HotFreeBooks.com
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 61, No. 379, May, 1847
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Ah, maldito!" he exclaimed with a laugh of triumph; "we have you now. Federico, the rose-coloured lady is ten times more surely yours, than if you had remained in the closet and his Excellency had not discovered you. Follow, and be silent. Whatever happens, not a word till I bid you; then speak boldly, and tell what you know."

Through winding corridors, up and down stairs, along galleries where sentries stood like statues, Geronimo led the way, until he reached a room whose door was opened by a gigantic lackey in the gaudy royal livery. Federico, who followed close upon his heels, suddenly found himself in the presence of a number of men, for the most part elderly and of grave respectable aspect, who stood in small knots about the apartment, or sat at tables on which were wine and refreshments, conversing in a low tone. Amongst these a hum of interest arose on Regato's entrance; and under cover of the attention he attracted, his companion passed unnoticed.

It at once flashed upon Federico, that he had penetrated into that notorious Camarilla or secret council of King Ferdinand VII., so much spoken of, so often cursed and scoffed at, so greatly feared, and justly hated. This was the cringing and pernicious conclave, of whose vile proceedings so many tales were told; these were the men, of all ranks and classes, who poured into the jealous despot's ear the venom of calumny and falsehood; these the spies and traitors who, by secret and insidious denunciations, brought sudden arrest and unmerited punishment upon their innocent fellow-citizens, and who kept the King advised of all that passed in Madrid, from the amorous intrigues of a grocer's wife, to the political ones concerted in the cabinet of the Infante Don Carlos.

The student's first uneasiness at finding himself upon such new and perilous ground, vanished when he saw that he was wholly unheeded. He remembered to have heard that persons once admitted to the camarilla, and honoured by the King's confidence, were at liberty to return when they thought fit, at short or long intervals; and thus it might well happen that some of the members were unknown to each other. And on that night, these illicit counsellors of majesty were evidently preoccupied with some pressing and important matter. They crowded round Regato, took his arm, seized him by the button, whispered so eagerly, and questioned him so fast, that the little man lost all patience.

"Hands off, gentlemen!" he cried. "Which of you will buy me a new coat when you have torn mine? 'Tis true that this morning our gracious lord the King was very ill: but I hear that he is now better; and by the grace of our blessed Lady, he will rejoice his humble and loving slaves, and dispel their deep anxiety, by the sunshine of his presence."

The words had scarce left Geronimo's lips, when the opening of a side-door proved the signal for a respectful silence in the apartment. The whole assembly bowed profoundly, and preserved that posture, although no cause was yet apparent for such extraordinary greeting. At last one showed itself, in the person of a man who tottered slowly and feebly into the room, supported on the arms of two attendants, his livid and bloated countenance distorted by a smile as painful to behold as if compelled by thumbscrews. The face of the new comer, who nodded in reply to the humble salutation of the camarilla, might once have been handsome, but it could never have been intellectual or prepossessing, and now it was hideously cadaverous and ghastly. The features were those characterising a well-known family, world-renowned for the high places it has filled, rather than for the virtues or abilities of its members. The eyes were sunk deep in their sockets, the straight, scanty black hair shaded a brow blue and transparent from disease; the tall person and once well-formed limbs were swollen and unwieldy. The sick man's dress would have suited some plain burgher of Madrid, taking his use in his summer-house: it consisted of a light nankeen jacket, a white neckcloth knotted loosely round the throat, linen trousers, and large shoes. He seemed scarcely able to set foot to ground, and the agony each step occasioned him betrayed itself in spasmodic twitchings of the nerves and muscles. Still there was a violent effort of the will to conceal the pangs that racked the enfeebled frame; a fruitless attempt, by the assumption of smiling case and gracious condescension, to hide, even from himself, the approach of that equalising hour when human greatness and human misery sink to one level.

The sick man propped himself against a table, beside which stood an easy-chair, and with an affable wave of his hand, addressed the company.

"Good evening, senores!" he said: "we have felt ourselves somewhat unwell, and our careful physician Castillo, as also our trusty Grijalva, was solicitous on our account. But we would not put off this meeting. We love to meet our good friends, and are not to be kept from them, by slight bodily inconvenience. Men fancy us more ailing than we are. You can refute such reports. What say you, Mexas—and you, Salcedo? Is our aspect so very sickly? We know that many build hopes upon our death; but they are mistaken, and by Our Lady, they shall be disappointed."

"God preserve our gracious lord a thousand years!" exclaimed several voices.

"An example should be made," said the man appealed to as Salcedo, "of the traitors who dare spread lying reports concerning the royal health."

"'Tis too true," observed another, "that such rumours are used to the most criminal ends."

"We will sit down," said the sick monarch. And with the assistance of his attendants, he deposited his exhausted person in the elbow-chair. "Drink, my friends, and tell me the news. Give me a cigar, good Castillo. Senor Regato, how goes it? what is new in our fair city of Madrid?"

"Little is heard," replied Geronimo, "save lamentations for the indisposition of our beloved master."

"The good people!" exclaimed Ferdinand. "We will have care of their happiness."

"And yet," said a little old man with a countenance of repulsive ugliness, "there be reprobates who laugh whilst all true and faithful subjects weep. There is my neighbour, the merchant Alvaro. Yesterday he married his daughter to a young nobleman, Don Francisco Palavar, who claims relationship with the Marquis of Santa Cruz. The wedding-guests were numerous; they sang and danced, and rejoiced beyond measure. Senor Alvaro, said I, are you not ashamed to be so joyous at such a time? 'Friend,' was his answer, 'let the times wag—they are certainly bad enough, but must soon change. All things have an end. We rejoice in hopes of a better future.'"

"The wretch!" exclaimed another of the camarilla. "I know him well; he was always a negro."

"A knave grown gray in the sins of the Exaltados," cried a third.

"He must be looked to," said the sick King. "Salcedo, what have you to tell?"

"I have gathered intelligence," replied Salcedo, "from an equerry of a certain illustrious personage." He paused, and looked meaningly at the King, whose brow contracted, and whose lips muttered a well-known name. "The equerry," Salcedo said, "tattled of great bustle and many visits at his master's palace. For days past its court-yard had been filled with carriages, bringing generals, ministers, dignitaries of the church, and many officers, chiefly of the Royal Guard." On hearing this, a feverish and uneasy flush reddened Ferdinand's pale countenance, and his dim eyes glared angrily.

"I know them," he said, "the old conspirators, the Catalan volunteers, the agraviados. Why have I not heard this sooner? But I will take order with them. Ha, Tadeo!—you there? Why has this been kept from me?"

Uttering these last words, the King looked directly at the spot where Federico stood. So, at least, it seemed to the student, who, much confused, and apprehensive of discovery, averted his eyes from the royal gaze. But his embarrassment was exchanged for consternation, when he beheld, in the person addressed by Ferdinand as Tadeo, his recent antagonist, the affianced of Rosaura. The Count, who stood at his elbow, gave him but one look, but that one comprised every thing—astonishment, anger, hatred, confidence of power, and a fixed determination of revenge. A chill came over the poor student, and he debated in his mind whether to rush from the room, or to fall at the King's feet and reveal all he knew. His first surprise over, and seeing that Don Tadeo took no further notice of him, he thought it wisest to follow Geronimo's directions and remain quiet.

"My gracious liege," said Tadeo to the King, with his usual gloomy decision of manner, "it was unnecessary to importune your majesty by such reports, seeing that they are merely lying devices of the evil-disposed. And even were it true that many visits are paid to that palace, its master has right and reason to receive them, without—"

By an impatient gesture, the King interrupted the speaker.

"It needs but to name the visitors," said Regato, with a quick sharp glance at Tadeo. "Eguia is one of them; San Juan, O'Donnel, Moreno, Caraval, are others."

"Has it not been remarked," said Mexas, with a sarcastic smile, "that in the apartments of a certain illustrious lady, meetings are also held, to which repair the Dukes of San Lorenzo and Fernando, Martinez de la Rosa, Cambronero, and many others? What can be said against that?"

A dead silence followed this bold remark: all knew well who the illustrious lady was who thus assembled round her the leaders of the Liberals. Suddenly the ominous pause was broken by the voice of Federico, to whom Regato had made a sign, significant although barely perceptible.

"Don Tadeo," cried the audacious student, his mellow manly tones ringing through the apartment, "is a traitor to his King. This very night he delivered an all-important document to an agent of the Infante Don Carlos."

The words were an electric shock to the camarilla. The King started, and showed symptoms of extraordinary agitation. "What is that? Who says that?" he cried, rising from his chair with the vigour of sudden excitement. "Who knows of the document? where is it? Seize him—he shall explain,—confess!"

"Seize the scoundrel," cried Tadeo, "who has dared intrude himself hither."

"My guards! my guards!" cried the King, his eyes rolling wildly, his features frightfully convulsed. "Where is the paper? Tadeo, I will have it back! Ha! what is this! mercy! blessed Virgin, mer——!" The word was unfinished; and Ferdinand, doubly tortured by bodily pain and mental anguish, fell back into the arms of his physician.

"The King is dead!" exclaimed Tadeo. "Help here!"

The camarilla crowded round Ferdinand, who lay without sense or motion. "What is it, Senor Castillo?" said Tadeo. The physician let fall his patient's wrist.

"A sudden paroxysm, your Excellency," he replied in a low voice. "It was to be apprehended—all is over!"

The Count turned away, and his eye fell upon Federico, who, seeing resistance useless, stood passive in the custody of several of the camarilla. With a vindictive frown, Tadeo pulled open the student's cloak, and pointed to his skirtless coat.

"You cannot deny it," he said. "The proof of your guilt is in my possession. Who is the fellow?"

Geronimo Regato stepped forward and stared in the student's face.

"What!" cried he, "is not that Don Federico, the young advocate, well known in the coffee-houses as a virulent Exaltado, a determined scoffer, a propagator of atrocious doctrines?"

"I thought as much," said the Count. "None but such an unprincipled scoundrel would dare to act the spy in the very palace. Call the guard, and away with him to prison. Let this man be securely ironed," he added, to the soldiers who now entered; "and let none have speech of him."

The order was promptly obeyed. A very brief space elapsed before Federico found himself in a narrow dungeon, stretched on damp straw, with manacles on hands and feet. In total darkness, and seated despondingly upon his comfortless couch, the events of the evening appeared to him like some frightful nightmare. But in vain did he rub his eyes and try to awake from his imaginary sleep; the terrible reality forced itself upon him. He thought of Rosaura, the original cause of his misfortunes, and almost doubted whether she were indeed a woman, or some demon in angel's form, sent to lure him to destruction. Of Geronimo, too, he thought with feelings of inexpressible bitterness. He, the friend in whom he had placed such implicit reliance, to betray him thus; for his own advantage, doubtless, and to draw his own head out of the noose! There were none, then, to whom he could now look for succour. The King was dead; his successor, the apostolical ruler, the partisan and defender of the Inquisition, whose name, for years past, had been the rallying-cry of the disaffected, owed his crown to the powerful Tadeo whom the student had offended and ill treated, whose love he had dared to cross, whose revenge he must now encounter. Federico felt that his fate was sealed. Already he heard, in imagination, the clank of ponderous fetters in the dismal halls of the Inquisition; already he saw the terrible machines—the screws and weights, the ladder and iron couch, and felt the burning sulphur, as it was dropped hissing upon his naked flesh by the masked and pitiless executioner. He thought of Arguelles, the Divine, whom he had seen an animated corpse, his limbs crushed and distorted by similar tortures; and in spite of his natural courage, a shudder came over him as he heard the bars of his dungeon door withdrawn, and the heavy bolts shot back into their sockets. The next instant he closed his eyes, dazzled by a glare of light.

When he re-opened them, the Count, or Tadeo, whichever was his most fitting appellation, stood before him. With the courage of pride and despair, Federico boldly met his searching gaze. For some moments they looked at each other in silence, broken at last by Tadeo.

"I come to question you," he said: "answer truly, and your captivity may be very brief. Deceive me, and your life shall be yet shorter. Your crimes shall meet their just reward."

"I am guilty of no crime," retorted Federico. "I am the victim of circumstances."

"And what are they?" eagerly inquired the Count.

Federico was silent.

"Do you know me, Senor?" said the Count.

"No," was the reply.

"Beware, then, lest you learn to know me too well. What did you, concealed in yonder closet? Where is the paper you robbed me of? Who admitted you into the house? Do you belong to a secret society? Were you sent as a spy? A dagger was found in the closet: did you come to assassinate me?"

He paused after each question, but Federico answered none of them, save the last, to which he replied by a stern negative. "You had best confess," resumed Tadeo. "If you are no political offender, if no criminal project led you where I found you, I pledge my word, Senor—and I pledge it only to what I can and will perform—you shall at once be released."

"I can say but this," replied the prisoner; "it was not my object to overhear you: an accident conducted me where you discovered me, and I heartily regret that a casual noise betrayed my presence."

"Is that all you will say?"

"All."

"You know not with whom you deal," cried the Count. Then, lowering his voice, and with a smile that he strove to render amiable. "It was, perhaps, a love-affair," he said. "Young man, which of Dona Rosaura's handmaidens did you seek? Who introduced you into that apartment? Tell me this, satisfy me on a point that concerns myself personally, and not only will I forget all, but remain your debtor."

Whilst thus he spoke, the Count's features expressed very different sentiments from those announced by his smooth and placable speech. In their convulsive workings, and in the savage fire of his eyes, jealousy and hatred were plainly to be read; he looked like a tiger about to spring upon its prey.

"Senor," said Federico contemptuously, "you waste time. If a lady did introduce me into your house, rest assured I am not base enough to reveal her name. From me you get no further answer. Do with me as you will. In this unhappy land, might is above right."

"Wretch!" exclaimed the Count, fiercely advancing upon his undaunted captive; "you have betrayed yourself. I will destroy you, knave, like an insect. A lady conceal you! What audacious slander is this?" He struggled with his rage, and, mastering himself, resumed. "It has been proved that you are the spy of a dangerous and treasonable association. Where is the paper you stole?"

"I have no paper," replied Federico, "and will answer no more questions. I am in your power; do your worst."

The Count stepped to the dungeon door, and summoned two men in waiting outside. Whilst one of them searched Federico, closely examining each pocket and fold of his dress, but without discovering the much-coveted document, the other listened respectfully to the Count, who gave him instructions in a low voice. His last words, which reached the ear of the student, were not calculated to reassure him as to the future. "Be it so," said Don Tadeo. "The necessary warrant shall at once be made out, and then—despatch." And with a vindictive glance at his prisoner, he left the prison.

It was some consolation to the unfortunate Federico, when again in dismal solitude, and with the prospect of a cruel death before his eyes, to reflect on the firmness he had shown, and on the agony of jealous doubt he had inflicted on his rival. In his defenceless and desperate circumstances, such revenge was doubly sweet; and for a while he dwelt on it with pleasure. Then his thoughts took other direction, and an active and excited imagination transported him from that gloomy cell to the chamber of the beautiful cause of his misfortunes. She knelt before a crucifix, and wept and prayed for him. He heard her breathe his name, and invoke the saints to his assistance; and in a transport of love and gratitude he extended his arms to clasp her to his heart. They were rudely checked by the chain that linked them to the wall. And now pale spectres flitted through the gloom, and grinned at him with their skeleton mouths, and murmured in his ear that he must die, and never again see her whose kiss was yet hot upon his lips. And the last ominous words and deadly look of his foe recurred to him, chasing all hope. Who would miss him, the humble and friendless student; who inquire where or how he had met his fate? Far greater than he, the wealthy, the titled, the powerful, had met the fate he anticipated, at hangman's hands, in the dark and silent recesses of Spanish dungeons. To the long list of illustrious victims, he, an insignificant one, would be added unnoticed. And the remembrance of those who had preceded him, ennobling an ignominious death, gave Federico courage. "Yes!" he exclaimed aloud. "I will die, as so many great and good men have died before me! Would that I had done service to my poor oppressed country, something to deserve the tyrant's hate! But for thee, Rosaura, will I gladly perish, and to thee only shall my last sigh be given."

His words yet echoed in the dungeon, when he heard steps at the door, and its fastenings again withdrawn. This time, he doubted not it was his death-warrant and the executioner. Nerving himself to endure the worst, he gazed sternly and steadily at his visitors.

"That is he," said the turnkey, to a tall, sullen-looking man.

"Take off his chains," was the answer; "and you, senor, follow me."

"Quick with your work," cried Federico. "Call your aids. I am prepared."

"Silence and follow!" harshly replied the stranger. "Lucky for you if you are prepared for all."

Without the dungeon stood a third man, muffled in a short mantle. Federico shuddered. "Another of the hangman brood!" he murmured. "Lead on, I fear thee not!" The man followed without a word. After traversing several corridors, they ascended a lofty staircase. Behind each door Federico fancied a torture chamber or a garrote, but none of them revealed what he expected. At last his conductor paused.

"Are you ready," he said, "to appear before your Supreme Judge?"

"I am ready," Federico solemnly replied.

"Then enter here."

A door opened, the student set foot across the threshold, and uttered a cry of surprise. Instead of the garrote, instead of racks and torturers, he beheld a gorgeous saloon, brilliantly lighted up with a profusion of wax tapers. Five or six men of distinguished mien and elegant appearance, with stars and orders upon their breasts, were grouped round a large carved chair, and looked curiously and expectantly at Federico. But he scarcely observed them. Even on a lady of great beauty and majestic aspect, who sat in the chair, wrapped in a costly mantle of embroidered velvet, his attention was fixed but for an instant, for behind her stood another lady, somewhat pale and anxious-looking, but who yet bore so strong a resemblance to the cause of his sufferings, to her of the rose-coloured robe, to Rosaura herself, that all the blood in his veins rushed to his heart. Her name hovered on his lips, and, forgetting everything but love and newly-revived hope, he was about to spring forward and throw himself at her feet, when the lady in the chair addressed him.

"Remain there, senor," she said with a smile and gracious movement of her head, as if she divined the impulse to which the impetuous student so nearly yielded. "You have had strange adventures, I am told, within the last few hours. They will terminate happily for you, if you tell me the whole truth, and relate without reserve all that has occurred. Where have you passed this night? What took you to the house in which you were found hidden? What heard you there?"

"Senora," replied Federico, respectfully, but firmly; "I have already preferred death to the revelation of a secret that is not mine. My resolution is unchanged. I can answer no questions."

The lady cast a friendly and approving glance at the steadfast youth.

"Now, by our Lady," she said, turning to the gentlemen around her, "this is a chivalrous fidelity, right pleasant to behold in these unchivalrous days. I doubt not, young Sir, that the lady of your affections will know how to repay it. But here are great interests at stake, and your excuse may not avail. You must relate all, truly and without reserve. And to remove your scruples, know that the secret you have so bravely kept is no longer one for any here present. Proceed!"

A look from Rosaura confirmed this assurance, and without farther hesitation, Federico told his adventures, and repeated the dialogue he had heard from the closet. At times the listeners seemed surprised; at times they smiled, or looked significantly at each other, and spoke together in brief whispers. Twice had the student to tell his tale, and his words were taken down by one of the gentlemen present. That done, the lady rose quickly from her chair, laid a hand upon his shoulder, and fixing her keen bright eyes searchingly upon his face, pointed to the deposition.

"Can you swear to that?" she cried. "Is it all true? Before God and his saints, did all pass as you have said? No word too much or too little? Saw you the document with your own eyes? Santa Madre! Is it possible? Surely it cannot be; and yet—my friends, what say you? What think you, Duke of San Fernando, and you, Marquis of Santa Cruz? What says his Grace of San Lorenzo, and our discreet friend, Martinez de la Rosa? No, I need not fear, whilst thus surrounded by the best and wisest in the land. Cambronero, advise us. How may we defeat the machinations of our crafty foes?"

The gentleman who had written down the deposition, raised his head, and Federico recognised the features of one renowned throughout Spain as a wise counsellor and learned lawyer. With surprise and respect the student gazed at the distinguished and illustrious persons he had just heard named.

"Much depends," said Cambronero, "on his Majesty's health. If unhappily he departs this life without regaining consciousness, we must recover the surreptitiously obtained document at point of sword. No other course will then be open to us. But if, by God's gracious mercy, the king's senses return, not a moment must be lost in obtaining from his hand a revocation of the act. He must be told every thing; he must be shown how his confidence has been abused, and what base advantage has been taken of a momentary weakness. He must hear the witnesses whom Heaven has raised up for your Majesty."

"Ha!" cried the lady, with an impatient and energetic gesture, "you are right, Cambronero; we must act! All that can be done, Christina will do. They shall not triumph by weakness of hers! Don Fernando still lives, can yet retract. He shall hear how they have laboured to bring shame upon his name; shall learn the perfidy of those who have environed him with their snares! I go to tell him."

The Queen left the room. "To me it seems, Senores," said Cambronero, a quiet smile playing on his shrewd features, "that things have happened for the best, and that the result of all this is not doubtful, provided only the king be not already dead. The Apostolicals have been active. Their creatures have worked their way even into the cabinet and the camarilla. The guards, the captains-general, and many officers of state are long since gained over. In all cases, on King Ferdinand's death, a war is inevitable. The succession to the throne is a Gordian knot, to be cut only by the sword. The Infante will never yield his claim, or admit as valid the abrogation of the ancient Salic law.[5] And doubtless the crown would be his, were not the people and the spirit of the times opposed to him. He is retrograde; the Spain of to-day is and must be progressive. The nation is uneasy; it hates despotic government and the inquisition; it ferments from north to south, from Portugal to the Mediterranean; but that fermentation would lack a rallying point without the decree which commands all to cling to Christina and her children, and repel the Infante. The partisans of Carlos have striven to obtain by craft what they could not hope to conquer by the strong hand, and they have succeeded in making a dying monarch revoke in a moment of delirium or imbecility that all-important act. The revocation is in the hands of the Infante; the Salic law is once more the law of the land, and Christina's children are in their turn disinherited. And if it is impossible to restore the king to consciousness, I fear——"

"What?" cried the Marquis of Santa Cruz.

"That we are on the eve of a great revolution."

"Hush!" said the Duke of San Lorenzo, looking anxiously around him. "These are dangerous words, my friend." And his eye fell upon the handsome countenance of Martinez de la Rosa, who smiled thoughtfully.

"Call it reform, Cambronero," he said; "wise progress of the times, moderate, cautious, adapted to the circumstances; not rash, reckless, sweeping revolution."

The lawyer cast a keen glance at the former minister of the Cortes.

"Reform!" he cried. "Ay, certainly; but what reform? Does Senor de la Rosa mean such reform as he helped to bring about? I bid him beware: these are no times for trifling. Here we stand, but a few paces from the death-bed of a powerful prince. He fettered this revolution or reform; but, Senores, it was only for a while and in appearance. Like the mole, it has laboured and advanced, surely and unseen. Happy for our king if he expires before the vanity of his efforts, and the inutility of the bloodshed and misery they have occasioned, are demonstrated; before he learns that a principle never dies, though all the artillery of the world be brought to bear upon it. History judges the dead; nations judge the living. Let us so act that we may stand with honour before both tribunals."

"The subject leads us too far," said the poet and minister, rising from his chair and glancing at Federico, who, struck and delighted by Cambronero's words, gazed at him with expanded brow and flashing eyes. "Let us beware of kindling fanaticism: coolness and prudence are becoming to men, and, God knows, we need both."

He took Cambronero's arm, and led him to the other end of the spacious apartment. The noblemen followed, and the conversation was resumed in a lower tone. So enthralling had been the interest with which Federico had listened to the words of these influential Liberals, that for an instant he had neglected Rosaura, who stood nearly concealed behind the swelling cushions and high gilt back of the throne-like chair. Her beautiful face wore an anxious, inquiring expression, which seemed to reproach him with forgetting her; but as he drew near, she smiled, and rays of love and hope broke from beneath her long dark lashes. And under the magic influence of those beaming eyes, Federico's doubts and fears vanished like frost before mid-day sun, and were replaced by a transport of blissful emotion.

"Rosaura!" he exclaimed, "what unspeakable joy is this! Strange, indeed, have been the events of the night! The wonders of Arabian tales are realised. A moment ago, I awaited death in a dungeon; and behold I am in a king's chamber, and at your feet, Rosaura. Explain these things, adored mistress of my heart! How do we thus meet? How came you hither?"

"With our friend, Geronimo Regato," replied the lady.

"The traitor!" indignantly exclaimed Federico. "No thanks to him if I escape with life."

"Judge not so hastily," cried Rosaura: "you know not all you owe Regato. From him I first heard your name. He was my confidant; he knew my aversion to the detested man, who considered me already his own. My father, of an old family, although not of the highest nobility, was President of the Burgos Tribunal, and by commercial transactions in the time of the Constitution, he acquired great wealth. My hated suitor is also sprung from the people. My father was his friend, and at one time had to thank his influence for escape from persecution. Out of gratitude he promised him my hand, and, dying a year ago, left him my guardian. In that capacity he administered my estates, and had me in his power. But, thanks to the Virgin, I am at last free from his odious control."

She gazed tenderly at Federico, and held out her hand, which he covered with kisses. But she hastily withdrew it, on becoming aware that their proceedings were observed by the group of politicians.

"Is this the time and place?" she said, with a smile of sweet confusion and arch reproach. "And yet, Federico, best beloved, why should I feign indifference, or conceal that my heart is wholly yours?"

"Angel!" cried the enraptured student, trembling with ecstasy.

"Hush!" whispered Rosaura. "Cambronero looks and laughs at us. Hear me, Federico. The decisive moment approaches; but I fear it not—I love and hope. It was Geronimo, disguised as a Gallego, who brought you to my abode; Geronimo, hates him whom we hate; he knew me as a child, was my father's friend, and loves us both. He spoke to me of you long before I saw you; he told me the hour of your walks in the Prado. At the first glance I recognised you."

"And where is that singular man?" Federico inquired.

"I know not, but doubtless at no great distance. This night, a few hours ago, I lay sleepless on my pillow, anxious for your fate, when a carriage stopped at the door. It was surrounded with guards and torch-bearers, and I was told that my presence was instantly required at the palace. My alarm at so untimely a summons was dissipated by the arrival of Geronimo. 'Fear nothing,' he said: 'the hour of happiness is at hand. He whom you hate is vanquished. Federico is his conqueror.'"

"I his conqueror!" cried the student. And then, recalling all that had occurred. "Strange destiny!" he continued. "Yes, I now see that the secret intrigues of a dangerous and powerful man have been revealed by my means. But who is he? I in vain conjecture."

"You do not know him?" cried Rosaura, greatly astonished—"not know——?" She suddenly paused, for at that moment the door burst open, and the Queen entered the room, in extreme haste and violent agitation.

"His Majesty is recovered," she exclaimed, her voice shrill and quivering with contending emotions; "his swoon is over, God's grace be thanked. I have spoken, my noble friends, and not in vain. The King will himself hear the witnesses. These young people must come with me. Call Geronimo Regato. Remain here, Cambronero, and all of you; I must see you again, I need your counsel—desert me not!"

"When your majesty next honours us with your presence," said Cambronero, bowing low, and raising his voice, "it will be as Queen Regent of Spain."

Regato entered the room, and Federico rubbed his eyes in fresh astonishment. It was the same man in the dark mantle who had followed him from his dungeon to the Queen's audience chamber, and whom he had taken for an executioner. Gradually the mysteries of the night unravelled themselves. He understood that if Regato had accused him, it had been to avert suspicion from himself, and that he might work more effectually for both, by revealing to the Queen or to Cambronero what he had learned from Federico, and by placing before them the list of the conspirators. Musing upon this, and each moment more convinced of Geronimo's wisdom and good faith, he followed the Queen, who, with rapid step, led him and Rosaura through a suite of splendid apartments. Stopping before a door, she turned to the student.

"Speak fearlessly," she said: "suppress no word of truth, and reckon on my favour and protection."

Federico bowed. The door turned noiselessly on its hinges, and the Queen paused a moment as in anger and surprise, whilst a dark glow flushed her excited and passionate countenance. From the door a view was commanded of the whole apartment, which was dimly lighted, and occupied by several persons, standing in a half circle, round a bed placed near a marble chimneypiece. Upon this bed, propped by cushions into a half sitting posture, lay Ferdinand VII., his suffering features and livid complexion looking ghastly and spectral in the faint light, and contrasted with the snow-white linen of his pillow. A black-robed priest knelt at his feet, and mumbled the prayer for the dying; Castillo the physician held his arm, and reckoned the slow throbs of the feeble pulse. At the bed-side sat a lady, her hands folded on the velvet counterpane, her large dark eyes glancing uneasily, almost fiercely, around the room—her countenance by no means that of a sorrowing and resigned mourner.

"The document!" groaned the sick man, with painful effort; "the document, where is it? To your hands I intrusted it; from you I claim it back. Produce it instantly."

"My gracious sovereign," replied the person addressed—and at the sound of that sinister voice, Federico felt Rosaura's hand tremble in his—"my gracious sovereign, that paper, that weighty and important document, signed after wise and long deliberation, cannot thus lightly be revoked by a momentary impulse."

"Where is it?" interrupted the King angrily.

"In the safest keeping."

"In the hands of the Infante," cried the Queen, entering the room, and approaching the bed.

"Traitor!" exclaimed Ferdinand, making a violent but fruitless effort to raise himself. "Is it thus you repay my confidence?"

"Hear me, gracious sir," cried Tadeo; but his tongue faltered, and he turned deadly pale, for just then he perceived Rosaura, Federico, and Regato standing at the door.

"Hear these," said the Queen, placing her arm affectionately round her suffering husband, and bowing her head over him, whilst tears, real or feigned, of sympathy or passion, fell fast from her eyes. "They have betrayed you, Sire; they have abused your confidence; they have conspired against me, against you, against your innocent children. Approach, Don Federico; speak freely and fearlessly. You are under the safeguard of your King, who demands of you the entire truth."

"Enough!" said Ferdinand; "I have read the young man's deposition. Look at it, sir," he added, to Tadeo, pointing to the paper, "and deny it if you can."

Tadeo obeyed; as he read, his hand visibly shook, and at last he dropped the paper, and sank upon his knee.

"I cannot deny it," he said, in a troubled voice, "but let your majesty hear my justification. I implore permission to explain my conduct."

The little lady who sat beside the King's bed sprang to her feet, her countenance flaming with wrath, and rushed upon the kneeling man. Unbridled rage flashed from her eyes, and distorted each feature of her face.

"Traitor!" she cried, "where is the document? what have you done with it? You stole it, to deliver to men as vile and base as yourself! Traitor, produce it!"

"Madam!" exclaimed the astonished object of this furious apostrophe.

His remonstrance was cut short, for, quick as lightning, the ungovernable Infanta raised her hand, and let it fall upon his face with such vigour and good will, that the minister, unprepared for so unwomanly an assault, staggered backwards, and narrowly avoided a fall.

"Carlotta!" cried the Queen, seizing her sister's arm, and restraining her from further violence.

"The villain! the traitor!" shrieked the Infanta, in tones that resounded through the palace.

"Away with him from my sight!" cried Ferdinand, his voice growing fainter as he spoke. "The Queen, whom I appoint Regent during my illness, will decide upon his fate. I myself strip him of all offices and honours. Away with him, and for ever! You are no longer my minister, TADEO CALOMARDE. Oh, God! what a bitter deception! He too! He too! By all the saints, he shall rue it. His treachery is my death-stroke!"

The King sank back like a corpse upon his cushions; but presently recovered himself, and with all speed, before the assembled ministers, the extorted decree was annulled, the Pragmatic Sanction again declared in full force, and the Queen nominated Regent. Whilst this took place, Federico, unheeded in the bustle of such important business, remained like one entranced. It was Calomarde, then, the man whose ruthless hand had been so pitilessly stretched forth over the suffering land—it was the all-powerful minister, the curse of Spain, the butcher of the noble Torrijos and his unhappy companions, whom he, the insignificant student, had cast down from his high state! The giant had succumbed before the pigmy; the virtual ruler of the kingdom had fallen by the agency of one whom, a day previously, he might with impunity have annihilated. Events so extraordinary and of such rapid occurrence, were hard to comprehend; and Federico had scarcely convinced himself of their reality, when he received, a few hours afterwards, a summons to the Queen's presence.

The morning sun shone into the royal apartment, revealing the traces of a sleepless night and recent agitation upon the handsome features of the newly-made Regent. She received the student with a smile, and placed Rosaura's hand in his.

"Fear nothing from Calomarde," she said. "He has fled his well-merited punishment. Those sent for his arrest, sought him in vain. You are under my protection, Rosaura—and you also, Don Federico. You have established a lasting claim upon my gratitude, and my friendship shall never fail you."

It does not appear how long these fair promises were borne in mind by a queen whose word, since that time, has been far oftener pledged than redeemed. Perhaps she thought she had acquitted herself of all obligations when, three months later, she honoured with her presence the nuptials of Federico and Rosaura, and with her own hand twined a costly wreath of brilliants through the sable ringlets of the beautiful bride. And perhaps the young couple neither needed nor desired further marks of her favour; for they withdrew from Madrid to reside in happy retirement upon Rosaura's estates. Geronimo Regato went with them; and for a while was their welcome guest. But his old habits were too confirmed to be eradicated, even by the influence of those he loved best. The atmosphere of a court, the excitement of political intrigue, were essential to his existence, and he soon returned to the capital. There, under a very different name from that by which he has here been designated, he played an important part in the stirring epoch that succeeded the death of Ferdinand the Well-beloved.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] By the Pragmatic Sanction, promulgated during the first pregnancy of Christina, in May 1830.



THE VISIBLE AND TANGIBLE.

A METAPHYSICAL FRAGMENT.

Those who have made their way through the German systems of idealism, from Kant to Hegel—destined in a future age to form one of the most curious chapters in the history, or romance, of philosophy—have probably, for the most part, come to the conclusion of their task, with the profound impression of the futility of the study of metaphysics, which, full of labour, is yet fruitless as idleness. L'art de s'egarer avec methode—such it has been wittily defined, and such our Teutonic neighbours have been resolved to demonstrate it. Yet, this is not altogether the impression, we think, which such a course of study ought to produce: a better lesson may be drawn from it. There is, after all, a right as well as a wrong method of philosophising. The one leads, it may be, but to a few modest results, of no very brilliant or original character, yet of sterling value and importance. The other may conduct to startling paradox, to applauded subtleties, to bold and novel speculations, but baseless, transient, treacherous. It evidently requires something more than intellectual keenness; it requires the virtue of forbearance, and a temperate spirit, to adhere to sober rectitude of thought, and eschew the temptations that a daring and self-willed philosophy displays. Such is the lesson which these "follies of the wise" ought to inculcate. They should lead us to intrench ourselves more securely than ever within the sound rules for the investigation of truth.

Philosophise men will—men must. Even the darkest paths, and the most labyrinthine of metaphysics, must be perpetually trodden. In vain is it proclaimed that they lead back only to the point of ignorance from which they started; in vain is it demonstrated that certain problems are indemonstrable. If the same race of men lived for ever upon the earth, such inextricable problems might at length be set at rest. But each new generation finds them as fresh and attractive as if they had never been touched, never probed and tortured by fruitless examination; to each generation they appear in all the unabated charms of mystery; to each generation must their solution at least be shown to be unattainable. In vain you write over the portal Lasciate ogni speranza! there is always a band of youth newly arrived before the gates, who will rush in.

It is futile, therefore, to think of discarding metaphysics; if a good system is not adopted, its contrary will speedily prevail. "A good physician," says Paul Richter, "saves us—from a bad one—if from nothing else." And a rational method of philosophising has, at all events, the same negative merit. Good sense, cries one, is sufficient for all the purposes of life, and even for all the useful walks of literature. The remark might be pertinent enough if you could secure a man in the quiet, uninterrupted possession of his plain good sense. But he who has not studied philosophy in his youth, will probably plunge into it, without study, in his old age. There is no guarantee against the infection of speculative thought. Some question suddenly interests the man of hitherto quiescent temper—invades his tranquillity—prompts him to penetrate below the surface of the matter—to analyse its intricacies—to sound its depths. Meanwhile, untutored, undisciplined for such labours, he speedily involves himself in inextricable difficulties—grasps at some plausibility that had been a thousand times before seized on and relinquished—tilts valiantly at his men of straw—thrice slays the dead—and in short, strong-limbed as he is, and with all his full-grown thews and sinews, plays upon this new arena all the vagaries of a child. It may be said of philosophy, as it has been said of love,—it is, or it has been, or it will one day be, your master.

We have seen reverend doctors of divinity present no very dignified spectacle when they have suddenly bethought them of paying their somewhat late devotions to philosophy. Accustomed to receive, as their due, a profound respect from others, they assume with easy confidence the cloak of the philosopher; and while they are thinking only how to arrange its folds with classic grace, they are unconsciously winding round their sturdy limbs what will sadly entangle their feet, and bring them, with shame and sore contusions, to the ground. Some will parade an ancient theory of morals, and introduce to us with all the pride of fresh discovery what now looks "as pale and hollow as a ghost." Others explain the beautiful; and with a charming audacity, a courage that is quite exhilarating, propound some theoretic fancy which has the same relation to philosophy that Quarle's Emblems bear to that pictorial art they especially delight to descant upon. But the greater number of these belated wanderers in the paths of philosophy, enter through the portals of religion. How could it be otherwise? Religion and philosophy touch at so many points—have so many problems in common—that the first moment the good man bethinks him he will be profound, sees him plunged in all the darkest enigmas of speculative thought, there to lose himself in we know not what heretical delusions.

Therefore, there is no one thing on which we are more disposed to congratulate Scotland than on her chairs of philosophy. Occupied by her most distinguished men, and teaching a sound system of psychology, they early train her youth to the severest and most useful discipline of thought. They have given its tone and its strength to the intellect of Scotland. They teach it to face all difficulties manfully, and to turn with equal manliness from vain and presumptuous speculations, which, under a boastful show of profundity, conceal invariably an arrant dogmatism. We turn with hearty satisfaction from the tissue of false subtleties which the German professor lays before his youth, to the careful and modest analysis of mental phenomena by which a professor in our northern universities at once enlightens and fortifies the mind. Scotland, may well be proud of the position she has now long held in the philosophical world. Her oscillations of error she, too, has no doubt exhibited—a necessary condition this of vitality and progress—but nowhere has a body of philosophers so systematically adhered to the sound canons of reasoning and research, and that upon a subject where there is the greatest facility and temptation to depart from them.

M. Cousin, and others who take that discursive light-tripping philosopher for their guide, have represented the Scotch as a sort of half Germans, and have both praised them, and praised them coldly, on this very account, that they have travelled half-way, and only half-way, towards the region of "high a priori" speculation. With M. Cousin's permission, the Scotch come of quite another house. His praise we should beg leave to decline: he may carry it to Alexandria, if he will. The method of philosophising pursued in Germany is fundamentally different from that which happily obtains in Scotland. No two schools of philosophy could resemble each other less. For ourselves, we regard the whole history of modern German speculation—the most remarkable instance, in our judgment, of great mental powers ill applied which the world has ever witnessed—as one continuous comment upon this text, the necessity of adhering to careful, honest observation of mental phenomena, however homely may be the results of such observation, and the astounding conclusions to which a train of thought rigidly pursued may conduct us, if, at its very point of departure, it has broken loose from this the first obligation of philosophy. The whole career of German speculation manifests a disregard of some of those fundamental principles of human belief, which, according to M. Cousin himself, it is the peculiar merit of the Scotch to have seized and held with tenacity.

These observations we will illustrate by a glance at the theories propounded on the great subject of perception—on the nature of our knowledge of the external world, this visible and tangible creation.

To a plain unsophisticated man, a stranger to the subtleties of metaphysical thought, it appears quite inconceivable, when he is told that the existence of the visible and palpable scene before him should be converted into a problem of apparently invincible difficulty. Yet so it is. The metaphysician first carries off in triumph what are called its secondary qualities, as colour and heat, proving them to be no qualities of matter, but of mind, or the sensitive being. He next assails what had been pronounced to be its primary or essential qualities; the dark tangible mass that he had left behind is not suffered to retain its inert existence; extension, the power to fill space or resist pressure, what are these, he asks, but our own sensations or remembered sensations of touch, which have got associated, embodied together, agglomerated round some occult cause? What, after all, he exclaims, do we know of matter but as a something which possesses certain influences over us?—a something which is utterly unrepresented to us by the senses. And now this word "substance," which formerly expressed a thing so well known, and every moment handled and looked at, is transformed to an invisible, intangible, imperceptible substratum—an unknown upholder of certain qualities, or, in more exact language, an unseen power clothing itself in our attributes—an existence far more resembling what is popularly understood by spirit than by matter. At length, even this unseen substratum is drawn within the world of thought, and becomes itself mere thought. There is no matter, there is no space, save what the mind creates for, and out of itself. Our man of simple apprehension, much bewildered, not at all convinced, breaks from the chain of sophistry, opens wide his eyes, and declares after all that "seeing is believing."

We think so too.

On this subject of perception it is well known that Reid and Stewart, refusing to be drawn into any hypothesis or unsatisfactory analysis, contented themselves with stating, in the preciser language of the schools, the fact as it appears to the plain unsophisticated observer. Reid's explanations are unfortunately mingled up with his controversy against the old hypothesis of ideas or images of things perceived in the mind—an hypothesis combated by him with unnecessary vehemence—but this detracts little from their substantive correctness or utility. This strange notion of images emanating from the external object, entering the mind, and being there perceived, was, after all, in its origin, rather a physical than a metaphysical hypothesis. The ancient speculator upon the causes of things felt, as we feel at this moment, the necessity for some medium of communication between the eye and the distant object, and not having detected this medium in the light which traverses or fills the space between them, he had recourse to this clumsy invention of images or species raying out from the surfaces of things. At the time when Reid wrote, this hypothesis, in its crude form, cannot be said to have existed; but it had left its traces in the philosophical language of the period, and there was certainly a vague notion prevalent that the idea of an object was a tertium quid, a something that was neither the mind nor the object.

We will quote the statement which Dugald Stewart makes of Reid's doctrine of perception. As he himself adopts the statement, it will embrace at once the opinion of both these philosophers:—

"To what, may it be asked, does this statement (of Reid's) amount? Merely to this, that the mind is so formed that certain impressions produced on our organs of sense by external objects, are followed by correspondent sensations, and that these sensations (which have no more resemblance to the qualities of matter, than the words of a language have to the things they denote) are followed by a perception of the existence and qualities of the bodies by which the impressions are made; that all the steps of this progress are equally incomprehensible; and that for any thing we can prove to the contrary, the connexion between the sensation and the perception, as well as that between the impression and the sensation, may be both arbitrary; that it is therefore by no means impossible that our sensations may be merely the occasions on which the correspondent perceptions are excited; and that at any rate the consideration of these sensations, which are attributes of mind, can throw no light on the manner in which we acquire our knowledge of the existence and qualities of body. From this view of the subject, it follows that it is the external objects themselves, and not any species or images of these objects (or, we may add, any mere agglomeration of present and remembered sensations) that the mind perceives; and that although, by the constitution of our nature, certain sensations are rendered the constant antecedents of our perceptions, yet it is just as difficult to explain how our perceptions are obtained by their means, as it would be upon the supposition that the mind were all at once inspired with them, without any concomitant sensations whatever."—(Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, Vol. i. p. 92.)

It is seen here that both Reid and Stewart considered perception as a simple elementary fact or phenomenon of the human mind, and refused their assent to that analysis which would resolve it into sensation, accompanied with certain acts of memory and judgment. This last, however, has been the most popular amongst modern psychologists, who have many of them expressed an extreme impatience at the apparent sluggishness of these veterans in philosophy. We remember the time when we shared the same feeling of impatience, and thought it a most useless encumbrance to maintain this perception amongst the simple elements of the human mind: we now think otherwise, and see reason to acquiesce in the sound judgment, which took up the only safe, though unostentatious position, which this embarrassing subject affords.

Dr Brown, it is well known, departed from his predecessors at this point, and may here be considered as one of the ablest representatives of the sensational school. He expended much ingenuity in his analysis of perception, though in our opinion with very little result. No one saw more distinctly than he, that sensation alone could never give us the idea of an external object, or of space, or any thing external to the mind. No one has more satisfactorily shown that the notion of an extended resisting body, supposed by many to be resolved into the sensations of touch, cannot be derived from this source alone, but must have some other origin than the pure sensation, which is a mere mental phenomenon or state of the consciousness. But he imagined he had overcome the difficulty by introducing to us a new sensation, the muscular, that which we experience when we move our limbs. What he could not derive from the old sense of touch, he thought himself able to deduce from the reasonings of the mind on this muscular sensation; but the same difficulties which he himself so lucidly set forth when treating upon touch, will be found to pursue him here also. This muscular sensation, like every other, is in itself a mere state of the consciousness, begins and ends in a mere pleasure or pain. That it terminates abruptly, and contrary to our volition, in a feeling of resistance, (as when our arm is arrested in its motion,) is saying nothing more than that one sensation gives place to another without our willing it; a statement which might be made in a thousand other cases of sensation with equal propriety. But the author shall explain his own theory.

"The infant stretches his arm for the first time, by that volition without a known object, which is either a mere instinct or very near akin to one; this motion is accompanied with a certain feeling; he repeats the volition, which moves his arm, fifty or one thousand times, and the same progress of feeling takes place during the muscular action. In this repeated progress he feels the truth of that intuitive proposition, which in the whole course of the life that awaits him is to be the source of all his expectations, and the guide of all his actions—the simple proposition that what has been as an antecedent, will be followed by what has been as a consequent. At length he stretches out his arm again, and instead of the accustomed progression, there arises, in the resistance of some object opposed to him, a feeling of a very different kind, which, if he persevere in his voluntary effort, increases gradually to severe pain, before he has half completed the usual progress. There is a difference, therefore, which we may without any absurdity suppose to astonish the little reasoner; for the expectation of similar consequents from similar antecedents, is observable even in his earliest actions, and is probably the result of an original law of mind, as universal as that which renders certain sensations of sight and sound the immediate result of certain affections of our eye or ear. To any being who is thus impressed with belief of similarities of sequence, a different consequent necessarily implies a difference of the antecedent. In the case at present supposed, however, the infant, who as yet knows nothing but himself, is conscious of no previous difference; and the feeling of resistance seems to him, therefore, something unknown, which has its cause in something that is not himself."—(Vol. i. p. 514.)

There is a certain pre-arrangement here of the circumstances to suit the convenience of explanation. The little arm of the infant being very closely fastened to its own little body, it could hardly move it fifty or a thousand times in succession, or even once, without its muscular sensation terminating in the sense of resistance, or pressure, which is but another form of the sense of touch. In short, this would be always sooner or later the consequent upon this muscular sensation. And it appears very evident that "the little reasoner," more especially if he held the same doctrine as Brown on the nature of cause and effect, would look no further than the first sensation for the cause of the second. There would be few instances in his limited experience more marked of invariable antecedence and consequence than this,—that the muscular sensation would sooner or later be followed by a tactual one. If we could suppose it possible, that the infant logician had to make the discovery of an external world by an effort of reasoning upon its sensations, we should say that this case was the least likely of any to lead him to the discovery—the least likely to impel him to look out of the circle of sensations for a cause of them.

Mere sensation of any kind, reason on it how we will, cannot account for the perception of external objects, which is another and separate fact. We are reduced to admit that it is by a simple primary law of our constitution that the organs of sense (which may with equal propriety be called the organs of perception) convey to us a knowledge of the external world. We touch, and a tangible extended body is made known to us; we open our eyes, and a visible body is before us.

Dr Brown, adopting and refining upon Berkeley's theory of vision, attributes originally nothing more than the mere sensation of colour to the eye, which sensation, by association with that of touch, becomes extended, so to speak, over an external surface, and defined into limited figures. We are not disposed to lay any greater stress than Dr Brown himself upon the image said to be traced upon the retina; but we say that the eye, as well as the touch, immediately informs us of external surface and definite figure.

There is, it is true, a sensation of colour apart from the perception. This may be separated, in our reflection, from all external surface. It is a pleasure which colour gives, and which enters largely into the complex sentiments of beauty. But our notion of colour itself we cannot dissociate from external surface: we cannot think of colour but as something outward. And if it comes to us originally under the condition of external surface, it must also present itself originally under certain forms and figures; for only where the whole field of vision is occupied by one unvaried colour, as when the eye is fixed upon a cloudless sky, could there be the perception of surface without some figure, more or less defined on it.

And why is it, that on a subject of this nature the manifest facts witnessed in the whole animal creation are to be overlooked? If other animals evidently, on the first opening of their eyes, see form, and movement, and the whole world before them; does not this sufficiently intimate the instantaneous knowledge which it is the nature of vision to bestow? The human infant arrives, indeed, more slowly at the perfect use of its senses. It arrives, also, more slowly at the perfect use of its limbs. But we never conclude because it does not rise and skip about the fields like a dropped lamb, that there is any essential difference between its muscular powers and those of other animals of creation. Why should we suppose that its vision is regulated by different laws merely because it obtains the perfect use of its eyesight somewhat later?

Let us now turn from the imperfect analysis which the sensational school presents, to the speculations of the idealist. It will be seen that the hasty conclusions of the first gave a sort of basis for the strange results to which the second would conduct us.

Kant looked in vain for the idea of extension, or of space, where the philosophers had been seeking it, in the phenomena of sensation. He pronounced, therefore, that it was not derivable from experience, did not come to us from without, through any direct communication from the senses. Not finding this idea of space where the analytical psychologist had been searching for it, he drew it at once from the mind itself. He described it as a product of the subject man, a form of the sensibility with which he invests his own sensations.

We must first remark, that to this description of what perception really is, there lies the same objection that may be urged against the account of the sensationalist. A sensation clothed in space!—is this intelligible? is it by any means an account of the matter? To invest sensation with space, is it not as if we spoke of a pleasure that was square, or of a circular pain?

So far, however, as this internal origin of the idea of space is concerned, the statement of Kant, though expressed in unusual terms, is not opposed to the general belief of mankind, or to our irresistible convictions. It may merely convey this meaning, that the mind has an immediate knowledge (drawn from the laws of its own cogitation) of space, or extension. But then, according to the universal and unalterable convictions of mankind, this idea of space, though it may be derived from the innate resources of the mind, is in fact the knowledge of an external reality—of an objective truth. Kant decided otherwise. He pronounced this form of the sensibility to be merely and only a mode of thought—that space had, in fact, no other existence, was solely a subjective truth.

This one decision has been the cause of, or at least has served as the starting-point for a series of the wildest speculations that perhaps philosophy has to record. And this decision, how arbitrary!—how dogmatic!

It must be manifest, we think, to every intelligent person, that, granting we cannot demonstrate the objective truth of the existence of space, it is equally impossible to prove its subjective nature. We cannot conceive of space but as existing really around us. The metaphysician says we may be deceived. This universal and irresistible conviction—this fundamental law of human belief, may not be correspondent with absolute truth, may not be trustworthy. Granted that we may be deceived, that there is footing here for his scepticism, he cannot proceed a step further, and show that we are deceived. When, in his turn, he would assert, or dogmatise, he at all events is as open to our scepticism as we were to his. If a fundamental belief of this kind is not to be trusted, so neither can it be convicted of falsehood. We cannot launch ourselves out of our own nature; we cannot test our own faculties of cognition. This could only be done by some superior intelligence who could survey apart the object and the percipient subject.

We may be deceived in believing that we ourselves exist—that there is any permanent being we call ourselves—but there is no demonstrating that we are so deceived. The two cases are strictly analogous. We have just the same proof of the existence of the external object as of the thinking and percipient subject. The very first sensation or perception we experience brings with it instantaneously the two correlates, object and subject; they are made known in the same act or feeling; they are made known the one by means of the other—for unless through the means of the antagonist idea of object we should not have that of subject, nor vice versa. In our judgment, therefore, there is as little philosophy in denying the external existence of matter as the internal existence of mind. The two ideas, as we have said, rise instantaneously, synchronously, and are in such manner correlates that it is only by the presence of the one that the other reveals itself.[6]

When Kant advanced from doubting of the objective truth of our knowledge of space, to deciding against it—to asserting that it was purely subjective—he was exceeding the limits of the human faculties, and offering a mere dogmatism which can never be brought to any test whatever. He was asking us to judge of the trustworthiness of our faculties of cognition—by what?—by our faculties of cognition. He was elevating what is at best a strange suspicion, a mere guess, into a doctrine.

And the whole superstructure of the systems of idealism which his German followers have reared, rests upon this guess!

Kant left nothing of the material world but an indescribable noumenon, which did not even exist in space. Of course the categories of Aristotle, classifying as they did those relations which constitute our knowledge of this world, were converted by him into mere forms of the understanding, moulding the given products of the sensibility. Certain other regulative modes of thought predominating, in their turn, over the products of the understanding, he called ideas of the pure reason.

His successor, Fichte, it will be seen, advanced but little further when he pronounced for a system of idealism. The subjective nature of our knowledge had been laid down; there was nothing left of the real world but this noumenon which had been ejected from the realm of space; he acted, therefore, a consistent and charitable part, in taking this forlorn and banished entity into the region, at least, of thought. All the external world is now but a projection from the individual mind—the non-ego is but another development of the ego—the object is nothing but a sort of limitation or contrast which the subject throws out, to make a life for itself; the web it spins in the blank infinitude. Of the whole material world we have for ever got rid.

Here it might be supposed that speculation in this direction had reached its extreme point; and as idealism is a system in which the mind cannot long rest, contradicting, as it does, its ineradicable convictions, that here would commence a philosophical revolution, and a return to a more sober and accurate method of investigation. But the German mind has put forth at this point an astonishing fertility. It has played with this idealism, refined upon it, varied it, produced new phases of it; reviving the strangest paradoxes of the Alexandrian school; and teaching—in this, the nineteenth century—with the gravest confidence in the world—with all the assurance of an ancient Scald chanting forth his mythological fables, a whole system of idealistic cosmogony!

Schelling, in his idealism, in some measure reinstated the object; not by reviving the vulgar notion of its reality, but declaring it to be in its essence identical with the subject, and pronouncing both to have an equally real or equally ideal existence. He thus got rid of the embarrassment which encounters us in the ordinary systems of idealism, of the subjective Ego producing the objective Ego. Thought and thing are identical. But this identity is to be recognised only in the mind of God, in the absolute—which develops what in itself is unity in the form of a duality. As if (to use a rude illustration) the same image should be shot from the interior of a magic lantern through two diverging tubes, making that twofold which was itself identical.

As it is hard for common apprehension to conceive this absolute, and seize upon this identity of thought and thing, Schelling invented a faculty of mind expressly for the comprehension of such profound doctrines of philosophy. He called it intellectual intuition. Those who possess it not—and it is by no means general—must be content to live without philosophy. Nor can those on whom nature has failed to bestow this intellectual intuition, acquire it by any study or industry of their own. Philosophus nascitur, non fit.

Viewed from one aspect, Schelling's philosophy is not without a certain charm. "Spirit is invisible nature, nature is visible spirit." In this view of things, if mind loses its pre-eminence, nature, or the visible world, is exalted and spiritualised. It is a system likely to fascinate the poet and the artist, and we believe it has had a recognised influence on the cultivation of the fine arts in Germany. It awakens our enthusiasm for nature. More than ever is mind, is deity, seen in the visible world. Nature is, in fact, deified, whatever other sacrifices are made.

But if there was something for enthusiasm to lay hold of in the system of Schelling, there was much wanting, it seems, to satisfy the rigid demands of philosophy. His cosmogony, his manner of tracing, a priori, the development of all things from the absolute, was considered, by those who understand such profundities, to be deficient in accuracy. Hegel next trod

"with wandering feet The dark, unbottomed, infinite abyss."

And we are told gravely, by grave expositors, how, beginning with nothing, he showed, with logical precision, how every thing had regularly proceeded from it!

In the system of Hegel, object and subject are both lost sight of: nothing exists but the relation between them. As the thing and the thought of it are identical, and as the essence of a thought is the relation between two terms, it follows very logically that this relation is all, and that nothing really exists but relations. We should have supposed this to be a fair reductio ad absurdum, proving (if the matter could need of proof) that the thing and the thought were not identical. But the march of ideal philosophy was not to be so easily arrested.

We have now reached what is distinguished as absolute idealism.

"They (the three idealisms) may be thus illustrated," (writes Mr Lewes in his History of Philosophy.) "I see a tree. Fichte tells me that it is I alone who exist; the tree is a modification of my mind. This is subjective idealism. Schelling tells me that both the tree and my ego are existences equally real, or ideal, but they are nothing less than manifestations of the absolute. This is objective idealism. But Hegel tells me, that all these explanations are false. The only thing really existing is the idea—the relation. The ego and the tree are but two terms of the relation, and owe their reality to it. This is absolute idealism."[7]

If Martinus Scriblerus were alive, he also might be tempted to give an illustration of these three forms of idealism.

The crowd of spectators at a fair, he might say, if they see a man dancing upon the tight-rope, strained between two posts—have no doubt in the world that the rope, and the man on it, are equally supported by the same two posts, which, moreover, they presume to stand up there in veritable substantiality before them. Were our three sages at the fair, they would reason otherwise. Fichte would say—these people think there are two posts! There is but one. That left-hand post is but the shadow of the other. It is the right-hand subjective post which has projected it forth.

Schelling, gravely looking on, observes they are both shadows: nay, they are identical. If you were to stand in the centre of the rope, in the point of indifference between them, and to turn round till the intellectual intuition were sufficiently excited, you would find the right-hand and the left-hand post blended together—undistinguishable—you would perceive their absolute identity.

Shadows! identical! Very true, says Hegel, slowly stepping forward, but what a mistake have both philosophers and the vulgar been making all this time! They have presumed that these posts support the rope! It is the rope which upholds the posts; which are indeed but its opposite ends. You may see that, separately, each post is good for nothing; it is the relation between them that is every thing; the rope is all. This alone can be said to exist. Every thing about us is plainly at one end or the other end of this, or some other rope. There runs, he would add, a vulgar tradition that man made the rope. I will demonstrate that the rope made the man and every thing else in the whole fair.

* * * * *

But it is not our object at present to enter further into the labyrinth of German metaphysics; at a future time, if our readers should endure the subject, we will endeavour to act as guide and interpreter through some of its more curious passages; we are here concerned only with the points of view taken of the material world. Have we not said enough to support our thesis? to prove what strange results may be arrived at if philosopher, following after philosopher, bases his speculations on what is current in the school-room, instead of recurring to honest and simple-minded observations of nature—and to show that on this subject of perception our veterans Reid and Stewart have taken up the only safe position our present knowledge admits of?

FOOTNOTES:

[6] "Relatives are known only together: the science of contraries is one. Subject and object, mind and matter, are known only in correlation and contrast, and in the same common act: which knowledge is at once a synthesis and an antithesis of both, and may be indifferently defined an antithetic synthesis and a synthetic antithesis of the terms. Every conception of self necessarily implies a conception of not self; every perception of what is different from me, implies a recognition of the percipient subject in contradistinction from the object perceived. In one object of knowledge, indeed, the object is the prominent element, in another the subject; but there is none in which either is known out of relation to the other. The immediate knowledge which Reid allows of things different from the mind, and the immediate knowledge of mind itself, cannot, therefore, be split into two distinct acts. In perception, as in other faculties, the same indivisible consciousness is conversant about both terms of the relation of knowledge."—Edinburgh Review, No. 103, p. 165.—A very able and elaborate paper, attributed to Sir William Hamilton.

[7] Lewes' Biographical History of Philosophy. Vol. iv., p. 209. In every way a remarkable work. Written with great vivacity and clearness, comprising a world of matter in the briefest possible space,—and, O reader, and O author, forgive the anticlimax!—at the least possible cost. In fact it forms part of the Series known as "Knight's Weekly Volume." To find a strictly original work of so much ability given to the world in this form, proves that the publisher and the man of letters are, in this mercantile age, second to none in the activity and enterprise with which they render their service to the public.



CHARLES DE BERNARD.

The position of French novels and novelists in the appreciation of the English public, has undergone, within the last few years, a notable change. We need revert to no distant period to recall the day when the word "Paris" on the title-page of a book of fiction, was, to the work so inscribed, virtual sentence of exclusion from respectable library and decent drawing-room this side the Channel. It was the foul-bill of health, the signal of a moral quarantine, interminable and hopeless of pratique. French novels came to England and were read; but the arrivals were comparatively rare, the readers scarce more numerous; whilst by the masses they were condemned as contraband and dangerous merchandise, and eschewed as religiously as Lyons silks by the humane, when Spitalfields are starving. The wilful and wicked minority who took pleasure in their pungent pages, did so clandestinely, and with precaution. In carefully-locked desk, or on topmost shelf of bookcase, lurking behind an honourable front-rank of history and essay, the disreputable literature was bestowed. Nor was its reception more openly hospitable when arrayed in English garb. Translators there were, who strove to render into the manly, wholesome Anglo-Saxon tongue, the produce—witty, frivolous, prurient, and amusing—of Gallic imagination. But either the translations shared the interdict incurred by the objectionable originals, or the plan adopted to obtain their partial acceptance, destroyed pith and point. Letters from plague-ridden shores are fitted for the perusal of the uninfected by fumigation and other mysterious processes. They reach us reeking with aromatics and defaced by perforations, intended doubtless to favour the escape of the demon of pestilence bodily imprisoned within their folds. But their written contents are uninjured by the salutary operation; the words of affection, the combinations of commerce, the politician's plans, are still to be read upon their stained and punctured surface. Not so with the French novels that underwent fumigation and curtailment at the hands of decorous translators. The knife that extirpated the gangrene, unavoidably trenched upon the healthy flesh: in rooting up the abundant tares, the scanty grain was shaken out, and chaff and straw alone remained.

We speak of times past, although still recent; glance we at the present, and, Heaven help us! what a change is here! Tempora mutantur et libri—or it were perhaps more proper to say, et lectores. With headlong velocity, one extreme has been abandoned for its opposite. The denounced of yesterday is the favoured of to-day; the scouted is now the cherished; the rejected stone has a lofty place in the literary edifice. French novels, translated, if not original, are as commonly seen in the "best regulated families" as comfits at the confectioner's or poison on potter-carriers' shelves. The ban is removed, the anathema revoked; either the Upas has been discovered to be less baneful than was imagined, or the disease lurking at the core has been forgotten in the bright colours and pleasant flavour of the appetible fruit. We take up the newspaper. What heads the column? Half a score advertisements of the "Mysteries of Paris"—a new edition of the "Wandering Jew," "illustrated by the first artists"—"Memoirs of a Physician," in twopenny numbers and shilling volumes; French novels, in short, at all prices and in every form. We step into the club; the produce of Paris and Brussels presses strews the table, and an elderly gentleman, with a solemn face and quakerish coat, searches amongst them for the nine-and-twentieth volume of "Monte Christo," or of some other French romance of longitude equally sea-serpentine. We call upon our friend Tom Sterling, a worthy fellow, much respected on 'Change. Miss Sterling is deep in a natty duodecimo, whose Flemish aspect speaks volumes in favour of international copyright. Our natural clearsightedness enables us to read, even from the door, "Societe Belge de Librairie" upon its buff paper cover. Is the book hastily smuggled under sofa-cushions, or stealthily dropped into the neglected work-basket? By no means. The fair student deliberately marks her place, and engages us in a controversy as to the merits, faults, and beauties of a score of French romancists, in whose lucubrations she assuredly is far better read than ourselves. In short, English aversion for French modern literature has disappeared, and been replaced by partiality—not to say affection. Dumas is a staple commodity; Sue is voted delightful; English authors of talent and standing translate or "edite"—to use the genteel word now adopted—the works of French ones; even George Sand finds lady-translators, and, we fear, lady readers; French books are reprinted in London, and the Palais Royal is transported to the arcade of Burlington. We shall not take upon ourselves to blame or applaud this change in public taste, to decide how far such large importation and extensive patronage of foreign wares are advantageous or deplorable—to tax with laxity those who write, or with levity those who read, the lively and palatable productions of the present French school. Without encouraging, we will venture to direct, the prevailing appetite, by pointing the attention of Maga's readers—whose name is Legion—to the writings of an author not the best known, but certainly one of the most accomplished, of his class. In France, his reputation stands very high; and if in England it is not yet equally well-established, it must be attributed to his having written little, and to the absence of that charlatanry and egotism which has brought other cultivators of the Belles Lettres into such universal notice here and on the Continent. M. Dumas, for instance, even had his writings, and those of the numerous staff of literary aid-de-camps to whose bairns he stands godfather, been less diverting, would still have commanded readers in every country where French is understood, and which the post from Paris reaches. The man is his own advertisement; his eccentricities are worth, at a moderate estimate, a dozen advertising vans, a daily paragraph in a score of newspapers, and a cartload of posters. He is a practical puff, an incarnate stimulant to popular curiosity. Let the public appetite for his weekly volumes flag ever so little, and forthwith he puts in practice, for the renewal of his vogue, devices so ingenious, that proceeding from any but the privileged monarch of romance-writers, they would be looked upon as the tricks of a lunatic. One day in a court of assizes, the next at that of a king, on the morrow before a civil tribunal, the illustrious inheritor of the marquisate of La Pailleterie parades his graces, jogs the world's memory as to the fact of his existence, and bids it read his books and bow before his footstool. To-day he is on the Corso, to-morrow on the sunny banks of Rhine; the next day he peeps into Etna's crater, or gasps beneath the brazen sky of shadeless Syria. Now we hear of him in Spanish palaces, figuring at royal weddings, and adding one more to the countless ribbon-ends that already grace his button-hole; and scarcely has our admiration subsided, when a Mediterranean breeze murmurs sweet tidings of his presence on African shores, taking his coffee with Beys, commanding war-steamers, riving the captive's fetters, and rivetting his claims on his country's gratitude. Wherever he goes, he stands, a modern Gulliver, pre-eminent in moral giantship, amidst surrounding pigmies, who

"Walk under his huge legs, and peep about To find themselves dishonourable graves."

And the seeming ubiquity of the famous quadroon[8] is not more marvellous than the multiplicity of characters he assumes. "Dumas at Home and Abroad" offers an inexhaustible theme and a boundless field for pen and pencil caricaturists. Alternately dramatist, novelist, tourist, ambassador, the companion of princes, the manager of theatres, an authority in courts of justice, a challenger of deputies, and shining with equal lustre in these and fifty other capacities equally diverse, what wonder that the slightest work flowing from the pen of so remarkable a genius, though it be but a forgotten "trifle of twelve thousand lines," is received with intense gratitude, and caught at like manna by a famished multitude? Eugene Sue is another writer who has taken the world by storm, but in quite a different fashion. The ex-lieutenant of marine does not obtrude his personality upon public notice, and relies more upon the powerful calibre of his guns than upon their number. Two books, lengthy ones certainly, established his reputation. He had been many years a cultivator of literature, and had produced sundry romances of little more than average merit, when he suddenly burst upon the public, in the widely spread feuilleton of the Debats, with a work which, however objectionable in some respects, is unquestionably of extraordinary power and interest. Like the Pickwick Papers, the "Mysteres de Paris" at once established their author in popular estimation, not only in the land in whose language they were written, but in all the reading countries of Europe. It was the opening of a new vein in the literary mine, and though the metal might have been purer, it had all the glitter that captivates the multitude. The "Juif Errant," inferior to its predecessor, was scarcely less successful. Its bitter attacks on the Jesuits, and the consequent anathemas fulminated against it, with more zeal than wisdom, by certain of the French clergy, doubtless contributed to its vogue. After Sue and Dumas, Balzac is (with the exception, perhaps, of Madame Dudevant,) the best known, and most read, out of France, of all the living French novelists. We hold him much over-rated, but his great fertility, and the real excellence of a few of his books, have made him a widely-spread reputation. His early efforts were less successful than those of Sue; and his first thirty volumes scarcely attained mediocrity. At last he made a start, and took his place on the first line of his class, in virtue of a few masterpieces, scanty diamonds glittering in a cinder-heap. Over-production, the crying vice of the literature of the day, and an over-weening conceit, prevented Honore de Balzac from maintaining the position he might and ought to have occupied. Such gems as the "Pere Goriot" and "Eugenie Grandet" were buried and lost sight of under mountains of rubbish. True that he now denied a number of books published under supposititious names, and which had been universally attributed to him; but enough remained, which he could not deny, to tarnish, if not to cancel his fame. To these he has since, with the reckless and inconsiderate greed that cares not for the public, so long as it finds a publisher, considerably added. His self-sufficiency is unparalleled; and in the preface to an edition of his works published under the comprehensive and presumptuous title of "La Comedie Humaine," he puts himself on a level with the first of poets and philosophers, proposing himself the modest aim of portraying human nature in every variety of its moral physiognomy.

Less prolific, more unassuming, and far less universally known than the three authors at whose character and writings we have thus briefly glanced, Charles de Bernard need fear comparison with none of them. That he is faultless we do not assert; that he in great measure eschews the errors of his contemporaries, will be patent to all who peruse his pages. The objections that English readers will make to his books are to be traced to no aberrations of his, but to those of the society whose follies he so ably and wittily depicts. He faithfully sketches, and more often amusingly caricatures, the vices, foibles, and failings of French men and women. If those are to be delineated at all—and, with a view to their amendment, surely they may—the task could hardly be executed with a chaster and less offensive pencil. De Bernard paints immorality—it would be unjust to say that he encourages it. He neither deals in highly-coloured and meretricious scenes a la Sue and Dumas; nor supports, with the diabolical talent and ingenuity of a Sand, the most subversive and anti-social doctrines. His works are not befouled with filth and obscenity, such as that impure old reprobate Paul de Kock delights and wallows in—or disgraced by the irreligion, and contempt of things holy, found in the writings of scores of French authors whom we could name, were they worth the naming. It is undeniable that the ingenious plots of his very entertaining books turn, for the most part, on matters difficult to touch upon with propriety, and which English writers usually avoid; frequently, for instance, on illicit passion and conjugal infidelity. And therefore many Englishmen, with whatever interest and amusement they themselves might read his volumes, would hesitate to recommend them to their sisters and daughters. Some few of his tales, especially of the shorter ones, are in all respects unexceptionable. We instance "La Peau du Lion," translated as "The Cossack's Grave;" and "L'Anneau d'Argent," which has also appeared in English. Gerfaut, one of this author's earliest works, and unquestionably his masterpiece, has little that can justly offend, although its translation met, we believe, a cold reception. The plot turns on an attachment between a married woman and the hero of the story. But if M. de Bernard falls readily enough into the easy, matter-of-course tone in which his countrymen habitually discuss amatory peccadilloes—and he could hardly have attained his present popularity in France had he assumed the prude—he does not disdain or neglect to point a moral after his own fashion. In administering a remedy, a wise physician has regard to the idiosyncrasy of the patient as well as to the nature of the disease. A nation whose morality is unhealthy, must not be treated like a sick horse, whose groom crams a ball down his throat, and holds his jaws together, and his head back, to prevent its rejection. The dose must be artfully disguised, wrapped in a sweetmeat, and the invalid will take it kindly, and sooner or later feel the benefit. We would fain discern, in some of M. de Bernard's books, under a perfumed envelope of palatable trifle, a tendency worthy of applause; a design to combat, by quiet and implied ridicule, the moral maladies of his country. It is not his wont, as with many of his competitors, to make the vicious interesting and the virtuous fools. His husbands are not invariably good-natured, helpless noodles, with whom, even in their direst calamities, the most right-thinking have difficulty to sympathise: the Lovelaces who pursue married women with their insidious and dangerous attentions, are not by him for ever exalted into heroes, redeeming their pleasant vices by a host of high and chivalrous qualities. On the contrary, the apparently easy-going husband often proves a smart fellow, and thorough Tartar—the brilliant lover an emancipated bagman, or contemptible chevalier d'industrie. Of this we have an example in "Le Gendre," in some respects one of the most objectionable of De Bernard's novels, certainly not well suited for a birth-day present to misses in their teens. A seemingly tame, insipid clown of a husband counteracts the base manoeuvres of a dashing Paris roue; and finally, after refusing to fight the would-be seducer, whom he has ascertained to be an arrant swindler, takes truncheon in hand, and belabours him in presence of his intended victim and of a roomful of company. But setting aside any moral tendency which goodwill towards such a vastly pleasant author as De Bernard may induce us, by the aid of our most complaisant spectacles, to discover in his writings, his gentlemanly tone is undeniable, his pictures of French life, especially in Paris, are beyond praise. In the most natural and graphic style imaginable, he dashes off a portrait typifying a class, and in a page gives the value of a volume of the much-vaunted "Physiologies." And this he does, like all he does, in a sparkling, well-bred, impertinent style, peculiar to himself, and peculiarly attractive.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse