to God it were possible for me to retire from this scene without uttering another word : I would brave the consequences—I would submit to any imputation of cowardice, falsehood, and profligacy, rather than add to the weight of misfortune with which Mr Falkland is overwhelmed. But the situation, and
the demands of Mr Falkland himself, forbid me. He in compassion for whose fallen state I would willingly forget every interest of my own, would compel me to accuse, that he might enter upon his justification. I will confess every sentiment of my heart. Mr Falkland well knows—I affirm it in his presence—how unwillingly I have proceeded to this extremity. I have reverenced him; he was worthy of reverence. From the first moment I saw him, I conceived the most ardent admiration. He condescended to encourage me; I attached myself to him with the fulness of affection. He was unhappy; I exerted myself with youthful curiosity to discover the secret of his woe. This was the beginning of misfortune. What shall I say? He was indeed the murderer of Tyrrel ! He suffered the Hawkinses to be executed, knowing that they were innocent, and that he alone was guilty! After successive surmises, after various indiscretions on my part, and indications on his, he at length confided to me at full the fatal tale! Mr Falkland! I most solemnly conjure you to recollect yourself! Did I ever prove myself unworthy of your confidence? The secret was a most painful burden to me: it was the extremest folly that led me unthinkingly to gain possession of it; but I would have died a thousand deaths rather than betray it. It was the jealousy of your own thoughts, and the weight that hung upon your mind, that led you to watch my motions, and conceive alarm from every particle of my conduct. You began in confidence—why did you not continue in confidence? The evil that resulted from my original imprudence would then have been comparatively little. You threatened me: did I then betray you? A word from my lips at that time would have freed me from your threats for ever. I bore them for a considerable period, and at last quitted your service, and threw myself a fugitive upon the world, in silence. Why did you not suffer me to depart? You brought me back by stratagem and violence, and wantonly accused me of an enormous felony? Did I then mention a syllable of the murder, the secret of which was in my possession? Where is the man that has suffered more from the injustice of society than I have done? I was accused of a villainy that my heart abhorred. I was sent to jail. I will not enumerate the horrors of my prison, the lightest of which would make the heart of humanity shudder. I looked forward to the gallows! Young, ambitious, fond of life, innocent as the child unborn, I looked forward to the gallows. I believed that one word of resolute accusation against my patron would deliver me: yet I was silent; I armed myself with patience, uncertain whether it were better to accuse or to die. Did this shew me a man unworthy to be trusted? I determined to break out of prison. With infinite difficulty, and repeated miscarriages, I at length effected my purpose. Instantly a proclamation, with a hundred guineas' reward, was issued for apprehending me. I was obliged to take shelter among the refuse of mankind, in the midst of a gang of thieves. I encountered the most imminent peril of my life when I entered this retreat, and when I quitted it. Immediately after, I travelled almost the whole length of the kingdom, in poverty and distress, in hourly danger of being retaken and manacled like a felon. I would have fled my country; I was prevented. I had recourse to various disguises; I was innocent, and yet was compelled to as many arts and subterfuges as could have been entailed on the worst of villains. In London I was as much harassed, and as repeatedly alarmed, as I had been in my flight through the country. Did all these persecutions persuade me to put an end to my silence? No: I suffered them with patience and submission; I did not make one attempt to retort them upon their author. I fell at last into the hands of the miscreants. In this terrible situation I, for the first time, attempted, by turning informer, to throw the weight from myself. Happily for me, the London
magistrate listened to my tale with insolent contempt. I soon, and long, repented of my rashness, and rejoiced in my miscarriage. I acknowledged that in various ways Mr Falkland shewed humanity towards me during this period. He would have prevented my going to prison at first; he contributed to my subsistence during my detention; he had no share in the pursuit that had been set on foot against me: he at length procured my discharge when brought forward for trial. But a great part of his forbearance was unknown to me; I supposed him to be my unrelenting pursuer. I could not forget that, whoever heaped calamities on me in the sequel, they all originated in his forged accusation. The prosecution against me for felony was now at an end. Why were not my sufferings permitted to terminate then, and I allowed to hide my weary head in some obscure yet tranquil retreat? Had I not sufficiently proved my constancy and fidelity? Would not a compromise in this situation have been most wise and most secure? But the restless and jealous anxiety of Mr Falkland would not permit him to repose the least atom of confidence. The only compromise that he proposed was, that, with my own hand, I should sign myself a villain. I refused this proposal, and have ever since been driven from place to place, deprived of peace, of honest fame, even of bread. For a long time I persisted in the resolution that no emergency should convert me into the assailant. In an evil hour I at last listened to my resentment and impatience, and the hateful mistake into which I fell has produced the present scene. I now see that mistake in all its enormity. I am sure that if I had opened my heart to Mr Falkland, if I had told to him privately the tale that I have now been telling, he could not have resisted my reasonable demand. After all his precautions, he must ultimately have depended upon my forbearance. Could he be sure, that if I were at last worked up to disclose everything I knew, and to enforce it with all the energy I could exert, I should obtain no credit? If he must in every case be at my mercy, in which mode ought he to have sought his safety-in conciliation, or in inexorable cruelty? Mr Falkland is of a noble nature. Yes! in spite of the catastrophe of Tyrrel, of the miserable end of the Hawkinses, and of all that I have myself suffered, I affirm that he has qualities of the most admirable kind. It is therefore impossible that he could have resisted a frank and fervent expostulation, the frankness and the fervour in which the whole soul was poured out. I despaired while it was yet time to have made the just experiment; but my despair was criminal, was treason against the sovereignty of truth. I have told a plain and unadulterated tale. I came hither to curse, but I remain to bless. I came to accuse, but am compelled to applaud. I proclaim to all the world that Mr Falkland is a man worthy of affection and kindness, and that I am myself the basest and most odious of mankind | Never will I forgive myself the iniquity of this day. The memory will always haunt me, and imbitter every hour of my existence. In thus acting, I have been a murderer—a cool, deliberate, unfeeling murderer. I have said what my accursed precipitation has obliged me to say. Do with me as you please. I ask no favour. Death would be a kindness compared to what I feel !” Such were the accents dictated by my remorse. I poured them out with uncontrollable impetuosity, for my heart was pierced, and I was compelled to give vent to its anguish. Every one that heard me was petrified with astonishment. Every one that heard me was melted into tears. They could not resist the ardour with which I praised the great qualities of Falkland; they manifested their sympathy in the tokens of my penitence. How shall I describe the feelings of this unfortunate man? Before Ibegan, he seemed sunk and debilitated, in
capable of any strenuous impression. When I mentioned the murder, I could perceive in him an involuntary shuddering, though it was counteracted, partly by the feebleness of his frame, and partly by the energy of his mind. This was an allegation he expected, and he had endeavoured to prepare himself for it. But there was much of what I said of which he had had no previous conception. When I expressed the anguish of my mind, he seemed at first startled and alarmed, lest this should be a new expedient to gain credit to my tale. His indignation against me was great for having retained all my resentment towards him, thus, as it might be, in the last hour of his existence. It was increased when he discovered me, as he supposed, using a pretence of liberality and sentiment to give new edge to my hostility. But as I went on, he could no longer resist. He saw my sincerity; he was penetrated with my grief and compunction. He rose from his seat, supported by the attendants, and—to my infinite astonishmentthrew himself into my arms! ‘Williams, said he, “you have conquered ! I see too late the greatness and elevation of your mind. I confess that it is to my fault, and not yours, that it is to the excess of jealousy that was ever burning in my bosom that I owe my ruin. I could have resisted any plan of malicious accusation you might have brought against me. But I see that the artless and manly story you have told, has carried conviction to every hearer. All my prospects are concluded. All that I most ardently desired is for ever frustrated. I have spent a life of the basest cruelty to cover one act of momentary vice, and to protect myself against the prejudices of my species. I stand now completely detected. My name will be consecrated to infamy, while your heroism, your patience, and your virtues, will be for ever admired. You have inflicted on me the most fatal of all mischiefs, but I bless the hand that wounds me. And now’— turning to the magistrate—‘and now do with me as you please. I am prepared to suffer all the vengeance of the law. You cannot inflict on me more than I deserve. You cannot hate me more than I hate myself. I am the most execrable of all villains. I have for many years—I know not how long—dragged on a miserable existence in insupportable pain. I am at last, in recompense for all my labours and my crimes, dismissed from it with the disappointment of my only remaining hope, the destruction of that for the sake of which alone I consented to exist. It was worthy of such a life that it should continue just long enough to witness this final overthrow. If, however, you wish to punish me, you must be speedy in your justice; for as reputation was the blood that warmed my heart, so I feel that death and infamy must seize me together !’ I record the praises bestowed on me by Falkland, not because I deserve them, but because they serve to aggravate the baseness of my cruelty. He survived but three days this dreadful scene. I have been his murderer. It was fit that he should praise my patience, who has fallen a victim, life and fame, to my precipitation . It would have been merciful, in comparison, if I had planted a dagger in his heart. He would have thanked me for my kindness. But atrocious, execrable wretch that I have been, I wantonly inflicted on him an anguish a thousand times worse than death. Meanwhile I endure the penalty of my crime. His figure is ever in imagination before me. Waking or sleeping, I still behold him. He seems mildly to expostulate with me for my unfeeling behaviour. I live the devoted victim of conscious reproach. Alas! I am the same Caleb Williams that so short a time ago boasted that, however great were the calamities I endured, I was still innocent. Such has been the result of a project I formed for delivering myself from the evils that had so long attended me. I thought that if Falkland were dead, I should return once again to all that makes life worth possessing: ... I thought that if the guilt of Falkland were:ablished, fortune and the world would smile
upon my efforts. Both these events are accomplished, and it is now only that I am truly miserable. Why should my reflections perpetually centre upon myself?—self, an overweening regard to which has been the source of my errors | Falkland, I will think only of thee, and from that thought will draw ever-fresh nourishment for my sorrows! One generous, one disinterested tear, I will consecrate to thy ashes! A nobler spirit lived not among the sons of men. Thy intellectual powers were truly sublime, and thy bosom burned with a godlike ambition. But of what use are talents and sentiments in the corrupt wilderness of human society? It is a rank and rotten soil, from which every finer shrub draws poison as it grows. All that, in a happier field and a purer air, would expand into virtue and germinate into usefulness, is thus converted into henbane and deadly nightshade.
Sir Walter Scott has objected to what may be termed the master-incident in Caleb Williams, and calls it an instance of the author's coarseness and bad taste; namely, that a gentleman passionately addicted to the manners of ancient chivalry should become a midnight assassin when an honourable revenge was in his power. Mr Godwin might have defended himself by citing the illustrious critic's own example: the forgery by Marmion is less consistent with the manners of chivalry than the assassination by Falkland. Without the latter, the novel could have had little interest—it is the keystone of the arch. Nor does it appear so unsuited to the character of the hero, who, though smit with a romantic love of fame and honour, is supposed to have lived in modern times, and has been wound up to a pitch of frenzy by the public brutality of Tyrrel. The deed was instantaneousthe knife, he says, fell in his way. There was no time for reflection, nor was Tyrrel a person whom he could think of meeting on equal terms in open combat. He was a noisome pest and nuisance, despatched in a moment of fury by one whom he had injured, insulted, and trampled upon, solely because of his worth and his intellectual superiority.
We have incidentally alluded to the other novels of Godwin. St Leon will probably descend to posterity in company with Caleb Williams, but we cannot conceive that a torso of any of the others will be preserved. They have all a strong family likeness. What Dugald Stewart supposed of human invention generally, that it was limited, like a barrel-organ, to a specific number of tunes, is strictly true of Mr Godwin's fictions. In St Leon, however, we have a romantic story with much fine writing. Setting aside the “incredible’ conception on which it proceeds, we find the subordinate incidents natural and justly proportioned. The possessor of the philosopher's-stone is an interesting visionary—a French Falkland of the sixteenth century, and as unfortunate, for his miraculous gifts entail but misery on himself, and bring ruin to his family. Even exhaustless wealth is in itself no blessing; and this is the moral of the story. The adventures of the hero, both warlike and domestic, are related with much gorgeousness and amplitude. The character of the heroic Marguerite, the wife of Leon, is one of the author's finest delineations. Bethlem Gabor is also a vigorous and striking sketch, though introduced too late in the novel to relieve the flagging interest after the death of Marguerite. The thunder-storm which destroys the property of Leon is described with great power and vividness; and his early distresses and losses at the gaming-table are also in the author's best manner. The scene may be said to shift too often, and the want of fortitude and energy in the character of the hero lessens our sympathy for his reverses. At the same time his tenderness and affection as a husband and father are inexpressibly touching, when we see them, in consequence of his strange destiny, lead to the ruin of those for whom alone he wishes to live. ‘How minute, says one of Godwin's critics, “how pathetic, how tragical is the detail of the gradual ruin which falls on this weak devoted man, up to its heart-breaking consummation in the death of the noble Marguerite de Damville! how tremendous and perfect is his desolation after voluntarily leaving his daughters, and cutting the last thread which binds him to his kind! “I saw my dear children set forward on their journey, and I knew not that I should ever behold them more. I was determined never to see them again to their injury, and I could not take to myself the consolation, on such a day, in such a month, or even after such a lapse of years, I will again have the joy to embrace them. In a little while they were out of sight, and I was alone.” How complete is the description of his escape from the procession to the auto defe; of his entrance into the Jew's house; his fears; his decaying strength just serving to make up the life-restoring elixir; the dying taper; the insensibility; the resurrection to new life, and the day-spring of his young manhood: How shall we speak of the old man, the bequeather of the fatal legacy to St Leon, and his few fearful words, “Friendless, friendless—alone, alone!” Alas! how terrible to imagine a being in possession of such endowments, who could bring himself to think of death! able to turn back upon his path, and meet immortal youth, to see again the morning of his day, and find in fresh renewed life and beauty a disguise impenetrable to his former enemies, yet, in the sadness of his experience, so dreading the mistakes and persecution of his fellowmen, as to choose rather to lie down with the worm, and seek oblivion in the seats of rottenness and corruption.”
[St Leon's Escape from the Auto de Fé.]
[St Leon is imprisoned by the Inquisition on suspicion of exercising the powers of necromancy, and is carried with other prisoners to feed the flames at an auto de fé at Valladolid.]
Our progress to Walladolid was slow and solemn, and occupied a space of no less than four days. On the evening of the fourth day we approached that city. The king and his court came out to meet us; he saluted the inquisitor-general with all the demonstrations of the deepest submission and humility; and then having yielded him the place of honour, turned round his horse, and accompanied us back to Walladolid. The cavalcade that attended the king broke into two files, and received us in the midst of them. The whole city seemed to empty itself on this memorable occasion, and the multitudes that crowded along the road, and were scattered in the neighbouring fields, were innumerable. The day was now closed, and the procession went forward amidst the light of a thousand torches. We, the condemned of the Inquisition, had been conducted from the metropolis upon tumbrils; but as we arrived at the gates of Walladolid, we were commanded, for the greater humiliation, to alight and proceed on foot to the place of our confinement, as many as could not walk without assistance being supported by the attendants. We were neither chained nor bound; the practice of the Inquisition being to deliver the condemned upon such occasions into the hands of two sureties each, who placed their charge in the middle between them; and men of the
* Criticism prefixed to Bentley's Standard Novels-Caleb Williams.
most respectable characters were accustomed, from religious motives, to sue for this melancholy office. Dejected and despairing I entered the streets of the city, no object present to the eyes of my mind but that of my approaching execution. The crowd was vast, the confusion inexpressible. As we passed by the end of a narrow lane, the horse of one of the guards, who rode exactly in a line with me, plunged and reared in a violent manner, and at length threw his rider upon the pavement. Others of the horse-guards attempted to catch the bridle of the enraged animal; they rushed against each other; several of the crowd were thrown down, and trampled under the horses' feet. The shrieks of these, and the loud cries and exclamations of the bystanders mingled in confused and discordant chorus; no sound, no object could be distinguished. From the excess of the tumult, a sudden thought darted into my mind, where all, an instant before, had been relaxation and despair. Two or three of the horses pushed forward in a particular direction; a moment after, they re-filed with equal violence, and left a wide but transitory gap. My project was no sooner conceived than executed. Weak as I had just now felt myself, a supernatural tide of strength seemed to come over me; I sprung away with all imaginable impetuosity, and rushed down the lane I have just mentioned. Every one amidst the confusion was attentive to his personal safety, and several minutes elapsed before I was missed. In the lane everything was silent, and the darkness was extreme. Man, woman, and child, were gone out to view the procession. For some time I could scarcely distinguish a single object; the doors and windows were all closed. I now chanced to come to an open door; within I saw no one but an old man, who was busy over some metallic work at a chafing-dish of fire. I had no room for choice; I expected every moment to hear the myrmidons of the Inquisition at my heels. I rushed in; I impetuously closed the door, and bolted it; I then seized the old man by the collar of his shirt with a determined grasp, and swore vehemently that I would annihilate him that instant if he did not consent to afford me assistance. Though for some time I had perhaps been feebler than he, the terror that now drove me on rendered me comparatively a giant. He entreated me to permit him to breathe, and promised to do whatever I should desire. I looked round the apartment, and saw a rapier hanging against the wall, of which I instantly proceeded to make myself master. While I was doing this, my involuntary host, who was extremely terrified at my procedure, nimbly attempted to slip by me and rush into the street. With difficulty I caught hold of his arm, and pulling him back, put the point of my rapier to his breast, solemnly assuring him that no consideration on earth should save him from my fury if he attempted to escape a second time. He immediately dropped on his knees, and with the most piteous accents entreated me to spare his life. I told him that I was no robber, that I did not intend him the slightest harm; and that, if he would implicitly yield to my direction, he might assure himself he never should have reason to repent his compliance. By this declaration the terrors of the old man were somewhat appeased. I took the opportunity of this calm to go to the street door, which I instantly locked, and put the key in my bosom. * * We were still engaged in discussing the topics I have mentioned, when I was suddenly alarmed by the noise of some one stirring in the inner apartment. I had looked into this room, and had perceived nothing but the bed upon which the old man nightly reposed himself. I sprung up, however, at the sound, and perceiving that the door had a bolt on the outside, I eagerly fastened it. I then turned to Mordecai—that was the name of my host : “Wretch, said I, ‘did not you assure me that there was no one but yourself in the house?’ ‘Oh,' cried Mordecai, “it is my child! it is my child! she went into the inner apartment, and has fallen *: the bed. “Beware, I answered; “the slightest falsehood more shall instantly be expiated in your blood. “I call Abraham to witness, rejoined the once more terrified Jew, “it is my child ! only my child !’ ‘Tell me, cried I, with severity of accent, ‘how old is this child?’ ‘Only five years, said Mordecai : “my dear Leah died when she was a year old, and though we had several children, this single one has survived her. “Speak to your child: let me hear her voice ' He spoke to her; and she answered, “Father, I want to come out.' I was satisfied it was the voice of a little girl. I turned to the Jew: ‘Take care, said I, ‘how you deceive me now; is there no other person in that room?' He imprecated a curse on himself if there were. I opened the door with caution, and the little girl came forward. As soon as I saw her, I seized her with a rapid motion, and returned to my chair. ‘Man, said I, ‘you have trifled with me too rashly; you have not considered what I am escaped from, and what I have to fear; from this moment this child shall be the pledge of my safety; I will not part with her an instant as long as I remain in your house; and with this rapier in my hand, I will pierce her to the heart the moment I am led to imagine that I am no longer in safety. The Jew trembled at my resolution; the emotions of a father worked in his features and glistened in his eye. “At least let me kiss her, said he. ‘Be it so, replied I: ‘one embrace, and then, till the dawn of the coming day, she remains with me.' I released my hold; the child rushed to her father, and he caught her in his arms. ‘My dear Leah, cried Mordecai, now a sainted spirit in the bosom of our father Abraham ! I call God to witness between us, that, if all my caution and vigilance can prevent it, not a hair of this child shall be injured ! Stranger, you little know by how strong a motive you have now engaged me to your cause. We poor Jews, hunted on the face of the earth, the abhorrence and execration of mankind, have nothing but family affections to support, us under our multiplied disgraces; and family affections are entwined with our existence, the fondest and best loved part of ourselves. The God of Abraham bless you, my child ! Now, sir, speak! what is it you require of me?’ I told the Jew that I must have a suit of clothes conformable to the appearance of a Spanish cavalier, and certain medical ingredients that I named to him, together with his chafing-dish of coals to prepare them; and that done, I would then impose on him no further trouble. Having received his instructions, he immediately set out to procure what I demanded. He took with him the key of the house; and as soon as he was gone, I retired with the child into the inner apartment, and fastened the door. At first I applied myself to tranquillise the child, who had been somewhat alarmed at what she had heard and seen: this was no very difficult task. She presently left me, to amuse herself with some playthings that lay scattered in a corner of the apartment. My heart was now comparatively at ease; I saw the powerful hold I had on the fidelity of the Jew, and firmly persuaded myself that I had no treachery to fear on his part. Thus circumstanced, the exertion and activity with which I had lately been imbued left me, and I insensibly sunk into a sort of slumber. * * Now for the first time I was at leisure to attend to the state of my strength and my health. My confinement in the Inquisition, and the treatment I had experienced, had before rendered me feeble and almost helpless; but these appeared to be circumstances scarcely worthy of attention in the situation in which I was then placed. The impulse I felt in the midst of the confusion in the grand street of Walladolid, produced in me an energy and power of exertion which nothing but the actual experience of the fact could have persuaded me was possible. This energy, once begun, *: to have the faculty of prolonging itself, and
I did not relapse into imbecility till the occasion seemed to be exhausted which called for my exertion. I examined myself by a mirror with which Mordecai furnished me; I found my hair as white as snow, and my face ploughed with a thousand furrows. I was now fifty-four, an age which, with moderate exercise and a vigorous constitution, often appears like the prime of human existence; but whoever had looked upon me in my present condition, would not have doubted to affirm that I had reached the eightieth year of my age. I examined with dispassionate remark the state of my intellect: I was persuaded that it had subsided into childishness. My mind had been as much cribbed and immured as my body. I was the mere shadow of a man, of no more power and worth than that which a magic lantern produces upon a wall. These are thy works, superstition I this the genuine and proper operation of what is called Christianity! Let the reader judge of what I had passed through and known within those cursed walls by the effects; I have already refused, I continue to refuse, to tell how those effects were produced. Enough of compassion; enough of complaint; I will confine myself, as far as I am able, to simple history. * * * *
I was now once again alone. The little girl, who had been unusually disturbed and roused at an unseasonable hour, sunk into a profound sleep. I heard the noise which Mordecai made in undressing himself, and composing his limbs upon a mattress which he had dragged for the present occasion into the front room, and spread before the hearth. I soon found by the hardness of his breathing that he also was asleep. I unfolded the papers he had brought me; they consisted of various medical ingredients I had directed him to procure; there were also two or three vials containing sirups and essences. I had near me a pair of scales with which to weigh my ingredients, a vessel of water, the chafingdish of my host in which the fire was nearly extinguished, and a small taper, with some charcoal to re-light the fire in case of necessity. While I was occupied in surveying these articles and arranging my materials, a sort of torpor came suddenly over me, so as to allow me no time for resistance. I sunk upon the bed. I remained thus for about half-an-hour, seemingly without the power of collecting my thoughts. At length I started, felt alarmed, and applied my utmost force of mind to rouse my exertions. While I drove, or attempted to drive, my animal spirits from limb to limb, and from part to part, as if to inquire into the general condition of my frame, I became convinced that I was dying. Let not the reader be surprised at this; twelve years' imprisonment in a narrow and unwholesome cell may well account for so sudden a catastrophe. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, I believe it will be found in the experiment, that the calm and security which succeed to great internal injuries are more dangerous than the pangs and hardships that went before. I was now thoroughly alarmed; I applied myself with all vigilance and expedition to the compounding my materials. The fire was gone out; the taper was glimmering in the socket: to swallow the julep, when I had prepared it, seemed to be the last effort of which my organs and muscles were capable. It was the elixir of immortality, exactly made up according to the prescription of the stranger.
Whether from the potency of the medicine or the effect of imagination, I felt revived the moment I had swallowed it. I placed myself deliberately in Mordecai's bed, and drew over me the bed-clothes. I fell asleep almost instantly. * *
My sleep was not long: in a few hours I awaked. With difficulty I recognised the objects about me, and recollected where I had been. It seemed to me that my heart had never beat so vigorously, nor my spirits flowed so gay. I was all elasticity and life; I could scarcely hold myself quiet; I felt impelled to bound and leap