Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 347, September, 1844
Author: Various
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"No, no. Tell us!" repeated twenty voices.

"You don't know?" said Bob, with a fine oratorical movement. "I'll tell you then. They've been a-sendin' clothes, powder, rifles, flour, and whisky to the Creeks! Two full shiploads have they sent. Here it is!" yelled Bob, taking another paper from his pocket, and dashing it upon the table.{E}

A breathless silence reigned during the reading of the important paragraph, while Richards and myself were making almost superhuman efforts to restrain our laughter. Bob continued—

"You see, men, they want to get the scalpin' plunderin' thieves back ag'in over the Mississippi into Georgia—ay, and perhaps into Alabama too. And they're holdin' meetin's and assemblies in their favour, and say that we owe our independence to these Creeks; and talk about their chiefs—one Alexander the Great, and Pericles, and Plato, and suchlike names that we give our niggers. And the cussed Redskins are fightin' against another chief whom they call Sultan, and who lives upon Turk's island. Where shall we get our salt from now, I should like to know?"{F}

The storm that had been for some time brewing, now burst forth with a roar that shook the rafters of the log-built tavern. Although immeasurably tickled by Bob's speech, Richards and I had struggled successfully with our disposition to laugh. At this moment, however, a stifled giggling was heard behind us, which immediately attracted the attention of Bob and his friends. "A spy! a spy!" shouted they; and there was a sudden and general rush to the door, through which an unfortunate adherent of the opposite party had sneaked in to witness their proceedings. The poor devil was seized by a dozen hands, and dragged, neck and heel, before Bob's tribunal, to account for his intrusion. He set up a howl of terror, and probably pain, that immediately brought to his assistance a whole regiment of his friends, who were assembled in the adjacent tavern. A furious fight began, from which Richards and myself hastened to escape. We made our way into the kitchen, and thence into a court at the back of the house.

"Stop!" said a whispering voice, as we were groping about in the darkness; "you are close to a pool that would drown an ox. I guess you won't refuse my invitation now?"

It was no less a person than Mr Isaac Shifty; and we began to consider whether it would not really be better to put ourselves under his guidance. Indoors we could hear the fight raging furiously. We paused to think what was best to be done. Suddenly, to our great astonishment, the noise of the contest ceased, and was replaced by a dead silence. We hurried through the kitchen to the field of battle, and found that the charm which had so suddenly stilled the fury of an Alabamian election fight, was no other than the arrival of the constable and his assistants, who had suddenly appeared in the midst of the combatants. Their presence produced an effect which scarcely any amount of mere physical force would have been able to bring about; and a single summons in the name of the law to keep the peace, had caused the contending parties to separate—the intruding one retiring immediately to its own headquarters.

We passed a quiet and tolerably comfortable night, except that Bob thought proper to favour us with his society, so that we lay three in one bed. Before break of day he got up, and went away. Tired as we were, it was much later before we followed his example. Upon entering the common room of the tavern, we found it empty, but bearing pretty evident marks of the recent conflict. Chairs, benches, and tables, lay in splinters upon the floor, which was, moreover, plentifully sprinkled with fragments of broken jugs and glasses; and even the bar itself had not entirely escaped damage. On repairing to the stable, to pay Caesar a visit, I found my gig, to my no small mortification, plastered all over with election squibs—"Hurras for Bob Snags!" and the like; while poor Caesar's tail was shorn of every hair, as close and clean as if it had been first lathered and then shaved. Our breakfast, however, was excellent—the weather fine; and we set out upon our journey to Florence under decidedly more favourable auspices than those that attended us on the preceding day.


{A} There is no surer way of ascertaining the State from which an American comes, than by his thinkings and guessings. The New-Englander guesses, the Virginians and Pennsylvanians think, the Kentuckian calculates, the man of Alabama reckons.

{B} The Mussel shoals are broad ridges of rocks, above Florence, which spread out into the Tennessee.

{C} A corruption of Bourgogne, Burgundy wine.

{D} John Quincy Adams, then president of the United States.

{E} The Greeks, who at that time were struggling for their independence, had received various succours from the United States. The Creeks are a well-known tribe of Indians on the frontiers of Georgia.

{F} Turk's island is a small island from which the Western States, North and South Carolina, Georgia, &c., get their salt.


The most poetical chronicler would find it impossible to render the incidents of Montrose's brilliant career more picturesque than the reality. Among the devoted champions who, during the wildest and most stormy period of our history, maintained the cause of Church and King, "the Great Marquis" undoubtedly is entitled to the foremost place. Even party malevolence, by no means extinct at the present day, has been unable to detract from the eulogy pronounced upon him by the famous Cardinal de Retz, the friend of Conde and Turenne, when he thus summed up his character:—"Montrose, a Scottish nobleman, head of the house of Grahame—the only man in the world that has ever realized to me the ideas of certain heroes, whom we now discover nowhere but in the Lives of Plutarch—has sustained in his own country the cause of the King his master, with a greatness of soul that has not found its equal in our age."

But the success of the victorious leader and patriot, is almost thrown into the shade by the noble magnanimity and Christian heroism of the man in the hour of defeat and death. It is impossible now to obliterate the darkest page of Scottish history, which we owe to the vindictive cruelty of the Covenanters—a party venal in principle, pusillanimous in action, and more than dastardly in their revenge; but we can peruse it with the less disgust, since that very savage spirit which planned the woful scenes connected with the final tragedy of Montrose, has served to exhibit to the world, in all time to come, the character of the martyred nobleman in by far its loftiest light.

There is no ingredient of fiction in the historical incidents recorded in the following ballad. The indignities that were heaped upon Montrose during his procession through Edinburgh, his appearance before the Estates, and his last passage to the scaffold, as well as his undaunted bearing, have all been spoken to by eyewitnesses of the scene. A graphic and vivid sketch of the whole will be found in Mr Mark Napier's volume, "The Life and Times of Montrose"—a work as chivalrous in its tone as the Chronicles of Froissart, and abounding in original and most interesting materials; but, in order to satisfy all scruple, the authorities for each fact are given in the shape of notes. The ballad may be considered as a narrative of the transactions, related by an aged Highlander, who had followed Montrose throughout his campaigns, to his grandson, shortly before the splendid victory of Killiecrankie:—


Come hither, Evan Cameron, Come, stand beside my knee— I hear the river roaring down Towards the wintry sea. There's shouting on the mountain side, There's war within the blast— Old faces look upon me, Old forms go trooping past. I hear the pibroch wailing Amidst the din of fight, And my old spirit wakes again Upon the verge of night!


'Twas I that led the Highland host Through wild Lochaber's snows, What time the plaided clans came down To battle with Montrose. I've told thee how the Southrons fell Beneath the broad claymore, And how we smote the Campbell clan By Inverlochy's shore. I've told thee how we swept Dundee, And tamed the Lindsays' pride; But never have I told thee yet How the Great Marquis died!


A traitor sold him to his foes;{A} O deed of deathless shame! I charge thee, boy, if e'er thou meet With one of Assynt's name— Be it upon the mountain's side, Or yet within the glen, Stand he in martial gear alone, Or back'd by armed men— Face him, as thou would'st face the man Who wrong'd thy sire's renown; Remember of what blood thou art, And strike the caitiff down!


They brought him to the Watergate{B} Hard bound with hempen span, As though they held a lion there, And not a fenceless man. They set him high upon a cart— The hangman rode below— They drew his hands behind his back, And bared his lordly brow. Then, as a hound is slipp'd from leash, They cheer'd the common throng, And blew the note with yell and shout, And bade him pass along.


It would have made a brave man's heart Grow sad and sick that day, To watch the keen malignant eyes Bent down on that array. There stood the Whig west-country lords In balcony and bow, There sat their gaunt and wither'd dames, And their daughters all a-row; And every open window Was full as full might be, With black-robed Covenanting carles, That goodly sport to see!


But when he came, though pale and wan, He look'd so great and high,{C} So noble was his manly front, So calm his steadfast eye;— The rabble rout forbore to shout, And each man held his breath, For well they knew the hero's soul Was face to face with death. And then a mournful shudder Through all the people crept, And some that came to scoff at him, Now turn'd aside and wept.


But onwards—always onwards, In silence and in gloom, The dreary pageant labour'd, Till it reach'd the house of doom: But first a woman's voice was heard In jeer and laughter loud,{D} And an angry cry and a hiss arose From the heart of the tossing crowd: Then, as the Graeme look'd upwards, He caught the ugly smile Of him who sold his King for gold— The master-fiend Argyle!


The Marquis gazed a moment, And nothing did he say, But the cheek of Argyle grew ghastly pale, And he turn'd his eyes away. The painted harlot at his side, She shook through every limb, For a roar like thunder swept the street, And hands were clench'd at him, And a Saxon soldier cried aloud, "Back, coward, from thy place! For seven long years thou hast not dared To look him in the face."{E}


Had I been there with sword in hand And fifty Camerons by, That day through high Dunedin's streets Had peal'd the slogan cry. Not all their troops of trampling horse, Nor might of mailed men— Not all the rebels in the south Had borne us backwards then! Once more his foot on Highland heath Had stepp'd as free as air, Or I, and all who bore my name, Been laid around him there!


It might not be. They placed him next Within the solemn hall, Where once the Scottish Kings were throned Amidst their nobles all. But there was dust of vulgar feet On that polluted floor, And perjured traitors fill'd the place Where good men sate before. With savage glee came Warristoun{F} To read the murderous doom, And then uprose the great Montrose In the middle of the room.


"Now by my faith as belted knight, And by the name I bear, And by the red Saint Andrew's cross That waves above us there— Ay, by a greater, mightier oath— And oh, that such should be!— By that dark stream of royal blood That lies 'twixt you and me— I have not sought in battle field A wreath of such renown, Nor dared I hope, on my dying day, To win the martyr's crown!


"There is a chamber far away Where sleep the good and brave, But a better place ye have named for me Than by my father's grave. For truth and right, 'gainst treason's might, This hand has always striven, And ye raise it up for a witness still In the eye of earth and heaven. Then nail my head on yonder tower— Give every town a limb— And God who made shall gather them.— I go from you to Him!"{G}


The morning dawn'd full darkly, The rain came flashing down, And the jagged streak of the levin-bolt Lit up the gloomy town: The heavens were speaking out their wrath, The fatal hour was come, Yet ever sounded sullenly The trumpet and the drum. There was madness on the earth below, And anger in the sky, And young and old, and rich and poor, Came forth to see him die.


Ah, God! That ghastly gibbet! How dismal 'tis to see The great tall spectral skeleton, The ladder, and the tree! Hark! hark! It is the clash of arms— The bells begin to toll— He is coming! he is coming! God's mercy on his soul! One last long peal of thunder— The clouds are clear'd away, And the glorious sun once more looks down Amidst the dazzling day.


He is coming! he is coming! Like a bridegroom from his room,{H} Came the hero from his prison To the scaffold and the doom. There was glory on his forehead, There was lustre in his eye, And he never walk'd to battle More proudly than to die: There was colour in his visage, Though the cheeks of all were wan, And they marvell'd as they saw him pass, That great and goodly man!


He mounted up the scaffold, And he turn'd him to the crowd; But they dared not trust the people, So he might not speak aloud. But he look'd upon the heavens, And they were clear and blue, And in the liquid ether The eye of God shone through: Yet a black and murky battlement Lay resting on the hill, As though the thunder slept within— All else was calm and still.


The grim Geneva ministers With anxious scowl drew near,{I} As you have seen the ravens flock Around the dying deer. He would not deign them word nor sign, But alone he bent the knee; And veil'd his face for Christ's dear grace Beneath the gallows-tree. Then radiant and serene he rose, And cast his cloak away: For he had ta'en his latest look Of earth, and sun, and day.


A beam of light fell o'er him, Like a glory round the shriven, And he climb'd the lofty ladder As it were the path to heaven.{J} Then came a flash from out the cloud, And a stunning thunder roll, And no man dared to look aloft, For fear was on every soul. There was another heavy sound, A hush and then a groan; And darkness swept across the sky— The work of death was done!

W. E. A.


{A} "The contemporary historian of the Earls of Sutherland records, that (after the defeat of Invercarron) Montrose and Kinnoull 'wandered up the river Kyle the whole ensuing night, and the next day, and the third day also, without any food or sustenance, and at last came within the country of Assynt. The Earl of Kinnoull, being faint for lack of meat, and not able to travel any further, was left there among the mountains, where it was supposed he perished. Montrose had almost famished, but that he fortuned in his misery to light upon a small cottage in that wilderness, where he was supplied with some milk and bread.' Not even the iron frame of Montrose could endure a prolonged existence under such circumstances. He gave himself up to Macleod of Assynt, a former adherent, from whom he had reason to expect assistance in consideration of that circumstance, and, indeed, from the dictates of honourable feeling and common humanity. As the Argyle faction had sold the King, so this Highlander rendered his own name infamous by selling the hero to the Covenanters, for which 'duty to the public' he was rewarded with four hundred bolls of meal."—NAPIER'S Life of Montrose.

{B} "Friday, 17th May.—Act ordaining James Grahame to be brought from the Watergate on a cart, bareheaded, the hangman in his livery, covered, riding on the horse that draws the cart—the prisoner to be bound to the cart with a rope—to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and from thence to be brought to the Parliament House, and there, in the place of delinquents, on his knees, to receive his sentence—viz., to be hanged on a gibbet at the Cross of Edinburgh, with his book and declaration tied on a rope about his neck, and there to hang for the space of three hours until he be dead; and thereafter to be cut down by the hangman, his head, hands, and legs to be cut off, and distributed as follows—viz., His head to be affixed on an iron pin, and set on the pinnacle of the west gavel of the new prison of Edinburgh; one hand to be set on the port of Perth, the other on the port of Stirling; one leg and foot on the port of Aberdeen, the other on the port of Glasgow. If at his death penitent, and relaxed from excommunication, then the trunk of his body to be interred, by pioneers, in the Greyfriars; otherwise, to be interred in the Boroughmuir, by the hangman's men, under the gallows."—BALFOUR'S Notes of Parliament.

It is needless to remark that this inhuman sentence was executed to the letter. In order that the exposure might be more complete, the cart was constructed with a high chair in the centre, having holes behind, through which the ropes that fastened him were drawn. The author of the Wigton Papers, recently published by the Maitland Club, says, "the reason of his being tied to the cart was in hope that the people would have stoned him, and that he might not be able by his hands to save his face." His hat was then pulled off by the hangman, and the procession commenced.

{C} "In all the way, there appeared in him such majesty, courage, modesty—and even somewhat more than natural—that those common women who had lost their husbands and children in his wars, and who were hired to stone him, were upon the sight of him so astonished and moved, that their intended curses turned into tears and prayers; so that next day all the ministers preached against them for not stoning and reviling him."—Wigton Papers.

{D} "It is remarkable, that of the many thousand beholders, the Lady Jean Gordon, Countess of Haddington, did (alone) publicly insult and laugh at him; which being perceived by a gentleman in the street, he cried up to her, that it became her better to sit upon the cart for her adulteries."—Wigton Papers. This infamous woman was the third daughter of Huntly, and the niece of Argyle. It will hardly be credited that she was the sister of that gallant Lord Gordon, who fell fighting by the side of Montrose, only five years before, at the battle of Aldford!

{E} "The Lord Lorn and his new lady were also sitting on a balcony, joyful spectators; and the cart being stopt when it came before the lodging where the Chancellor, Argyle, and Warristoun sat—that they might have time to insult—he, suspecting the business, turned his face towards them, whereupon they presently crept in at the windows: which being perceived by an Englishman, he cried up, it was no wonder they started aside at his look, for they durst not look him in the face these seven years bygone."—Wigton Papers.

{F} Archibald Johnston of Warristoun. This man, who was the inveterate enemy of Montrose, and who carried the most selfish spirit into every intrigue of his party, received the punishment of his treasons about eleven years afterwards. It may be instructive to learn how he met his doom. The following extract is from the MSS. of Sir George Mackenzie:—"The Chancellor and others waited to examine him; he fell upon his face, roaring, and with tears entreated they would pity a poor creature who had forgot all that was in the Bible. This moved all the spectators with a deep melancholy; and the Chancellor, reflecting upon the man's great parts, former esteem, and the great share he had in all the late revolutions, could not deny some tears to the frailty of silly mankind. At his examination, he pretended he had lost so much blood by the unskilfulness of his chirurgeons, that he lost his memory with his blood; and I really believe that his courage had been drawn out with it. Within a few days he was brought before the parliament, where he discovered nothing but much weakness, running up and down upon his knees, begging mercy; but the parliament ordained his former sentence to be put to execution, and accordingly he was executed at the cross of Edinburgh."

{G} "He said he was much beholden to the parliament for the honour they put on him; 'for,' says he, 'I think it a greater honour to have my head standing on the port of this town, for this quarrel, than to have my picture in the king's bedchamber. I am beholden to you, that, lest my loyalty should be forgotten, ye have appointed five of your most eminent towns to bear witness of it to posterity.'"—Wigton Papers.

{H} "In his downgoing from the Tolbooth to the place of execution, he was very richly clad in fine scarlet, laid over with rich silver lace, his hat in his hand, his bands and cuffs exceeding rich, his delicate white gloves on his hands, his stockings of incarnate silk, and his shoes with their ribands on his feet; and sarks provided for him with pearling about, above ten pund the elne. All these were provided for him by his friends, and a pretty cassock put on upon him, upon the scaffold, wherein he was hanged. To be short, nothing was here deficient to honour his poor carcase, more beseeming a bridegroom than a criminal going to the gallows."—NICHOLL'S Diary.

{I} The Presbyterian ministers beset Montrose both in prison and on the scaffold. The following extracts are from the diary of the Rev. Robert Traill, one of the persons who were appointed by the commission of the kirk "to deal with him:"—"By a warrant from the kirk, we staid a while with him about his soul's condition. But we found him continuing in his old pride, and taking very ill what was spoken to him, saying, 'I pray you, gentlemen, let me die in peace.' It was answered, that he might die in true peace, being reconciled to the Lord and to his kirk."—"We returned to the commission, and did show unto them what had passed amongst us. They, seeing that for the present he was not desiring relaxation from his censure of excommunication, did appoint Mr Mungo Law and me to attend on the morrow on the scaffold, at the time of his execution, that, in case he should desire to be relaxed from his excommunication, we should be allowed to give it unto him in the name of the kirk, and to pray with him, and for him, that what is loosed in earth might be loosed in heaven." But this pious intention, which may appear somewhat strange to the modern Calvinist, when the prevailing theories of the kirk regarding the efficacy of absolution are considered, was not destined to be fulfilled. Mr Traill goes on to say, "But he did not at all desire to be relaxed from his excommunication in the name of the kirk, yea, did not look towards that place on the scaffold where we stood; only he drew apart some of the magistrates, and spake a while with them, and then went up the ladder, in his red scarlet cassock, in a very stately manner."

{J} "He was very earnest that he might have the liberty to keep on his hat; it was denied: he requested he might have the privilege to keep his cloak about him—neither could that be granted. Then, with a most undaunted courage, he went up to the top of that prodigious gibbet."—"The whole people gave a general groan; and it was very observable, that even those who at his first appearance had bitterly inveighed against him, could not now abstain from tears."—Montrose Redivivus.



It was towards the close of an autumnal evening, in the commencement of the sixteenth century, that a crowd of human beings was dispersing from the old market-place of Hammelburg, an ancient and, at that time, considerable town of Franconia, after witnessing the performance of a hideous and living tragedy. The Ober-Amtmann, or governor of the town, who had presided over the awful occasion, had left, attended by his schreibers, or secretaries, the small balustraded terrace which advanced out before the elevated entrance of the old Gothic town-hall. The town-guard were receding in various directions, warning the crowd to seek their homes, and sometimes aiding with a gentle admonition of their pike-heads those who lingered, as, slowly retreating, they moved down the different narrow streets that led from the central market-place, like streams flowing off in different channels after an inundation. Window after window was closing in the quaintly-carved and strangely-decorated gables of the houses; and many a small casement had been pulled to, over sundry withered old faces, that, peering from the dark and narrow aperture, and illumined by the glaring light that had filled the market-place, had resembled some darkly-traced picture placed against the opening. In the middle of the square still smoked, in a heavy volume of cloud, the last gleaming ashes of a lately blazing pile, still filling the air with a noisome stench. The night was closing darkly in, and one human being alone seemed yet to linger in the market-place.

It would have been difficult, indeed, to discover that the dark object just discernible upon the edge of the blackened mass of smoking cinders really was a human being, so shapeless was the form, so strangely was it crouched down before the spot where the pile had been consumed. From time to time only an upward-flung movement of two thin arms, as if in the violent emotion of earnest prayer or deprecation, showed that this object was a living thing; until, when the moon rose from behind the old town-hall, disengaging itself, ever and anon, from among the heavy clouds of a gathering storm, its light fell full upon this indistinct apparition, and revealed the form of a man, curiously bent together in a half-squatting, half-kneeling position. His head was bare. His long tangled black locks hung around a swarthy face, young still in years, but worn and withered, and prematurely aged by sickness, sorrow, or violence of passion—perhaps by the constant operation of all three. At this moment it was ghastly pale, and bore the marks of the faintness and exhaustion attendant upon a reaction after intense excitement. The dress of this creature was not the usual costume of the lower classes, and consisted almost entirely of a ragged and soiled garment of coarse brown linen, made somewhat in the shape of a modern blouse, and bound round his waist by a coarse leathern band. Around his neck hung a square bag, or satchel, which at once designated his calling to be that of a common beggar, privileged by the religious authorities of the place. The stoop of his broad shoulders, between which the head was deeply sunk, told a tale of long sickness, which had broken a frame originally bold and strong, and given a peculiarly ill-favoured appearance to a form naturally well built; and when he arose from his squatting posture, the bent and withered appearance of his crooked legs, which no longer possessed sufficient strength to support the bulkier frame above, gave painful evidence that the wretched man had suffered cruelly from those common scourges of his class at that period—rheumatism and ague. Clasped between his hands was a rosary of wood; and, as he rose, he pressed it to his lips, and then deposited it in the upper part of his garment.

"No, no!" exclaimed the cripple aloud, when he had staggered to his feet. "No, it is not vengeance—it is not, God knows; although the malevolence of those hideous and accursed hags, those lemans of Satan"—and he spat upon the ground—"have made me the wretched outcast of humanity I am. The blood of the foul one has been shed for His glory only, and that of the blessed Virgin, to the destruction of the arch-enemy of mankind and his delusions!"

"Thou knowest it is so," he added, again clutching forth the rosary from his bosom, which, after gazing upon a rude personification of the Virgin, stamped upon a tiny plate of copper at the end of the string of beads, and devoutly making the sign of the cross, he returned to its usual depository.

"I have cried against the handmaid of Beelzebub—uttering cry for cry as she shrieked out her wretched soul. I have prayed earnestly and long, and I am athirst," continued the cripple, as he dragged his distorted limbs with difficulty over the rough stones towards a large covered well, which occupied the lower part of the market-place.

As the beggar approached the parapet of the well, to drink from one of the buckets which reposed upon its edge, he became first aware of the presence of another human being. Half-concealed behind one of the twisted columns that supported the Gothic pavilion above, sat upon the parapet a female figure, dressed in a black garb of such a form and nature, that, without being the exact costume of any known religious order, it bore a monastic character. Her face, as she sat with her head bent down over her clasped hands, in an attitude of mournful humiliation, was fully concealed by a black hood. But when, upon the approach of the beggar, she started up hastily, as if impelled by feelings of horror and disgust, the moon shone full upon her, and revealed the features of a woman of an advanced period of life, who formerly might have possessed much beauty, although now so washed out by tears, and furrowed by sorrow, that the whole character of her face was changed. Her years, too, were probably very much fewer than her appearance denoted, for the signs of age upon her face bore less the marks of time than of mental suffering. The symptoms of aversion which her manner displayed upon the beggar's approach, although instinctive and involuntary, and almost immediately restrained, had not escaped his eye. His features expressed the bitter resentment of his heart at this insult, and worked with ill-repressed feelings of anger and spite.

"Ha! Mother Magdalena—it is thou! Why flinchest thou at my approach? Hast thou cause to fear me, then?" exclaimed the cripple with a sneer, as he drew nearer.

The female thus addressed shuddered at the sound of his voice; and, hastily pulling her dark hood more closely over her face, endeavoured to pass on without reply; but the beggar caught her by the arm.

"Not so fast, beldam!" he cried. "I would have a word with thee. Dost thou not know me?"

"Not know thee!" exclaimed the dark female. "Who in this wretched town does not know Schwartzer Claus, the witchfinder? What wouldst thou with me? Let me go!"

"Why dost thou tremble, then, and turn away thy head?" continued the cripple. "Why does Black Claus, the witchfinder—since such thou callest me—make thee shudder thus in every limb? The innocent have no cause to fear."

"Thou askest me why I shudder?" said Magdalena in an excited tone, forgetting in her agitation her purpose of self-control. "Thou hast forced me to speak, and I will tell thee. Is not thy hand yet reeking with the bloody ashes of thy last victim? Has not a seventh unhappy woman suffered this very day a cruel death at the stake upon thy hideous denunciation; and thou askest me why I shudder?"

"Beware, woman—beware!" cried the witchfinder, lifting up his long right arm with a gesture of menace. "Those who defend the evil-doer, and malign the just and heaven-directed accuser, are not far from being arraigned as accomplices themselves!"

"What! thou seekest already another innocent sacrifice, wretched man!" continued the female, tearing away her arm, which the beggar still held clenched in his left hand. "Thou art not sated with the innocent blood thy false witness has this day shed?"

"It is a lie!—it is a damning lie!" screamed the cripple, foaming with passion. "I have borne no false witness! Besides, did not she avow her deeds of darkness? did she not confess her complicity with the spirits of hell, and her harlotries with the arch-deceiver of mankind?"

"Ay! when, tortured in mind and body, her poor weak old head gave way, and she unconsciously affirmed all that her torturers had for hours past been pressing upon her wavering understanding. Ye had driven her mad, poor wretch!"

"'Tis false again!—'tis false!" repeated the witchfinder. "The truth spoke out of her at last, when her treacherous paramour, the demon, had deserted her. God's glory and that of the holy church, for which I work, had triumphed over the powers of darkness."

"Thou serve the holy church! Hear not the blasphemy, O Lord!" cried the excited woman, raising up her hands to heaven. "Thou, miserable wretch! who, for the favour of the Amtmann or the priest, for the pittance bestowed on thee in reward of thy discovery of the supposed foul practices of witchery and magic, art ever ready to sell the innocent blood of the aged, helpless, and infirm!"

"For the lucre of gain!" screamed the cripple, but in a tone as much of despair at this accusation as of wrath. "For the lucre of gain! No—no; as God is my judge, it is not! My motives are pure; God and the Holy Virgin know they are! It is not even a spirit of revenge that instigates me. No—no! it cannot be; it is not! If the words of my mouth have condemned and killed, it is because my voice was uplifted in the cause of religion, and to the confusion of the prince of evil!" But as he spoke, the beggar covered his face with his hands, with a shudder, as though there passed in his soul a struggle with himself—a doubt of his own real motives.

Magdalena was about to quit in haste her dangerous companion, when a sentiment of pity at the sight of the cripple's evident emotion seemed to mingle strangely with her disgust and aversion to the witchfinder. It was even with an uncontrollable feeling of interest that she stopped for a moment to look upon the wretched man.

After a pause, the beggar removed his hands from his face, and uttering in a low tone the words, "I thirst," staggered to the edge of the well, and seized the bucket within his hands. He bent over it but for a moment to drink, and could scarcely have swallowed many mouthfuls, before, flinging back the bucket into the well, he started up, and spat the water from his mouth.

"Horror!" he said, with a look of mingled terror and insanity—"it tastes of blood!"

"It is thy own conscience, poor man, that troubles the taste of the fresh element," said Magdalena solemnly; "the water is pure and sweet!"

"Thou hast done this, old hag!" cried the witchfinder wildly; unheeding her remark. "Thou hast corrupted the waters at the source. Why did I find thee sitting here, cowering over the surface of the well, if it were not to cast malefick spells upon the water, and turn it into poison—in order to give ills, and ails, and blains, and aches, and pains, and sickness, and death to thy fellow-creatures? Ha! ha! I have long thought it. Thou also art one of the accursed ones!"

"Thou ravest, miserable wretch!" replied the female; "thou knowest not what thou utterest. God forgive thee, cripple, thy wicked thought, and change thy perverted mind!"

She was again about to turn away, and leave her angry questioner, when, fearing the result of the evil feeling now fully excited in the witchfinder's mind, she again paused to excuse herself in the eyes of the dangerous man, and added—

"Thou canst not mean what thou sayest, Claus; I sat by the well but to cool my heated brow in the night-air, and taste the breath of heaven; for my mind was saddened, and my head whirled, with the horrors that this day has witnessed."

But her words were but oil upon the flame, and only served to augment the wild infatuation of the witchfinder.

"Ah! thy mind was saddened! Thou hadst pity for that vile hag of hell! Was she thy comrade? Perchance thou hadst fear for thyself? Thou thought'st thy own time might come? Thy own time will come, old Magdalena. My eye is upon thee and thy dark practices; it has been upon thee since thou camest, unknown and unacknowledged, to this place, none could tell when, and whence, and how. Ay, my eye is upon thee, and—beware!"

Willingly would the woman now have shrunk away before the maddened witchfinder's objurgation; but the wild accusation thus thundered against her froze her with terror, and riveted her to the spot.

"I have marked thee well," continued the frantic man, "and I have seen thee pause upon the threshold of the holy house of God, and kneel in mockery upon the steps before it: but thou hast never dared to enter it. Thou knewest well that the devil thou servest would have torn thee in pieces hadst thou done it. Ha! do I catch thee there?" he continued, as at these words the woman buried her face between her hands.

"Thou canst not deny it!" shouted the witchfinder with an air of triumph.

"God best judges the motives of the heart," murmured Magdalena.

"I will tell thee more, vile hag, and thou shalt hear it face to face," pursued the cripple, seizing the poor woman's arms with his long bony fingers, and dragging her hands from before her face, in spite of her efforts at resistance. "Thou watchest at street corners and in doorways, on the bridge or on the causeway, to see fair Fraulein Bertha, the Ober-Amtmann's daughter, ride past upon her ambling jennet, or mount the church-steps, her missal in her hand. Thou watchest her to cast thy spells upon her. Thou hatest her for her youth and beauty and spotless purity, like all thy wretched tribe, whom the sight of innocence and brightness sickens to the heart's core. Thou wouldst fascinate her with thy eye of evil and thy deadly incantations."

The moon, the light of which still struggled faintly through the fast-accumulating clouds, shone for a moment upon the face of old Magdalena, as the cripple pronounced these words. Her features were more deadly pale than usual, and convulsed with an excess of agitation at this mention of Bertha's name, which she evidently struggled to control in vain.

"Ah! I have thee there again!" screamed Claus in triumph a second time. "Already have I seen her cheek grow pale, her head bow down like a blighted flower, her walk become weary with faintness. Hast thou already been at thy filthy machinations? But Black Claus, the witchfinder, is there to wrestle with the powers of evil. And hear me! That fair sweet girl is the only comfort of my wretched life. My soul grows calm and soothed when I look upon that lovely face. A ray of sunshine gleams upon the darkness of my path when her smile beams upon me. My heart leaps within me for joy when her small white hand drops an offering into my beggar's bowl. She is my only life, my only joy, and my guardian angel. And couldst thou harm her, woman, no torment should be too horrible for thee, body and soul. The chains of the stake still lie upon the market-place—the ashes of yon pile still reek with heat; and the pile shall rise again, the chains shall bind once more. Wretched hag! I bid thee again beware!"

As with one hand the raving witchfinder pointed to the spot where one unhappy woman had already perished that day, a victim to the superstition of the times, Magdalena, who, during his praise of the fair girl, had again looked at him with awakened interest, disengaged herself from the other. "God's will be done!" she said with humility. "I am prepared for all. But thou, unhappy man!" she continued, "beware in turn, lest, before thou hast time to repent thee of the hardness and cruelty of thy heart, His judgement fall on thee, and his justice punish thee."

She spoke with hand upraised to heaven; and then, pulling her hood over her face, hurried from the market-place.

The witchfinder gazed after her, fixed to the spot, and for a moment awe-struck by her words. As he still stood struggling with his various passions, the storm, which had been gathering ever since sunset, began to burst over his head. The rain came down in torrents.

"Ah! was it that?" screamed the beggar, with a fit of wild laughter. "The miserable old beldam! she stretched out her finger to the sky, and it was to bring down these waterspouts upon my head. Curses on the foul malicious fiend!" And he spat upon the ground, as if to exorcise the evil spirit.

"But I must find shelter," he murmured. "Already pains rack my limbs; my bones ache; a shudder runs through my frame! The old hag has worked her spell upon me. Apage, Sathanas! Anathema!"

Speaking thus, the wretched man shuffled along as fast as the crippled state of his limbs, and the acute pains of rheumatism, which the damp night-air had again brought upon him, would allow him to proceed. He staggered to the shelter of a doorway, which was placed under the advancing terrace of the town-hall, and between two staircases which descended on either side on to the market-place. The protruding vault of the Gothic archway afforded him some refuge from the storm, which now burst down with increased violence. But the excited witchfinder's brain seemed to wander, as he caught an indistinct vision of the gaping jaws of the dragons and other grotesque monsters, which protruded as waterspouts from the roofs of the surrounding houses, and now disgorged torrents of rain.

"Spit, spit, ye devils all!" he shouted aloud. "Ye cannot reach me here. Ha! ha! rage, storm, spew forth your venom, do the bidding of your mistress—I defy you!" And as the wind swept round the corners of the building, and spattered some of the water of the gushing cataracts in his face, he cried, "Avaunt!" as if speaking to a living thing, and, clinging to the bars of an aperture in the upper part of the door, turned away his face.

As he thus came to look upon the strongly-barred opening in the door, the current of his ideas changed. Within was the small and wretched prison of the town, which just occupied the space of the terrace above—a miserable hole.

"There she lay this morning," he murmured, looking into the interior, which was now in utter darkness, and quite empty—"there she lay, old Martha Dietz, and called in vain upon the demon who deserted her. There have lain all the foul hags who tortured my poor aching limbs. There shall she lie also, the scoffer and reviler, the worker of evil. The witchfinder will be revenged. Revenge! no, no! He will do the work of the holy church. Who shall say the contrary? Not thou, old Martha—nor thou—nor thou. If ye say so, ye lie in death, as ye have lied in life. Ay! glare upon me with your lack-lustre eyes. Ye are powerless now, though ye are there, and make mouths at me. One—two—three—God stand by me! There they are—all seven!"

With a wild scream of horror, the cripple covered his eyes with his hands, and rushed forth into the tempest.

Situated in the picturesque and fertile valley of the Saale, the town of Hammelburg stands upon a gentle declivity, commanding one of the numerous windings of the river, and sloping downwards to its banks. A part of the old walls of the town is thus bathed by the waters of the stream, which, calm and peaceful in the summer months, become tumultuous, and even dangerous, during rainy weather, or after the melting of the snows. From the ancient gateway of the town on the river side, a triple bridge of great length and many arches, which, in the dry season, seems to occupy a most unnecessary space across the narrower waters, but which, at other times, scarce suffices to span the extent of the invading inundation, affords a communication with the high-road.

At the commencement of the sixteenth century, this bridge was only constructed of wood, and although put together with rude strength, ill-sufficed to resist the force of the torrents, and had been repeatedly swept before them.

Not far from the town gateway that commanded this bridge, stood a huge mansion, constructed as a palace for the Prince Bishops of Fulda, the sovereign rulers of the district; although, at the period in question, it had been ceded to the Ober-Amtmann, a near relation of the reigning bishop, as his official dwelling. On the side of this ancient palace furthest removed from the town gate, ran, along the river's banks, its spacious gardens, abutting at their extremity upon the premises of an extensive Benedictine monastery, from which they were only separated by a narrow lane, that led from the town to the river. At the very angle of this lane, where it opened by a small water-gate upon a narrow towing-path, skirting alike the town-walls and the banks of the stream, there stood a low building attached to the monastery, the upper story of which thus overlooked the old gardens of the palace on the one hand, and, on the other, the river banks.

At one of the windows of this humble dwelling, that which overlooked the palace gardens, stood a young man, intently gazing through its small octagon panes. Two or three times he turned away with a heavy sigh, as if wearied with long and vain watching, and as often returned again to his previous occupation. At length the opening of the door of the room startled him from his position; and as if ashamed of being caught in the act of looking out, he hurried to a table in the middle of the room, and flung himself into an old chair.

The various objects with which the table was covered, as well as those which filled and littered the room in all directions, clearly designated the young man's employment to be that of a sculptor and colourer of images for the ornament of churches, as well as an illuminator of missals and manuscripts—an occupation at that time still pursued, although gradually falling into disuse since the invention of printing. Scattered about upon the table were several old parchment manuscripts, which had served as models for the artist's use, or had been confided to his hands to clean. Old illuminated missals, some of the gorgeous illustrations of which were open, as if lately retouched by the hand of the young painter, lay here and there. At the further end of the table stood a small figure of a Virgin and Child, delicately and exquisitely carved, and painted with the richest colours. The group was bright with its fresh finish, and evidently had not long been completed by the hand of the artist. Upon an elevated bench or dresser were littered the tools of the sculptor and wood-carver, with a few unfinished trials of small saintly figures; and around the room were fragments of wooden images of saints, some discoloured, some broken, a few in tolerable preservation, which were either destined to be restored and repainted, or had served as studies for the artist. Upon the walls hung a few pictures of female saints, bedecked with garlands of flowers, which showed them to be objects of devotion and respect in the eyes of the possessor. Among all this confusion, space was scarcely left, in the small chamber of the artist, for the pallet-bed and cumbrous press that formed his only furniture.

Immediately before the chair into which the young man so hastily flung himself, lay a rich missal, upon the adornment of which he had been employed, before other thoughts and feelings had sent him to the window; and when he again resumed his work, it was upon the face of a fair saint, which formed the headpiece of a chapter, peering out from among the various graceful arabesques that twined in the brightest colours along the margin of the leaf.

In truth, the face of the young artist was almost as fair as that of the bright being he was engaged in painting. His light brown hair was parted in the middle, over a high white forehead, and fell in faintly waving curls almost to his neck, forming a frame to the soft oval face, to which his violet-blue melancholy-looking eyes, his calm, finely-chiselled features, and the serious repose of his imaginative mouth, imparted an air of gentleness and thoughtfulness combined. His dark, sober-coloured, simple dress, although somewhat too severe to suit his youthful figure, accorded well with the character of his physiognomy. His falling collar displayed a full white throat, which might have served as a model for a statue of Antinous, had it not borne more the stamp of genius in its proportions than of physical voluptuousness. The hands, which now hastily resumed their neglected occupation, had all the fairness and well-moulded contour of a woman's, without that delicacy of size which would have stamped them as effeminate. Had he been aware of his own beauty, he might have copied his own graceful form for a personification of the lily-bearing angel in a group of the Annunciation.

The person who had startled him from the window, by opening the door of his room, was an aged-looking woman, in a plain dress of coarse black serge. She bore in her hands a coarse brown porringer filled with steaming viands, a lump of dark homely bread, and a white cloth.

"Ah! my good Magdalena, art thou there?" said the young artist, raising his head with an almost unconscious affectation of surprise, as though unexpectedly disturbed at his work.

"You forget all hours, and all human wants, in your zeal for your beautiful art, Master Gottlob," said the woman. "I bring you your noon-day repast, which you would never have called for, had I allowed it to stand by even until sundown. But I have ventured to transgress your orders. You must be faint with long fasting;" and the old woman made a movement as if to place the food upon the table before the artist.

"Thanks, good Magdalena! thanks!" said the young man, looking at her with that sweet smile, and tender expression of his mild blue eyes, which had procured him, among all who knew him, the constant designation of "Gentle Gottlob;" but at the same time repelling the porringer. "Not here. Place the food elsewhere. I will eat anon. I am not hungry now; and I must not leave my work. I have promised it to his noble reverence the prior, for the eve of the fete of St Ursula, and to-morrow is the very day. There is still much to do. It seems as if I could never give sufficient finish to this face, or impart to it, with my dull colours and rebellious pencil, that look of heavenly brightness that ought to dwell upon it. And yet, alas! I would it never could be finished! It will break my heart to part with it—although I love not my own work, nor deem it excellent. But still I cherish it—all imperfect as it is—I know not why; and when to-morrow comes, and I must give it up into his reverence's hands, it seems that my life and spirit would depart from me with its loss, and that all around me would be dark and joyless."

After placing the porringer and bread upon a spare corner of the sculptor's working bench, Magdalena moved gently behind the young man's chair, and having asked respectfully his pardon, looked over his shoulder. At the sight of the fair face upon which the young artist was bestowing so much care, her looks betrayed feelings of surprise, mingled with much emotion. Once or twice she passed her hand over her eyes, as if doubting the reality of what she saw. It was some time before she could sufficiently master her agitation to speak; and when at last she spoke, after a long-drawn sigh, it was with a tone which still betrayed, in spite of her efforts, the interest inspired in her by the painter's work of art.

"It is indeed a fine performance, and right bravely limned," she said; "and in truth the countenance you have given to yonder saint, with the pale glory, is one of exquisite beauty. I wonder not that you should be grieved to look upon so sweet a face no more; although, methinks, I know a face as fair, to which it bears a marvellous resemblance."

"What meanest thou, Magdalena?" said the young artist, bending his head still lower over his work. "Whom dost thou know who could bear a likeness to this creation of my own imagination?"

"Of your own memory, Master Gottlob! you should have said," pursued Magdalena. "Surely—or my eyes deceive themselves most strangely—although in that sweet face they were not easily deceived; surely the face is that of"——

The old woman again paused, as if to suppress her emotion.

"Of whom?" enquired Gottlob in a low tone, also in much agitation.

"Of the fair Fraulein Bertha, the noble Ober-Amtmann's daughter."

"You think so, Magdalena?" replied the young man. "Perhaps it maybe a slight shade of a resemblance, caught unconsciously"——

"It is she herself," exclaimed Magdalena. "It is the same angelic smile—the same beam of innocent brightness athwart her brow! It is she!"

"Perhaps thou art right," stammered Gottlob, still in much confusion, but evidently well pleased with the species of praise thus bestowed upon his performance. "There is, in truth, more resemblance to the Fraulein Bertha than I had thought."

Magdalena seemed for a minute lost in her reflection, as if a new and painful idea had struck her; and after giving a long and anxious look at the window, from which the young artist had drawn back upon her entrance, she pressed her hand heavily to her heart, as if to support her in a sudden resolution, and, advancing to the artist's side, said in an earnest tone, "Young man! thou lovest her!"

"Magdalena! thou knowest not what thou sayest," cried Gottlob, more harshly than as the wont of his gentle nature.

"Oh! pardon me if I have offended. Condemn me not!" said the excited woman. "But I do entreat you, tell me! Tell me your secret as you would confide it to a mother—to your own mother, Gottlob. It is the purest interest for you—for her—that guides me! I swear it to you! Oh! tell me—is it not so? You love that fair and gentle girl!"

The young man looked at his strange interrogator with some astonishment at her evident agitation. The tears were swelling in her eyes. But without pausing to question the reasons of her emotion—so absorbed is love in its own self—he rose, and took the old woman's hand.

"Yes! I will speak; my heart has long been overcharged with its own secret, even to bursting," he said; "and it throbs to unburden itself into some sympathizing heart! And why not thine, good Magdalena? Ever since fate has brought us so strangely together, thou hast been like a mother to me!"

"Do not I owe you all?" interrupted the old woman; "my life—my daily bread—a shelter for my old limbs in the cell below?"

"Alas! I have but little to give, poor Magdalena!" said the young man kindly.

"And that little thou hast shared with me as a son," continued Magdalena bending her head over his hand as if to kiss it.

"Yes, thou shalt know all," pursued Gottlob; "for it would seem as though the destiny that threw thee in my way were linked with hers. Her image it was that led me to the spot where first I saw thee. It was the last day of the Carnival, at the beginning of this year, and there was a fete at the palace of the Ober-Amtmann. I had long gazed with adoration upon that angelic face, and treasured it in my heart. I already worshipped yon saintly portraits, because in one—God forgive me the profane thought!—I had found a faint forth-showing of the beam of her bright eye; in another, the gentle, dimpled smile of her sweet mouth; in a third, her pure and saint-like brow. It was not for such as I, a poor artist, to be invited to the noble Amtmann's fete; but I thought that, through the windows in the illuminated halls, I might perchance trace her passing shadow. I fancied that, by some unforeseen accident, she might come forth upon the terrace, overhanging the river's banks—a foolish fancy, for the night was wintry and cold. I hoped to see her, no matter how; and I wandered out of the town—for its gates were open for that holiday—to look upon the lighted windows of the palace from the opposite side of the stream. The snow was on the ground. My mantle scarcely preserved me from the bitter cold. But I felt it not. It was only when a groan sounded near me, that I thought on the sufferings of others in such a night. I looked around me; and there, not far from me, on the snow, before the very windows of the palace, where within was music and dancing, and feasting and mirth, lay thy form, poor Magdalena! Feeble, helpless, stiff with cold, thou appearedst to me in the last agonies of death."

"Yes; I had laid me down to die, in sorrow and despair. It is too true," sobbed the old woman, in a voice choked with tears. "But your hand raised me up—your arms warmed me into life—your voice encouraged me, and gave me force. You brought me to your home, fostered me, and nursed me—me, an unknown outcast, whose very history you did not even seek to know—whose silence and secrecy you respected. Your kindness saved me from despair, and gave me hope; and I lived on, in order to pay, were it possible, my debt of gratitude to my preserver."

"Good Magdalena," said the young man soothingly, taking her withered hands between his own, "I did but the duty of a Christian man."

"And you love her, then?" resumed Magdalena, recalling her young preserver to his promised confidence.

"Love her!" exclaimed Gottlob with an impassioned fervour, which gave his gentle face a look of inspiration. "Love her! She is my vision by day—my dream by night. When I read, it is her voice that seems to speak to me from the Minnesinger's poesy. When I paint, it is her form that grows under my pencil. When I pray, it is her seraphic smile that seems to beam upon me down from heaven. I wander forth: it is to meet her in her walks. I kneel in the church: it is to breathe the same air as she!" At these words, Magdalena covered her face, and uttered a suppressed groan. "I rise from my labour, which of old was a labour of love to me, and now is oft an irksome task: it is to watch for her coming forth into the garden. I have neither rest by day nor by night. Where there was repose in my heart, there is now eternal fever."

"And she?" said Magdalena with a low tone of anxiety, as if fearful of the answer she might receive. "Does she know—does she return your love?"

"How should she deign to remark a worm like me?" was the young artist's answer. "How should I dare to breathe my affection in her ear, were it even possible for me to approach her? And yet she looks upon me kindly," continued the young lover, encouraging himself in vague hopes, at the same time that he condemned their presumption. "When I doff my cap to the noble Amtmann's daughter, as she ambles forth by her proud father's side, she will answer with so sweet a smile, and greet me with a wave of her riding-switch—with what a grace!—and then grow red thereby, and then grow pale. When I offer her the holy water as she passes from the church, she will cast down her trembling eyelids, and yet will see withal who offers it; and when I stand at yon window, as she rambles in the garden, she will pluck flower after flower, as though she knew not why; then fling them all aside, then pick them up with care; then disappear as if she had gone back, and yet come forth again."

Magdalena's brow grew thoughtful and anxious as Gottlob proceeded in his enumeration of these symptoms. Her bosom heaved painfully, her hands were clenched together.

"Poor child! should it be so!" she murmured, casting her eyes upon the ground; and then, raising them again to Gottlob's face, into which she looked with scrutinizing eagerness, she said aloud—"And yet you do not think she loves you?"

"She love me!" cried the young man. "Such a dream of bliss were madness! Can I forget the immeasurable gulf that separates the noble daughter of the high-placed Amtmann from the poor and humble artist—the dependent of a cloister? No, Magdalena. I must die as I have lived, the poor unloved and uncared-for orphan—die without a sigh of pity, without a tear of sorrow from her eye."

"Have you, then, no friends, poor youth?" said Magdalena.

"None. Yes! I am ungrateful. I have one—a kind protector; but he is far removed, and I have seen him seldom."

"The Prince Bishop of Fulda!" repeated the old woman, with some degree of agitation. "Perhaps—yet it is a wild and foolish thought—perhaps all hope is not shut out to you."

"What sayest thou, then, old Magdalena?" said the youth. "Hope were but torture were it vain; and so it must be"——

"Yes. I was wrong. Heed not my words! But know you not that your patron, the bishop, is close at hand? Already I have heard that he arrived this morning at his castle of Saaleck, at half a league's distance from the town; and he will probably shortly enter Hammelburg, as is his wont."

"These are glad tidings!" said Gottlob, his eyes beaming with joy. "I will at once to Saaleck, and, if the prince admit me to his presence, throw myself at his feet, assure him of all my gratitude for the past, and offer him my poor service for the future."

With these words the young man hurried to his cumbrous chest, and pulling out a short cloak, flung it around him. A small cap of black velvet, of the cut of the time, which showed off to advantage the beauty of his youthful face, was hastily thrown upon his head. He was about to quit the chamber, when Magdalena caught him by the arm.

"Thy repast, Master Gottlob."

"Have I time to think of that?" said the eager youth, swallowing, however, in haste a few mouthfuls of the broth, to satisfy the old woman's look of supplication.

"And when you mount or descend the mountain-path that leads to the castle on its brow," said the old woman, during Gottlob's hasty meal, "if you can still have a thought for poor old Magdalena, she begs you enter the chapel on the mountain-side, which is esteemed so holy that it is permitted to be a sanctuary of refuge to the criminal, and say a short prayer for her soul's weal."

"Can those so good and kind as thou, Magdalena, need the prayers of such as I?" said the young man.

"The fervent supplications of the young and pure at heart are always acceptable," replied Magdalena evasively, but in a sad and earnest tone.

"So be it—and fare-thee-well," said Gottlob, finishing his last mouthful, and hurrying to depart.

"And heed you, gentle youth," again cried Magdalena, "as you cross the bridge to leave the town. The river is much swollen with the late rains, so much as to threaten destruction to the tottering fabric."

"I fear no such danger," was the young man's reply; "and besides, have I not thy charm?" he continued, laughing, holding up a black ring inscribed with strange characters, that hung about his neck.

"Oh, say not so!" said the old woman earnestly, as a recollection of the Witchfinder's dreadful threats the night before came across her mind. "Call it not a charm! The holy church permits not of such dealings. It was but a remembrance that I gave you, to think sometimes on the poor wretch whose life you had preserved. It was of little value; but I had nought else to give. I prayed only that it might bring happiness to you, boy, for it had brought nothing but misery and wretchedness to me."

Long before old Magdalena could complete her sentence, the eager youth had left the room. The old woman looked after him for a time with a look of gratitude, and then, hurrying to the artist's table, threw herself down upon her knees beside the open missal, and gazed with intense eagerness upon the picture of the fair saint upon which he had been painting. She approached her lips as if to kiss it; then again drew back, as if she feared to mar the colouring by her caress: then gazed again, until her eyes filled with tears: and at last, with the cry, "Yes! it is she—her very self!" burst into a fit of convulsive sobbing, and buried her face between her hands.

As she still lay crouched upon her knees, a partly-concealed door, which led towards the monastery, and was almost in disuse, slowly opened, and a figure, enveloped in a monk's robe and cowl, entered the room.

Magdalena was not at first aware of the entrance of the stranger; and it was only when, after looking about the room, as if to assure himself that no one was there, he approached the table, that she heard the footstep, and lifted up her head in surprise. The intruder evidently as little expected to find the room already tenanted; for he also started upon seeing the kneeling woman. But the astonishment of both parties was greatly increased when their eyes met each other. Far from attempting to rise from her knees, Magdalena remained in an attitude of supplication before the stranger, who was an aged man of mild aspect, and folding her arms across her heart, bent down her head like a penitent, in order to avoid his scrutinizing look.

"Magdalena! thou here!" said the seeming monk, in a tone of voice which, naturally that of benevolence, he evidently strove to render harsh and severe. "How comes this? Thou hast left, without my knowledge, the seclusion of the convent in which I placed thee? In defiance of thy solemn promise, and thy accepted vow of penitence, thou hast approached this town—thou hast sought, perhaps, forgetful of thy oath"——

"No, no," interrupted the agitated woman, "that cruel oath has sealed my lips for ever. God knows, and you, reverend father—you know, that I had accepted the bitterest trial woman can bear on earth, in expiation of my past sin. Long did I observe my vow of penitence without a murmur to heaven or to you. But I thought to die. A fever had seized me, and a burning thought came over me that I no longer could withstand. O God, forgive me—but my head was turned—I knew not what I did! I longed to see once more on earth that object that was my only earthly joy. That uncontrollable desire overcame the stubborn resolution of a vow, which long years of tears and mortification had striven to fortify in vain. I fled. I hoped once more to glad my eyes—but once——but once, my father, and then to lay me down and die, trusting in God's pardon and your reverence's." And Magdalena bowed her head to the ground, as a criminal awaiting her sentence.

"Thou hast erred, woman—bitterly and grievously," replied the stranger harshly, adding, however, with a feeling of indulgence that his kindly nature evidently could ill suppress, "but the struggle of the spirit with the weakness of the body, in sickness and in fever, is heavy to bear. And yet," he continued, again assuming a severity of manner, "thou livest, and I still find thee here. Thou hast remained to feast thy eyes upon thy earthly treasure, in forgetfulness of thy vow of mortification for thy soul's weal."

"Pardon!" cried Magdalena, raising her hands in supplication.

"But thou must leave this place forthwith," continued the monk. "Return to the convent, and employ thyself in such acts of penitence as my orders shall prescribe."

"Pardon!" again cried the unhappy woman, "for my vow is heavier than I can bear. It is a task beyond the force of human nature!"

"Foolish woman!" exclaimed the stranger. "Wouldst thou compromise the happiness and peace of mind of the being thou lovest best, by the danger of a discovery to which thy presence here might lead? Thy expiation is severe. Such as we, alas!" and the monk heaved a sigh, "who cannot feel the vibration of some of the tenderest chords of humanity, know not how to sound in its profundity; but I can judge that it must be grievous to bear. Still it must be so. Go, then, in peace—but go. What I command no longer in the name of thy salvation, I ask of thy heart, for the repose of thy heart's treasure."

"Father," said the penitent, sobbing at his feet—"I obey! But I have still a secret to impart to you, upon which depends, perhaps, the happiness of that beloved one. Oh! deign to hear me."

"In three days hence, let me receive thy shrift at the convent of Saint Bridget," continued the ecclesiastic. "There also I will hear thy secret. But tell me," he added, looking round the room with some surprise—"how comest thou here in gentle master Gottlob's studio?"

"It was he who saved my life," answered Magdalena, striving to repress her sobbing, "when in the midst of the snows, and the keen blast of winter, death had laid hands upon me. Ever since, he has cherished and nourished the unknown outcast in his abode."

"Generous youth!" said the stranger. "I came to witness, alone and unbiassed, his progress in his noble art; and I find that the heart soars as nobly as the head. So should ever be true genius! Yes, yes!" he murmured to himself, looking around, "he advances towards perfection with rapid strides. This arabesque is exquisite. And this head, how beautiful! And yon statue of our Holy Mother—what heavenly grace in its fashioning!"

And with more of such commendatory observations, interspersed now and then with a few gentle criticisms, which showed the connoisseur as well as the gratified admirer, he took up and examined the various designs dispersed upon the table. When his curiosity seemed fully satisfied, he again turned to Magdalena.

"I must away," he said; "for I have still many arduous and painful duties to perform, and my time is limited. I rely upon thy strict secrecy, Magdalena. I would not it should be known that I was here. And remember, in three days at Saint Bridget's convent!"

With these words he stretched forth his hand. She again knelt, and kissed it devoutly; and pulling his black robe and cowl more closely about his face and person, the monk disappeared by the concealed door.

Magdalena still knelt, overcome by her various emotions, when a sound from the window looking into the river startled her, and caused her to turn round. An involuntary scream burst from her lips; for from among the branches of a tree that grew upon the river's banks, and overhung the window, peered, through the dingy panes, the pale face of the witchfinder.

It was about the hour of vespers; and an unusually dense crowd of the town's people of Hammelburg, of all ages, ranks, and sexes, swarmed in the small open space before the fine old Gothic church of the town, and stood in many a checkered group—here, of fat thriving bourgeois and their portly wives, dragging in their hands chubby and rebellious little urchins, who looked all but spherical in their monstrous puffed hose or short wadded multifold petticoats, the miniature reproductions of the paternal and maternal monstrosities of attire—there, of more noisy and clamorous artizans, in humbler and less preposterous dress—on the one side, of chattering serving-damsels, almost crushed under their high pyramidical black caps, worn in imitation of an ancient fashion of their betters—on the other, of grave counsellors and schreibers in their black costumes, interlarding their pompous phrases with most canine Latin—here again, of the plumed and checkered soldiers of the civic guard—there, of ragged-robed beggars, whose whine had become a second nature—all in a constant ferment of movement and noise, until the square might be fancied to look like the living and crawling mass of an old worm-eaten cheese.

The congregation of the multitude had been induced by a report prevalent throughout the town, that the Prince Bishop, whose arrival from Fulda at his castle of Saaleck, close at hand, had been announced, was about to make his entrance in grand state, and that a holy and solemn service to celebrate this event was to be performed at the high church.

Already, however, other rumours were afloat among the crowd; and it began to be confidently stated, that a sudden change of plans had forced the Prince Bishop to renounce his intention.

Listening with anxiety, on the outskirts of a group, to the discussion upon the probabilities or improbabilities of the service taking place in the absence of the Prince, stood Magdalena. She was attired in her usual dark semi-monastic dress; but to this was now added the scrip, wallet, and tall crossheaded staff of the wandering pilgrim. As the prevailing opinion appeared to be that the Ober-Amtmann would attend, at all events, at the celebration of the church rites intended to be performed, Magdalena turned away with a calmer air, murmuring to herself the words—

"I shall see her once more—once, and for the last time: and God surely will forgive the sin, if such it be. One look of last farewell! and then again a long expiation of penitence and prayer."

So saying, she traversed the small square to the broad stairs of the church, where she sat herself down upon the highest step, among a group of beggar women and ragged children, and, sinking her head to the ground, seemed to dispose herself to wait with patience.

Shortly afterwards, a young man also began to mount the steps leading to the great entrance of the church, as if with the intention of placing himself near the arch, in so favourable a position as to be close by all those who should pass into the interior. He bounded upwards with anxious haste and beating heart—although there was yet a long interval before the commencement of the service—and with a movement so hurried and agitated, that he brushed rudely against one person of a group in his way. He turned, with a gentleness of feeling unusual at the time towards the lower classes, to crave of the female he had pushed a pardon for his awkwardness. At the sound of his voice the old woman raised her head.

"Magdalena!" cried the young man with surprise, as he recognised upon her the evident symbols of travel and wayfaring peculiar to that age, "What means this pilgrim's garb?"

"Alas! kind, gentle Master Gottlob," replied Magdalena in a tone of the bitterest sadness, as she rose from her seat, "my hour is arrived, and I must leave you. Ask me not why. I must go as I have come, in silence and mystery. But oh! I beseech you, deem me not ungrateful. I had not quitted you without a last farewell—a last assurance that all your gentle charities are engraven here, upon my heart for ever."

"Magdalena!" again exclaimed Gottlob, still astonished at this unexpected announcement, "thou leavest me thus abruptly?"

"Again, I pray you, gentle Master," said the old woman sobbing, "think me not unkind or cold. The will of another is far stronger than my own. The will of God is above all. We shall meet no more on earth, young man; at least I fear so: my destiny leads me from the world. But my prayers shall be offered up, morning and evening, at my noontide meal as at my lying down; at all times, and in all places, whenever it shall please Heaven to hear them, for my generous benefactor."

"But you must not quit me thus," said the young man—"thus unassisted, in penury and want. I have but little, it is true, but that little shall be thine. What matter the gauds I thought to purchase? the dainty plume to deck my cap?" Still, in spite of himself, an unconscious sigh broke, as he spoke, from the breast of "Gentle Gottlob," at the anticipated renunciation of the braveries that were to give him a price in the eye of the fair object of his adoration. "Can my poor savings be better bestowed than upon thee?"

"I need not thy generous sacrifice, kind youth," replied Magdalena. "The pilgrim lacketh nothing in a Christian land; and soon I shall be beyond all want."

"Oh! speak not thus sadly," said Gottlob, taking her hand.

"I meant it not so sadly as you deem. I am resigned still to live on, until it please God to release me from this world of sin and sorrow, more easily resigned and with a calmer spirit, since, through the mist of solitary darkness around me, I see a way of hope that shines not upon me, but upon the bright forms most dear to me."

"What meanest thou, Magdalena?" cried the young man.

"Strive not to comprehend me," said the old woman in a more subdued tone—"I would not foster vain delusions;" and, as if to remove the impression of what she had said from Gottlob's mind, she hastily added, "You have not seen the Prince at Saaleck?"

"Alas, no!" replied the young artist. "My noble patron had already left the castle with a small retinue, and I was too late to meet him. It was said that he was gone upon a visit to all the various monasteries in this part of the country, in order to hold secret counsel with the different dignitaries of the church in his domain, respecting the late heresies that have appeared, and already spread so widely throughout the land."

Magdalena was about to answer, when a new and general movement among the crowd, showed that the expectation of the multitude was aroused. The tapers upon the altars in the church had been lighted in splendid profusion. The vapour of incense already scented the air, as it floated down the aisles. The organ pealed through the church; and the priests, in their sacerdotal robes, were seen advancing along the middle aisle towards the entrance, to meet the expected dignitary. But Gottlob and Magdalena gazed not upon this priestly show; their heads were turned in another direction, and looked from the church across the square. Their hearts beat with one feeling. Both murmured to themselves with one accord, "She comes!"

Already the pikes of the guard preceding the noble Ober-Amtmann appeared emerging from the street leading to the episcopal palace, and the soldiers, entering the square, cleared the way rudely through the crowd, when Magdalena again pressed tightly her companion's arm.

"Swear to me, young man," she whispered in a low and solemn tone, "as you value your salvation—swear to me ever to respect the purity and peace of mind of that innocent and happy girl, upon whose fair face I shall now gaze for the last time!"

Gottlob looked at the excited woman with much surprise.

"Swear to me that you will not trouble her unconscious heart with words of love, until, perhaps, a better time may come!" she continued, with hesitation.

"Magdalena, I understand thee not," replied the young man. "But before me she is as a holy saint of heaven, at whose shrine we may bow down and pray, but whom we cannot pollute with earthly touch."

"God grant you happiness, young man!" said Magdalena, dropping her flowing tears upon the hand she held in her own.

Gottlob's attention was too much absorbed in the sight of the one object of his eager gaze, to heed more seriously, at that moment, the strange and solemn adjuration of the old woman. His heart beat with intense violence, his cheek flushed, his mild blue eyes dilated with animation, as he followed along the square the form of Bertha, who was advancing in the procession by her father's side. And now she was about to mount the church steps, she would be obliged to pass close by him, perhaps near enough for her dress to touch his own; for the crowd was dense behind, and pressed forward upon those who stood, like him, in the foremost row. The agitation of his companion equaled, perhaps exceeded, his own.

The clergy now stood under the church gate—the preceding guards had stationed themselves on either side of the arch—the Ober-Amtmann, leading his daughter by the hand, had reached the broad surface of the highest step, where stood the aged female and the young artist, when the agitated Magdalena, unable to control her feelings as the governor and his fair child passed so near, bent lowly down, and seized the hem of Bertha's garment to kiss it unperceived. At that moment, a rude gripe seized her arm and dragged her up, and a harsh voice shrieked in her ear—"Touch her not, hag of hell, to cast thy infernal spells upon her!" A scream of terror burst from Magdalena as she recognised Black Claus, the witchfinder.

"Noble Ober-Amtmann, hear me!" cried the cripple, pushing forward with force, and arresting with a wild gesture the progress of the dignitary. "I here denounce, before your noble honour, this wretched woman as a most foul and most notorious witch."

In the rude attack thus made upon the unhappy woman—on her terror and surprise—the cross-topped pilgrim's staff slipped from her grasp, and slightly wounding the fair neck of Bertha, it fell upon the pavement, and was splintered into several pieces.

"See, see!" screamed the witchfinder, "how she strives to harm the innocent and good, and destroys and tramples under foot—curses on her!—the holy symbols of the church."

With a feeling of horror and alarm, for which the credence in witchcraft and its agents that pervaded all ranks and classes at that age gave full warrant, Bertha clung with a scream to her father's breast, and sought protection in his arms. At this sight the unhappy Magdalena uttered a bitter cry of despair, and raising her clasped hands aloft, exclaimed—"O God! Thou punishest me too bitterly."

"Hear ye," cried the witchfinder, "how she owneth her crime even in her blasphemy!"

With one arm the Ober-Amtmann pressed the terrified Bertha to his bosom, and, with the other, signed to some of the guards to surround the old woman. At this moment the sight of the blood which had trickled in a few insignificant drops upon her veil, caught the eye of the alarmed girl, and turning very pale, she held forth a crucifix, which hung about her neck, towards the spot where stood Magdalena, as if to exorcise the powers of witchcraft directed against her, and sobbed—"Oh! take her from my sight—save me—she would destroy me!"

"It is she condemns me!" cried Magdalena; and, with another heart-rending exclamation of despair, she fell forward to the earth as if in violent convulsions.

"See, see!" shouted Claus in triumph, "how the sight of the holy cross causes the devil within her to tear and rend her."

The bystanders shrank in horror from the prostrate form of the unhappy woman. The guards, who had approached, kept at a sufficient distance to avoid all contact with the reputed witch, although near enough to prevent her escape.

Petrified with astonishment and dismay at the strange scene that had passed thus rapidly before him, and shocked at the sight of Bertha's wound and terror, Gottlob had stood at first incapable of movement. But when he saw Magdalena thus stricken to the earth, he forgot all the terrors of witchcraft—he forgot the horrible denunciation—he forgot even Bertha's fainting form; the instinctive impulse of his kindly nature was to rush forward and to raise the poor old woman. Before he could reach her, however, twenty hands had pulled him back with force—twenty voices screamed in his ear, "Touch her not—beware!" In vain he struggled, and strove to extricate himself—in vain he protested the poor woman's innocence—he was held back by force.

In the meanwhile, although those nearest to the accused woman drew back with terror, the remoter crowd rushed forward towards the church steps in violent excitement, preferring loud cries of "A witch!—a witch! To the stake with her—to the stake!" The deeper voices of the men mingling with the shriller cries of the women and children.

In the midst of this scene of tumult, the Ober-Amtmann conveyed his daughter in his arms—for she had now completely fainted—to the church, and confided her to the care of her women. Upon returning, he sternly gave orders that the accused female should be placed in the prison of the town, with a guard before the door, until the denouncer should be heard against her.

"Come hither man, black cripple!" he continued, with some disgust, to Claus: "We know that the dreadful crime of witchcraft has, like heresy, made much and notable progress in the land of late; and although our reverend brother views the former abomination with more lenient eye than ourselves, we think that fagot and stake are but too slight a punishment for such black and damning sin. But still, of late, thy denunciations against this crime have much multiplied; and sometimes, it has seemed to our justice, upon but small and vague proof—although popular voice demanded the condemnation of the wretched women. Have a care, then, how thou wrongfully preferrest such a charge—have a care how thou jugglest with our sense of right and wrong; for though there seemeth, in truth, to be some appearance of the demon and his works in the horror which that woman has expressed for the symbols of our holy religion, and in the manner in which she has drawn blood from our young and innocent daughter, yet were we to find thy accusation to be inspired by motive or the spirit of falsehood, as we live that pile which threatens the sorceress and hag shall be thy own seat—the fire thy death-garment."

"Noble Amtmann," cried the witchfinder, undaunted by this address, "I fear not the proof. Again I denounce that woman as dealing in witchcraft, and consorting with the powers of darkness."

As the guard drew nearer, to force the unhappy woman with their pike-heads to rise from the ground, where she still lay crouched together, the wretched Magdalena raised her head, and her eyes fell upon the dark face of the witchfinder, as it glared upon her in triumph. The hideous yells of the crowd prevented her hearing the only faint voice of pity raised in her behalf—that of gentle Gottlob. Her brain whirled with terror—she thought that her last hour was come; and, with a heavy shudder throughout her whole frame, she fell senseless to the ground.


It has probably occurred to the reflecting student of logic, that the philosophers of the schools must have been sorely straitened in seeking for a definition of man, before they would have had recourse to such a derogation from his apparently higher attributes, as to define him by "animal risibile," or "animal bipes implumis." An attentive consideration will, however, show the enquirer, that to distinguish man from the remainder of the animal kingdom by his structural characteristics alone, is not so easy a task as would at first sight appear; and he will be obliged at length to return to some such humiliating designation of the genus animal, species homo, as those above given. Physical differences, indeed, there are between man and the other tribes of mammalia; but these differences are more matters of anatomical detail, than such salient notable exponents as would at once be recognised and admitted by the sceptical objector. The strength, moreover, of these differences resides in the whole collectively, and not in any one taken singly. If, however, the student take as his grounds for induction the habits of the species, instead of its structure, he will find a much broader line of demarcation. Wherever he examines the existing relations or former records of his race, and compares them with those of other animals, he will find that the instincts of the one are variable and progressive, those of the other are definite and stationary. As far as has ever been ascertained by the most accurate observer, the nest of the grossbeak, the dam of the beaver, the cone of the termites, were, ages ago, each similar in character, and equal in perfection, to those of the present day; while, whether we compare the rude wigwam of the uncivilized savage, or the more finished architecture of ancient Thebes, with the buildings, railroads, and shipping of the present day, we still find a continual variation, and a progressive adaptation to new wants. The psychological characteristics stand out then in fuller relief than the physiological; but yet the former are by no means free from grounds for cavil. Domestic animals acquire new habits, varying from their natural instincts. Admitting these to result from the teaching of man, it still shows—as does, indeed, the fact of domestication—a capability of progression; and some feeble instances of the faculty of learning may be detected even in the wild tribes of animals. Thus every thing becomes, if hypercritically examined, a question of degree, "demo unum, demo etiam unum," and the hundred years become an hour; nought is every thing, and every thing is nought. Rational investigation, then, should lead us to reject, or at least to set no undue value upon, extreme instances, or the merging shadows of boundaries; the spectrum consists of separate colours, though we may not tell where the red ends and the yellow begins.

The fair questions in examining the physiology and psychology of man, with a view to his place in the creation, are, 1st, Whether his distinctive marks and attributes, taken collectively, are such as broadly separate him from the rest of the animal kingdom; 2dly, Supposing such distinctions to exist now, whether they have existed at all periods of which we can acquire any evidence; and, 3dly, Whether these distinctions are common to the whole of the race to which the term man is applied, or whether different tribes of men differ inter se as much as the species viewed collectively differs from other species.

These, with other minor questions which arise out of them, are, as far as we can gather, the propositions discussed in the work before us—a work abounding in elaborate research and erudition, but somewhat deficient in logical precision or lucid arrangement; a mass of details is given, but the links whereby the generalizations from these are sought to be established, are here and there wanting, and here and there obscure. It is probably the fault of the subject, which is in its character inexact; but we certainly expected that more had been done; and from some passages in the early portions of the work, we were induced to believe that the author had succeeded in proving races of mankind to be more distinctly deducible from their sources, and that their physical and moral relations were more definitely traced. The following passage, in which the object of the work is enounced by the author, is wanting in precision and perspicuity:—

"That great differences in external conditions, by the double influence of their physical and moral agency, should have effected, during a long series of ages, remarkable changes in the tribes of human beings subjected to their operation—changes which have rendered these several tribes fitted in a peculiar manner for their respective abodes—is by no means an improbable conjecture; and it becomes something more than a conjecture, when we extend our view to the diversified breeds of those animals which men have domesticated, and have transferred with themselves from one climate to another. Considered in this point of view, it acquires, perhaps, the character of a legitimate theory, supported by adequate evidence, and by an extensive series of analogous facts.

"But we must not omit to observe, that to this opinion there is an alternative, and one which many persons prefer to maintain; namely, that the collective body of mankind is made up of different races, which have differed from each other in their physical and moral nature from the beginning of their existence. To determine which of these two opinions is the best entitled to assent, or at least to set before my readers a clear and distinct notion of the evidence that can be brought to bear upon the question, will be my principal object in the following work."

Now, as they are here stated, the two opinions are not necessarily contradictory; differences in external condition may effect remarkable changes in tribes of human beings, and yet the collective body may be made up of different races: and to set before the reader a clear and distinct notion, is to prove nothing, although indeed, as we shall see in the sequel, the author has a very strong conviction, and believes that he succeeds in proving, as far as a matter incapable of mathematical demonstration can be proved, the negative of the latter proposition. What the author seems to intend, or rather what the whole tenor of his book imports, though his expressions at times go much further, is, not that community of origin is proved inductively by the researches which have been made into the existing and past state of man, but that the natural history of man presents nothing inconsistent with such a view.

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