Oh, sweet it were—unutterably sweet— Even though with garments rent, and bleeding feet, To wander over the deserted places Where once thy princely palaces arose, And 'mid the weeds and wild-flowers mark the traces, Where the ground, yawning in its earthquake throes, The ark of covenant and the cherubim Received, lest stranger hands, that reek'd the while With blood of thine own children, should defile Its heaven-resplendent glory, and bedim: And my dishevell'd locks, in my despair, All madly should I tear; And as I cursed the day that dawn'd in heaven— The day that saw thee to destruction given, Even from my very frenzy should I wring A rough, rude comfort in my sorrowing.
What other comfort can I know? Behold, Wild dogs and wolves with hungry snarl contend Over thy prostrate mighty ones; and rend Their quivering limbs, ere life hath lost its hold. I sicken at the dawn of morn—the noon Brings horror with its brightness; for the day Shows but the desolate plain, Where, feasting on the slain, (Thy princes,) flap and scream the birds of prey!
Chalice from Marah's bitterest spring distill'd! Goblet of woe, to overflowing fill'd! Who, quaffing thee, can live? Give me but breath— A single breath—that I once more may see The dreary vision. I will think of thee, Colla, once more—of Cliba will I think— Then fearlessly and freely drink The cup—the fatal cup—whose dregs are death.
Awake thee, Queen of Cities, from thy slumber— Awake thee, Sion! Let the quenchless love Of worshippers, a number beyond number, A fountain of rejoicing prove. Thy sorrows they bewail, thy wounds they see, And feel them as their own, and mourn for thee! Oh, what were life to them, did Hope not hold Her mirror, to unfold That glorious future to their raptured sight, When a new morn shall chase away this night! Even from the dungeon gloom, Their yearning hearts, as from a tomb, Are crying out—are crying out to thee; And, as they bow the knee Before the Eternal, every one awaits The answer of his prayer, with face toward thy gates.
Earth's most celestial region! Babylon The mighty, the magnificent, to thee, With all the trappings of her bravery on, Seems but a river to the engulfing sea. What are its oracles but lies? 'Tis given Thy prophets only to converse with Heaven— The hidden to reveal, the dark to scan, And be the interpreters of God to man. The idols dumb that erring men invoke, Themselves are vanities, their power is smoke: But, while the heathen's pomp is insecure, Is transient, thine, O Sion! shall endure; For in thy temples, God, the only Lord, Hath been, and still delights to be, adored.
Blessed are they, who, by their love, Themselves thy veritable children prove! Yea! blessed they who cleave To thee, with faithful hearts, and scorn to leave! Come shall the day—and come it may full soon— When thou, more splendid than the moon, Shalt rise; and, triumphing o'er night, Turn ebon darkness into silver light: The glory of thy brightness shall be shed Around each faithful head: Rising from thy long trance, earth shall behold Thee loftier yet, and lovelier than of old; And portion'd with the saints in bliss shall be All who, through weal and woe, were ever true to thee!
[Footnote 7: "The doings of God by the Franks."]
RHYMED HEXAMETERS AND PENTAMETERS.
[This species of versification, consisting of rhymed Hexameter and Pentameter lines, we do not remember to have seen before attempted, and we now offer it as a literary curiosity. It is, perhaps, subject to the objection that applies against painted statuary, as combining embellishments of a character not altogether consistent, and not adding to the beauty of the result. But we are not without a feeling that some additional pleasure is thus conveyed to the mind. The experiment, of course, is scarcely possible, except in quatrains of an epigrammatic structure. But the examples are selected from the most miscellaneous sources that readily occurred.]
HIS OWN EPITAPH.
Adspicite, O cives! senis Ennii imagini' formam; Hic vostrum panxit maxuma facta patrum. Nemo me lacrumis decoret, nec funera fletu Faxit. Cur? volito vivu' per ora virum.
See, O citizens! here old Ennius's image presented, Who to your forefathers' deeds gave their own glory again. Honour me not with your tears; by none let my death be lamented: Why? still in every mouth living I flit among men.
Amissum non flet, cum sola est, Gellia patrem; Si quis adest, jussae prosiliunt lacrymae. Non dolet hic, quisquis laudari, Gellia, quaerit; Ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet.
Gellia, when she's alone, doesn't weep the death of her father; But, if a visitor comes, tears at her bidding appear. Gellia, they do not mourn who are melted by vanity rather; They are true mourners who weep when not a witness is near.
Nullus in urbe fuit tota qui tangere vellet Uxorem gratis, Caeciliane, tuam, Dum licuit: sed nunc positis custodibus ingens Agmen amatorum est. Ingeniosus homo es.
Nobody, Cecilianus, e'er thought of your wife (she's so ugly!) When she could gratis be seen, when she was easily won. Now that, with locks and with guards you pretend to secure her so snugly, Crowds of gallants flock around: faith, it is cleverly done.
ON A BEE INCLOSED IN AMBER.
Et latet et lucet Phaethontide condita gutta, Ut videatur apis nectare clausa suo. Dignum tantorum pretium tulit illa laborum: Credibile est ipsam sic voluisse mori.
Lucid the bee lurks here, bright amber her beauty inclosing! As in the nectar she made seems the fair insect to lie. Worthy reward she has gain'd, after such busy labours reposing: Well we might deem that herself thus would be willing to die.
THE SURVEYOR'S TALE.
Good resolutions are, like glass, manufactured for the purpose of being broken. Immediately after my marriage, I registered in the books of my conscience a very considerable vow against any future interference with the railway system. The Biggleswades had turned out so well, that I thought it unsafe to pursue my fortune any further. The incipient gambler, I am told, always gains, through the assistance of a nameless personage who shuffles the cards a great deal oftener than many materialists suppose. Nevertheless, there is always a day of retribution.
I wish I had adhered to my original orthodox determination. During the whole period of the honeymoon, I remained blameless as to shares. Uncle Scripio relinquished the suggestion of "dodges" in despair. He was, as usual, brimful of projects, making money by the thousand, and bearing or bulling, as the case might be, with genuine American enthusiasm. I believe he thought me a fool for remaining so easily contented, and very soon manifested no further symptom of his consciousness of my existence than by transmitting me regularly a copy of the Railway Gazette, with some mysterious pencil-markings at the list of prices, which I presume he intended for my guidance in the case of an alteration of sentiment. For some time I never looked at them. When a man is newly married, he has a great many other things to think of. Mary had a decided genius for furniture, and used to pester me perpetually with damask curtains, carved-wood chairs, gilt lamps, and a whole wilderness of household paraphernalia, about which, in common courtesy, I was compelled to affect an interest. Now, to a man like myself, who never had any fancy for upholstery, this sort of thing is very tiresome. My wife might have furnished the drawingroom after the pattern of the Cham of Tartary's for any thing I cared, provided she had left me in due ignorance of the proceeding; but I was not allowed to escape so comfortably. I looked over carpet patterns and fancy papers innumerable, mused upon all manner of bell-pulls, and gave judgment between conflicting rugs, until the task became such a nuisance, that I was fain to take refuge in the sacred sanctuary of my club. Young women should be particularly careful against boring an accommodating spouse. Of all places in the world, a club is the surest focus of speculation. You meet gentlemen there who hold stock in every line in the kingdom—directors, committeemen, and even crack engineers. I defy you to continue an altogether uninterested auditor of the fascinating intelligence of Mammon. In less than a week my vow was broken, and a new liaison commenced with the treacherous Delilah of scrip. As nine-tenths of my readers have been playing the same identical game towards the close of last year, it would be idle to recount to them the various vicissitudes of the market. It is a sore subject with most of us—a regular undeniable case of "infandum regina." The only comfort is, that our fingers were simultaneously burned.
Amongst other transactions, I had been induced by my old fiend Cutts, now in practice as an independent engineer, to apply for a large allocation of shares in the Slopperton Valley, a very spirited undertaking, for which the Saxon was engaged to invent the gradients. This occurred about the commencement of the great Potato Revolution—an event which I apprehend will be long remembered by the squirearchy and shareholders of these kingdoms. The money-market was beginning to exhibit certain symptoms of tightness; premiums were melting perceptibly away, and new schemes were in diminished favour. Under these circumstances, the Provisional Committee of the Slopperton Valley Company were beneficent enough to gratify my wishes to the full, and accorded to me the large privilege of three hundred original shares. Two months earlier this would have been equivalent to a fortune—as it was, I must own that my gratitude was hardly commensurate to the high generosity of the donors. I am not sure that I did not accompany the receipt of my letter of allocation with certain expletives by no means creditable to the character of the projectors—at all events, I began to look with a milder eye upon the atrocities of Pennsylvanian repudiation. However, as the crash was by no means certain, my sanguine temperament overcame me, and in a fit of temporary derangement I paid the deposit.
In the ensuing week the panic became general. Capel-court was deserted by its herd—Liverpool in a fearful state of commercial coma—Glasgow trembling throughout its Gorbals—and Edinburgh paralytically shaking. The grand leading doctrine of political economy once more was recognised as a truth: the supply exorbitantly exceeded the demand, and there were no buyers. The daily share-list became a far more pathetic document in my eyes than the Sorrows of Werter. The circular of my brokers, Messrs Tine and Transfer, contained a tragedy more woful than any of the conceptions of Shakspeare—the agonies of blighted love are a joke compared with those of baffled avarice; and of all kinds of consumption, that of the purse is the most severe. One circumstance, however, struck me as somewhat curious. Neither in share-list nor circular could I find any mention made of the Slopperton Valley. It seemed to have risen like an exhalation, and to have departed in similar silence. This boded ill for the existence of the L750 I had so idiotically invested, the recuperation whereof, in whole or in part, became the subject of my nightly meditations; and, as correspondence in such matters is usually unsatisfactory, I determined to start personally in search of my suspended deposit.
I did not know a single individual of the Slopperton Provisional Committee, but I was well enough acquainted with Cutts, whose present residence was in a midland county of England, where the work of railway construction was going actively forward. As I drove into the town where the Saxon had established his headquarters, I saw with feelings of peculiar disgust immense gangs of cut-throat looking fellows—"the navies of the nations," as Alfred Tennyson calls them—busy at their embankments, absorbing capital at an alarming ratio, and utterly indifferent to the state of the unfortunate shareholders then writhing under the pressure of calls. Philanthropy is a very easy thing when our own circumstances are prosperous, but a turn of the wheel of fortune gives a different complexion to our views. If I had been called upon two months earlier to pronounce an oration upon the vast benefits of general employment and high wages, I should have launched out con amore. Now, the spectacle which I beheld suggested no other idea than that of an enormous cheese fast hastening to decomposition and decay beneath the nibbling of myriads of mites.
I found Cutts in his apartment of the hotel in the unmolested enjoyment of a cigar. He seemed fatter, and a little more red in the gills than when I saw him last, otherwise there was no perceptible difference.
"Hallo, old fellow!" cried the Saxon, pitching away a pile of estimates; "what the mischief has brought you up here? Waiter—a bottle of sherry! You wouldn't prefer something hot at this hour of the morning, would you?"
"Ay—you're a married man now. How's old Morgan? Lord! what fun we had at Shrewsbury when I helped you to your wife!"
"So far as I recollect, Mr Cutts, you nearly finished that business. But I want to have a serious talk with you about other matters. What has become of that confounded Slopperton Valley, for which you were engineer?"
"Slopperton Valley! Haven't you heard about it? The whole concern was wound up about three weeks ago. Take a glass of wine."
"Wound up? Why, this is most extraordinary. I never received any circular!"
"I thought as much," said Cutts very coolly. "That's precisely what I said to old Hasherton, the chairman, the day after the secretary bolted. I told him he should send round notice to the fellows at a distance, warning them not to cash up; but it seems that the list of subscribers had gone amissing, and so the thing was left to rectify itself."
"Bolted! You don't mean Mr Glanders, of the respectable firm of Glanders and Co?"
"Of course I do. I wonder you have not heard of it. That comes of living in a confounded country where there are neither breeches nor newspapers—help yourself—and no direct railway communication. Glanders bolted as a matter of course, and I can tell you that I thought myself very lucky in getting hold of as much of the deposits as cleared my preliminary expenses."
"Cutts—are you serious?"
"Perfectly. But what's the use of making a row about it? You look as grim as if there was verjuice in the sherry. You ought to thank your stars that the thing was put a stop to so soon."
"Why—didn't you recommend me to apply for shares?"
"Of course I did, and I wonder you don't feel grateful for the advice. Every body thought they would have come out at a high premium. I would not have taken six pounds for them in the month of September; but this infernal potato business has brought on the panic, and nobody will table a shilling for any kind of new stock. It was a lucky thing for us that we got a kind of hint to draw in our horns in time."
"And pray, since the concern is wound up, as you say, how much of our deposit-money will be returned?"
"You don't mean to say," said Cutts, with singularly elaborate articulation—"You don't mean to say that you were such an inconceivable ass as to pay up your letter of allotment? Well—I never heard of such a piece of deliberate infatuation! Why, man, a blacksmith with half an eye must have seen that the game was utterly up a week before the calls were due. I don't think there is a single man out of Scotland who would have made such a fool of himself; indeed, so far as I know, nobody cashed up except a dozen old women who knew nothing about the matter, and ten landed proprietors, who expected compensation, and deserved to be done accordingly. You need not look as though you meditated razors. The Biggleswade concern will pay for this more than thirty tines over."
"I'll tell you what, Cutts," said I in a paroxysm, "this is a most nefarious transaction, and I'm hanged if I don't take the law with every one connected with it. I'll make an example of that fellow Hasherton, and the whole body of the committee."
"Just as you like," replied the imperturbable Cutts. "You're a lawyer, and the best judge of those sort of things. I may, however, as well inform you that Hasherton went into the Gazette last week, and that you won't find another member of the committee at this moment within the four seas of Great Britain."
"And pray, may I ask how you came to be connected with so discreditable a project? Do you know that it is enough to blast your own reputation for ever?"
"I know nothing of the kind," said the Saxon, commencing another cigar. "I look to the matter of employment, and have nothing to do with the character of my clients, beyond ascertaining their means of liquidating my account. The committee required the assistance of a first-rate engineer, and I flatter myself they could hardly have made a more unexceptionable selection. But what's the use of looking sulky about it? You can't help yourself; and, after all, what's the amount of your loss? A parcel of pound-notes that would have lain rotting in the bank had you not put them into circulation! Cheer up, Fred, you've made at least one individual very happy. Glanders is going it in New York. I shouldn't be surprised if half your deposit money is already invested in mint-juleps."
"It is very easy for you to talk, Mr Cutts," said I, with considerable acrimony. "Your account, at all events, appears to have been paid. Doubtless you looked sharply after that. I cannot help putting my own construction upon the conduct of a gentleman who makes a direct profit out of the misfortunes of his friends."
"You affect me deeply," said Cutts, applying himself diligently to the decanter; "but you don't drink. Do you know you put me a good deal in mind of Macready? Did you ever hear him in Lear,
'How sharper than a serpent's thanks it is To have a toothless child?'"
You're remarkably unjust, Fred, as you will acknowledge in your cooler moments. I am hurt by your ingratitude—I am," and the sympathizing engineer buried his face in the folds of a Bandana handkerchief.
I knew, by old experience, that it was of no use to get into a rage with Cutts. After all, I had no tenable ground of complaint against him; for the payment of the deposit money was my own deliberate act, and it was no fault of his that the shares were not issued at a premium. I therefore contrived to swallow, as I best could, my indignation, though it was no easy matter. Seven hundred and fifty pounds is a serious sum, and would have gone a long way towards the furnishing of a respectable domicile.
I believe that Cutts, though he never allowed himself to exhibit a symptom of ordinary regret, was internally annoyed at the confounded scrape in which I was landed by following his advice. At all events he soon ceased comporting himself after the manner of the comforters of Job, and finally undertook to look after my interest in case any fragment of the deposits could be rescued from the hands of the Philistines. I have since had a letter from him with the information that he has recovered a hundred pounds—a friendly exertion which shall be duly acknowledged so soon as I receive a remittance, which, however, has not yet come to hand.
By the time we had finished the sherry, I was restored, if not to good-humour, at least to a state of passive resignation. The Saxon gave strict orders that he was to be denied to every body, and made some incoherent proposals about "making a forenoon of it," which, however, I peremptorily declined.
"It's a very hard thing," said Cutts, "but I see it's an invariable rule that matrimony and good-fellowship can never go together. You're not half the brick you used to be, Fred; but I suppose it can't be helped. There's a degree of slow-coachiness about you which I take to be peculiarly distressing, and if you don't take care it will become a confirmed habit."
"Seven hundred and fifty pounds—what! all my pretty chickens and their"——
Don't swear! It's a highly immoral practice. At all events you'll dine with me to-day at six. You shall have as much claret as you can conscientiously desire, and, for company, I have got the queerest fellow here you ever set eyes on. You used to pull the long bow with considerable effect, but this chap beats you hollow."
"Who is he?"
"How should I know? He calls himself Leopold Young Mandeville—is a surveyor by trade, and has been working abroad at some outlandish line or another for the last two years. He is a very fair hand at the compasses, and so I have got him here by way of assistant. You may think him rather dull at first, but wait till he has finished a pint, and I'm shot if he don't astonish you. Now, if you will have nothing more, we may as well go out, and take a ride by way of appetizer."
At six o'clock I received the high honour of an introduction to Mr Young Mandeville. As I really consider this gentleman one of the most remarkable personages of the era in which we live, I may perhaps be excused if I assume the privilege of an acquaintance, and introduce him also to the reader. The years of Mr Mandeville could hardly have exceeded thirty. His stature was considerably above the average of mankind, and would have been greater save for the geometrical curvature of his lower extremities, which gave him all the appearance of a walking parenthesis. His hair was black and streaky; his complexion atrabilious; his voice slightly raucous, like that of a tragedian contending with a cold. The eye was a very fine one—that is, the right eye—for the other optic was evidently internally damaged, and shone with an opalescent lustre. There was a kind of native dignity about the man which impressed me favourably, notwithstanding the reserved manner in which he exchanged the preliminary courtesies.
Cutts did the honours of the table with his usual alacrity. The dinner was a capital one, and the vine not only abundant but unexceptionable. At first, however, the conversation flowed but languidly. My spirits had not yet recovered from the appalling intelligence of the morning; nor could I help reflecting, with a certain uneasiness, upon the reception I was sure to meet with from certain brethren in the Outer House, to whom, in a moment of rash confidence, I had entrusted the tale of my dilemma. I abhor roasting in my own person, and yet I knew I should have enough of it. Mandeville eat on steadily, like one labouring under the conviction that he thereby performed a good and meritorious action, and scorning to mix up extraneous matter with the main object of his exertions. The Saxon awaited his time, and steadily circulated the champagne.
We all got more loquacious after the cloth was removed. A good dinner reconciles one amazingly to the unhappy chances of our lot; and, before the first bottle was emptied, I had tacitly forgiven every one of the Provisional Committee of the Slopperton Railway Company, with the exception of the villainous Glanders, who, for any thing I knew, might, at that moment, be transatlantically regaling himself at my particular expense. His guilt was of course inexpiable. Mandeville, having eat like an ogre, began to drink like a dromedary. Both the dark and the opalescent eye sparkled with unusual fire, and with a sigh of philosophic fervour he unbuttoned the extremities of his waistcoat.
"Help yourselves, my boys," said the jovial Cutts; "there's lots of time before us between this and the broiled bones. By Jove, I'm excessively thirsty! I say, Mandeville, were you ever in Scotland? I hear great things of the claret there."
"I never had that honour," replied Mr Young Mandeville, "which I particularly regret, for I have a high—may I say the highest?—respect for that intelligent country, and indeed claim a remote connexion with it. I admire the importance which Scotsmen invariably attach to pure blood and ancient descent. It is a proof, Mr Cutts, that with them the principles of chivalry are not extinct, and that the honours which should be paid to birth alone, are not indiscriminately lavished upon the mere acquisition of wealth."
"Which means, I suppose, that a lot of rubbishy ancestors is better than a fortune in the Funds. Well—every man according to his own idea. I am particularly glad to say, that I understand no nonsense of the kind. There's Fred, however, will keep you in countenance. He say—but I'll be hanged if I believe it—that he is descended from some old king or another, who lived before the invention of breeches."
"Cutts—don't be a fool!"
"Oh, by Jove, it's quite true!" said the irreverent Saxon; "you used to tell me about it every night when you were half-seas over at Shrewsbury. It was capital fun to hear you, about the mixing of the ninth tumbler."
"Excuse me, sir," said Mr Mandeville, with an appearance of intense interest—"do you indeed reckon kindred with the royal family of Scotland? I have a particular reason personal to myself in the inquiry."
"Why, if you really want to know about it," said I, looking, I suppose, especially foolish, for Cutts was evidently trotting me out, and I more than half suspected his companion—"I do claim—but it's a ridiculous thing to talk of—a lineal descent from a daughter of William the Lion."
"You delight me!" said Mr Mandeville. "The connexion is highly respectable—I have myself some of that blood in my veins, though perhaps of a little older date than yours; for one of my ancestors, Ulric of Mandeville, married a daughter of Fergus the First. I am very glad indeed to make the acquaintance of a relative after the lapse of so many centuries."
I returned a polite bow to the salutation of my new-found cousin, and wished him at the bottom of the Euxine.
"Will you pardon me, Mr Cutts, if I ask my kinsman a question or two upon family affairs? The older cadets of the royal blood have seldom an opportunity of meeting."
"Fire away," said the Saxon, "but be done with it as soon as you can."
"Reduced as we are," continued Mr Mandeville, addressing himself to me, "in numbers as well as circumstances, it appears highly advisable that we should maintain some intercourse with each other for the preservation of our common rights. These, as we well know, had their origin before the institution of Parliaments, and therefore are by no means fettered or impugned by any of the popular enactments of a later age. Now, as you are a lawyer, I should like to have your opinion on a point of some consequence. Did you ever happen to meet our cousin, Count Ferguson of the Roman Empire?"
"Never heard of him in my life," said I.
"Any relation of the fellow who couldn't get into the lodging-house?" asked Cutts.
"I do not think so, Mr Cutts," replied Mandeville, mildly. "I had the pleasure of making the Count's acquaintance at Vienna. He is, apprehend, the only heir-male extant to the Scottish crown, being descended from Prince Fergus and a daughter of Queen Boadicea. Now, you and I, though younger cadets, and somewhat nearer in succession, merely represent females, and have therefore little interest beyond a remote contingency. But I understand it is the fact that the ancient destination to the Scottish crown is restricted to heirs-male solely; and therefore I wish to know, whether, as the Stuarts have failed, the Count is not entitled to claim in right of his undoubted descent?"
I was petrified at the audacity of the man. Either he was the most consummately impudent scoundrel I ever had the fortune to meet, or a complete monomaniac! I looked him steadily in the face. The fine black eye was bent upon me with an expression of deep interest, and something uncommonly like a tear was quivering in the lash. Palpable monomania!
"It seems a very doubtful question," said I. "Before answering it, I should like to see the Count's papers, and take a look at our older records."
"That means, you want to be fee'd," said Cutts. "I'll tell you what, my lads, I'll stand this sort of nonsense no longer. Confound your Fergusons and Boadiceas! One would think, to hear you talk, that you were not a couple of as ordinary individuals as ever stepped upon shoe-leather, but princes of the blood-royal in disguise. Help yourselves, I say, and give us something else."
"I fear, Mr Cutts," said Mandeville, in a deep and chokey voice, "that you have had too little experience of the vicissitudes of the world to appreciate our situation. You spoke of a prince. Know, sir, that you see before you one who has known that dignity, but who never shall know it more! O Amalia, Amalia!—dear wife of my bosom—where art thou now! Pardon me, kinsman—your hand—I do not often betray this weakness, but my heart is full, and I needs must give way to its emotion." So saying, the unfortunate Mandeville bowed down his head and wept; at least, so I concluded, from a succession of severe eructations.
I did not know what to make of him. Of all the hallucinations I ever had witnessed, this was the most strange and unaccountable. Cutts, with great coolness, manufactured a stiff tumbler of brandy and water, which he placed at the elbow of the ex-potentate, and exhorted him to make a clean breast of it.
"What's the use of snivelling about the past?" said he. "It's a confounded loss of time. Come, Mandeville, toss off your liquor like a Trojan, and tell us all about it, if you have any thing like a rational story to tell. We'll give you credit for the finer feelings, and all that sort of nonsense—only look sharp."
Upon this hint the Surveyor spoke, applying himself at intervals to the reeking potable beside him. I shall give his story in his own words, without any commentary.
"I feel, gentlemen, that I owe to you, and more especially to my new-found kinsman, some explanation of circumstances, the mere recollection of which can agitate me so cruelly. You seemed surprised when I told you of the rank which I once occupied, and no doubt you think it is a strange contrast to the situation in which you now behold me. Alas, gentlemen! the history of Europe, during the last half century, can furnish you with many parallel cases. Louis Philippe has, ere now, like myself, earned his bread by mathematical exertion—Young Gustavson—Henry of Bourbon, are exiles! the sceptre has fallen from the hands of the chivalrous house of Murat! Minor principalities are changed or absorbed, unnoticed amidst the war and clash of the great world around them! Thrones are eclipsed like stars, and vanish from the political horizon!
"Do not misunderstand me, gentlemen—I claim no such hereditary honours. I am the last representative of an ancient and glorious race, who cut their way to distinction with their swords on the field of battle. Roger de Mandeville, bearer of the ducal standard at the red fight of Hastings, was the first of my name who set foot upon English ground. Since then, there is not an era in the history of our country which does not bear witness to some achievement of the stalwart Mandevilles. The Crusades—Cressy—Poitiers—and—pardon me, kinsman—Flodden, were the theatres of our renown.
"I dare not trust myself to speak of the broad lands and castles which we once possessed. These have long since passed away from us. A Birmingham artisan, whose churl ancestor would have deemed it an honour to run beside the stirrup of my forefathers, now dwells in the hall of the Mandeville. The spear is broken, and the banner mouldered. Nothing remains, save in the chancel of the roofless church a recumbent marble effigy, with folded hands, of that stout Sir Godfrey of Mandeville who stormed the breach of Ascalon!
"I was heir to nothing but the name. Of my early struggles I need not tell you. A proud and indomitable heart yet beat within this bosom; and though some of the ancient nobility of England, who knew and lamented my position, were not backward in their offers, I could not bring myself in any one instance to accept of eleemosynary assistance. Even the colours which were spontaneously offered to me by the great Captain of the age, were rejected, though not ungratefully. Had there been war, Britain should have found me foremost in her ranks as a volunteer, but I could not wear the livery of a soldier so long as the blade seemed undissolubly soldered to the sheath. I spurned at the empty frivolity of the mess-room, and despised every other bivouac save that upon the field of battle.
"In brief, gentlemen, I preferred the field of science, which was still open to me, and became an engineer. Mr Cutts, whose great acquirements and brilliant genius have raised him to such eminence in the profession"—here Cutts made a grateful salaam—"can bear testimony to the humble share of talent I have laid at the national disposal; and if you, my kinsman, are connected with any of the incipient enterprises in the north, I should be proud of an opportunity of showing you that the genius of a Mandeville can be applied as well to the arts of peace as to the stormy exercises of war. But even Mr Cutts does not know how strangely my labours have been interrupted. What an episode was mine! A year of exaltation to high and princely rank—a year of love and battle—and then a return to this cold and heavy occupation! Had that interval lasted longer, gentlemen, believe me, that ere now I should have carried the victorious banners of Wallachia to the gates of Constantinople, plucked the abject and besotted Sultan from his throne, and again established in more than its pristine renown the independent Empire of the East!"
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! Well said Mandeville!" shouted Cutts. "I like to see the fellow who never sticks at trifles."
"No reality, sirs, could have prevented me: but I fear my preface is too long. About two years ago I was requested by the projectors of the great railway between Paris and Constantinople to superintend the survey of that portion which stretches eastward from Vienna. I accepted the appointment with pleasure, for I longed to see foreign countries, and the field abroad appeared to me a much nobler one than that at home. I had personal letters of introduction to the Emperor, who treated me with marked distinction; for some collateral branches of my family had done the Austrian good service in the wars of Wallenstein, and the heroic charge of the Pappenheimers under Herbert Mandeville at Lutzen was still freshly and gratefully remembered. It was in Vienna that I made the acquaintance of our mutual kinsman, Count Ferguson, whose claims to hereditary dignity, I trust, you will reflect on at your leisure.
"Do either of you, gentlemen, understand German?—No!—I regret the circumstance, because you can hardly follow me out distinctly when I come to speak of localities. But I shall endeavour to be as clear as possible. One evening I was in attendance upon his majesty—who frequently honoured me with these commands, for he took a vast interest in all matters of science—at the great theatre. All the wealth, beauty, and talent of Austria were there. I assure you, gentlemen, I never gazed upon a more brilliant spectacle. The mixture of the white and blue uniforms of the Austrian officers, with the national costumes of the nobility of Hungary, Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, and the Tyrol, gave the scene the appearance of a studied and gorgeous carnival. The glittering of diamonds along the whole tier of the boxes was literally painful to the eyes. Several of the Esterhazy family seemed absolutely sheathed in jewel armour, and I was literally compelled to request the Duchessa Lucchesini, who was seated next me, to lower her beautiful arm, as the splendour of the brilliants on her bracelet—I, of course, said the lustre of the arm itself—was so great as to obstruct my view of the stage. She smilingly complied. The last long-drawn note of the overture was over, the curtain had risen, and the prima donna Schenkelmann was just trilling forth that exquisite aria with which the opera of the Gasthaus begins, when the door of the box immediately adjoining the imperial one opened, and a party entered in the gay Wallachian costume. The first who took her place, in a sort of decorated chair in front, and who was familiarly greeted by his Majesty, was a young lady, as it seemed to me even then, of most surpassing beauty. Her dark raven hair was held back from a brow as white as alabaster by a circlet of gorgeous emeralds, whose pale mild light added to the pensive melancholy of her features. I have no heart to describe her further, although that image stands before me now, as clearly as when I first riveted these longing eyes upon her charms!—O Amalia!
"Her immediate companion was a tall stalwart nobleman, beneath whose cloak glittered a close-fitting tunic of ring-mail. His looks were haughty and unprepossessing; he cast a fierce glance at the box which contained the Esterhazys; bowed coldly in return to the recognition of the Emperor; and seated himself beside his beautiful companion. I thought—but it might be fancy—that she involuntarily shrank from his contact. The remainder of the box was occupied by Wallachian ladies and grandees.
"My curiosity was so whetted, that I hardly could wait until the Schenkelmann had concluded, before assailing my neighbour the Duchessa with questions.
"'Is it possible?' said she. 'Have you been so long in Vienna, chevalier, and yet never seen the great attraction of the day—the Wallachian fawn, as that foolish Count Kronthaler calls her? I declare I begin to believe that you men of science are absolutely born blind!'
"'Not so, beautiful Lucchesini! But remember that ever since my arrival I have been constantly gazing on a star.'
"'You flatterer! But, seriously, I thought every one knew the Margravine of Kalbs-Kuchen. She is the greatest heiress in Europe—has a magnificent independent principality, noble palaces, and such diamonds! That personage beside her is her relation, the Duke of Kalbs-Braten, the representative of a younger branch of the house. He is at deadly feud with the Esterhazys, and the Emperor is very apprehensive that it may disturb the tranquillity of Hungary. I am sure I am glad that my own poor little Duchy is at a distance. I wish he would not bow to me—I am sure he is a horrid man. Only think, my dear chevalier! He has already married two wives, and nobody knows what has become of them. Poor Clara von Gandersfeldt was the last—a sweet girl, but that could not save her. They say he wants to marry his cousin—I hope she won't have him.'
"'Does he indeed presume!' said I, 'that dark-browed ruffian, to aspire to such an angel?'
"'I declare you make me quite jealous,' said the Lucchesini; 'but speak lower or he will overhear you. I assure you Duke Albrecht is a very dangerous enemy.'
"'O that I might beard him!' cried I, 'in the midst of his assembled Hulans! I tell you, Duchessa, that ere now a Mandeville'——
"'Potz tausend donner-wetter!' said the Emperor, good-humouredly turning round; 'what is that the Chevalier Mandeville is saying? Why, chevalier, you look as fierce as a roused lion. We must take care of you old English fire-eaters. By the way,' added he very kindly, 'our Chancellor will send you to-morrow the decoration of the first class of the Golden Bugle. No thanks. You deserve it. I only wish the order could have been conferred upon such a field as that of Lutzen. And now come forward, and let me present you to the Margravine of Kalbs-Kuchen, whose territories you must one of these days traverse. Margravine—this is the Chevalier Mandeville, of whom I have already told you.'
"She turned her head—our eyes met—a deep flush suffused her countenance, but it was instantly succeeded by a deadly paleness.
"'Eh, wass henker!' cried the Emperor, 'what's the meaning of this?—the Margravine is going to faint!'
"'Oh no—no—your Majesty—'tis nothing—a likeness—a dream—a dizziness, I mean, has come over me! It is gone now. You shall be welcome, chevalier,' continued she, with a sweet smile, 'when you visit our poor dominions. Indeed, I have a hereditary claim upon you, which I am sure you will not disregard.'
"'Hagel und blitzen!' cried his Majesty—'What is this? I understood the chevalier was never in Germany before.'
"'That may be, sire,' repeated the Margravine with another blush. 'But my great-grandmother was nevertheless a Mandeville, the daughter of that Field-marshal Herbert who fought so well at Lutzen. His picture, painted when he was a young cuirassier, still hangs in my palace, and, indeed, it was the extreme likeness of the chevalier to that portrait, which took me for a moment by surprise. Let me then welcome you, cousin; henceforward we are not strangers!'
"I bowed profoundly as I took the proffered hand of the Margravine. I held it for an instant in my own—yes!—by Cupid there was a gentle pressure. I looked up and beheld the dark countenance of the Duke of Kalbs-Braten scowling at me from behind his cousin. I retorted the look with interest. From that moment we were mortal foes.
"'Unser Ritter ist im klee gefallen—the chevalier has fallen among clover,' said the Emperor with a smile—'he has great luck—he finds cousins every where.'
"'And in this instance,' I replied, 'I might venture to challenge the envy even of your Majesty.'
"'Well said, chevalier! and now let us attend to the second act of the opera.'
"'You are in a critical position, Chevalier de Mandeville,' said the Lucchesini, to whose side I now returned. 'You have made a powerful friend, but also a dangerous enemy. Beware of that Duke Albrecht—he is watching you closely.'
"'It is not the nature of a Mandeville to fear any thing except for the safety of those he loves. You, sweet Duchessa, I trust have nothing to apprehend?'
"'Ah, perfide! Do not think to impose upon me longer. I know your heart has become a traitor already. Well—we shall not be less friends for that. I congratulate you on your new honours, only take care that too much good fortune does not turn that magnificent head.'
"I supped that evening with the Lucchesini. On my return home, I thought I observed a dark figure following my steps; but this might have been fancy, at all events I regained my hotel without any interruption. Next morning I found upon my table a little casket containing a magnificent emerald ring, along with a small slip of paper on which was written 'Amalia to her cousin—Silence and Fidelity.' I placed the ring upon my finger, but I pressed the writing to my lips.
"On the ensuing week there was a great masquerade at the palace. I was out surveying the whole morning, and was occupied so late that I had barely half an hour to spare on my return for the necessary preparations.
"'There is a young lady waiting for you up-stairs, Herr Baron,' said the waiter with a broad grin; 'she says she has a message to deliver, and will give it to nobody else.'
"'Blockhead!' said I, 'what made you show her in there? To a certainty she'll be meddling with the theodolites!'
"I rushed up-stairs, and found in my apartment one of the prettiest little creatures I ever saw, a perfect fairy of about sixteen, in a gipsy bonnet, who looked up and smiled as I entered.
"'Are you the Chevalier Mandeville?' asked she.
"Yes, my little dear, and pray who are you?'
"'I am Fritchen, sir,' she said with a courtesy.
"'You don't say so! Pray sit down, Fritchen.'
"'Thank you, sir.'
"'And pray now, Fritchen, what is it you want with me?'
"'My mistress desired me to say to you, sir—but it's a great secret—that she is to be at the masquerade to-night in a blue domino, and she begs you will place this White Rose in your hat, and she wishes to have a few words with you.'
"'And who may your mistress be, my pretty one?'
"'Silence and Fidelity!'
"'Ha! is it possible? the Margravine!'
"'Hush! don't speak so loud—you don't know who may be listening. Black Stanislaus has been watching me all day, and I hardly could contrive to get out.'
"'Black Stanislaus had better beware of me!'
"'Oh, but you don't know him! He's Duke Albrecht's chief forester, and the Duke is in such a rage ever since he found my lady embroidering your name upon a handkerchief.'
"'Did she, indeed?—my name?—O Amalia!'
"'Yes—and she says you're so like that big picture at Schloss-Swiggenstein that she fell in love with long ago—and she is sure you would come to love her if you only knew her—and she wishes, for your sake, that she was a plain lady and not a Princess—and she hates that Duke Albrecht so! But I wasn't to tell you a word of this, so pray don't repeat it again.'
"'Silence and fidelity, my pretty Fritchen. Tell your royal Mistress that I rest her humble slave and kinsman; that I will wear her rose, and defend it too, if needful, against the attacks of the universe! Tell her, too, that every moment seems an age until we meet again. I will not overload your memory, little Fritchen. Pray, wear this trifle for my sake, and'——
"'O fie, sir! If the waiter heard you!' and the little gipsy made her escape.
"I had selected for my costume that night, a dress in the old English fashion, taken from a portrait of the Admirable Crichton. In my hat I reverently placed the rose which Amalia had sent me, stepped into my fiacre, and drove to the palace.
"The masquerade was already at its height. I jostled my way through a prodigious crowd of scaramouches, pilgrims, shepherdesses, nymphs, and crusaders, until I reached the grand saloon, where I looked round me diligently for the blue domino. Alas! I counted no less than thirteen ladies in that particular costume.
"'You seen dull to-night, Sir Englishman,' said a soft voice at my elbow. 'Does the indifference of your country or the disdainfulness of dark eyes oppress you?'
"I turned and beheld a blue domino. My heart thrilled strangely.
"'Neither, sweet Mask; but say, is not Silence a token of Fidelity?'
"'You speak in riddles,' said the domino. 'But come—they are beginning the waltz. Here is a little hand as yet unoccupied. Will you take it?'
"'Nay—I shall burden you with no such terrible conditions. Allons! Yonder Saracen and Nun have set us the example.'
"In a moment we were launched into the whirl of the dance. My whole frame quivered as I encircled the delicate waist with my arm. One hand was held in mine, the other rested lovingly upon my shoulder. I felt the sweet breath of the damask lips upon my face—the cup of my happiness was full.
"'O that I may never wake and find this a dream! Dear lady, might I dare to hope that the services of a life, never more devotedly offered, might, in some degree, atone for the immeasurable distance between us? That the poor cavalier, whom you have honoured with your notice, may venture to indulge in a yet dearer anticipation?'
"I felt the hand of the Mask tremble in mine—
"'The White Rose is a pretty flower,' she whispered—'can it not bloom elsewhere than in the north?'
"'Leopold!—but hush—we are observed.'
"I looked up and saw a tall Bulgarian gazing at us. The mask of course prevented me from distinguishing his features, but by the red sparkle of his eye I instantly recognised Duke Albrecht.
"'Forgive me, dearest Amalia, for one moment. I will rejoin you in the second apartment'——
"'For the sake of the Virgin, Leopold—do not tempt him! you know not the power, the malignity of the man.'
"'Were he ten times a duke, I'd beard him! Pardon me, lady. He has defied me already by his looks, and a Mandeville never yet shrunk from any encounter. Prince Metternich will protect you until my return.'
"The good-natured statesman, who was sauntering past unmasked, instantly offered his arm to the agitated Margravine. They retired. I strode up to the Bulgarian, who remained as motionless as a statue.
"'Give you good-evening, cavalier. What is your purpose to-night?'
"'To chastise insolence and punish presumption! What is yours?'
"'To rescue innocence and beauty from the persecution of overweening power!'
"'Indeed! any thing else?'
"'Yes, to avenge the fate of those who trusted, and yet died before their time. How was it with Clara of Gandersfeldt? Fell she not by thy hand?'
"'Bulgarian—thou art a villain!'
"The duke gnashed his teeth. For a moment his hand clutched at the hilt of his poniard, but he suddenly withdrew it.
"'I had thought to have dealt otherwise with thee,' he said, 'but thou hast dared to come between the lion and his bride. Englishman—hast thou courage to make good thy injurious words with aught else but the tongue?'
"'I am the last of the race of Mandeville!'
"'Enough. I might well have left the chastising of thee to a meaner hand, and yet—for that thou art a bold fellow—I will meet thee. Dost thou know the eastern gate?'
"'A mile beyond it there is a clump of trees and a fair meadow land. The moon will be up in three hours: light enough for men who are determined on their work. Dost thou understand me—three hours hence on horseback, with the sword, alone?'
"'Can I trust thee, Bulgarian?—no treachery?'
"'I am a Wallachian and a duke!'
"'Enough said. I shall be there;' and we parted.
"I flew back to Amalia. She was terribly agitated. In vain did I attempt to calm her with assurances that all was well. She insisted upon knowing the whole particulars of my interview with her dreaded cousin of Kalbs-Braten, and at last I told her without reserve.
"'You must not go, Leopold,' she cried, 'indeed you must not. You do not know this Albrecht. Hard of heart and determined of purpose, there are no means which he will not use in order to compass his revenge. Believe not that he will meet you alone: were it so, I should have little dread. But Black Stanislaus will be there, and strong Slavata, and Martinitz with all his Hulans! They will murder you, my Leopold! shed your young blood like water; or, if they dare not do that for fear of the Austrian vengeance, they will hurry you across the frontier to some dreary fortress, where you will pine in chains, and grow prematurely grey, far—far from your poor Amalia! Oh, were I to lose you, Leopold, now, I should die of sorrow! Be persuaded by me. My guards are few, but they are faithful. Avoid this meeting. Let us set out this night—nay, this very hour. Once within my dominions, we may set at defiance Duke Albrecht and all the black banditti of Kalbs-Braten. I have many friends and feudatories. The Hetman, Chopinski, is devoted to me. Count Rudolf of Haggenhausen is my sworn friend. No man ever yet saw the back of Conrad of the Thirty Mountains. We shall rear up the old ancestral banner of my house; give the Red Falcon to the winds of heaven; besiege, if need be, my perfidious kinsman in his stronghold—and, in the face of heaven, my Leopold, will I acknowledge the heir of Mandeville as the partner of my life and of my power!'
"'Dearest, best Amalia! your words thrill through me like a trumpet—but alas, it may not be! I dare not follow your counsel. Shall it be said that I have broken my word—shrunk like a craven from a meeting with this Albrecht;—a meeting, too, which I myself provoked? Think it not, lady. Poor Mandeville has nothing save his honour; but upon that, at least, no taint of suspicion shall rest. Farewell, beautiful Amalia! Believe me, we shall meet again; if not, think of me sometimes as one who loved you well, and who died with your name upon his lips.'
"I tore myself away. Two hours afterwards I had passed the eastern gate of Vienna, and was riding towards the place of rendezvous. The moon was up, but a fresh breeze ever and anon swept the curtains of the clouds across her disk, and obscured the distant prospect. The cool air played gratefully on my cheek after the excitement and fever of the evening; I listened with even a sensation of pleasure to the distant rippling of the river. For the future I had little care, my whole attention was concentrated upon the past. I felt no anxiety as to the result of the encounter; nor was this in any degree surprising, since, from my earliest youth, I had accustomed myself to the use of the sword, and was reputed a thorough master of the weapon. Neither could I believe that Duke Albrecht was capable, after having given his solemn pledge to the contrary, of any thing like deliberate treachery.
"I was about halfway to the clump of trees, which he of Kalbs-Braten had indicated, when a heavy bank of clouds arose, and left me in total darkness. Up to this time I had seen no one since I passed the sentry; but now I thought I could discern the tramping of horses upon the turf. Almost mechanically I loosened my cloak, and brought round the hilt of my weapon so as to be prepared. When the moon reappeared, I saw on either side of me a horseman, in long black cloaks and slouched hats, which effectually concealed the features of the wearers. They did not speak nor offer any violence, but continued to ride alongside, accommodating their pace to mine. The horses they bestrode were large and powerful animals. There was something in the moody silence and even rigid bearing of these persons, which inspired me with a feeling rather of awe than suspicion. It might be that they were retainers of the duke; but then, if any ambuscade or foul play was intended, why give such palpable warning of it? I resolved to accost them.
"'Ye ride late, sirs.'
"'We do,' said the one to the right. 'We are bent on a far errand.'
"'Indeed! may I ask its nature?'
"'To hear the bat flutter and the owlet scream. Wilt also listen to the music?'
"'I understand you not, sirs. What mean you?'
"'We are the guardians of the Red Earth. The guilty tremble at our approach; but the innocent need not fear!'
"'Two of the night patrole!' thought I. 'Very mysterious gentlemen, indeed; but I have heard that the Austrian police have orders to be reserved in their communications. I must get rid of them, however. Good-evening, sirs.'
"I was about to spur my horse, when a cloak was suddenly thrown over my head as if by some invisible hand; I was dragged forcibly from my saddle, my arms pinioned, and my sword wrested from me. All this was the work of a moment, and rendered my resistance useless.
"'Villains!' cried I, 'unhand me—what mean you?'
"'Peace, cavalier!' said a deep low voice at my ear; 'speak not—struggle not, or it may be worse for you; you are in the hands of the Secret Tribunal!'"
During the course of his narrative, Mr Mandeville, as I have already hinted, by no means discontinued his attentions to the brandy and water, but went on making tumbler after tumbler, with a fervour that was truly edifying. Assuming that the main facts of his history were true, though in the eye of geography and politics they appeared a little doubtful, it was still highly interesting to remark the varied chronology of his style. A century disappeared with each tumbler. He concentrated in himself, as it appeared to me, the excellencies of the best writers of romance, and withal had hitherto maintained the semblance of strict originality. He had now, however, worked his way considerably up the tide of time. We had emerged from the period of fire-arms, and Mandeville was at this stage mediaeval.
Some suspicion of this had dawned even upon the mind of Cutts, who, though not very familiar with romance, had once stumbled upon a translation of Spindler's novels, and was, therefore, tolerably up to the proceedings of the Vehme Gericht.
"Confound it, Mandeville!" interrupted he, "we shall be kept here the whole night, if you don't get on faster. Both Fred and I know all about the ruined tower, the subterranean chamber—which, by the way, must have looked deucedly like a tunnel—the cord and steel, and all the rest of it. Skip the trial, man. It's a very old song now, and bring us as fast as you can to the castle and the marriage. I hope the Margravine took Fritchen with her. That little monkey was worth the whole bundle of them put together!"
The Margrave made another tumbler. His eye had become rather glassy, and his articulation slightly impaired. He was gradually drawing towards the chivalrous period of the Crusades.
"Two days had passed away since that terrible ride began, and yet there was neither halt nor intermission. Blindfold, pinioned, and bound into the saddle, I sate almost mechanically and without volition, amidst the ranks of the furious Hulans, whose wild huzzas and imprecations rung incessantly in my ears. No rest, no stay. On we sped like a hurricane across the valley and the plain!
"At last I heard a deep sullen roar, as if some great river was discharging its collected waters over the edge of an enormous precipice. We drew nearer and nearer. I felt the spray upon my face. These, then, were the giant rapids of the Danube.
"The order to halt was given.
"'We are over the frontier now!' cried the loud harsh voice of Duke Albrecht; 'Stanislaus and Slavata! unbind that English dog from his steed, and pitch him over the cliff. Let the waters of the Danube bear him past the castle of his lady. It were pity to deny my delicate cousin the luxury of a coronach over the swollen corpse of her minion!'
"'Coward!' I exclaimed; 'coward as well as traitor! If thou hast the slightest spark of manhood in thee, cause these thy fellows to unbind my hands, give me back my father's sword, stand face to face against me on the greensward, and, benumbed and frozen as I am, thou shalt yet feel the arm of the Mandeville!'
"Loud laughed he of Kalbs-Braten. 'Does the hunter, when the wolf is in the pit, leap down to try conclusions with him. Fool! what care I for honour or thy boasted laws of chivalry? We of Wallachia are men of another mood. We smite our foeman where we find him, asleep or awake—at the wine-cup or in the battle—with the sword by his side, or arrayed in the silken garb of peace! Drag him from his steed, fellows! Let us see how lightly this adventurous English diver will leap the cataracts of the Danube!'
"Resistance was in vain. I had already given myself up for lost. Even at that moment the image of my Amalia rose before me in all its beauty—her name was on my lips, I called upon her as my guardian angel.
"Suddenly I heard the loud clear note of a trumpet—it was answered by another, and then rang out the clanging of a thousand atabals.
"'Ha! by Saint John of Nepomuck,' cried the Duke, 'the Croats are upon us—There flies the banner of Chopinski! there rides Conrad of the Thirty Mountains on the black steed that I have marked for my second charger! Hulans! to your ranks. Martinitz, bring up the rear-guard, and place them on the right flank. Slavata, thou art a fellow of some sense'——
"'Ay, you can remember that now,' grumbled Slavata.
"'Take thirty men and lead them up that hollow—you will secure a passage somewhere over the morass—and then fall upon Chopinski in the rear. Let two men stay to guard the prisoner. Now, forward, gentlemen; and if you know not where to charge, follow the white plume of Kalbs-Braten!'
"I heard the cavalry advance. Maddened by the loss of my freedom at such a moment, I burst my bonds by an almost supernatural exertion, and tore the bandage from my eyes. To snatch a battle-axe from the hand of the nearest Hulan, and to dash him to the ground, was the work of a moment—a second blow, and the other fell. I leaped upon his horse, shouted the ancient war-cry of my house—'Saint George for Mandeville!' and dashed onwards towards the serried array of the Croats, which occupied a little eminence beyond.
"'For whom art thou, cavalier?' cried Chopinski, as I galloped up.
"'For Amalia and Kalbs-Kuchen!' I replied.
"'Welcome—a thousand times welcome, brave stranger, in the hour of battle! But ha!—what is this?—that white rose—that lordly mien—can it be? Yes! it is the affianced bridegroom of the Margravine!'
"With a wild cry of delight the Croats gathered around me. 'Long live our gracious Margravine!' they shouted 'long live the noble Mandeville!'
"'By my faith, Sir Knight,' said the Count Rudolf of Haggenhausen, an old warrior whose seamed countenance was the record of many a fight—'By my faith, I deemed not we could carry back such glorious tidings to our lady—nor, by Saint Wladimir, so goodly a pledge!'
"'May I never put lance in rest again,' cried Conrad of the Thirty Mountains, 'but the Margravine hath a good eye—there be thewes and sinews there. But we must take order with yon infidel scum. How say you, Sirs—shall this cavalier have the ordering of the battle? I, for one, will gladly fight beneath his banner'——
"'And so say I,' said Chopinski, 'but he must not go thus. Yonder, on my sumpter-mule, is a suit of Milan armour, which a king might wear upon the day he went forth to do battle for his crown. Bring it forth, knaves, and let the Mandeville be clad as becomes the affianced of our mistress.'
"'Brave Chopinski,' I said, 'and you, kind sirs and nobles—pardon me if I cannot thank you now in a manner befitting to the greatness of your deserts. But there is a good time, I trust, in store. Suffer me now to arm myself, and then we shall try the boasted prowess of yonder giant of Kalbs-Braten!'
"In a few moments I was sheathed in steel, and, mounted on a splendid charger, took my station at the head of the troops. Again their applause was redoubled.
"'Lord Conrad,' said I to the warrior of the Thirty Mountains, 'swart Slavata has gone up yonder with a plump of lances, intending to cross the morass, and assail us on the rear. Be it thine to hold him in check."
"'By my father's head!' cried Conrad, 'I ask no better service! That villain, Slavata, oweth me a life, for he slew my sister's son at disadvantage, and this day will I have it or die. Fear not for the rear, noble Mandeville—I will protect it while spear remains or armour holds together!'
"'I doubt it not, valiant Conrad! Brave Chopinski—noble Haggenhausen—let us now charge together! 'Tis not beneath my banner you fight. The Blue Boar of Mandeville never yet fluttered in the Wallachian breeze, but we may give it to the winds ere-long! Sacred to Amalia, and not to me, be the victory! Advance the Red Falcon of Kalbs-Kuchen—let it strike terror into the hearts of the enemy—and forward as it pounces upon its prey!'
"With visors down and lances in rest we rushed upon the advancing Hulans, who received our charge with great intrepidity. Martinitz was my immediate opponent. The shock of our meeting was so great that both the horses recoiled upon their hams, and, but for the dexterity of the riders, must have rolled over upon the ground. The lances were shivered up to the very gauntlets. We glared on each other for an instant with eyes which seemed to flash fire through the bars of our visors—each made a demi-volte"——
"I say, Cutts," said I, "it occurs to me that I have heard something uncommonly like this before. Our friend is losing his originality, and poaching unceremoniously upon Ivanhoe. You had better stop him at once."
"I presume then, Mandeville, you did for that fellow Martinitz?" said Cutts.
"The gigantic Hulan was hurled from his saddle like a stone from a sling. I saw him roll thrice over, grasping his hands full of sand at every turn."
"That must have been very satisfactory. And what became of the duke?"
"Often did I strive to force my way through the press to the spot where Kalbs-Braten fought. I will not belie him—he bore himself that day like a man. And yet he had better protection than either helm or shield; for around him fought his foster-father, Tiefenbach of the Yews, with his seven bold sons, all striving to shelter their prince's body with their own. No sooner had I struck down one of them than the old man cried—'Another for Kalbs-Braten!' and a second giant stepped across the prostrate body of his brother!
"Meanwhile, Conrad of the Thirty Mountains had reached the spot where Slavata with his cavalry was attempting the passage of the morass. Some of the Hulans were entangled there from the soft nature of the ground, the horses having sunk in the mire almost up to their saddle-girths. Others, among whom was their leader, had successfully struggled through.
"Conrad and Slavata met. They were both powerful men, and well-matched. As if by common consent, the soldiers on either side held back to witness the encounter of their chiefs.
"Slavata spoke first. 'I know thee well,' he said; 'thou art the marauding baron of the Thirty Mountains, whose head is worth its weight of gold at the castle-gate of Kalbs-Braten. I swore when we last met that we should not part again so lightly, and now I will keep my oath!'
"'And I know thee, too,' said Conrad; 'thou art the marauding villain Slavata, whose body I intend to hang upon my topmost turret, to blacken in the sun and feed the ravens and the kites!'
"'Threatened men live long,' replied Slavata with a hollow laugh; 'thy sister's son, the Geissenheimer, said as much before, but for all that I passed this good sword three times through his bosom!'
"'Villain!' cried Conrad, striking at him, 'this to thy heart!'
"'And this to thine, proud boaster!' cried Slavata, parrying and returning the blow.
"They closed. Conrad seized hold of Slavata by the sword-belt. The other"——
"He's off to Old Mortality now," said I to Cutts. "For heaven's sake stop him, or we shall have a second edition of the Bothwell and Burley business."
"Come, Mandeville, clear away the battle—there's a good fellow. There can be no doubt that you skewered that rascally duke in a very satisfactory manner. I shall ring for the broiled bones, and I beg you will finish your story before they make their appearance. Will you mix another tumbler now, or wait till afterwards? Very well—please yourself—there's the hot water for you."
"They led me into the state apartment," said Mandeville, with a kind of sob. "Amalia stood upon the dais, surrounded by the fairest and the noblest of the land. The amethyst light, which streamed through the stained windows, gorgeous with armorial bearings, fell around her like a glory. In one hand she held a ducal cap of maintenance—with the other, she pointed to the picture of my great ancestor—the very image, as she told me, of myself. I rushed forward with a cry of joy, and threw myself prostrate at her feet!
"'Nay, not so, my Leopold!' she said. 'Dear one, thou art come at last! Take the reward of all thy toils, all thy dangers, all thy love! Come, adored Mandeville—accept the prize of silence and fidelity!' And she added, 'and never upon brows more worthy could a wreath of chivalry be placed.'
"She placed the coronet upon my head, and then gently raising me, exclaimed—
"'Wallachians! behold your PRINCE!'"
Mr Mandeville did not get beyond that sentence. I could stand him no longer, and burst into an outrageous roar of laughter, in which Cutts most heartily joined, till the tears ran plenteously down his cheeks. The Margrave of Wallachia looked quite bewildered. He attempted to rise from his chair, but the effort was too much for him, and he dropped suddenly on the floor.
"Well," said I, after we had fairly exhausted ourselves, "there's the spoiling in that fellow of as good a novelist as ever coopered out three volumes. He would be an invaluable acquaintance for either Marryat or James. 'Tis a thousand pities his talents should be lost to the public."
"There's no nonsense about him," replied Cutts; "he buckles to his work like a man. Doesn't it strike you, Freddy, that his style is a great deal more satisfactory than that of some other people I could name, who talk about their pedigree and ancestors, and have not even the excuse of a good cock-and-bull story to tell. Give me the man that carves out nobility for himself, like Mandeville, and believes it too, which is the very next best thing to reality. Now, let's have up the broiled bones, and send the Margrave of Wallachia to his bed."
Edinburgh, Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Pauls Work.