"But from this scene Sir Morgan was now summoned hastily away to another which, too ruefully he augured, must await him. A second lesson he was now to have upon the sanctity of human affections. For I will maintain, Mr. Bertram,—that however the poor may, upon matters of taste, delicacy, or refinement, seem coarser in their feelings, and less sensitive than the rich (from which aspect it is that many people take their estimate of poor people's sensibilities),—yet in all that regards the primary affections I will maintain, I say, that the distinctions of rich and poor—high and low—are lighter than dew or the dust which is in the balance. The ties, which cement the great elementary relations of human life, are equally strong in every rank; alike sacred in the eyes of God; and in the lowest as in the highest, the anguish of their dissolution as perfect. Now did Sir Morgan learn what that anguish was: the next half hour taught him to estimate the torments of a final parting from the being in whom the whole heart's love lies treasured.—Lady Walladmor had passed the night in convulsions, falling out of one fit into another with intervals of only a few moments. Towards sun-rise the intervals grew longer, but she was evidently sinking fast; she was sensible; and, as she recovered the use of speech, she asked for Sir Morgan.
"I entered the room with Sir Morgan: lady Walladmor was sitting on a sopha propped up by cushions and surrounded by her women. All of us staid in the room; for some could not be spared; and the presence of strangers is distressing only when they are neutral spectators and not participators in the emotion witnessed—as we were in the very deepest degree, and by an interest which far transcended the possibility of any vulgar interest of curiosity.—There is no doubt that lady Walladmor had recollected some circumstance in the application made to her on behalf of Winifred Griffiths—not understood or suspected at that time—but suddenly interpreted to her by the event of the preceding night and too sadly interpreting that event. This was plain: for she asked no information from us: she saw by our countenances that we had none to give her which could shed a comfort on her dying moments: and even to turn her thoughts that way was too terrific a trial for her exhausted nature. She moved her head mournfully with a world of sad meaning: twice she raised and dropped her hand, as if in supplication or internal prayer: a third time she raised it, and the hand fell into that of Sir Morgan's: her lips moved; and at last she said—and the solemnity of her utterance for a moment checked our tears—'That for her sake, and as he hoped for comfort to visit him in his afflictions, she made it her last request that, if ever' (even then she was too tender to say 'ever' again) 'if ever any poor suffering human creature, sinking under trials too great for human fortitude, should lay down the burthen of wretchedness at his feet, he would not close his heart or turn away his ear from the petition.' Saying this, she hid her face in Sir Morgan's arms; strong convulsions again came on: and, before the morning dew was exhaled, she was once more at peace;
'And Nature rested from her work in death.'
"Thus did one night wither Sir Morgan's 'palmy state' of prosperity: thus were his children torn away: thus died lady Walladmor: and with her died all Sir Morgan's happiness, and upon this earth all his prospects of consolation. He was now left with no companion; none to comfort him, or support him. After this, for some years he shut up himself from all society, except upon public occasions where he appeared but as an official or ceremonial person: but gradually the intreaties of his friends, and the claims of his rank, drew him back into the world: and then came his lovely niece, Miss Walladmor; and with her again came something like joy to Walladmor; though but for a season; for that joy also was overcast."
"But did Sir Morgan," asked Bertram, "never recover any traces of the pirates or his lost children?"
"There again his unhappy fate denied him the last medicine to his grief. Next to the joy of recapturing his children, would have been the consolation of knowing that they had perished. But, though that was probable, it could never finally be ascertained. The express, sent on to Liverpool, found a frigate of 36 guns—the Nemesis—lying in Hoylake. The Nemesis slipped her cables, and went after the enemy. Her hope was to intercept him before he reached the Isle of Man: but the Rattlesnake was an excellent sailer, and had the lead. However on the second evening, off the Cumberland coast, between Ravenglass and Whitehaven, the Nemesis got a sight of her about two leagues ahead. A chace of two hours more would have put her into the possession of the frigate: but within that time came on the great storm of June 13th, which strewed the whole channel with wrecks. The Nemesis was herself obliged to run into Maryport: and, as nothing more was ever heard of the Rattlesnake, it was presumed that she had foundered in that memorable storm which was fatal to so many ships better acquainted with those seas. This was a point which Sir Morgan would have given a king's ransom to establish. But unfortunately it was never put beyond doubt: there was still a possibility that she might have executed her intention of going north about. There was once a rumor afloat that she had got into the Baltic: you may be sure that every means, which Sir Morgan's vast wealth and influence could command, was put in motion to trace her in that region: but all to no purpose: and perhaps Sir Morgan would have been satisfied (as others were) that the rumor had no foundation, but for the hints and ambiguous expressions dropped at times by Gillie Godber."
"You remind me seasonably," said Bertram, "of a question which I had nearly overlooked: why was not this fiendish woman apprehended, and brought to trial?"
"Of what service would that have been? Suppose that she had been convicted, and transported—that would only have removed her from the knowledge of all who were on the watch to take advantage of any discoveries she might make from carelessness or craziness, or which she yet may make from repentance on her death-bed."
"But at least she might have been threatened with trial?"
"She was: twice she was committed to custody and underwent rigorous examinations before a whole board of magistrates: but to what end? She was as wild as the sea, as intractable as the wind. What threats, indeed, what voice, what sound—except it were the sound of the last trumpet wakening her from the grave—shall ever again alarm her? What cares she for judge or jury? The last sentence, that she could fear, rang in her ears long years ago at Walladmor. That dreadful voice, as it sounded in the great hall of Walladmor Castle when it gave up her blooming boy to the scaffold, still sounds in her adder's ear; and it< is deaf to all sounds beside."
"Yet surely Sir Morgan must be distressed at seeing her: and yesterday——"
"I know what you would say, Mr. Bertram: yesterday you saw her walking freely about the castle. True. But, for the purposes I have already explained, it is necessary to give her free access to the castle; and she comes so seldom that she is now a privileged person with licence to range where she will. Nay, Sir Morgan would court her hither with gifts—and rain bounties upon her, if she would accept them. This desire of having her before his eyes, Mr. Bertram, is a fantastic and wayward expression of misery—one of those tricks of sorrow—most apt to haunt the noblest minds. Some have worn about their persons the symbols, the instruments, or the mementos of their guilt: and in Mrs. Godber Sir Morgan sees a living memorial of what he now deems his crime and of its punishment; a record (as he says himself) of his own unpitying heart—and of the bitter judgment that recalled him to more merciful thoughts.
"I think him right:—in the Greek tragedians, who sometimes teach us Christians better morality than (I am sorry to say) we teach ourselves, there is a sentiment often repeated—which I dare say, Mr. Bertram, you remember: it is to this effect,—That it is ominous of evil to come—for any man to express, by his words or acts, that he glories in his own prosperity as though it were of his own creation, or held by the tenure of his own merits. Now this is in effect the very crime of him that, being born of woman, yet hardens his heart against the prostrate supplications of a human brother or sister. For how would he refuse to show mercy, that did not think himself raised above the possibility of needing it?
"Yes, Sir Morgan is right; his own sad recollections tell him that he is; and often have I heard him say—That, from that memorable moment when, looking back as he ascended the great stair-case, he beheld in the centre of his hall the unhappy mother prostrate and writhing upon the ground—read the pangs that were in her face—and the curse that was in her eye, from that moment he turned away like one already reached by her vengeance; and never again had thought—moved—talked— slept—or dreamed—as they think—move—talk—sleep and dream that have the blessedness of an untroubled conscience, and against whom no record is filed in the courts of heaven on which are written the tears of the afflicted or the crimes of the despairing."
FOOTNOTES TO "CHAPTER XVIII.":
[Footnote 1: Modesty forbids us to say which: but a truth is a truth: and his favorite volume, we understand, was in "post 8vo."]
[Footnote 2: Winter's Tale.]
Penthea. First his heart Shall fall in cinders, scorch'd by your disdain, Ere he will dare, poor man, to ope an eye On these divine looks, but with low-bent thoughts Accusing such presumption: as for words, He dares not utter any but of service. Yet this lost creature loves ye! FORD. The Broken Heart—Act 3.
At this moment the bugle of the cavalry called the attention of Mr. Williams and Bertram: they were mounting in some hurry, and leaving the castle upon private intelligence just received by Sir Charles Davenant. All that could be learned of the occasion which summoned them on duty was—that some attack, supposed to be headed by Captain Nicholas, was this evening meditated on a depot of horses designed for remounting one troop of the dragoons: this depot had been recently formed in the neighbourhood of Walladmor for the purpose of receiving horses purchased at different fairs on the borders. But with what design could Captain Nicholas attack it? No doubt to mount a party from some one or more of the various smuggling vessels on the coast. "But with what further end?" asked Bertram: "or why, being under so serious a charge—and a high reward offered for his apprehension, does he still linger in this neighbourhood?"
"I imagine," said Mr. Williams, "that the ordinary motives on which men are careful of their lives are wanting to Captain Nicholas, and have been for some time: and just at this moment his old feelings of jealousy, or rather of anxiety and irritation, are perhaps revived by the presence of Sir Charles Davenant.—You are aware probably that Sir Charles was formerly a suitor of Miss Walladmor's, and rejected only through the firmness of that lady; for his pretensions had the countenance and support of all her friends. Apart from Sir Charles's great expectations, which entitled him to look as high, he was encouraged by some members of the family, not so much on his own account as with a view of extinguishing the hopes of Captain Nicholas; of whose long devotion to Miss Walladmor I presume that you must by this time have heard."
"Some little I have heard," replied Bertram; "and some little I have collected from my own observations and the benefit of accident. Under what circumstances however this attachment commenced, or of its history, I know absolutely nothing. I do not even know who Captain Nicholas is: nor can I form any reasonable conjecture in what way or upon what pretensions a person, connected with smugglers and people of that class, could ever be led to aspire to the favor of the heiress of Walladmor."
"Who Captain Nicholas is—you will not find any body able to tell you: his origin is a mystery to all people, and himself amongst the number. But, as to his connection with smugglers, that is but an accident in his early life which he now renews for temporary purposes, as he has done once or twice before. I acknowledge that I take a good deal of interest in Captain Nicholas: and Sir Morgan feels upon that subject as I do. Many circumstances of great generosity in his conduct have at times came to our knowledge: deep and persevering love is itself a proof of some nobility in a man's nature; more especially when it is nearly hopeless; and where it is certain that a man has refused all dishonourable means for aiding his own success. Many times Captain Nicholas has had it in his power to carry off Miss Walladmor to sea, and at one time without any risk of discovery. And, if that was not the way to win the favor of a noble-minded woman, still that a man so wildly educated should feel that it was not—and that a despairing man should resist all temptations which deep love and opportunity combined to offer, implies an elevation of mind which alone would have attracted some degree of regard to Captain Nicholas: independently of which he is a man of various accomplishments, great address, intrepidity, dignified manners, and—-as I have heard—an excellent officer both in the sea and land services."
"But how came he first connected with smugglers; and what introduced him to the notice of Miss Walladmor?"
"All, that I know of his history, is this: About eight years ago, when he was little more than fifteen years old, he first appeared on this coast in character of son, or more properly (I believe) adopted son, of Captain Donneraile who commanded a large Dutch vessel of suspicious character, which had long resorted to these seas. She gave herself out for a regular merchantman, but was pretty well understood to be a smuggler as opportunities offered. Edward Nicholas, as I have said, passed for the Captain's son: and in that character, as well as for his personal qualities, was much looked up to by the crew. Such indeed was the hardihood and romantic spirit of enterprise with which he conducted the difficult affairs sometimes confided to him—that Captain Donneraile, who was old and indolent, gradually allowed the command of the ship to devolve on him; and at the age of sixteen he was much more the commander of the vessel than the nominal captain. This habit of early command over a large and warlike crew, tempered by good nature and great generosity of disposition, gave to his manners a tincture of dignity much beyond his situation. These manners and this disposition, united with his fine person and countenance, conciliated the kind feelings of all about him; and he was a great favorite with the ship's company as well as with the country people on shore. Many of his boyish exploits are current at this day amongst them,—and his affrays with the revenue officers, or hair-breadth escapes from them, are still narrated with interest. In all these however he seemed rather to be amusing himself, than like one who considered them as his regular occupation. In the same spirit he attached himself for a time to a company of strolling players. And that this was the just construction of his temper and purposes—is evident from the sequel. When he was about eighteen, old Captain Donneraile died, and left a considerable legacy together with the ship of which he was sole owner to Edward Nicholas. This ship, and such of the crew as would follow him to those climates, he carried to South America,—and entered into the patriotic service of one of the new republics in that quarter of the world. There he rose to considerable distinction, and at one time commanded a frigate. Afterwards, under some adverse circumstances attending the naval administration, he transferred himself to the land service; and served with high reputation first as a partizan officer in the guerrilla warfare, afterwards in the regular cavalry. Some change of circumstances made it advisable to restore the naval force; and with the view of manning a small flotilla with a proportion of picked British seamen, he returned to the old haunts of his youth in this country—hoping to find it still the rendezvous of smugglers. This happened just four years and a half ago; and then it was that his connexion commenced with Miss Walladmor—a connexion which has since determined the whole course of his life.
"Miss Walladmor was at that time not more than sixteen years old: she was exquisitely beautiful; and, though prematurely womanly in the developement of her person, had yet an expression of almost childlike innocence in her style of countenance which made it peculiarly charming. Edward Nicholas first saw her in the woods of Tre Mawr from a situation where he was himself unseen; and so powerfully was he fascinated that from that hour he abandoned all his schemes in South America. Morning, noon, and night, he spent in devising some means of introducing himself to her notice: but love, where it is deep and pure, is also timid—delicate—and reverential. Captain Nicholas, moreover, was aware of Miss Walladmor's rank and expectations: these, on many accounts, as they tended to misinterpret his motives, made him shy of intruding himself upon her notice. But at length chance did for him what he could never have done for himself. In the woods of Tre Mawr ridings are cut in all directions, and for many miles: these, being on the Walladmor domain and so near to the park, are considered part of the grounds; and Miss Walladmor was accustomed to ride here almost daily without attendants. This was soon discovered by Captain Nicholas, and he lay concealed here whole days together with the mere hope of seeing her for a moment. On one of these occasions her horse stumbled over the root of a tree, and on recovering himself ran away: he was rapidly carrying her into a situation of extreme peril amongst the precipices of Ap Gauvon, when Captain Nicholas, who was lurking about on his usual errand, and saw the whole from a distance, stept out from a thicket as the horse approached—crossed him—seized the rein—and saved her. This was the best possible introduction: and all the rest followed naturally. Miss Walladmor had every excuse: she was a mere child, and quite inexperienced: Captain Nicholas—who had from his youth been placed in stations of command, and had just come from a service in which as an Englishman he had been greatly respected and admitted to intimacy with the staff of the patriot army,—was distinguished by a remarkable dignity of manners and deportment: the style of his sentiments, naturally lofty, was now exalted by love: and finally he had in all probability saved Miss Walladmor's life. These were strong appeals to a young heart: doubtless it did not weaken them that the noble expression of his countenance was then embellished by the graces of early youth (for he was not twenty), and yet unsaddened by internal suffering—which has since given him the look of a person older than he really is. Above all perhaps there pleaded for him in Miss Walladmor's heart—that which must always plead powerfully with a woman of virtuous sensibilities—the display which every look, word, and gesture, made of his profound and passionate devotion. 'Never' indeed (to quote our great poet, Mr. Bertram)—
"——never did young man fancy With so eternal and so fix'd a soul:"
"He hallowed the very air she breathed; doated on the very hem of her garments; worshipped the very ground she trod on. This child, this innocent child (for she was no more), guided the wild ungovernable creature as absolutely and as easily as a mother guides her infant: and, if Captain Nicholas had always been under such guidance, no tongue (as I will warrant) would ever have had any cause to make free with his name: there is no such a safeguard in this world to a young man under the temptations which life presents as deep love for a virtuous woman. The misery is—that for every thousand such women there is hardly one man capable of such a love. No: men in this respect are brutal creatures.
"But to return to Miss Walladmor: you will not wonder that, under the circumstances I have mentioned, she did not discontinue her rides in the woods of Tre Mawr: child as she was, her own heart told her that, from a man animated by love so tender and profound, she could no more have any thing to fear than she could from any third person whilst under his protection. Hence she did not refuse to meet him: and, for more than a year and a half, they carried on a clandestine correspondence. Clandestine I call it with regard to the mode in which it was conducted, and with regard to Sir Morgan Walladmor: for else it was known to all the country beside. How it was that nobody spoke of it to Sir Morgan, I cannot say: you will wonder that I did not. The truth is—that, when it came to my knowledge, it was too late (as I saw) to interfere without misery to both parties, and ruin to one. The chief objections to the connexion were of course the want of adequate rank and prospects on the part of Captain Nicholas, and the uncertainty of his birth. These, in any common case, were no doubt sufficient objections: still, as Captain Nicholas had raised himself at so very early an age to the rank of a gentleman, I did not see that they were insuperable: or, however valid against such an attachment in its first origin, were less entitled to attention when it had reached its present stage.
"Miss Walladmor was nearly eighteen, when Sir Morgan came to know of the affair. He was grieved, and seemed to view it as one of the judgments upon himself, but did not express any displeasure. Just about that time Sir Charles Davenant was introduced to Miss Walladmor in the character of suitor. From the first she declined his addresses with a firmness that should naturally have at once discouraged a man of his discernment. But he had encouragement from other quarters:—Sir Morgan gave him no encouragement; but others amongst Miss Walladmor's relatives did. Edward Nicholas was too noble to harbour so mean a passion as jealousy: still he trembled for the effect of a long persecution upon so gentle a nature as Miss Walladmor's: but in this he was wrong: for, though the gentlest of creatures, she is one of the firmest in any point which she conceives essential to her honor. And this he now found unhappily in a case too nearly affecting himself.
"All at once many stories of outrages, scandalous and even bloody acts, were revived against the company of smugglers with whom Captain Nicholas had passed his youth: and with these stories the name of Edward Nicholas, as the name of their leader, was studiously coupled. Both Miss Walladmor and her lover being generally favourites amongst the country people about Walladmor, it was a matter of some wonder to me whence such stories, which were clearly devised for their persecution, could arise; and at length I traced them to Gillie Godber. However they got into some circulation; and, now that the rank of Miss Walladmor and the universal interest in the romantic part of the story had drawn the attention of the county and the whole local gentry upon the character of Edward Nicholas, they could not but affect his pretensions very disadvantageously with all Miss Walladmor's connexions. With the sincerity of real love, Captain Nicholas had not concealed from Miss Walladmor the circumstances of his early education amongst smugglers and sea-rovers: but these she justly regarded as the palliations of any youthful levities he might have committed, and as his great misfortune, and not as any part of his offences. Neither had he concealed the obscurity of his birth; so that, with regard to that, she had nothing to learn. The worst part of the charges, as it soon came out, were easily repelled by the mere dates of the transactions to which they referred: of all the cruel and bloody part every man, who knew his nature, acquitted him; for, howsoever he may choose to talk ferociously since he has become desperate, he has nothing cruel in his disposition. But, when these were disposed of, there still remained many wild infractions of law which left a taint behind, such as ought not to attach to the name of him who was a candidate for Miss Walladmor's hand. If Miss Walladmor in the tenderness of her affection steadily refused to believe these stories, others (she saw) did not. Something was due to her family; and to Sir Morgan, the head of it, more especially, from the unlimited confidence he had reposed in her discretion. However it were palliated by his extreme youth and the connexions upon which his misfortunes had thrown him, still some part of what had been alleged against Captain Nicholas appeared to be true: for even, with such an interest at stake, the nobility of his mind would not stoop to the meanness of falsehood. Miss Walladmor was greatly shocked; suffered much in mind and in health; and discovered in her countenance the agitations to which she was now a prey. She knew, she could not but know, that she was consigning him to despair: her woman's heart relented again and again in behalf of the man who had loved her so long and so fervently: but at length she told him calmly and yet firmly that it was necessary they should part. Whatever she could do by tenderness of manner to mitigate the bitterness of this parting—she did; her affections, there was no need to tell him, were wholly his: and she assured him that, if he would in any way efface the stains upon his name, her heart should remember only his misfortunes.
"But in what way was he to do this? He was a friendless man for any views of advancement in England; any thing he might do in South America, would avail him little at home: and thus, being without hope, he became frantic—and began to tamper with criminal enterprizes.
"What follows is still more painful; nor am I accurately acquainted with the particulars. Political disturbances at that time prevailed in various parts of the country; amongst others, in this. These he fomented; and, according to the charges against him, committed some overt acts of treason. The best excuse for him, over and above that general excuse which applies to all that he has done since his parting with Miss Walladmor, namely, his state of utter distraction (some say positive aberration) of mind,—the best excuse for him, I say, in all his political conduct, is this; that, having lived so much of his life in foreign and convulsed states of society, where every body was engaged in active hostilities to some party or other that was—had been—or pretended to be the government, he had not been trained to look with much horror on a charge which he has heard so much tossed about as that of treason: in fact he thinks of it with more levity than you can imagine. I may add that, having seen so little comparatively of England, he is really under the greatest delusions as to our true political state—and does sincerely believe in the existence of oppressions which are altogether imaginary. This must be borne in mind in speaking of what remains. After the disturbances were quelled in this neighbourhood, he escaped; went to South America; served again in various quarters of that agitated continent; but was still pursued by his old distraction of mind in regard to Miss Walladmor; came back; connected himself, it is said, with some of those who were parties to the Cato-street conspiracy: I know not how, or with what result. He talks of himself as though he had shared in all their designs: but he often talks worse of himself than he deserves; and government have certainly abandoned the Cato-street charges against him: though, if he were taken, he would still be tried on those which arise out of his transactions in this county."
"But with what purpose," said Bertram, "can he linger in this neighbourhood, where his haunts and his person are so well known—that it is impossible he can long escape apprehension?"
"Still, no doubt, as heretofore, from the blindness and infirmity of his passion for Miss Walladmor: merely to see her—is perhaps some relief to his unhappy mind: that however is a gratification he can seldom have; for she now rarely stirs out of the castle. His old anxieties too may be again awakened by the re-appearance of Sir Charles Davenant at Walladmor. Then, as to the intimacy of his connexions with this neighbourhood, you must remember that, if that exposes him to some risque, he is also indebted to it for much kindness and assistance. Just now indeed, when the smugglers are returned to this coast, what with the open assistance he receives from them, and the underhand support and connivance he meets with from the country people, he contrives effectually to baffle the pursuit of the police."
At this moment a sound swelled upon the wind: Bertram and Mr. Williams were looking down from the battlements upon the park: and in a few seconds a herd of deer rushed past with the noise of thunder; and shortly after the heavy gallop of two bodies of horse, one in pursuit of the other, advanced in the direction of the castle. It was bright moonlight. About two hundred yards from the walls, some smart skirmishing took place: random discharges of pistols and carbines succeeded at intervals; the broad swords of the cavalry, and the cutlasses of sailors, could be distinguished gleaming in the moonlight: and it became evident that the party under Captain Nicholas had fallen in with Sir Charles Davenant somewhere in the neighbourhood, and were now retreating before him. The smugglers, it was pretty clear, had been taken at great disadvantage; for they were in extreme disorder when they first appeared—being wholly unfitted by the state of their equipments and horses for meeting a body of dragoons so superbly mounted and appointed. Their horses, though of the hardy mountain breed, wanted weight and bulk to oppose any sort of resistance to the momentum of the heavy dragoon horses—and were utterly untrained to any combined movement. It was obviously on this consideration that Edward Nicholas, whose voice was now heard continually giving words of command, had drawn his party to this point where the broken ground neutralized in a great measure the advantages of the dragoons. He was now upon ground every inch of which he knew; in which respect he had greatly the advantage of Sir Charles Davenant; and he availed himself of it so as to draw off his own party, and to distress the cavalry. From the point at which they had just been skirmishing, a long range of rocky and sylvan scenery commenced which traversed the park for miles; and upon this Captain Nicholas now began to wheel in tolerably good order, showing at times a bold front to his enemy. This movement drew them away from the castle: but the character of the retreat continued to be apparent for some time. At intervals the two parties were entangled in rocks and bushy coverts. On ground of this character, the dragoons were much distressed by their horses falling, and were thus checked and crippled in their movements; whilst the sure-footed mountaineers of the smugglers advanced with freedom. Suddenly the whole body, pursuers and pursued, would be swallowed up by a gloomy grove of pines; suddenly again all emerged with gleaming arms upon little island spots of lawny areas, where the moonlight fell bright and free. Whenever a favourable interspace of this character occurred, the dragoons endeavoured to form and use the advantage it presented for effecting a charge. But the address of Edward Nicholas, who was an excellent cavalry officer, and far more experienced in this kind of guerrilla warfare than his antagonist,—together with the short intervals during which the ground continued favourable for charges, and his minute knowledge of its local details,—uniformly defeated the efforts of the dragoons, and protected the retreat of his own party until they were gradually lost in the distance and the shades of those great sylvan recesses, which ran up far into the hilly tract upon which their movement had been continually directed.
Late in the evening the dragoons returned to the castle: they had suffered a good deal on the difficult ground to which they had allowed themselves to be attracted by Captain Nicholas; fifteen being reported as wounded severely, and several horses shot. They had however defeated the object of Captain Nicholas, which was (agreeably to the secret information) to possess himself of the horses in the depot; with what ultimate view, they were still left to conjecture.
That this was simply some final effort of desperation, it was easy to judge from what followed. A little before midnight on this same evening Captain Nicholas appeared at the castle-gate, and surrendered himself prisoner to the soldiers on guard; at the same time desiring one of them to carry a note to Sir Morgan Walladmor. In this note he requested an interview with Sir Morgan for a few moments, which was immediately granted: Captain Nicholas was conducted to the library; and the guard, who attended him, directed to wait on the outside.
Edward Nicholas began by adverting rapidly to his own former connexion with Miss Walladmor. This had been broken up: he blamed nobody for that: it was but one part of the general misfortune which had clouded his life. Now however, on returning to Merionethshire after a long absence, and with the constant prospect of being soon consigned to a prison, he had been particularly anxious for an opportunity of meeting and speaking to Miss Walladmor: he had accordingly written to her repeatedly, but had received no answer. This silence on the part of Miss Walladmor, so little in harmony with her general goodness, happening to coincide with the visit of Sir Charles Davenant to Walladmor, had raised suspicions in his mind that it was to some influence of his that he must ascribe the continued neglect of his applications to Miss Walladmor. He feared that Sir Charles was renewing his pretensions to Miss Walladmor's hand. Hence he had taken his resolution, as he would frankly avow, to force his way into the castle—and supplicate Miss Walladmor to grant him an opportunity of speaking to her in private before it was too late for him to hope it. Such a plan obliged him, as his first step, to attack the dragoons. To do this with effect he wanted horses; and he had therefore arranged a plan for possessing himself of the horses at the depot: in what way this plan had become known to Sir Charles Davenant, he could not guess. Having however been thus prematurely discovered, it was now finally defeated. Hence, as a man now careless of life, and without hope, he wished to surrender himself to government on the charges of high treason alleged against him. He had abundant means of escape, or of indefinitely delaying this surrender: but to what purpose? To stay here was of necessity to fall into the hands of government. To escape was to be self-banished from the neighbourhood of Miss Walladmor, and all chance of ever seeing her; without which fe had long ceased to be of any value to him.—He concluded by assuring Sir Morgan that to confine him in any other place than Walladmor Castle would be to expose him to certain rescue; and at the same time to cause needless bloodshed, if it was attempted to strengthen any of the weak prisons in the neighbourhood by a guard of soldiers.
Sir Morgan Walladmor could not but accept his surrender, as it was thus deliberately tendered. And, until the pleasure of government were known, he ordered the rooms of the Falcon Tower to be prepared with every accommodation for Captain Nicholas.—At the same time Sir Morgan's countenance testified the pity and concern which he felt for the prisoner: for to a man of his discerning sensibility it was evident that it was the last infirmity of love, and the mere craziness of a doating heart, that had driven him to surrender himself. If in no other way he could reach Miss Walladmor's neighbourhood, it seemed that he was determined to reach it in the character of prisoner. To every door that he passed on his road to the Falcon Tower he looked with a wild keenness of eye, in the hope that he might obtain some glimpse of her. And, fantastic as such comfort seemed, the unhappy prisoner felt a deep joy even in his solitary prison on feeling that for the first time in his life he was passing the night under the same roof with Miss Walladmor.
FOOTNOTE TO "CHAPTER XIX.":
[Footnote 1: Troilus and Cressida.]
The wheel is come full circle!—King Lear, Act. V.
At length the time is arrived when Edward Nicholas is to be tried for his life on the charge of high treason. Within a fortnight after his surrender, a Special Commission was sent down to try him; and the trial is to take place at the county town of Dolgelly. At an early hour, Bertram, who had slept in Dolgelly, presented himself at the door of the court-house: early as it was, however, he found the entrance already thronged by a crowd unusually numerous for so unpopulous a neighbourhood. Amongst them were many women, grieving by anticipation that the
cruel thunders of the law should descend, for charges so frivolous as high treason, upon this young and accomplished soldier—whose fine person, winning manners, and chivalrous protection of women in many desperate affrays of the smugglers, had gained him all female hearts far and near in Merionethshire. There were also some fierce faces in the crowd—of smugglers and freebooters: amongst these Bertram recognized several of his friends from the Fleurs-de-lys; and at their head stood Captain le Harnois, who appeared to have recovered surprizingly from his 'consomption,' and was at this moment surrounded by several of his own 'mourners.' Bertram moved as near as he could to the captain, whom he perceived to be in conversation with some person immediately in advance, and lurking from general view under the overshadowing bulk of the noble captain's massy figure.
"What's your name, do you say?" asked the captain, lowering his ear, "Bilberry?"
"Dulberry, I say," replied the other angrily: "Samuel Dulberry, late twist manufacturer in Manchester."
"Dulberry is it? Why, Dulberry, then: what, man! I'll not rob you of it. Now, Dulberry, I'll tell you what: you're in luck; you've not got such a d—-d hulk of a body to take care of as I have. You'll do all the better for a gimblet. So mind now, Dulberry: as soon as the door opens, take your head in your hands and begin to bore with it. You shall be the wedge: I'll be the mallet. Never you look behind: I'll take care of all that. Mind your own duty; once bore a hole for me, and my name's not le Harnois if I don't send you 'home.'"
Though Mr. Dulberry could not perhaps wholly approve of the captain's rather authoritative tone, nor of the captain's figures of speech, which, to a man who had read Blackstone, seemed a little too much to confound the distinctions of 'things' and 'persons'—yet, as he saw the benefits of such an arrangement, he made no objection, but submitted to act in the humble relation of screw to a screw-driver—or, to keep to the captain's image, submitted to be "driven home" as a nail by the great hammer of Captain le Harnois.
He began immediately by breaking a weak phalanx of women, who sought to re-unite in his rear; but they found that they must first of all circumnavigate the great rock of Captain le Harnois; and, long before that could be effected, so many of the Fleurs-de-lys' people pressed after in the captain's wake that this confluence of the female bisections never took place. In a moment after the doors of the court opened; a rush took place; Bertram was carried in by the torrent; and in half a minute found himself comfortably lodged in an elevated corner. From this he overlooked the court, and he could perceive that the captain had well performed his promise of driving Mr. Dulberry home: the reformer was advanced to the very utmost verge of the privileged space, and obliged to support himself against the pressure behind by clasping a pillar: as the captain in turn clasped Mr. Dulberry, and enfolded him, as one box in a 'nest' of boxes is made to inclose another, the poor reformer's station was an unhappy one: and, though he had quietly submitted to the captain so long as their joint interests were concerned in supporting him, it was clear to Bertram from the fierce looks of the reformer, as he kept turning round his head, that this 'nestling' of Captain le Harnois was now taking his revenge, by reading to that arbitrary person a most rigorous lecture on the bill of rights. It was equally clear that the captain was in rueful perplexity as to Mr. Dulberry's meaning; not knowing whether to understand his jargon, so wholly new to himself, as bearing a warlike or an amorous character—those being the two sole categories or classifications of the noble captain's whole stock of ideas. Luckily, to prevent any quarrel between parties so interested in maintaining a good understanding as the screw and the screw-driver, betting commenced at this time in very loud terms on various contingencies of the approaching trial. Ten guineas to ten were offered freely that the prisoner was acquitted, but found few takers. Mr. Dulberry said that he would have taken it if the jury had not been packed. Three to four that the trial was over before twelve o'clock;—this was taken cautiously. Ten to seven that Mr. Justice —— did not yawn six times before the peroration of Mr. —— (who led for the crown); this was taken pretty freely. A thousand to one that the prisoner did not show the white feather; in spite of the immense odds, this was not listened to; so generally was the prisoner's character established for imperturbable firmness.
At this moment a general buz announced the commencement of some profounder interest: a trampling of horses outside announced the arrival of Captain Nicholas with his escort from Walladmor. Bertram closed his eyes from the shock which he anticipated at the sight of the prisoner; and, when he next opened them, the court was set, the prisoner was placed at the bar, and his arraignment opened in the customary form for levying war against our sovereign lord the king.
All present were interested more or less by the striking appearance and serene deportment of the prisoner. His face appeared to Bertram somewhat more faded and care-worn than when he had last seen him: but on the whole it bore the marks of fine animal health and spirits, struggling severely with some internal suffering of mind.
The trial proceeded in the usual manner, but with unusual rapidity, as the prisoner challenged none of the jury, nor called any witnesses. The crown lawyers painted the prisoner's guilt in the most alarming colours; insisting much on his extraordinary talents both military and civil as a leader in popular tumults. The witnesses deposed with tolerable consistency to his having tampered with them for purposes connected with some design upon Harlech castle. The capture of one outwork of Harlech was established. And at length the prisoner was called on for his defence.
With his usual self-possession, and with an air of extreme good humour except when he had occasion to speak of the counsel who opened the case, Captain Nicholas spoke as follows:
"My lord, and gentlemen of the jury,—I should be sorry to treat with levity any charge which I see that you treat with solemnity. The charge of treason is here, I find, a very grave one: though elsewhere I have known it as common and as trivial as assault and battery. However, be that as it may, I trust there can be no offence in my noticing without much gravity the attempt of the learned gentleman who opened the case for the crown to aggravate the matter against me by representing that I had engaged in an enterprize which had shaken the king of England on his throne.
"Shake the king of England upon his throne I gentlemen, I have not that vanity: and you must excuse my laughing a little. I am well assured that it was never in my power nor that of much more potent persons to alarm so great a prince. We all know that, if the kings of this earth were to assemble in council, they would find it hard to devise that message which could make a king of England turn pale. As to Harlech, you gentlemen of the jury well know what Harlech is. A bathing place on the coast, not far from Harlech, I mean Barmouth, is said to have a little resemblance to Gibraltar; a very little, I think: but, as to Harlech, I can assure you that it has none at all: it is as unlike Gibraltar as it is possible for any castle to be—whether as to fortifications or garrison. The fortifications run more hazard every month from treasonable west winds than ever they did from me; and, as to the garrison, it musters (I think) or did muster at that time sixteen invalids. I will not say that the west wind is as full of peril to them, for I think it will take an east wind to affect them seriously: but this I venture to affirm, that, with five such English seamen as I once seduced from his Britannic majesty's ship Bellerophon, for a certain patriot service in South America, I would undertake to make myself master of Harlech castle in ten minutes; and yet, gentlemen, I doubt not but the king of England could have found five other men in his service that would have singed our beards and perhaps retaken it in twenty minutes.
"My lord, I see that you disapprove of this style in a prisoner on his defence. Let me say then at once—that, though I pay every respect to the king of so great a nation, and would have been proud to have held a commission under his majesty, yet, as I do not hold one, nor ever did, I think it can scarcely be said that I owe him any duty, or can have committed any treason against him. It is my vanity to call myself an Englishman; and I sometimes believe that I am one. But I am sure that is more of my free love to England, than of any claim which England can show to my services. For I have lived, from the earliest time I can remember, chiefly upon the sea; possibly was born there: and that I speak English as my native language cannot prove me an Englishman; for I speak Spanish and Portuguese as fluently. So far from having received any favours from England, or the king of England—I protest that his Britannic majesty is almost the only great potentate in the Christian world to whom at one time or other I have not sworn allegiance. For so young a man this may seem a bold assertion: but the truth is—I have borne arms from my childish days; have seen a good deal of land service: and, as to naval service, my unhappy lot having thrown me so early upon the society of sea-rovers, I have positively sailed under the flag of every maritime state in Christendom. I cannot see, therefore, how I can be viewed as an English subject: and if I were to allow myself the magnificent language adopted by my learned enemy who opened the case for the crown, I might rather claim to be considered as a foreign power making unsuccessful war upon the king of England in his castle of Harlech, and now taken prisoner in my final invasion of his territories. In that case, the learned gentleman will recollect that—if I should escape from this court by the verdict of the jury, I shall have a right to consider him as an ally of that great prince, and to treat him accordingly by land or sea.
"But I am slipping back into that style by which I was sorry to perceive that I gave offence before. I must apologize by charging it upon the example set me by the learned counsel, who should better understand the proper style for a court of justice than I can be supposed to do. I was endeavouring to show that I am not properly a subject of his Britannic majesty's; or, if I am, it is more than either he or I can be sure of. To this I shall add two remarks: first, that I was bred up among pirates—and not trained to any respect for the institutions or law of civil societies: a circumstance which I would wish to have its weight—not, gentlemen, in your verdict, but in the judgments which charitable men shall hereafter pronounce upon my character. Secondly, whereas the learned gentleman in the silk gown insinuated that I was familiar with murderers, and that I looked with indifference upon shedding human blood—this insinuation, gentlemen of the jury, I am sure you will not regard; for nothing has appeared this day in evidence to support any charge of that kind—which, as a soldier of an honourable republic, I repel with indignation. Except in battle, or in self-defence, I have never shed any human blood. And, if I did not fear to be misinterpreted in one quarter where I would blush to speak of any thing I had done (though it had been a thousand times more) as pretending to the value of a service—I might produce cases even in this country where I have saved the lives of others at some hazard to my own. But I forbear; and leave this to be of service to my memory rather than to my cause in this court.
"With that view it is that I have made these two last statements: I press them upon your attention by no means as a prisoner at the bar, but as a man who is not insensible, both on his own account and for their sakes who have honoured him with some portion of their regard, to the opinion which may be hereafter formed of his character. The first is a consideration which certainly will have its weight with all the candid: the second is at least as valid as the insinuation to which it applies: it is the only sort of defence which it is possible for me to make to a calumny so general and uncircumstantial.
"Now, gentlemen, let me say in conclusion why I do not urge any thing to influence your verdict. In point of law, so far as I have collected it from the speeches of the learned counsel, it would be impossible to say any thing to the purpose. The question you have to decide upon, I understand to be this; whether I did or did not levy war upon his Majesty's garrison of sixteen firelocks and his castle of Harlech. Since the date of the Harlech war I have been present in South America in so many enterprises, even more desperate, that I cannot pretend to recal every circumstance: I am apt to confound them with one another. But the general fact of this expedition against Harlech I think the witnesses for the crown have established tolerably well. Some of them indeed gave their evidence in rather unmilitary language, and seemed to be unduely impressed with the magnitude of that war: but their meaning was good! and their dates, I dare say, all perfectly correct. I am sure I have no witnesses to call on my part that could shake either their history, their chronology, their geography, or in fact any one thing that is theirs—excepting always their martial tactics, which certainly are susceptible of improvement. As to cross-examining them, or any thing of that sort,—I am sure they all want to dine: and I would be sorry to leave an uncharitable impression of myself amongst so many respectable yeomen, by detaining them under such circumstances. And, gentlemen of the jury, if you will excuse me as a soldier for jesting with you at parting, I am sure that you also wish to be out hunting on such a fine day as this. And I will acknowledge that I should myself be disposed to view a prisoner's case as very atrocious who kept me needlessly in court in such weather as this. As to the learned counsel, their hunt is in the court: and undoubtedly, by making so few doubles, I have afforded them but poor sport. I shall not even take exception to the name by which I am indicted. But the lawyers (though I feel for them also) are the minority in this court. And besides they have as little power to save me, as the learned gentleman in the silk gown apparently has the will. You it is, gentlemen of the jury, that are the arbiters of my fate: and, if I wished to gain a favourable verdict from you, I conceive (as I said before) that in so hopeless a case as mine I could take no more rational course towards that end than by giving you as little trouble as possible.
"But, gentlemen, in conclusion I will tell you that I do not wish for a favourable verdict; and, if I did, I should not be here: for I have had it in my power to escape a hundred times over. The truth is—lest any man should misunderstand me as though it were an evil conscience or vicious habits that had made me weary of life at so early an age,—the truth is briefly this: and let it be the apology, my lord and gentlemen of the jury, for any tone of occasional carelessness or (as you may think) levity in what I have said—I have embarked my whole heart on one single interest: from the unhappy circumstances which beset me, I have in that quarter no hope: and, without hope there, life is to me of no value. And you cannot take from me any thing that I shall more willingly part with."
The judge briefly summed up by telling the jury that their duty was plain: yet, as three points had arisen which might perplex their views of the case, he would first dispose of these. The prisoner had intimated that he was indicted by a false name. But, as it had sufficiently appeared in evidence that he was generally known by this name, that was no matter for their inquiry. He had also alleged that he owed no allegiance to the crown of England: if so, the onus of proof lay upon the prisoner, who had adduced none whatever. Neither could such proof avail him: for, to justify his attack upon Harlech Castle, he must show a positive commission from some power at war with this country. But that was impossible, for the time of the attack was one of profound peace. Finally, it had been alleged, in the course of the trial, that the prisoner was insane. Now, although it had sufficiently appeared from the evidence given that he was a man of extraordinary and various talents, still that was not impossible; and, upon the whole, had some countenance from the style of his address—for defence he would not call it. However as no direct evidence had been called to that point, the jury would do well to leave it wholly out of their consideration; they might be assured it would obtain whatever attention was due to it in another quarter.—Some indulgence was also due to the prisoner on the ground of his unhappy training in early life, though he had himself refused to urge it with that view. This also might be considered elsewhere, but was not to influence their verdict. The sole question for them was, as to the overt acts of war. Two witnesses had prevaricated about the date of a particular incident: if they thought that of importance, they would give the prisoner the full benefit of their doubts. The prisoner had in fact admitted the main fact himself: and had said nothing tending to change the natural construction of it. He had simply endeavoured to underrate the importance of Harlech Castle, but that was of no consequence: a place, weak in itself, may be reputed strong; and, by encouraging people to rise in a period of general political ferment, may do all the mischief that could attach to the seizure of a much stronger place. However, in any case, that made no difference. They had to consider the single question he had mentioned: if they thought that of no importance, they would find the prisoner guilty on all the counts in the indictment.
* * * * * *
Meantime, as it was beginning to grow dusk, Sir Morgan Walladmor was sitting in his library, and reviewing the case of Captain Nicholas. Many noble traits of character, which had come to Sir Morgan's knowledge in past years,—his talents,—and his youth,—all pleaded for him powerfully: the benignant old man felt concerned that he should in any way have been made instrumental to his condemnation: for of that he had not much doubt; and he was considering through what channel he could best exert his influence in obtaining some mitigation of his sentence; when a door opened; a person, moving with a noiseless and stealthy foot, entered; and, on raising his head. Sir Morgan saw before him Mrs. Gillie Godber. As a person privileged to go whithersoever she would, Sir Morgan would not have felt much surprise at seeing her at this time or in this place: but there was something unusual in her appearance which excited his attention. Her eyes were fierce and glittering; but her manner was unnaturally soft and specious: and she seemed bent on some mission of peculiar malignity. Sir Morgan motioned to her to take a chair: but she was always rigidly punctilious in accepting no favor or attention in Walladmor Castle; and at present she seemed not to observe his courtesy, but leaned forward with her hands against the back of a chair.
"Well, Sir Morgan Walladmor! so, then, Edward Nicholas is gone to his trial?"
"He is; God send him a good deliverance!"
"So, so?" said she laughing, "times are changed at Walladmor. A good deliverance, eh? What, good deliverance to a smuggler?"
"Yes, Mrs. Godber,—even to a smuggler who happens to need it; but Captain Nicholas is not a smuggler."
"No, but he is worse: he has been a captain of smugglers, and he is a traitor."
"Whether he is a traitor, we do not yet know, Mrs. Godber. As a leader of smugglers he has at least the excuse of his unfortunate situation and his youth."
"Those were no excuses, Sir Morgan, twenty-four years ago."
"Woe is me, Mrs. Godber, that they were not!"
"So, so, so?" said she, chuckling with stifled laughter: "is it come to that? so then a worm may turn again, a poor worm may turn again—when it is trod upon. And the worm may be a snake. God sends snakes for those that need them." Then, pointing to the armorial bearings of the house of Walladmor emblazoned on the antique chairs, she said—"The snake, Sir Morgan, my snake. Sir Morgan Walladmor, my pretty snake—she stung your Falcon; your Falcon, and—your Doves!"
"She did indeed!" and Sir Morgan groaned with the remembrance.
"Aye, aye. That summer night she stung—she stung! Oh! sweet—sweet—sweet is revenge, Sir Morgan. Is it not, Sir Morgan?"
"God forbid!—God forbid!—Yet, if that be sweet, you have had it."
"Aye, but not all. We are not yet come to our death-beds: and, before then, the snake may sting again. All is not finished yet:—what think you, Sir Morgan, will be the end? what should be the end?"
"If you speak of our death-beds, Mrs. Godber,—peace, as I humbly presume to hope, the peace of christian charity and mutual forgiveness. Frail creatures that we are! the best will need forgiveness; the guiltiest, I trust, who brings a contrite heart, will not ask it in vain." Then, after a pause, he added solemnly—"You also, Mrs. Godber, will need forgiveness."
She fixed her eyes intently upon him, at the same time slowly drawing from her pocket two parcels. One was a packet of letters. She laid them upon the library table; and, striking her hand upon them with emphasis, she said—"Read those, when you will: they are letters from Captain Donneraile and Winifred Griffiths."
Sir Morgan trembled and would have taken the letters: but at this moment the trampling of horses was heard in the great court, upon which the library windows looked out: it was now growing dark; and the torches of the horsemen suddenly irradiated the room, and flashed upon the eyes of Mrs. Godber. Sir Morgan shuddered at their expression.
She opened the other parcel; and said, with something of a commanding tone, "Come here! come here!"
Mechanically almost he followed her to the window: she opened and displayed a baby's frock: the light of the torches fell strong upon it, and Sir Morgan recognized it well; for it bore in embroidered colours the bloody hand and the antient crest of Walladmor—by which marks it had been advertized through Europe.
"Where had you this, Mrs. Godber?" said he commanding his emotions: but at that instant Sir Charles Davenant entered the room; and he turned to him with a convulsive eagerness.—
"The verdict. Sir Charles? What is the verdict?"
"Guilty: judgment has passed: the prisoner is to be executed on Wednesday next."
Sir Morgan still controled himself:—-he turned back to Mrs. Godber; and, taking both her withered hands into his, he said in the fervent accents of one who supplicates for liberation from torment, but in whispering tones that were audible to none but her—
"Mrs. Godber, as you hope hereafter to rejoin your own boy, tell me—where is that unhappy child of mine that once wore this dress?"
Slowly she released her hands: slowly her face relaxed into a smile: she looked down into the court: the escort of dragoons had formed in two ranks, leaving a lane to the door of the Falcon tower: the sheriff's carriage had drawn up: the prisoner was descending: the torch-light glared upon him. She drew in her breath with a hissing sound; pressed her hands together; and then, with an energy that seemed to crowd the whole luxury of her long vengeance into that single action and that single word, she threw out both arms at once, pointed to Edward Nicholas, and, with a yell, she ejaculated—"There!"
Sir Morgan fell to the ground like one smitten by lightning; and long weeks of unconsciousness gave to him the balm of oblivion.
FOOTNOTES TO "CHAPTER XX.":
[Footnote 1: Harlech, if we remember, is the true county-town of Merionethshire: but, Dolgelly being the larger and more central place, if a man has any county business (for example, if he wants hanging or so) he goes to Dolgelly.]
[Footnote 2: This is a satiric hit of the German author at an English foible which cannot be denied: we wish no nation that we could mention had worse. That the satire in this case however is not carried beyond the limits of probability—is evident from the following paragraph which appeared in many of the morning papers during the third week of last October:
"It is scarcely credible, and yet we are positively assured of the fact, that bets to a large amount are depending upon the issue of Mr. Fauntleroy's trial; and that the books of some of the frequenters of Tattersall's and the One Tun, are not less occupied with wagers upon the fate of a fellow-creature than with those upon the Oaks, Derby, and St. Leger. To persons who are not aware of the brutalizing effect of gambling upon the mind, this circumstance will be a matter of astonishment; and even the more experienced can scarcely view with indifference so gross an outrage on common decency."]
Look! I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit The innocent mansion of my love—my heart: Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief. Cymbeline, Act III.
Thus was Edward Walladmor, as we may now call him, restored to his father and the castle of his ancestors as a prisoner under sentence of death.—This however was known only to Tom Godber, who had learned it from an accidental oversight of his mother's during her frantic exultations when alone with himself. The same spirit of fiendish triumph had led her to make the discovery to the unhappy Sir Morgan prematurely, and when there was still some chance of defeating her final vengeance. But the public discovery she had prevailed on herself to delay until the day of execution.
This was now fast approaching; and no intentions had yet been manifested on the part of government for granting a pardon or mitigation of the sentence. Monday was now come; Wednesday was the day originally appointed for the execution; and as yet no orders had arrived to the contrary. Sir Morgan meanwhile was lying in a state of alternate delirium and unconsciousness from the effects of a brain fever which had seized him immediately after the dreadful revelation made to him by Gillie Godber. And Sir Morgan's friends, though all feeling great interest for the prisoner, and prepared to think it a case of extreme harshness on the part of government if the sentence should be enforced, were unacquainted with the dreadful secret of the prisoner's relation to Sir Morgan; and had thus no motive, beyond general pity, for showing any distrust of the royal mercy—by exerting any special interest in the prisoner's behalf.
Meantime there were hearts that beat in trembling hope for Edward Walladmor; hands were busy for him in silence; steps and whispering sounds were moving in the darkness on his behalf. There had been time for the news of his capture and too probable fate to reach the Netherlands; and a ship of doubtful character, with a captain and crew that had once served under Captain Walladmor, instantly left the port of Antwerp—and sailed, upon good information as to the place and circumstances of his confinement, to the coast of North Wales. On this Monday she had communicated with the shore; and soon after night-fall she stood in for the bay of Walladmor.
He however who was acquainted with the strength of the castle, and had witnessed the preparations of the sheriff, might reasonably despair of a liberation that was to be effected by force. The castle itself, strengthened by such a garrison as now occupied its defences, was capable of making some resistance: but the Falcon tower, with its succession of iron doors, its narrow and difficult approaches, and the aerial situation of its prison, might be considered absolutely impregnable to any thing short of an army with a regular train of storming artillery.
Confiding in this superabundant strength, the sheriff—to whom Sir Charles Davenant had resigned the disposal of the soldiers—had not thought it necessary to take any other precautions than that of locking all the doors in the tower, and placing a guard of five men in the little guard-room which opened upon the rocky gallery. There was no possibility of any attempt on the part of the prisoner to escape; nor of any sudden alarm in this quarter: the men were therefore allowed to sleep; with directions to admit nobody who did not produce an order bearing the seal of the sheriff or the lord lieutenant. One centinel was placed inside the great gate; and, in case of any alarm, he was to ring the great bell of the chapel.
It was now midnight: profound silence reigned in the castle: and the sheriff, finding that all was quiet on the outside, retired to rest.
Meantime in what state was the prisoner? He knew nothing of any designs to liberate him: but he was more cheerful notwithstanding than he had been for some time past. Compared with that in which he had surrendered himself, his present state of mind might be called a happy one. He had learned that Miss Walladmor had not disregarded his letters, still less rejected him, in the way he had been made to believe. His own letters to her had been duly delivered: but her replies, which (by his own desire) were entrusted to Mrs. Godber, had been intercepted by her: some communication between her son Tom and Grace Evans had raised a suspicion of that nature; Tom had made a search in a neighbouring cottage where his mother now resided; had found the letters; and had secretly conveyed them to Captain Walladmor. From these he had learned how much injustice he had done to Miss Walladmor in supposing her capable of withdrawing from him, under any cloud of calamity, an affection such as she had granted to him; and he was assured that one heart at least, and that the heart to which his own was linked by indissoluble bonds, would mourn for his fate. He had learned also from Tom Godber the secret of the filial relation in which he himself stood to Sir Morgan. Even this contributed to tranquillize him, by taking away all color of presumption from his own addresses to Miss Walladmor, and all color of degradation from her with which hereafter the censorious might else have reproached her. He felt also a secret joy, such as a lover's heart is apt to feel, in the circumstance of being Miss Walladmor's cousin—even in bearing the same name with her—as he would have done in any slighter bond that connected him (though it were but by a fanciful tie) with the woman whom he loved. And the chief bitterness of death to him was this—that, loving her so passionately, he should see her face no more.
That pang at least shall be spared to him. Edward Walladmor shall see Miss Walladmor again! once again shall kiss the tears from her face; and though they meet in sorrow, yet shall this meeting record the tenderness of her affection in terms much stronger and more solemn than happier hours could have furnished, and shall put the seal to the long fidelity of her heart. Now is Edward Walladmor to learn by a proof, sweet yet miserable to remember, that there is no such potent shield under calamity as a woman's love; and that, under circumstances of extremity which transcend all cases that human laws can be supposed to contemplate, nature will prompt a conduct which as far transcends the necessity of human sanction. Miss Walladmor had learned through Grace the discovery which Mrs. Godber had made of the prisoner's relation to Sir Morgan Walladmor. That gentleman was incapable of acting: and, apart from her own love to Edward Walladmor, she knew under these circumstances, how it became her to act as the person on whom the interests and power of the unhappy parent had devolved. She had taken her resolution at once: all preparations had long been made: all was ready: nothing remained but the last agitating step: and the heart, that hung upon the issue, had been waiting till now in trembling hope; but from this moment, when the castle clock struck one, in fear and dread suspense.
Two minutes after the clock had ceased, Captain Walladmor heard the sound of bars clanking at the guard-room door: a foot crossed the gallery: the bars of his own door were unfastened; the bolts were drawn; the key was turned in the lock: the door opened: a lamp streamed in a gleam of light, as the massy door slowly swung back on its hinges: and Tom Godber entered. How had he been allowed to pass? He carried an order in his hand which bore the lord lieutenant's signature. But how obtained or by whom forged? No matter!—a tear, which dropped from Captain Walladmor's eye upon the paper when Tom put it in his hand, showed that he at least knew what sweet hand it was that had forged it.
Tom closed the door cautiously, and rapidly made known his mission. Captain Walladmor wore no fetters: the keys were presented to him which would pass every door to the picture gallery, from one window of which depended a rope-ladder. A fleet horse was stationed in a grove near the castle: boat-men well armed were on the beach; and, in case of any sinister accident obliging him to proceed inland, relays of horses had been placed both on the southern road through Dolgelly, and on the north road to Bangor Ferry. The main danger, which awaited him, was in the little guardroom: that passed, it was not likely that any thing would occur to intercept him. The soldiers had necessarily been awakened by Tom's passing through: and Captain Walladmor would be detained some time by fastening and unfastening the two doors. However all the aid, which could be given, had been prepared. Captain Walladmor had dressed himself on the day of his trial in a hussar uniform of the patriot army in which he bore his last commission: this he still retained; and it was not so unlike the dragoon uniform of Tom, but that under a dim light it might well deceive the eye of a sleepy man, if any should chance to be awake. Not to rely too much on that however, Tom had wrapped himself up in his dark military cloak which he now flung over Captain Walladmor. This served also to conceal his face, as well as the sword and brace of pistols with which Tom now presented him. These arrangements made, Tom conjured him to lose no time—as there was some suspicion that the sheriff might make a circuit before two o'clock. But Edward Walladmor had yet one question to put; Where was Miss Walladmor? The countenance of Tom showed that he anticipated this question. But he had been instructed if possible to evade it. Miss Walladmor's heart had told her that Captain Walladmor would seek an interview with her: and Grace had made Tom understand that he was to pretend ignorance and fling all the difficulties he could in the way of it: for the peril of discovery became too much augmented by any delay. In case of necessity, however, Grace had acquainted Tom with the most private road to Miss Walladmor's suite of apartments. Unwilling as he was, Tom now found himself obliged to make this known: for Captain Walladmor, seeing that he knew, positively refused to move until he told him.
Now then all was ready: Tom took the prisoner's place; Captain Walladmor shook hands with him fervently; muffled himself up in his cloak; took the lamp and the keys; issued upon the gallery; closed and fastened the prison door; crossed to the door of the guard-room, and paused for one moment before he opened it. He, who so lately had been without hope, conceiving himself rejected by Miss Walladmor, had now a mighty interest at stake: if he passed this room, he might at the worst die like a soldier; and he should see Miss Walladmor! His firmness was now tried to the uttermost, and somewhat shaken: his heart palpitated a little; and he smiled to see that his hand trembled like the hand of a coward.
He passed in: the men were all stretched on the ground; but one at least was awake; for he d—-d him for making a noise and breaking his sleep. However he did not raise his head: and Captain Walladmor passed on, stepping carefully over them, to the opposite door. Here it became necessary, from the complexity of the fastenings, to set down the lamp for a few moments; in doing which the cloak fell a little way from the face of Captain Walladmor, and unveiled a set of features too unlike Tom's to impose upon the dullest eyes, if any were fixed upon them. A little rustling was heard at this moment in one corner of the room: Captain Walladmor was all ear, and looked round. A dragoon was sitting up on his pallet; his wild black eyes were fixed keenly on Captain Walladmor; and a smile was upon his face of ambiguous character, which the Captain knew not how to interpret, but which sufficiently betrayed that the soldier knew him. The next moment the man sprang up to his feet, and Captain Walladmor hastily put his hand to his sword. He advanced; continued to smile; put his forefinger on his lips as a sign for the prisoner to make no noise; and, coming close up to him, whispered—"I know you, Captain! But all's right:" and then, nodding with a confidential air, he said—"Push on."
It was Kilmary, who had sometime back enlisted into the dragoons. Captain Walladmor opened the door; and passed out—closely followed by the dragoon. Then, reclosing the door, he descended safely with his companion, through all the numerous impediments of bolts and bars, to the picture-gallery. At the very first window that they came to, the ladder was fixed: this, by way of showing some confidence in him, he pointed out to Kilmary; and told him, if he wished to be of service to him, to descend—and prepare the boatmen on the shore. Then, rightly judging that the man had made himself a party to his escape for the sake of reaping a large reward, he put into his hand one of the rouleaus of gold which Miss Walladmor had sent by Tom, and enjoined him to be secret and vigilant. The man expressed his gratitude; disappeared through the window; and Captain Walladmor was left alone in the picture-gallery to trace out the road to his cousin's apartments.
His agitation had subsided: all was silent: and he now felt assured that nothing could defeat him of his interview with Miss Walladmor. As he moved down the gallery amongst the portraits of his ancestors, he paused for a moment before one which fronted him and struck him powerfully. It was the portrait of a lady, young and of pensive beauty: the costume was splendid and somewhat fanciful, so that it was not easy by candle-light to determine the generation to which she had belonged. But no doubt she had at some period been a member of his house: and Captain Walladmor was fascinated by the expression; for she seemed to look down upon him with pitying love.—The expression was not false. It was a face (but he knew it not) that had for one brief fortnight, some three-and-twenty years ago, looked down upon his with maternal love. Some wandering dream of such a possibility passed through his mind; he sighed; and moved on.
With a cautious step he threaded the labyrinth of passages till he came to the door which, by certain signs, he knew must be that which opened into Miss Walladmor's apartments. It stood ajar: he pushed it gently open: the room was empty: there was no noise; and a lamp was burning silently on the table. Through this anti-room he passed on to the next in the suite. This was not empty: and he paused at the door-way.
How often is the eye fixed unconsciously upon mute inanimate objects that, if they had a voice, could utter a tale of passionate remembrances—and to some eye perhaps do utter such a tale! This was the very room from which—about four-and-twenty years ago he, who now stood at the door, had been borne by the cruel nurse, who had entered for a moment whilst the unconscious mother slept. There stood the very sofa (but he knew it not) upon which the unhappy lady had reposed; and there had she breathed her last, just where the lady in black, not less unhappy, is seated at this moment. Who is she? Captain Walladmor's eye rested upon her with a mixed expression of rapture and of grief which betrays that it is Miss Walladmor.
But one minute before Miss Walladmor had been standing at the door, intent upon every sound that stirred. Excessive agitation had obliged her to retire to the sofa: she had seated herself: her beautiful arms were laid upon a table; her head rested sideways upon her arms; and for a few brief moments her fluttering and exhausted spirits had lulled her into slumber. Apparently she dreamed: for she murmured, at intervals,—"Hush! hush!—what noise was that?—Put out the lights! They are coming!—Draw the curtains; and tell nobody!—Oh! what a groan was that!"—Edward Walladmor gazed upon her in silence: her face was pale but flushed: her person, naturally full, was wasted and shrunken: her cheek seemed hollow: and a tear was upon his own as he stooped to kiss it. He sate down by her side, passed his arm tenderly around her waist: the action awoke her; and she started up in sudden alarm.
"Are you afraid of me, dearest Genevieve?" asked Edward Walladmor. "Oh no!" she murmured, when she saw that it was her cousin: "Oh no!" and through her fearful agitation she smiled upon him with tender confidence, and sate down again by his side.
* * * * *
One hour they had sate, hand locked in hand, and had blended their tears—their hopes—and the trembling doubts of their youthful hearts. And Miss Walladmor was beginning to murmur something about the necessity of parting: when suddenly that summons was uttered by a more alarming sound. The sound of the castle bell rang out at this moment loud and fast. Voices were heard. And immediately after thundering and redoubling peals of blows against the great gate echoed through the castle-hall.
Captain Walladmor was silent and disturbed: for any sound, whether from friend or foe, was to them the signal of separation: but the effect on Miss Walladmor was terrific. She, innocent creature! started up like a guilty thing: for one moment her countenance flushed with fugitive colors, and then settled into a deathly paleness: she stood as if frozen: her hands were raised: her eyes were fixed on the door: and she looked like a statue of panic before a judgment seat listening for some irrevocable doom. A second time the hideous uproar was heard: and a crash, as of some mighty ruin. Captain Walladmor groaned as he gazed upon the beautiful figure and the sweet countenance before him, both petrified into marble, speechless, breathless, sightless,—giving no sign of life but by spasmodic startings, that shot momentarily over her bosom and lovely mouth: for his sake was she tortured thus—for his sake, that in a minute—oh! how brief a minute—must part from her, must see that form—that countenance no more! A third time the dreadful summons sounded: the hall of Walladmor rang with tempestuous voices: steps ran along the galleries: the clattering of heavy heels was heard on the great stair-case; the clashing of swords; tumult, and hurrying; curses, and pursuit: and suddenly from the upper galleries was heard a thundering discharge of carbines. That sound awoke Miss Walladmor from her trance: she kept her eyes on the door—she stretched out her hand, with the rapidity of flight and terror, to Captain Walladmor—and said, but with the stifled whisper of one in agony: "Oh!—come—come—come— come—come!" He rose, and for one moment paused. A presentiment was at his heart that it were better he should go. Yet he had not the resolution to refuse that hand which was stretched out to save him, nor voluntarily to forego the sweet—sweet feeling that he was protected by Miss Walladmor. In such torments of farewell anguish, what a heaven to be shielded—if it were but for a moment—by the tenderness of Miss Walladmor's love! Passively as a child he yielded himself to her guidance as she led him into her dressing-room. Grace was sitting there weeping: and rose as they entered. "Run Grace," said Miss Walladmor rapidly—"Run to the outer door, lock it, lock it: open it for nobody." So much had sorrow for her mistress absorbed all feminine feelings, that the poor girl showed no terror—but hastened to obey: and Edward Walladmor took her hand as she passed, and pressed it to thank her for her sympathy.
Whence was the uproar? Some eye had detected the ladder: the alarm was given: at the very same moment the crew of the strange ship from Antwerp, half blacks and people of colour, remorseless and used to deeds of violence but devotedly attached to their former commander, had been met by Kilmary: the partial escape had been reported to them: but after waiting some time the delay alarmed them; they had pushed on beneath the walls of the castle; the removal of the ladder confirmed their fears: and, soon after the sheriff's discovery of the escape, the attack had been made on the gate: this had given way to the strength and impetuosity of the assailants: and the great hall with its flights of stair-case and ranges of galleries, rising tier above tier, was now filled with slaughter and confusion. The uproar and clamour increased: like death-notes every sound and every echo smote the heart of Edward Walladmor: every life, that was lost, was lost for him: and to linger any longer was to endanger his father's castle and all whom it contained.
Hastily the parting kiss was given: hastily the parting tears were shed: they parted as those part who part for ever: and with a shuddering gesture Edward Walladmor threw open the door which laid bare the bloody tragedy on the stairs. The hall, of immense altitude, was filled with surges of smoke: overhead it formed a thick canopy or awning, with pendent volumes, that here and there were broken and showed a stair-case slippery with blood and a chaos of black faces, mulattoes, dragoons, torches, gleaming arms, and accoutrements. Every gloomy corridor that issued upon the landings of the stair-case,—every dusky archway, some in utter darkness, some pierced with partial flashings of the flambeaux, were the scenes of mortal struggle, flight, or dying agony. Such a spectacle, by the demands which it made on his firmness and presence of mind, restored Captain Walladmor to the tranquil composure of the quarter-deck. Miss Walladmor followed him with her eyes, and stood, with uplifted hands, beneath the archway. He moved on with his usual self-possession and dignity: he called loudly in Spanish to his former crew: they knew the voice of their heroic commander; and sent up a loud huzza of welcome. That sound drew upon him the attention of the dragoons. One, who stood in an upper gallery, levelled his carbine and fired: a shot took effect in his left shoulder, and wounded him slightly: another shot was repelled by a brazen gird on the glazed cap which he wore; he was stunned however for the moment, and reeled against the wall. This man in the upper gallery had been hidden from Miss Walladmor by the moulded architrave of the door-way near which she stood: but, at this moment, in a lower gallery appeared the ominous face of Gillie Godber: behind her stood a dragoon. Once again her eyes glared, and her vindictive voice resounded, in Walladmor hall. "That's him," she shouted—eagerly laying one hand upon the arm of the soldier to guide him into the right direction, whilst with the other she pointed and followed her object as he moved: "that's the Captain, that's the traitor!" The man watched him calmly as he passed a range of pillars, and was emerging upon an open space of gallery. He levelled, and settled himself firmly for his aim:—Miss Walladmor heard the voice: she saw the action: through a cloud of smoke she caught the preparation: she shrieked; raised her hands; ran forwards; with a piercing cry she exclaimed—"Oh no, no, no, no!" and Captain Walladmor turned, and caught her on his left arm just as the fatal bullet fled across the hall and sank into her bosom.
The anguish of despair, and the frenzy of vengeance, as of one wounded where only he was vulnerable, chaced each other over Edward Walladmor's countenance: with the "inevitable eye" of vindictive wrath, he drew a pistol in tumultuous hurry from his belt; fired; and shot the man through the heart. Then, turning to Miss Walladmor, he gazed with distraction upon her pallid lips, and her black robe now crimsoned with blood. He seated himself, with his lovely burthen, upon the lower stair of a flight which led off at right angles from the landing on which he stood. Miss Walladmor's eyes were closed; and she was manifestly dying. Half unconsciously Edward Walladmor murmured disordered words of tenderness and distraction: some sounds fell upon her ear, and she raised her heavy eyelids. A glare of torches and black faces fell upon her eyes with the confusion of a dream: shrinkingly she averted them, and they rested upon what she sought; she saw the features of her cousin bending over her with the misery of love that feels its impotence to save. Life was now ebbing rapidly: a gleaming smile of tenderness fled across her face: she half raised her hands and moved her lips; Edward Walladmor bent downwards to meet the action: she put her arms feebly about his neck; whispered something to him; and then, as he kissed her lips in anguish, her arms parted from their languid grasp, and fell powerlessly on each side; she sighed deeply; her eyes closed; opened upon him once again; once again smiled her farewell love upon him; and, with that smile upon her face, rendered up her innocent spirit in the arms of him for whom she died.
All strife was hushed by this solemn scene: Sir Charles Davenant had now appeared; and called off the soldiers from a hopeless contest. The sailors gently released Miss Walladmor from the arms of her now insensible lover, and resigned her into the hands of her women. Captain Walladmor they bore off to their boat: three hours before day-light they were on board their ship and under weigh for the south: and, as no pursuit was attempted or indeed possible, the vessel was first heard of again from the coast of South America.
* * * * *
Thus was the old rhyme fulfilled which Gillie Godber had so often chaunted, and in a comprehensive sense that perhaps she had not hoped. "Grief was over at Walladmor." Her own fate ratified the prophecy and sealed its truth. She also was among the killed: some merciful bullet had liberated her from the storm of guilt and sorrow which for more than twenty years had brooded over her brain, and ravaged her heart: and after so long a period of calamity, during which she had been rejected from human sympathy, she was again gathered within the fold of Christian fellowship in the pastoral churchyard of Utragan. On a grey and silent afternoon a funeral was beheld by those who stood upon the mountains above Utragan winding through the valleys to the quiet chapel at their foot. It stopped in a secluded angle of the churchyard at a spot known to all the country. The grave of the "blooming boy," whose filial prayer upon the scaffold for his mother's peace of mind had not been granted, was now opened to receive her; and the mother and the son, after their long separation, once more were reunited. This spectacle brought back forgiving thoughts: the pity, which had once been granted to her, was now restored: and the uncharitable thoughts, which had attended her when living, gave way before the affecting memorials of the open grave—suggesting the awful trial which had overthrown her reason before her conscience had finally given way.
After some weeks of illness Sir Morgan Walladmor was restored to a state of convalescence; and, by slow degrees and after many months, to his wonted firmness of mind. He was then able to bear the recital of all which had happened; and the news which had recently arrived of Captain Walladmor's death. Large funds had been sent out to him in South America by Sir Morgan's friends: with these he had raised a horse regiment: and at the head of this in the decisive engagement of Manchinilla he had found at last "the death that he was wooing!" With a miniature of Miss Walladmor pressed to his lips, he was discovered lying on the ground of the last decisive charge: and Sir M organ was satisfied to hear that his son had met the death of a soldier and in a cause which he approved.
That Bertram was twin brother to Edward Nicholas, the reader will long have suspected. By the letters of Captain Donneraile and the verbal communications of Bertram it appeared sufficiently that the wife of Captain Donneraile (at that time a mate on board the Rattle-snake) and Winifred Griffiths, being the only two women on board, had cast lots for the appropriation of the children. The happier lot had fallen upon Bertram: for, though it gave him up to the cruel spoiler that had pierced the hearts of his parents, yet had it thrown him upon a quiet life in a humble village of Germany where he was spared that spectacle of storm and guilt which had pursued the youthful steps of his unhappy twin brother. Prosperity had left to Winifred Griffiths for many years leisure for meditation upon the wrongs she had done to Sir Morgan. And when affliction visited her, it came in a shape that taught her to measure the strength of parental anguish: she lost her only child; and on her death-bed, being now left a widow, she had bequeathed to Bertram the whole sum of which she had robbed his father: upon which sum he had supported himself at the Saxon university of Halle, But the disclosure of his birth and connexions, which she had deferred until her latter moments, had been cut short by death. What she said however had been sufficient to direct the course of Bertram to his native country. The discovery, which she had left imperfect, was now completed by others: and it shed comfort upon the declining days of Sir Morgan—that, from the amiable disposition and good sense of the son who was thus restored to him, when matured by more intercourse with the world, he could venture to hope for increase of honour and generations of happier days to the ancient house of Walladmor.
FOOTNOTES TO "CHAPTER XXI.":
[Footnote 1: It is not well to move a sleeping lion. Yet, if either hereabouts or elsewhere in the novel, any disagreeable reader should find out something or other not quite in the spirit of our manners—or rather inartificial in the conduct of the story,—let him understand that it is due to the German author. But might it not have been altered and adapted to our notions? Let him be assured that all possible experiments in that way have been used in the treatment of Walladmor. It is always satisfactory to know that the patient has had every advantage which humanity guided by skill could suggest. No attention has been omitted even in this chapter which the nature of the case allowed. But there are incidents which cannot be altered; as they would draw after them other alterations; and compel the artist, who had simply undertaken to "clean the works" of the watch, absolutely to put in a new "mainspring."—English Translator.]
[Footnote 2: A sentiment which has been expressed by Mr. Foster in his ingenious essays; and most affectingly expressed by a great poet of this age in the "Excursion."]
'E quovis ligno non fit Mercurius.' This Roman proverb, Courteous Reader! is adequately rendered by a homely one of our own—"You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." Certainly it is difficult to do so; and none can speak to that more feelingly than myself; but not impossible, as I would hope that my Walladmor will show when compared with the original. In saying this I disclaim all vanity; for, waiving other and more positive services to the German Walladmor, I here found my claim to the production of a "silk purse" simply on the negative merits of omission and compression. This is a point which on another account demands a word or two of explanation; as the reader will else find it difficult to understand upon what principle of translation three 'thick set' German volumes can have shrunk into two English ones of somewhat meagre proportions.
The German hoaxer was aware that no book could have a chance of passing for Sir Walter Scott's which was not in three volumes octavo. A Scotch novel from Mr. Constable's press, and not in three volumes, would be as absurd as a novel from any man's press in folio—as ominous as 'double Thebes'—-as perverse as drinking a man's health "with two times two" (which in fact would be an insult)—as fraudulent as a subscription of 99l. 19s. (where it would be clear that some man had pocketed a shilling)—and as contrary to all Natural History as that twenty-seven tailors should make either more men or fewer than the cube root of that number. What is the occult law of the Constable press, which compels it into these three-headed births, might be difficult to explain: Mr. Kant himself with all his subtlety could never make up his mind why no man thinks of presenting a lady with a service of 23 cups and saucers, though it is evident that she is just as likely to have a party of 23 people as 24: nay, if the reader himself were to make such a present to an English grand jury, where the party never could be more than 23, he would infallibly order a service of 24: though he must be certain that the 24th cup-and-saucer was a mere Irish bull—an empty piece of impertinence—a disgusting pleonasm—and a downright logical absurdity. For a 24th grand jury man is as much a metaphysical chimaera as an "abstract Lord Mayor," or a 30th of February. Not only, therefore, without reason, but even against reason, people have a superstitious regard to certain numbers: and Mr. Constable has a right to his superstition, which possibly may rest on this consideration—that 3 is the number of the Graces. But, let the rationale of the case be what it may, we all know that it is a fact; and a Constable novel in two volumes (being a mere ens rationis ratiocinantis) would have been detected as a hoax in limine by the very printer's devils in any printing-office in Europe.
So much was settled then: to hoax Germany, 'Walladmor' must be in three volumes. But what, if there were not time for the quickest hoaxer to compose three volumes before the Leipsic Fair? In that case, two men must do what one could not. But now, as the second man could not possibly know what his leader was talking about, he must be allowed to produce his under stratum of Walladmor, without the least earthly reference to the upper stratum: his thorough-bass must go on without any relation to the melodies in the treble. Yet this was awkward: and, when all was finished, the most skilful artist might have found it puzzling to harmonize the whole. To meet this dilemma therefore, it seems that the leader said to his second—'Write me a heap of long speeches upon astrology and Welch genealogy; write me another heap on English politics: I have some people in my novel (Sir Morgan and Dulberry) upon whom I can hang them: I shall take care to leave hooks in plenty, do you leave eyes; and with these hooks and eyes we can fasten your speeches on my men, when both are finished.' This I conceive to have been the pleasant arrangement upon which 'Walladmor' was worked so as to fetch up the ground before the fair began; and thus ingeniously were two men's labors dovetailed into one novel: "aliter non fit, Avite, liber." When the rest of the rigging was complete, the politics, genealogy, and astrology, were mounted as "royals" and "sky-scrapers;" and the ship weighed from Berlin for Leipsic under a press of sail.