Yet, within one twelvemonth! the Popish Bill was carried by the Wellington ministry! Its immediate result was, to introduce into the legislature a party whose aid to the Whigs carried the Reform Bill. The Reform Bill, in its turn, introduced into influence a party who demand implicit obedience from every minister, and whose declared object, at this hour, is the abolition of the whole system of commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural laws, under which England has become the greatest commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural country in the world. All power now threatens to fall into the hands of the populace; and, if that result shall follow, England will be revolutionized. With all our knowledge of the strength of England, of the vigour of educated opinion, of the gallant principle existing among our nobles and gentlemen, and, above all, of the religious integrity of a large portion of the empire, we still cannot disguise our apprehension of general change. The ferocity, recklessness, and insatiability of the democratic spirit, have been hitherto withheld from the sight of our fortunate country, by the vigour of our government and the wisdom of our laws. But they exist; they lie immediately under the surface of the soil; and, once suffered to be opened to the light, the old pestilence will rise, and poison the political atmosphere.
The agriculture of England is the true treasury of England. We may exist with diminished manufactures, and we must prepare for their diminution, from the universal determination of other countries to manufacture for themselves. But we cannot exist without food; and, from the moment when the discouragement of tillage shall leave England in necessity, we shall see the cheap corn of Russia and Poland taxed by the monarch, raised to a famine price, all the current gold of the country sent to purchase subsistence in Russia, and our only resource a paper currency, followed with an enormous increase of expense in every common necessary of life. Throw a fourth of the land of England out of cultivation, and what must become of the labourers? They now complain of low wages; then they will have none. What must be the condition of Ireland, wholly agricultural, and ruined by a flood of foreign corn, at half the price for which the Irish farmer can bring it to market? These consequences are so notorious, that nobody attempts to dispute them. They are coolly taken as inevitable things; and the whole dependence, even of the mob advocates, is upon chance: "Oh, something will turn up! Things won't be so bad as you think!"
But the true conspirators see deeper. They know, that a revolution in the food of the people is the immediate forerunner of a revolution in the state. From the moment when foreign corn is admitted free of restraint, the confidence of the farmer must be shaken. From the farmer, the shock will instantly reach the landlord; his rent must be diminished. To one-half of the great proprietaries of the kingdom, a diminution of rent, even by a third, would make their possessors personally bankrupt. Their mortgages and loans must be repaid; and nothing would remain. The landlord now pays the Church. If he is ruined, the whole Church income, independent of the small portions of glebe land, must perish with him.
Then will come the agitation for a still more daring purpose. It will be asked why must the system of English life be artificial?—Because we have twenty-eight millions sterling of interest to pay, and for this we must have taxes. But, why not sweep the national debt away, as France did in her day of royal overthrow? A single sitting of the Convention settled that question. Why not follow the example? Then will come the desperate expedient, and all will be ruin on the heads of the most helpless of the community; for the national debt is only a saving bank on a larger scale, and nine-tenths of its creditors are of the most struggling order of the empire.
Of course, we do not anticipate this frightful catastrophe under the existing government, nor, perhaps, under its immediate successors, nor under any government which knows its duty. But, let the "pressure from without" be once an acknowledged principle; let agitation be once suffered as a legitimate instrument of public appeal; let the clamour of the streets be once received with the slightest respect, and the game is begun; property is the chase, the hounds are in full cry, and the prey will be torn down.
We believe that the majority of the empire are honest and true, but we know that faction is active and unscrupulous; we believe that there is in the country a genuine regard for the constitution, but we know that there are men within the circumference of England, whose nature is as foul as that of the blackest revolutionist of France in 1793; whose craving for possession is treacherous and tigerish, whose means are intrinsic and unadulterated mischief, whose element is public disturbance, and whose feverish hope of possession is in general overthrow. Against those we can have no defence but in the vigour, the caution, and the sincerity of the national administration.
The Marquess Wellesley, on the formation of Lord Grey's cabinet in 1830, accepted the office of Lord Steward. He had begun his political life as a high Tory, and the friend and follower of Pitt.—In 1793, he had fought boldly against the Reform question. This was at the period when he retained the generosity of youth, and the classic impressions of his university; but he had now been trained to courts, and he became a reformer, with a white rod in his aged hand! In 1833, he was re-appointed to the government of Ireland; he returned full of the same innocent conceptions which had once fashioned Ireland into a political Arcadia. But he was soon and similarly reduced to the level of realities. He found confusion worse confounded, and was compelled to exert all his power to suppress "agitation," and exert it in vain; a Coercion Bill alone pioneered his way, a quarrel in which the Irish Secretary was involved with the Agitator, produced the resignation of the secretary, Littleton, though the Marquess's son-in-law.—Lord Grey, like Saturn, rebelled against by his own progeny and overthrown by the impulse of Reform, resigned, (July 9, 1834.) The Whig government fell within the year, and the Marquess left Ireland. In England he condescended to accept the office of Lord Chamberlain; but, within a month, retired altogether from public life. It was full time: he was now seventy-five.
The East India Company, in 1837, voted him L20,000, and in 1841 honourably proposed to place his statue in the India House. His remaining years were unchequered. He died in Kingston House, Brompton, on the 26th of September 1842, in his eighty-third year.
The Marquess Wellesley, on the whole view of his qualifications, was an accomplished man; and, on a glance at his career, will be seen to have been singularly favoured by fortune. Coming forward at a period of great public interest, surrounded by the most eminent public men of the last hundred years, and early associated with Pitt, the greatest of them all; he enjoyed the highest advantages of example, intellectual exercise, and public excitement, until he was placed in the government of India. There, the career of every governor has exactly that portion of difficulties which gives an administrator a claim on public applause; with that assurance of success which stimulates the feeblest to exertion. All our Indian wars have finished by the overthrow of the enemy, the possession of territory, and the increase of British power—with the single exception of the Affghan war, an expedition wholly beyond the natural limits of our policy, and as rashly undertaken as it was rashly carried on. The Marquess returned to Europe loaded with honours, conspicuous in the public eye, and in the vigour of life. No man had a fairer prospect of assuming the very highest position in the national councils. He had the taste and sumptuousness which would have made him popular with the first rank of nobility, the literature which gratified the learned and intelligent, the practical experience of public life which qualified him for the conduct of cabinets and councils, and the gallantry and spirit which made him a favourite with general society. He had, above all, a tower of strength in the talents of his illustrious brother. Those two men might have naturally guided the councils of an empire. That a man so gifted, so public, and so ambitious of eminent distinction, should ever have been the subordinate of the Liverpools, the Cannings, or the Greys, would be wholly incomprehensible, but for one reason.
In the commencement of his career, he rashly involved himself in the Catholic question. It was a showy topic for a young orator; it was an easy exhibition of cheap patriotism; it gave an opportunity for boundless metaphor—and it meant nothing. But, no politician has ever sinned with Popery but under a penalty—the question hung about his neck through every hour of his political existence. It encumbered his English popularity, it alienated the royal favour, it flung him into the rear rank of politicians. It made his English ambition fruitless and secondary; and his Irish government unstable and unpopular. It disqualified him for the noblest use of a statesman's powers, the power of pronouncing an unfettered opinion; and it suffered a man to degenerate into the antiquated appendage to a court, who might have been the tutelar genius of an empire.
Memoirs and Correspondence of the Most Noble Richard Marquess Wellesley. By ROBERT B. PEARCE, Esq. 3 vols. London: Bentley.
LETTER TO EUSEBIUS.
MY DEAR EUSEBIUS,—I have received yours from the hands of the bearer, and such hands! Why write to consult me about railroads, of all things? I know nothing about them, but that they all seem to tend to some Pandemonium or another; and when I see of a dark night their monster-engines, with eyes of flame and tongues of fire, licking up the blackness under them, and snuffing up, as it were, the airs from Hades, I could almost fancy the stoker a Mercury, conducting his hermetically sealed convicts down those terrible passages that lead direct to the abominable ferry. I said, "I know nothing of them;" but now I verily believe you mean to twit me with my former experiment in railway knowledge, and have no intention to purchase shares in the La Mancha Company (and I doubt if there be any such) to countenance your Quixotic pleasantry. I did speculate once, it is true, in one—London and Falmouth Scheme—with very large promises. I was then living at W——, when one day, just before I was going to sit down to dinner, a chaise stops at my door, out steps a very "smart man," and is ushered into my library. When I went into the room, he was examining, quite in a connoisseur attitude, Eusebius, a picture; he was very fond of pictures, he said; had a small but choice collection of his own, and I won't say that he did not speak of the Correggiosity of Correggio. I was upon the point of interrupting him, with the intimation that I did not mean to purchase any, when, having thus ingratiated himself with me by this reference to my taste, he suddenly turns round upon me with the most business-like air, draws from under his cloak an imposingly official portfolio, takes out his scrip, presenting me with a demand for fifty pounds, the deposit of so many shares, looking positively certain that in a few seconds the money would be in his pocket. People say, Eusebius, that the five minutes before a dinner is the worst time in the world to touch the heart, or to get any thing out of a man's pocket for affection; but I do not know if it be not the best time for an attack, if there be a speculation on foot which promises much to his interest, for at that time he is naturally greedy. Had Belisarius, with his dying boy in his arms, himself appeared at my gate, as seen in the French print, crying, "Date obolum Belsario," I should have pronounced him at once an impostor, and given him nothing, and, indeed, not pronounced wrongly, for the whole story is a fiction. But at this peculiar moment of hunger and of avarice, I confess I was too ready, and gave a check for the amount. I had no sooner, however, satisfied myself with what Homer calls [Greek: edetnos ede potetos], and we moderns, meat and potatoes—than I began to suspect the soundness of the scheme, or the company, who had gone to the expense of a chaise for eight miles merely to collect this subscription of mine; and I was curious the next day to trace the doings of this smart gentleman, when I found he had dined at the inn at B—— on turtle, ducks, and green peas, and had recruited the weariness of his day's journey with exhilarating champagne. I knew my fate at once, and from that day to this have heard nothing of the London and Falmouth project. Now, Eusebius, as you publish my letters, if this should catch the eye of any of the directors of that company still possessing any atom of conscience, I beg to remind them that I am still minus fifty pounds; and as all claim seems to be quite out of the question, excepting on their "known and boundless generosity," I beg to wind up this little narrative of the transaction in the usual words of the beggar's petition, "The smallest donation will be thankfully received."
But the bearer, who was to consult me for your benefit—he hadn't a word to say to me on the subject, but that he would call and consult with me to-morrow. I found it in vain to question him, and I suspect it is a hoax. But what a rural monster you have sent me! "Cujum pecus?—an Melibei?" He cannot possibly herd with Eusebius; he had no modest bearing about him. I had just opened your letter, and found you called him a friend of yours, who had many observations to make about poetry—so, as we were just going to tea, he was invited. It was most fortunate I did not offer him a bed, for I should then have been bored with him at this moment, when I am sitting down to write to you some little account of his manners and conversation, which you know very well, or you would not have sent him to me. I only now hope I shall not see him to-morrow; and should I learn that he shall have departed in one of those Plutonian engines to the keeping of Charon himself, I should only regret that I had not put an obol into his hand, lest he should be presented with a return-ticket. What did he say, and what did he not say? He called my daughter "Miss," and said he should like music very well but for the noise of it; and as to his ideas of poetry, that you speak of, he treated it with the utmost contempt, and as a "very round-about-way of getting to matter of fact." What else could I have expected of him?—with his tight-drawn skin over his distended cheeks, from which his nose scarcely protruded, as defying a pinch, with a forehead like Caliban's, as villanously low, with his close-cut hair sticking to it, and his little chin retiring, lest a magnanimous thought should for a moment rest upon it. Such was never the image that Cassandra had in her mind's eye when she cried, "O, Apollo—O, Apollo!" And this was your friend, forsooth, with his novel ideas upon poetry! Yet this vulgar piece of human mechanism is not without a little cunning shrewdness, characteristically marked in his little pig-eye; and I must tell you one piece of criticism of his, and an emendation, not unworthy the great Bentley himself. Yet I know not why I tell you, for you know it well already, I suspect; for he told me he had been talking with you about a letter which you had published, and told him was written by me, and which he had read while waiting in your library till you could see him. He said he thought a little common sense, observation, and plain matter of fact, would often either throw light upon or amend many obscure passages of poets; for that even those of most name either made egregious blunders, or they were made for them. I could not deny that truth, Eusebius, and yet he wasn't a man to grant any thing to, if you could help it; but I saw there was something rich to come, so I encouraged him; and this remark of his, Eusebius, reminded me of a misery occasioned in the mind of a very sensitive and reverend poet, who preached weekly to a very particular congregation, by the printer's devil mistaking an erasure for a hyphen, which gave to his sonnet a most improper expression. It made him miserable then, and will ever give him a twinge lest he should have suffered in reputation. He has so much reason to be happy now, that to remind him of it, should he happen to read this, is only to make his happiness the greater, by somewhat reducing its quality; as the very atmosphere must be tempered for man's use and health, by somewhat of a noxious ingredient. But I must return to your friend. His cheeks seem ready to burst with common sense, and polished with ruddy conceit. "Do you remember," said I, "any particular passage upon which your observations will bear?" "Why," said he, "there was one in that paper which first struck me as utter nonsense; but a little alteration easily sets it to rights. There was a quotation from Milton: I wasn't very well acquainted with his poems, but I have read since, with much trouble to understand it, that whole scene and passage; it is in a play of his called 'Comus;'—and, by the by, all that part of the prose in the letter relating to the seashore and its treasures, is all stuff; all the roads about the country are made and mended with those pebbles—they are worth nothing. What Milton is supposed to have said, when they wrote down for him, that the billows of the Severn "roll ashore"—"the beryl and the golden ore"—never could have been written by any one who knew the Severn. A beryl is a clear crystal, isn't it? and if the billows should roll one ashore in the muddy Severn, I should like to know who could find it! There are no billows but from the Bristol Channel, and that's mud all the way, miles and miles up;—pretty shores for a beryl to be rolled on. Besides, now, what man of common sense would talk of rolling a bit of a thing, not half so big as a nutmeg, and that upon mud, in which it would sink like a bullet? He would have said 'washed ashore;' but I'll tell you what it was: I understand Milton was blind, and his daughters wrote what he dictated: they say, too, he had a good deal of knowledge of things, and, without doubt, knew very well the trade of the Bristol Channel, and from the Severn into the Avon; and certainly meant 'barrel and the golden ore,' and this word suggested the precious ornament which most women like to think of, and as she, his daughter, minced it in her own mouth, a beryl dropped from her pen. Now, only consider what was the great trade in those parts; the West India and the African trade were both at their height, and didn't one bring barrels of sugar, and the other gold dust—what can be clearer? There you see how proper the word rolling is, for you must have often seen them rolling their barrels from their ships upon planks, and so on their quays; and the golden ore speaks for itself, as plain as can be, gold dust; and there you have a reading that agrees with fact. I don't exactly know when Milton wrote; but I dare say it was at the very time of that notorious merchandize; and don't you think, sir, that the next edition of Milton ought to have this alteration? I do. I forgot to say that the gold dust came over in little barrels too; for no man in his senses would have thought of rolling or washing dust ashore, excepting in a keg or barrel, and so it was, I make no doubt."
I perfectly assented to every thing he said, Eusebius, by which happy concession on my part, having no food for an obstinate discussion, he soon withdrew. I sat awhile thinking, and now write to you. At least make a marginal note in your Milton of this criticism; and when posterity shall discover it, and forget that Comus was written when Milton was a young man, and had no daughters to write for him, then it will be adopted, and admired as a specimen of the critical acumen of the great and learned Eusebius.
It reminds me to tell you, that being the other day at the sea-side, and wanting a Horace, I borrowed one from a student of Cambridge. It was a Paris edition. I never should have dreamed of seeing an expurgated or emasculated edition from French quarters; but so it was. I looked for that beautiful little piece, the quarrel between Lydia and Horace. It was not there.
"Donec gratus eram tibi, Nec quisquam potior brachia candide Cervici juvenis dabat."
I suppose the offence lay in these lines, which appear no worse than that old song, (the lovers' quarrel too,)
"I've kiss'd and I've prattled with fifty fair maids."
An American lady must not be shocked with the word leg, and we are told they put flounces upon those pedestals of pianofortes; but that a lover throwing his arms around his mistress's neck should offend a Frenchman, is an outrageous prudery from a very unexpected quarter. We can imagine a scholar tutored to this affected purity, who should escape from it, and plunge into the opposite immoralities of our modern French novels, like him
"Qui frigidus AEtnam Insiluit."
"Plunged cold into AEtnean fires."
There were many emendations, most of which I forget; but I could not help laughing at an absurdity in the following ode:—
"Vixi puellis nuper idoneus."
The word puellis is altered to choreis, which nevertheless, as a mark of absurdity, ought to be supposed to contain the puellis; for to say,
"I lately lived for dances fit,"
surely implies that the sayer had some one to dance with; or is there any dancing sect of men in France so devoted to celibacy that they will only dance with each other? We are certainly improved in this country, where it should seem that once a not unsimilar practice was compulsory upon the benchers, as will be seen from the following quotation from The Revels at Lincoln's Inn:—
"The exercise of dancing was thought necessary, and much conducing to the making of gentlemen, more fit for their books at other times; for by an order (ex Registro Hosp. sine. vol. 71, 438 C) made 6th February, 7 Jac., it appears that the under barristers were, by decimation, put out of Commons for example sake, because the whole bar offended by not dancing on Candlemas-day preceding, according to the ancient order of this Society, when the judges were present; with this, that if the like fault was committed afterwards, they should be fined or disbarred."—(D, Revels at Lincoln's Inn, p. 15.) Eusebius, you would go on a pilgrimage, with unboiled peas, to Pump Court or more favourable locality, for these little "brief authorities."
"To see how like are courts of law to fairs, The dancing barristers to dancing bears; Both suck their paws indulgent to their griefs, These lacking provender, those lacking briefs."
Shame to him who does not agree with our own delightful Robert Burns, of glorious memory, who "dearly lo'ed the lasses O!" So only "Let the merry dance go round."
And now, as the dancers are off the stage, and it is the more proper time for gravity and decorum, I feel that irresistible desire to be as wicked as possible—a desire which I have heard you say tormented you in your childhood; for, whenever you were admonished to be remarkably good, you were invariably remarkably bad. So I yield to the temptation, and voluntarily, and with "malice prepense" throw myself into the wickedness of translating (somewhat modernizing I own) the "Tabooed" ode, in defiance of, and purposely to offend, the Parisian, or other editor or editors, who shall ever show themselves such incomparable ninnies as to omit that or any other ode of Horace. Accept the following.
"Vixi puellis nuper idoneus."
CARMEN, 26, lib. iii.
For maiden's love I once was fit, But now those fields of warfare quit, With all my boast, content to sit In easy-chair; And here lay by (a lover's lances) All poems, novels, and romances. Ah! well a-day! such idle fancies I well might spare.
There—on that shelf, behind the door,— By all those works of Hannah More And Bishop Porteus—Let a score Of lectures guard them; Take Bulwer, Moore, and Sand, and Sue, The Mysteries, and the Wandering Jew; May he who gives to all their due, The Deil, reward them.
And Venus, if thou hast, as whilom, For parted lovers an asylum, To punish or to reconcile 'em, Take Chloe to it; And lift, if thou hast heart of flint, Thy lash, and her fair skin imprint— But ah! forbear—or, take the hint, And let me do it.
Not a word, Eusebius, I know what you are going to say,—no shame at all. You have all your life acquitted Horace; and if he never intended Chloe to have a whipping, you may be quite sure the little turn that I have ventured to give the affair, won't bear that construction; and there will be no occasion to ask the dimensions of the rod, as the ladies at the assize-town did of Judge Buller, requesting of him, with their compliments, to send them the measure of his thumb.
Why should I not attempt this rejected ode? Here goes for the honour of Lydia. "Kiss and be friends" be ever the motto to lovers' quarrels.
"Donec gratus eram tibi."
HORACE. When I was all in all to you, Nor yet more favour'd youthful minion His arms around your fair neck threw; Not Persia's boasted monarch knew More bless'd a state, more large dominion.
LYDIA. And whilst you loved but only me, Nor then your Lydia stood the second, And Chloe first, in love's degree; I thought myself a queen to be, Nor greater Roman Ilia reckon'd.
HORACE. Now Cretan Chloe rules me quite; Skill'd in the lyre and every measure, For whom I'd die this very night, If but the Fates, in death's despite, Would Chloe spare, my soul's best treasure.
LYDIA. Me Calaeis, Ornytus' young heir! (The flame is mutual we discover,) For whom to die two deaths I'd dare, If the stern Fates would only spare, And he could live, my youthful lover.
HORACE. What—if our former love restore Our bonds, too firm for aught to sever,— I shake off Chloe; and the door To Lydia open flies once more; Returning Lydia, and for ever.
LYDIA. He, though a beauteous star—you light As cork, and rough as stormy weather, That vexes Adria's raging might, With you to live were my delight, And willing should we die together.
So this is the offending ode! Was the proposition to be constant not quite agreeable to the French editor? Or was he in Horace's probable condition, getting a little up in years? See you, it is a youthful rival, Juvenis, who troubles him. And Lydia takes care to throw in this ingredient, the "sweet age." He is not old Ornytus—a hint of comparison with Horace himself—but his son; indeed, he is hardly Juvenis, for she soon calls him her dear boy, as much as to say, "You are old enough to be his father!" She carries out this idea, too, seeming to say, "You may love Chloe—I dare say you do; but, does Chloe love you? Whereas our passion is mutual."
Our poet, delightful and wise as he generally is, was not wise to match his wit against that of a woman, and an offended beauty. How miserably he comes off in every encounter! He would die, forsooth! once—she would die twice over! There is a hit in his very liver! And as to the survivorship of Chloe, that she suggests, considering their ages, might be very natural—but she doubts if her youth could survive should she die; though she even came to life again, a second time to die, it would be of no use. What could the foolish poet do after that? Nothing—but make up the quarrel in the best way he might. He drops his ears, is a little sulky still—most men are so in these affairs—seldom generous in love. To pretend to be so is only to encroach on woman's sweet and noble prerogative, and to assume her great virtue. No man could keep it up long; he would naturally fall into his virile sulks. So Horace does not at once open his arms that his Lydia may fall into them—but stands hesitatingly, rather foolish, his hands behind him, and puts forward the supposition If—that graceless peace-maker. Lydia, on the contrary—all love, all generosity, is in his arms at once; for he must at the moment bring them forward, whether he will for love or no, or Lydia would fall. It is now she looks into his very eyes, and only playfully, as quizzing his jealousy, reminds him of her Calaeis, her star of beauty; thus sweetly reproving and as sweetly forgiving the temper of her Horace—for he is her Horace still—and who can wonder at that? She will bear with all—will live, will die with him. I look, Eusebius, upon this ode as a real consolation to your lovers of an ambiguous and querulous age. Seeing what we are daily becoming, it is a comfort to think that, should such untoward persons make themselves disagreeable to all else of human kind, there will be, nevertheless, to each, one confiding loving creature, to put them in conceit with themselves, and make them, notwithstanding their many perversities, believe that they are unoffending male angels, and die in the bewildering fancy that they are still loveable.
I have little more to say, but that, having been lately in a versifying mood, I have set to rhyme your story of the cook and the lottery ticket; and herein I have avoided that malicious propensity of our numerous tellers of stories, whose only pleasure, as it appears to me, lies in the plunging the heroes and heroines of their tales into inextricable troubles and difficulties, and in continuing them in a state of perplexity beyond the power of human sufferance; and who slur over their unexpected, and generally ill-contrived escape, as a matter of small importance; and with an envy of human happiness, like the fiend who sat scowling on the bliss of Eden, either leave them with sinister intentions, or absolutely drive them out of the Paradise which they have so lately prepared for them.
I have lately been reading a very interesting, well conceived in many respects, and pathetic novel, which, nevertheless, errs in this; and I even think the pathos is injured by the last page, which is too painful for tenderness, which appears the object of the able author. A monumental effigy is but the mockery of all life's doings, which are thus, with their sorrows and their joys, rendered nugatory; and all that we have been reading, and are interested about, is unnecessarily presented to us as dust and ashes. Such is the tale of Mount Sorrel.
Perhaps, too, I might say of this, and of other novels of the same kind, that there is in them an unhealthy egotism; a Byronism of personal feelings; an ingenious invention of labyrinth meandering into the mazes of the mind and of the affections, in which there is always bewilderment, and the escape is rather lucky than foreseen. Such was not the mode adopted heretofore by more vigorous writers, who preferred exhibiting the passions by action, and a few simple touches, which came at once to the heart, without the necessity of unravelling the mismazes of their course. If Achilles had made a long speech in Elysium about his feelings, and attempted to describe them, when his question, if his son excelled in glory, was happily answered, we should have thought less of him for his egotism, and had much less perfect knowledge of the real man's heart and soul. Homer simply tells us, that he walked away, with great strides, greatly rejoicing. I can remember, at this moment, but one tale in which this style of descriptive searchings into the feelings is altogether justifiable—Godwin's "Caleb Williams;" for there the ever instant terror, varying by the natural activity and ingenuity of the mind, which, upon the one pressing point, feverishly hurries into new, and all possible channels of thought, requires this pervading absolutism. It is the Erynnis of a bygone creed, in a renovated form of persecuting fatalism, brought to sport with the daily incidents and characters of modern life.
I do not wish to be tempted by this course of thought into lengthened criticism; which I should not have touched upon, had I not thought it proper to tell you that I have added a conclusion to your tale. Ever wishing a continuation of the happiness of two human beings, beyond that location in the story, where most spiteful authors leave them, the Church door.
* * * * *
I have been reading, too, over again two of Sir Walter Scott's novels, "Guy Mannering" and "Ivanhoe." How different they are, both in design and execution! The former, in all respects perfect—the latter, in design common-place, and but little enlarged from the old ballad tales of Robin Hood, and histories of the Crusaders; very slovenly in diction, and lengthened out by tiresome repetitions; the same things being told in protracted dialogues which had been previously narrated in the historic course. Then there are very ill-timed interruptions, and wearisome disquisitions, just where they should not be. Yet are there passages of perfect excellence, that prove the master-hand of the author. The novel of "Ivanhoe" seems to resemble some of those plays which, though doubtful, are called Shakspeare's, because it is evident that the master-hand has passed over them, and left touches both of thought and character which justify the position which they enjoy. Rebecca is all in all. The other characters somewhat fail to interest. Ivanhoe himself says but little, and is in fact not much developed. We are disgusted, and unnecessarily, at every turn with Athelstane—there was no occasion for making him this degraded glutton. It seems a clumsy contrivance to break off his marriage with Rowena; and surely the boast of his eating propensities, when he shows himself to his astonished mourners escaped from the death and tomb prepared for him, is unnatural, and throws a contempt and ridicule over the whole scene. Richard and Robin Hood (or Locksley) are not characters of Sir Walter's creation—Richard is, we may suppose, truly portrayed. My friend S——, Eusebius, who, while I was suffering under influenza, read these novels out to me, was offended at a little passage towards the end, where the author steps out of the action of his dramatic piece, to tell you that King Richard did not live to fulfil the benevolent promises he had a line or two before been making; and I entirely agree with S——, and felt the unseemly and untimely intelligence as he read it. This would scarcely be justifiable in a note, but in the body of the work it shocks as a plague-spot on the complexion of health. This practice, too common in novelists, especially the "historical," becoming their own marplots, deserves censure. To borrow from another art, it is like marring a composition, by an uncomfortable line or two running out of the picture, and destroying the completeness. I know not if that fine scene, perhaps the most masterly in Ivanhoe, has ever been painted, where, after the defeat of De Bois-Guilbert, and after that Richard had broken in upon the court, the Grand Master draws off in the repose of stern submission his haughty Knights Templars. The slow procession finely contrasts with the taunting violence of Richard; and what a background is offered to the painter—the variously moved multitude, the rescued Rebecca, and the dead (though scarcely defeated) Templar!
Sir Walter, although an antiquarian, was not perhaps aware that he was somewhat out in his chronology in connecting Robin Hood and his men with Richard the First. It is made very clear in an able essay in the Westminster Review, that Robin Hood's name and fame did not commence till after the defeat of Simon de Montfort in the battle of Evesham. In fact, Robin Hood was more of a political outlaw—one of the outlawed, after that defeat, than a mere sylvan robber. Sir Walter Scott has taken advantage of the general belief, gathered from many of our old ballads, in an intercourse between Robin Hood and England's king. But according to the oldest of the ballads, (or rather poems, for it is too long for a ballad, and composed of many parts,) The Lyttel Geste of Robin Hood, this king of England was Edward the First; so that the existence of the "bold outlaw" is antedated by the author of Ivanhoe upwards of seventy years. This, however, does not affect the story, excepting to those who entertain the fond fancy, that when they read an historical novel they read history. Do you wonder, Eusebius, at my chronological learning? You well may; it must appear to you a very unexpected commodity. The truth is, my attention has been directed to this very matter by my antiquarian friend M'Gutch of Worcester, who not only pointed out to me the essay in the Westminster, but, finding my curiosity excited, sent me many of the ballads, Robin Hood's garlands, and The Lyttel Geste, together with an able introduction of his own to a new edition of the collection he is about to produce, with which you will be delighted, and learn all that is to be known; and it is more than you would expect to meet with about this "gentle robber."
S——, to whom I read the foregoing remarks on Ivanhoe, said, I ought to do penance for the criticism. I left the penance to his choice; and, like a true friend, he imposed a pleasure; I do not say, Eusebius, that if left to myself I should have been a Franciscan. He took up Marmion, and read it from beginning to end. It is indeed a noble poem. Will not the day come, when Sir Walter's poems will be more read than his novels, good though they be?
In his poetry Scott always reminds me of Homer. There is the same energy ever working to the one simple purpose—the same spontaneity and belief in its own tale; and diversity of character for relief's sake is common to both. In reading Homer we must discard all our school notions; we began to read with difficulty; the task was a task, though it was true we warmed in it—the thread was broken a thousand times; and we too often pictured to ourselves the old bard in his gravity of beard and age—not in that vigour, that freshness of manhood, which is conspicuous in both poems, at whatever age they were composed.
I have had the curiosity, Eusebius, to enquire of very many real scholars, who have professed to keep up their Greek after leaving the universities, if they have re-read Homer in Greek, and almost all have confessed that they had not. They read him in Pope and Cowper. Let them read him offhand, and fluently, continuously, as they do Marmion, or the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and I cannot but think they will be struck with the Homeric resemblance in the poems of Sir Walter Scott. Both great poets had, too, the same relish for natural scenery, the same close observation; did we not pass over such passages lightly, we should, I am persuaded, find in both the same nice discriminations in characters of outward scenes, that we do in those of men. In both there is the same kind of secret predominance of female character the same delicacy, tenderness, (a wondrous thing in the age of Homer, or rather, perhaps, showing we know nothing about that age, not even so much as we do about those ages which we choose to call dark.) It must, however, be noted, that Sir Walter Scott has limited himself to more confined fields. There is not the same room for genius to work in—the production is, therefore, in degree less varied, and less complete; but is there not a likeness in kind? Is it too bold, is it merely fanciful, Eusebius, to say, too, that there is a something not dissimilar in the measures adopted by these ancient and modern poets. Homer possibly had no choice; but in the hexameter there is the greatest versative power. How different, for instance, are the first lines of the "Tale of Troy Divine," and the more familiar adventures of Ulysses. The ad libitum alternation of dactyl and spondee make the lively or the grave; and the whole metrical glow is all life and action, without hitch or hindrance.
Our heroic measure is at once too long and too short—for, take the caesura as a division of the line, (and what is it if not that?) and the latter part of the line is too short for any effective power—a fault that does not exist in the Greek hexameter. Without the caesura, or with a very slight attention to it, the line is too long, and made tiresome by the monotony which the necessary pause of the rhyme imposes. Besides, how do we know, after all, that the Greeks did not read their one hexameter like two lines, with a decided pause at the caesura, with the additional grace of the short syllable at its end often passing the voice into the second part, or, as we may call it in the argument, the second line? Try, Eusebius; read off a dozen lines any where in Homer with this view, and tell me what you think of the possible short measure of Homer. It is true our measures are of the iambic character, which Horace says is the fittest for action—and therefore, in the Greek, the dramatic. The trimeter iambic is a foot longer than our heroic measure. But then it has the double ictus; and, as the word implies, is divisible into three parts, thus giving a quickness and shortness where wanted. Take away, however, the first caesura, rest only on the second, (and then you have exactly one short measure, that of "Marmion,") and how superfluous the last division of the trimeter appears! as weak and ineffective as the latter part of our long measure, if we read it as wanting the additional foot of the hexameter. For example,
"[Greek: o techna tho palou]"—
There is the measure of Scott—the Greek iambic, however, is lengthened by two feet—[Greek: nea trophe]; so that to the Greek the three ictuses (at least to English ears, accustomed to our short measure) are necessary. That this short measure wants not power in any respect, Marmion alone sufficiently shows. I, however, wished only to show that it had something of an Homeric character; and the facility with which you can read the hexameter of Homer as two lines, you will, perhaps, more than suspect, tends to confirm this opinion. I think, somewhere, Sir Walter Scott recommends the translating Homer into short measure—you forget, perhaps, my making the trial upon the two first books of the Odyssey which I sent to you, and you returned, condemned; although, to tell you the truth, I was not displeased with my attempt, and expected your flattering commendation, and would even now deceive myself into a belief that you were not prepared for the novelty. Admire the candour that proclaims the failure. It is enough that Eusebius admitted my other Homeric translations.
You will easily detect that this letter is written at intervals. I told you what a kind reader I have found in S——, during my indulgence in the luxurious indolence for which influenza apologizes, and a growing convalescence renders a pleasing hypocrisy. He has been repeating, from memory, some lines of his favourite Collins. I remembered them not. He could not put his hand on an edition of Collins, but referred to the "Elegant Extracts," and could not find his admired stanza. He remembered reading it in "The Speaker." The lines are in the Ode to "Evening." In the "Elegant Extracts" we have—
"Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene, Or find some ruin 'midst its dreary dells, Whose walls more awful nod By thy religious gleams."
These lines are substituted for the better lines—
"Then lead, dear votress, where some sheety lake Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallow'd pile, Or upland fallows grey Reflect the last cool gleam."
Why should this beautiful stanza be lost? Is the substitute to be compared with it? Ask the landscape painter! He will admire the one—he will enjoy the other. Who substituted the one for the other? Did Collins write both, and was dubious which should stand; or do you discover the hand of an audacious emendator? Who would lose the sheety lake in which nothing is reflected but evening's own sky, and the "upland fallows grey," and the last cool gleam!
Odious, odious politics! While I am writing, there is an interruption, a sad interruption, to thoughts of poetry and snatches of criticism. It is like a sudden nightmare upon pleasant and shifting dreams. Here are three visitors new from reading Sir Robert Peel's speech. Two very indignant—one a timid character—apologetic. What, cries one—a statesman so egotistical and absolute in his vanity, as, at such a time as the present, to throw the many interests of this great country into peril, and some into sure difficulty, lest, as he himself confesses, he should be thought to have borrowed on Lord John Russell? What business has a statesman to think of himself at all? It is frightful, said another. There are two astounding things—one, that a minister should suddenly turn round upon the principles and the party who brought him into power upon them, confessing he had been changing his opinion three years, and yet last July he should have spoken against the measure which, at the time of speaking, in his heart he favoured, and which he now forces upon a reluctant Parliament; the other astounding thing is, that a Parliament created to oppose this very measure, should show such entire subserviency as to promise a large majority to the minister. May we not expect one who so changes may suddenly some day join O'Connell and grant Repeal? We are to be governed by a minister, not by King, Lords, and Commons. The apologetic man urges expediency, public (assumed) opinion—any thing for peace sake, and to get rid of agitation. So, to avoid agitation, Eusebius, I scrambled up my papers and this letter to you, and left the room; and now, in one more quiet, resume my pen. With a mind not a little confused between politics, poetry, and classical reminiscences, I, however, rested a while to give scope to reflection; and meditation upon this "corn question," brought to mind the practical advice of the tyrant of Syracuse to Periander, to get rid of his aristocracy, which was shown by the action of cutting off the heads of the grain that grew highest in the field. A tyranny was the result, (not in the Greek sense of the word,) and it matters little whence the tyranny comes. With this idea prevalent, I looked for a copy of a Greek MS., taken from a palimpsest discovered in the Ambrosian library, and sat down to translate it for you—you may have the Greek when you like. In the meanwhile, be content with the following version of the apologue, and be not too critical.
THE STORY OF PERIANDER.
"When Periander had now reigned some years at Corinth, the Tyrant of Syracuse sent thither an ambassador, a man of great penetration, to enquire how the maxims of government, in which he had instructed him, had answered.
"The ambassador found Periander in the midst of his courtiers. After receiving him in such manner as it became him to receive a messenger from so excellent a friend, from whom he had obtained the best advice, and after hearing the object of his embassy:—'See,' said Periander, 'to what degree I have prospered. These gentlemen,' pointing to his courtiers, 'have been telling me that my people, and the universal opinion of mankind, enrol me one of the seven wise men of Greece.'
"'Indeed!!!' quoth the ambassador; 'that will delight the king, my master, exceedingly; who will, without doubt, enquire if I have seen with my own eyes the happiness of a people who are so fortunate, and are possessed of so sound a judgment. As yet, I have seen none but those who immediately conducted me hither.'
"'We will take a short circuit,' said Periander, 'and these gentlemen shall accompany us, and we shall see if what they report be true,' looking a little suspiciously at his courtiers, as if to say, 'I verily think you are but flattering knaves.'
"As they passed through the great hall, the officers of state, and the officers of the household, shouted, 'There are but seven wise men, and Periander is the wisest.'
"Periander, the ambassador, and the courtiers, soon left the vestibule, and found themselves in the streets of Corinth. Not a citizen was to be seen. On, and on they went—and still no one was in sight. 'Your majesty's subjects are somewhat more scarce than they were wont to be,' said the ambassador of Syracuse. Periander bit his lips. On, and on they went—and still no one was to be seen—till, turning the corner of another street, they saw, for an instant only, the backs of a few people, who suddenly disappeared into their houses, and a fierce dog flew out upon them, barking furiously, and would have bitten Periander by the leg had he not been rescued by the ambassador.
"'Am I to tell my lord the King of Syracuse,' said the ambassador, 'that I have seen one class of your majesty's subjects, and heard their opinion?' Periander knit his brows, and looked daggers at his courtiers.
"They went on a little further, when a laden ass, whose owner had fled, stood directly in their way. The ass put out his ugly head and brayed in the very face of Periander.
"'Do I hear,' said the ambassador, 'the voice of another class of your majesty's subjects?'
"Periander now could not forbear smiling, as he struck the ass, who kicked at him as he beat him out of the path.
"Well! they went on still a little further, and had now reached the suburbs, where they met a boy driving a flock of geese and goslings into a pond. The boy, as all the rest had done, fled.
"But the big gander, as they approached, waddled up with extended wings to Periander, and hissed at him.
"'The voice of your people,' said the ambassador, 'is indeed unanimous.'
"'At least,' said Periander, 'I will show my wisdom here, by roasting that fellow and eating him for supper.' Whereupon one of his courtiers, who, in matters of this kind take slight hints for mandates, ran the poor gander through the body; and Periander, in reward he said for so brave an action, bade him throw the creature round his neck as a trophy, and carry him home for supper.
"But by this time the old goose, too, fearing for her goslings, came furiously upon Periander, and flapping and beating him with her wings, put him into a sad straight. On this occasion one of his courtiers came to his rescue, and he escaped; and seeing what a ridiculous figure he made, leaned against a wall, and burst into an immoderate fit of laughter.
"'It is enough,' said the ambassador from the Tyrant of Syracuse; 'I am now enabled to inform the king, my master, of the character, manners, and perfect felicity of your majesty's people, from my own observation. That they are of three classes. The first are dogs, the second are asses, and the third are geese; only I perceive that the geese are the more numerous.'
"They returned to the palace, but did not enter by the great vestibule, as Periander made use of a key for a private entrance, which led him into the interior of the building, at the end of the great hall. Hereupon, the officers of state, and the officers of the household who stood near the vestibule, waiting their return, seeing Periander, the ambassador, and the courtiers at the other end, hastened towards them, shouting as before—'There are but seven wise men, and Periander is the wisest.' Periander ordered them to be beaten with stripes; then, retiring into his private apartment with the ambassador, he conversed freely with him, and dismissed him with many and large presents.
"The ambassador returned to Syracuse, and was immediately ordered into the royal presence, where he narrated, amidst the laughter of the courtiers, and of the Tyrant himself, the whole affair as it had happened. When the laughter had a little subsided, the king said, 'Let it be written in a book, how one of the seven wise men had wellnigh been beaten by a goose, who certainly had been too much for him, had not another come to the rescue. Truly a goose is a foolish bird, too much for one, but not enough for two.'"
* * * * *
N.B.—Hence it will be seen that this saying is of more antiquity than is generally believed, and has no relation to modern gluttony, and was in fact a saying of the Tyrant of Syracuse, when he heard the story told by his ambassador. This story, which will be Greek to many, will, perhaps, be no Greek at all to you. In that case go yourself to the Ambrosian library; or, in criticising what I may send, you may be as unfortunate as the great scholar who unconsciously questioned the Greek of Pindar. But, both for the moral and Greek, I will but add—
"Verbum sat sapienti."
Dear Eusebius, ever yours, ——.
[Footnote 1: It is a dangerous thing to touch upon chronology. It is said of the great Duke of Marlborough, that in a conversation respecting the first introduction of cannon, he quoted Shakspeare to prove that it was in the reign of John.
"O prudent discipline from north to south, Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth."
Yes, said his adversary, but you quote Shakspeare, not history.]
[Footnote 2: Is it possible that Coleridge may have seen this apologue when he wrote his "Ancient Mariner," and introduced a similar incident of the albatross?]
THE STUDENT OF SALAMANCA.
A la lid, nacionales valientes! Al combate a la gloria volad! Guerra y muerte a tiranos y esclavos, Guerra y despues habra paz!
Himno de Valladolid.
It still wanted an hour of daybreak, on the 16th day of July 1835, when the stillness, that during the previous four or five hours had reigned undisturbed in the quiet streets of Artajona, was broken by the clang of the diana. But a few notes of the call had issued from the brazen throats of bugle and trumpet, when a notable change took place in the appearance of the town. Lights, of which previously only a solitary one had here and there proceeded from the window of a guard-room, or of some early-rising orderly-sergeant, now glimmered in every casement; the streets were still empty, save of the trumpeters, who stood at the corners, puffing manfully at their instruments; but on all sides was audible a hum like that of a gigantic bee-hive, mingled with a slight clashing of arms, and with the neighing of numerous horses, who, as well as their masters, had heard and recognized the well-known sounds. Two or three minutes elapsed, and then doors were thrown open, and the deserted streets began to assume a more lively appearance. Non-commissioned officers, their squad-rolls in their hands, took their station in front of the houses where their men were billeted; in the stables, dragoons lighted greasy iron lamps, and, suspending them against the wall, commenced cleaning and saddling their horses; the shutters of the various wine-houses were taken down, and drowsy, nightcapped taberneros busied themselves in distributing to innumerable applicants the tiny glassful of anisado, which, during the whole twenty-four hours, is generally the sole spirituous indulgence permitted himself by the sober Spanish soldier. A few more minutes passed; the reveille had ceased to sound, and on the principal square of the town a strong military band played, with exquisite skill and unison, the beautiful and warlike air of the hymn of Valladolid.
"A la lid, nacionales valientes! Al combate, a la gloria volad!"
"To the strife, brave nationals; to the strife, and to glory!" sang many a soldier, the martial words of the song recalled to his memory by the soul-stirring melody, as, buckling on sabre or shouldering musket, he hurried to the appointed parade. The houses and stables were now fast emptying, and the streets full. The monotonous "Uno, dos," of the infantry, as they told off, was drowned in the noise of the horses' feet and the jingle of accoutrements of the cavalry-men clattering out of their stables. By the light of a few dingy lanterns, and of the stronger illumination proceeding from the windows, whole battalions were seen assembled, resting on their arms, and presently they began to move out of the town. Outside of Artajona, the right wing of the army, under command of General Gurrea, formed up, and marched away in the direction of Mendigorria.
The sun had but just risen when this division, after driving in the Carlist cavalry pickets, which had been pushed up to within half a league of Artajona, halted and took position to the right of the high-road between that town and Mendigorria. The ground thus occupied is level, and opposite to nearly the centre of a line of low hills, which, after running for some distance parallel to the Arga, recedes at either extremity, thus forming the flattened arc of a circle, of which the river is the chord. Between the hills, which are inconsiderable and of gradual slope, and the river, runs the high-road from Puente de la Reyna to Larraga; and in rear of their more southerly portion, known as La Corona, opposite to the place where the road from Artajona passes through a dip or break in their continuity, are the town and bridge of Mendigorria. Upon these hills the Carlists, who had passed the night in the last-named town, now formed themselves, their main body upon the eastern slope, their reserves upon the western or reverse side. They were still bringing their masses into position, when the Christino right came upon the ground, and for awhile, although the distance between the hostile forces was not great, no shot was fired on either side. By and by, however, the dark figures of the Carlist guerillas were seen racing down the hills, the Christino skirmishers advanced to meet them, and soon a sharp irregular fire of musketry, and the cloud of smoke which spread over the middle ground between the armies, announced that the fight, or at least the prelude to it, had begun. This desultory sort of contest was of short duration. Several Carlist battalions moved forward, a gallant attack was made on the Christino position, and as gallantly repelled: commanded by a brave and skilful officer, and favoured by a judicious choice of ground, the Queen's troops, although opposed to vastly superior numbers, and without their cavalry, which had remained with the reserve, repulsed repeated assaults, and held their own without serious loss, until, towards ten o'clock, the heads of columns of the centre of the army, under the commander-in-chief himself, made their appearance from the direction of Artajona. Almost at the same time, the left wing, with Espartero at its head, arrived from Larraga, where it had slept. Some little manoeuvring took place, and then the whole Christino army appeared formed up, Cordova on either side of the high-road, Espartero on his left, nearer to the Arga, Gurrea on his right. By a rather singular arrangement, the whole force of cavalry, under General Lopez, was left in reserve, considerably in rear of the left wing, and at a full mile and a half from the centre; with the exception of one squadron, which, as well as his habitual escort, had accompanied General Cordova. That squadron was commanded by Luis Herrera.
A stranger who, on the morning referred to, should, for the first time, have walked through the ranks of the Carlist army, would have found much that was curious and interesting to note. The whole disposable military force of what the Christinos called the Faction, was there assembled, and a motley crew it appeared. Had stout hearts and strong arms been as rare in their ranks as uniformity of garb and equipment, the struggle would hardly have been prolonged for four years after the date we write of. But it would be difficult to find in any part of Europe, perhaps of the world, men of more hardy frame, and better calculated to make good soldiers, than those composing many of the Carlist battalions. Amongst them the Navarrese and Guipuzcoans were pre-eminent; sinewy, broad-chested, narrow-flanked fellows, of prodigious activity and capacity for enduring fatigue. The Guipuzcoans especially, in their short grey frocks and red trousers, their necks bare, the shirt-collar turned back over their shoulders, with their bronzed faces and wiry mustaches, leathern belts, containing cartridges, buckled tightly round their waists, and long bright-barrelled muskets in their hands, were the very beau-ideal of grenadiers. Beside these, the Biscayans and some of the Castilians, undersized and unsoldierly-looking, showed to much disadvantage. Other battalions were composed in great part of Christino prisoners, who, having had the choice given them between death and service under Don Carlos, had chosen the latter, but who now seemed to have little stomach for a fight against their former friends. The whole of the Carlist cavalry, even then not very numerous, was also there. The grim-visaged priest Merino, ever the stanchest partisan of absolutism, bestrode his famous black horse, and headed a body of lancers as fierce and wild-looking as himself; Pascual Real, the dashing major of Ferdinand's guard, who in former days, when he took his afternoon ride in the Madrid prado, drew all eyes upon him by the elegance of his horsemanship, marshalled the Alavese hussars; and, in a third place, some squadrons of Navarrese, who had left the fat pastures of the valley of Echauri to be present at the expected fight, were ranged under the orders of the young and gallant Manolin.
But whoever had the opportunity of observing the Carlist army on that day and a month previously, saw a mighty difference in the spirit pervading it. He who had been its soul, whose prestige gave confidence to the soldier, and whose acknowledged superiority of talent prevented rivalry amongst the chiefs, was now no more; his death had been followed by a reverse, the only really serious one the Carlists had yet encountered, and dissension was already springing up amongst the followers of the Pretender. Intrigue was at work, rival interests were brought into play; there was no longer amongst the officers that unity of purpose which alone could have given the cause a chance of success; nor amongst the men that unbounded confidence in their leader, which on so many occasions had rendered them invincible. The spring of '35 had been a season of triumph for the Carlists; the summer was to be one of disasters.
Subsequent events sufficiently proved that Cordova was not the man to command an army. Diplomacy was his forte; and he might also, as a general, claim some merit for combinations in the cabinet. It was during his command that the plan was formed for enclosing the Carlists within certain fortified limits, in hopes that they would exhaust the resources of the country, and with a view to preserve other provinces from the contagion of Carlism. Great credit was given him for this scheme, which was carried out after many severe fights, and at great expense of life; but neither of the advantages expected from it was ever realized. In the field, Cordova was not efficient; he lacked resource and promptitude; and the command of a division was the very utmost to which his military talents entitled him to aspire. As before mentioned, however, his confidence and pretensions were unbounded, his partisans numerous, and the event of this day's fight was such as greatly to increase the former, and raise the admiration of the latter.
It was eleven o'clock before the two armies were drawn up opposite to each other in order of battle, and even then neither party seemed inclined immediately to assume the offensive. Clouds of skirmishers were thrown out along the whole line, bodies of troops advanced to support them, the artillery began to thunder, but still a fight was for a short time avoided, and, like wary chess-players at the commencement of a game, the two generals contented themselves with manoeuvres. Presently, however, from the Carlist centre a column of cavalry advanced, and forming front, charged a regiment of the royal guard, the foremost of Cordova's division. The guards were broken, and suffered considerably; those who escaped the sabres and lances of the horsemen being driven back, some to the centre and some upon the left wing. The cavalry seemed, for a moment, disposed to push their advantage; but the steady fire with which they were received by several squares of infantry, thinned their ranks, and, in their turn, they retreated in disorder. They had scarcely rejoined the main body when the advance was sounded along the whole Christino line, and the army moved forward to a general charge. At first the Carlists stood firm, and opened a tremendous fire upon the advancing line, but the gaps that it caused were speedily filled up; the Christinos poured in one deadly volley, gave a fierce cheer, and rushed on with the bayonet. The Carlists wavered, their whole army staggered to and fro; first companies, then battalions disbanded themselves, and pressed in confusion to the rear, and at last the entire line gave way; and the numerous host, seized with a panic, commenced a hasty and tumultuous retreat. The reserves on the opposite side of the hill were broken by the stream of fugitives that came pouring down upon them; the cavalry, who endeavoured to make a stand, were thrown into disorder, and pushed out of their ranks in the same manner. In vain did the Carlist officers exert themselves to restore order—imploring, threatening, even cutting at the soldiers with their swords. Here and there a battalion or two were prevailed upon to turn against the foe; but such isolated efforts could do little to restore the fortune of the day. The triumphant tide of the Christinos rolled ever forwards; the plunging fire of their artillery carried destruction into the ranks of the discomfited Carlists; the rattling volleys of small-arms, the clash of bayonets, the exulting shouts of the victors, the cries of anguish of the wounded, mingled in deafening discord. Amidst this confusion, a whole battalion of Carlists, the third of Castile, formed originally of Christino prisoners, finding themselves about to be charged by a battalion of the guard, reversed their muskets, and shouting "Viva Isabel!" ranged themselves under the banners to which they had formerly belonged, taking with them as prisoners such of their officers as did not choose to follow their example. Generals Villareal and Sagastibelza, two of the bravest and most respected of the Carlist leaders, were severely wounded whilst striving to restore order, and inspire their broken troops with fresh courage. Many other officers of rank fell dead upon the field while similarly engaged; the panic was universal, and the day irretrievably lost.
"The cavalry! the cavalry!" exclaimed a young man, who now pressed forward into the melee. He wore a long, loose civilian's coat, a small oilskin-covered forage cap, and had for his sole military insignia an embroidered sword-belt, sustaining the gilt scabbard of the sabre that flashed in his hand. His countenance was pale and rather sickly-looking, his complexion fairer than is usual amongst Spaniards; a large silk cravat was rolled round his neck, and reached nearly to his ears, concealing, it was said, the ravages of disease. His charger was of surpassing beauty; a plumed and glittering staff rode around him; behind came a numerous escort.
"The cavalry! the cavalry!" repeated Cordova, for he it was. "Where is Lopez and the cavalry?"
But, save his own escort and Herrera's squadron, no cavalry was forthcoming. Lopez remained unpardonably inactive, for want of orders, as he afterwards said; but, under the circumstances, this was hardly an extenuation. The position of the Carlists had been, in the first instance, from the nature of the ground, scarcely attackable by horse, at least with any prospect of advantage; but now the want of that arm was great and obvious. Cordova's conduct in leaving his squadrons so far in the rear, seems, at any rate, inexplicable. It was by unaccountable blunders of this sort, that he and others of the Christino generals drew upon themselves imputations of lukewarmness, and even of treachery.
An aide-de-camp galloped up to Herrera, whose squadron had been stationed with the reserve of the centre. His horse, an Isabella-coloured Andalusian, with silver mane and tail, of the kind called in Spain Perla, was soaked with sweat and grey with foam. The rider was a very young man, with large fiery black eyes, thin and martially-expressive features, and a small mustache shading his upper lip. He was a marquis, of one of the noblest families in Spain. He seemed half mad with excitement.
"Forward with your squadron!" shouted he, as soon as he came within earshot. The word was welcome to Herrera.
"Left wheel! forward! gallop!"
And, with the aide-de-camp at his side, he led his squadron along the road to Mendigorria, which intersects the hills whence the Carlists were now being driven. They had nearly reached the level ground on the other side, when they came in sight of several companies of infantry, who made a desperate stand. Their colonel, a Navarrese of almost gigantic stature—his sword, which had been broken in the middle, clutched firmly in his hand, his face streaming with blood from a slash across the forehead, his left arm hanging by his side, disabled by a severe wound—stood in front of his men, who had just repulsed the attack of some Christino infantry. On perceiving the cavalry, however, they showed symptoms of wavering.
"Steady!" roared the colonel, knitting his bleeding brow. "The first man who moves dies by my hand!"
In spite of the menace, two or three men ventured to steal away, and endeavoured to leave the road unobserved. The colonel sprang like a tiger upon one of them.
"Cobarde! muera!" cried the frantic Carlist, cleaving the offender to the eyes with the fragment of his sword. The terrible example had its effect; the men stood firm for a moment, and opened a well-aimed fire on the advancing cavalry.
"Jesus Cristo!" exclaimed the young aide-de-camp. Herrera looked at him. His features were convulsed with pain. One more name which he uttered—it was that of a woman—reached Herrera's ears, and then he fell from his saddle to the earth; and the dragoons, unable to turn aside, trampled him under foot. There was no time for reflection. "Forward! forward!" was the cry, and the horsemen entered the smoke. On the right of the Carlists, in front, stood their dauntless colonel, waving his broken sabre, and shouting defiance. Firm as a rock he awaited the cavalry. Struck by his gallantry, Herrera wished to spare his life.
"Rinde te!" he cried; "yield!"
"Jode te!" was the coarse but energetic reply of the Carlist, as he dealt a blow which Herrera with difficulty parried. At the same moment a lance-thrust overthrew him. There were a few shouts of rage, a few cries for mercy; here and there a bayonet grated against a sabre, but there was scarcely a check in the speed; such of the infantry as stood to receive the charge were ridden over, and Herrera and his squadron swept onwards towards the bridge of Mendigorria.
Now it was that the Carlists felt the consequences of that enormous blunder in the choice of a position, which, either through ignorance or over confidence, their generals had committed. With the Arga flowing immediately in their rear, not only was there no chance of rallying them, but their retreat was greatly embarrassed. One portion of the broken troops made for the bridge, and thronged over it in the wildest confusion, choking up the avenue by their numbers; others rushed to the fords higher up the stream, and dashing into the water, some of them, ignorant of the shallow places, were drowned in the attempt to cross. Had the Christino cavalry been on the field when the rout began, the loss of the vanquished would have been prodigious; as it was, it was very severe. The Christino soldiery, burning to revenge former defeats, and having themselves suffered considerably at the commencement of the fight, were eager in the pursuit, and gave little quarter. In less than two hours from the beginning of the action, the country beyond the Arga was covered with fugitives, flying for their lives towards the mountains of Estella. Narrow were the escapes of many upon that day. Don Carlos had been praying during the action in the church at Mendigorria; and so sudden was the overthrow of his army, that he himself was at one time in danger of being taken. A Christino officer, according to a story current at the time, had come up with him, and actually stretched out his hand to grasp his collar, when a bullet struck him from his saddle.
Dashing over the bridge, Herrera and his squadron spurred in pursuit. Their horses were fresh, and they soon found themselves amongst the foremost, when suddenly a body of cavalry, which, although retiring, kept together and exerted itself to cover the retreat, faced about, and showed a disposition to wait their arrival. The Carlists were superior in numbers, but that Herrera neither saw nor cared for; and, rejoicing at the prospect of opposition to overcome, he waved his sword and cheered on his men. At exactly the same moment the hostile squadrons entered the opposite sides of a large field, and thundered along to the encounter, pounding the dry clods beneath their horses' hoofs, and raising a cloud of dust through which the lance-points sparkled in the sunlight, whilst above it the fierce excited features of the men were dimly visible. Nearer they came, and nearer; a shout, a crash, one or two shrill cries of anguish—a score of men and horses rolled upon the ground, the others passed through each other's ranks, and then again turning, commenced a furious hand-to-hand contest. The leader of the Carlists, a dark-browed, powerful man, singled out Herrera for a fierce attack. The fight, however, lasted but a few moments, and was yet undecided when the Christino infantry came up. A few of the surviving Carlists fled, but the majority, including their colonel, were surrounded and made prisoners. They were sent to the rear with an escort, and the chase was continued.
It was nightfall before the pursuit entirely ceased, and some hours later before Herrera and his dragoons, who, in the flush of victory, forgot fatigue, arrived at Puente de la Reyna, where, and at Mendigorria, the Christino army took up their quarters. Sending the squadron to their stables, Herrera, without giving himself the trouble to demand a billet, repaired to an inn, where he was fortunate enough to obtain a bed—no easy matter in the crowded state of the town. The day had been so busy, that he had had little time to reflect further on the intelligence brought by Paco, of whom he had heard nothing since the morning. And now, so harassed and exhausted was he by the exertions and excitement of the day, that even anxious thoughts were insufficient to deprive him of the deep and refreshing slumber of which he stood in such great need.
The morning sun shone brightly through the half-closed shutters of his apartment, when Herrera was awakened by the entrance of Paco. In the street without he heard a great noise and bustle; and, fearful of having slept too long, he sprang from his bed and began hastily to dress. Without saying a word, Paco threw open the window and beckoned to him. He hastened to look out. In front of the inn was an open plaza, now crowded with men and horses. A large body of troops were drawn up under arms, officers were assembled in groups, discussing the victory of the preceding day; and in the centre of the square, surrounded by a strong guard, stood several hundred Carlist prisoners. On one side of these were collected the captured horses both of men and officers, for the most part just as they had been taken, saddled and bridled, and their coats caked with dry sweat. Paco drew Herrera's attention to a man in officer's uniform, who stood, with folded arms and surly dogged looks, in the front rank of the prisoners. His eyes were fixed upon the ground, and he only occasionally raised them to cast vindictive glances at a party of officers of the Christino guards, who stood at a short distance in his front, and who seemed to observe him with some curiosity.
"You see yonder colonel?" said Paco to Herrera. "Do you know him?"
"Not I," replied Herrera. "Yet, now I look again—yes. He is one of my prisoners of yesterday. He commanded a body of cavalry which charged us."
"Likely, likely," said Paco. "Do you know his name?"
"How should I?" answered Herrera.
"I will tell it you. It is Baltasar de Villabuena."
Herrera uttered an exclamation of surprise. "Impossible!" said he.
"Certain; I have seen him too often to mistake him."
Herrera made no reply. His hasty toilet finished, he bade Paco remain where he was, and descended to the street. He approached the group of guardsmen already mentioned.
"Your next move, gentlemen?" said he, after the usual salutation.
"To Pampeluna with the prisoners," was the reply. "A reconnoissance en force has gone out, but it may go far, I expect, before meeting with a Carlist. They are completely broken, and at this moment I doubt if there is one within a day's march."
"Yes," said another officer, "they are far enough off, if still running. Caremba! what legs the fellows have! We caught a few, though, yesterday afternoon, in spite of their powdering along. Old acquaintances, too, some of them," he added.
"Indeed!" said Herrera.
"Yes; fellows who have served and marched side by side with us. Look there, for instance; do you see that sullen, black-looking dog squinting at us with such a friendly expression?"
"Who is he?" enquired Herrera.
"Baltasar de Villabuena, an old captain of our's before the war. He resigned when Zumalacarregui took the field, and joined the Carlists, and it seems they've made him a colonel. A surly, ill-conditioned cur he always was, or we should not be standing here without a word of kindness or consolation to offer him."
To the surprise of the guardsmen, Herrera, before the officer had done speaking, walked up to the prisoner in question.
"Colonel Villabuena?" said he, slightly touching his cap.
"That is my name," replied the prisoner, sullenly.
"We met yesterday, I believe," said Herrera, with cold politeness. "If I am not mistaken, you commanded the squadron which charged mine in the early part of the retreat."
Baltasar nodded assent.
"Is your horse amongst those yonder?" continued Herrera.
"It is," replied Baltasar, who, without comprehending the drift of these questions, began to entertain hopes that his rank and former comradeship with many officers of the Christino army were about to obtain him an indulgence rarely accorded, during that war, to prisoners of any grade—the captured Carlists being looked upon by their adversaries rather as rebels and malefactors than as prisoners of war, and treated accordingly. He imagined that his horse was about to be restored to him, and that he would be allowed to ride to Pampeluna.
"Yonder bay stallion," said he, "with a black sheepskin on the saddle, is mine."
Herrera approached the officer commanding the guard over the prisoner, spoke a few words to him, and returned to Baltasar.
"You will please to accompany me," said he.
Baltasar complied, and captive and captor advanced to the horses.
"This is mine," said Colonel Villabuena, laying his hand upon the neck of a powerful bay charger.
Without saying another word, Herrera raised the sheepskin covering the holsters, and withdrew from them a brace of pistols, which he carefully examined. They were handsomely mounted, long-barrelled, with a small smooth bore, and their buts were inlaid with a silver plate, upon which a coronet and the initials E. de V. were engraved.
"These pistols, I presume, are also yours?"
"They are so," was the answer.
"You will observe, sir," continued Herrera, showing the pistols to the officer on guard, who had followed him, "that I have taken these pistols from the holsters of this officer, Colonel Baltasar de Villabuena, who acknowledges them to be his. Look at them well; you may have to recognise them on a future day. I shall forthwith explain to the general-in-chief my motives for taking possession of them."
The officer received the pistols, examined them carefully, and returned them to Herrera. Baltasar looked on with a perplexed and uneasy air. Just then the brigadier, who was to command the column proceeding to Pampeluna, rode into the plaza. The drums beat, and the troops stood to their arms.
"Return to your place," said Herrera, sternly, to the prisoner. "We shall shortly meet again."
And whilst Baltasar, alike disappointed and astonished at the strange conduct of the Christino officer, resumed his place in the captive ranks, Herrera betook himself to the quarters of the commander-in-chief.
This time Torres made no difficulty about introducing his friend into the general's apartment. Cordova was lying at length upon a sofa in a large cool room, a cigar in his mouth, a quantity of despatches on a table beside him, two or three aides-de-camp and secretaries writing in an adjoining chamber. He received Herrera kindly, complimented him on his conduct in the preceding day's fight, and informed him that particular mention had been made of him in his despatch to Madrid. After an interview of some duration, Herrera left the house, with leave of absence for a fortnight, signed by Cordova himself, in his pocket. Proceeding to the barracks, he made over the squadron to his second in command; and then mounting his horse, attended by Paco, and followed by half a dozen dragoons, he took the road to the Ebro.
In a street of Logrono, not far from the entrance of the town, stands one of those substantial and antiquated dwellings, remnants of the middle ages, which are of no unfrequent occurrence in Spain, and whose massive construction seems to promise as many more centuries of existence as they have already seen. It is the property, and at times the abode, of the nobleman whose arms are displayed, elaborately carved on stone, above the wide portal—a nobleman belonging to that section of the Spanish aristocracy, who, putting aside old prejudices, willingly adhered to the more liberal and enlightened order of things to which the death of Ferdinand was the prelude. In a lofty and spacious apartment of this mansion, and on the evening of the first day after that of Herrera's departure from Puente de la Reyna, we find Count Villabuena reclining in an easy-chair, and busied with thoughts, which, it might be read upon his countenance, were of other than a pleasant character. Since last we saw him, full of life and strength, and still active and adventurous as a young man, encountering fatigues and dangers in the service of his so-called sovereign, a great and sad change had taken place in the Count, and one scarcely less marked in his hopes and feelings. The wound received by him in the plains of Alava, although severe and highly dangerous, had not proved mortal; and when Herrera sought his body with the intention of doing the last mournful honours to the protector of his youth, and father of his beloved Rita, he perceived, to his extreme joy, that life had not entirely fled. On a litter, hastily and rudely constructed of boughs, the Count was conveyed to Vittoria, where he no sooner arrived, than by the anxious care of Herrera, half the surgeons in the town were summoned to his couch. For some days his life was in imminent peril; but at last natural strength of constitution, and previous habits of temperance, triumphed over the wound, and over the conclave of Sangrados who had undertaken his case. The Count recovered, gradually it is true, and without a prospect of ever regaining his former firm health; but still, to Herrera's great delight, and owing in a great measure to the care he lavished upon him, his life was at last pronounced entirely out of danger.
Upon arriving at Vittoria with his sorely wounded friend, duty had compelled Herrera to report his capture; but although the prisoner was considered a most important one, his state was so hopeless, that Luis had little difficulty in obtaining permission to become his sole jailer, pledging himself to reproduce him in case he should recover. When the Count got better, and became aware of his position, he insisted upon Herrera's informing the authorities of his convalescence, and of his readiness to proceed to any place of confinement they might appoint. Herrera's high character and noble qualities had made him many friends, some of them persons of influence, and he now successfully exerted himself to obtain a favour which was probably never before or afterwards conceded to a prisoner during the whole course of that war. Count Villabuena was allowed his parole, and was moreover told, that on pledging himself to retire to France, and to take no further share, direct or indirect, in the Carlist rebellion, he should obtain his release. One other condition was annexed to this. Two colonels of the Queen's army, who were detained prisoners by the Carlists, were to be given up in exchange for his liberty.
When these terms, so unexpectedly favourable, were communicated to the Count, he lost no time in addressing a letter to Don Carlos, informing him of his position, and requesting him to fulfil that portion of the conditions depending on him, by liberating the Christino officers. With shattered health, he could not hope, he said, again to render his Majesty services worth the naming; his prayers would ever be for his success, but they were all he should be able to offer, even did an unconditional release permit him to rejoin his sovereign. In the same letter he implored Don Carlos to watch over the safety of his daughter, and cause her to be conducted to France under secure escort. This letter dispatched, by the medium of a flag of truce, the Count sought and obtained permission to remove to the town of Logrono, where an old friend, the Marquis of Mendava, had offered him an asylum till his fate should be decided upon.
Long and anxiously did the Count await a reply to his letter, but weeks passed without his receiving it. Three days before the battle of Mendigorria, the Christino army passed through Logrono on its way northwards, and the Count had the pleasure of a brief visit from Herrera. A few hours after the troops had again marched away, a courier arrived from Vittoria, bringing the much wished-for answer. It was cold and laconic, written by one of the ministers of Don Carlos. Regret was expressed for the Count's misfortune, but that regret was apparently not sufficiently poignant to induce the liberation of two important prisoners, in order that a like favour might be extended to one who could no longer be of service to the Carlist cause.
Although enveloped in the verbiage and complimentary phrases which the Spanish language so abundantly supplies, the real meaning of the despatch was evident enough to Count Villabuena. Courted when he could be of use, he was now, like a worthless fruit from which pulp and juice had been expressed, thrown aside and neglected. It was a bitter pang to his generous heart to meet such ingratitude from the prince whom he had so much loved, and for whose sake he had made enormous sacrifices. To add to his grief, the only answer to his request concerning his daughter was a single line, informing him that she had left Segura several weeks previously, and that her place of abode was unknown.
Depressed and heartsick, the Count lay back in his chair, shading his eyes with his hand, and musing painfully on the events of the preceding two years. His estates confiscated, his health destroyed, separated from his only surviving child, and her fate unknown to him, himself a prisoner—such were the results of his blind devotion to a worthless prince and a falling principle. Great, indeed, was the change which physical and mental suffering had wrought in the Conde de Villabuena. His form was bowed and emaciated, his cheek had lost its healthful tinge; his hair, in which, but a short three months previously, only a few silver threads were perceptible, telling of the decline of life rather than of its decay, now fell in grey locks around his sunken temples. For himself individually, the Count grieved not; he had done what he deemed his duty, and his conscience was at rest; but he mourned the ingratitude of his king and party, and, above all, his heart bled at the thought of his daughter, abandoned friendless and helpless amongst strangers. The news of the preceding day's battle had reached him, but he took small interest in it; he foresaw that many more such fights would be fought, and countless lives be sacrificed, before peace would revisit his unhappy and distracted country.
From these gloomy reflections Count Villabuena was roused by the sudden opening of his door. The next instant his hand was clasped in that of Luis Herrera, who, hot with riding, dusty and travel-stained, gazed anxiously on the pale, careworn countenance of his old and venerable friend. On beholding Luis, a beam of pleasure lighted up the features of the Count.
"You at least are safe!" was his first exclamation. "Thank Heaven for that! I should indeed be forlorn if aught happened to you."
There was an accent of unusually deep melancholy in the Count's voice which struck Herrera, and caused him for an instant to imagine that he had already received intelligence of his cousin's treachery, and of Rita's captivity. Convinced, however, by a moment's reflection, that it was impossible, he dreaded some new misfortune.
"You are dejected, sir," he said. "What has again occurred to grieve you?—The reverse sustained by your friends"—
"No, no," interrupted the Count, with a bitter smile—"not so. My friends, as you call them, seem little desirous of my poor sympathy. Luis, read this."
As he spoke, he held out the letter received from the secretary of Don Carlos.
"It was wisely said," continued the Count, when Herrera had finished its perusal, "'put not your trust in princes.' Thus am I rewarded for devotion and sacrifices. Hearken to me, Luis. It matters little, perhaps, whether I wear out the short remnant of my days in captivity or in exile; but my daughter, my pure, my beautiful Rita, what will become of her—alas! what has become of her? My soul is racked with anxiety on her account, and I curse the folly and imprudence that led me to re-enter this devoted land. My child—my poor child—can I forgive myself for perilling your defenceless innocence in this accursed war!"
His nerves unstrung by illness, and overcome by his great affliction, the usually stern and unbending Villabuena bowed his head upon his hands and sobbed aloud. Inexpressibly touched by this outburst of grief in one to whose nature such weakness was so foreign, Herrera did his utmost to console and tranquillize his friend. The paroxysm was short, and the Count regained his former composure. Although dreading the effect of the communication, Herrera felt it absolutely necessary to impart at once the news brought by Paco. He proceeded accordingly in the task, and as cautiously as possible, softening the more painful parts, suggesting hopes which he himself could not feel, and speaking cheeringly of the probability of an early rescue. The Count bore the communication as one who could better sustain certain affliction than killing suspense.
"Something I know," said he, when Herrera paused, "of the convent you mention, and still more of its abbess. Carmen de Forcadell was long celebrated, both at Madrid and in her native Andalusia, for her beauty and intrigues. Her husband was assassinated by one of her lovers, as some said, and within three years of his death, repenting, it was believed, of her dissolute life, she took the veil. Once, I know, Baltasar was her reputed lover; but whatever may now be his influence over her, I cannot think she would allow my daughter to be ill treated whilst within her walls. No, Herrera, the danger is, lest the villain may remove my Rita, and place her where no shield may stand between her and his purposes."
"Do not fear it," replied Herrera, in his turn reassured by the Count's moderation. "Your cousin was taken in the action of the 16th, and is now a prisoner at Pampeluna."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the Count, his face brightening with satisfaction. "It is good news, indeed."
"Better than you even think, perhaps. You have preserved the ball that was extracted from your wound?"
"I have," replied the Count, "at your request. What of it?"
"So long," said Herrera, "as no advantage could be gained from my communication, I would not shock you with a statement that even now will cause you serious pain. You remember, sir, that at the time of receiving your wound you were at a very short distance from me, and that your cousin was at a still less one from you, in your rear. As you advanced towards the intervening stream, my eyes, conducted by chance, or something better, fixed on your cousin, who at the moment drew a pistol from his holster. You were but a few paces from him, when I saw him deliberately—I could not be mistaken—deliberately vary his aim from myself to you. The pistol was fired—you fell from your horse, struck by his hand. You seem surprised. The deed was as inexplicable to me until from your own lips I heard who the officer was—that there had been serious disagreement between you—and that his temper was violent, and character bad. Coupled with what my own eyes saw, the bullet itself, far too small for a carbine ball, convinced me that it had proceeded from a pistol. Instinctively, rather than from any anticipation of its being hereafter useful, I requested you to preserve the ball, and to-day an extraordinary chance enables me to verify my suspicions. Let the bullet be now produced."
Astounded by what he heard, but still incredulous, the Count summoned his attendant.
"Bring me the bullet that I bade you keep," said the Count.
"And desire my orderly," added Herrera, "to bring me the brace of pistols he will find in my valise."
In a few moments both commands were obeyed. The bullet was of very small calibre, and, not having encountered any bone, had preserved its rotundity without even an indentation.
"Do you recognize these pistols?" said Herrera, showing the Count those which he had taken from Baltasar's holsters. "This coronet and initials proclaim them to have been once your own."
"They were so," replied the Count, taking one of them in his hand—"a present to my cousin soon after he joined us. I remember them well; he carried them on the day that I was wounded."
"Behold!" said Herrera, who placed the bullet in the muzzle of the pistol, into the barrel of which it slid, fitting there exactly. Shocked and confounded by this proof of his kinsman's villany, the Count dropped the other pistol and remained sad and silent.
"You doubt no longer?" said Herrera.
"May it not have been accident?" said the Count, almost imploringly. "No Villabuena could commit so base and atrocious a crime."
"None but he," said Herrera. "I watched him as he took his aim, not twenty paces from you. With half a doubt, I would have bitten my tongue from my mouth before an accusation should have passed it against the man in whose favour indeed I have no cause to be prejudiced. Count Villabuena, the shot was fired with intent. For that I pledge my honour and salvation."
There was a pause.
"But my daughter," said the Count; "you forget her, Luis. She must be rescued. How does this fiend's imprisonment render that rescue easier?"
"Thus," replied Herrera. "Yesterday I had an interview with Cordova, and told him every thing; the abduction of Rita, and Baltasar's attempt on your life. Of the latter I engaged to furnish ample proofs. Cordova, as I expected, was indignant, and would have shot the offender had I consented to the act. Upon reflection, however, he himself saw reasonable objections to a measure so opposed to the existing treaty for exchange of prisoners, and feared retaliation from the enemy. After some discussion it was agreed that the proof of Baltasar's attempt upon your life should be submitted, and, if found satisfactory, that the prisoner should be placed at my disposal. In that event his liberty, nay, his life, must depend upon his consenting, unreservedly, to write to the convent, to desire the abbess to set Rita at liberty, and to provide for her safe conduct into France. Until then, Baltasar, by the general's order, remains in solitary confinement at Pampeluna."
"Good," said the Count approvingly.
"I had a threefold object in coming hither," continued Herrera. "To obtain proof of Baltasar's guilt, to comfort you with the hopes of Rita's safety, and to take you with me to Pampeluna. Baltasar of course believes you dead; he will the more readily abandon his designs when he finds that you still live."
"Rightly reasoned," said the Count. "Why should we now delay another instant? Your news, Herrera, has made me young and strong again."
"We will set out to-morrow," said Herrera. "A column of troops march at daybreak for Pampeluna, and we can avail ourselves of their escort."